Archive for February, 2011

February 24, 2011

Brazilian scientists see new source of renewable energy in atmospheric humidity

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Believing that electricity could be generated from the air, Brazilian scientists are working to discover the processes involved in the formation and release of electricity from water in the atmosphere.

Contrary to the previous belief that water droplets in the atmosphere were electrically neutral and remained so even after coming into contact with the electrical charges on dust particles and droplets of other liquids, the latest evidence has shown that water in the atmosphere really does pick up an electrical charge, Wired UK reported on 27 August 2010.

The research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston by study leader Fernando Galembeck, PhD, from the University of Campinas (Brazil), who confirmed that laboratory experiments had proven “hygroelectricity”, or humidity, which meant that “water in the atmosphere can accumulate electrical charges and transfer them to other materials it comes into contact with”.

It might sound hard to believe, but a team of scientists from the university is working to develop suitable devices to capture electricity from the air, and then eventually to use it to power houses and businesses.

Although the research is still in its early stages, Galembeck presented…

See more: Brazilian scientists see new source of renewable energy in atmospheric.

February 18, 2011

Generating energy from nuclear fusion – Is it possible?

by Jasmina Nikoloska
Nuclear fusion is the natural process of converting hydrogen into helium at temperatures of 10-15 million Kelvin, providing enough energy to power the Sun and stars.

This almost endless process has inspired a vigorous world-wide research programme, aimed at harnessing fusion energy for human needs.

Seemingly a perfect energy source to supply the world’s energy needs for millions of years to come, nuclear fusion in and of itself generates no carbon dioxide emissions or harmful waste, and poses no threat to a surrounding human population.

But to exploit this energy from nuclear fusion on Earth is different and more difficult; much more efficient fusion reactions than those at work on the Sun would have to be selected, in this case, those between the two heavy forms of hydrogen: deuterium (D) and tritium (T).

Despite the progress achieved in fusion experiments, no device has yet made more energy than it consumes: Fusion has only been achieved by putting far more energy into a system than the fusion itself produces.

Fusion on Earth occurs under specific conditions at very high temperatures, greater than 100 million Kelvin, from a very hot gas or plasma of hydrogen in a controlled environment using a powerful magnetic field.

In order to harness fusion energy, scientists and engineers are learning how to control very high temperature plasmas.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Research Reactor (ITER), in southern France, is a multinational research and engineering project designed to prove the scientific and technological feasibility of a full-scale fusion power reactor. It is an experimental step between today’s studies of plasma physics and future electricity-producing fusion power plants.

It is designed to produce approximately 500 MW of fusion power sustained for more than 400 seconds. ITER will be the first fusion experiment with an output power higher than the input power.

The ITER project faces funding problems; a shortfall of building costs in 2012-2013 of 1.4 billion euro is expected to be covered by European Union research funds. This raises concerns among scientists working on other research programmes, who argue that the proposal could “rob researchers of vital funds”.

The original plan was to build the bones of the experiment in 10 years for a budget of 5 billion euro. Many now expect it to be in the region of 15 billion euro, Time’s Ecocentric published recently.

The Joint European Torus (JET), at Culham Science Centre, Oxfordshire, UK, investigates the potential of fusion power as a safe, clean and virtually limitless energy source for future generations. The largest tokamak in the world, it is the only operational fusion experiment capable of producing fusion energy.

While JET represents a pure scientific experiment, the reactor-scale experiment ITER is designed to deliver 10 times the power it consumes. The next foreseen device, DEMO, is expected to be the first fusion plant to reliably provide electricity to the grid.

If successful, this will offer a viable alternative energy supply within the next 30 to 40 years.

Written by: Jasmina Nikoloska for Energetika.NET
February 17, 2011

Scientists linked increased flooding with climate change

by Jasmina Nikoloska

This week’s journal Nature published the results of two studies that find link between greenhouse emissions and the observed increase in extreme rains in the Northern Hemisphere as well the increased risk of flooding in the United Kingdom.

In the autumn 2000 were the highest rains in England and Wales since records began in 1766 and now the scientists say they are almost certainly caused by climate change.

UK’s wettest period affecting more than 10.000 homes and more than a billion pounds damage, so this paper shows that we already have climate change and it is not something that will happen in the future.

The results are based on a ran computer models of the atmosphere as it actually was, and parallel models of the atmosphere as it would have been without the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that had accrued from human activities..

A research team led from Oxford University came to a conclusion that the emissions substantially increased the odds of a flood occurring in 2000, with about a doubling of the likelihood.

If the risk of floods is increasing, policymakers will have to be ready to respond but unfortunately in the UK, the government has already made its mind by having cut the flood defence budget by 8% earlier this month.

However, there will be always someone how doesn’t agree with how the results are carried out.

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish “sceptical environmentalist” told BBC News that society had to look at where and how people lived.

“But is the right way to handle future flooding by focusing on climate change? The answer is no – that’s an incredibly expensive way of making extreme flooding very slightly less likely in 100 years.

“We should focus on the simple ways – making better protection, making sure people don’t settle on flood plains, and that we have some places where rivers can naturally flood as they did in the past.” – published yesterday on BBC News web site.

Written by Jasmina Nikoloska

February 16, 2011

Supergrid for transmitting renewable energy where it is needed

by Jasmina Nikoloska

From January the 19th to 21st, in London, leading industry, regulators, ministries,  associations, solution providers, investors, get together to discuss wide visions into Supergrid development.

The Supergrid is an ambitious project that could ensures renewable energy generated offshore can be fed into the grid and brought to where it is needed.

Europe is starting to build an “electric economy”. Electricity grids will no longer be seen as a national resource. They will become international corridors of trade bringing renewable energy generation from northern marine and southern solar generation to where is needed.

The primary fuel sources for this transition to renewable generation will be wind, solar and marine energy and that will drive to a low carbon future.

Although some technical difficulties are overcome there is still log way to go in implementing the Supergrid project.

Now is technically possible to transmit electricity efficiently and cheaply from distant locations at sea or in the desert to the urban areas, but the software to support the design and management of a DC (direct current) power grid simply does not exist.

The questions remains of a unifying the European energy market, that is probably necessary if we want these project to work.

Let’s not forget about policy and regulatory framework. It is clear that UK government and nine other countries bordering the North Sea stands up for the Supergrid with signing the Memorandum an agreement in early December 2010.

But we still can’t see investment on table and clear regulatory framework arranged between the countries that will produce trade or use renewable sources through Supergrid.

However, the Supergrid innovative is a positive thinking and a way to achieve energy efficiency as well reduces our dependence on fossil fuels.

February 9, 2011

By changing our consumption habits towards more sustainable future

by Jasmina Nikoloska

The population growth is inseparably related to human consumption habits, but we have to understand that a rapid rise in consumption is our most pressing environmental issue not the number of people.

In some societies there is a political, religious or cultural norms that has impact on the family planning.

But, I will agree with the Professor Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University in California on his view that “we would like to see a gradual decline in population, but a rapid decline in consumption habits”.

I think if we start to use our resources wisely and reasonably, we could think our way out in favour of the environment and manage to sustain successfully.

Could we control our consumption needs and is it possible each of us to achieve a sustainable life for sustainable future?

The temptations are at every corner, the life still that we present shape our place in the society.

The consumption rate in developed courtiers is several time higher than in the developing word.

But financial poorer nations aim to increase its living standard and often that is by emigrating elsewhere.

Each such relocation of a person to a country with high consumption raises world consumption rates.

Fred Pearce made a good point in his article Consumption dwarfs population as main environmental threat (Article history)Even if we could today achieve zero population growth, that would barely touch the climate problem — where we need to cut emissions by 50 to 80 percent by mid-century. Given existing income inequalities, it is inescapable that overconsumption by the rich few is the key problem, rather than overpopulation of the poor many”.

Maybe thinking and hopping that focusing on new technologies could save us from ourselves, prevent us to see the bigger picture!?

February 8, 2011

Population expansion will reach 7 billion in 2011; can the Earth cope?

by Jasmina Nikoloska

It is predicted that 2011 will be marked as the year when human population reached the explosion growth of 7 billion.

According to the UN report, fertility must drop below replacement level in order to stabilise the world population.

This is of particular concern and if we don’t act properly this figure could be doubled by 2100.

But in the more realistic scenario predicted by UN Population Division it is most likely that after 2070 when the world population peaks at 9.4 billion it will starts to decline.

The ten countries with the largest population in world are China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia and Japan.

India has the largest number of births each year – 27 million, roughly one in five of all global births.

The UN report warns of a possibility that even with significant fertility reductions, Africa’s population will likely increase by 150% by 2100 and many of its countries will see their populations increase four-fold or more.

It seems that the poorest countries are most to blame? Can it be true?

However, can the Earth cope with it and is there a real treat of over populating the Planet?

Some environmentalists think that human population growth is responsible for environmental problems nowadays.

Rising of greenhouse gases, lack of food and space, electricity for all, seems like everything is in direct relationship with the human consumption and just few of the environmental thinkers are ready to admit that.

According to George Monbiot: “Stabilising or even reducing the human population would ameliorate almost all environmental impacts. But to suggest, as many of my correspondents do, that population growth is largely responsible for the ecological crisis is to blame the poor for the excesses of the rich”.

We should try to life as much sustainably as we can and modelling our future in favour of the environment.

There are more than enough resources to feed the world, they say, even in 2050 when numbers peak – a point made this week by a report jointly published by France’s national agricultural and development research agencies. The problem is that we see huge inequities in consumption whereby, for example, the average American has the same carbon footprint as 250 Ethiopians. The French report concluded bluntly that “the rich must stop consuming so much”, the Guardian reported recently.

Wretten by Jasmina Nikoloska

February 7, 2011

Controversial plans to relax the EU’s zero-tolerance on GM food

by Jasmina Nikoloska

According to the E.U.’s zero-tolerance policy any imported food of animal feed must be GMO free from the substances that have not been approved by the E.U. Council.

Currently only several varieties of GM soy, corn, cotton, potato, sugar beet, and canola (rape seed), are approved for planting and use in the E.U.

The EU plans for elimination of the zero-tolerance policy alarmed many environmentalist and GMO sceptics.

There is a possibility for permitting import of animal feed that could contain traces of unauthorised GM crops.

Although GM supporters argue that it zero-tolerance policy could result with a shortage of feed for livestock and GM traces does not jeopardise food security, campaigners against GM food think that GM industry only wants to push its products and technology and by relaxing GM zero-tolerance policy they are opening it’s gates for imported GMO in EU.

The push for Europe to drop its zero-tolerance policy began in 2009 after EU authorities found traces of GM maize in soy shipments from the US and refused to allow its entry. Such recalls are expensive and those affected are unlikely to receive compensation, the Guardian published on 6th of February 2011.

Written by Jasmina Nikoloska

February 5, 2011

Drought in Amazon raised severe concerns

by Jasmina Nikoloska

It is unusual but sometimes happens for the rain forests to have no rain.

In 2005 the severe drought hit Amazon rain forest, the rivers level fell dramatically and according to the scientists these could happen ones in a century or so.
But an expectantly last year drought affected Amazon region in much larger area than in 2005, so the scientist are concern that these could become a pattern and that it is more than a coincides.
Although the cause is still unknown, it could be natural climatic variations and in the future we might see no more of these types of droughts, but the alternative is that it is associated with high concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Dr. Simon Lewis explained for BBC News.
Rain forests like Amazon are natural absorbers of CO2 and by losing their ability and capacity to absorb; more greenhouse gases are ending in the atmosphere.
According to a research published in journal Science, in a typical year the forest absorbs 1.5 bn tonnes CO2, but in the 2005 the forest released 5 bn tonnes CO2, because of a dying trees.
The real concern comes if we just compare the last year’s figures of released 8 bn tonnes from the forest and 5.4 bn tonnes CO2  produced by US  in 2009 by burning fossil fuels.

It is our duty to protect the forests by any cost.

Written by: Jasmina Nikoloska

February 5, 2011

First GM chickens resistant to bird flu created

by Jasmina Nikoloska

The journal Science published a study of genetically modified [GM] chickens that are resistant to bird flu.

According to the researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, this achievement could stop bird flu from spreading and possibly reduce the risk of bird flu epidemics that could lead to flu virus epidemics in humans.

The researchers believe that the technology has the potential to create a variety of GM farm animals resistant to viral diseases.

They think that the genetic modification they have introduced is harmless to the chickens as well to people who might eat the birds and possibly it could an alternative to vaccination.
As the researchers explained, they inserted an artificial gene into chickens, which diverts an enzyme crucial for transmitting the H5N1 strain. Still the birds get sick and eventually die but they didn’t pass on that virus to other chickens.

Although the technology offers a benefit, British public is sceptical over GM food and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) should conduct a full detailed safety evaluation before any of this GM produce could enter the market.
And Tim Elsdale, who is an organic farmer in East Sussex, told BBC News that it was better to adopt good farming practices to avoid animals getting diseases in the first place than to create GM farm animals.

On the other hand human population is growing rapidly and eventually feeding the world is going to be a real problem.

Written By Jasmina Nikoloska

February 5, 2011

Solar industry raises concerns of potential e-waste

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Reducing the use of fossil fuel, cutting greenhouse gases and other air pollution emissions have become recognised necessities; the recent explosive growth of solar technology is a welcomed occurrence because of the expected energy crisis.

Thankfully, the Sun is most widely available energy resource.

However, solar modules contain some of the potentially dangerous substances found in electronic waste, including silicon tetrachloride, cadmium, selenium and sulphur hexafluoride, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that e-waste is growing at two to three times the rate of any other source of waste; furthermore, only 15 to 20 per cent of e-waste is recycled.

The crystalline photovoltaic cell is the oldest and most widespread solar technology in the United States, holding a 57 per cent market share in 2009, according to Greentech Media. A thin film technology called cadmium telluride holds about 21 per cent, while copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) currently has a market share of just 6 per cent. Amorphous silicon, which also has an indium tin oxide layer, takes 16 per cent.

Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition (SCTC) issued a report in 2009 warning that solar panels provide clean energy while in use, but a variety of factors during their manufacturing and disposal has the potential to greatly damage the environment.

Now is the right time to recognise the necessary measures for the solar industry to remain sustainable and retain it green credibility. Although solar panels have a life expectancy of approximately 25 years, and it is not expected for large amounts of modules to be returned for another 10 to 15 years for recycling or disposal, there is a big e-waste potential.

It is important to build proper infrastructure and address the issues of producer responsibility, recycling in an attempt to avoid the danger of electronic waste and future plans for the disposal of solar panels that are no longer needed.

Still, most companies that are beginning recycling programmes today are proceeding under the assumption that recycling will be costly. They are preparing for that expense by creating a variety of funding mechanisms based on the principle of producer responsibility, The Guardian wrote on 3 September 2010.

Currently there is nothing much to recycle except…..

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