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EVTN's Voraxial 4000 Separator uses centrifugal force to separate oil from water

Last week, Florida-based Enviro Voraxial Technology (EVTN) announced that it has received a purchase order from BP for an underwater version of its Voraxial 4000 Separator. Mounted on a skimmer vessel, the machine takes oil-laden water from the sea and spins it at high speed in a central cylindrical chamber. The resulting centrifugal force pulls the water to the outer edges of the chamber, leaving the oil in the middle. Once separated, that oil is then captured and stored in onboard holding tanks, while the water flows back into the ocean. BP wishes to try out their single 4000 on a trial basis, with an eye towards using multiple machines for cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  Read More

Nitrogen oxides emitted from car exhausts can lead to acid rain, smog and damage to respir...

Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent.  Read More

Skyonic claims their SkyMine process can turn CO2 into sodium bicarbonate

Last week, Texas-based Skyonic Corporation was granted a U.S. patent on its SkyMine technology, which is said to remove CO2 from smoke stack emissions by mineralizing it into sodium bicarbonate. That bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) can then be sold for use in glass manufacturing, algae biofuel production, and other areas. Skyonic claims that not only will its process remove carbon and other harmful substances from flue gases, but also that companies using SkyMine will financially profit from the sale of bicarbonates.  Read More

Metal-organic frameworks could be used to filter carbon from smokestack emissions (Photo: ...

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

BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well

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

The power pack packs clips easily to the exterior when removed to create a cook stove that...

Consider the humble camping stove. It requires fuel - perhaps some unwieldy bottle that air carriers object strongly to. Maybe it needs batteries to run a fan, or billows out smoke so you smell like smoked sweatshirt for the rest of the trip. The solution might be the BioLite stove - it's a collapsible wood-burning cook stove that uses almost any forest-found fuel and converts its own heat energy into electricity to achieve efficient combustion with ultra-low emissions.  Read More

Paper strips used in toxin detection with progressively increasing number of coatings with...

Engineers at the University of Michigan have developed a strip of paper infused with carbon nanotubes that can quickly and inexpensively detect a toxin produced by algae in drinking water. The paper strips perform 28 times faster than the complicated method most commonly used today to detect microcystin-LR, a chemical compound produced by the blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) commonly found on nutrient-rich waters. Microcystin-LR is among the leading causes of biological water pollution and is believed to be the culprit of many mass poisonings going back to early human history.  Read More

An all too common sight - the car park oil sheen rainbow (Photo: crabchick via flickr)

The rainbow effect caused by varying thicknesses of oil film on water’s surface might be pretty to look at but is indicative of polluted water. This “oil sheen” proves especially difficult to remove, even when the water is aerated with ozone or filtered through sand. But now a University of Utah engineer has developed an inexpensive new method to remove oil sheen by repeatedly pressurizing and depressurizing ozone gas, creating microscopic bubbles that attack the oil so it can be removed by sand filters.  Read More

An image from the orbiting Hyperspectral Remote Sensor (HRS)

Combining sophisticated sensors in orbit with sensors on the ground and in the air has led researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) to create a “Hyperspectral Remote Sensor” (HRS) that can give advance warnings about water contamination after a forest fire, alert authorities of a pollution spill long before a red flag is raised on Earth, or inform the population where a monsoon will strike.  Read More

Several small particles on a (wavy) leaf (Photo: Sadie Belica, Western Washington Universi...

Measuring the level of magnetism of tree leaves could be a powerful tool to monitor the air quality of streets. A new study has shown that leaves along bus routes were up to ten times more magnetic than leaves on quieter streets. The magnetism comes from tiny particles of pollution, such as iron oxides from diesel exhaust, that float through the air and either stick to the leaves, or grow right into them.  Read More

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