Photocatalyst makes hydrogen production 10 times more efficient

Hydrogen is an alternative source of energy that can be produced from renewable sources of sunlight and water. A group of Japanese researchers has developed a photocatalyst that increases hydrogen production tenfold.

ENN: Top Stories

Toronto's subways expose passengers to more air pollution than Montreal, Vancouver systems

Airborne particulates on subway platforms and trains are up to 10 times higher than outside air, around three times higher than levels in Montreal’s Metro

A new study co-authored by U of T Engineering Professor Greg Evans shows that subways increase our personal exposure to certain pollutants, even as they decrease overall emissions – and that Toronto has the highest levels in Canada.

ENN: Top Stories

Louisiana’s Swamps Will Disappear As Sea Levels Rise 4 Times Faster Than World Average

Ocean Leadership ~

(Click to enlarge) A new study shows Louisiana faces faces sea level rise in 45% of its swamps.

(Click to enlarge) A new study shows Louisiana faces faces sea level rise in 45% of its swamps.

Louisiana is rapidly losing its storm-buffering wetlands to the sea due to the combined effects of blocked off river deltas, sinking land and rising sea levels.

(From International Business Times / By Martha Henriques)– About 45% of Louisiana’s swamps are on track to become totally submerged if the current trend continues, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications. The other 65% are also at risk of being lost to the sea, but not so imminently.

Sea levels have been rising due to climate change at a rate of about half an inch a year at Louisiana’s coasts forthe past 10 years, satellite data observations of the Gulf of Mexico reveals – four times more than the global average. Natural subsidence, which has been happening for thousands of years in the region, adds an extra challenge as the land sinks.

The final nail in the coffin is that sediment from the Mississippi River has been blocked off. Embankments were built up around the river as urban centres developed in the region in the past centuries. This has prevented the natural replenishing of the land with river sediment, known as vertical accretion.

“But the problem is that rate of vertical accretion has to equal or exceed the rate of sea level rise at that site,” study author Torbjörn Törnqvist of Tulane University in Louisiana told IBTimes UK.

Törnqvist and his colleagues mapped a total of 274 sites across the Louisiana wetlands to measure how their environment was changing.

“Many of those sites are still wetlands, but they’re losing elevation. They will become open water and will simply disappear.”

Areas furthest from the Mississippi Delta were faring the worst, Törnqvist said, with wetlands of the Chenier Plain at greatest risk.

“Especially in the furthest south west part of the state things look very, very bad. Those wetlands are really disappearing rapidly,” he said. “In the delta it’s better but it’s not great. Even in the Mississippi Delta, we have about a third of the sites also in [sediment] deficit. So that’s certainly something that’s quite worrisome.”

Read the full article here: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/louisianas-swamps-will-disappear-sea-levels-rise-4-times-faster-world-average-1611333

The post Louisiana’s Swamps Will Disappear As Sea Levels Rise 4 Times Faster Than World Average appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Globe-trotting pollutants raise some cancer risks four times higher than predicted

A new way of looking at how pollutants ride through the atmosphere has quadrupled the estimate of global lung cancer risk from a pollutant caused by combustion, to a level that is now double the allowable limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online, showed that tiny floating particles can grow semi-solid around pollutants, allowing them to last longer and travel much farther than what previous global climate models predicted.

ENN: Top Stories

Time and money run out for nuclear revival

The nuclear industry faces an uncertain future as the reactor building boom is struck by unexpected costs, serious technical problems, and long, expensive delays, writes Paul Brown. Meanwhile renewables like wind and solar are offering investors an enviable combination of falling cost, low risk, fast build times, predictable returns and minimal long term liabilities.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Day length unlikely to constrain climate-driven shifts in leaf-out times of northern woody plants

Photoperiod is only an important leaf-out regulator for woody plants in areas with short winters and in lineages that derive from lower latitudes. Consequently, photoperiod constraint on range expansion should be limited to these areas and species.

Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate3138


Nature Climate Change – AOP – nature.com science feeds

A Dreaded Forecast for Our Times: Algae, and Lots of It

Projections of potentially dangerous and costly algal blooms may become as common as weather reports, but first scientists need more funding.
Oceans

New Catalyst Is Three Times Better At Splitting Water

Ocean Leadership ~

One way to store intermittent sun and wind energy is to use it to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, and then use the hydrogen as fuel. Now scientists at SLAC and the University of Toronto have invented a new type of catalyst that makes this process three times more efficient. In this water-splitting device on the Toronto campus, hydrogen is bubbling up from the left electrode and oxygen is bubbling up from the right one. (Credit: Marit Mitchell/University of Toronto)

(Click to enlarge) One way to store intermittent sun and wind energy is to use it to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, and then use the hydrogen as fuel. Now scientists at SLAC and the University of Toronto have invented a new type of catalyst that makes this process three times more efficient. In this water-splitting device on the Toronto campus, hydrogen is bubbling up from the left electrode and oxygen is bubbling up from the right one. (Credit: Marit Mitchell/University of Toronto)

With a combination of theory and clever, meticulous gel-making, scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Toronto have developed a new type of catalyst that’s three times better than the previous record-holder at splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen — the vital first step in making fuels from renewable solar and wind power.

(From ScienceDaily) — The research, published today in the journal Science, outlines a potential way to make a future generation of water-splitting catalysts from three abundant metals — iron, cobalt and tungsten — rather than the rare, costly metals that many of today’s catalysts rely on.

“The good things about this catalyst are that it’s easy to make, its production can be very easily scaled up without any super-advanced tools, it’s consistent, and it’s very robust,” said Aleksandra Vojvodic, a SLAC staff scientist with the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis who led the theoretical side of the work.

Storing Sun and Wind Power

Scientists have been searching for an efficient way to store electricity generated by solar and wind power so it can be used any time — not just when the sun shines and breezes blow. One way to do that is to use the electrical current to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, and store the hydrogen to use later as fuel.

This reaction takes place in several steps, each requiring a catalyst — a substance that promotes chemical reactions without being consumed itself — to move it briskly along. In this case the scientists focused on a step where oxygen atoms pair up to form a gas that bubbles away, which has been a bottleneck in the process.

In previous work, Vojvodic and her SUNCAT colleagues had used theory and computation to look at water-splitting oxide catalysts that contain one or two metals and predict ways to make them more active. For this study, Edward H. Sargent, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto, asked them to look at the effect of adding tungsten — a heavy, dense metal used in light bulb filaments and radiation shielding — to an iron-cobalt catalyst that worked, but not very efficiently.

Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160324154016.htm

The post New Catalyst Is Three Times Better At Splitting Water appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Tough Times for the Tree of Life on Coral Reefs

Ocean Leadership ~

 In terms of evolutionary history, less than a quarter of wrasse species receive minimum protection levels. (Credit: João Paulo Krajewski)

(Click to enlarge) In terms of evolutionary history, less than a quarter of wrasse species receive minimum protection levels. (Credit: João Paulo Krajewski)

Marine scientists are calling for a re-think of how marine protected areas (MPAs) are planned and coordinated, following a global assessment of the conservation of tropical corals and fishes.

(From ScienceDaily) — Researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), at James Cook University in Townsville, analysed the extent to which the evolutionary histories of corals and fishes are protected, rather than looking at individual species.

“Our interest was in evolutionary branches of the tree of life, rather than the traditional focus on rare, threatened or endemic species,” said Professor David Bellwood from the Coral CoE.

“In particular we were interested in the longer branches, which represent the greater proportion of evolutionary history.

“When we looked at tropical Marine Protected Areas from that perspective, we found that protection of corals and fishes falls significantly short of the minimum conservation target of protecting 10 per cent of their geographic ranges.

“Just one sixteenth of hard corals species are afforded that minimum level of protection, and for fishes — the wrasses — less than a quarter reach minimum protection levels.”

Professor Bellwood said that while it was still useful to focus on the conservation of rare, threatened and endemic species, planning protected areas around evolutionary history helped provide a deeper perspective.

“In effect, we are looking at protecting the reef equivalent of cultural heritage, the critically important history of living organisms,” he said.

“It is not just species that need protection but the genetic history that they contain. In a changing world this evolutionary diversity is likely to be increasingly important, as reefs respond to new challenges.

The researchers found that the shortfall in protection for corals was greatest in the Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific.

Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160112124814.htm

The post Tough Times for the Tree of Life on Coral Reefs appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


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