Sci/tech

New wireless sensor network keeps tabs on the environment
June 5, 2008 09:24 AM - University of Alberta

Have you ever wondered what happens in the rainforest when no one is looking? Research in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science may soon be able to answer that question. The departments of computing science and earth and atmospheric science have been working together to create a Wireless Sensor Network that allows for the clandestine data collection of environmental factors in remote locations and its monitoring from anywhere in the world where the Internet is available.

Flying High on Algae - KLM Tests Algae-Based Kerosene for Airplane Fuel
June 5, 2008 09:07 AM - , Triple Pundit

Dovetailing nicely into my post last week about the work GreenFuel is doing with algae and their emissions-to-fuel process, air carrier KLM reported last week their intention to begin testing airplanes that run on an algae-based fuel. In a pilot program with AlgaeLink, a Netherlands-based global manufacturer of algae growing equipment and “earth-to-engine” technology, KLM expects to conduct test flights this fall. AlgaeLink will also open two plants this year in the Netherlands and Spain.

Electricity from the exhaust pipe
June 4, 2008 10:02 AM - fraunhofer.de

Researchers are working on a thermoelectric generator that converts the heat from car exhaust fumes into electricity. The module feeds the energy into the car’s electronic systems. This cuts fuel consumption and helps reduce the CO2 emissions from motor vehicles.

New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators
June 4, 2008 09:39 AM - Public Library of Science

New research led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie at the University of Canterbury, which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect itself from predators, could be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

A new satellite remote sensing tool for improving agricultural land use observation
June 4, 2008 09:31 AM - Institut de Recherche Pour le Developpement

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) data indicate that annually 2500 km3 of freshwater are used for agricultural production, which amounts to 70% of the water resources the whole of humanity consumes in a year. With the global population continuing to grow at a high pace, it is essential to optimize the use of water resources and to increase agricultural production in view of the prospect of having to feed 8 billion humans in 2030. Scientists have for many years been using remote-sensing satellite observations to improve water balance and farming yield assessment on large geographical scales (at the level of irrigated agriculture areas, catchment basins and so on).

Climate change could impact vital functions of microbes
June 3, 2008 09:12 AM - American Society for Microbiology

Global climate change will not only impact plants and animals but will also affect bacteria, fungi and other microbial populations that perform a myriad of functions important to life on earth. It is not entirely certain what those effects will be, but they could be significant and will probably not be good, say researchers today at a scientific meeting in Boston.

Nanowire-mesh 'Paper Towel' For Oil Spills Absorbs 20 Times Its Weight In Oil
June 2, 2008 09:15 AM - Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT

A mat of nanowires with the touch and feel of paper could be an important new tool in the cleanup of oil and other organic pollutants, MIT researchers and colleagues report in the May 30 online issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

Marine Chemist Says 'Not So Fast' To Quick Oil Detection Method
June 2, 2008 09:08 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

A new method for assessing environmental contamination after oil spills is in danger of being applied in situations where it doesn't work and might produce false conclusions, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has warned. Private firms and government agencies have recently started using long strands of absorbent polypropylene snares, also called “pom-poms,” as a means to check for contamination of the seafloor in the wake of an oil spill. The method is becoming popular because it is rapid and low-cost.

How To Convert Your Car To An Electric Vehicle
June 2, 2008 08:26 AM - , MetaEfficient

Gasoline-powered cars are perhaps the most inefficient devices that many of us use daily. The internal combustion engine is inefficient in term of pollution, gas costs and maintenance costs. Electric motors are comparatively simple devices that do not require much maintenance at all. But, as you may know, it’s difficult to obtain an commercial electric car today. One option is to buy a used vehicle that somebody else has converted to an electric vehicle.

Solar Incentives Threaten Local Ownership
May 31, 2008 08:10 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

Large, remote concentrating solar power systems are the new darlings of the solar industry. Some observers now see centralized, not decentralized solar as the future. But a new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reveals that the economic advantage of centralized solar and absentee owned solar arrays rests on federal tax incentives that discriminate against locally owned, decentralized solar arrays.

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