Asphalt covers more than 94 percent of the paved streets in the US, but have we gone down the wrong road with our choice of building material? Dutch firm VolkerWessels thinks so and has unveiled plans for roads crafted from recycled plastic, claiming the approach would significantly cut construction and maintenance time, as well as extend their expected lifespan.
Over the last few years, many possible explanations have been bandied about for the so-called pause in climate change, a plateau in global surface air temperatures that is out of step with rising greenhouse gas concentrations. But now an international research effort is laying responsibility at the feet of volcanic eruptions, whose particles it has found reflect twice as much solar radiation as previously believed, serving to temporarily cool the planet in the face of rising CO2 emissions.
When asked to name an endangered species, rhinos are probably one of the
first animals to come to most peoples' minds. In both Africa and Asia,
poaching is causing populations to plummet, due mainly to demand for
rhino horn as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine – whether or
not it actually has any medicinal value is another question
altogether. In any case, San Francisco-based biotech startup Pembient is
developing what it hopes could be a solution: inexpensive bioengineered
rhino horn, which could out-compete the genuine item.
Although wave energy-harvesting systems are often just presented as
concepts that may someday see actual use, one was recently deployed in
Hawaii to provide power to the municipal grid. Built by Northwest Energy
Innovations, the Azura device will remain in operation for a 12-month
assessment period, with an eye toward eventual commercialization.
The world’s oceans are in peril due to a combination of pollution, overfishing and climate change. Recently, the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, a German center for polar and marine research, sent out a strong warning about fundamental changes that are occurring in those ecosystems. But awareness is growing and the fight to preserve the oceans has found an ally in Adidas, which has teamed with conservation group Parley for the Oceans to create footwear made with trash harvested from the ocean.
If you've ever been to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, you may have been aware of two things; its magnificent grandeur, and the fact that it's an active supervolcano that, if it ever erupted again, would be worst event to hit the Earth since the dinosaur-killing asteroid. To help keep an eye out for this and similar events, a team at the University of Zurich have developed a means of monitoring volcanic events using atomic clocks.
Wind turbines might be common sight all around the world, but situating them in open fields or on breezy ridges isn't always a practical option. Ideas like placing turbines under bridges have been proposed, but is that a viable alternative? According to new research out of Europe, the answer is yes.
With its large tidal range, Britain's Bristol Channel has a huge potential for generating tidal electric power. The problem is that, until now, schemes for tapping that power have required building dams and barrages so gigantic they would have given even the most wild-eyed Victorian engineer pause. As a more economical alternative, Kepler Energy has announced plans for a 30 MW tidal energy fence to be built in the Channel. With an estimated cost of £143 million (US$223 million), the underwater fence would be built in the water somewhere along the line between Aberthaw and Minehead and could be operational by 2021.
Australia is sitting on top of some of the world's most potent geothermal energy sources, according to government estimates. Just one percent of the hot rock energy less than 5 km under the surface would be enough to meet the whole country's entire power needs for 26,000 years if it was tapped. So why aren't we seeing more movement on it?
An international team of scientists has found that retreating sea ice between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans is linked to weakened air-sea heat exchange in the region. This, it warns, could result in a cooler climate in western Europe and an altered or slower Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which would have knock-on effects for the Gulf Stream and consequently for the atmosphere.