"The New York Department of Environmental Protection installed a prototype "algal turf scrubber" at once of its wastewater treatment plants in Queens. The scrubber--two 350-foot metal ramps coated with algae that grows naturally--is designed to use algae to remove nutrients and boost dissolved oxygen in the water that passes through it. John McLaughlin, Director of Ecological Services for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Peter May, restoration ecologist for Biohabitats, explain how the scrubber works, and where the harvested algae goes."
Courtesy Dr Thomas Szkopek If you look at my posts about graphene you will understand why I think graphene is a super material. One chemically converted graphene product of interest (CCG) is graphene oxide (GO). Graphene oxide, an insulating version of graphene, is expected to be used for all kinds of material and electronic applications. Graphene oxide is also biodegradable. Bacteria from the genus Shewanella easily convert GO to harmless graphene.
A new paper in ACSNano from the lab of Rice chemist James Tour demonstrates an environmentally friendly way to make bulk quantities of graphene oxide (GO). Scientists have been making GO since the 19th century, but the new process eliminates the need for explosive or toxic ingredients.
The researchers suggested the water-soluble product could find use in polymers, ceramics and metals, as thin films for electronics, as drug-delivery devices and for hydrogen storage, as well as for oil and gas recovery. Science Dailey
Graphene oxide gets green EurekaAlert
It's not every day that I agree with the NYTimes' John Tierney. But today, I do. He offers up seven rules for a new breed of environmentalist: the "Turq."
"No, that’s not a misspelling. The word is derived from Turquoise, which is Stewart Brand’s term for a new breed of environmentalist combining traditional green with a shade of blue, as in blue-sky open-minded thinking. A Turq, he hopes, will be an environmentalist guided by science, not nostalgia or technophobia."
Check out the rules. Are you a Turq? Does any of Tierney's advice surprise you?
Courtesy Cornelia Kopp
Jon Foley, of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, has similar advice. "There are no silver bullets," he says. "But there is silver buckshot."
Human activities, rather than nature, are now the driving force of change on the planet. And experts say that there will be nine billion of us on the planet by 2050. Making sure that we all have the chance to survive and thrive will require a lot of innovation, and a lot of blue-sky thinking. Who's up for the challenge?
It's Friday, so it's time for a new Science Friday video.
Courtesy Science Friday
How would you describe the size of a wind turbine? There's no right answer. Turbines come in different varieties tuned for different uses. Compare the 256-foot-tall Gamesa G87 turbines, found at Bear Creek Wind Park in Penn., with the mini turbines developed by Bergey Windpower in Norman, Okla. The scale of both may surprise you.
Courtesy Science FridayIt's Friday, so it's time for a new Science Friday video. This week,
"What is the future of sustainable architecture? Washington University's Tyson Living Learning Center in Eureka, MO, achieves the Living Building Challenge--a set of green guidelines that measure a building based on its performance. The building's architect Dan Hellmuth, of Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects in St. Louis, and Kevin Smith, associate director of Tyson Research Center, point out some of the Center's greenest features."
Courtesy Stef Maruch
Move over, old, lame bio-fuels!
Algae! The wondrous plants that can grow easily in controlled conditions and whose needs are very basic for rapid growth is now being tested for use in bio-fuels. ExxonMobil, looking to expand and diversify their alternative fuel options will team up with Venter's Synthetic Genomics Inc. to conduct research on different types of algae to test their effectiveness as biofuels.
The so-called "first generation" bio-fuels caused problems globally when the price of corn (for corn ethanol) sky rocketed when it was being used for food and fuel . Though a small percent of corn (or other) ethanol is added to gasoline, it still has a huge effect on the market, and is therefore not the best long term solution to eliminating our addiction to oil.
Courtesy Bjorn Appel
Many view bio-fuels as only a transitionary solution to the oil problem, hoping that a sustainable energy type (like solar or wind) may soon be widely available. Algae if successful as a bio fuel, it may be used for a longer period than the "first-generation" bio fuels because of how fast it can grow and how easy it can be to care for. It also isn't used for much else, not like corn anyway. Engineers are hoping to develop artificial environments for algae to grow in knowing that this is the only way to produce enough of the green slime to sustain our needs.
It is encouraging, in some ways, that a big business like ExxonMobil is getting involved because research will not be short funded. If there is a will, there is some green slime that can't wait to get in your car!
Courtesy Steve Wampler
We’ve talked before about how rich cities also tend to be clean cities. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people in subsistence situations tend to scrabble for mere survival, without much regard to any other issues. Only after securing basic life necessities can they focus attention on externalities, such as the environment.
Now comes word that there is something of a linear progression going on:
the richer you are, the greener you are.
As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
The professors argue: “If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070.” All thanks to the free-market system, and the wealth that it brings to us all.
Money…it’s greener than you think!
Tired of being told over and over again to recycle or to buy compact fluorescent bulbs? Conserving energy and reducing waste is important, but it's not always the most exciting way to help the planet. Or is it...?
This Earth Day you can combat your boredom and reduce your carbon footprint with one of these cool Do-It-Yourself projects from the website Instructables. Some are harder than others, but all of them are possible with a little time and elbow grease.
Got other Earth Day project ideas? Share them here! Or better yet, upload your own instructions to the Instructables website and help other people have a fun and functional Earth Day everyday!
Courtesy Pedestrian Council of Australia: ABC MarketingFor some of us, it's been a while since those walking shoes have seen the light of day. So get them out, dust them off, and lace them up because tomorrow is National Walk to Work Day!
This has been a national holiday since 2004 when the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson declared the first National Walk to Work Day. The idea behind the day was to draw attention to our need to get out and get in shape. But with today's ever-flucuating gas prices and difficult economy, we can find new reasons to celebrate the health concious holiday. We can choose to walk to work to help our waistlines and our wallets!
However if you're like me and live a sizeable distance from your workplace, check out these compromises:
So whatever the reason, spend at least 30 minutes walking tomorrow!