Desalination Plants can Turn Their Waste into Solutions

Water

We all need water to live and we’re using our fresh water reserves faster than they can be replenished. South Africa knows this all too well, which is why there is an increased interest in desalination. Currently turning seawater into drinkable water is expensive and produces a lot of waste (like brine). Researchers around the world are looking to decrease the cost and waste of desalination systems so we can better manage our local water ecosystems. This month some research came out which proves desalination plants can convert byproducts of the process into on site useful chemicals.

The approach can be used to produce , among other products. Otherwise known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide can be used to pretreat seawater going into the . This changes the acidity of the water, which helps to prevent fouling of the membranes used to filter out the salty water—a major cause of interruptions and failures in typical reverse osmosis desalination .

“The desalination industry itself uses quite a lot of it,” Kumar says of sodium hydroxide. “They’re buying it, spending money on it. So if you can make it in situ at the plant, that could be a big advantage.” The amount needed in the plants themselves is far less than the total that could be produced from the brine, so there is also potential for it to be a saleable product.

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Enforcing Environmental Laws can Save the Planet

Nations around the world have been putting more and more environmental protection laws on the books. This has been good to see. However, with many new things it takes awhile for people to get used to them, accordingly the enforcement of these laws has been lax. This means that if want to stop corporations from causing massive environmental we need to actually enforce the law, thankfully this is easier than it might sound.

“It really is something that all countries share,” Carl Bruch, the director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute and one of the authors of the report, said in a phone interview. “We do have a lot of environmental laws that are on that books that could be so much more effective if they were actually fully implemented.”

On the justice front, sometimes a lack of proper training and education for judges can disrupt the systems in place to enforce environmental law. In Ecuador, for example, a non-government organization sued to prevent a pine tree plantation from being erected in a native grassland ecosystem. But the judge, unaware of Ecuador’s constitutional provisions that allow anybody to bring forward a suit in protection of the environment, dismissed the case and allowed the plantation to be built, the UN report noted. 

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Concordia University Launches Sustainable Bonds

computer screen

Fundings research can get expensive, particularly when looking into cutting edge technology and techniques. In order to fund research at a new lab at Concordia University the school has launched a sustainable bond. Other schools have done this around the world in order to raise funding, Concordia is the first in Canada to do so. What’s different about Concordia’s bond issuance is related to research and not the facility itself.

Concordia’s $25-million senior unsecured bond offers investors a 3.626 per cent yield and has a duration of 20 years — the longest for any sustainable bond in Canada, according to Denis Cossette, the university’s chief financial officer. The bond will be used to reimburse the university of the capital it spent on financing its Science Hub, which will be home to aquatic biology, microscopy, cellular imaging and chemical and materials engineering labs for researchers.

It’s the work that will take place inside the building that allowed Concordia to issue sustainable bonds instead of green bonds, Cossette said. The former required certification assuring that the Science Hub and the work that the university plans to conduct inside will contribute to three of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals — affordable and clean energy; industry, innovation and infrastructure; and climate action.

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We can Stop Climate Change Just by Ending Fossil Fuel Usage

wind turbine
It seems that every month we’re confronted with another study pointing out that climate change is happening faster and worse than projected. This constant news cycle can make people tone it out and ignore the defining issue of our day. Thankfully, we also get tons of suggestions to stop climate change. Today I share with you the simplest way to stop climate change: end fossil fuel use. We have the technology and we have the knowledge. All we need to do to avert a global catastrophe is stop burning dead dinosaur juice.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used computer models to estimate by how much global temperatures would rise if a fossil fuel infrastructure phaseout began immediately. The lifespan for power plants was set at 40 years, cars an average of 15 years and planes 26 years. The work also assumes a rapid end to beef and dairy consumption, which is responsible for significant global emissions.

In this scenario, the models suggest carbon emissions would decline to zero over the next four decades and there would be a 66% chance of the global temperature rise remaining below 1.5C. If the phaseout does not begin until 2030, the chance is 33%.

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Reviving the “Dinosaur of Trees”

lab

Giant redwood trees are beautiful to look at and are great for the environment. We need them now more than ever before. The redwoods filter air, water while also removing tons of carbon due to their sheer size. These trees are so precious that scientists are trying to revive an ancestor of the modern redwoods.

Using saplings made from the basal sprouts of these super trees to plant new groves in temperate countries around the world means the growths have a better chance than most to become giants themselves. Their ancestors grew up to 400 ft (122 m) tall and to 35 ft in diameter, after all, larger than the largest living redwood today, a giant sequoia in California’s Sequoia National Park.
Already, super saplings from the project are thriving in groves in Canada, England, Wales, France, New Zealand, and Australia. None of these locales are places where coastal redwoods grow naturally, but they all have cool temperatures and sufficient fog for the redwoods, which drink moisture from the air in summer rather than relying on rain. Milarch calls this “assisted migration.”


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