UNIST Researchers Turn Waste Gas into Road-Ready Diesel Fuel
November 18, 2016 11:39 AM - Joo Hyeon Heo via Ulsan National Institute of Science And Technology
Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today. With the effectuation of the Paris Agreement, there has been a rising interest on carbon capture and utilization (CCU).
A new study, led by Professor Jae Sung Lee of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST uncovers new ways to make biofuel from carbon dioxide (CO2), the most troublesome greenhouse gas. In their paper published in the journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, the team presented direct CO2 conversion to liquid transportation fuels by reacting with renewable hydrogen (H2) generated by solar water splitting.
Why do seabirds eat plastic?
November 15, 2016 07:27 AM - s.e. smith, Care2
Heartbreaking stories of seabirds eating plastic — and the accompanying horrible images— are everywhere, but now scientists are an important question: Why do seabirds eat plastic in the first place? And why are some more likely to have bellies full of plastic than others?
The answer, it turns out, lies in a compound called dimethyl sulfide, or DMS, which emits a “chemical scream” that some birds associate with food. When seabirds find chunks of plastic bobbing in the water, they gobble them up, not realizing that they’ve just consumed something very dangerous.
Researchers Develop Novel Approach for Quantifying Nitrate Discharge from Groundwater to Streams
November 11, 2016 01:47 PM - Tracey Peake via North Carolina State University
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new way to determine the rate at which nitrate pollution will make its way from groundwater into streams. The work has implications for predicting long-term pollution in groundwater-fed streams.
Nitrate pollution, primarily from fertilizer runoff, is one of the major freshwater contaminants in the United States. Additionally, the pollution persists in aquifers – and thus in groundwater – which feed into streams over a period of years or decades.
New maps reveal safe locations for wastewater injection
November 11, 2016 11:13 AM - Ker Than via Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
Stanford geophysicists have compiled the most detailed maps yet of the geologic forces controlling the locations, types and magnitudes of earthquakes in Texas and Oklahoma.
These new “stress maps,” published in the journals Geophysical Research Letters and Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, provide insight into the nature of the faults associated with recent temblors, many of which appear to have been triggered by the injection of wastewater deep underground.
“These maps help explain why injection-induced earthquakes have occurred in some areas, and provide a basis for making quantitative predictions about the potential for seismic activity resulting from fluid injection,” said study co-author Mark Zoback, the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.
Human health risks from hydroelectric projects
November 9, 2016 09:25 AM - Leah Burrows via Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
In a new study, Harvard University researchers find over 90 percent of potential new Canadian hydroelectric projects are likely to increase concentrations of the neurotoxin methylmercury in food webs near indigenous communities.
The research forecasts potential human health impacts of hydroelectric projects and identifies areas where mitigation efforts, such as removing the top layer of soil before flooding, would be most helpful. The works uses factors such as soil carbon and reservoir design to forecast methylmercury increases for 22 hydroelectric reservoirs under consideration or construction in Canada.
New Delhi Air Pollution Reaches Highest Level In 20 Years
November 7, 2016 03:20 PM - Yale Environment 360
Indian officials declared an emergency in New Delhi over the weekend as the capital city entered its second week with air pollution levels as high as 30 times above World Health Organization guidelines, several news outlets reported.
Construction sites have been closed, operations at a coal-fired power station halted, diesel generators stopped, and officials are preparing to reinstate traffic restrictions, all to reduce smog levels across the city, which have reached their highest levels in 20 years. Officials say field burning on nearby farmland and fireworks from the recent Diwali festival helped worsen the smog conditions.
Can Radioactive Waste be Immobilized in Glass for Millions of Years?
November 3, 2016 11:26 AM - Todd B. Bates via Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
How do you handle nuclear waste that will be radioactive for millions of years, keeping it from harming people and the environment?
It isn’t easy, but Rutgers researcher Ashutosh Goel has discovered ways to immobilize such waste – the offshoot of decades of nuclear weapons production – in glass and ceramics.
Goel, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the primary inventor of a new method to immobilize radioactive iodine in ceramics at room temperature. He’s also the principal investigator (PI) or co-PI for six glass-related research projects totaling $6.34 million in federal and private funding, with $3.335 million going to Rutgers.
Longitudinal Study Links Air Pollution with Cardiovascular Disease Risk
November 3, 2016 10:44 AM - Sarah Plumridge via Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
An increased concentration of air pollution within metropolitan areas is associated with progression in coronary calcification and with acceleration of atherosclerosis, according to a study published in The Lancet.
In the prospective, 10-year cohort study, Northwestern Medicine scientists and collaborators at other institutions repeatedly measured coronary artery calcium by CT scan in 6,795 participants aged 45 to 84 years, who were enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) in six metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Super Emitters - are responsible for more than half of U.S. methane emissions
October 28, 2016 02:48 PM - Ker Than via Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
The bulk of methane emissions in the United States can be traced to a small number of “super emitting” natural gas wells, according to a new study.
“We’re finding that when it comes to natural gas leaks, a 50/5 rule applies: That is, the largest 5 percent of leaks are typically responsible for more than 50 percent of the total volume of leakage,” said study co-author Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.
The findings, published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, could lead to more efficient strategies for sampling emissions and fixing the most significant leaks, said Brandt, who is also a senior fellow at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy. By focusing on finding and fixing the biggest emitters, companies can significantly reduce the amount of methane leaking into the atmosphere.
Toxins from freshwater algae found in San Francisco Bay shellfish
October 27, 2016 09:20 AM - Tim Stephens
Scientists have detected high levels of a toxin produced by freshwater algae in mussels from San Francisco Bay. Although shellfish harvested from California's coastal waters are monitored for toxins produced by marine algae, they are not routinely tested for this freshwater toxin, called microcystin.
The toxin, which causes liver damage, is produced by a type of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) that thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water conditions. It has been found in many lakes and rivers in California, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, which flow into the San Francisco Bay Delta, and in several Bay Area lakes.