Archive for Technology

The Reactor Renaissance

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is a new form of nuclear reactor that shows promise. It uses fusion energy instead of the status quo uranium. The reactor produces more energy through plasma physics and is a lot safer than uranium reactors. The Chernobyl accident, excess toxic nuclear waste, and uranium mining health effects are all 300px-ITER-img_0239negative aspects that come from the current reactors. The Chernobyl nuclear meltdown killed many lives. The excess toxic waste is hurting the environment and the government is forced to dump it all in the Yucca Mountain which might be fatal because it is said to leak. Uranium mining also hurts the lives of Native Americans because they’re forced to work in these dark dusty mine shafts where toxic uranium if filling up in their lungs—causing lung cancer. The ITER reactor is currently used by the French and is developing in India. The program is the cornerstone to powerful international relations and is key to science diplomacy. If the United States is to retain its power hegemonic status, then science diplomacy needs to be kept alive with the ITER reactor. The major setback is its current funding and development. Congress appropriated money and funds to the project, but its just not enough to support the project. The cost-benefit analysis needs to be implemented to understand and use the promising reactor in the near future.  The recent disaster in Japan with the Daiichi nuclear power plant shows the uncertainty of the nuclear renaissance. The radiation leaks and toxic wastes proves more of a reason why nuclear energy should be perfected with better reactors to restore faith in investors.

-Nicholas Chan

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BioChar: The New Approach to Carbon Sequestration.

Coal, a fossil fuel, emits foul and harmful gasses into our atmosphere, and with a lack of political support for clean coal, a new alternative is here, biochar. Biochar is a newfound way of trapping carbon with so called “green coal”. Biomass waste we would never think of using, such as peanut shells actually release carbon when it decomposes. However, by burning the remains in a process known as pyrolysis, what’s left over is biochar or green coal. South American societies began this process and dug back this green coal in the ground in order to lock in carbon instead of allowing it to widen the hole in the ozone layer. If this process is applied efficiently and effectively, scientists agree that billion of tons of carbons could be sequestered in soil instead of being released into our atmosphere. Carbon sequestration can be an effective approach to runaway global warming. This new green coal is proved to be more effective than nature’s natural approach to the problem. While trees or plants lock in the carbon for only 15-20 years, biochar could possibly lock in carbon for possibly 100 years. Along with its obvious benefits, the nutrients brought back into the soil could also spur the industrial agriculture sector, signifying a thumbs up from not only farmers, but those attempting to combat climatecharcoal_d change.

-Nicholas Chan

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Water Wheels: A Transition to Hydrogen Cargo Ships

large-cargo-ship-pollution-smoke-photo4The United States makes up 40% of China’s imports and unfortunately, these two major industrialized countries lack new alternatives to even simple problems such as the transportation of goods. Large cargo ships emit fossil fuels just as any other form of transportation such as a car or a heavy metal locomotive, however the newest innovations prove how hydrogen based cargo ships can make drastic changes in society. Some consider the global shipping industry as an emission juggernaut, but hydrogen-hybrid boats can easily switch over to a zero-emissions glide into the oceans. The first design was actually created and based off of a British Waterways vessel and is powered by stored hydrogen. Unlike normal hydrogen based vehicles, the cargo ships actually store the hydrogen-lithium-hydride power safely to avoid dangerous accidents because there is no need to carry high pressured gasses on board. Another positive benefit is that the weight of the heavy hydrogen is no longer a problem on smooth sailing waterways. With all of this taken into consideration, the ships that carry our precious goods can easily be powered by the water that they’re gliding across on the ocean.

-Nicholas Chan

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Green Cleaners.

 

For all the busy housewives, there comes a new and fun activity to spend with family in helping tidying up your own household. By making your own cleaning supplies, many households could prevent using toxic and hazardous chemicals in their own homes and around their children. Windex, Pledge, and Mr.Clean all come with their eye catching commercials, but they also come with toxic chemicals that we’re exposing to those we love the most. A sit down family activity can end the toxic nightmare and create a new alternative many never dreamed of. Currently, Congress members are attempting to ban the use of phosphates in cleaning supplies. They are toxic chemicals that are used to clean, but affect algae growth. However, a secret kept quiet to many American households is that you can make very effective and non-toxic cleaning products. And luckily, the ingredients can be found at home in our own cupboards and pantries. With a simple mix of ingredients ranging from baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and even soap, many families can control what they’re using around their children and what they’re putting on their countertops. Making your own cleaning products at home can save you time and money because you no longer need to run out to the supermarket to purchase a bottle of toxic hazardous cleaning product. The products that allow our furniture and floors to sparkle and shine contain phosphates that pollute groundwater and contain hazardous substances.  Even though they’re cleaning our homes, they might irritate our skin, eyes, and allow for us to breathe in chemicals we shouldn’t be exposed to. By making your own products at home, you’re guaranteed a spotless shine and a satisfied peace of mind.

-Nicholas Chan

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A soul for your H2O

        Listening to music makes us feel alive, energetic and definitely refreshing. Taking showers also has the same effect. So what would happen if you incorporate both activities together AND be environmentally friendly? Eco tunes developed water saving music player that will help develop a habit for conserving during shower time. The mechanics of this device is quiet simple, there’s a small tube that you’ll plug into your shower sprinkler and a monitor that indicates how much water you’re using. Music will be played as soon as the shower is turned on and when the water usage reaches the recommended amount (35 liters), the music will stop playing and this will encourage people to stop showering when the music stops which in turn, will reduce the amount of water used per shower.

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Clean Up After Yourself

When you were a child, you most likely heard your parents talk to you alot about cleaning up after yourself when you eat, play, or do anything that may be messy. Alot of officials haven’t been listening to their parents. In the age of rapid modernization and “Empire”, the aim of most countries is to gain hegemony or global influence through economical means. They choose to go about their goals by building more to strengthen their economies, but they find it unnecessary to analyze their methods and the effects of them. This is exact problem that Dubai finds itself in at the moment. While their skyline is one of the most beautiful of the middle eastern area, the ground is a whole different story. The challenge of water is evolving to much more than just a problem: due to the recent growth much of their water has been tainted by waste and unfortunately the water treatments plants in the area don’t have the energy to clean all of it up. To respond to this problem, Dubai has decided to increase its erudition in nuclear energy. This venture seeks to solve the problem of desalination, and the lack of energy for the new buildings. It’s necessary to clean up after yourself, and, in fact, plan out clean up before you begin your endeavor.

Jesse Anyalebechi

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In A Nutshell

All of us each peanuts or sum sort of peanut product (actually all of us who aren’t allergic). One thing that we may not have know is that peanut shells release carbon as they decompose. But one thing that you could do to deter from emitting carbon into the atmosphere is to create biochar. Biochar is basically “green coal”. This sort of charcoal is created form the any form of biomass waste that is burned, in a kiln AKA  industrial oven, with an airless burning technique also known as pyrolysis. Then you take the coal and dig it into the ground that way the carbon is locked into the soil. By doing this you could anchor soil nutrients extremely well at a time when the planet’s soils have lost half of their carbon thanks to industrialized agriculture. In May 2009, the Biochar Fund received a grant from the Congo Basin Forest Fund to implement its concept in Central Africa. The Observer gives it a light bulb rating of 5 out of 5 which translated basically means this will mostly be one thing that steps in a will most likely save the planet and possibly humanity. One thing that should be noted though is that biochar is not limited to just peanut shells, but can be used for any type of biomass.

– Funmilayo Amubieya

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