Refrigerant Management and Building Envelope

Every refrigerator and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to enable chilling. Refrigerants, specifically CFCs and HCFCs, were once culprits in depleting the ozone layer. Thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, they have been phased out. HFCs, the primary replacement, spare the ozone layer, but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

In October 2016, officials from more than 170 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, to negotiate a deal to address this problem. Through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the world will phase out HFCs—starting with high-income countries in 2019, then some low-income countries in 2024 and others in 2028. Substitutes are already on the market, including natural refrigerants such as propane and ammonium. [Source: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/materials/refrigerant-management ]

A building envelope is comprised of the components that make up the shell of the building. The components separate the exterior from the interior of the building, and are designed to meet or exceed the needs of the specific application. The building envelope may also be described as what separates the interior areas that are temperature controlled (conditioned) space from exterior unheated (unconditioned) space. To break it down any area that is heated or air conditioned is considered a conditioned area where as any area that isn’t would be considered an unconditioned area. The building envelope must be designed with regard to climate, ventilation, and energy consumption within the building.

The many functions of the building envelope can be separated into three categories:

  • Support (to resist and transfer mechanical loads)
  • Control (the flow of matter and energy of all types)
  • Finish (to meet human desires on the inside and outside)

The control function is at the core of good performance, and in practice focuses, in order of importance, on rain, air, heat, and vapor control. [Source: https://www.reichelinsulation.com/Understanding-The-Building-Envelope.html ]

Floating Solar Farms

Millions of marine floating islands, each as large as a football field and powered by sunlight, could harvest carbon dioxide and produce enough fuel to power the world’s planes, ships, trains and lorries. These solar methanol farms, proposed by scientists from Switzerland and Norway, could even eliminate all global fossil fuel emissions.

Solar panels covering the 100m-diameter islands would provide energy for combining carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methanol – a compound that can either be used directly as a fuel or serve as a feedstock for petrochemical products. A chemical plant housed in a moored ship would provide the ingredients for this reaction: hydrogen from water splitting and carbon dioxide harvested from seawater. The area underneath the islands could even be used for fish farming.

A cluster of 70 islands could produce 1.75 tonnes of methanol per hour, the team calculates. To compensate for emissions from the long-haul transport, 170,000 such clusters would be needed. They could be placed along shorelines near the equator, in particular Indonesia, northern Australia and Brazil – areas that have lots of sunlight, small waves and few hurricanes. If 1.5% of the world’s oceans was used for solar methanol farms, they could offset global fossil fuel emissions altogether.

This vision, however, is not without its challenges. Electrolysing seawater creates unwanted chlorine, so the researchers suggest desalinating the water before use. Carbon dioxide can be harvested from seawater – its concentration here is 125 times higher than in air – but it requires heating or acidification. Electrodialysis, which effectively acidifies one part of a solution, could be a practical extraction method. Moreover, to be economically viable, each island cluster can’t cost more than $90 million (£70 million). At that rate it would be projected to cost $990,000,000,000,000 (nearly 1 quadrillion dollars).

The most challenging part, however, might be the catalytic methanol production. Current copper–zinc–aluminium catalysts require high pressures and temperatures. But if temperatures get too high, hydrogen and carbon dioxide can react to form unwanted carbon monoxide. Microstructured reactors and more selective nickel–gallium catalysts might alleviate these problems, but they still need to be tried and tested.

A lot of questions remain, such as whether these technologies could be combined in the way the scientists suggest, and what the best practical design for these facilities might be.

References

B D Patterson et al, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2019, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1902335116

Visit original article here: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/11-million-floating-solar-farms-could-eliminate-carbon-emissions-from-transport-/3010580.article

Coral Fragmentation Method

Dr. David Vaughan of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida has found a way to make coral grow 40 times faster than coral currently does in the wild.

The Good News Network describes his accidental breakthrough:

“He had been trying to remove a coral from the bottom of a tank when it broke into a dozen pieces. To his shock, all of the pieces regrew to the same size in just three short weeks, as opposed to the three years it had taken to grow the original coral.”

It typically takes coral 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity. Instead, through a process of ‘breaking up’ the coral, Doctor Vaughan has seen the timeline shrink to three years and seen results that will lead him to share the information with conservationists all around the world, with the hopes of planting 100,000 pieces of coral around the Florida Reef Tract by 2019 and millions more around the world in the years to come.

At worst, the method led by Vaughan is something that will buy conservationists more time. At best: this is the beginning of a solution. A former intern of Vaughn’s commented on Reddit, adding a very useful note to indicate that Vaughan “has been essentially adjusting the coral frag[ments] to more acidic and warm water to better prepare them for our changing climate.” This appears to be what makes the process Vaughan describes unique, as the process of fragmenting coral to encourage growth has been around since at least the 1960s. “This is now a new discovery that can give real hope for our coral reefs that has never been there before,” Vaughan said to BBC One. “We tried [this process] with all the other species of corals in the Florida Keys and it works for them all.”

Visit the original article here: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/fast-growing-coral-discovery-could-revitalize-oceans

Carbon Capture by RMIT University

The cost-effective method could revolutionize how we remove carbon from the atmosphere, particularly in regard to climate change.

A team of scientists used liquid metal and a liquid electrolyte to convert gaseous CO2 into a solid, coal-like substance.

Compared to current methods, the new approach could prove to be a more efficient and scalable way to remove carbon from the atmosphere and safely store it.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the global community must remove 100 billion to 1 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by mid-century in order to avoid catastrophic global warming.

Scientists have created a method to convert carbon dioxide back into solid coal, a breakthrough that could change the ways carbon is removed from the atmosphere and permanently stored.

It’s one of several recently developed negative emissions techniques that seek to make carbon capture and storage cheaper, safer and more efficient. This particular method was developed by a research team led by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and it uses a liquid metal electrocatalyst, containing nanoparticles of the rare-earth metal cerium, to convert the greenhouse gas into a stable, coal-like solid.

“While we can’t literally turn back time, turning carbon dioxide back into coal and burying it back in the ground is a bit like rewinding the emissions clock,” study co-author Dr. Torben Daeneke told The Independent. “To date, CO2 has only been converted into a solid at extremely high temperatures, making it industrially unviable.”

Original article on BigThink here!

Climate Crisis is a Health Crisis

The Climate Crisis is a Health Crisis (Graphic from The Climate Reality Project)

The world’s leading scientists agree we must slash emissions by 2030 and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C to avert a truly dangerous future. Carbon pollution poisons our air, water, and soil, threatening our health.

When we protect our planet, we protect ourselves. The Climate Reality Project is calling on the world’s leaders to ACT NOW.

Visit their website @ Climaterealityproject.org

Three Squares Inc

It was great meeting @threesquaresinc at 24 Hours of Reality 2018 at Los Angeles Historic Park earlier this month. 

As it so happens, film productions have a nasty reputation for wasting and improper disposal of materials. Enter Three Sqaures Inc.! 

Each day of production they held a meeting (as seen above) where they debriefed the production crew on how to properly dispose of their waste on set. 

We also had set up 4 options for dumpsters: compost, landfill, recycling and construction/demolition (as seen in photos). At one point when I found catering dumping excess food waste (non-meat) into the landfill I asked them to use the compost bags and use the compost dumpster. They replied that they green compost bags tended to tear open while they carried them so they used garbage bags instead. I offered the idea that they could use a milk crate to transport the compost bags and thankfully they listened and the new plan worked minimizing any spillage.

It was great to have the support of Three Squares Inc to help make our set as green as humanly possible! 

Imagine if every production set were able to properly sort their waste–it would surely reduce the environmental impact of the modern entertainment industry.

Visit Three Squares Inc at: http://www.threesquaresinc.com/

The Climate Reporter

The Climate Reporter is an international youth-led news organization building a platform to become the leading news outlet for the environmental movement. #ReportOnClimate Give them a follow and get up-to-speed on environmental issues:
https://medium.com/the-climate-reporter
@reportonclimate 📰📰📰📰📰

24 Hours of Reality 2018

🌍🌎🌏 Join #24HoursofReality till 9pm EST today December 4th for the live broadcast online at https://www.24hoursofreality.org and become a citizen producer at climatereality.org! 🌍🌎🌏

Happy Earth Day 2018

Happy Earth Day 2018!

“In our obscurity, in all this vastness,
there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere
to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the onl world known so far to harbor life.

There is no where else, at least in the near future,
to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet.

Like it or not, for the moment,
the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is humbling, and
character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the
folly of human conceits than this distant image.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more
kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish
the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

– Carl Sagan

“I want to know my ancestors–all of them.
I want to be a good, strong link in the chain of generations.
I want to protect my children and the children
of ages to come.
We, who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos,
we’ve begun to learn the story of our origins–star stuff
contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived
at consciousness.
We and the other living things on this planet carry a legacy of cosmic evolution
spanning billions of years.
If we take that knowledge to heart,
if we come to know and love nature as it really is,
then we will surely be remembered by our descendents as good,
strong links in the chain of life.
And our children will continue this sacred searching,
seeing for us as we have seen for those who came before,
discovering wonders yet undreamt of…in the cosmos.”
– Neil DeGrasse-Tyson

(Quoted from Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey S1:E13 Unafraid of the Dark)

Mutant Enzyme that Eats Plastic Bottles

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident as posted in the Guardian recently on April 16th! The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”

Original link here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles