Bacteria gets a bad rep. People avoid it like the plague. In fact, people hate bacteria so much, that antibacterial products like hand sanitizer have become a multi-billion dollar industry. But what if I told you not all bacteria was bad; in fact, what if I said that bacteria could be a key source of renewable energy?
Ok, maybe I can understand why you’d hold a grudge if you suffer from gum disease, strep throat, cholera or any other bacterial illness, but scientists from Penn State University are doing everything they can to bring the single-celled organism back into the public’s good graces.
Sewage is loaded with energy-rich sugars that researchers have struggled for years to convert into useful power. To do so, investigators have experimented with nature’s experts on breaking down waste — bacteria.
“It’s kind of like the movie ‘The Matrix,'” said environmental engineer Bruce Logan at Penn State University. “Instead of wiring people up to generate electricity, we are using bacteria to directly generate electricity.”
All the energy that bacteria could generate from wastewater could help power the considerable needs of wastewater treatment. For instances, in the United States, roughly 33 billion gallons of wastewater are treated daily for an annual cost of more than $25 billion, and some 1.5 percent of the electricity produced every year goes into wastewater treatment alone.
Read more from Live Science.
Hospitals are generally thought of as a place where you to go to feel better. And yes, they usually do succeed in that regard, despite stealing your paycheck and the rights to your first-born child in the process. But what you probably didn’t know, is that hospitals create a large amount of business for themselves; and that’s not a good thing.
Close to 2 million people acquire infections from hospitals each year and more than 250 related deaths occur each day in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That is why professors at the University of Florida have developed a new technology to monitor health-care workers’ hand hygiene by detecting sanitizer or soap fumes given off their hands.
The trademarked system, called HyGreen, logs, down to the second, the frequency of hand cleaning and contact with patients in a database that clinical supervisors can review immediately.
Is this big brother? “No,” says Richard J. Meiker, M.D., Ph.D., and UF College of Medicine anesthesiology professor who helped develop the technology. “This is just another tool.”
“A hospital worker never wants to be responsible for someone getting sick or dying from an infection acquired in the hospital.”
Read more from Science Daily.
What could the United States do with an extra $465 billion? Free healthcare? Free college tuition? Tax cuts? Heck, they could even buy the Yankees. And the best part, not only would the U.S. be saving all that money, they would radically cut CO2 emissions by 80% over the next 40 years, according to a study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“We have a historic opportunity to reinvent our economy, tackle global warming, and cut energy costs. Setting a limit on heat-trapping emissions would ensure that we make the necessary carbon emission reductions to help avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Combining a carbon cap with strong efficiency, renewable electricity, and transportation standards can deliver those emission cuts and save Americans a substantial amount of money,” says UCS president Kevin Knobloch.
Most of the savings would be on energy bills due to better efficiencies in building and industrial processes, a more efficient transportation system, and cleaner cars. Although a more efficient transportations system and cars would likely cost about $35 billion, drivers would potentially save over $120 billion in fuel costs per year.
“Efficiency and renewable energy technologies are ready today to power our economy with carbon-free electricity. Our blueprint shows that these clean energy sources can lead the way in cutting U.S. emissions, while lowering electricity bills and curbing our addiction to dirty, high-carbon coal power,” says Steve Clemmer, research director of UCS’s Clean Energy Program.
Read more at twilightearth.
The United States Interior Department has found a use for 670,000 acres of previously considered worthless sunny deserts and wind-swept plains: solar energy production.
As part of President Obama’s pledge to move away from reliance on fossil fuels and to double renewable energy in three years, the plan has identified 24 solar energy zones spanning six states that could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.
At the same time, it has become a controversy as environmentalists and politicians, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, have decried federal plans to open ecologically sensitive land to development.
“This environmentally sensitive plan will identify appropriate Interior-managed lands that have excellent solar energy potential and limited conflicts with wildlife, other natural resources or land users,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, hoping to appease doubts about the plan.
The department says the objective is to provide landscape-style planning and zoning for solar projects on Bureau of Land Management lands in the West, allowing a more efficient process for permitting and sitting responsible solar development .
Read more on Reuters.