Warming climate likely to have 'minor' impact on power plant output
August 15, 2016 02:15 PM - Duke University via EurekAlert!
Future climate warming will likely cause only minor cuts in energy output at most U.S. coal- or gas-fired power plants, a new Duke University study finds.
The study -- the first of its kind based on real-world data -- rebuts recent modeling-based studies that warn rising temperatures will significantly lower the efficiency of power plants' cooling systems, thereby reducing plants' energy output. Those studies estimated that plant efficiencies could drop by as much as 1.3 percent for each 1 degree Celsius of climate warming.
Sewage sludge could make great sustainable fertilizer
August 15, 2016 01:50 PM - Frontiers in Nutrition via EurekAlert!
Ever thought of putting sewage on your plants? Scientists say thermally conditioned sewage sludge serves as an excellent fertilizer to improve soil properties. This was recently published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Nutrition. The major advantage over commercial fertilizers? Sustainable re-use of essential and finite phosphorus resources.
Phosphorus is a key nutrient for all living beings. When deficient in the diet, it severely compromises human health, and when deficient in agriculture, it restricts crop productivity. Without phosphorus, there can be no food production.
New residential water heater concept promises high efficiency, lower cost
August 15, 2016 11:53 AM - DOE/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY via EurekAlert!
A team of scientists from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Florida has developed a novel method that could yield lower-cost, higher-efficiency systems for water heating in residential buildings.
The theory behind the newly termed "semi-open" natural gas-fired design, explained in an ORNL-led paper published in Renewable Energy: An International Journal, reduces the cost and complexity of traditional closed gas-fired systems by streamlining, and even eliminating, certain components.
SLAC, Stanford gadget grabs more solar energy to disinfect water faster
August 15, 2016 11:39 AM - DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory via EurekAlert!
In many parts of the world, the only way to make germy water safe is by boiling, which consumes precious fuel, or by putting it out in the sun in a plastic bottle so ultraviolet rays will kill the microbes. But because UV rays carry only 4 percent of the sun's total energy, the UV method takes six to 48 hours, limiting the amount of water people can disinfect this way.
Now researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have created a nanostructured device, about half the size of a postage stamp, that disinfects water much faster than the UV method by also making use of the visible part of the solar spectrum, which contains 50 percent of the sun's energy.
Tropical sea urchins caught between a rock and a hot place
August 15, 2016 09:48 AM - Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute via EurekAlert!
The balmy waters of the Caribbean could turn into a deadly heat trap for countless tiny creatures. Authors of a new study conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama discovered that microscopic sea urchin eggs and larvae may suffer stunting or death when the water temperature spikes just a couple of degrees above normal, adding to the impact of climate change in already warm tropical oceans.
Sea urchins, pincushion-shaped relatives of the starfish, graze the sea floor from shallow coastal areas to deep ocean vents from pole to pole. Their young look nothing like them. Adults release millions of eggs and sperm into the water, which develop into pinprick-sized free-swimming larvae. Only a minute fraction will survive and metamorphose into adults. Scientists think the developmental stages from egg to larvae are extra sensitive to temperature changes, but very few studies compare the vulnerability of the offspring to that of the adults.
Threat of wildfires expected to increase as global temperatures rise
August 12, 2016 04:01 PM - United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has warned that wildfires could become more frequent and more destructive as global temperatures rise and drought conditions plague many regions of the world.
“Last year was the hottest year on record and was above average for the number of reported major droughts and heatwaves. This year we are seeing a similar pattern with new temperature records being set on a monthly basis,” UNISDR chief Robert Glasser said yesterday in a news release issued by the Office.
The Colony-Killing Mistake Backyard Beekeepers Are Making
August 12, 2016 03:31 PM - Dan Gunderson via National Public Radio
Jonathan Garaas has learned a few things in three seasons of backyard beekeeping: Bees are fascinating. They're complicated. And keeping them alive is not easy.
Every two weeks, the Fargo attorney opens the hives to check the bees and search for varroa mites, pests that suck the bees' blood and can transmit disease. If he sees too many of the pinhead-sized parasites, he applies a chemical treatment.
July Electric Car Sales in China Rose by 188 Percent Over Last Year
August 12, 2016 01:59 PM - Yale Environment 360
Chinese consumers bought 34,000 new electric cars in July, a 188 percent jump over the same period last year, according to CleanTechnica, an energy and technology news organization. The monthly total puts China on track to sell 400,000 electrical vehicles in 2016, accounting for 1.5 percent of the total auto sales market — larger than annual EV sales in Europe, or the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined.
Let's roll: Material for polymer solar cells may lend itself to large-area processing
August 12, 2016 01:48 PM - National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) via EurekAlert!
For all the promise they have shown in the lab, polymer solar cells still need to "get on a roll" like the ones employed in printing newspapers so that large sheets of acceptably efficient photovoltaic devices can be manufactured continuously and economically. Polymer solar cells offer advantages over their traditional silicon-based counterparts in numerous ways, including lower cost, potentially smaller carbon footprint and a greater variety of uses.
Global warming's next surprise: Saltier beaches
August 12, 2016 10:41 AM - New Jersey Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily
Batches of sand from a beach on the Delaware Bay are yielding insights into the powerful impact of temperature rise and evaporation along the shore that are in turn challenging long-held assumptions about what causes beach salinity to fluctuate in coastal zones that support a rich network of sea creatures and plants.
The findings have implications for the migration and survival of invertebrates such as mussels and crabs as global warming drives temperatures higher.
A first major study of the effects of evaporation on the flow of subsurface water and salinity, or salt content, in the beach intertidal zone -- the section of the beach between the low and high tide marks -- is being published today in Scientific Reports, an online affiliate of Nature.