Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Pollution

There's gold – and lead, apparently – in them thar biosolids (Photo: Heather Lowers, USGS ...

Mining operations tend not be very good for the environment, nor does the disposal of treated solid waste that still contains potentially-toxic metals. Now, however, scientists are looking into taking that waste and harvesting its trace amounts of metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Doing so could ultimately reduce the need for mining and decrease the amount of metals entering the environment, while also turning sewage into a source of revenue.  Read More

Speck detects unhealthy levels of particulates within the air in your home

Monitoring the level of particulates in the air inside the home can be a life-saver for people with health issues. A new personal air pollution monitor promises a more precise alternative, empowering users to take measures to mitigate and eliminate those tiny particles. Developed at Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, Speck was presented at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, that took place between March 13 and 17.  Read More

Paul Panetta (right) and colleague Dale McElhone with the Acoustic Slick Thickness ROV, in...

When people are attempting to clean up oil spills at sea, one of the key things they need to know is the amount of oil that's been spilled – among other things, this will determine the amount of dispersant or other agents that are used. In order to make that process easier and more accurate, scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have developed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that does the job by measuring the thickness of oil slicks from below the surface.  Read More

The material could find use in smokestacks, or anyplace else where excess CO2 needs to be ...

We've already seen a number of technologies developed for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks or other sources, but many of them have a limitation – in order to reclaim the captured CO2 for disposal, a considerable amount of energy is needed. Now, however, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new carbon-capture material that requires far less energy in order to give up its payload.  Read More

A low-cost semitransparent air filter can reportedly collect 99 percent of harmful polluti...

Material scientists at Stanford University have developed a highly effective semitransparent air filter that can collect 99 percent of the very small PM2.5 particles, considered the most harmful to the human respiratory tract. The low-cost filters, which don’t require power to function, could be used to build better protective facemasks, window screens, filtration systems in hospitals, and perhaps even to reduce pollution from cars and industrial smoke stacks.  Read More

FLEX aims to detect abnormal peaks of florescence from space, providing warnings of stress...

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully tested its Fluorescence Explorer mission (FLEX), which is vying for a spot on the organisation’s eight Earth Explorer satellite. The mission, which aims to create global maps of photosynthetic activity, will allow for the identification of vegetation suffering degrees of stress that simply aren’t visible to the human eye. It has the potential to significantly further our understanding of the global carbon cycle, and could have an impact on agricultural management.  Read More

The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support the ...

With the goal of shedding more light on a number of Earth system processes whose effect on our climate is incompletely understood, NASA will this year launch five new airborne field campaigns. These studies will look at long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters, melting Greenland glaciers, greenhouse gas sources, fires in Africa and clouds over the Atlantic, with the captured data to complement satellite- and surface-based observations to help provide a better understanding of the interconnected systems that affect our climate and how it is changing.  Read More

A stunning picture of Naples as taken from the ISS (Image: ESA/NASA)

A new crowdsourcing initiative is calling upon the public to help catalog the ever increasing library of images snapped of our planet, and more importantly its cities, at night from the International Space Station (ISS). With your help, the Cities at Night project could help map light pollution spanning the course of the 16 year period in which the images where taken, with the added bonus of giving volunteers the opportunity to flick through a catalog of stunning images that highlight the mark we make on our planet at night.  Read More

Waste water from fracking is over five times saltier than seawater (Photo: Christopher Hal...

Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well.  Read More

The project aims to use the city of Hong Kong as an urban laboratory in its attempt to stu...

A novel study undertaken by an international collaboration of universities – headed by King's College London – aims to assess the impact of toxic fumes and other pollutants on the residents of high-rise buildings. Such studies are becoming increasingly important to metropolitan areas where real estate is scarce, forcing us to build ever upwards in order to satiate the ever-increasing need for accommodation.  Read More

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