Day: May 15, 2014

The 10 Most Resilient Cities In The World

Read the full story in Fast Company.

If humanity is going to survive and thrive in the future, it’s going to need strong cities. Two-thirds of people are set to live in urban areas by 2050 (according to U.N. estimates), putting great pressure on city planners to cope.

How well are they doing so far? A new report scores 50 cities both for their “vulnerability” (for example, to climate change) and their “adaptive capacity” (their ability to react), producing an overall “resilience” ranking. And, in fact, the news for North America isn’t bad–as long as you believe the rankings. The top three cities are Canadian (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary), and six of the top 10 are from the U.S. (led by Chicago and Pittsburgh in fourth and fifth places, respectively).

Turning shrimp shells into plastic

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Harvard researchers have found a way to isolate fully degradable plastic from shrimp shells. To demonstrate how hardy yet pliable their new bioplastic is, they molded it into a series of chess pieces; and then to show how it can encourage plant growth after it breaks down, they grew some peas in it…

The work was published in Macromolecular Materials & Engineering in March.

Ames Lab creates multifunctional nanoparticles for cheaper, cleaner biofuel

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has created a faster, cleaner biofuel refining technology that not only combines processes, it uses widely available materials to reduce costs.

Ames Laboratory scientists have developed a nanoparticle that is able to perform two processing functions at once for the production of green diesel, an alternative fuel created from the hydrogenation of oils from renewable feedstocks like algae.

The method is a departure from the established process of producing biodiesel, which is accomplished by reacting fats and oils with alcohols…

The paper has been published in Catalysis: Supported iron nanoparticles for the hydrodeoxygenation of microalgal oil to green diesel

Capturing Carbon in Calgary

Read the full story in Algae Industry Magazine.

A team of six University of Calgary researchers has been awarded funding for their project, “Cost Effective Biotechnology for Carbon Capture and Re-Use”, based on the concept of using algal biotechnology to capture and reuse carbon from gasses emitted from burning fossil fuels.

U.S. Open Data Action Plan

Download the document.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has articulated a vision of the U.S. Government managing information as a national asset and opening up its data, where possible, as a public good to advance government efficiency, improve accountability, and fuel private sector innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth. Putting government data online and making it easy to find and use—while continuing to rigorously protect privacy—can help American families find the right health care provider, identify the college that provides the best value for their money, keep their families safe by knowing which products have been recalled, and much more.

On June 18, 2013, President Obama and other G7 leaders endorsed the Open Data Charter. The Open Data Charter sets out five strategic principles:

  • Open Data by Default – foster expectations that government data be published openly while continuing to safeguard privacy;
  • Quality and Quantity – release quality, timely and well-described open data;
  • Useable by All – release as much data in as many open formats as possible;
  • Releasing Data for Improved Governance – share expertise and be transparent about data collection, standards and publishing processes; and
  • Releasing Data for Innovation – consult with users and empower future generations of innovators.

The U.S. Government continues to make significant progress ensuring government data is more available and useable to the public. Government data is structured information that is created, collected, processed, disseminated, or disposed of by or for the Federal government. Examples of progress include:

Building upon these efforts, and as set forth in the Open Data Charter, the U.S. Government is releasing this U.S. Open Data Action Plan which outlines new commitments as well as plans for enhancements and releases of certain data assets across the categories set forth by the Charter.

How Minneapolis Plans to Have Zero Waste

Read the full story in Governing.

Imagine a city without garbage.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Minneapolis officials are taking early steps toward joining ­Seattle and San Francisco in becoming “zero waste” cities where just about every scrap of trash is recycled.

A public hearing to ban hard-to-recycle foam takeout containers is scheduled for Monday and City Hall is drafting a plan to pick up food scraps and other organic items from every home by next year, something several metro-area cities already do. And Mayor Betsy Hodges has hired the city’s first-ever zero-waste coordinator.