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Environment

RemScan puts a self-contained soil analyzer in your hand (Photo: ZilteK)

Contamination of soil from petroleum spills is an ongoing problem that threatens to adversely affect the environment and the health of the people in it, so rapid testing of sites is a pressing issue. However, with laboratory samples and results requiring at least a number of days turn around, particularly in remote locations, rapid analysis is not usually possible. RemScan is a self-contained, hand-held hydrocarbon contamination testing device designed to address this problem. Recently released on the US market, the device is capable of testing many hundred samples a day, providing data on the spot, within seconds, and completely without the need of a laboratory.  Read More

Toshiba's factory will be isolated from the outside air and have tightly controlled air an...

Looking to take a bite out of the Japanese food market, electronics giant Toshiba has announced plans to construct a vegetable production factory in the city of Yokosuka. The factory will use tightly controlled air and lighting systems to optimize conditions for pesticide-free, indoor plant growth.  Read More

An artists impression of the ESA's CryoSat satellite (Image: ESA)

An analysis of data from the European Space Agency's (ESA) CryoSat satellite shows that ice loss in the Antarctic is increasing at an exponential rate. It is estimated that the polar region now loses 159 billion tonnes of ice each year, with the worst instances of degradation located in the Western area of the Amundsen Sea.  Read More

The pollution-fighting poem on display at the University of Sheffield

Air pollution is a problem in many of the world’s major cities and removing it requires 24/7 solutions, as well as a bit of imagination. Taking a literary run at the task, the University of Sheffield has revealed what it calls the “world’s first air-cleansing poem,” which is a combination of a new work by award-winning writer Simon Armitage and a chemical formula developed at Sheffield by Professor Tony Ryan. The hope is that it will not only raise awareness of air pollution, but also help persuade British industry to adopt the air-cleansing technology more widely.  Read More

Seatower: bringing down the cost of offshore wind farming

Offshore wind farming combines the clean, green, environmentally neutral benefits of land-based wind turbines, while being a lot less visually intrusive ... and restricting the usual NIMBY opposition to crustaceans and invertebrates. It's currently a lot more expensive to install turbines out at sea, though, and that's restricting the sector's development. Which is why the Seatower Cranefree turbine platform could be such a significant step forward. Cheaper and easier to install, and requiring less gargantuan and specialized equipment than standard monopile foundations, the Seatower base could help offshore wind farms reach profitability a lot quicker.  Read More

One of the modified nanocellulose sponges soaks up oil (red) while repelling water (blue)

As the Deepwater Horizon incident showed us, oil spills can be huge environmental disasters. That said, there are also considerable challenges in dealing with the waste products generated by the forestry and agriculture industries. Now, scientists from Switzerland's Empa research group have come up with a method of addressing the one problem with the other – they've developed sponges made from cellulose waste, that can soak up 50 times their own weight in oil.  Read More

UTEC's billboard filters 100,000 cubic meters of air every day, benefiting residents in a ...

Billboards could do more than just advertise, if scientists at the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Peru have their way. While UTEC's earlier billboard produced drinkable water, its latest creation scrubs the air free of pollutants. According to the team, a single billboard can do the work of 1,200 trees, purifying 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of air daily in crowded cities.  Read More

The solar reactor that was used to turn water and CO2 into jet fuel

In a move that could help address our insatiable thirst for fuel while at the same time help cut CO2 emissions, scientists with the SOLAR-JET (Solar chemical reactor demonstration and Optimization for Long-term Availability of Renewable Jet fuel) project have recently shown that through a multi-step process, concentrated sunlight can be used to convert carbon dioxide into kerosene, which can then be used as jet fuel.  Read More

Jacob D Lanphere, a Ph.D. student at UC Riverside, holds a sample of graphene oxide

I've been waiting for some time now to write a headline along the lines of "scientists discover thing that graphene is not amazing at" ... and here it is. Everybody’s favorite nanomaterial may have a plethora of near-magical properties, but as it turns out, it could also be bad for the environment – and bad for you, too.  Read More

Scott and Julie Brusaw relax on the new parking lot

About 8 years ago, an electrical engineer and his counselor wife started throwing around an idea to replace asphalt on highways and byways throughout the US with electricity-producing solar panels that were tough enough to be driven upon. The idea blossomed into a project, where the panels featured built-in LEDs that could "paint the road" with markings and warnings, and could be heated to prevent snow and ice build up. The US Federal Highway Administration paid for the couple to produce a working prototype, which they did, and then again to expand the concept into an operational parking lot setup. As the latter contract comes to an end, the Solar Roadways project has released photos of the (almost) completed installation at its Idaho electronics lab. Now the team is dipping into crowd-funding waters with a campaign to raise funds for the move into commercial production.  Read More

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