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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category

Feb 17, 2019

A new chemical process could turn a quarter of our plastic waste into clean fuel

Posted by in categories: chemistry, engineering, sustainability

A new chemical process could turn about 90% of the world’s grocery bags, shrink wrap, and other polypropylene waste into clean fuel.


Grocery bags and other trash could be melted down to yield useful products like oil and gas.

The problem: The world’s landfill sites and oceans are being flooded with plastic. A mere 9% of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced over the last 65 years has been recycled, according to the United Nations. Over eight million tons of plastic flow into our oceans every year, harming wildlife.

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Feb 16, 2019

China made an artificial star that’s 6 times as hot as the sun, and it could be the future of energy

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics, solar power, sustainability

Imagine if we could replace fossil fuels with our very own stars. And no, we’re not talking about solar power: We’re talking nuclear fusion. And recent research is helping us get there. Meet the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, or EAST.

EAST is a fusion reactor based in Hefei, China. And it can now reach temperatures more than six times as hot as the sun. Let’s take a look at what’s happening inside. Fusion occurs when two lightweight atoms combine into a single, larger one, releasing energy in the process. It sounds simple enough, but it’s not easy to pull off. Because those two atoms share a positive charge. And just like two opposing magnets, those positive atoms repel each other.

Stars, like our sun, have a great way of overcoming this repulsion … their massive size, which creates a tremendous amount of pressure in their cores … So the atoms are forced closer together making them more likely to collide. There’s just one problem: We don’t have the technology to recreate that kind of pressure on Earth.

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Feb 16, 2019

Nissan unveils incredible solar-powered mobile workshop for woodworkers

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of unique van conversions, but Nissan has taken the van-loving world by storm with its new NV300 concept van — a mobile workshop for woodworking professionals. The amazing design, which was a collaboration between Nissan and UK-based firm Studio Hardie, is fully-functioning mobile woodworking studio that can be taken off grid, letting wood-loving artisans find inspiration anywhere they choose. What’s more, the van runs on solar power and its tools are powered by an emissions-free, weatherproof power pack made out of recycled electric car batteries.

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Feb 15, 2019

Special forces are getting a stealth motorcycle that’s silent and deadly

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

DARPA wants a stealthy, fuel-scavenging hybrid-electric motorcycle for special forces.

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Feb 15, 2019

3D-printed Mars habitat could be a perfect fit for early SpaceX Starship colonies

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, habitats, robotics/AI, space travel, sustainability

Space architecture startup AI SpaceFactory achieved second place in the latest phase of a NASA-led competition, pitting several groups against each other in pursuit of designing a 3D-printed Mars habitat and physically demonstrating some of the technologies needed to build them.

With a focus on ease of scalable 3D-printing and inhabitants’ quality of life, as well as the use of modular imported goods like windows and airlocks, MARSHA lends itself impeccably well to SpaceX’s goal of developing a sustainable human presence on Mars as quickly, safely, and affordably as possible with the support of its Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle.

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Feb 15, 2019

China Is Building a Solar Power Station in Space

Posted by in categories: solar power, space, sustainability

Beam Me Down

Needless to say, the biggest problem for a floating power plant is figuring out how to get the energy back down to Earth.

The scientists behind the project are still sorting that part out. But right now, the plan is to have solar arrays in space capture light from the sun and then beam electricity down to a facility on Earth in the form of a microwave or a laser, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Feb 15, 2019

Safer-by-Design Fluorescent Nanocrystals: Metal Halide Perovskites vs Semiconductor Quantum Dots

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics, solar power, sustainability

Despite the young age of the research field, substantial progress has been made in the study of metal halide perovskite nanocrystals (HPNCs). Just as their thin-film counterparts are used for light absorption in solar cells, they are on the way to revolutionizing research on novel chromophores for light emission applications. Exciting physics arising from their peculiar structural, electronic, and excitonic properties are being discovered with breathtaking speed. Many things we have learned from the study of conventional semiconductor quantum dots (CSQDs) of II–VI (e.g., CdSe), IV–VI (e.g., PbS), and III–V (e.g., InP) compounds have to be thought over, as HPNCs behave differently. This Feature Article compares both families of nanocrystals and then focuses on approaches for substituting toxic heavy metals without sacrificing the unique optical properties as well as on surface coating strategies for enhancing the long-term stability.

In the early 1980s the quest for novel photocatalysts, fueled by the oil crisis in the preceding decade, led to the discovery of semiconductor quantum dots. Pioneering works by Efros, Brus, and Henglein showed both experimentally and theoretically that the reduction of size of semiconductor particles (e.g., CdS) down to the nanometer range induces a significant change in their band gap energy.(1−3) The underlying quantum confinement effect, occurring when the nanocrystal size is (significantly) smaller than twice the exciton Bohr radius of the semiconductor material (Table 1), leads to an increase, scaling with 1/r, of the band gap energy. It also gives rise to the appearance of discrete energy levels at the place of continuous valence and conduction energy bands. In the same period Ekimov as well as Itoh and co-workers observed quantum confinement in small CuCl crystallites embedded in a glass or a NaCl matrix.

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Feb 13, 2019

New Artificial Leaf Design Could Absorb Far More CO2

Posted by in category: sustainability

Placing the leaves in a bubble could dramatically improve efficiency.

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Feb 13, 2019

Graphene-Based Cement/Concrete Admixture for Ultra-Strong, High-Strength and Sustainable Housing/Infrastructure

Posted by in categories: habitats, sustainability

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Feb 13, 2019

Europe’s next €1-billion science projects: six teams make it to final round

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, robotics/AI, science, solar power, sustainability

The six newly shortlisted initiatives include: a project that would explore how AI can enhance human capabilities; one to hasten clinical availability of cell and gene therapies; a personalized-medicine initiative; two projects that aim to make solar energy more efficient; and a humanities project called the Time Machine, which seeks to develop methods for enabling digital search of historical records in European cities.


AI enhancement and a virtual time machine are included in the shortlist of pitches.

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