Sustainability

New technology could improve use of small-scale hydropower in developing nations
July 1, 2016 07:10 AM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!

Engineers at Oregon State University have created a new computer modeling package that people anywhere in the world could use to assess the potential of a stream for small-scale, “run of river” hydropower, an option to produce electricity that’s of special importance in the developing world.

The system is easy to use; does not require data that is often unavailable in foreign countries or remote locations; and can consider hydropower potential not only now, but in the future as projected changes in climate and stream runoff occur.

Saved by the sun
June 29, 2016 12:21 PM - University of Alberta via EurekAlert!

A new twist on the use of renewable energy is saving children's lives in Africa. The innovation--a solar powered oxygen delivery system--is providing concentrated oxygen in hospital for children suffering from severe pneumonia.

The device created by Dr. Michael Hawkes, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta's Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, is the focus of a recently published study in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and is already in use in two hospitals in Uganda.

"Solar-powered oxygen is using freely available resources--the sun and air--to treat children with pneumonia in the most remote settings," says Hawkes. "It's very gratifying for a pediatrician doing research in a lower-resource setting to fill a clinical gap and save lives. It's what our work is all about."

Humans artificially drive evolution of new species
June 29, 2016 07:14 AM - University of Copenhagen via EurekAlert!

Species across the world are rapidly going extinct due to human activities, but humans are also causing rapid evolution and the emergence of new species. A new study published today summarises the causes of manmade speciation, and discusses why newly evolved species cannot simply replace extinct wild species. The study was led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen. 

Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than African Crops Can Handle It
June 28, 2016 11:20 AM - Susan Bird, Care2

Crop yields in Africa will nosedive ten years from now unless we can develop varieties that can better deal with climate change. Unfortunately, we’re not breeding those hardier varieties fast enough.

That’s the sobering conclusion of a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers from the University of Leeds. As temperatures rise, crop yields fall. This is particularly true for staple crops like corn, bananas and beans raised in hot tropical areas.

 

Recycled Plastic Lumber Invented by Pioneering Rutgers Professor
June 27, 2016 10:08 AM - Carl Blesch and Todd B. Bates via Rutgers.edu

Imagine a material lighter than steel, longer-lasting than lumber and strong enough to support 120-ton locomotives.

Now imagine that material is made from milk containers, coffee cups and other plastics that we recycle.

It’s called structural plastic lumber, and the ingenious, nontoxic material was invented by Thomas Nosker, an assistant research professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and principal investigator in the Center for Advanced Materials via Immiscible Composite Materials at Rutgers University. The late Richard W. Renfree, Nosker’s graduate student who later became a Rutgers professor, helped invent the revolutionary material.

Why the Increase in Solar-Powered Schools?
June 24, 2016 05:02 PM - Jake DiRe, Triple Pundit

Out of the 125,000 K-12 schools in the United States, over 3,700 are running on solar power. Three-thousands of these schools installed their solar power systems within the past six years, as solar technology continues to become less expensive and more sophisticated.

This trend in powering our schools reflects the growing recognition by district and state officials that photovoltaic electrical systems offer significant financial and environmental benefits. Here are four key reasons why more schools are making this transition.

Energy from sunlight: Further steps towards artificial photosynthesis
June 24, 2016 01:43 PM - University of Basel via EurekAlert!

Chemists from the Universities of Basel and Zurich in Switzerland have come one step closer to generating energy from sunlight: for the first time, they were able to reproduce one of the crucial phases of natural photosynthesis with artificial molecules. Their results have been published by the journal Angewandte Chemie (international edition).

Green plants are able to temporarily store electric charges after the absorption of sunlight by using a so-called molecular charge accumulator. The two research teams were able to observe this process in artificial molecules that they created specifically for this experiment.

2 ways to limit the number of heat-related deaths from climate change
June 23, 2016 07:16 AM - Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health via EurekAlert!

By the 2080s, as many as 3,331 people could die every year from exposure to heat during the summer months in New York City. The high estimate by Columbia University scientists is based on a new model--the first to account for variability in future population size, greenhouse gas trajectories, and the extent to which residents adapt to heat through interventions like air conditioning and public cooling centers. Results appear online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Chicago's urban farming produces fresh veggies all year, 24/7
June 22, 2016 10:29 AM - Maurice Picow

Hydroponics and new, high-tech urban agricultural techniques are now growing fresh food in the middle of Manhattan and other large metropolitan centers globally. People are catching onto the taste and business opportunities of urban agriculture: find it growing in Middle Eastern cities such as Cairo, Egypt too!

Urban farming in midwestern American cities like Chicago has had its limitations due to adverse winter weather conditions at least 9 months a year. New indoor farming techniques use vertical farming, special indoor LED lighting and hydroponic systems that pump soybean and kelp-infused water through a temperature and humidity-controlled system, nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A Plan to Mute Ocean Noise for Marine Life
June 15, 2016 06:37 AM - Laura Goldman, Care2

Imagine trying to relax in your home while being bombarded with the explosive sounds of shotgun blasts as well as freight trains rumbling by. For many whales, dolphins and other marine life that depend on their hearing to survive, there is no way to escape the loud, human-made noises in their ocean home. The main culprits are vessels like cargo ships, along with sonar guns used by the U.S. Navy and air guns used in seismic oil and gas exploration. Their blasts are so loud that they are known to change the behavior of blue whales. But now, in what Michael Jasny, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, Land & Wildlife Program, referred to as “a sea change in the way we manage ocean noise off our shores,” NOAA has announced it plans to take action to reduce the noise in entire marine ecosystems.

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