How science could aid the US quest for environmental justice

Read the full story in Nature.

Research tools to identify and help protect disadvantaged communities have been in the works for years. Scientists and activists want them put into action.

Biden to pause solar tariffs for 2 years amid supply chain disruption from Commerce investigation

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

President Joe Biden on Monday issued plans for a 24-month exemption from tariffs for solar panel imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The solar industry expects the two-year break from tariffs will run parallel to the continuing solar panel anti-circumvention investigation from the Department of Commerce on those four Southeast Asian countries.

The reprieve is intended to protect existing solar jobs that were at risk due to supply chain constraints reported earlier this year, according to Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The facade of IKEA’s first full-size city center store greens and cools its surroundings

Read the full story at The Architect’s Newspaper.

Known for its minimalist interior design products, the IKEA City Center Vienna Westbahnhof features an exterior designed to resemble the brand’s famous shelving. Local firm querkraft completed a design that would integrate the building into its surrounding neighborhood, with hostels and public spaces filling out the building’s program in addition to the store. A rooftop terrace is accessible to the public from the ground level, no purchase required.

Could Google’s carbon emissions have effectively doubled overnight?

Read the full story in the New Yorker.

A new report suggests that the money Big Tech companies keep in the banking system can do more climate damage than the products they sell.

Mining companies back away from Brazil’s Indigenous areas

Read the full story in the Daily Collegian.

Some of the world’s biggest mining companies have withdrawn requests to research and extract minerals on Indigenous land in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and repudiated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s efforts to legalize mining activity in the areas.

Satellites and drones can help save pollinators

Read the full story from the University of Exeter.

Satellites and drones can provide key information to protect pollinators. A new study examines new ways of using these technologies to track the availability of flowers, and says this could be combined with behavioral studies to see the world through the eyes of insects.

In a massive Chinese sinkhole, scientists find a secret forest

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

At the bottom of a sinkhole, ancient trees stretch nearly 130 feet high. Dense plants cover the ground, and a rare type of bamboo grows.

Cave explorers discovered the hidden forest this month when they descended into a previously unexplored massive sinkhole in south China’s Guangxi region. Researchers say the hole, which is roughly 630 feet deep and spans more than 176 million cubic feet, could be home to previously unidentified plant and animal species.

DOE announces nearly $25 million to study advanced clean hydrogen technologies for electricity generation

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $24.9 million in funding for six research and development projects to support the advancement of clean hydrogen for electricity generation. DOE will partner with private companies to research advanced technology solutions that could make hydrogen a more available and effective fuel for electricity generation.  This includes improving capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with hydrogen production from carbon-based resources and technologies to more efficiently use hydrogen in gas turbines for electricity generation. The six industry-sponsored projects will fast-track the development of technologies that will improve the performance, reliability, and flexibility of existing and new hydrogen technologies. Electricity generated from clean hydrogen will help in reaching President Biden’s goal of having a zero-carbon American power sector by 2035.

“Across the Department, we’re working to make clean energy sources — like hydrogen — more affordable and accessible to help decarbonize America’s electrical grid and directly combatting climate change,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The public-private partnerships announced today are paving the way for more domestic clean hydrogen production and use to support the President’s plans to combat climate change, accelerate clean energy use, and create good-paying clean energy jobs for Americans.”

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that — when combined with oxygen in a fuel cell — produces electricity with water and heat as by-products. Hydrogen can be produced through a variety of low-carbon pathways, including domestic resources like natural gas and waste coal, coupled with carbon capture and storage; biomass; and renewable energy sources like solar and wind. These qualities make it an attractive fuel option for electricity generation and industrial applications, such as in buildings and manufacturing.

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) under the purview of the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) will manage the selected projects:

  • 8 Rivers Capital, LLC (Durham, NC) will complete an engineering design study for a new hydrogen production plant that produces 99.97%-pure hydrogen and captures 90–99% of CO2 emissions, which will be transported and stored at Painter Reservoir Gas Complex in Evanston, Wyoming. (Award Amount: $1,412,863)
  • Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, IL) will study the use of ammonia-hydrogen fuel mixtures in gas turbines to potentially strengthen the use of ammonia as a clean low-carbon fuel for electricity generation. (Award Amount: $3,000,000)
  • General Electric Company (Greenville, SC) will develop and test gas turbine components with natural gas-hydrogen fuel mixtures up to 100% hydrogen, to study and address combustion challenges associated with burning highly reactive hydrogen fuels. (Award Amount: $5,986,440)
  • General Electric, GE Research (Niskayuna, NY) will study the operation of hydrogen-fueled turbine components, which could substantially improve gas turbine efficiency for both simple- and combined-cycle power generation applications. (Award Amount: $6,999,923) 
  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center (East Hartford, CT) will develop and test the effectiveness of natural gas turbine engine components in high-temperature rigs using natural gas-hydrogen fuel mixtures with increasing hydrogen content. (Award Amount: $4,499,999)
  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center (East Hartford, CT) will study, develop, and test an ammonia-fired gas turbine combustor that generates low nitrous oxide emissions, with robust operability and stability for greater than 99.99% efficiency. (Award Amount: $2,999,219) 

A detailed list of the selected projects can be found here.

The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing $8 billion for clean hydrogen demonstration and research hubs. Leveraging FECM’s past project investments — including more than $50 million in 31 projects since January 2021 to explore new, clean methods to produce hydrogen and to improve the efficiency of hydrogen-fueled turbines — will establish a solid foundation for critical next-generation demonstrations that will allow us to more swiftly deliver clean, low-cost power to all Americans.

FECM funds research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects to decarbonize power generation and industrial production to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil fuel production and use. Priority areas of technology work include point-source carbon capture, carbon dioxide conversion, carbon dioxide removal, reliable carbon storage and transport, hydrogen with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM websitesign up for FECM news announcements and visit the NETL website

As agencies seek more environmental justice data, longtime residents are skeptical

Read the full story at Energy News Network.

Environmental regulators hope new data-driven tools will help identify hotspots and drive environmental justice. Some activists, who’ve been fighting polluters for decades, have doubts that more information will make a difference.

SAWS reports drought sparks interest in water-saving yards in San Antonio

Read the full story at Texas Public Radio.

The San Antonio Water System reports the drought is sparking interest among customers about how to install a water-saving landscape.

The city-owned water utility offers education, water-saver coupons, and other rebates to make it easier to replace thirsty lawns with native or drought tolerant vegetation and do away with automatic sprinkler systems.