Renewable energy is having its moment in the sun...and wind, and water. Costa Rica managed to run on 100 percent renewable power for over 75 days. And in Texas, a state historically associated with oil wells, one metropolis is determined to achieve the same goal, going cold turkey on fossil fuels by 2017.
As Vilas Pol, a chemical engineer at Purdue University, unpacked new materials for his lab, the huge number of packing peanuts overwhelmed him. His team was dumping them out by the thousands, he says. Though many packing peanuts are made from biodegradable materials like cornstarch, they also contain chemicals that are harmful to human health and slow down the degrading process, making them take up an enormous amount of space in landfills. So Pol and his team devised a way to reuse packing peanuts by turning them into rechargeable batteries. The team presented their work on Sunday at the meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver.
Hydrogen powered cars are slowly accelerating in popularity with boosts from infrastructure development and car manufacturers. But getting eco-friendly hydrogen is still a bit of a challenge. Right now, a lot of hydrogen is produced through mixing steam and natural gas. An alternative to using natural gas is electrolysis, using an electric current to pull apart the oxygen and hydrogen in water, but current methods use way too much energy to make it worth it. Scientists around the country are working on making the process simpler, using AAA batteries, chemical reactions and other methods to make hydrogen a greener choice.
Offshore wind farms in the United States are the new flying car. We keep saying that it's just around the corner but somehow practical results never manifest. Europe has 2,488 offshore wind turbines up and running, with 408 installed in the last year; this nation has a grand total of zero. (U-S-A! U-S-... ah, forget it.) However, a plucky new company could soon change that.