From Geeks are Sexy Technology News: How Your Pee Can Help Save the Environment

The challenge to reduce carbon emissions rages on (despite those who “don’t believe” in global warming). According to Manuel Jiménez Aguilar, an answer may lie in our urine.

In a study he published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, Aguilar explains that urea results in the production of ammonium bicarbonate and also ammonia, which can absorb atmospheric CO2. So why the olive waste? Well urine decays and it seems that the liquid waste that results from the olive paste-making process is a basic preservative that will keep urine fresh.

This mixture of urine and olive waste, according to the study, could reduce CO2 emissions by one percent. Sure, it’s not really doing anything for the carbon monoxide or host of other gases, but CO2 is a big problem in global warming and that would make quite a significant difference. He’s proposing that such a mixture would be placed in places such as chimneys so that gas is sort of filtered past it before heading out into our atmosphere. There would obviously also need to be a system to refresh the paste once it was saturated with carbon dioxide.

It would be a pretty cool environmental development: recycling of olive waste water and our own personal body waste, while also reducing CO2 emissions. Win-win, if you ask me.

What do you think? Viable option for reducing carbon emissions or waste (oooh see what I did there?) of time?

[Via Geekosystem | Photo Credit]


from Geeks are Sexy Technology News

From Autoblog: Study: U.S. has fewer cars per person than Europe, but still uses twice as much energy

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l'Arc de Triomphe

Here’s a shocking statistic: The United States has fewer cars per capita than Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and 16 other countries. Even more dramatic is one of the potential causes: A declining American middle class.

According to an Atlantic report on a new study conduct by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, we’re ranked just 25th in the world in per-person car ownership. The actual number stands at 439 cars per 1,000 Americans. Further, the U.S. is an outlier when you compare the number of vehicles per capita to household consumption. While we have one of the highest rates of household spending, car buying is in decline here. It is this disparity that points to the widening income gap in the U.S. as a potential cause of our low rate of car ownership. Indeed, car ownership rates track with the size of a nation’s middle class, according to the report.

To add insult to injury, despite our low rates of car ownership, Americans still consume roughly twice as much energy as most Europeans.


from Autoblog

From Ars Technica: Wind accounts for one-third of new energy-generating capacity in US

Enlarge / Wind and gas have dominated recent additions to the US generating capacity.

In 2011, roughly one-third of the new generating capacity installed within the US was in the form of wind turbines, according to a new report prepared by the Department of Energy. That represents nearly seven Gigawatts of new wind installations. Although that leaves the nation a distant second to China (which installed a hefty 17.6GW), it’s about double the capacity installed in the next closest country (India) and leaves the US firmly in second place in total wind capacity, with 47GW.

It’s important to note that this capacity doesn’t reflect the typical output of these wind farms, since the wind doesn’t always actually blow. Nevertheless, the steady growth of wind capacity has now pushed the amount that is actually generated by wind to over three percent of the annual national consumption of electricity. The top four countries in this regard—Denmark, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland—all produce over 18 percent of their needs through wind. The US ranks thirteenth.

That said, several states within the US would be competitive with the international results. Wind accounts for over 22 percent of the electricity generated in South Dakota, and just under 19 percent of electricity generated in Iowa (four other states are also above 10 percent). These are important figures, because the US grid isn’t especially well structured to handle over 20 percent of its power coming from intermittent sources like wind. The experience gained by the nations and states could prove invaluable as wind power continues to grow.


from Ars Technica

From Ars Technica: Putting the brakes on climate change with… diamonds?

Enlarge / The planet has done its own geoengineering experiments that suggest the technique could cool the globe.

As the emissions of carbon dioxide have continued largely unabated over the past decade, a number of people have given thought to geoengineering, or changing the environment in a way that tweaks the planet’s thermostat. Although people have suggested some exotic interventions—reflecting sunlight away from the Earth with orbiting mirrors—more serious consideration is being given to pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. But a new paper in Nature Climate Change suggests that focus might be keeping us from considering even better options.

Sulfur is a major focus in part because we know it will work, since major volcanic eruptions provide a natural test of it. The sulfur released in eruptions can reach the stratosphere, where it combines with water to produce aerosol particles that reflect sunlight back to space. It’s estimated that the aerosols created in the wake of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo were large enough to drop the global temperature by half a Kelvin for two years.

Sulfur is also abundant and cheap, making the raw materials for this form of geoengineering relatively inexpensive. In fact, the whole process is expected to be so cheap that some have estimated that it might be within reach of a handful of wealthy individuals. But, even if you were committed to reflecting sunlight back to space, there are some downsides to using sulfur. The sulfur would have to be constantly replenished, and its constant presence at high altitude would trigger chemical reactions that could damage the ozone layer.

from Ars Technica

From Latest Items from TreeHugger: Airbus Could Reduce Plane Fuel Consumption 15% with Hydrogen Fuel Cell

The idea is to take a load off the plane’s engines by powering non-propulsion systems – basically everything that run on electricity in the plane, light the entertainment electronics avionics, lights, etc – with a fuel cell rather than with the engines.

from Latest Items from TreeHugger