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Pollution


— Environment

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

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
— Good Thinking

LifeStraw Family to produce clean water and reduce carbon emissions

Given that approximately one sixth of the world's population lacks access to safe drinking water, it would obviously be a very good idea to create something that allows those people to easily and cheaply filter their local tainted water. That was the thinking behind the LifeStraw. Developed by European disease control firm Vestergaard Frandsen, the simple device allows individual users to drink directly out of unclean water bodies, without ingesting pathogens or other pollutants. Now, the larger-scale LifeStraw Family is being introduced in Kenya, where it could potentially save millions of lives, reduce air pollution, and pay for itself in the process. Read More
— Environment

Loowatt creates energy and fertilizer from human waste

Of all the things that people traditionally discard, one that most of us likely think the least about repurposing is human feces and urine. Sure, we recycle our plastic and paper, and compost our fruits and veggies, but ... that stuff? Actually, there are various worldwide projects aimed at using municipal raw sewage for things such as fertilizer or a power source. While those projects only come into play once the waste has been flushed, however, the UK’s Loowatt system gets users involved from the bottom up (sorry), collecting waste directly from the toilet and using it to create biogas and fertilizer. Read More
— Environment

Biodegradable golf balls made from lobster shells

Golf balls may be small and the ocean may be huge, yet traditional plastic-skinned balls that are whacked into the sea are nonetheless a source of pollution, and a potential hazard to marine life – anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where a whale got one of Kramer's golf balls down its blowhole? It would certainly stand to reason that biodegradable balls would be the logical choice for golfers who want to use the ocean as their driving range, and such balls do already exist. A team from the University of Maine, however, have recently created golf balls made from lobster shells ... and they have a couple of advantages over similar products. Read More
— Environment

Cleaner-burning cook stove designed for use in developing nations

Chances are that even if you own a propane camp stove, you’ve tried cooking over an open fire at least once. When you did, despite your best efforts, you probably ended up sucking down a lot of smoke in the process. Now, imagine doing that for every meal. For many women in the developing world, breathing in toxic smoke while cooking over a wood, kerosene or coal fire is part of their daily routine. Not only can it have a detrimental effect on their own health, but it also worsens local air pollution and (in the case of wood fires) deforestation. The Eco Fire Pot Stove, however, is designed to allow these women to cook while breathing clean air. Read More
— Environment

Microwaves utilized to convert used motor oil into fuel

It has been estimated that over 8 billion US gallons (30.3 billion liters) of used motor oil are produced every year by the world’s cars and trucks. While some of that is re-refined into new oil or burned in furnaces for heat, neither of those processes are entirely environmentally-innocuous. In other cases, it is simply discarded. Today, however, researchers from the University of Cambridge announced the development of a process that uses microwaves to convert waste oil into vehicle fuel. Read More
— Environment

Liquid salt could help clean up tar sands

The United States imports approximately one million barrels of oil per day from Canada, which is about twice the amount that it gets from Saudi Arabia. A large percentage of that oil comes from tar sand deposits, in which bitumen (a tar-like form of crude oil) is found combined with sand. The tar sands – also known as oil sands – are hugely controversial, as many people state that the process used for extracting the oil from the sand is too ecologically-unfriendly. A new technique being pioneered at Penn State University, however, could drastically reduce the environmental impact of that process. Read More
— Science

Color-changing plants detect pollutants and explosives

There may come a day when certain plants in your workplace suddenly turn white, at which point everyone will run screaming from the building – those co-workers will have been right to do so, as the white plants indicated that a toxic gas was present. Before that scenario can take place, a little more work still needs to be done, and Colorado State University (CSU) biologist Dr. June Medford is doing it. Using a computer-designed detection trait, she is creating plants that stop producing chlorophyll when they detect pollutants or explosives in the air. Read More
— Environment

Amphibious floating garden concept would clean rivers across Europe

Concerned about our rising population having serious water supply issues in the not too distant future, Lilypad floating city designer Vincent Callebaut has come up with a floating amphibious garden that can clean our rivers as it travels the waterways of Europe. His proposed "audacious, avant-garde" Physalia project will be a self-sufficient, nomadic research vessel which can also host aqua-focused exhibitions and conferences. Read More
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