22
Thu, Feb

  • Japanese team wins Australian solar car race

    A team from Japan won a world solar car race through Australia's outback on Thursday, after battling more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles) of remote highways, dodging kangaroos and other wildlife and avoiding a bushfire. Race officials said the team from Tokai University, near Tokyo, finished the race from the northern city of Darwin to the southern city of Adelaide at about noon on Thursday. The teams set off on Sunday. The Nuon Solar Car Team from the Netherlands came second, while a U.S. team from the University of Michigan finished third. Nuon's driver Javier Sint Jago said he had to avoid a bushfire, wallabies, cattle, sheep and lizards on his marathon drive, although the biggest challenge was to fight the strong winds which buffeted his 140 kg (300 lb) vehicle. "It was pretty rough. The side winds were 50 to 60 km an hour (30-40 mph), and can easily push you off the side," he said. "It was just so much concentration." Thirty-seven cars from 21 countries started off in Darwin, heading south and using only the power generated by the sun in the 11th running of the annual race. >> Read the Full Article
  • Commentary: U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill To Weaken EPA Clean Air Rules

    Two bills are currently working they way through the U.S. Congress in an attempt to stay activation of new air pollution regulations propagated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, namely additions to the NESHAP, Cement MACT, and Boiler MACT standards scheduled to take effect in the next few months. The new regulations will require most facilities to install updated dust collection systems to meet more stringent emissions levels. The pair of bills, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 and the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, are part of a larger effort by conservatives to curtail the so-called "aggressive" agenda of the EPA. Several different EPA rule sets are covered by the bill, but the main three are the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), Boiler MACTs (Maximum Available Control Technology), and Cement MACTs which covers emissions from the manufacture of cement. The standards are either new, or updates to existing EPA regulations. The EPA NESHAPs cover the six basic air pollutants the EPA regulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter e.g. dusts smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), lead, and ozone. These rules were recently revised to include stricter limits. >> Read the Full Article
  • Prius Plug-in Versus Volt: Which Costs Less to Drive?

    Now that Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid has been officially announced, we can begin the comparisons with the other plug-in electric vehicle with an extended driving range, the Chevrolet Volt. The underlying question is which is more important to consumers: electric driving range, or total vehicle fuel efficiency? >> Read the Full Article
  • Cities Can’t Combat Climate Change Alone

    By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and are responsible for 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. It will be cities, not individual states or governments, who will need to employ effective urban planning, implement eco-friendly ordinances, reduce emissions, and plan for the coming effects of climate change. In Life in the Big City: Unlocking Smart Development (SXSW Eco), the discussion centered around the premise that cities, centers of global economic activity and innovation, have the greatest power to impact climate change. But can they do it alone? >> Read the Full Article
  • GM to produce all-electric Chevy Spark

    General Motors Co confirmed it will make its first all-electric vehicle, a version of the Chevrolet Spark minicar that will debut in 2013 and take aim at Nissan Motor Co Ltd's Leaf. "Chevrolet will produce an all-electric version of the Spark minicar for selected U.S. and global markets, including California," Jim Federico, Chevy's global vehicle chief engineer for electric vehicles, said at the company's Detroit headquarters on Wednesday. Electric cars have been slow to catch on. In the U.S. market, demand has been held back by the lack of models to choose from, skimpy infrastructure for charging the vehicles, high sticker prices, and low gasoline prices compared with other industrialized nations. News of the electric Spark continues GM's push to seize the mantle of "greenest automaker in the world" from Toyota Motor Corp, which makes the popular Prius hybrid car. GM, like other major automakers, also needs more fuel-efficient cars as the industry pushes toward more stringent U.S. requirements that will be in place by 2025. >> Read the Full Article
  • Eight Amazing Things About Solar Panels That Could Change the World

    Green energy is one of the most rapidly expanding industries in the world right now due to so many people looking to do their part to help save the planet. With so much focus on solving global warming and reducing air pollution, smarter and cleaner forms of energy are being looked at very closely by scientists and consumers. There are several cool facts about solar power that can change the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chevrolet's Carbon Initiative Program

    In the U.S., our buildings – schools, homes, and offices – consume one third of the energy we use. That makes them a major source of carbon dioxide emissions. And when your home isn’t properly insulated, you need more energy to heat it. That produces more carbon dioxide and raises your heating bill. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is teaming up with MaineHousing (Maine State Housing Authority) to help increase energy efficiency through a verifiable carbon reduction program – the weatherization of 5,500 low-income homes over the next 5 years. Chevrolet’s investment will be used to pressurize homes to determine heat /cooling leakage, blow recycled content insulation into walls and ceilings, seal chimneys, insulate exposed foundation and tune heating systems for efficiency. When its all said and done, this program will not only help reduce home energy use, improve air quality and cut resident’s heating and cooling bills, it will also aggregate tons of avoided CO2 emissions from thousands of weatherized homes. It's pretty impressive, and substantial. But that's how big changes are made — one small change at a time. >> Read the Full Article
  • Coffee: is the black stuff as green as it should be?

    From deforestation to fertilizer; our taste for coffee has left some of the world’s most precious eco-systems in a precarious state. George Blacksell looks at how the coffee industry is cleaning up its act. The world’s second most tradable commodity after oil; coffee growing and processing has proven itself to be a lucrative industry. The burgeoning coffee culture that sprang up over the last few decades has led to overwhelming success for handful of coffee franchises and a massive spike in supermarket sales. Of the high street coffee chains, Costa, Starbucks, Cafe Nero and Pret A Manger have cornered the lion’s share of the profits. While no one is denying their right to make a buck, the big question is whether the profits these franchises are making are trickling down to the people actually growing the beans? And how green are they really? Is the high street coffee industry one we should buy into or should we be avoiding it altogether? >> Read the Full Article
  • Recycled Water Quenches San Antonio's Thirst

    Gliding along in a flat-bottom boat on the San Antonio River thorough the heart of downtown San Antonio is a beautiful and authentic Texas experience. There's one thing a boat tour guide is not going to mention, however. Texas is in the middle of a historic drought, and the river that tourists are cruising along with ducks, big bass, catfish and perch is actually treated sewage water. >> Read the Full Article
  • Record Arctic ozone hole appears

    A huge hole that appeared in the Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic in 2011 was the largest recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, triggering worries the event could occur again and be even worse, scientists said in a report on Monday. The ozone layer high in the stratosphere acts like a giant shield against the Sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin cancers and cataracts. Since the 1980s, scientists have recorded an ozone hole every summer above the Antarctic at the bottom of the globe. Some years, the holes have been so large they covered the entire continent and stretched to parts of South America, leading to worries about a surge in skin cancers. During extreme events, up to 70 percent of the ozone layer can be destroyed, before it recovers months later. >> Read the Full Article