Day: September 5, 2018

Breakthrough could see bacteria used as cell factories to produce biofuels

Read the full story in Science Daily.

Biologists have developed a new technique for manipulating small cell structures for use in a range of biotechnical applications including the production of biofuels and vaccines.

From plastic straws to a sea change for plastic

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Right now, we are all part of an interesting moment of change in our culture. In the span of a very short period of time, plastic straws have gone from a relatively accepted part of everyday existence to a niche-need product. As someone who works to end plastic pollution for a living, I’ve been getting a lot of questions as to how this happened and what it means.

I want to begin by crediting my friends at the Plastic Pollution Coalition and Lonely Whale Foundation. Both groups realized that straws could be the “gateway drug” to get people hooked on taking greater action to solve plastic pollution. And the genius of what became the Strawless Ocean campaign is that the call to action was so simple: Next time you’re out at a restaurant or a bar, tell the server, “No straw, please.”

What this simple act of resistance does is that it starts a conversation — between you and the restaurant or bar, and also between you and everyone you’re with. Suddenly, the people you’re out with are confronted with a question — “Should I say ‘no straw,’ too?” Or they might say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Why no straw?” A conversation about plastic in our environment is teed up for everyone at the table.

But if this action stops at straws, we won’t have accomplished very much. One of the core questions we and our friends in the plastic-pollution movement are asking is, “How do we turn this awareness and desire for action into truly transformative change that reshapes how we think about and use throwaway products and creates something better in its place?”

Making sustainable battery electrodes from sawdust

Read the full story from Chemical & Engineering News.

Biofuel made from woody waste such as sawdust can serve as a carbon-neutral alternative to petroleum-based fuels. But the economics of producing this type of biofuel don’t work without policy measures such as carbon taxes or other subsidies, which can be politically difficult to enact. Now researchers have found a way to greatly increase the value of one type of biofuel production from woody waste: by converting a by-product of the process into highly pure graphite that’s good enough quality to use in lithium-ion battery electrodes (ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b02799).

 

Disseminating and Preserving Digital Public Information Products Created by the U.S. Federal Government: A Case Study Report

Download the document.

As the agency charged with “Keeping America Informed,” the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) seeks to gain a better understanding of how Federal organizations disseminate, catalog, and preserve their digital public information products.1 To advance this goal, GPO entered into an interagency agreement with the Federal Research Division (FRD) within the Library of Congress to conduct a study on these agencies’ dissemination and preservation policies.

The information for this study was gathered primarily through structured interviews with senior managers in agency communications roles. Respondents were asked about a range of topics, including how born-digital information products are published, released, and distributed; the content types, formats, and dissemination channels used; agency practices for preserving digital information products; external partnerships and public access to federally funded research publications; and awareness of GPO’s statutory information programs. The findings
presented within this report provide insights to Federal publishing strategies in light of the central role played by websites, social media, and other internet-based dissemination channels.

American Beauties

Read the full story at Topic.

They catch in the wind, gather on the street, and clog our trash cans. How plastic bags came to rule our lives, and why we can’t quit them.

How REMADE could drive innovation in circular manufacturing techniques

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The challenges involved in converting the global economy from linear to circular processes and consumption habits are massive, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional.

Considering the technological, policy, marketing, logistical and infrastructural innovations that will be required, it is clear that the solutions will be bigger than any one player — or even any one group of industry-specific collaborators — can orchestrate. Such a monumental challenge requires a monumental effort.

The REMADE Institute is one such effort, funded with $70 million from federal funding sources and $70 million from its various members. Composed of 26 universities, 44 companies, seven national labs and 26 industry trade associations and foundations, it’s the largest and most comprehensive effort (at least in the United States) focused primarily on addressing the changes required to retool remanufacturing processes for the circular economy.

Scientists discovered a coral reef — almost as long as Delaware — hidden off the coast of Charleston

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Humans have been regularly traversing the Atlantic Ocean for going on six centuries, establishing the most efficient trade routes to haul people and goods, sharing details of the best places to pick up the speediest winds, occasionally using radar and satellites to thread a plane through a Category 5 hurricane.

But for all our knowledge of how to get over the Atlantic, we still know decidedly little about what, exactly, is beneath it.

Exhibit A, it would seem, is a discovery made this week 160 miles off the coast of Charleston: An enormous series of coral reefs that, combined, are nearly the length of Delaware. Scientists say it may have been growing on the ocean floor for as long as modern humans have been on the planet.

Environmentally friendly photoluminescent nanoparticles for more vivid display colors

Read the full story at ScienceDaily.

A research team has synthesized non-toxic, cadmium-free light-emitting nanoparticles. The nanoparticles emit clean colors, which had not been possible previously with nanoparticles using the same non-toxic materials. This was achieved by modifying and optimizing the synthesis and treating the fabricated nanoparticles — they were encased in semiconductor shells with an amorphous structure.

Case Alleges Chemical Companies Should Prepare For Unprecedented Storms

Read the full story from NPR.

Criminal charges against a chemical company that flooded during Hurricane Harvey are raising two big questions: When is pollution an accident? And when is it a crime?

2017 TRI Basic Plus Data Files and Revised Documentation Now Available

Via U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory Program.

All of the 2017 preliminary Toxics Release Inventory data are now available to download at https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/2017-tri-preliminary-dataset, under the “download” tab.

We apologize to those of you who have been waiting for the 2017 Basic Plus files. We’ve been revising the data files documentation/user guides over the past few months, and didn’t want to post the data until the accompanying PDF documentation was ready. Thanks for your patience.

As a reminder, you can use the preliminary TRI data to identify how many TRI facilities operate in a certain geographic area and where they are located, as well as what chemicals facilities are managing and in what quantities.

Important Information About Basic Plus Files
If you’ve used the TRI Basic Plus data files in the past, please be aware that we’ve added and rearranged some data elements, and we’ve extensively revised the PDF documents that explain the contents of each of the nine Basic Plus file types.

The 2017 Basic Plus files are available at: https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/2017-tri-preliminary-dataset-basic-plus-files.

The revised Basic Plus user guides are available at: https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/tri-basic-plus-data-files-guides.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact us at tri.help@epa.gov.

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