environment (5)

Ransomware, and Biofuels...

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Continuous improvements in farming and biofuel production technology have helped establish ethanol as a low-carbon fuel.

Topics: Biology, Biofuels, Climate Change, Dark Side, Economics, Environment

The carbon footprint of corn ethanol shrunk by 23% between 2005 and 2019 as farmers and ethanol producers adopted new technologies and improved efficiency, according to a new analysis published in the academic journal Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. By 2019, the researchers found, corn ethanol was reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 44-52% compared to gasoline.

Since 2000, corn ethanol production in the United State has increased significantly – from 1.6 to 15 billion gallons – due to supportive biofuel policies. In its study, the Argonne laboratory conducted a retrospective analysis of the changes in U.S. corn ethanol greenhouse gas emission intensity, sometimes known as carbon intensity, over the 15 years from 2005 to 2019, showing a significant decrease of 23%.

The carbon footprint of corn ethanol shrunk by 23% between 2005 and 2019 as farmers and ethanol producers adopted new technologies and improved efficiency, according to a new analysis published in the academic journal Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. By 2019, the researchers found, corn ethanol was reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 44-52% compared to gasoline.

Since 2000, corn ethanol production in the United State has increased significantly – from 1.6 to 15 billion gallons – due to supportive biofuel policies. In its study, the Argonne laboratory conducted a retrospective analysis of the changes in U.S. corn ethanol greenhouse gas emission intensity, sometimes known as carbon intensity, over the 15 years from 2005 to 2019, showing a significant decrease of 23%.

This is due to several factors, the analysis explains. Corn grain yield has increased continuously, reaching 168 bushels/acre or a 15% increase while fertilizer inputs per acre have remained constant, resulting in decreased intensities of fertilizer inputs with a 7% and 18% reduction in nitrogen and potash use per bushel of corn grain harvested, respectively. The study also found a 14% reduction per bushel in farming energy use.

The analysis also found a 6.5% increase in ethanol yield, from 2.70 to 2.86 gal/bushel corn, and a 24% reduction in ethanol plant energy use, from 32 000 to 25 000 Btu/gal ethanol also helped reduce the carbon intensity.

“Our study shows that while the corn ethanol industry has experienced significant volume expansion, it has reduced the GHG intensity of corn ethanol through improved U.S. corn farming and ethanol biorefinery operations. Corn yield has increased, and chemical and energy use intensities of corn farming have decreased. In ethanol biorefineries, ethanol yield has increased, and energy use has decreased significantly,” according to the researchers. “Biofuels, including corn ethanol, can play a critical role in the U.S. desire for deep decarbonization of its economy.”

Bonus: I'm not sure Russian criminal elements can hack, or extort us with it.

Researchers add evidence to ethanol’s low-carbon benefits, Jacqui Fatka, Farm Progress

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MIT engineers have developed self-cooling fabrics from polyethylene, commonly used in plastic bags. They estimate that the new fabric may be more sustainable than cotton and other common textiles. (Courtesy: Svetlana Boriskina)

Topics: Ecology, Environment, Green Tech, Materials Science

Polyethylene is one of the most common plastics in the world, but it is seldom found in clothing because it cannot absorb or carry away water. (Imagine wearing a plastic bag – you would feel very uncomfortable very quickly.) Now, however, researchers in the US have developed a new material spun from polyethylene that not only “breathes” better than cotton, nylon, or polyester, but also has a smaller ecological footprint due to the ease with which it can be manufactured, dyed, cleaned and used.

The textile industry produces about 62 million tons of fabric each year. In the process, it consumes huge quantities of water, generates millions of tons of waste, and accounts for 5–10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the world’s most polluting industries. Later stages of the textile use cycle also contribute to the industry’s environmental impact. Textiles made from natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk, or linen require considerable amounts of energy and water to recycle, while textiles that are colored or made of composite materials are hard to recycle at all.

Hydrophilic and wicking

Researchers led by Svetlana Boriskina of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) set out to produce an alternative. They began by melting powdered low-density polyethylene and then extruding it into thin fibers roughly 18.5 μm in diameter (as measured using scanning electron microscopy and micro-computed tomography imaging techniques). This process slightly oxidizes the material’s surface so that it becomes hydrophilic – that is, it attracts water molecules – without the need for a separate chemical treatment.

Recycled plastic bags make sustainable fabrics, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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Argonne, Assemble...

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(Image by Shutterstock/muratart.)

Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming, Green Tech

Thankfully, we're not. Hat tip to Marvel, and Rotten Tomatoes.

Scientists aren’t superheroes. Or are they? Superheroes defend the defenseless and save humanity from any number of disasters, both natural and unnatural, often using powers of logic and some really hip techno-gadgets.

The Earth is in crisis and while it has its own mechanisms to fight back, it could use a helping hand. Earth could use a superhero.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are stepping up and applying decades of expertise and research to combat some of Earth’s toughest foes, from waste and pollution to climate change. And they’ve assembled a cache of some of the world’s coolest technology for this crusade.

So, this Earth Day, we take a look at just a few of the ways Argonne’s scientist-superheroes are swooping in to keep Earth healthy and its citizens safe.

Predicting Earth’s future

What better way to save the planet than knowing what the future holds? Argonne and DOE are leaders in modeling Earth’s complex natural systems to help us keep tabs on the planet’s health. The best of these models can simulate how changes in these systems and our own actions might influence climate and ecosystems many years into the future. They give us a better understanding of the roles played by tropical rain forests, ice sheets, permafrost, and oceans in maintaining carbon levels and help us devise strategies for protecting them — ultimately, identifying how much carbon dioxide (CO2) we need to reduce from human activities and remove from the atmosphere to stabilize the planet’s temperature.

8 Things Argonne is Doing to Save the Earth, Argonne National Laboratory

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Measure of Our Impact...

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Dams are just one type of infrastructure that can cause environmental damage. HUSEYINTUNCER/ ISTOCK

Topics: Civics, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism

It’s not just your storage unit that’s packed to the gills. According to a new study, the mass of all our stuff—buildings, roads, cars, and everything else we manufacture—now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet. And the amount of new material added every week equals the total weight of Earth’s nearly 8 billion people.

“If you weren’t convinced before that humans are dominating the planet, then you should be convinced now,” says Timon McPhearson, an urban ecologist at the New School who was not involved with the research. “This is an eye-catching comparison,” adds Fridolin Krausmann, a social ecologist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, who also was not involved in the work.

There are many measures of humanity’s impact on the planet. Fossil fuels have sent greenhouse gases soaring to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. Agriculture and dwellings have altered 70% of the land. And humans have wiped out untold numbers of species in an emerging great extinction. The transformations are so great that researchers have declared we’re living in a new human-dominated age: the Anthropocene.</em>

Systems biologist Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science went looking for a new gauge of our impact. He and his colleagues synthesized previous estimates of the biomass of living plants for each year between 1900 and 2017. Those estimates account for about 90% of all living things and are based on field research and computer modeling. From 1990 onward, they also include data from satellites, which researchers have used to track global vegetation.

Human ‘stuff’ now outweighs all life on Earth, Erik Stokstad, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Magazine

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Environmental Justice and ENPs...

 

Topics: African Americans, Diversity, Diversity in Science, Ecology, Environment, Nanotechnology


Abstract

The production and use of Engineered Nanoparticles (ENPs) or materials containing ENPs has increased astonishingly, leading to increased exposure to workers and consumers. The invention and applications of new materials either create new opportunities or pose new risks and uncertainties. The uncertainties concerning application of ENPs are posing disturbances to the ecosystem and human health. This review first addresses in vitro and in vivo studies conducted on the toxicity of ENPs to animals and humans. Ethical justifications are provided specially with reference to Intergenerational Justice (IRG-J) and Ecological Justice (EC-J). The social benefits and burdens of ENPs are identified for present and future generations. Some mitigation approaches for combating the potential risks posed by ENPs are proposed. Finally, suggestions for the safe handling of ENPs in future are proposed in the review.
 
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The term nanotechnology refers to the science of investigating and manipulating materials at atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale. (Sudarenko, 2013). Nanoparticles (NPs) are known to occur naturally (e.g., volcanic ash and forest fires), accidentally (i.e., unintended human activities) and anthropogenic (e.g., cosmetics and other consumer products). Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) or engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are man made materials produced deliberately for different industrial applications and most commonly having dimension from 1 to 100 nm (Auffan et al., 2009). It is widely acknowledged in the scientific community that ENPs have enormous potential to transform industrial processes in the future thereby shaping how the society and the global economy will function. They have several industrial and domestic applications in consumer products, cosmetics, agriculture, soil and groundwater remediation, electronics, energy storage, biomedical and transportation (Besha et al., 2018; Boldrin et al., 2014).

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) or engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are man made materials produced deliberately for different industrial applications and most commonly having dimension from 1 to 100 nm (Auffan et al., 2009). It is widely acknowledged in the scientific community that ENPs have enormous potential to transform industrial processes in the future thereby shaping how the society and the global economy will function. They have several industrial and domestic applications in consumer products, cosmetics, agriculture, soil and groundwater remediation, electronics, energy storage, biomedical and transportation (Besha et al., 2018; Boldrin et al., 2014).

 

Sustainability and environmental ethics for the application of engineered nanoparticles
Abreham Tesfaye Beshaa, Yanju Liubc, Dawit N. Bekelebc, Zhaomin Dongd, Ravi Naidubc, Gebru Neda Gebremariama

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“Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.” Marvin Gaye wasn’t an environmental scientist, but his 1971 single “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” provides a stark and useful environmental analysis, complete with warnings of overcrowding and climate change. The song doesn’t explicitly mention race, but its place in Gaye’s What’s Going On album portrays a black Vietnam veteran, coming back to his segregated community and envisioning the hell that people endure.

Gaye’s prophecies relied on the qualitative data of storytelling—of long-circulated anecdotes and warnings within black communities of bad air and water, poison, and cancer. But those warnings have been buttressed by study after study indicating that people of color face disproportionate risks from pollution, and that polluting industries are often located in the middle of their communities.

Late last week, even as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Trump administration continued a plan to dismantle many of the institutions built to address those disproportionate risks, researchers embedded in the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment released a study indicating that people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air. Specifically, the study finds that people in poverty are exposed to more fine particulate matter than people living above poverty. According to the study’s authors, “results at national, state, and county scales all indicate that non-Whites tend to be burdened disproportionately to Whites.”

 

Trump's EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real
A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air—even as the agency seeks to roll back regulations on pollution.
Vann R. Newkirk, The Atlantic

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