Environment

Exploring effects of deep sea mining: Polymetallic nodule extraction may cause long-term reduction of carbon flow throughput

By Lisa McDonald / October 13, 2020

Deep sea mining is of great interest to mining companies, but scientists worry about the environmental impacts. A new study finds extraction of polymetallic nodules will likely reduce ecosystem functioning on at least decadal time scales.

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Video: Plastic sand bricks offer affordable and sustainable housing in Kenya

By Lisa McDonald / October 7, 2020

Recycling plastic into bricks is an emerging industry in some developing countries that are looking to clean the environment while addressing affordable housing concerns. Gjenge Makers Ltd. in Kenya is one example of a company pursuing this production platform.

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Video: Battery-free computing restores retro gaming device

By Lisa McDonald / September 16, 2020

When restoring old technology, sometimes substituting modern alternatives for original parts can improve the classic design. Researchers at Northwestern University and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands created a clone of the 8-bit Nintendo Game Boy using an energy-aware gaming platform.

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Video: Brew coffee sustainably using ceramic and glass filters

By Lisa McDonald / September 2, 2020

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, yet the environmental impacts of the drink can be significant. Metal and cloth are the main alternatives to paper for creating reusable filters—could ceramic and glass materials play a role in sustainability as well?

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An ‘udder’ way to make money: Sorbent-based purification may make biogas production economically feasible for farmers

By Lisa McDonald / August 21, 2020

Farmers are in the midst of an economic crisis. Production of methane fuel from biogas, a natural byproduct of organic wastes, may be a way to turn a profit, but the current processing methods are too expensive for small farmers. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory developed a composite sorbent that may make the production process economically feasible.

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Maximize production of electricity and crops—tinted semitransparent solar panels for agrivoltaics

By Lisa McDonald / August 18, 2020

Agrivoltaics, the practice of co-locating photovoltaic infrastructure and agriculture, can lead to reduced crop yield if the solar panels block too much light. Researchers in the United Kingdom and Italy investigated using tinted semitransparent solar panels that selectively absorb certain wavelengths and found a substantial overall financial gain compared with classical agriculture.

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Will it spall? Phase diagrams, thermal expansion, and barrier coating degradation

By Jonathon Foreman / August 11, 2020

Thermal and environmental barrier coatings are often used to protect turbine blades made from ceramic matrix composites—but these coatings are prone to damage caused by environmental silicate contamination. In three papers published in JACerS, researchers provide extensive insights into the many aspects of damage.

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Trap-and-zap degradation: Photocatalysis techniques for destroying antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes

By Lisa McDonald / August 4, 2020

Antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes are an increasing concern in water contamination. Rice University researchers are exploring photocatalysis techniques to destroy antibiotic resistance genes, and two papers published this year explore “trap-and-zap” strategies.

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Pursuing a cobalt-free future: Nickel-manganese-aluminum cathodes for lithium-ion batteries

By Lisa McDonald / July 17, 2020

Many electric vehicles today use lithium-ion batteries that contain cobalt, an element with high ethical and environmental costs to its production. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin explored the potential of a cobalt-free lithium-ion battery that features a nickel-manganese-aluminum cathode and found promising results.

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Video: Forever eliminate ‘forever’ chemicals—boron nitride destroys PFOA, GenX

By Lisa McDonald / July 15, 2020

PFAS chemicals are notoriously difficult to destroy, giving them the moniker “forever” chemicals. But researchers at Rice University were recently surprised to discover that boron nitride serves as an efficient photocatalyst for degrading PFAS chemicals.

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