Month: July 2020

Worlds first shaft Hydropower plant goes online, Germany.

Read the full story at Construction Review Online.

The world’s first-ever shaft hydropower plant, a hydropower plant consisting of a turbine hidden in a shaft in the riverbed of Loisach River in Bavaria has gone online. The hydropower plant is a concept that was created at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Ideally, it is supposed to allow fish to pass freely over the power plant on their migration downstream when the fish are usually dragged by the strong currents towards the plant turbine and grids.

The scariest thing about global warming (and Covid-19)

Read the full story on Vox.

“Shifting baselines syndrome” means we could quickly get used to climate chaos.

Lithium Ion Battery Waste Used in Biodiesel Production from Discarded Vegetable Oil

Read the full story from AIP Publishing.

The production of biodiesel from vegetable oil has been around for more than 150 years, and the approach significantly reduces several pollutants associated with burning fossil fuels. Vegetable oils, however, can be notoriously difficult to use in an engine, providing low power output and release of unique toxic byproducts.

Brazilian researchers demonstrated a new chemical approach for producing biodiesel from domestic cooking oil waste by using hydroxide lithium mixed with either sodium hydroxides or potassium hydroxides as catalysts. Their work, published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, could enable future studies related to the use of lithium from waste lithium ion batteries.

Link to article: Eco-green biodiesel production from domestic waste cooking oil by transesterification using LiOH into basic catalysts mixtures
DOI: 10.1063/5.0005625

Killer heat: US racial injustices will worsen as climate crisis escalates

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Dangerous heatwaves are exacerbating systemic racial inequalities, with soaring temperatures expected to further disadvantage communities of colour if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, new research shows.

Extreme heat is among the deadliest weather hazards humanity faces due to the climate crisis, which contributes to thousands of deaths in the US every year.

Heatwaves have been occurring more frequently since the mid-20th century, and there’s mounting consensus among climate scientists that dangerous bouts of high temperatures and humidity will become substantially more common, more severe, and longer-lasting without adequate action to curb global heating.

Now, new data provided exclusively to the Guardian by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), reveals:

  • Killer heat is already affecting communities unequally: between 1971 and 2000, US counties with more than 25% black residents endured an average of 18 days with temperatures above 100F (38C) compared to seven days per year for counties with fewer than 25% African Americans.
  • By mid-century if Paris climate accord targets are not met, US counties with larger black populations will face a staggering 72 very hot days a year on average – compared with 36 days in counties with smaller African American populations, according to the UCS.
  • Latin communities also suffer disproportionately: historically, counties with more than a 25% Hispanic/Latinx residents experienced 13 days very hot days a year, rising to 49 by mid-century if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed.

Webinar: Improving Plant Efficiencies and Performance During Unstable Times

Aug 20, 2020, 11 am CDT
Register here.

With the current instability of national and local markets, it is important to ensure that your facility is performing as efficiently as possible. The most efficient operations not only last through downturns but also expand the fastest once the market recovers. As such, now is a great time to ensure that your manufacturing process is operating at top efficiency.

PennTAP’s Economy, Energy, and Environment (E3) program brings together experts in continuous improvement, energy efficiency, and waste minimization to greatly improve plant efficiencies and performance. In this webinar, PennTAP will review the E3 process and provide information on the first steps to improving your process.

Peter Piergiovanni, Pollution Prevention Coordinator for the United State Environmental Protection Agency, will present on the E3 program’s background and methods. Royal Smith, Technical Advisor for PennTAP, will review the E3 process and stories from previous E3 events.

Commentary: Disentangling anti-Blackness from physics

Read the full commentary in Physics Today.

It’s not enough to try to be nonracist. The physics community needs to act. It can start by hiring, including, and listening to Black scientists.

Coronavirus Transforming Building Design in DC

Read the full story at Commercial Observer.

Jason DeChambeau, design principal at Perkins and Will’s Washington, D.C. studio, reveals what to expect going forward

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals weaken us in our COVID-19 battle

Read the full story in Environmental Health News.

We are an unhealthy nation—and many of our elevated disease rates are linked to environmental chemicals. COVID-19 is bringing into sharp focus the need to prevent this widespread exposure.

Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class

Kwiatkowski, CF et al (2020). “Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters June 30, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00255

Abstract: This commentary presents a scientific basis for managing as one chemical class the thousands of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The class includes perfluoroalkyl acids, perfluoroalkylether acids, and their precursors; fluoropolymers and perfluoropolyethers; and other PFAS. The basis for the class approach is presented in relation to their physicochemical, environmental, and toxicological properties. Specifically, the high persistence, accumulation potential, and/or hazards (known and potential) of PFAS studied to date warrant treating all PFAS as a single class. Examples are provided of how some PFAS are being regulated and how some businesses are avoiding all PFAS in their products and purchasing decisions. We conclude with options for how governments and industry can apply the class-based approach, emphasizing the importance of eliminating non-essential uses of PFAS, and further developing safer alternatives and methods to remove existing PFAS from the environment.

Nontargeted mass-spectral detection of chloroperfluoropolyether carboxylates in New Jersey soils

Washington, JW, et al (2020). “Nontargeted mass-spectral detection of chloroperfluoropolyether carboxylates in New Jersey soils.” Science 368(6495), 1103-1107. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aba7127

Perfluorocarbons’ path into soils

Covering carbon chains with fluorines has produced a variety of useful nonstick coatings. However, growing concern about the toxicity and extraordinary environmental persistence of the underlying compounds is spurring a search for alternatives. The precise structure of these next-generation alternatives often remains a trade secret. Washington et al. sampled soils in New Jersey and then used mass spectrometry to assign plausible structures—incorporating chlorine and ether segments into the CF2 chain—to compounds that appear to have emanated from their manufacture (see the Policy Forum by Gold and Wagner). The data can inform in-depth studies of these compounds’ environmental transport and persistence.

Abstract: The toxicity and environmental persistence of anthropogenic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are of global concern. To address legacy PFAS concerns in the United States, industry developed numerous replacement PFAS that commonly are treated as confidential information. To investigate the distribution of PFAS in New Jersey, soils collected from across the state were subjected to nontargeted mass-spectral analyses. Ten chloroperfluoropolyether carboxylates were tentatively identified, with at least three congeners in all samples. Nine congeners are ≥(CF2)7. Distinct chemical formulas and structures, as well as geographic distribution, suggest airborne transport from an industrial source. Lighter congeners dispersed more widely than heavier congeners, with the most widely dispersed detected in an in-stock New Hampshire sample. Additional data were used to develop a legacy-PFAS fingerprint for historical PFAS sources in New Jersey.

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