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Vermont Experiments in Cow Power
October 17, 2011 10:25 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A recent case study in the State of Vermont suggests that deriving electricity from cow manure may be economically feasible. This small and largely agrarian state has no shortage of cows and dairy farms. It is conceivable that with the proper commitment from farmers, utilities, and government agencies, cow power could be a central part of the Vermont electric grid. The seven-year study was conducted by six dairy farms, and produced 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
Earthquakes in Mid America
October 17, 2011 08:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Between Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., scientists have found evidence of an earthquake source capable of magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes located at the southwestern end of the ancient Reelfoot Rift. This is the same geologic structure that hosts the New Madrid seismic zone which is responsible for the major earthquakes that occurred in the midcontinent almost 200 years ago. The geologic proof includes large, visible sand blows formed by strong ground shaking, and subsurface geophysical imaging of faulting nearby. Field observations and radiocarbon dating suggest that the sand blows formed as the result of two to four earthquakes between 4,800 and 10,000 years ago.
Offshore Wind Development Progressing on US East Coast
October 14, 2011 09:21 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Plans for large commercial-scale wind farms have been on the table for years, but constantly held up by environmental permitting issues, financing concerns, or local objections based on aesthetics. States like New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Massachusetts all have offshore wind projects that have yet to commence. At the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference this week, two major offshore wind developers have announced progress in their attempts to build America's first offshore wind farms. Those two companies, Providence, RI-based Deepwater Wind, and Cape May, NJ-based Fisherman's Energy are taking their projects to the next phase.
Hesperia Planum Mystery
October 13, 2011 12:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
One of the supposedly best understood and least interesting landscapes on Mars is hiding something that could rewrite the planet’s history. Or not. In fact, about all that is certain is that decades of assumptions regarding the wide, flat Hesperia Planum are not holding up very well under renewed scrutiny with higher-resolution, more recent spacecraft data. Hesperia Planum is a broad lava plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars. The plain is notable for its moderate number of impact craters and abundant wrinkle ridges. It is also the location of the ancient volcano Tyrrhena Mons (Tyrrhena Patera). The Hesperian time period on Mars is named after Hesperia Planum. The cause of of the mystery is whatcaused the numerous rilles: water or lava.
Virgin Atlantic Airways to Use Industrial Waste as Jet Fuel
October 13, 2011 10:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Always on the cutting edge, Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, has set his company on a course towards further sustainability. Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced plans to fly commercial routes on a waste-based, synthetic gas fuel rather than typical jet fuel. The reconstituted fuel will produce half the carbon emissions. The technology making this possible was developed by LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels. Test flights with the new fuel will commence in New Zealand within the next 18 months. The first commercial flights are expected to begin in China by 2014.
Snowball Earth Cause Debated
October 13, 2011 10:39 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The hypothesis that Earth was completely covered in ice (Snowball Earth) 635 million years may not be so. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide during that period was much lower than previously thought, according to a team of French researchers from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), working in collaboration with scientists from Brazil and the U.S. The Snowball Earth hypothesis posits that the Earth's surface became entirely or nearly entirely frozen at least once. Proponents of the hypothesis argue that it best explains sedimentary deposits generally regarded as of glacial origin at tropical paleolatitudes, and other otherwise enigmatic features in the geological record.
Carbon Sequestraion and the Balance of Property Right and the Public Good
October 12, 2011 01:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Carbon sequestration is the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is the process of carbon capture and storage, where carbon dioxide is removed from flue gases, such as on power stations, before being stored in underground reservoirs. There are also natural sequestration processes such as the ocean. Carbon sequestration describes long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to either mitigate or defer global warming. It has been proposed as a way to slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases, which are released by burning fossil fuels. The lack of a settled legal framework that balances private property rights while maximizing the public good ultimately hinders the large-scale commercial deployment of geologic carbon sequestration, according to research by A. Bryan Endres, a professor of agricultural law at the University of Illinois.
October 11, 2011 05:09 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Next week a British engineering team heads off to Antarctica for the first stage of an ambitious scientific mission to collect water and sediment samples from a lake buried beneath three kilometers of solid ice. This extraordinary research project, at the frontier of exploration, will yield new knowledge about the evolution of life on Earth and other planets, and will provide vital clues about the Earth’s past climate. This is one of the most remote and hostile environments on Earth with —25°C temperatures. Their task is to prepare the way for the deep-field research mission that will take place one year later. In October 2012 a team of 10 scientists and engineers, which includes academics from the University of Bristol, will use state of the art hot-water drilling technology to make a three kilometer bore hole through the ice. They will then lower a titanium probe to measure and sample the water followed by a corer to extract sediment from the lake. Lake Ellsworth is likely to be the first of Antarctica’s 387 known subglacial lakes to be measured and sampled directly through the design and manufacture of space-industry standard clean technology.
October 11, 2011 07:33 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Imaginary, mythological, or real? Giant Octopus! Kraken are legendary sea monsters of giant proportions said to have dwelt off the coasts of Norway and Iceland. Long before whales, the oceans of Earth were roamed by a very different kind of air-breathing leviathan. Snaggle-toothed ichthyosaurs larger than school buses swam at the top of the Triassic Period ocean food chain, or so it seemed before Mount Holyoke College paleontologist Mark McMenamin took a look at some of their remains in Nevada. Now he thinks there was an even larger and more cunning sea monster that preyed on ichthyosaurs: a kraken of huge mythological. McMenamin will be presenting the results of his work on Monday, 10 October at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.
Battle over huge coal deposit highlights risks in Indonesia
October 10, 2011 07:02 AM - Michael Taylor JAKARTA
Indonesia contains some of the world's richest mineral deposits, located tantalizingly close to the markets of China and India, but a court battle over a $1.8 billion coal mine highlights the risks foreign miners face in the country. London-listed Churchill Mining Plc has been in dispute with Indonesia's Nusantara Group for three years over the right to develop the world's seventh-largest undeveloped coal asset. The case has reached Indonesia's highest court and could take years more to settle. The 350-sq-km (135-sq-mile) mine site in East Kutai, a coastal district in East Kalimantan province, is said to contain 2.8 billion tonnes of coal reserves. "It's a big medium to low-grade thermal coal deposit," Churchill Executive Chairman David Quinlivan told Reuters in a telephone interview. "That requires a substantial amount of infrastructure to be able to bring it into production. "But once in production, it will be very much a long-term project -- 50 years or more."