Day: April 21, 2011

New solar technology could be mass produced

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

The same facilities that produce today’s most popular consumer electronics like the iPad could soon be retasked to fabricate a new, more efficient form of solar cell that is engineered to make the technology more economical.

PNNL algae study sets baseline for available U.S. land, water

Read the full story in Biodiesel Magazine.

For anyone looking for a piece of land to start an algae production site, Mark Wigmosta from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory might be the person to speak with. Wigmosta and a team of researchers have completed a study titled, “National microalgae biofuels production potential and resource demand,” which outlines the best regions throughout the lower 48 U.S. states for algae biomass growth potential given both land and water footprint concerns. “We were hoping,” Wigmosta told Biodiesel Magazine, to produce a baseline study with “scientifically defendable estimates of the amount of land and water required to achieve a certain level of production.”

Study addresses sustainability of algae biodiesel

Read the full story in Biodiesel Magazine.

A team of researchers at Kansas State University is studying the environmental and economic sustainability of algae biodiesel production. Results of the environmental portion of the evaluation, titled “Sustainability of algae derived biodiesel: a mass balance approach,” have been published in a peer-reviewed journal. A follow up study will address economic stability.

Earth Month Tip of the Day: Don’t trash it – reuse it!

Today’s environmental tip: Don’t trash it – reuse it! Be creative as you look for new ways to reduce the amount or kinds of household waste. Give cardboard tubes to pet hamsters or gerbils. Plant seeds in an egg carton. Make a flower pot out of a plastic ice cream tub. By thinking creatively, you will often find new uses for common items and new ways to recycle and reduce waste.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/catbook/tip12.htm
Podcast: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/podcasts

Want more tips? Visit EPA’s Earth Day site to learn more about Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and what you can do to help protect human health and the environment.  http://www.epa.gov/earthday/tips.htm

Earth Day Ideas From Local Writers

Read the full story at Earth911.

One of the best things about having an online-only publication is the ability to have writers all over the country. This Earth Week, Earth911 staffers filled out a hyper-local questionnaire in their own words on the best events, from San Francisco, to Phoenix, to Philly.

Carbon Calculator Resources

Waste Reduction Model (WARM)
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/waste/calculators/Warm_Form.html
EPA created WARM to help solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings from several different waste management practices. Use the worksheet to compare baseline and alternative municipal solid waste scenarios.

Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html
Did you ever wonder what reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1 million metric tons means in everyday terms? The greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator can help you by translating abstract measurements into concrete terms. such as “equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of 183,000 cars annually.”

Conduct an Emissions Inventory
http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/toolkit/inv-calculator.php
The Clean Air-Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator is an Excel spreadsheet-based tool walks users through the process of strategically reducing institutional emissions. It includes inventory, projections, and solutions modules.

Thermostat Interface and Usability: A Survey

Download the report.

This report investigates the history of thermostats to better understand the context and legacy regarding the development of this important tool, as well as thermostats’ relationships to heating, cooling, and other environmental controls. We analyze the architecture, interfaces, and modes of interaction used by different types of thermostats. For over sixty years, home thermostats have translated occupants’ temperature preferences into heating and cooling system operations. In this position of an intermediary, the millions of residential thermostats control almost half of household energy use, which corresponds to about 10percent of the nation’s total energy use. Thermostats are currently undergoing rapid development in response to emerging technologies, new consumer and utility demands, and declining manufacturing costs. Energy-efficient homes require more careful balancing of comfort, energy consumption, and health. At the same time, new capabilities will be added to thermostats, including scheduling, control of humidity and ventilation, responsiveness to dynamic electricity prices, and the ability to join communication networks inside homes. Recent studies have found that as many as 50% of residential programmable thermostats are in permanent”hold” status. Other evaluations found that homes with programmable thermostats consumed more energy than those relying on manual thermostats. Occupants find thermostats cryptic and baffling to operate because manufacturers often rely on obscure, and sometimes even contradictory, terms, symbols, procedures, and icons. It appears that many people are unable to fully exploit even the basic features in today’s programmable thermostats, such as setting heating and cooling schedules. It is important that people can easily, reliably, and confidently operate thermostats in their homes so as to remain comfortable while minimizing energy use.

Demonstration Assessment of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Accent Lighting at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL

Download the publication.

This report reviews a demonstration of light-emitting diode (LED) accent lighting compared to halogen (typical) accent lighting in a gallery of the Field Museum in Chicago, IL.

UNL researchers optimize sweet sorghum for biofuel feedstock

Read the full story in Biorefining Magazine.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have made impressive strides in their work to optimize sweet sorghum for use as a bioenergy feedstock. According to UNL associate professor Ismail Dweikat, at least two hybrid strains of the crop developed by his team will be entering the market next year. In addition, work is continuing to develop cold-tolerant and nitrogen-efficient strains of sweet sorghum.

Study addresses sustainability of algae biodiesel

Read the full story in Biorefining Magazine.

A team of researchers at Kansas State University is studying the environmental and economic sustainability of algae biodiesel production. Results of the environmental portion of the evaluation, titled “Sustainability of algae derived biodiesel: a mass balance approach,” have been published in a peer-reviewed journal. A follow up study will address economic stability.

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