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Environment

— Environment

Recapture system limits mercury exposure from gold purification

By - December 27, 2014 4 Pictures
According to the World Gold Council, about 195,300 tons of gold have been dug out of the ground in all of human history. Countless lives have been lost obtaining the rare metal, and in the developing world, which currently accounts for 20 percent of the world's gold production, small-scale mining and smelting under primitive conditions poses a major health hazard. To help alleviate this, a team from Argonne National Laboratory and the US Environmental Protection Agency are developing a prototype mercury capture system to reduce heavy metal pollution. Read More
— Environment

The Odyssée desalinator: Using the power of the ocean to cleanse its own salty waters

By - December 17, 2014 8 Pictures
Watching on as the waves crashed against the cliffs of South Corsica, France, mechanical engineer Dragan Tutić knew some were already drawing on power from the ocean to generate electricity. But a possible use for all that motion in the ocean that had been largely unexplored, as far as he knew, was turning its salty seawater into the fresh, drinkable variety on the spot. In the following two and a half years, Tutić and his team designed and tested a prototype for a wave-powered desalinator, and now hold hopes of deploying the system in regions where water scarcity threatens the survival of coastal communities. Read More
— Environment

New study finds parallels between past and present climate change

By - December 17, 2014 4 Pictures
There's an element of déjà vu in the most recent political news on climate change: UN-led talks, like the recent Lima summit, that end with disgruntled environmentalists and plans for yet another summit. At this point, our best hope is to mitigate the effects of global warming (which is occurring faster than previously thought) and, if possible, keep temperature rises to a maximum of 2° C (3.6° F). While the future of the planet looks uncertain with unpredictable climate patterns, U.S researchers looking to the past to gain a better understanding of modern climate change have found the rate of modern, human-caused global warming resembles that which occurred almost 56 million years ago much more closely than previously thought. Read More
— Environment

Ethiopia’s Agriculture ministry rolls out specialized phone service for farmers

By - December 14, 2014 1 Picture
The Ethiopian government has rolled out a new phone service that farmers can call to get information on crops in their native languages. The 8028 service also “pushes” targeted information to people in certain areas. A press release from the government says that three million people have used the pilot project service since its inception in July. Read More
— Environment

One man’s (milk)weed is another’s natural solution to oil spills

By - December 9, 2014 4 Pictures
The humble milkweed may be a weed to most, but a company out of Granby, Quebec, is milking the plant for all it’s worth by developing a product for cleaning up oil slicks on land and water from milkweed fibers. Due to the fibers’ hollow shape – a unique feature in nature – and its naturally hydrophobic tendency, they repel water while absorbing more than four times more oil than the same amount of polypropylene materials currently used for spills. Read More
— Environment

Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals

By - December 8, 2014 2 Pictures
Using solar energy to split water into its component parts, thereby allowing the solar energy to be stored as hydrogen fuel, generally involves one of two methods: using photoelectrochemical cells to directly split the water, or using solar cells to produce electricity to power an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. One problem associated with the latter method is that it currently relies on rare metals. But now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to do so using common materials, and have achieved a record solar energy to hydrogen conversion efficiency in the process. Read More
— Environment

New method could lead to cheap, spray-on solar power for flexible surfaces

By - December 7, 2014 2 Pictures
Spray-on cells hold considerable promise for reducing the manufacturing costs of solar power. Within this field, colloidal quantum dots (CQD) have also been the focus of a number if research efforts, as they have the potential to soak up a wider range of the solar spectrum. Scientists at the University of Toronto have been aboard the quantum dot train for some time now and their latest breakthrough involves a new method for spraying solar cells onto flexible surfaces, a development that could one day see them coat anything from bicycle helmets to outdoor furniture. Read More
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