Diesel made from carbon dioxide and water

Audi Fuel

Audi Fuel

German car manufacturer Audi has reportedly invented a carbon-neutral diesel fuel, made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable energy sources. And the crystal clear ‘e-diesel’ is already being used to power the Audi A8 owned by the country’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka.

The creation of the fuel is a huge step forward for sustainable transport, but the fact that it’s being backed by an automotive giant is even more exciting. Audi has now set up a pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, operated by clean tech company Sunfire, which will pump out 160 litres of the synthetic diesel every day in the coming months.

 Their base product, which they’re calling ‘blue crude’ is created using a three-step process. The first step involves harvesting renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. They then use this energy to split water into oxygen and pure hydrogen, using a process known as reversible electrolysis.

This hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide (CO), which is created from carbon dioxide (CO2) that’s been harvested from the atmosphere. The two react at high temperatures and under pressure, resulting in the production of the long-chain hydrocarbon compounds that make up the blue crude.

Once it’s been refined, the resulting e-diesel can be mixed in with our current diesel fuel, or used on its own to power cars in a more sustainable way.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

World’s first Carbon Fiber printer

World’s first Carbon Fiber printed machine:

World's first Carbon Fiber printed machine

World’s first Carbon Fiber printed machine

 

Carbon fiber is strong and lightweight. Building with it is both intimidatingly complex and prohibitively expensive—which is why Mark Forged has developed this new 3D printer which can build objects layer-by-layer using the stuff.

Unveiled at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego, the Mark One can print in carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA. Most strikingly, it looks sleek. Real sleek. In fact, it measures just 23 inches wide, 12 inches tall and 13 inches deep, so it could even sit on a desktop alongside your Mac if you were so inclined.

The carbon fiber parts that the printer produces are 20 times stiffer and five times stronger than ABS, the commonly 3D-printed material, and have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum. That’s because, so Mark Forged claims, the printed objects are “packed with tens of thousands of full length, continuous carbon fiber strands.”

Initially inspired by a desire to prototype racecar wings more quickly, there are many applications which would be well-served by the technology—from medical prosthetics to hobbyist drone manufacture. Fortunately, the printer won’t be limited to commercial use when it goes on sale. Available for pre-order from February and shipping some time in the second half of the year, the Mark One will retail at $5,000.

Tree Ring Study Put the Chill on Global Warming

Does New Tree Ring Study Put the Chill on Global Warming:

Tree Ring Study Put the Chill on Global Warming

Tree Ring Study Put the Chill on Global Warming

A new analysis of 2,000 years of tree ring data has quickly made climate change deniers’ list of greatest hits to the theory of manmade global warming. The tree rings “prove [the] climate was WARMER in Roman and Medieval times than it is now,” the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported last week, “and [the] world has been cooling for 2,000 years.” That and other articles suggest the current global warming trend is a mere blip when viewed in the context of natural temperature oscillations etched into tree rings over the past two millennia. The Star-Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper, mused that the findings lock in “one piece of an extremely complex puzzle that has been oversimplified by the Al Gores of the world.” However, the study actually does none of the above. “Our study doesn’t go against anthropogenic global warming in any way,” said Robert Wilson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a co-author of the study, which appeared July 8 in the journal Nature Climate Change. The tree rings do help fill in a piece of Earth’s complicated climate puzzle, he said. However, it is climate change deniers who seem to have misconstrued the bigger picture. So, what exactly did the study find? Instead of using the width of trees’ rings as a gauge of annual temperatures, as most past analyses of tree rings have done, Wilson and his fellow researchers tracked the density of northern Scandinavian trees’ rings marking each year back to 138 B.C. They showed that density measurements give a slightly different reading of historic temperature fluctuations than ring width measurements, and according to their way of reckoning, the Roman and medieval warm periods reached higher temperatures than previously estimated. That’s significant because “if we can improve our estimates for the medieval period, then that will help us understanding the dynamics in this climate system, and help us understand the current warming,” Wilson told Life’s Little Mysteries. But it’s old news that Northern Europe experienced a natural warm period 2,000 years ago and during the 11th century. Not much is known about the Roman period, but the medieval warm spell primarily resulted from a decrease in volcanic activity, Wilson said.Volcanic ash in the atmosphere tends to block the sun, decreasing Earth’s surface temperature. The current warming, on the other hand, has nothing to do with volcanoes. “None of this changes the fact that the current warming can’t be modeled based on natural forces alone,” he said. “Anthropogenic [greenhouse gas] emissions are the predominant forces in the late 20th century and early 21st century period.” That Scandinavia may have been slightly warmer in the 11th century than today also doesn’t change the fact that the world, as a whole, is warmer now. “This data is spatially specific. You would expect to see this trend in northern Scandinavia, but not in the Alps,” Wilson said. “Almost all models show that the current global warming is probably warmer overall than that warming.” Finally, according to Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist, the tree rings show what mounds of other data have shown as well: For the past few millennia, Earth’s northern latitudes had been cooling down overall. “Similarly, we expect that over the same period the tropics should have warmed slightly,” Schmidt said in an email. These trends resulted from shifts in the Earth’s orbit on thousand-year-long time-scales. But Wilson, Schmidt and the vast majority of climate scientists agree: human-caused warming of the entire globe now overwhelms those subtle, regional heat redistributions. World temperatures are now pushing in only one direction: up.

GMO Monsanto kills butterfly’s

Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to butterfly losses:

monsanto kills

Monsanto kills

Genetically engineered corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to eradicate weeds, including the long-lived and unruly milkweed.  But they might be putting the monarch butterfly in peril.  The rapid spread of herbicide-resistant crops has coincided with — and may explain — the dramatic decline in monarch numbers that has troubled some naturalists over the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University.  Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say. That’s because milkweed — the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars produced by one of one of the most gaudy and widely recognized of all North American butterflies — has nearly disappeared from farm fields, they found.  It is one of the clearest examples yet of unintended consequences from the widespread use of genetically modified seeds, said John Pleasants, a monarch researcher from Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.  “When we put something out there, we don’t know always what the consequences are,” he said.  Pleasants and Karen Oberhauser, of the University of Minnesota, published their findings online last week in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.  “It is quite an extraordinary paper,” said Chip Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and the director of research at Monarch Watch, a conservation group. He noted that Oberhauser and Pleasants were able to tie the loss of habitat to a decline in numbers across the country.  But the evidence they present — estimates of the number of milkweed plants across the Corn Belt and a decade’s worth of butterfly egg counts by an army of volunteer citizens — is indirect, say others.  “It does not resolve the debate,” said Leslie Ries, a University of Maryland professor who studies monarchs.  The orange and black butterflies migrate every year to the mountains of Mexico, where they collect in fluttering clouds in trees, an extraordinary event that has inspired festivals and tourism.  But for reasons that are not well understood, the number of butterflies that make it to Mexico — half of which comes from the Midwest — has been on the decline. This year, according to a report released Thursday, the butterflies occupied seven acres of trees in their refuge west of Mexico City — 28 percent less than last year and a fraction of the 45 acres they occupied in 1996, a peak year.  Experts said last year’s drought probably had a serious effect on the insects. Others say damage to the wintering grounds from logging and development are also playing a part, and that the number that make it to Mexico does not necessarily reflect the health of the species.  But some scientists have for years wondered whether the use of genetically modified crops is affecting the spring and summer reproduction in this country.  Earlier studies suggested that monarch caterpillars would die if they ate milkweed dusted with pollen from another kind of engineered seed known as BT corn. It contains a gene that produces a toxin that kills corn-eating pests.  That theory was disproved, but it led scientists to take a hard look at milkweed plants in corn and soybean fields, said Pleasants. “Surprisingly, monarchs use those milkweeds more heavily than milkweed outside [farm fields],” he said. The butterflies lay nearly four times as many eggs on farm field plants as on those in pastures or on roadsides, the researchers said.  More important, they also found “that milkweed in the fields was disappearing,” he said. That’s because more farmers are using a new kind of genetically modified seed developed by Monsanto, Roundup-ready corn and soybeans, that contain a gene allowing the plants to withstand Roundup, or glyphosate. That allows farmers to spray their fields without harming the crop.  Monsanto, which did not respond to a request for comment, says on its website the seeds help farmers increase yield. Today, it’s used by 94 percent of soybean farmers and 72 percent of corn farmers, according to federal data.  Assessing the effect on milkweed plants both in and out of farm fields, was difficult, researchers said — never mind the challenge of counting butterfly eggs.  Pleasants said he used data on the change in milkweed density in Iowa, and extrapolated those numbers to landscape use data across the Midwest. That showed an estimated 58 percent decline in milkweed plants throughout the Corn Belt, primarily on agricultural lands.  Oberhauser supplied data she has been collecting for years through the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. Every week during the monarch breeding season, volunteers across the country go to the same patches of non-agricultural milkweed in their communities and count all the eggs they can find. That showed two things: Butterflies were not flocking to breed on plants outside agricultural fields; those numbers remained the same. And overall production, measured in eggs, declined 81 percent between 1999 and 2010.  Taylor said the new study should help make the case that increasing monarch habitat along roads in pastures, gardens and on conservation lands must become a national priority because the milkweed will never come back to farm fields, he said.  “The scale of the loss of habitat is so big that unless we compensate for it in some way, the population will decline to the point where it will disappear,” he said.

Australian Carbon Cult

Carbon Cult: Ban flushing toilets, Pay per dump:

elizabeth

Elizabeth

Australians could face ‘pay as you dump‘ charges as part of a Toilet Tax. It’s all in the name of “sustainability” – and part of a growing eco-movement to replace flushing conveniences with smelly and unhealthy inconvenience.  Water use experts Mike Young and Jim McColl, of Adelaide University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, respectively, presented new proposals to South Australia state parliament last week. The two renewed their call to create a market in sewerage, with the pricing element controlling scarcity. Such ideas aren’t new, but they’ve been given a boost in recent years by a parallel movement. Sanitation saves lives, but UN-funded quangos which were once dedicated to improving human health now have mixed priorities. Take this example from the “Sustainable Sanitation Alliance”:  “In order to be sustainable, a sanitation system has to be not only economically viable, socially acceptable, and technically and institutionally appropriate, it should also protect the environment and the natural resources.”  The quango concludes, somewhat ruefully, that “there is probably no system which is absolutely sustainable”.  It’s a subtle difference in emphasis: from an optimistic vision in which simple technological innovation was used to reshape the planet for human happiness, innovation is now qualified in terms of environmental damage. It becomes a question of “balance”, with human health now a factor in a trade-off.  Non-flushing are a feature of Britain’s “Eco Towns”, the harshly regulated and monitored new settlements proposed by the government. Here, where water is in abundance, they’re needed to raise “awareness” of resource consumption. But the argument has now become entrenched in development.

Australian Government makes excuse to kill Camels

Australian Company Will Kill Camels for Cash, Carbon Credits:



As you’ve likely heard, Australia is en route to pass legislation ensuring that its largest polluters pay for their carbon emissions. The new law will allow companies to reduce at least part of their emissions by buying carbon credits that sponsor projects proven to reduce greenhouse gas generation. And enterprising companies are already stepping up to the plate with ideas on how to turn a profit reducing emissions — like, for instance, Northwest Carbon. The company has already submitted a proposal detailing its plans to offer carbon credits for slaughtering millions of methane-emitting feral camels.  Northwest Carbon thinks that farmers and hunters who help rid the nation of its feral camel population should be compensated with carbon credits. Australia does indeed have a major feral camel problem — the invasive species are crowding out native ones, trampling vegetation, and rapidly reproducing. But proposing that killing them be redeemable for carbon credits is certain to be controversial.

Private company Northwest Carbon has put forward a proposal that could result in farmers and others paid for culling camels on their land and selling offsets under the federal government’s carbon farming initiative (CFI) … Northwest has developed a methodology for determining the extent of the reduction.“Camels like cattle do in fact produce methane as part of their digestive processes,” [Department official Shayleen Thompson] told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday. “The idea is that one can take action to reduce camel populations off a set baseline and hence create carbon credits as a result of that activity which does benefit the atmosphere.”

When a similar proposal was floated months ago, Mat remarked that the prospect was pretty asinine. And indeed, as a carbon reduction scheme, it seems a shoddy, short-term-only operation. Mat points out that a more powerful scheme to reduce methane emissions would be to address livestock production, not kill a finite population of wild camels.  The whole proposal could be construed as a company trying to make an easy buck off of a project that needs to be addressed anyways. Then again, it could be argued that the project is killing two birds with one stone: Instead of using government funds to police an out-of-control camel population, it’s employing (or rewarding) hunters and farmers to do so themselves. And yes, it’s reducing greenhouse gas emissions, too.  It’s also raising the profile of the carbon offsets law, and promoting its flexibility. By displaying one of the many ways to reduce carbon emissions, it could engage a segment of the Australian public that might not have been on board, and inspire further creative thinking on carbon reduction projects. It could also lead folks to believe the whole endeavor is kind of absurd. You get the point: it’s a totally grey area, and it reveals the mess of ambiguity that surrounds carbon offset projects and policies.