Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Project Kaisei

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

plasticvortexAll along we have all heard rumors about vast areas of floating garbage in our oceans, particularly with problematic plastics in the area officially known as the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. But, until you see the images of sea turtles tangled in plastic shopping bags and dolphins dodging discarded plastic toys and containers in the North Pacific Gyre, it is hard to grasp just how vast and complicated this issue has become. read more »

Hornets Causing Honey Bee Population Collapse In France

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

giant hornetWorldwide, bee populations have been mysteriously in decline.  This of course is big trouble, not just for the production of honey, but for the ecosystem as a whole.  As you probably have learned in school, bees are an integral part of a plant’s life cycle in being able to cross pollinate.

French officials have discovered that there is an invasion of bee-eating Chinese hornets, Vespa veluntina that may be causing bee colony collapse.  It only takes a few hornets to wipe out an entire bee hive.  The hornets first kill all the bees and then proceed to eat the honey and feed the bee larvae to their young. read more »

10 Ways to Save Water Today

Monday, August 17th, 2009

water_drop1As we all know drinking water is a precious thing.  Its such a shame that so much of it goes down the drain without it even entering our body.  I am pretty sure that I am conscious of it because my parents strived for an efficient lifestyle (turn off the lights if you are not in the room…turn off the tv if you are not watching it…etc…)  So here are some tips to save water starting today.

1.  Many people leave the water running when doing the dishes.  This is not necessary.  This is how I do the dishes.  I turn the water on about 1/4 to 1/3 of full blast.  During this time, I scour the dining ware.  Then I wash a small sized read more »

“Superworms” Eat Heavy Metals

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Researchers in England have found “superworms” that feast on heavy metals like lead, zinc, arsenic, and copper. The worms digest the metals and then secrete a form of the metal that is easier for plants to absorb. Then the plants can be harvested leaving behind cleaner, more usable soil.

“These worms seem to be able to tolerate incredibly high concentrations of heavy metals, and the metals seem to be driving their evolution,” said lead researcher Mark Hodson of the University of Reading in England.

“If you took an earthworm from the back of your garden and put it in these soils, it would die,” Hodson said.

DNA analysis of lead-tolerant worms living at Cwmystwyth, Wales, show they belong to a newly evolved species that has yet to be named, he said.

Two other superworms, including an arsenic-munching population from southwest England, are also likely new to science, Hodson said.

“It’s a good bet they are also different species, but we haven’t categorically proved that,” he said.

The toxicity of the metal particles once they have passed through the worms isn’t yet known, since the protective protein wrappings will degrade over time, the study authors noted.

But experiments suggest the superworms make the metals easier for plants to extract from the soil, Hodson said.

“The earthworms don’t necessarily render the metals less toxic, but they do seem to make them available for plant uptake,” he said. This raises this possibility of using the earthworms as part of efforts to clean up land contaminated by mining and heavy industry.

via nationalgeographic

Statue Absorbs Pollution

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Two 30 foot statues looking like the international symbol for water have been erected on Minnesota’s I-35W bridge. Not only is it appropriate considering it’s on the Mississippi River, it’s made of a photocatalytic concrete…meaning it can use ultraviolet light and make the exhaust out of your car less damaging to the environment. Gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and sulfur dioxides will be put into a higher oxidized state causing less damage. It basically works like an outdoor catalytic converter. Aesthetically, it will never look old and will always keep that white finish.

via autoblog

Sewage + Landfill = Green

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

According to a new study done by Viridis Waste Control LLC, dumping sewage into a landfill can accelerate the biodegradation of the trash. Faster biodegradation of garbage means that landfills will have a longer lifetime and more land will not have to be used for a landfill.

Both sewage and the organic matter in garbage decompose and produce methane on their own, resources that are both already tapped for their energy potential at many waste facilities. This occurs because anaerobic microorganisms in the waste process the organic matter and produce methane as a by-product. The greater the amount of bacteria and organic matter, the faster the decomposition.

Landfill garbage breaks down relatively slowly due to the small amounts of bacteria and the separation of the organic matter by plastic bags and other non-degradable materials. While landfills do promote decomposition and the production of methane, this process is quite slow. With the Septage Bioreactor Landfill technology, septage is blended with ground garbage, allowing the organic matter to decompose much faster than it otherwise would. This creates large quantities of methane in a short period of time, which can be tapped for fuel. The other advantage of this technology as a fuel source, is it produces methane constantly as long as there is organic material fed into it. We have no shortage of garbage or sewage, so this will create a very plentiful and reliable source of energy.

The accelerated decomposition also results in less space being used in the landfill, extending its lifespan, as well as reducing groundwater leaching or runoff. On a similar note, separating septage from the rest of the sewage flow would allow for much smaller, decentralized wastewater treatment facilities since only greywater would be left; a substance that can be easily and quite effectively treated with natural systems.

via greengeek

Cleaning the Air

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Research says that about 50% of the CO2 produced is not from big powerplants or other stationary sources.  It is from diffuse sources located in cars, airplanes, and air conditioning units.  That is why it is so difficult to capture CO2 and scientists have been coming up with ways to “scrub” the CO2 out of the air.

Reasearchers from the University of Calgary have come up with a way to pull the CO2 out of the air using air scrubbing towers.  The system takes the CO2 and reacts it with sodium hydroxide, and the innovative part is that after a few more chemical processes, the sodium hydroxide is recovered again.  The end result is the CO2 can be piped away and the sodium hydroxide is reacted with more CO2 in the air.

With their current design, according to the university, they can capture around a ton of carbon dioxide for less than 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity. At that rate, for every bit of electricity used to run the scrubber, you’re actually capturing ten times as much CO2 as was released to create that electricity in the first place. That means that in terms of emissions, it is efficient… but financially, not-so-much-so. As far as the researchers have reported, the technology is expensive, and not near ready for large-scale development yet. But, it could potentially fill a unique role, taking on that 50 percent of diffuse CO2 emissions that no smokestack extractors will ever be able to keep out of the skies.

Hopefully in the future, we will not need this technology, but in the mean time, it looks like a good option.

via popsci

Bacteria to Help Detect Pollution

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Scientists have come up with a way to produce color coded bacteria that could help to locate oil spills and other hazardous types of pollution. They have successfully tested a “blue” bacteria at sea to detect oil spills. They are cheaper to produce than their chemical counterparts, more environmentally friendly, and not harmful to humans.

“Because bacteria have simple single-celled bodies, it is relatively easy to equip them with a sensor and a brightly coloured reporter protein which shows up under a microscope, alerting us to different substances leaking into the soil or seawater,” said Professor Jan Van der Meer, from the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland.

“Our own tests, and checks by other laboratories, have shown that pollution testing using bacteria is a remarkably robust technique and produces reliable results,” he added.

“The heart of our colour sensor system is the bacteria themselves. They reproduce themselves in a growth medium, which makes the whole set-up really cheap.”

In the future it is speculated that the bacteria could reside in buoys that would continuously monitor the waters around them to detect pollution.