• EPA Proposes Ambitious Plan to Clean the Gowanus Canal

    The Gowanus is one of the United States' most polluted waterways, bisecting Brooklyn and emptying into Upper New York Harbor. Many years ago, it was a major industrial transportation route, servicing manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries, and chemical plants. At the time stormwater runoff and discharges from these facilities were constantly being absorbed into the canal. The Gowanus was added to the EPA superfund list of sites, and numerous potentially responsible parties have been identified including National Grid and the City of New York. After thorough environmental investigation, EPA has finally proposed a plan to conduct the cleanup, which will include the removal of contaminated sediment, capping dredged areas, and preventing further land-based contaminated outflows. The expected cost of the project is between $467 and $504 million. The EPA will be taking public comments on the plan from now until March 28, 2013. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sustainable Aviation On The Horizon

    In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage. >> Read the Full Article
  • Marshes on U.S. Coast Need More Protection NOW

    A hundred years ago we thought that we had to fill in the marshes near populated areas along the eastern US coastline since they represented prime locations for commercial and residential development. Even after some protections were put in place to reduce the impacts of runaway development, marshes continued to serve are the places we dumped our garbage, and sent the effluents from our wastewater treatment plants. They also receive the nutrient-rich run off from agricultural land use and urban street runoff to our rivers. A major nine-year study led by researcher Linda Deegan points to the damage that human-caused nutrients inflict on salt marshes along the U.S. East Coast. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she describes what these findings mean for an ecosystem that provides critical services, from nourishing marine life to buffering the coast from storms like Sandy. >> Read the Full Article
  • Come With Me on a Plastic Carpet Ride!

    Cities are often littered with trash and plastics on every street corner. The haphazard candy wrapper, bottle or plastic bag blowing in the wind creates eyesores for locals and tourists alike. But what is the litter situation in the desert? You won't find too much garbage where there aren't any people, that is unless it's a piece of plastic artwork. Dutch collective, WE MAKE CARPETS, was recently commissioned by the Taragalte Festival in southern Morocco to turn ordinary plastics into a magic carpet piece of artwork. >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA Finalizes Clean Air Standards for Boilers and Incinerators, Makes Progress in Protecting Public Health

    Today, the U.S. EPA finalized changes to Clean Air Act standards for boilers, incinerators, and cement kilns which are used by industries for everything from power generation, heating, treating waste, and manufacturing. These changes will achieve extensive public health protections by reducing toxic air pollution, while at the same addressing concerns and feedback from industry and labor groups, increasing the rule’s flexibility and dramatically reducing costs. As a result, 99 percent of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the U.S. are not covered or can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups. >> Read the Full Article
  • NOx Removal with Paint

    NOx is a pollutant that comes from all combustion emissions. It can be minimized but not eliminated at the stack. Painted surfaces (a very common urban surface area) with photo-catalytic characteristics may be able to clean the air of nitrogen oxides and other health-endangering substances. Using a new testing procedure, Fraunhofer researchers can find out how the coatings behave during a long-term test. They will introduce the new test at the booth of the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance January, 2013, in Munich, Germany. >> Read the Full Article
  • A "Win-Win" Situation for Acid Mine Drainage

    Acid Mine Drainage is one of the greatest environmental hazards that is associated with mining processes and degrades more than 4,500 stream miles in the mid-Atlantic region of the US alone. When water flows through abandoned and active coal mines, a reaction occurs between the water and the rocks containing sulfur bearing minerals. This reaction has the ability to contaminate drinking water, disrupt aquatic plants and animal reproduction, and corrode parts of infrastructure due to the net acidity of the drainage. However, according to a new study by the US Geological Survey at Leetown Science Center, a byproduct resulting from the treatment of acid mine drainage may actually have a second life in helping clean waters coming from agricultural and wastewater discharges. >> Read the Full Article
  • From Landfill to Energy: UK Partnership Converts Methane Gas to Electricity

    A new partnership has started providing enough clean, green energy to power 2,000 homes across North Yorkshire after establishing an innovative way to capture and recycle the energy produced by a landfill site. The Walled Garden Partnership was set up by former landfill owners Tony and Gill Eyers 18 months ago to look at investing in machinery and technology to make the most of energy produced by a landfill site. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Can the Performance of Batteries in Electric Cars be Improved?

    I have been driving a Chevy VOLT for a year and a half. I have more than 26,000 miles on it, and have used 100 gallons of gasoline. That works out to more than 250 mpg. Of course, I have been charging the VOLT at home every night, and at the office during the day but my electric bills at both places are not noticeably higher. It would be nice if the electric range were a bit longer, but the gasoline engine on board that charges the batteries guarantees that I can keep driving as long as I need to. What are the limiting factors to increasing the range of the lithium ion batteries? Researchers led by Ohio State University engineers examined used car batteries and discovered that over time lithium accumulates beyond the battery electrodes – in the "current collector," a sheet of copper which facilitates electron transfer between the electrodes and the car's electrical system. This knowledge could aid in improving design and performance of batteries, explained Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and the Howard D. Winbigler Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "Our study shows that the copper current collector plays a role in the performance of the battery," he said. >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA Reviews PM2.5 Standards, Expects Counties to Comply by 2020

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to its national air quality standards for PM2.5 today, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. PM2.5 is the term used for particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (which is approximately 1/30th of the width of a human hair). It is a harmful fine particle pollutant that comes from wood burning, soot, power plants, and motor vehicles. >> Read the Full Article