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Reducing the Toxic After-Effect of Fireworks

green-eco-friendly-fireworksFireworks are a centerpiece in the celebration of the fourth of July. All over the country, we naively enjoy these beautiful, dazzling illuminations, gallantly exploding in front of constellation-speckled backdrops, symbolizing our freedom from the British. What we often don’t think about while we take in the piro-spectacular, is the copious amount of toxic chemicals emitted into the environment.

An article published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in 2009 found that, following a fireworks display, the amount of perchlorate in nearby bodies of water could increase by anywhere from 24 to 1,068 times the amount present before the fireworks, and that it takes 20 to 80 days for the chemical levels to subside.

Fortunately, researchers are developing a new generation of fireworks that can shine just as brightly without negatively impacting the environment or human health. In an article in Chemical & Engineering News, a publication of the American Chemical Society, Bethany Halford says these nitrogen-rich formulas use fewer color-producing chemicals, dramatically cutting down on the amount of heavy metals used and lowering their potentially toxic effects.

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July 13, 2009 Posted by | Alternative Energy, Climate Change | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oregon Tech Powers Up Geothermal Plant on Campus

campusCollege students have long been at the forefront of political and environmental change. The bright young minds at the Oregon Institute of Technology are no different, demanding sustainability efforts put into place by their school.

The Oregon Tech administration finally complied, accommodating their students’ wishes by outlining a plan to build a $7.6 million geothermal power plant on campus.

The plant will become the sole power source for the school in a few years, making Oregon Tech the only university to be powered completely by geothermal energy.

Since Klamath Falls, the home of Oregon Tech, sits near a fault line, heat and energy can be easily extracted from the earth.

In addition, the city of Klamath Falls operates a geothermal heating utility, using the energy to heat buildings, melt snow on the streets, and more.

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July 13, 2009 Posted by | Alternative Energy, Clean Tech, Geothermal, renewable energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Surprising Benefits of Seaweed

algae-fuelAlgae. It’s the gooey, yucky stuff that makes you jump as if a shark is about to attack when it innocently brushes against your foot while you play about in the ocean. But recently, Italian scientists have proven these simple, autotrophic organisms can be turned into a resource.

Italy recently announced a 200 million euro eco-friendly project to harvest the prolific seaweed that lines Venice’s canals and transform it into emissions-free energy. The idea is to set up a power plant fueled by algae, the first facility of its kind in Italy. The plant, to be built in collaboration with renewable energy services company Enalg, will be operative in two years and produce 40 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to half of the energy required by the entire city center of Venice.

“Venice could represent the beginning of a global revolution of energy and renewable resources. Our goals are to achieve the energetic self-sufficiency for the seaport and to reduce CO2 emissions, including those one produced by the docked ships”, says the president of the seaport of Venice Authority, Paolo Costa.


July 13, 2009 Posted by | Alternative Energy, Innovation, Water | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Coal Industry: Misguided Priorities

clean coal housesAs the world shifts its ideological views from cheaper to greener, how do the folks running the coal industry, possibly the dirtiest business in the world, react? Do they clean up their product? Do they produce cleaner energies? Or maybe even donate money to an environmental foundation? Of course not.

Instead, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) spent a staggering $45 million last year on their “America’s Power” campaign, which many believe is a deception touting the benefits of so-called “clean coal.” And if that weren’t enough, the coal and electric industries spent a jaw-dropping $125 million lobbying against federal legislation promoting clean energy and a cap on global warming pollution.

As these industries spend millions running ads implying that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is here or just around the corner, the industry refuses to spend much of anything to turn its overheated rhetoric into reality. And it’s not for lack of funds. The 48 companies that make up the ACCCE front group earned a combined $57 billion in profits in 2007 alone, yet over a period of several years they have invested just $3.5 billion in research into CCS.

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July 13, 2009 Posted by | Alternative Energy, Carbon, renewable energy | Leave a comment