PV modules with longer lifetimes could slash demand for materials, says NREL

Read the full story in pv magazine.

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says in a new report that PV module lifetime extensions should be prioritized over closed-loop recycling to reduce demand for new materials.

New system creates bioplastics, consumes CO2

Read the full story from Washington University in St. Louis.

A team of researchers has developed a system that uses carbon dioxide, CO2, to produce biodegradable plastics, or bioplastics, that could replace the nondegradable plastics used today. The research addresses two challenges: the accumulation of nondegradable plastics and the remediation of greenhouse gas emissions. The work was published in the Sept. 28 edition of the journal Chem.

Process converts polyethylene bags, plastics to polymer building blocks

Read the full story from UC Berkeley.

Polyethylene plastics — in particular, the ubiquitous plastic bag that blights the landscape — are notoriously hard to recycle. They’re sturdy and difficult to break down, and if they’re recycled at all, they’re melted into a polymer stew useful mostly for decking and other low-value products.

But a new process developed at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) could change all that. The process uses catalysts to break the long polyethylene (PE) polymers into uniform chunks — the three-carbon molecule propylene — that are the feedstocks for making other types of high-value plastic, such as polypropylene.

The process, admittedly in the early stages of development, would turn a waste product — not only plastic bags and packaging, but all types of PE plastic bottles — into a major product in high demand. Previous methods to break the chains of polyethylene required high temperatures and gave mixtures of components in much lower demand. The new process could not only lower the need for fossil fuel production of propylene, often called propene, but also help fill a currently unmet need by the plastics industry for more propylene.

Tiny Oregon town hosts 1st wind-solar-battery ‘hybrid’ plant

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

A renewable energy plant in Oregon that combines solar power, wind power and massive batteries to store the energy generated there officially opened Wednesday as the first utility-scale plant of its kind in North America.

The project, which can generate enough electricity to power a small city at maximum output, addresses a key challenge facing the utility industry as the U.S. transitions away from fossil fuels and increasingly turns to solar and wind farms for power. Wind and solar are clean sources of power, but utilities have been forced to fill in gaps when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining with fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.

See nature like (and with) a biologist in new online courses

Read the full story from Rice University.

Online learners can follow Rice University biologist and author Scott Solomon into the wild through an engaging new series of courses focused on ecology, evolution and biodiversity.

Hempcrete approved for U.S. residential construction

Read the full story at Ganjapreneur.

Hempcrete was approved for the model U.S. residential building code during a hearing last week overseen by the International Code Council (ICC), HempBuild Magazine reports. The material was approved as an appendix for the 2024 International Residential Code (IRC), which governs U.S. residential building codes for 49 out of 50 states.

The new code, set to be published formally in 2023, will feature Hemp-Lime (Hempcrete) under “Appendix BA.” Specifically, hempcrete was approved as a non-structural wall infill system similar to cob and straw bale construction, according to the report. The approval applies to one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses and should increase the availability of hemp-based building materials and facilitate greener construction projects around the U.S.

A sea change for plastic pollution: New material biodegrades in ocean water

Read the full story from UC San Diego.

Plastics, now ubiquitous in the modern world, have become a rising threat to human and environmental health. Around the planet, evidence of plastic pollution stretches from grocery bags in the deep sea to microplastics in our food supplies and even in our blood.

Seeking solutions to counteract the rise in plastic trash, scientists at the University of California San Diego have developed new biodegradable materials that are designed to replace conventionally used plastic. After proving their polyurethane foams biodegrade in land-based composts, an interdisciplinary team of scientists including UC San Diego biologist Stephen Mayfield and chemists Michael Burkart and Robert “Skip” Pomeroy have now shown that the material biodegrades in seawater. The results are published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

New evidence finds current policies not working to end plastic pollution

Read the full story from the University of Portsmouth.

A new report examining the effectiveness of global plastic policies concludes that current approaches to policy making will not produce the step change needed to tackle the global plastic pollution crisis.

The findings from the University of Portsmouth’s Global Plastic Policy Centre (GPPC) were unveiled today at the UN Environment Program Marine Debris Conference in Busan, South Korea.

First-of-its-kind 3D-printed home blends concrete, wood

Read the full story from Cornell University.

Pouring layers of concrete like rows of toothpaste, an industrial-sized 3D printer this week continued adding a second floor to a Houston home that will be the first multistory printed structure in the United States.

In addition to that achievement, designers Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, assistant professors of architecture in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) and co-principals of the HANNAH Design Office, say the two-story, single-family home is demonstrating innovative construction processes that can be scaled up to multifamily and mixed-use developments, helping to address housing shortages.

Environmental scientists develop a method to turn hazardous acidic industrial wastewater into valuable resources

Read the full story from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Environmental scientists have developed a circular process for eliminating the risk posed by phosphoric acid plant wastewater. The process turns the environmentally toxic wastewater into clean water while recovering valuable acids. Phosphoric acid is the main ingredient in industrial fertilizers, a massive industry worldwide.