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Environment

Polymer based filter proposed for Gulf of Mexico clean up

With the damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well continuing to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico there’s no shortage of suggestions coming from those concerned about the environmental disaster. We’ve already looked at a number of clean-up options, and now a University of Pittsburgh engineering professor has developed a technique that looks very promising. His filter for separating oil from water not only cleans the water, but also allows the oil to be recovered and stored for the use BP originally intended and the filter to be reused.Read More

PrISUm Team's Anthelion solar car to compete in American Solar Challenge

A team of Iowa State University students are busy putting the finishing touches to a solar-powered vehicle before setting off on a thousand mile race. Using computer-aided design and some novel engineering techniques, the students' three wheel craft weighs half that of previous creations and sports over 500 solar cells. Hopes are high for a winning result in the forthcoming American Solar Challenge.Read More

New materials could soak up carbon emissions

Imagine a material that appears to be the size of a sugar cube, but when you unfold it, you discover it has the surface area of a football field. Besides its unbelievable surface area, this substance can also be tweaked to absorb specific molecules. Such materials are called metal-organic frameworks, and could be ideal candidates for filtering the carbon out of smoke stack emissions. With that end in mind, a team of California chemists are now racing to create a metal-organic framework that can be used in an industrial carbon sponge. Because there are millions of possible molecular variations, the team is using development techniques that are up to 100 times faster than conventional methods.Read More

Gulf oil spill disaster: a closer look at the clean-up options

The damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is a huge environmental disaster that's said to be gushing anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil into the ocean per day. BP has deployed a reported 2.5 million feet of oil booms in an effort to contain the slick, as well as bringing in over 1,100 vessels to skim it and even burning some of it off the water’s surface. One need only watch the news, however, to realize that some other ideas are needed. BP has received over 10,000 suggestions for dealing with the disaster and is looking into approximately 700. What follows is a look at some - but by no means all - of those products being touted as a solution, and what they would supposedly do to the oil.Read More

French team smashes five year efficiency record in eco-marathon

A five year Shell Eco Marathon fuel efficiency record has been smashed by a team of French students. Team Polyjoule broke the record on the first day of the event by recording an astounding result of 4,414 kilometers on the equivalent of one liter of fuel (that's 10,382 mpg). The team then went on to break its own record by a further 482 kilometers. But the students still expect even more from their hydrogen fueled vehicle and are already looking toward next year's Marathon.Read More

Move over Nessie - new wave power system sighted at Loch Ness

Solar power might be stealing the limelight when it comes to the subject of renewable energy, but ocean waves are also seen as a great, largely untapped source of clean power. The latest news surrounding attempts to mine this potentially limitless energy source comes from Scottish marine energy technology developer, AWS Ocean Energy, which has started testing its new wave energy device in Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Read More

The dissolvable wedding dress

Aiming to address the issue of “throwaway fashion” and its impact on the environment as landfill, students at Sheffield Hallam University have combined fashion design with engineering to create a dissolvable wedding dress. This truly "wear once" garment can be converted into five different fashion pieces before being dissolved in water leaving no environmental footprint.Read More

Want to safely break down eco-unfriendly plastic? Try fungus

Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, isn’t something you want leaching into the environment. It’s the compound in polycarbonate plastic that has been suspected of causing health problems since the 1930’s, and that more recently got people all over the world throwing out their plastic water bottles. When polycarb is broken down in the recycling process, or even when it’s just left in the dump, its BPA content is released. Where it ends up is a question that has a lot of people worried. A new study, however, indicates that fungus could be used to keep BPA at bay.Read More

Virtually silent, fully enclosed, bladeless wind turbines on the way

A wind turbine that uses boundary layers instead of blades to generate power has been patented by Solar Aero, a New Hampshire based not-for-profit scientific research organization. Modeled on the 1913 Tesla steam turbine, the Fuller turbine is virtually silent and completely enclosed, which avoids many of the drawbacks of bladed turbines such as noise, radar interference, visual pollution and wildlife injuries.Read More

Storing surplus green energy as natural gas

The use of environmentally friendly wind and solar energy is on the rise throughout the world, but the problem with such energy sources is their unreliability. Depending on the weather or time of day (or more specifically, night) the amount of electricity generated may be deficient or surplus to current requirements. Storing surplus energy in batteries for later use is one solution, but now researchers are developing a way to store surplus renewable electricity as natural gas. Read More

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