Topic environment

California bill will cut greenhouse emissions – from cows

in environment on (#1VERA)
California's Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday to reduce a variety of pollutants, from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in aerosol and air conditioning refrigerants, black carbon from diesel trucks, to methane from cows. Livestock contribute about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, methane accounts for about 44 percent of that, of which cows contribute the lion’s share. Cows release most of their methane directly by belching and flatulence, but approximately one third comes from their manure.

In California, dairy farmers will be required to reduce methane emissions from manure to 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030. They will receive $50 million from the fees the state collects from polluters through its cap-and-trade program. The funding will go toward buying methane digesters, which generate energy from the methane in manure. The energy will be sold to electrical utilities. The law also allows the Air Resources Board to regulate cow flatulence in the future, if and when a practical technology exists to reduce it. If successful, it could inspire other nations to follow suit. The United States is behind India as the largest dairy producer in the world.

Scorching Kuwait weather sets Eastern Hemisphere's all-time high record

in environment on (#1NA1N)
story imageIt was a historic day in the annals of meteorology on Thursday, July 21, 2016 in the Middle East, where the temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait soared to an astonishing 54°C (129.2°F). If the reading is verified, this would be Earth's hottest temperature ever reliably measured outside of Death Valley, California. The temperature is likely to be verified, since Thursday's incredible heat also extended into Iraq, which set their local all-time heat record of 128°F (53.4°C) at Basrah. A temperature of 129.2°F has now also been reported in Basrah, Iraq, for July 23, possibly tying Kuwait's new record.

The official world record high temperature is 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) set on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek Ranch, California, in Death Valley. The previous all-time world record of 136 °F on September 13, 1922 in El Azizia, Libya was ruled invalid in 2012 by the World Meteorological Organization. More recently recorded temperatures at Death Valley include a 54.0 °C (129.2 °F) reading on June 30, 2013--tied with recent measurements in Kuwait and Iraq.

This year's heat waves are certain to result in speculation about the connection between global warming and extreme weather. Scientists are increasingly willing to connect climate change to extreme heat waves, at least those “that appear out of the norm in some way.” It will be interesting to see how many more years of warming are needed until the century-old world's record is finally surpassed.

Houses able to float being developed to address flooding

in environment on (#1GKEC)
story imageA radical new solution is being proposed to solve the housing crisis - homes that float. Designers say homes that would rise with flood waters could be built on land otherwise deemed unsuitable because of flooding concerns. Each home can react to flood risk because the guide piles allow the building to rise in significant flood conditions, because of the buoyant basement structure. As flood waters recede the houses resettle to their original levels.

This is hardly the first attempt to develop land vulnerable to flooding. There are 20,000 fully-floating and can-float homes already built in the Netherlands.

Back in the mid-1870s, Sacramento, California raised the level of its downtown by approximately 10 feet (3 meters) to eliminate devastating flooding. They built reinforced brick walls on downtown streets, and filled the resulting street walls with dirt. Building owners either raising their building slowly with the use of numerous screw jacks, or buried the ground floor. Thus the previous first floors of buildings became the basements.

Of course these solutions are no help if it is just the value of your house and mortgage that is "underwater".

Fire breaks out at world's largest solar power plant

in environment on (#1EGBX)
A generating tower at the world's largest solar energy plant was shut down Thursday after a mirror misalignment caused sunlight to burn through electrical wiring and start a small fire, according to officials. The blaze broke out around 9:30 a.m. Officials said that flames could be seen near the ninth floor of the Unit 3 tower, but that they had apparently died out by the time firefighters arrived.

The plant is located near Interstate 15, just inside the California border southwest of Primm, Nev. It uses enormous mirrors to reflect sunlight to boilers atop three towers. The sun's energy heats the water to more than 1,000 degrees, creating steam that spins electricity-generating turbines. Some misaligned mirrors instead focused sunlight on a different spot, which caused the electrical cables to catch fire. Only one of three towers is currently operating, with the fire shutting down one and another undergoing maintenance, Dusenbury said.

Fuel cell plane for zero emission flying

in environment on (#1D7H7)
story imageBeing the first four-seat passenger plane relying primarily on a hydrogen fuel cell, the HY4 will take off to its maiden flight during the upcoming summer. The powertrain of this twin-fuselage, single-engine plane consists of a hydrogen storage unit, a low-temperature hydrogen fuel cell and a high-performance battery. The fuel cell converts the hydrogen energy directly into electric energy, powering the propeller. The only by-product in this process is pure water. If the hydrogen needed for the conversion process is generated in an electrolysis process powered through renewables, the HY4 flies completely emission-free.

The HY4 powertrain has already been tested successfully in the lab. To create enough lift to take off, the system must provide the maximum takeoff performance reliably for at least three minutes. During the test, the developers already succeeded in running the system for more than ten minutes at maximum power. The interplay between fuel cell and the battery, which unites the functions of an energy buffer and back-up power system, has also been proved. This paves the way to integrate the powertrain into the plane.

Boeing flight-tested the first manned fuel cell aircraft back in 2009.

Grid-scale battery based on train cars and gravity

in environment on (#1CEAW)
A California start-up named Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) has a clever idea for storing electrical power at the most extreme scales, e.g. those of the power grid itself. It's a battery of sorts. The scheme include a really big hill and a few railroad cars. Energy to be stored in the system is first used to pull the rail cars via electric locomotives to the top of the hill, where it persists as potential energy. So long as the cars are at the top of the hill, the initial energy expended to get them up there remains trapped within the system. To recover that energy, the cars are simply lowered down the hill, turning built-in motor-generators in the process. This power is collected and then returned to the grid. The system is able to recover 80 percent of the power that it takes in, which is better than pumped-storage hydro (due to evaporation) or most batteries.

Earlier this month, ARES won approval from the Bureau of Land Management for a lease of 156 acres in southern Nevada featuring some train tracks on a hill and connectivity to the greater western US power grid. The 50 megawatts facility is not huge (enough to power 15,000 or so homes) but ARES imagines large regional facilities capable of 2 to 3 gigawatts in the future.

High electrical fees lead school districts to install batteries

in environment on (#113FN)
story imageSky-high school electric bills have been in the spotlight this year. More than three dozen San Diego area districts combined forces to press the Public Utilities Commission to deny a large SDG&E rate hike last spring. “In San Diego, really every school is on a high demand rate tariff.” The higher costs are known as “demand” charges, and they are unlike the tiered rates familiar to renters and homeowners. The utility pinpoints the single 15-minute period when a school pulls the most electricity, and multiplies that by $41.87 for each kilowatt. This can make for a rather high number when a heat wave spikes air conditioning use, or a cold snap prompts an outbreak of furtive space heaters.

The district is waiting for the state architect’s approval to install large blocks of lithium ion batteries at 10 schools in early 2016. The silver-colored columns 8 feet high and 20 feet long will charge up on inexpensive nighttime electricity. Software inside will study each school’s habits, relay warnings when use is climbing, and begin feeding battery power toward the school so the school will take less from the electric utility. Green Charge Networks thinks it can save Poway Unified School District some $133,000 its first year and $1.6 million over 10 years. If it doesn’t, the school district doesn’t pay for the batteries or their installation or maintenance.

SpaceX Made History. Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Landed Upright after launching 11 Satellites

in environment on (#10169)
The U.S Space Company SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at a landing pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida after launching 11 satellites into orbit.
It is historically very important achievement.
It is the first time spaceX has been able to gently touch down the Falcon 9 post-launch. It is a big first step toward reusable rocket.
First stage of falcon 9 is 14-story tall.

MIT's simple ARC reactor for nuclear fusion power plants

in environment on (#WCZ9)
story imageAdvances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor. MIT's new reactor is named as the ARC reactor.

Rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tapes are the enabling technology behind the ARC reactor. When it is cooled to liquid nitrogen temperature, the superconducting tape can carry as much current as the large copper conductor, enabling the construction of extremely high‑field magnets, which consume minimal amounts of power.

Stanford researchers develop new way to measure crop yields from space

in environment on (#TYJ2)
story imageA Stanford-led team has used satellites to measure a special light emitted by plants to estimate crop yields with more accuracy than ever before. This advance will help scientists study how crops respond to climate change.

As Earth’s population grows toward a projected 9 billion by 2050 and climate change puts growing pressure on the world’s agriculture, researchers are turning to technology to help safeguard the global food supply.
A research team, led by Kaiyu Guan, a postdoctoral fellow in Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy, & Environmental Sciences, has developed a method to estimate crop yields using satellites that can measure solar-induced fluorescence, a light emitted by growing plants. The team published its results in the journal Global Change Biology.