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Pollution


— Science

Prototype system removes air pollutants and generates heat for livestock barns

By - January 5, 2012 1 Picture
If you’ve ever so much as stepped into a chicken or swine barn, you’ll know that they can be very, very smelly places. When vented outdoors, the air from these buildings does more than just make the area stink – it can actually be a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Fortunately, however, researchers from North Carolina State University and West Virginia University have created a system that not only helps clean the air going out of the barns, but it heats up the air coming in from outside. Read More
— Environment

New technique removes even trace amounts of heavy metals from water

By - December 28, 2011 2 Pictures
Once released into the environment from industrial sources, trace amounts of heavy metals can remain present in waterways for decades, or even centuries, in concentrations that are still high enough to pose a health risk. While processes do exist for removing larger amounts of heavy metals from water, these do not work on smaller quantities. Now, however, scientists from Rhode Island’s Brown University have combined two existing methods, to create a new one that removes even trace amounts of heavy metal from water. Read More
— Environment

Environmental contaminants revealed by new thousand-color sensor

By - November 4, 2011 2 Pictures
When any two compounds are combined, the resulting chemical reaction shows up as a specific color when natural sunlight reflects off the area where that reaction is occurring. Therefore, by assessing the colors of an object, material or environment, it is possible to determine what compounds are present within it. Unfortunately, many of those colors fall outside the mere three bands of light (red, green and blue) visible to the human eye. Spectral analysis equipment can detect a much wider range of light, but it is typically located in labs, which samples must be transported to. Now, however, a scientist from Israel’s Tel Aviv University (TAU) has created a portable hyperspectral sensor, that can “see” over 1,000 colors – this means that it could be used to detect pollutants in the environment, on location and in real time. Read More
— Environment

Winners announced for Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

By - October 12, 2011 3 Pictures
Last July, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the X PRIZE Foundation launched the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As with previous X PRIZE competitions, this one was intended to encourage private sector scientific research, by offering a cash prize to whichever team could best meet a given challenge. In this case, teams had to demonstrate a system of their own making, that could recover oil from a sea water surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 US gallons (9,463.5 liters) per minute, with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent. Today, the winning teams were announced. Read More
— Environment

Waste glass could be used to clean water

By - October 11, 2011 1 Picture
While you may feel quite virtuous when you leave all your glass containers out for recycling, you might be surprised to know that much of your colored glass won’t be used. That’s because even though there’s a fairly constant demand for recycled clear glass, glass in colors such as green, brown and blue isn’t all that sought-after, so many recycling centers don’t bother processing it. As a result, waste colored glass is now being stock-piled in some locations, waiting for a use. Thanks to research conducted at the University of Greenwich, however, that glass may soon be used for filtering pollutants out of ground water. Read More
— Pets

Water-soluble bags let dog waste get flushed

By - August 8, 2011 4 Pictures
Dog poop bags have become so commonly used, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time that dog-walkers typically let their pooches go Number 2 in parks or on other peoples’ lawns, with no intentions of cleaning it up. While it’s definitely a good thing that such is no longer the case (for the most part, at least), there’s still the small matter of what happens to the bagged excrement once it’s thrown away. Conventional bags keep it sealed inside, perhaps so that future archeologists can marvel at it when digging through our landfills. Even biodegradable bags take a long time to break down under certain conditions, and leave landfills full of untreated feces. Flush Puppies flushable doodie bags, however, reportedly allow dog poop to be flushed down the toilet, so it can be treated in a municipal sewage system. Read More
— Environment

Lab-in-a-briefcase designed to test for polluted soil, on the spot

By - July 8, 2011 1 Picture
In the same way that polluted water can be deceptively clear, polluted soil can just look like plain old dirt. Given the contaminants that can be left behind by gas plants, oil refineries and other industries, however, it's very important to check that the soil in an area isn't toxic, before building houses or growing crops there. Presently, soil samples have to be sent off to laboratories, where processing can take up to two weeks. British entrepreneur Ed Bell, however, has invented a briefcase-sized soil-testing unit that can be carried into the field, where it provides results within minutes. Read More
— Good Thinking

Floating +Pool would let New Yorkers swim in the river

By - June 23, 2011 8 Pictures
It's a hot summer day, you're sweaty and uncomfortable, and there's a river full of cool, clear water right beside you. Do you jump in? Not if you're in New York City, as the rivers that flow through that city are too polluted for swimming ... or at the very least, that's the perception that most people have of them. Three young entrepreneurs, however, have proposed a way of getting New Yorkers into the Hudson, East and/or Bronx Rivers. It's called the +Pool (Plus Pool) – a public swimming pool that would float in the river, allowing people to swim in filtered river water. Read More
— Environment

EU project to demonstrate 'cheaper, easier' method of CO2 capture

By - June 13, 2011 1 Picture
If there’s one big environmental concern surrounding power plants that burn material such as coal in order to produce power, it’s the amount of carbon dioxide that they release into the atmosphere. Various experimental technologies have been developed for removing most or all of the CO2 from smokestack effluents, although no one system appears to have been universally accepted as of yet. One technology that shows some promise, and that could perhaps be used in conjunction with other systems, is called Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). Norwegian research group SINTEF is now building a special new type of CLC system, for use in the DemoCLOCK pilot project, to be installed at Spain’s Elcogas Puertollano power plant. Read More
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