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Environment


— Environment

Scientists grow meat in a lab for the first time

Four years ago, a paper from the Tissue Engineering journal outlined techniques that would allow large-scale meat production in a lab. Scientists now confirm that they have managed to grow a form of meat in a laboratory for the first time. Described as “a soggy form of pork”, the initial result doesn't sound all that appetizing, but it's a development that could have significant impact on the future of global food production. Read More
— Environment

Thermeleon roof tiles make saving energy as clear as black and white

Prototype roof tiles that turn white to reflect heat when they get hot seem like a pretty cool idea, as do tiles that turn black to absorb heat when it’s cold. That’s why a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates has won the third annual MIT MADMEC (Making and Designing Materials Engineering Contest) by demonstrating their thermally-activated, color-changing, roofing material called “Thermeleon” (as in chameleon). Read More
— Environment

Oyster - the world's largest working hydro-electric wave energy device

Rounding off a big week in renewable energy is news that the world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device has been officially launched in Scotland. Known as Oyster, the device, stationed at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) Billia Croo site near Stromness, was installed this year and is, at present, the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device which is producing power. Read More
— Environment

The world's first osmotic power plant from Statkraft

The principle of harnessing osmosis has the potential to produce enormous amounts of energy anywhere that salt water and fresh water meet. We looked at some of the approaches to turning this theory into reality earlier this year, including Statkraft's plans to build a prototype power plant. The company's plans are now coming to fruition with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway officially opening the world's first osmotic power plant prototype on November 24. Read More
— Environment

Using aerospace principles to ride a wave of limitless energy

The ocean is a potentially vast source of electric power, yet wave-energy systems are rare as they generally offer limited efficiency, must withstand battering storms, and need to be tethered to the sea floor. But by applying the principles that keep airplanes aloft, a team of aerospace engineers is creating a new wave energy system that is durable, extremely efficient, and can be placed anywhere on the ocean, regardless of depth. Read More
— Environment

Simpler, cheaper, biodegradable plastic without using fossil fuels

In recent years, polylactic acid (PLA) has attracted attention as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics. It is made from corn-starch, or other starch-rich substances like maize, sugar or wheat, and is biodegradable – reverting in less than 60 days in ideal conditions. PLA is already used as a material for compost bags, food packaging, and disposable tableware, and also for a number of biomedical applications, such as sutures, stents, dialysis media and drug delivery devices. Although its price has been falling, PLA is still more expensive than most petroleum-derived commodity plastics, but now a team of researchers has succeeded in simplifying the production of PLA and making the process much cheaper, meaning we could soon see PLA used in a much wider variety of applications. Read More
— Environment

Harnessing waste heat to produce electricity

That heat emanating from your computer as you sit reading this article amounts to nothing more than wasted energy. And your computer is not alone. More than half of the energy consumed worldwide is wasted, most of it in the form of excess heat. But new research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicates it might be possible to harvest much of the wasted heat produced by everything from computer processors to car engines and electric powerplants, and convert it into usable electricity. This kind of waste-energy harvesting might lead to mobile phones with double the talk time, laptop computers that can operate twice as long before needing to be plugged in to mains power, or energy plants that produce more electricity for a given amount of fuel. Read More
— Environment

The solar-powered school on stilts

It's almost as good as going to school in a treehouse. The recently opened Elleray Preparatory School in the Lake District National Park has three class pods standing on stilts connected by a center platform made from recycled materials, such as plastic milk bottles and wood shavings. Nestled amongst the trees, the complex is built to have a low environmental impact and therefore makes excellent use of solar power, rainwater collection, and has an energy-efficient heat pump. Read More
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