Aclima

Until now. Beginning in 2015, a pair of Google Street View cars, equipped with high tech “mobile labs” developed by San Francisco–based startup Aclima, crisscrossed the streets of West Oakland taking second-by-second samples of the area’s air. They tested for nitrogen dioxide and a type of pollution known as black carbon (bad for your heart and lungs, not to mention the planet), as well as nitric oxide. The cars hit every stretch of pavement, from tiny cul-de-sacs to truck-choked Peralta Street, multiple times, taking millions of measurements.

There are three stationary air pollution monitors for all of Oakland, which reveal the city’s air quality as a whole. But the Street View cars can tell you what the air is like at, say, the corner of Market Street and Grand Avenue—basically anywhere you can drive a Street View car. They can even tell you how the air varies from one end of a single block to the other for a truly hi-res view of the problem.The result: one of the largest and most granular data sets of urban air pollution ever assembled in the world.

Quoting Google’s interview on Aclima: “We visited each block on between 20 and 50 different days over the course of a year,” says Joshua Apte, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In the process, they were able to identify patterns they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. “If pollution spikes for an instant, it may or may not be such a bad thing. But if pollution is consistently high, that’s something we really should care about.”

Imagine what difference awareness on air pollution can make when this information becomes more accessible!

Visit https://aclima.io/ for more information!

Zero-Emission Fossil Fuel Power

(photo credit: CHICAGO BRIDGE & IRON)

This is NET Power’s prototype plant near Houston, Texas. It is testing an emission-free technology designed to compete with conventional fossil power.

Zero-emission fossil fuel power sounds like an oxymoron. But when that 25-megawatt demonstration plant is fired up later this year, it will burn natural gas in pure oxygen. The result: a stream of nearly pure CO2, which can be piped away and stored underground or blasted into depleted oil reservoirs to free more oil, a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Either way, the CO2 will be sequestered from the atmosphere and the climate.

That has long been the hope for carbon capture and storage (CCS), a strategy that climate experts say will be necessary if the world is to make any headway in limiting climate change. But CCS systems bolted to conventional fossil fuel plants have struggled to take off because CO2 makes up only a small fraction of their exhaust. Capturing it saps up to 30% of a power plant’s energy and drives up the cost of electricity.

In contrast, NET Power, the startup backing the new plant, says it expects to produce emission-free power at about $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. That’s about the same cost as power from a state-of-the-art natural gas-fired plant—and cheaper than most renewable energy. The key to its efficiency is a new thermodynamic cycle that swaps CO2 for the steam that drives turbines in conventional plants. Invented by an unlikely trio—a retired British engineer and a pair of technology geeks who had tired of their day jobs—the scheme may soon get a bigger test. If the prototype lives up to hopes, NET Power says, it will forge ahead with a full-scale, 300-megawatt power plant—enough to power more than 200,000 homes—which could open in 2021 at a cost of about $300 million. Both the company and CCS experts hope that the technology will then proliferate. “This is a game-changer if they achieve 100% of their goals,” says John Thompson, a carbon capture expert at the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental nonprofit with an office in Carbondale, Illinois.

Even if NET Power’s technology works as advertised, not everyone will be a fan. Lukas Ross, who directs the climate and energy campaign at Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C., notes that the natural gas that powers the plant comes from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and other potentially destructive practices. And providing a steady supply of high-pressure gas for EOR, he adds, will only perpetuate a reliance on fossil fuels. Ross argues that money would be better spent on encouraging broad deployment of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.

Yet oddly enough, NET Power could help smooth the way for renewables to expand. The renewable portfolio standards in many countries and U.S. states require solar, wind, and other carbon-free sources to produce an increasing proportion of the electric power supply. But those sources are intermittent: The power comes only when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Nuclear and fossil fuel sources provide “base load” power that fills the gaps when renewables aren’t available. Conventional natural gas power plants, in particular, are viewed as a renewable-friendly technology because they can be ramped up and down quickly depending on the supply of renewable power.

CEF FFT: Although this is not an ideal solution, perhaps this is a step in the right direction. Who knows what this new Allam Cycle could inspire in other renewables.

Visit source article on Sciencemag.org for more information and diagrams!

The Death Toll of Air Pollution

Pollution is no joke and the whole world involved is listening.

Pollution and environmental risks are responsible for 1.7 million deaths of children below the age of five, according to two World Health Organization (WHO) reports released Monday.

The reports reveal that 570,000 of children’s deaths each year are attributed to respiratory infections, like pneumonia, caused by both indoor and outdoor air pollution, as well as second-hand smoke. Additionally, 270,000 children a year die in their first month from conditions due to air pollution and lack of sanitation, according to the WHO.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one — particularly for young children,” Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, said in a press release. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Chan has previously called pollution “one of the most pernicious threats” to health around the world — far greater than the threat of HIV/AIDS or Ebola, BBC reports.

In addition to the deaths, the WHO found that 11–14% of younger children worldwide report asthma symptoms and nearly half (an estimated 44%) of those cases result from the environmental factors.

(Visit the source article on Fortune for more information!)

(Photo credit: Witch Kiki)

Taking Space

The HabitatMap & AirCasting Blog have come together for a space to collectively crowdsource live streaming air-quality data. Last November, New York city has even been leveraging AirBeam Data to Inform Policy Decisions!
New York City recently committed to implementing a “zoned” collection system for the commercial waste sector. By dividing the city into zones and having commercial carting companies bid to service each zone, the city’s study found that the number of miles traveled by private collection vehicles will be cut by an astounding 49 to 68 percent!  This is a win for both the private carting companies, which will be able to achieve dramatic efficiencies in operations, and everyday New Yorkers, who will have to contend with less noise and air pollution.
(Source: {Taking Space} )
If we are able to optimize the trash zoning over in more mega-cities, this could make a big impact on pollution  worldwide.

AirCasting

AirCasting is an open-source, end-to-end solution for collecting, displaying, and sharing health and environmental data using your smartphone. The platform consists of wearable sensors that detect changes in your environment and physiology, including a palm-sized air quality monitor called the AirBeam, the AirCasting Android app, the AirCasting website, and wearable LED accessories. By documenting and leveraging health and environmental data to inform personal decision-making and public policy, the AirCasting platform empowers citizen scientists and changemakers.

(Visit AirCasting for more info!)

Habitat Map

HabitatMap is a non-profit environmental health justice organization whose goal is to raise awareness about the impact the environment has on human health. Their online mapping and social networking platform is designed to maximize the impact of community voices on city planning and strengthen ties between organizations and activists working to build greener, greater cities. Participants are encouraged to utilizing their shared advocacy platform to:

  • Alert the public to environmental health hazards
  • Hold polluters accountable for their environmental impacts
  • Highlight urban infrastructures that promote healthy living
  • Identify future opportunities for sustainable urban development
  • Promote policies that enhance equitable access to urban resources

By polluting the environment we end up polluting ourselves in turn. Now, we can measure it and have the ability to share the information globally.