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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category: Page 7

Sep 26, 2019

Can We Redesign The Modern City With Synthetic Biology? Could We Grow Our Houses Instead Of Building Them?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, food, habitats, sustainability

Imagine waking up every morning in a house that is just as alive as you are. With synthetic biology, your future home could be a living, breathing marvel of nature and biotechnology. Yes, it’s a bold ambition. But this kind of visionary thinking could be the key to achieving sustainability for modern cities.

Our current homes and cities are severely outdated. Dr. Rachel Armstrong, a synthetic biologist and experimental architect, says, “All our current buildings have something in common: they’re built using Victorian technologies.” Traditional design, manufacturing, and construction processes demand huge amounts of energy and resources, but the resulting buildings give nothing back. To make our future sustainable, we need dynamic structures that give as much as they take. We need to build with nature, not against it.

In nature, everything is connected. For the world’s tallest trees—the California redwoods— their lives depend on their connection to each other as well as on a host of symbiotic organisms. Winds and rain batter the California coast, so redwoods weave their roots together for stability, creating networks that can stretch hundreds of miles. The rains also leach nutrients from the soil. But fungi fill the shortage by breaking down dead organic matter into food for the living. A secondary network of mycelia—the root-like structures of the fungi—entwine with the tree roots to transport nutrients, water, and chemical communications throughout the forest. What if our future cities functioned like these symbiotic networks? What if our future homes were alive?

Sep 26, 2019

A new non-fullerene acceptor for indoor solar energy applications

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells, a third-generation solar cell technology that can convert solar energy into electricity, have been found to be more efficient than silicon cells under low light intensity indoor LED illumination. These cells have also shown great potential for powering low consumption, off-the grid electronics in indoor environments.

Despite their huge potential, the of OPV is currently limited by substantial losses in their open-circuit voltage. In addition, past studies suggest that when used for indoor illumination their is far from optimal.

In a quest to overcome these limitations, a team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China and Linköping University in Sweden have recently designed a non-fullerene acceptor for that could enable high-performance organic photovoltaic cells for indoor applications. This new acceptor, presented in a paper published in Nature Energy, can be blended with a polymer donor to obtain a photoactive layer with an absorption spectrum that matches that of indoor light sources.

Sep 25, 2019

This New Solar-Powered Catamaran Has Unlimited Range and Is Completely Silent

Posted by in category: sustainability

Thanks to solar-powered propulsion and household (meaning no generators are required to run the lights, air conditioning, etc.), and with electric propulsion when needed, the 56-foot catamaran has unlimited range, no noise or fumes, minimal vibration and is virtually maintenance-free. It’s smooth and serene cruising at its best where both the environment and owner’s enjoyment come first. And operation costs are kept to a minimum, too.

Sep 25, 2019

Future Tech: Spinning a Space Station

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, engineering, robotics/AI, solar power, space, sustainability

The ultimate way of building up space structures would be to use material sourced there, rather than launched from Earth. Once processed into finished composite material, the resin holds the carbon fibres together as a solid rather than a fabric. The beams can be used to construct more complex structures, antennae, or space station trusses. Image credit: All About Space/Adrian Mann.

The International Space Station is the largest structure in space so far. It has been painstakingly assembled from 32 launches over 19 years, and still only supports six crew in a little-under-a-thousand cubic metres of pressurised space. It’s a long way from the giant rotating space stations some expected by 2001. The problem is that the rigid aluminium modules all have to be launched individually, and assembled in space. Bigelow Aerospace will significantly improve on this with their inflatable modules that can be launched as a compressed bundle; but a British company has developed a system that could transform space flight, by building structures directly in space.

Magna Parva from Leicester are a space engineering consultancy, founded in 2005 by Andy Bowyer and Miles Ashcroft. Their team have worked on a range of space hardware, from methods to keep Martian solar panels clear of dust, to ultrasonic propellant sensors, to spacecraft windows. But their latest project is capable of 3D printing complete structures in space, using a process called pultrusion. Raw carbon fibres and epoxy resin are combined in a robotic tool to create carbon composite beams of unlimited length – like a spider creating a web much larger than itself. Building structures in space has a range of compounding virtues, it is more compact than even inflatables, as only bulk fibre and resin need to be launched. Any assembled hardware that has to go through a rocket launch has to be made much stronger than needed in space to survive the launch, printed structures can be designed solely for their in space application, using less material still.

Sep 25, 2019

New standard of reference for assessing solar forecast proposed

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Being able to accurately forecast how much solar energy reaches the surface of the Earth is key to guiding decisions for running solar power plants.

While day-ahead forecasts have become more accurate in recent years, the solar community lacks a unified verification procedure, and assessing how one compares to another is difficult. New work in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy looks to provide a standard of reference to the field.

Researcher Dazhi Yang proposed an improved way to assess day-ahead solar forecasting. The proposed method combines two popular reference methods for weather forecasting, namely persistence and climatology. Using a weighted linear combination of both methods, his approach provides a new way to gauge the skill of a forecaster.

Sep 23, 2019

Russia Begins Commissioning of Floating Nuclear Power Ship

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, sustainability

  • The floating power unit Akademik Lomonosov has arrived at the port of its permanent location in Pevek, Chukotka, in Russia’s Far East, where it is being docked to start operations by the end of this year.
  • Once commissioned, it will become the world’s first operational nuclear power plant based on small modular reactors (SMRs) technology and a ‘working prototype’ for reliable source of low-carbon energy supply in remote areas.

“It’s maybe one small step for sustainable development in the Arctic, but it’s a giant leap for the decarbonisation of remote off-grid areas, and a watershed in the development of small modular nuclear power plants in the world,” said Rosatom CEO, Alexey Likhachev.

Director General of the World Nuclear Association, Agneta Rising, commented: “To meet the nuclear industry’s Harmony goal of supplying at least 25% of the world’s electricity by 2050 we will need to bring the benefits of nuclear energy to more people in a wider range of locations.

Sep 22, 2019

The Rise Of Solar Power

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, sustainability, transportation

Solar power is on the rise. You can see the evidence on rooftops and in the desert, where utility-scale solar plants are popping up. The picture is not all rosy, but if the recent past is any indication, solar power is going to help lead the transition to a carbon-free future, and it might do it faster than we all expected.

Elon Musk and Tesla promised solar roof tiles in 2016, but the industry might not need an upgrade as its grown significantly with the solar panels currently available. You can see the evidence both on individual rooftops and in the utility-scale solar plants increasingly popping up in deserts across the country. In the United States, of all about 30% of the new power capacity added to the grid in 2018 was from solar.

Continue reading “The Rise Of Solar Power” »

Sep 22, 2019

Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They’re Outgrowing Subsidies

Posted by in categories: government, solar power, sustainability

(Bloomberg) — For years, wind and solar power were derided as boondoggles. They were too expensive, the argument went, to build without government handouts.

Today, renewable energy is so cheap that the handouts they once needed are disappearing.

On sun-drenched fields across Spain and Italy, developers are building solar farms without subsidies or tax-breaks, betting they can profit without them. In China, the government plans to stop financially supporting new wind farms. And in the U.S., developers are signing shorter sales contracts, opting to depend on competitive markets for revenue once the agreements expire.

Sep 20, 2019

Researchers alter mouse gut microbiomes

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health, sustainability

Humans choose food based on the way it looks, smells, and tastes. But the microbes in our guts use a different classification system — one that is based on the molecular components that make up different fibers. In a study published September 19 in the journal Cell, investigators found particular components of dietary fiber that encourage growth and metabolic action of beneficial microbes in the mouse gut.

The research aims to develop ways to identify compounds that can enhance the representation of health-promoting members of the gut microbial community. The goal is to identify sustainable, affordable dietary fiber sources for incorporation into next-generation, more nutritious food products.

“Fiber is understood to be beneficial. But fiber is actually a very complicated mixture of many different components,” says senior author Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Moreover, fibers from different plant sources that are processed in different ways during food manufacturing have different constituents. Unfortunately, we lack detailed knowledge of these differences and their biological significance. We do know that modern Western diets have low levels of fiber; this lack of fiber has been linked to loss of important members of the gut community and deleterious health effects.”

Sep 20, 2019

The green revolution is necessary but not enough!

Posted by in categories: space, sustainability

It is not a matter of “saving the planet”, but saving civilization and its development.

The only sustainable development is the one that aims at space, using the immense resources of the Solar System.

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