Waste to watts: How to get power from plastics

Read/watch the full story in GreenBiz.

Let’s face it: Even the most diligent home recycler ends up putting some plastic items in with the rest of the garbage. That plastic ends up in a garbage truck, and if we’re lucky, in a landfill. In the worst case, that plastic makes its way to streams, rivers, lakes and oceans where it harms wildlife.

On the mainstage at GreenBiz Forum 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona, Dow Chemical COmpany’s global sustainability leader, Jeff Wooster, talked about a new program that aims to turn unrecycled plastics into energy in the form of liquid fuel.

In the program, consumers put unrecyclable plastics into a purple plastic bag (called an “Energy Bag”) and throw the purple bag into their recycle bin. At the recycler’s sorting facility, workers pull the purple bags off the line to be transported to one of Dow’s plants. The plants then break down the plastics, converting them into a synthetic crude that can be processed into fuels like gasoline or diesel.

Packing heat: New fluid makes untapped geothermal energy cleaner

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

More American homes could be powered by the earth’s natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to tap into otherwise unreachable geothermal hot spots.

The fluid might be a boon to a new approach to geothermal power called enhanced geothermal systems. These systems pump fluids underground, a step that’s called “reservoir stimulation,” to enable power production where conventional geothermal doesn’t work.

The new reservoir stimulation fluid features an environmentally friendly polymer that greatly expands the fluid’s volume, which creates tiny cracks in deep underground rocks to improve power production. This fluid could also substantially reduce the water footprint and cost of enhanced geothermal systems. A paper describing the fluid has been published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in an advance online version of the journal Green Chemistry

PAPER: HB Jung, KC Carroll, S Kabilan, DJ Heldebrant, D Hoyt, L Zhong, T Varga, S Stephens, L Adams, A Bonneville, A Kuprat & CA Fernandez, “Stimuli-responsive/rheoreversible hydraulic fracturing fluids as a greener alternative to support geothermal and fossil energy production,” Green Chemistry Advance Online, March 25, 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01917B.

EDITORIAL: W Leitner, “The subject of ‘fracking’ in Green Chemistry,” Green Chemistry, online March 31, 2015.

New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #12

The final Sustainability Sit-Downs video is out. This week’s video features Gabriela Boscio, Communications and Education Manager at Second Nature, discussing her organization, the greatest sustainability challenges we are facing, and her hopes for the future. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability professionals in higher education and partner organizations. View the whole series at https://youtu.be/Ov5fpkNhvE4?list=PLbtnopuXNFKSbRudAuT6rXPlihLKJW4Ju.

Fishermen discuss warming waters in this lovely short film

Read the full post at Grist.

When you are tired of talking to climate deniers, it can be a relief to hear from a fisherman instead.

“The waters are changing,” says Michigan fisherman Ed John in this short, moody video that follows a Native couple fishing the Great Lakes. “We’ve got algae, we’ve got invasive species, we got all of these pollutants we don’t know about going into the water.”

New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #8

Sustainability Sit-Downs #8 is out. This week’s video features Richard Cook, President Emeritus of Allegheny College and Second Nature Board Chair, discussing trans-disciplinary sustainability education and our effects as humans on the environment. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday.

8 Big Ideas: Cool Roofs Through Time and Space

The Global Cool Cities Alliance posted a video of Dr. Ronnen Levinson of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab explaining how the reflectivity of cool roofing materials changes over time, with the accumulation of dust, soot, and other contaminants.

Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals releases video highlighting climate change impacts on tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska

The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) recently produced a video, “Adapting to Change,” that highlights climate change impacts on tribes and their resources in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, as well as their adaptation efforts. The video also includes information from ITEP’s Climate Change Adaptation training.

ITEP: Adapting to Climate Change from Jeremy Scott on Vimeo.