Archives for posts with tag: China

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Choosing solar panels as a first timer isn’t easy, but this guide provides a short background on solar panel evolution for people who are looking to understand what might give them the best price to performance ratio.

First off, traditional solar cells are made from silicon and they are currently the most efficient solar cells available for homes. Traditional solar cells account for at least 80% of all solar panels sold around the world. In this category, monocrystalline silicon cells are the most efficient, at a rate of up to 24.2% per unit area but they costs are higher than most solar cells. Monocrystalline silicon cells require the most intensive manufacturing because the shape of the silicon cell is extraordinary and there is quite a bit of original silicon waste. The second most popular option is a polycrystalline silicon cell, and it is relatively inexpensive with an efficiency of up to 19.3% per unit area. The third type of traditional solar cell is known as amorphous silicon cells which is the type used in most calculators and other small electronic devices. The amorphous silicon cells have the lowest prices and have an efficiency of up to 10% per unit area. The area of this type of panel is often double the area of other panels to achieve the same power output. The beauty of the amorphous silicon cells besides the low cost are the flexibilities of the material and their ability to perform well at low and high light levels. Lastly, the hybrid silicon cells combine multiple materials in a cost reductive way which are also designed to increase efficiency and the lifetime of the cells.

The second-generation solar cells are usually thin-film solar cells that are made from layers of semiconductor materials. The materials that are used in this type of solar cell varies and they are known for being inexpensive.

Third-generation solar cells are currently being researched and they are made from different materials, new technologies, conductive dyes and plastics. The goal is to improve commercially available solar cells and more can be learned on this page developed for the latest in solar panel research:  http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/solar-research.html

For additional tips and specs to look out for, James Walker the Director of Energy Matters does an excellent job of explaining who to buy from and what factors should go into the decision making process here:

 

(Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/solar-junction-claims-cell-efficiency-record/

and http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/)

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After writing about the EPA’s new proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, and China’s battle against smog, we want to present a new “Smog-Sucking Electrostatic Vacuum Cleaner” idea that cleanses polluted air:

Copper coils buried in the ground create a positively charged electrostatic field. All particles of ten nanometres or more — including smog — become positively charged, and thus attracted to the grounded earth, where they are collected. “It’s a loop of fresh air,”

The method of ionizing smog particles came from Delft University of Technology researcher Bob Ursem who noticed that tiny particles of organic debris would move from the Atlantic Ocean onto the beach. The particles would fly over the dunes, towards the bushes and then over the bushes. Ursem explained that the particles had a negative charge because of friction and they floated above the negatively charged bushes, “…indicating that the electrical force is greater than the gravity force”. Ursem began studying the negatively charged particles by replicating this phenomenon in his lab and he eventually was able to reverse the charge on the particles using an electrostatic field. Under lab conditions, Ursem created an “ionic wind” as the force of positively charged particles attached themselves to the ground. This sweeping discovery is fascinating also because of Roosegaarde’s awesome plans and creativity. Roosegaarde is trying to build such devices to place on the sides of buildings in Beijing to reduce smog in the city. The latest project specs indicate that the pockets of cleansed air will be in parks so that people can enjoy a 30,000 meters cubed area of fresh air. Another testament to Roosegaarde’s creativity is that he would like the particles in smog that get collected by the air-purifying devices to be turned into “diamond” rings representing the smog that is collected in this process.

Roosegaarde’s smog air bubble airea

 

(Source: http://www.studioroosegaarde.net/project/the-smog-project/stories/#794 and http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/04/start/beijings-cloud-server)

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Bad environmental news such as the Great Pacific garbage patch, and the recent findings of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes had this writer wondering what would be a good treatment for the plastics that many people use and pollute the environment with. Our research found an amazing company called Blest.co.Ltd. which turns plastics such as polypropylene, polyethylene and polystyrene back into oil! When using one of Blest.co.Ltd.’s machines, the user simply places acceptable plastics in a chamber, presses a few buttons and watches as the recycling gets heated and the steam gets distilled resulting in mixture oil. The mixture oil can be further processed to make gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil, and heavy oil. The link to order your own Blest machine is here: http://www.blest.co.jp/index-english.html

To make matters even better, Blest’s Founder and CEO, Akinori is so passionate about this machine that he visits children in developing countries and other parts of the world to change their perspective about trash and to educate them about recycling. Akinori converts plastics into oil in front of children’s’ eyes because he is so inspired by preserving the environment for children. To see Akinori and this fabulous invention, please play this video and prepare to be amazed:

 

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Insideclimatenews.org published an insightful infographic about how much different organizations that are headquartered in the United States have for an annual budget (according to “the organizations and consultation with experts”).

The organization with the largest budget for the environmental movement according to this infographic is the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with an impressive budget of $120.5 million. In case you’re wondering what the EDF does, the EDF “work[s] to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends, focusing on the most critical environmental problems”. The EDF is working to protect the precious environmental systems by focusing on pressing environmental issues. The climate, energy oceanic, ecosystem and health system work can be explored on their website: http://www.edf.org/. The second largest budget in the U.S. environmental movement is the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC).

The NRDC is known for being one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups, hence the NRDC claims to be “The Earth’s Best Defense” and the “nation’s most effective environmental action group”. The best defense and most powerful environmental group in this case revolves around the fact that the NRDC combines grassroots power with “courtroom clout”. The staff works with various groups to address:

All of these pressing environmental issues and more can be read about by clicking on the links here: http://www.nrdc.org/about/. Both the EDF and the NRDC are known as political activists and interestingly enough the five largest budgeted organizations are all political advocates according to insideclimatenews.org. The second largest budgeted organizations are in the direction action category and the smallest budgeted organizations fall under the grassroots category.

In summary, the top 10 organizations driving the “modern green wave” show how the environmental movement is swayed. These budgets “advance environmental agendas at the local, national and international levels” and so this info graphic is a good, quick way to see who the biggest players are:

 Top 10 Enviro Group from insideclimatenews

(Source: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140407/infographic-field-guide-us-environmental-movement

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China’s food safety problems have no better symbol than the illegal and utterly disgusting problem of gutter oil. Cooking oil is used heavily in Chinese food, so some street vendors and hole-in-the-wall restaurants buy cheap, black market oil that’s been recycled from garbage. You read that correctly. Enterprising men and women will go through dumpsters, trash bins, gutters and even sewers, scooping out liquid or solid refuse that contains used oil or animal parts. Then they process that into cooking oil, which they sell at below-market rates to food vendors who use it to cook food that can make you extremely sick.

This video, produced by Radio Free Asia, shows in excruciating detail how a couple of gutter oil vendors go about their work. It starts with the couple scooping sewage out of the ground, and it ends with unwitting Chinese consumers chowing down on the end product:

To reiterate, this is illegal, something that Chinese authorities are trying to stop and not used by all street vendors. But it’s also thought to be widespread. Being reprocessed garbage and sewage, gutter oil contains all sorts of untold carcinogens. Many of the operations, like the one shown in the video, are small-time. But there’s enough money to be made that some producers go much bigger.

In April, Chinese authorities uncovered a gutter oil production ring that spanned 13 cities and over 100 people, who somehow acquired rotten animal parts and boiled down the fat into oil. The sting, which came after a five-month investigation, yielded 3,200 tons of the stuff; authorities estimated the black-market producers had already sold a stunning $1.6 million worth of their product.

Food in China is delicious, and gutter oil typically is used just in some street food stalls or cheap, hole-in-the-wall dives. But it is a reminder why authorities there are deeply concerned about food safety issues.

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Beijing’s record-breaking air pollution has spurred officials and designers to come up with innovative solutions – and the architects at London-based Orproject recently proposed the creation of gigantic Bubbles filled with fresh air! The inflatable spaces would contain parks and botanical gardens that provide fresh air to residents sick of choking on the city’s ever-present smog.

Green Halo - Giant Bubbles Filled With Fresh Air for Beijing Air Pollution and SmogOrproject is an innovative design practice founded in 2006 that tends to explore advanced geometries with an ecological leaning. Bubbles is based on a lightweight structural system developed to mimic butterfly wings and the veins of leaves. The system utilizes a material known as ETFE, which is the same material used in China’s National Swim Center at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This transparent and stretchy plastic could be used to create wonderful domes that allow light in while protecting inhabitants from pollution.

Orproject founder Christoph Klemmt envisions that this biome will create different micro-climates within the same space – bringing to life tropical forests next to deserts. Heating and cooling of the space will be controlled through a ground source heat exchange system, while electrical needs will be provided by solar panels integrated into the canopy structure. Their toughest challenge will be the Chinese government and developers – Klemmt was quoted in an interview with Co. Exist saying: “The big park is our dream, which depends on a lot of other people, including the government. If we were to realize this for a schoolyard, it’d be much easier for it to happen.”

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The old half-demolished Bay Bridge that once connected San Francisco to Oakland is about to get a new lease on life. While thousands of tons of steel and concrete will be shipped to China as scrap, a local entrepreneur is planning to recycle big sections of the bridge into a multipurpose building called the Bay Bridge House, which will resemble its original bridge’s form. In a bid to save as much of the National Historic Monument as possible, an architecture contest was launched last fall to help establish the design, which aims to be as green as possible.

Following a whole host of ideas on how to recycle the parts, this winning design was announced. The Bay Bridge House will become a museum and an apartment that will be rented to cover costs.

The design itself is intriguing. The ‘mini-bridge’ concept will use a huge amount of steel – enough to build around 1,600 cars – for the frame, while the floors will be built using the former pavement. Lane markers will still be included, giving it a playful edge that ensures nobody will forget the building’s history. As well as reusing these materials, the design will have an array of sustainable features, such as rainwater recycling, solar energy, and a green roof. In the end, the home is expected to earn a LEED green building certification.

Where the Bay Bridge House will be erected remains unknown. But with so much heavy material to shift, the bridge shouldn’t be going too far from home.

More info on the project to save a piece of history here

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The Swiss power and automation technology group ABB has teamed up with Shenzhen Daimler New Technology Co to expand China’s electric vehicle charging network to be the largest in the world. Over the next six years, the company hopes to supply enough wall-mounted chargers to make the new DENZA electric car a practical, sustainable alternative to traditional vehicles in the world’s most populous country.

Green Halo - China Expanding its Electric Vehicle Charging Network to World's Largest

The chargers are expected to roll out in urban areas first, allowing for easy and rapid adoption of the new vehicles. Owners would be able to quickly charge their DENZAs at home or at readily-available public charging stations. With a lengthy battery life of about 200 miles, the network should allow consumers to travel freely within populated areas of the country. This is just the latest attempt to stir up local interest in electric vehicles since 2009, after attempts to entice buyers with government rebates failed to sell as many cars as initially planned.

The news makes sense, coming from one of the most heavily-polluted areas in the world. Air quality in parts of the country is so bad that it can be seen from outer space. The nation is doing everything it can to curb industries that release noxious chemicals into the air, from shutting down coal-fired power plants to banning outdoor barbecues and New Year’s fireworks in Beijing. Hopefully as more people transition to emission-free vehicles, the air quality will start to improve.

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Green Halo - China New Smog RegulationsThe famously smoggy Chinese capital of Beijing is finally doing something to curb its appalling air pollution. By a vote of 659-23, the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress passed a new law that for the first time will target reductions infine particulate matter (PM2.5) that pose the greatest health risk to the city’s more than 20 million residents.

A look at Wednesday’s real-time air quality index finds Beijing’s PM2.5 level at a “very unhealthy” level of 270 micrograms per cubic meter. The PM2.5 level in Beijing surpassed 500 on January 15 for the first time this year.  Beijing’s PM2.5 level averages around 227, which is far above the national standard of 34 and the World Health Organization’s safe level of 25. Amazingly, Delhi, India’s air pollution is even worse than Beijing’s with an average measurement of 473. By mid-January, Delhi had passed the 500 mark eight times.

The law, which goes into effect in March, is designed to reduce the city’s total pollutant emissions with tougher punishments for polluters, including daily fines for air pollution violations and possible criminal action for more serious violations.

As part of China’s effort to get tough on industrial polluters, the country’s environmental watchdog last year vetoed as many as 35 projects worth 118.4 billion yuan.

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Smog levels in Beijing, China were found to be 10 to 15 times what the World Health Organization classifies as a health risk. The streets are still overflowing with people wearing gas masks and respirators, and city officials recently announced a fuel pollution tax to help curb emissions. Yu Shaocai, an expert on “wet deposition”, recently proposed a radical new solution that could help clear the air: giant sprinklers that spray water into the atmosphere of heavily-polluted cities.

Yu Shaocai, a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee, and an expert on “wet deposition” proposed a solution which is based on a valid natural occurrence. “Wet deposition” is a process by which raindrops and snowflakes deposit polluted particles on the ground and clean the air. Shaocai’s idea is to create a new urban infrastructure and attach the giant sprinklers to the exteriors of skyscrapers in order to clear out toxins and gases from the air.

Shaocai doesn’t have specific answers to some of the technical questions. Installing giant sprinklers would involve a costly process of retrofitting skyscrapers with necessary equipment, not to mention the safety measures during storms and strong winds. The proposal is a theoretical paper, published in the January issue of Environmental Chemistry Letters, which Shaocai plans to test at Zhejiang University and in Hangzhou.Green Halo China Smog Giant Sprinklers Wet Deposition

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