News

Recycling old car batteries into solar cells: Environmental twofer could recycle lead batteries to make solar cells

Date: August 18, 2014
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at MIT recycles materials from discarded car batteries — a potential source of lead pollution — into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

The system is described in a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others. It is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” says Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. But by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades.

Amazingly, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.
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Hawaii Green Business Awards

Hawaii_State_SealThe state of Hawaii honored 13 businesses and nine events for their outstanding and innovative clean energy efforts at the 2014 Hawaii Green Business Awards held July 11, 2014 in Honolulu. The awards were presented by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and hosted by the Hawaii State Energy Office of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), Department of Health and The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. The annual awards program recognizes achievements by Hawaii businesses and entities in the area of energy efficiency.

The honorees of the 2014 Hawaii Green Business Awards are:

  • Aqua BambooWaikiki Hotel
  • Aqua Kauai Beach Resort
  • Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
  • Hawaii Island Retreat
  • Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club
  • Outrigger Reef on The Beach
  • The Equus Hotel
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
  • Wyndham at Waikiki Beach Walk
  • Blue Hawaii Lifestyles
  • Honeywell Smart Grid Solution
  • MonkeyPod Kitchen at Ko’olina
  • The Limtiaco Consulting Group

The Hawaii Green Business Awards also honored nine green events held in 2014:

  • Build and Buy Green Conference at Hawaii Convention Center and University of Hawaii Cancer Center Sullivan Center 2013 & 2014
  • TEDx “Disruptive Leadership” & “Cultivating Community”
  • Hawaii Innovation Workshop by travel2change
  • Hawaii Sustainability in Higher Education Summit
  • Green Apple Day of Service – USGBC Hawaii
  • Kamehameha Schools’ Sustainability Council Retreat #2-KYA
  • KYA Holiday Party 2013
  • ILFI Water Petal Event-KYA
  • Loco Kine Valentine by Sweetbreads

Click here for the State of Hawaii press release and a description of the awardees and their energy efficiency accomplishments.


Water Resources Fact Sheet

Posted: August 6, 2014
Source: Earth Policy Institute

Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today.

Seventy percent of world water use is for irrigation.

Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water—500 times as much—to produce the food we consume.

1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. Given that governments are much more likely to report increases than decreases, the recent net growth may be even smaller.

The dramatic loss of momentum in irrigation expansion coupled with the depletion of underground water resources suggests that peak water may now be on our doorstep.
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***SBA Environmental Roundtable Meeting***

Thursday,  August  7, 2014 1-3  p.m. PST,  10-noon,  Hawaii  time

TO:                  Interested Small Business Stakeholders

FROM:           Kia Dennis, Assistant Chief Counsel
                         Yvonne Lee,  Regional Advocate

SUBJECT:     Waters of the United States Regional  Roundtable Meeting

The  U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy will  hold a  regional Environmental Roundtable  to discuss the following topic, from 1-3 p.m. PST. The  meeting will be  held  in Los Angeles, California at the  Metropolitan Water District of Southern California  Building,  700 North Alameda  Blvd,  Los Angeles, CA  90012.  All  interested persons  planning to attend in  person or participate via conference call  must  RSVP  to Yvonne  Lee  at  Yvonne.lee@sba.gov  or  415-744-8493 before August 5,  2014.

 Draft Agenda

 1:00 p.m.-1:05 p.m.      Welcome and Introductions

                                           Yvonne Lee, Regional Advocate, SBA Office  of Advocacy
                                            Kia Dennis, Assistant  Chief Counsel,  SBA Office of Advocacy

1:05 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.    Presentation of the  Water of the United States Rule by EPA
                                            John Kemmerer,  Associate Director,  Water Division,  EPA Region IX
                                           Jason Brush,  Manager ,   Office of  Wetlands Services,  EPA Region IX

1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.       Discussion and Questions

Roundtable meetings are open to all interested persons, with the exception of the press, in order to facilitate open and frank discussion about the impacts of Federal regulatory activities on small entities.   Agendas and presentations are available to all, including the press. Anyone who wants to receive roundtable agendas or presentations, or to be included in the distribution list, should forward such requests to kia.dennis@sba.gov.  The purpose of these Roundtable meetings is to exchange opinions, facts and information and to obtain the attendees’ individual views and opinions regarding small business concerns.  The meetings are not intended to achieve or communicate any consensus positions of the attendees.

 Small Business Environmental Roundtable

Issue for Discussion

August 7, 2014

On April 21, 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have proposed a rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Decisions regarding whether or not a waterbody is subject to the CWA will affect small entities who need to determine whether or not their activities require authorization and/or permits under CWA.

Under the proposed rule, for purposes of all sections of the Clean Water Act and the regulations thereunder the term “waters of the United States” would mean:

(1) All waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;
(2) All interstate waters, including interstate wetlands;
(3) The territorial seas;
(4) All impoundments of waters identified in paragraphs (1) through (3) and (5) of this section;
(5) All tributaries of waters identified in paragraphs (1) through (4) of this section;
(6) All waters, including wetlands, adjacent to a water identified in paragraphs (1) through (5) of this section; and
(7) On a case-specific basis, other waters, including wetlands, provided that those waters alone, or in combination with other similarly situated waters, including wetlands, located in the same region, have a significant nexus to a water identified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this section.

Waters that do not meet this definition are not subject to the CWA. There are several programs under the CWA that would be affected by this proposed rule including but not limited to Section 311- oil spill prevention programs; Section 402 – requires permits for pollutant discharges; and Section 404 – permits for the placement of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

The comment period closes on October 20, 2014.

Visit http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters to learn more about the proposed rule.


Are you driving the right car for an oil crisis?

Posted July 29, 2014
Source: Fuel Fix.com by Amy Myers Jaffe

With further escalation in hostilities in Iraq as the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) tries to lock down more oil and gas assets, it is hard not to worry that an oil crisis might be looming. Saudi Arabia has fortified its northern border with Iraq with more military hardware and troops while Iraqi oil industry sources report that Iranian forces were simultaneously moving into areas surrounding the Southern Iraqi oilfields, raising the stakes in a possible escalation in recent border skirmishes. At the same time, Moscow is doubling down in its support for rebel fighters in the Ukraine, intensifying its conflict with the West and increasingly the likelihood that energy trade with Russia will get disrupted.

So far, the looming global instability has not ratcheted up US gasoline prices which are generally hovering around $3.50 a gallon. But it might be a good time for American consumers to think about how well they would be positioned in an oil crisis.

The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis) can help you figure out the answer to that question with a new web-based tool, EV Explorer, that allows consumers to compare simultaneously up to four different vehicles on an energy cost basis.
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Drought Forces Many Places to Figure Out How to Recycle Wastewater

Posted: July 28, 2014
Source: Governing.com
By Jessica Moulden

Overwhelmed by severe drought, the Oklahoma legislature passed a law this year to help communities make the most of their water resources by treating and reusing wastewater.

As drought spread over 80 percent of the state, Oklahoma cities expressed interest in reusing water but lacked clear guidance from the Department of Environmental Quality on how to do it. A bill signed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin at the end of May directs the state agency to design a process for creating water reuse projects and to establish rules and permitting requirements.

“Oklahoma is challenged, not just today but looking down the road,” said state Sen. Rob Standridge, who sponsored the bill along with fellow Republican Rep. Scott Martin. “Water is turning into an extremely important natural resource. It’s hard to envision a plan that doesn’t require some type of reuse.”

Oklahoma is one of many states reusing wastewater to address water shortages. The practice isn’t new _ California began reusing wastewater in the early 1900s _ but it is increasingly popular as huge swaths of the U.S. struggle with drought.
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How to power California with wind, water and sun

Posted: July 28, 2014
Source: Science Daily.com

New Stanford research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.

Imagine a smog-free Los Angeles, where electric cars ply silent freeways, solar panels blanket rooftops and power plants run on heat from beneath the Earth, from howling winds and from the blazing desert sun.A new Stanford study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert California’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by clean, renewable energy. Published in Energy, the plan shows the way to a sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy supply in California that could create tens of thousands of jobs and save billions of dollars in pollution-related health costs.

“If implemented, this plan will eliminate air pollution mortality and global warming emissions from California, stabilize prices and create jobs — there is little downside,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, the study’s lead author and a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering. He is also the director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program and a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.
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New TRI Data Now Available!

Posted: July 21, 2014
Source: US EPA TRI

TRI – it’s your right to know. For more information about EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory: http://www.epa.gov/tri

The 2013 Toxics Release Inventory preliminary dataset containing the most current TRI data is now available.

You can find out:

  • What toxic chemicals a particular industrial facility is using
  • How much is being released into the environment
  • Whether the facility is recycling or treating any of the toxic chemical waste, or burning any of it for energy recovery
  • Whether a facility initiated any pollution prevention activities in the most recent calendar year

You can access the data through Envirofacts or downloadable data files on the TRI website. With the Envirofacts TRI Search, it’s simple – just enter a facility name, location, industry sector, or chemical name.

New to TRI? Why not get familiar with some common TRI terms before you start using the data? Or, you can explore a TRI facility to learn about how and where TRI chemicals are used in one type of industry.


Google maps methane leaks

Posted: July 20, 2014
Source: Nature News Blog.com

Google’s fleet of city-mapping cars are now working to measure urban natural gas leaks.

The technology giant’s collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), announced on 16 July, equips Google’s Street View cars with sensors to detect methane leaking from ageing city pipes, through city streets and into the atmosphere. The sensors were developed by researchers at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

The project has released online methane maps for Boston, Massachusetts; Staten Island in New York; and Indianapolis, Indiana. The team found thousands of leaks in Boston and Staten Island at a rate of roughly one per every mile (1.6 kilometres) of road driven, whereas Indianapolis’s roads are leaking only once every 200 miles (322 kilometres) — a sign of newer infrastructure.

These leaks are too small to be a health or explosion risk, but they are also a growing climate concern; methane is 86 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, over a 20-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Massachusetts passed legislation in June that requires utilities to speed up their pipe replacement, and California is considering following suit.
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Roughly $80 Billion Wasted on Power for Networked Devices, Report Says

Posted on July 3, 2014
Source: Yale Environment 360

Click to Enlarge
Game console energy consumption

Energy consumption of a typical game console.

The world’s 14 billion online electronic devices, such as modems, printers, game consoles, and cable boxes, waste around $80 billion in electricity annually because of inefficient technology, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). In 2013, networked devices consumed around 616 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, with most of that used in standby mode. Roughly 400 TWh — equivalent to the combined annual electricity consumption of the United Kingdom and Norway — was wasted because of inefficient technology. The problem will worsen by 2020, the agency projects, with an estimated $120 billion wasted as devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, and thermostats become networked. Much of the problem boils down to inefficient “network standby,” or maintaining a network connection while in standby mode. Most network-enabled devices draw as much power in this mode as when fully active, the report notes. Using today’s best technology could cut energy consumption by 65 percent, the IEA said, and applying better efficiency measures over the coming years could save 600 TWh. That’s equivalent to closing 200 standard 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants, which would cut emissions by 600 million metric tons of CO2, the report says.