Poll: Many farmers still doubt that humans drive climate change

Read the full story from Iowa Public Radio.

Farmers continue to question whether climate change is driven by humans, the consensus of scientists worldwide, an Iowa State University researcher said Wednesday.

ISU sociology professor J. Arbuckle, drawing largely from ISU’s Farm and Rural Life Poll, said farmers have become more open to conversations about carbon emissions and climate change.

DOE awards approximately $99 million for demonstration of large-scale pilot carbon capture technologies

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of two projects to receive a total of approximately $99 million in federal funding. The projects will advance to Phase III (Construction/Operation) of funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001788, Fossil Fuel Large-Scale Pilots.

The FOA was released with three phases, comprised of competitive selections made between phases:

  • Phase I (Feasibility) projects support efforts to secure team commitments; update the preliminary cost estimate and schedule for design, construction and operation; and complete an environmental information volume.
  • Phase II (Design) projects complete a front-end engineering design study, complete the National Environmental Policy Act process, and secure construction/operation cost-share funding.
  • Phase III (Construction/Operation) includes construction and operation of large-scale pilot facilities.

The two Phase III projects will primarily be utilized for data collection and to gain knowledge from two small-scale (i.e., 10MWe) demonstrations that can be applied to other power and industrial CO2 emitting facilities, including waste biomass, natural gas, and others. The carbon capture technologies will be demonstrated and evaluated using an exhaust slipstream from the full-scale power plant. The following two projects have successfully completed Phase I and Phase II and have been selected to move on to Phase III:

Large Pilot Testing of Linde/BASF Advanced Post-Combustion CO2 Capture Technology at a Coal-Fired Power Plant — The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL) will build and operate a 10 MWe slipstream of the Linde/BASF post-combustion carbon capture technology at City Water, Light, and Power (CWLP) in Springfield, Illinois. The slipstream will treat approximately 5% of the gas generated at CWLP Unit 4. The successful construction and operation of this plant will provide a means to demonstrate an economically attractive and transformational capture technology. The approach used to design, construct, and commission the design is an important feature of the technology and will help enable the commercialization process. The regional economic benefit and the ability to repurpose some of the existing workforce at CWLP will also demonstrate how carbon capture can aid regional economies.

DOE Funding: $47,157,412; Non-DOE Funding: $20,000,000; Total Value: $67,157,412 

Large Pilot Testing of the MTR Membrane Post-Combustion CO2 Capture Process — Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. (Newark, CA) will build and operate a large pilot membrane carbon capture system developed by Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. (MTR) at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (WITC) located in Gillette, Wyoming. Successful operation of the MTR membrane system will result in capturing 70% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from a 10 MWe slipstream, representing capture of about 150 tonnes of CO2 per day at the WITC. The slipstream will treat approximately 2.4% of the single unit at WITC. The ability of the technology to meet cost targets at this scale will be an important step toward the commercial deployment of a competitive and compelling alternative to solvent-based carbon capture systems.

DOE Funding: $51,699,939; Non-DOE Funding: $12,924,160; Total Value: $64,624,099

The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the selected projects.

The Office of Fossil Energy funds research and development projects to reduce the cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy, visit the Office of Fossil Energy website or sign up for FE news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website.

This tech makes perishable food last months without a fridge

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Uncooked french fries are usually frozen, but when they’re pasteurized using the Farther Farms method of pressurized CO2, they can sit on the shelf for 90 days before going bad.

With 9 new projects, Amazon is now Europe’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Amazon today announced nine new utility-scale wind and solar energy projects in the US, Canada, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. The company now has 206 renewable energy projects globally, including 71 utility-scale wind and solar projects and 135 solar rooftops on facilities and stores worldwide, which will generate 8.5 GW of electricity production capacity globally. With this latest announcement, Amazon is now the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in Europe, with more than 2.5 GW of renewable energy capacity.

One of the world’s oldest science experiments comes up from the dirt

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Every 20 years under the cover of darkness, scientists dig up seeds that were stashed 142 years ago beneath a college campus.

Kroger highlights wins in Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative

Read the full story at Supermarket News.

The Kroger Co. reported big strides in 2020 for its nearly four-year-old Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative, which aims to end hunger in communities it serves and eliminate food waste companywide by 2025.

Cincinnati-based Kroger said Tuesday that the company diverted 81% of waste from landfills in 2020, up 1% from 2019. The supermarket giant also cut total trash sent to landfills by 4% versus the previous year.

Climatologist: Vegetation plays a role in developing flash droughts

By Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

Farmland vegetation and grasses can affect both the frequency and extent of flash droughts, say scientists at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), who hope to better understand the phenomenon and improve early warnings.

Flash droughts intensify quickly compared to normal droughts, magnifying the resulting economic and environmental effects. Typical droughts can take many months or years to reach peak intensity, whereas flash droughts can become severe within weeks.

In the past few years, scientists have begun examining flash droughts to learn more about the climatic, atmospheric, and environmental conditions that affect them.

“The flash drought is a new type of rapidly developing drought, and there is still a lack of consensus in its definition,” said ISWS climatologist Liang Chen. “Ever since the drought in the summer of 2012, flash droughts have received more attention from the scientific community, particularly because the impact on crop production is so much greater and stakeholders have much less time to prepare.”

The 2012 drought in the central U.S.—one of the most intense droughts on record—was later categorized as a flash drought because of how swiftly it developed. Soil moisture conditions that were normal in early June declined to what is considered exceptional drought just eight weeks later.

Chen and his colleagues studied the climatology of warm-season flash drought occurrence in the United States using data from 1979 to 2014 and experiments in a climate model. Findings showed that vegetation greening over the spring and summer months can significantly increase flash drought occurrence, particularly in the Great Plains and in the western U.S. The extent of flash droughts is also affected, but the duration is not.

A primary reason for the drought sensitivity to vegetation is the enhanced evapotranspiration that can deplete soil moisture with little effect on the health of vegetation until the soil moisture approaches the wilting point of plants. With evapotranspiration, water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere through evaporation from the soil and transpiration from plants.

Variable rainfall, leading to changes in soil moisture, also can potentially cause more flash drought events.

In the Midwest and in the eastern U.S., adequate rainfall and humidity typically provide enough moisture for vegetation and can offset reductions in soil moisture, so flash droughts are more sensitive to vegetation phenology in semi-arid and arid areas than in humid regions.

Climate projections show increasing drought conditions in large parts of the country, so there will likely be an increased risk of flash droughts in a warming climate, Chen said. Although irrigation is a potential option to decrease the risk of flash droughts, groundwater depletion in some areas of the country will likely pose challenges for meeting irrigation water demand.

The results of early studies such as this one can be influenced by the climate model used and the way that flash drought is defined. Chen and his colleagues plan to conduct more experiments to find more answers on how flash droughts develop in their future work.

This study was published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology. State Climatologist Trent Ford, also an author on this study, was interviewed for a previous story about flash drought.

Media contacts: Liang Chen, liangch@illinois.edu

This post originally appeared on the Prairie Research Institute blog. Read the original post.

How Taco Bell is going to start recycling its hot sauce packets

Read the full story at Nation’s Restaurant News.

Usually, flexible film packets are not recyclable but Taco Bell is partnering with TerraCycle to give their hot sauce packets a second life

Washington State bans gas cars by 2030 – the earliest in the US

Read the full story at Electrek.

Washington State legislature has passed “Clean Cars 2030,” a bill setting a goal to require all light-duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later to be electric. The bill passed as part of a larger package directing utilities to prepare the state for all-electric transportation.

With this bill, Washington State becomes the first US state to pass a gas car ban legislatively (as opposed to by executive order), and now has the earliest gas car ban in the US. California and Massachusetts also plan gas car bans by 2035.

Top 9 actions to take in the lab to improve water efficiency

Read the full story at My Green Lab.

Water is an often overlooked part of lab sustainability. It pours forth from the tap and then disappears down the drain. It’s nearly invisible. But it isn’t free – it comes from somewhere and it has to be cleaned, transported, stored, and cleaned again before being returned to the environment. All of that has an enormous energy and carbon footprint. 

Many laboratories require substantial amounts of water to operate. From autoclaves and glassware washers to purified water systems and faucets, the flow of water in laboratories is constant. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can reduce water usage. Like energy efficiency, water efficiency is possible by taking actions in the lab to become more sustainable. 

Below, we’ve outlined 9 actions you can take (starting today!) to reduce water usage in the lab.