Cooking With Electricity is Cleaner than Gas

cooking prep

Gas stoves have reputation for being good to cook with, but they are really quite bad for everything else that happens in the kitchen – like inhaling air. Indoor fas stoves can actually make your kitchen air quality worse than a highway’s. Thankfully, electric stove technology has improved to the point that the cooking benefits of gas are negligible compared to a quality stove.

So if you’re in need of a new stove, go electric.

On the air-quality front, at least, the evidence against gas stoves is damning. Although cooking food on any stove produces particulate pollutants, burning gas produces nitrogen dioxide, or NO2,, and sometimes also carbon monoxide, according to Brett Singer, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies indoor air quality. Brief exposures to air with high concentrations of NO2 can lead to coughing and wheezing for people with asthma or other respiratory issues, and prolonged exposure to the gas can contribute to the development of those conditions, according to the EPA. Homes with gas stoves can contain approximately 50 to 400 percent higher concentrations of NO2 than homes with electric stoves, often resulting in levels of indoor air pollution that would be illegal outdoors, according to a recent report by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a sustainability think tank. “NO2 is invisible and odorless, which is one of the reasons it’s gone so unnoticed,” Brady Seals, a lead author on the report, says.

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Building New Solar Energy Plants Cheaper than Running Coal

Solar Panel School

Since the inception of Things Are Good we’ve been following the demise of dirty fossil fuel usage and the rise of clean energy. A few highlights from over the years:
Solar Power Is Cheaper Than Nuclear
Solar And Wind Outgrow Subsidies
Wind Power: One Of The Cheapest Sources Of Energy
German Coal And Gas Power Plants Closing Due To Cheap Renewable Energy

The rise of renewable energy is even more impressive given the massive subsidies given to fossil fuel industries. Despite the bailouts for companies operating in the tar sands, the car subsidies, and other related government handouts, renewable energy just gets cheaper and cheaper.

This past month the International Energy Agency declared solar to be the cheapest source of electricity in history. Cheaper than coal!

Now, the IEA has reviewed the evidence internationally and finds that for solar, the cost of capital is much lower, at 2.6-5.0% in Europe and the US, 4.4-5.5% in China and 8.8-10.0% in India, largely as a result of policies designed to reduce the risk of renewable investments.

In the best locations and with access to the most favourable policy support and finance, the IEA says the solar can now generate electricity “at or below” $20 per megawatt hour (MWh). It says:

“For projects with low-cost financing that tap high-quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.”

The IEA says that new utility-scale solar projects now cost $30-60/MWh in Europe and the US and just $20-40/MWh in China and India, where “revenue support mechanisms” such as guaranteed prices are in place.

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A Team Cools the Planet by Sending Heat to Outer Space

desert and stars

Aaswath Raman, a material scientist at UCLA, has looked into the past to solve today’s problems. He has led a team that’s created an impressive device that uses radiative cooling to help cool anything by sending heat into outer space. This sounds like it’s right out of science fiction, but it is very real and is based on sound science that’s been ignored for decades. A basic example of radiative cooling is how temperatures drop on buildings overnight due to the lack of sunlight, in this case the heat just goes into the atmosphere. Using Raman’s new device the heat can get transferred into outer space because the material used reflects a very particular wavelength which won’t get trapped in the atmosphere.

In a few years the Stanford group had its first prototype. Placed outside in the hot California sun, it felt cold to the touch. It was a giddy, counterintuitive sensation, even to Raman.

Yet even after he convinced himself that daytime radiative cooling was possible, it wasn’t until a trip to visit his grandmother in Mumbai that Raman started to see how it could also be useful.

A growing number of homes in Mumbai had air conditioners in their windows, something he rarely saw during childhood visits. That’s an unqualified victory for people’s health, Raman said; exposure to extreme heat can lead to a range of illnesses, from respiratory illness to psychological distress.

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Graphene as a Limitless Power Generator

Graphene has long been heralded as an amazing new material that can change entire industries and revolutionize the economy. Notably this has yet to happen. Yet.

At the University of Arkansas a team of physicists found a way to use graphene to generate limitless power based on the movement of atoms. Since a graphene layer is only one atom thick the thermal changes from the Earth can move the atoms ever so slightly, so as long as the Earth generates heat this graphene sheet made the team can generate minuscule amounts of energy.

We’re finally getting to see some cool theories about graphene get turned into real applications.

The team used a relatively new field of physics to prove the diodes increased the circuit’s power. “In proving this power enhancement, we drew from the emergent field of stochastic thermodynamics and extended the nearly century-old, celebrated theory of Nyquist,” said coauthor Pradeep Kumar, associate professor of physics and coauthor.

According to Kumar, the graphene and circuit share a symbiotic relationship. Though the thermal environment is performing work on the load resistor, the graphene and circuit are at the same temperature and heat does not flow between the two.

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I See a Wind Turbine and I Want it Paint it Black

Believe it or not there are people out there who don’t want renewable energy and actively campaign to keep our power grid based on world-destroying fossil fuels. These backward thinking individuals have had success in stopping some wind turbine installations by arguing that wind turbines kill birds. Sadly, wind turbines do kill birds (but come on, coal, oil, and gas power plants kill way more than just birds).

There’s now a simple way to protect birds from wind turbines: paint one bald black. An experiment run in Norway found that a simple visual clue is enough for the few birds that hit rotating blades to evade the blades.

Applying contrast painting to the rotor blades resulted in significantly reduced the annual fatality rate (>70%) for a range of birds at the Smøla wind‐power plant. We recommend to either replicate this study, preferably with more treated turbines, or to implement the measure at new sites and monitor collision fatalities to verify whether similar results are obtained elsewhere, to determine to which extent the effect is generalizable. It is of the utmost importance to gain more insights into the expected efficacy of promising mitigation measures through targeted experiments and learning by doing, to successfully mitigate impacts on birdlife and to support a sustainable development of wind energy worldwide.

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