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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, April 3, 2015
The dystopian lake filled by the world's tech lust
Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech, discovers Tim Maughan. In this article for BBC Future, he writes about his trip to the Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex in Baotou, the largest industrial city in Inner Mongolia, with a group of architects and designers called the Unknown Fields Division, on their final stop on a three-week-long journey up the global supply chain, tracing back the route consumer goods take from China to our shops and homes, via container ships and factories. Source: BBC Future, 4/2/15

Thursday, April 2, 2015
FEMA to States: No Climate Planning, No Money
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change. Source: Inside Climate News, 3/18/15

Stop Playing 'Whack-A-Mole' With Toxic Flame Retardants, Health Advocates Urge
As the public has learned of health risks tied to chemicals in everyday products, many companies have responded by eliminating, one by one, the suspected cancer causers, brain damagers and hormone disruptors. But even prompt action doesn't entirely appease some health experts, who warn of a problematic pattern. "We're playing toxic whack-a-mole," said Arlene Blum, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, and executive director of the nonprofit Green Science Policy Institute. "When after a great deal of research and testing, a chemical is found to be harmful, then the tendency is to replace it with as similar a chemical as possible. That's the easiest thing to do." History has shown, however, that the substitutes may prove equally harmful. On Tuesday, a coalition of medical, consumer and worker safety groups attempted to halt this cycle for flame retardants. Led by Blum's institute and Earthjustice, they produced a petition asking federal regulators to block an entire class of the chemical concoctions called organohalogens from their widespread use in four categories of consumer products. Source: Huffington Post Green, 3/31/15

7 tips on selling energy efficiency to senior management
When it comes to energy efficiency, middle management is in a unique and tactically strong position. They have the ability to identify, define and propose energy saving measures as well as mobilize the organizational resources to make them happen and track the impact. The key to success, however, is the ability get buy-in from senior management. The steps in this article are designed to help you pitch your ideas and win them over. Source: GreenBiz, 3/31/15

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research Reduces Microprocessor Serial Link Power Consumption, Improves Data Center Energy Efficiency
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers are working to reduce the serial link power consumption, thereby helping data centers and mobile platform operate more energy efficiently.The University of Illinois research--sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) through the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE)--was presented last month at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). Serial links consume about 20 percent of microprocessor power and constitute about 7 percent of overall energy consumption in a data center. These serial links are only sporadically used, such as when there is a request to access a webpage or a miss in the last level of cache. As part of the research, the Illinois team designed a 7-gigabit per second transceiver with the first reported on/off embedded clock architecture. The new transceiver achieved an order of magnitude lower serial link power-on compared to existing transceivers. The team estimates that data centers in North America can save $870 million annually using this approach, with the yearly serial link power savings at data centers worldwide by 2020 equaling Japan's yearly electricity consumption. Source: Semiconductor Research Corporation, 3/31/15

Graphene Light Bulb Expected to Last Longer, Be More Efficient, Save Money and Energy
A lightbulb with lower energy emissions, longer lifetime and lower manufacturing costs, and made with graphene -- said to be the first commercially viable consumer product using the super-strong form of carbon -- is poised to hit the market this year, thanks to a University of Manchester research and innovation partnership. The bulb's developers -- a Canadian-financed company called Graphene Lighting -- expect the dimmable bulb to use 10 percent less energy than conventional bulbs, last longer and be priced lower than some LEDs, at roughly $20 each. It was designed at the University of Manchester, where the revolutionary material was discovered. The University's National Graphene Institute was opened this month. Source: Sustainable Brands, 4/1/15

Saturday, March 28, 2015
Study: Metals Used in High-Tech Products Face Future Supply Risks
In a new paper, a team of Yale researchers assesses the "criticality" of all 62 metals on the Periodic Table of Elements, providing key insights into which materials might become more difficult to find in the coming decades, which ones will exact the highest environmental costs -- and which ones simply cannot be replaced as components of vital technologies. Source: Yale University, 3/23/15

Thursday, March 26, 2015
3-D printing gets a way to instantly recycle plastic waste into new 3-D 'ink'
Three students at the University of British Columbia -- Dennon Oosterman, Alex Kay and David Joyce -- have come up with a way to reduce the waste as well as the cost of 3-D printing. The three have designed an instant plastic recycling machine for home and small-business 3-D printers. The unique feature of this consumer-oriented extruder is that it has a built-in function to grind and pound plastic waste -- like pieces of the lids from coffee cups -- into small pellets. The machine, called a ProtoCycler, accepts ABS and PLA plastic waste, though each batch of waste for making into new "ink" filaments must come from the same type of plastic. The ProtoCycler can then extrude new plastic filaments from the pellets at a rate of 5 to 10 feet per minute. That's faster than traditional extruders. The ProtoCycler machine also uses less energy than typical plastic filament-producing equipment, so it is more efficient. Colors will be able to be added to the filaments. Source: TreeHugger, 3/26/15

Flood Brothers Disposal pioneers BioBin program to compost food waste
Chicago--In a continuing effort to improve waste recycling in our communities, a test program is under way at the Flood Brothers plant to recycle food waste in an innovative way. Food scraps and other organic material -- collected from restaurants, food service organizations and grocery stores -- are placed in Bio-Bins filled with earthworms. The worms eat the nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables, turning them into compost. This compost is known as vermicompost, which is valuable as a plant fertilizer. Source: Daily Herald, 3/17/15



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