Can Aviation Help the Environment?

by Tyler Hoyle

LeapTech, is NASA’s latest project geared towards testing a different approach to powering flight. It has the potential to pave the way for low-carbon aviation. Rather than using a fossil fuel burning engine, LeapTech is a truck-plane hybrid, with 18 electric motors along its leading edge, each containing a small propeller. The small propellers are used to test the distributed propulsion in order to analyze if it has the potential to lead to the creation of energy efficient aircraft designs that would ultimately produce less pollution. Continue reading

Justice Scalia’s Death May Have Implications on US Clean Energy Plan

by Max Breitbarth

The Supreme Court lost its longest-tenured justice this February as Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative justices in recent memory and a jurist best known for his engaging originalist decisions and dissents, passed away at the age of 79 at a West Texas Ranch. His passing may have huge ramifications for President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, writes Eric Wolff in a February 2016 Politico article. Continue reading

Clean Mountain Air and Keeping the Lights On

by Griffin Merians

Mountains are home to some of the most pristine and beautiful places on our planet but life often isn’t easy for the people that call them home, particularly when it comes to having enough energy to keep the lights on. Research published by Nicholas Katsoulakos and Dimitris Kaliampakos in the 91st issue of Energy Policy finds policies that encourage decentralized energy systems and renewable energy may be the key to addressing energy poverty and reducing costs for mountainous regions. The research conducted in the mountainous regions of Greece sought to identify the most viable energy solutions with consideration for key factors including altitude, remoteness, spatial and aesthetic restrictions, energy poverty alleviation, and employment invigoration. The analysis found that at high altitudes (above 800 meters), 8 out of 10 families experienced energy poverty in that they spend over 10% of their annual income on energy costs. The study sought to find the optimum energy mix or optimum balance of different methods of energy production to help alleviate energy poverty in these high altitude regions.  Continue reading

The Solar Monk’s New School in Thailand: Self-sufficiency Is the Future

by Samantha Englert

Nearly a decade ago, Thailand’s government amended its constitution to create a more self-sufficient economy, encouraging local and national sustainability activities. ProgressTH, a Thailand based advocacy group, has dedicated its February 5, 2016 blog to the discussion of a new high school powered by solar energy that teaches its students how to live an economically and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Situated in the forests of Thailand’s northeastern Ubon Ratchathani province, the Sisaengtham School, known as “The Solar School,” was founded in 2010 by Thai monk, Prakruwimolpanyakhun. Inspired by Thailand’s national policy, Prakruwimolpanyakhun wanted to create a school that not only would teach students basic literacy and arithmetic, but also the values and practices of Buddhism, community outreach, environment science, self-sufficiency and sustainable technologies. Continue reading

Energy Growth is More Renewable than Ever

by Max Breitbarth

A February 2016 Huffington Post article by Ben Walsh explores the profile of the new American energy projects in light of last December’s COP21 Paris climate agreement.

Walsh analyzes a recent report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report shows that 68% of new energy projects in the US are renewable. There are very few coal and oil projects, but the fossil fuel, natural gas, continues to make up a significant portion of new energy projects. Continue reading

U.S. Navy Deploys First Biofuel-Powered Fleet

by Dion Boyd

An intriguing article posted on The Guardian by the Associated Press on January 21, 2016 examines the U.S. Navy’s first attempt at constructing it’s highly anticipated “green fleet” by launching their first ecofriendly carrier strike group. The group is powered partly by a 10% to 90% ratio of biofuel to petroleum. The “Great Green Fleet” is the title of this project and aims to launch a force of naval ships, planes, and submarines that are powered entirely by biofuels. The navy began testing its first green fleet in 2012 and plans to have it ready for launch sometime in the year 2016. [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/20/us-navy-green] Continue reading

Africa Renewable Energy Initiative Aims to Produce 300 GW by 2030

by Dion Boyd

An intriguing article by Joshua S. Hill, on the Clean Technica blog posted in December of 2015, examines an attempt by the head of state of African nations to lead a coalition called the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The primary objective of the AREI is to provide the continent of Africa with 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030. AREI aims to produce 10 GW by 2020, so already we can infer that significant progress is intended to be made over those ten years. This article caught my attention because it is closely related to a documentary I recently watched called Burning in the Sun. This film portrays the mission of West African and Italian Daniel Dembélé on his quest to bring electricity to the rural communities of the Sahara Desert. Immediately after reading the article about AREI, I made the connection between the article and the film. I began to realize that (contrary to popular belief or at least contrary to the non-existent amount of information you hear from media outlets about positive initiatives taking place in Africa) there are people in the world after all who are aware of people living in regions of Africa that do not have access to energy resources, and are taking a stab at resolving some of those issues. Continue reading

Turkey’s Soft Power: Tapping into Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy

by Charles Kusi Minkah-Premo

Safa Uslu’s discerning article in Insight Turkey’s Spring 2015 issue takes a look at Turkey’s growing relations with Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and how it has used this relationship to find energy resources to boost its economy. As a Ghana native, over the past five or so years I’ve noticed a growing Turkish presence in our country’s capital, Accra. Most of the Turks I’ve come across personally are entrepreneurs -warehouse and restaurant owners- but I had no inkling of Turkey’s hand in Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy scene. Continue reading

Low Density Tidal Energy Arrays Minimize Impact

by Cassandra Burgess

The configuration of a tidal energy array partially determines the level of environmental impact. In determining the optimal configuration for a particular area, it is important to consider not only power output, but also environmental impacts. Fallon, et al. discuss the impacts of a tidal energy array located in Ireland in their 2014 paper. They use a two dimensional model and average speeds over the depth of the channel. This simplifies the modeling process, but it also overestimates some of the impacts. They then analyze grid spacing for turbines, with turbines spaced 0.5, 2, and 5 times their diameters apart. The model indicated that the 5 diameter spacing had the least environmental impact. It decreased velocities by 19.9% less than the 0.5 diameter spacing outside the grid, and increased flood velocities by 27.3% less. The 5 diameter spacing also changed the tidal range of heights by only 1% while the 0.5 diameter changed them by 6.4%. Because the 5 diameter spacing has significantly less impact on the hydrodynamic environment around the turbines, the authors conclude that it is desirable to use low density arrays when possible. Continue reading

A Very Special Clay

by Hannah Brown

Children grow up making little animals, cities and civilizations out of clay and play-dough. They mold the flexible material into new worlds with ease and joy. What if materials of that same plasticity could be used in other ways? To power the lights that these children use to make their creations by? Or your smart phone, your computer, your home? While in its first stages of development, researchers at Drexel University are one step closer to making a malleable, and conductive, power source. Called MXene, this material consists of electrodes made up of two-dimensional titanium carbide particles, made from etching aluminum from titanium aluminum carbide. This material is made using lithium fluoride and hydrochloric acid. When introduced to water, it becomes flexible like clay. This means that the material can be shaped and rolled out, as thin as tens of microns thick, to create any shape necessary for the product at hand. Once it dries, after being molded, it is highly conductive. (nature.com) Continue reading