Arriving soon: Electric aviation for passengers

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Drone pilots don’t need to be told about the wonders of electric flight. But Scientific American believes electric aviation for passengers may be here sooner than we think as the industry struggles to decarbonize.

It’s one of the top ten emerging technologies the magazine highlights in its most recent issue.

In an article co-written by Katherine Hamilton and Tammy Ma, the authors point out that air travel accounted for 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions in 2019. And that number could triple by 2050. Electric airplanes could be one solution.

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This coffee table’s sliding indoor garden is the ultimate millennial-friendly plant parenting hack

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Home gardening is difficult enough as it is, but it gets even trickier when you live in small city quarters. With city living’s and home gardening’s popularity rising in recent years, those of us who live in apartment complexes might feel discouraged from starting home garden projects – they’re messy and time-consuming, not to mention that a lot of space is usually a prerequisite. That’s why SOLE was created. SOLE, a home gardening system, poses first as a small coffee table only to reveal a hidden, self-maintained, miniature garden for city dwellers who want to fill their homes up with some natural greens, but not the fuss that typically comes with them.

More people are moving into cities, which means that access to home gardening is decreasing since natural light is harder to come by and smaller apartment spaces, like efficiency studios, are preferred. Thankfully, SOLE’s coffee table was designed to take up as little space as possible in order to fit into even the smallest of studios. Indoor urban gardening is usually practiced by using grow box containers that require a lot of window ledge space and natural sunlight – both of which can be hard to come by in city apartment searches. In order to make home gardening possible in any city-living space, SOLE maintains the perfect climate, temperature, and nutrients for you and your chosen plants so long as they fit inside the coffee table’s extensive body. While researching the influence of temperature, exposure time, intensity, color from visible light, along with the distance and angle of light distribution, the designers behind SOLE decided to incorporate a lighting system that would enhance plant growth by imitating the effect the sun’s rays have on indoor plants.

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These researchers have found a way to turn a common plastic into high-value molecules

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More than 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been produced in the last six decades.

However, recycling plastic can be difficult as the most common process involves melting and reworking the material.

A new process developed by the University of California can turn polyethylene into useful smaller molecules.

If you thought those flimsy disposable plastic grocery bags represented most of our plastic waste problem, think again. The volume of plastic the world throws away every year could rebuild the Ming Dynasty’s Great Wall of China – about 3,700 miles long.

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Getting a country from moderate/high EV purchase rate to 100% EV market share – some ideas

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 Norway just hit 82% plugin vehicle new car sales in September 2020. This raises the question: “Why are 18% of the purchases non-plugin vehicles?” That got me dreaming up ideas for how to get a country from moderate EV market share (5–10%, for example) to 100% EV market share. Perhaps some of those ideas could be effective in Norway now, and other countries later as they get closer and closer to a high percentage of plugin vehicles.

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Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will be the world’s longest immersed tunnel

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(CNN) — After more than a decade of planning, work has begun on the world’s longest immersed tunnel. Descending up to 40 meters beneath the Baltic Sea, Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will link Denmark and Germany, slashing journey times when it opens in 2029.

The tunnel, which will be 18 kilometers (11.1 miles) long, is one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects, with a construction budget of over €7 billion ($8.2 billion).

By way of comparison, the 50-kilometer (31-mile) Channel Tunnel linking England and France, completed in 1993, cost the equivalent of £12 billion ($15.5 billion) in today’s money. Although longer than the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, the Channel Tunnel, was made using a boring machine, rather than by immersing pre-built tunnel sections.

It will be built across the Fehmarn Belt, a strait between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland, and is designed as an alternative to the current ferry service from Rødby and Puttgarden, which carries millions of passengers every year. Where the crossing now takes 45 minutes by ferry, it will take just seven minutes by train and 10 minutes by car.

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Hyundai delivers first fuel cell trucks to Switzerland

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LUCERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – South Korean carmaker Hyundai on Wednesday presented the first seven hydrogen-powered trucks to customers in Switzerland, out of 50 such vehicles scheduled this year to bring zero-emission commercial vehicles to European roads.

For long haul, proponents say hydrogen-powered trucks have an advantage over electric rivals as they have a greater range and require less charging times but their uptake and mass production has been slow because they are expensive.

However, a McKinsey study in January said that once relative efficiencies of the power sources and lifetime costs of a truck are factored in, green hydrogen could reach cost parity with diesel by 2030.

Hyundai has been partnering with Swiss companies to build a value chain covering the production of green hydrogen from hydropower, hydrogen charging stations and the service and maintenance of the trucks.

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This vegan leather made from cactus is a genuinely green alternative

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This is Desserto by Adriano Di Marti, a vegan leather made from cactus that is an eco and animal-friendly alternative to animal leather or synthetic leather. Like the aforementioned leathers, Desserto has competitive features, such as elasticity and it’s also customizable and breathable. It’s also biodegradable, flexible, non-toxic, and doesn’t stain.

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Formula E founder develops world’s first electric powerboat championship

 

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Image: E1 World Electric Powerboat Series

Alejandro Agag, founder of both the Formula E and Extreme E championships, has just announced the formation of an all-electric powerboat league called the E1 World Electric Powerboat Series. Once again, the whole goal of the series is to draw attention to the environmental concerns that impact marine life.

It’s a similar mission statement to that of both FE and Extreme E. Open-wheel FE races on the streets of large metropolitan cities like Paris and Berlin in order to draw attention to electric technology. Extreme E, by contrast, takes place in remote locations for the same purpose.

The powerboat series seems to have more in common with Extreme E in its mission. From Agag:

The earth’s oceans, lakes and rivers are under huge environmental pressure and the E1 World Electric Powerboat Series will lead the way in electrifying water mobility for future generations.

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Physicists build circuit that generates clean, limitless power from graphene

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A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a circuit capable of capturing graphene’s thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.

“An energy-harvesting circuit based on graphene could be incorporated into a chip to provide clean, limitless, low-voltage power for small devices or sensors,” said Paul Thibado, professor of physics and lead researcher in the discovery.

The findings, published in the journal Physical Review E, are proof of a theory the physicists developed at the U of A three years ago that freestanding graphene—a single layer of carbon atoms—ripples and buckles in a way that holds promise for energy harvesting.

The idea of harvesting energy from graphene is controversial because it refutes physicist Richard Feynman’s well-known assertion that the thermal motion of atoms, known as Brownian motion, cannot do work. Thibado’s team found that at room temperature the thermal motion of graphene does in fact induce an alternating current (AC) in a circuit, an achievement thought to be impossible.

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New super-enzyme eats plastic bottles six times faster

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Breakthrough that builds on plastic-eating bugs first discovered by Japan in 2016 promises to enable full recycling

A super-enzyme that degrades plastic bottles six times faster than before has been created by scientists and could be used for recycling within a year or two.

The super-enzyme, derived from bacteria that naturally evolved the ability to eat plastic, enables the full recycling of the bottles. Scientists believe combining it with enzymes that break down cotton could also allow mixed-fabric clothing to be recycled. Today, millions of tonnes of such clothing is either dumped in landfill or incinerated.

Plastic pollution has contaminated the whole planet, from the Arctic to the deepest oceans, and people are now known to consume and breathe microplastic particles. It is currently very difficult to break down plastic bottles into their chemical constituents in order to make new ones from old, meaning more new plastic is being created from oil each year.

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IRJ 2020 Innovations Showcase: Siemens and Ballard develop hydrogen trains

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SIEMENS Mobility is currently developing a modular hydrogen fuel cell drive for its Mireo Plus H regional train platform, which will subsequently be integrated into other platforms.

The hydrogen-powered Mireo Plus H trains will be used on existing diesel routes and in regions where hydrogen is cheaply available.

The €12m project, in partnership with Canadian fuel cell producer Ballard Power Systems and the Rhine-Westphalian Technical University in Aachen (RWTH), plans to produce a usable fuel cell drive by 2021, with a planned range of 600km-900km in two or three-car trains.

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