Sci/tech

Study finds reefs reduce wave energy by 97%
December 18, 2014 08:50 AM - Brendan Bane, MONGABAY.COM

We have a lot of stake in the coast. Coastal waters are where we host fisheries, build homes and turn to for tourism and recreation. So how should coastal communities, which comprise nearly 40 percent of the world's population, safeguard against flooding, erosion and violent weather? Marine scientist Michael Beck suggests the solution is growing right beneath some waves and, in many cases, it has been waiting there for thousands of years. 

New process turns biomass 'waste' into chemical products
December 17, 2014 03:13 PM - Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue University

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets. A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. Lignin is a tough and highly complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure.

Earth grows new layer under Icelandic Volcano
December 16, 2014 08:41 AM - University of Leeds

New research into an Icelandic eruption has shed light on how the Earth’s crust forms, according to a paper published today in Nature. When the Bárðarbunga volcano, which is buried beneath Iceland’s Vatnajökull ice cap, reawakened in August 2014, scientists had a rare opportunity to monitor how the magma flowed through cracks in the rock away from the volcano.

An app to save 400 million animals
December 15, 2014 09:57 AM - Alex Rodriguez, MONGABAY.COM

Brazilian biologist Alex Bager has been leading a crusade to raise awareness of a major but neglected threat to biodiversity in his country.

Every year over 475 million animals die in Brazil as victims of roadkill, according to an estimate by Centro Brasileiro de Ecologia de Estradas (the Brazilian Centre for the Study of Road Ecology) or CBEE, an initiative funded and coordinated by Bager. This means 15 animals are run down every second on Brazilian roads and highways.

"The numbers are really scary and we need people to know about them," Bager said.

To register cases of roadkill throughout the country, Bager came up with the idea of an app, now used by thousands of citizen scientists. And a national day of action in November saw hundreds of volunteers participate in events to highlight the impact of roadkill on biodiversity. 

Do Wind Turbines Affect Property Values?
December 9, 2014 09:20 AM - University of Guelph

Wind turbine developments have no effect on property values of nearby homes and farms, according to new research from the University of Guelph. Published in a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, the study is believed the first peer-reviewed study on this issue in Canada.

Sandia Labs study points to advantages of storing hydrogen in salt mines
December 9, 2014 07:59 AM - Sandia National Laboratories.

Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for the growing fuel cell electric vehicle market, the researchers concluded.

Geologic storage solutions can service a number of key hydrogen markets since “costs are more influenced by the geology available rather than the size of the hydrogen market demand,” said Sandia’s Anna Snider Lord, the study’s principal investigator.

New Technology Brings Temperatures Down
December 8, 2014 09:02 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2

Greek villages are famous for their glittering white walls and beautiful blue painted accents, which make them a dazzling sight whether you’re approaching the sea or looking out across them from the windows of your blessedly cool room — which stays cool even in the height of summer heat. If you look around, you might notice that there’s no air conditioning. The Greeks don’t need it, because their homes are specifically designed to control temperatures and keep people comfortable. Thick walls insulate rooms to keep temperatures stable, while those handsome white roofs and walls reflect heat.

Drugs released in environment affect plant growth
December 5, 2014 02:04 PM - University of Exeter

The drugs we release into the environment are likely to have a significant impact on plant growth, finds a new study led by the University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University. By assessing the impacts of a range of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the research has shown that the growth of edible crops can be affected by these chemicals – even at the very low concentrations found in the environment.

Think Geoengineering is a quick fix for global warming?
November 26, 2014 09:20 AM - University of Bristol

The deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system is not a “quick fix” for global warming, according to the findings of the UK’s first publicly funded studies on geoengineering.

The results of three projects – IAGP, led by the University of Leeds; SPICE, led by the University of Bristol; and CGG, led by the University of Oxford – are announced at an event held at The Royal Society, London, on 26 November.

UK unveils first waste-fueled bus
November 20, 2014 07:49 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

The UK's first ever bus powered on human and food waste has taken to the road today which engineers believe could provide a sustainable way of fuelling public transport - cutting emissions in polluted towns and cities. The 40-seater Bio-Bus, which runs on gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste that's unfit for human consumption, helps to improve urban air quality as it produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines. Running on waste products that are both renewable and sustainable, the bus can travel up to 300km on a full tank of gas.

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