EPA releases new PFAS Analytic Tools

U.S EPA has released a new interactive webpage, PFAS Analytic Tools, which provides information about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across the country. This information will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities. The PFAS Analytic Tools bring together multiple sources of information in one spot with mapping, charting, and filtering functions, allowing the public to see where testing has been done and what level of detections were measured.

The tool draws from multiple national databases and reports to consolidate information in one webpage. It includes information on Clean Water Act PFAS discharges from permitted sources, reported spills containing PFAS constituents, facilities historically manufacturing or importing PFAS, federally owned locations where PFAS is being investigated, transfers of PFAS-containing waste, PFAS detection in natural resources such as fish or surface water, and drinking water testing results. The tools cover a broad list of PFAS and represent EPA’s ongoing efforts to provide the public with access to the growing amount of testing information that is available.

Because the regulatory framework for PFAS chemicals is emerging, data users should pay close attention to the caveats found within the site so that the completeness of the data sets is fully understood. Rather than wait for complete national data to be available, EPA is publishing what is currently available while information continues to fill in. Users should be aware that some of the datasets are complete at the national level whereas others are not. 

To improve the availability of the data in the future, EPA has published its fifth Safe Drinking Water Act Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule to expand on the initial drinking water data reporting that was conducted in 2013-2016. Beginning in 2023, this expansion will bring the number of drinking water PFAS samples collected by regulatory agencies into the millions. EPA also significantly expanded the Toxics Release Inventory reporting requirements in recent years to over 175 PFAS substances — and more information should be received in 2023. Additionally, EPA’s proposal to designate PFOA and PFOS as Hazardous Substances would also improve data on spill or release incidents reported to the Emergency Response Notification System. These reporting enhancements will be incorporated into future versions of the interactive webpage. EPA will continue working toward the expansion of data sets in the PFAS Analytic Tools as a way to improve collective knowledge about PFAS occurrence in the environment.

Learn more and access the tools and read the news release.

DOE intends to issue funding opportunity for Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program

The United States (U.S.) Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC) intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) titled “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program (Section 40209).” MESC intends to issue the FOA in the February 2023 timeframe, and the FOA will be funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). MESC plans to issue the FOA in February 2023.

DOE anticipates that the FOA will award financial assistance in the form of cooperative agreements or grants to small- and medium-sized manufacturers to support projects to build new, re-equip, or expand existing clean energy manufacturing or recycling facilities in coal transition communities.

Under BIL Section 40209, the following types of energy property may be produced or recycled through an Advanced Energy Property Project:

  • Property designed to be used to produce energy from the sun, water, wind, geothermal or hydrothermal resources, enhanced geothermal systems, or other renewable resources;
  • Fuel cells, microturbines, or energy storage systems and components; • Electric grid modernization equipment or components;
  • Property designed for use in carbon capture, transport, removal, use, or sequestration / storage;
  • Equipment designed to refine, electrolyze, or blend any fuel, chemical, or product that is renewable or low-carbon and low-emission;
  • Property designed to produce energy conservation technologies (including for residential, commercial, and industrial applications);
  • Light-, medium-, or heavy-duty electric or fuel cell vehicles, electric or fuel cell locomotives, electric or fuel cell maritime vessels, or electric or fuel cell planes; technologies, components, and materials of those vehicles, locomotives, maritime vessels, or planes; and charging or refueling infrastructure associated with those vehicles, locomotives, maritime vessels, or planes;
  • Hybrid vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of not less than 14,000 pounds; and technologies, components, and materials for those vehicles; and
  • Other advanced energy property designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the full notice of intent (PDF will automatically download).

DOE issues notice of intent to fund industrial decarbonization and emissions reduction demonstration to deployment projects

DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) in collaboration with the Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC) intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Industrial Decarbonization and Emissions Reduction Demonstration-to-Deployment Funding Opportunity Announcement.” DOE expects to issue the FOA on or about March 2023 and will likely require concept papers.

OCED anticipates funding high-impact, large-scale, transformational projects to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from high-emitting industrial subsectors to build confidence in the technical and commercial viability of emissions reduction technologies and integrated solutions.

OCED will support cross-cutting industrial decarbonization approaches via energy efficiency; industrial electrification; low-carbon fuels, feedstocks, and energy sources; and carbon capture and utilization for emissions that are difficult to abate through other pathways. This approach aligns with but is not limited to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap.

Areas of interest (AOI) may include high-emissions industrial production processes in iron, steel, steel mill products, aluminum, cement, concrete, glass, pulp, paper, industrial ceramics, chemicals, and other energy-intensive industrial sectors. In addition to the industry-specific opportunities, which require process-specific solutions, crosscutting opportunities to minimize the GHG emissions across the sector or sectors will be considered. 

DOE anticipates providing awards to teams that are led by a single entity. All applicants are encouraged to partner with experts in technical engineering support or analysis, lifecycle analysis, and/or community benefits if none exist within the applicant’s team.  

Read DOE’s full notice of intent (PDF will download automatically).

America underwater: Extreme floods expose the flaws in FEMA’s risk maps

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

This year, extreme precipitation deluged communities across the United States — a hallmark risk of a warming climate. Government flood-insurance maps often left residents unprepared for the threat. A Washington Post analysis of videos taken by people who endured destruction from flooding pinpoints how federal maps are failing to reflect the growing peril that Americans face.

The U.S. wants to slash carbon emissions from power plants. Natural gas is in the way

Read the full story from NPR Illinois.

Under President Joe Biden, the United States aims to cut all carbon pollution by 2035 from the power plants that run American homes and businesses. It’s a first step toward the broader goal of zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions across the entire economy by midcentury to rein in climate change.

But the ambitions of the Biden administration are set to collide with the country’s power industry, which looks like it will continue burning fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

CES 2023: Startups aim to reduce global food waste

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Avocados can be tricky. Their ripeness window is so narrow that a slew of memes poke fun at the fine art of deciding when to eat them.

Dutch entrepreneur Marco Snikkers aims to solve that problem with an avocado scanner unveiled this week at the CES tech show in Las Vegas and designed for use in supermarkets. It uses optical sensing and AI technology to determine ripeness, displaying on a screen whether an avocado is firm or ready to eat.

Snikkers’ startup, OneThird, isn’t just trying to reduce frustration in the kitchen. According to the United Nations, about one-third of food is wasted globally. That means all the carbon emitted to grow, ship and distribute that food was for naught.

Fight to curb food waste increasingly turns to science

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Hate mealy apples and soggy french fries? Science can help.

Restaurants, grocers, farmers and food companies are increasingly turning to chemistry and physics to tackle the problem of food waste.

Some are testing spray-on peels or chemically enhanced sachets that can slow the ripening process in fruit. Others are developing digital sensors that can tell — more precisely than a label — when meat is safe to consume. And packets affixed to the top of a takeout box use thermodynamics to keep fries crispy.

Cumbria coal mine: empty promises of carbon capture tech have excused digging up more fossil fuel for decades

Small smiles/Shutterstock

by Marc Hudson, University of Sussex

The idea that a technology called carbon capture and storage (CCS) could catch molecules of CO₂ as they emerge from the chimneys of power stations and factories has been around for more than two decades. Michael Gove, the secretary of state responsible for “levelling up” the UK’s regions, recently justified his approval of the UK’s first new coal mine in 30 years with “increased use of CCS”. There’s only one problem: CCS won’t cancel out Woodhouse Colliery’s emissions, which are estimated at 400,000 tonnes a year, because it barely exists.

The UK government first started talking about CCS in the late 1990s, when it was looking to meet and exceed its commitment to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

The fact that developing countries like China and India were planning to burn coal for decades made the UK consider starting a CCS industry as its “gift to the world”, in the words of one senior lobbyist I interviewed for research into industrial decarbonisation.

It’s obvious why oil and gas companies like the idea of CCS. Fossil fuel firms can keep extracting and selling their product (coking coal for the steel industry in the case of the new mine in Cumbria, north-west England, almost all of which is expected to be exported) and mopping up the climate-wrecking emissions is someone else’s responsibility. Politicians have been more circumspect. Some have chafed at the enormous upfront cost of developing and installing CCS and sinking taxpayers’ money into a potential white elephant.

The proposed site of the deep coal mine, near Whitehaven in Cumbria, England. Simon Cole/Alamy Stock Photo

Over the last 20 years in the UK, the future potential of CCS has been used to justify prolonging coal power, making hydrogen fuel from the potent greenhouse gas methane and building more gas-fired power stations.

Advocates of a greenhouse gas removal industry which would scrub excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere now envisage a vast network of pipes and ships transporting captured CO₂ to storage facilities. One group known as the Coalition for Negative Emissions, composed of energy firms and airlines among other companies, sees the potential in CCS to allow societies to “decarbonise while ensuring continued economic progress”. It also points out, (fairly, in my opinion) that “the enabling infrastructure [has] significant scale-up times [and] this acceleration needs to start today”.

Amid all these breathless position papers and adverts, it can be easy to forget that pilot programmes for CCS have been plagued by cost-overruns and operational failures. CCS is still many years away from making a dent in humanity’s emissions, even if everything goes much more smoothly than it has – repeatedly – in the past.

To use the possible commercial existence of CCS some time in the future as a reason to wave through a high-carbon development now, as Gove has done, is a good example of what some fellow academics have called “mitigation deterrence”.

The UK urged countries to ‘consign coal to history’ when it hosted a UN climate summit in 2021. EPA-EFE/Andy Rain

Meaning, efforts at mitigating climate change (by reducing the amount of carbon spewed into the atmosphere) are deterred by the real or imagined existence of future technologies that might work. It’s the equivalent of smoking more and more cigarettes each day and gambling that a cure for cancer will exist by the time you need it.

Marc Hudson, Research Fellow in Industrial Decarbonisation Policy, University of Sussex

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Carbon capture for New York high-rise apartments is a real thing now

Read the full story at Canary Media.

As New York City works to reduce building-related carbon emissions, one 30-story apartment tower is proving you can trap and sequester carbon from gas boiler exhaust.

Carbon capture deployed for Indianapolis Airport runway revamp

Read the full story at Engineering News-Record.

A $190-million runway and taxiway reconstruction project at Indianapolis International Airport features the first-ever Federal Aviation Administration-approved use of a carbon capture technology in the pavement. The project is the first of its kind to receive Envision Platinum certification.

The project uses CarbonCure, a technology that introduces recycled CO2 into fresh concrete to reduce its carbon footprint without compromising performance. Once injected, the CO2 undergoes mineralization and is permanently embedded.