Latest Green News Sun, 21 Sep 2014 07:38:46 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.1 (obRSS 1.8.11) Latest Green News TOP GREEN NEWS at ECOSEEDs Global Green News Portal - The Information Leader in Tomorrows Economy, a FREE service featuring the latest green news and information on the worlds fastest growing economic sector - Green Technology How green energy is used as a good business magnet

By Aby League

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The impetus for businesses turning to renewable energy is simple: to fight climate change. There’s no resource more important than the planet we live in. Given the numerous disasters that plagued mankind in the past decades, no doubt climate change has already taken its toll on planet earth. While the so-called “doomsday preppers” are preparing for the worst, businessmen are embracing better days.

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Renewable energy, also called green energy or sustainable energy, refers to electricity that is derived from renewable sources like the sun, wind, water, geothermal energy and biomass. Unlike fossil fuels, green energy doesn’t damage the environment when it’s being collected or used. But more than just a safer alternative, renewable energy is seen to boost business performance and job growth in the decades to come.

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That said, it’s believed that green architecture has significant impacts on energy use, benefiting people and the environment. How can green energy be used as a good business magnet?

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Available Grants, Funds
In the United States, nearly $50 billion of the federal stimulus package was allocated to promote energy efficiency and investments in renewable industry according the Center for American Progress. said in its report that state governments are following suit, making grant money and tax incentives available to residents and business owners that shift to renewable energy.

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In the Philippines, the Asian Development Bank granted $500,000 technical assistance to the government in 2012 aimed to promote and build the country’s wind power generation capacity.

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With the government making such funds available for businesses turning to green energy, it’ll be such a turn on for businesses to follow sustainable trends to curb costs and operation expenditures in electricity. said that the periphery of green energy has lower start-up costs for small business while keeping the profit potential.

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Stable Energy Price
According to study by Richard Heinberg, renewable energy can help stabilize energy pricing as the cost doesn’t depend on the fluctuating and increasing cost of an international resource such as oil or uranium. Given the less risky effects of renewables on health and environment, businesses can dodge future financial liabilities.

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For instance, Photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity and are available in different formats: roof tiles, cladding, and custom glazing. Solar panels don’t need much maintenance and can be economical for businesses that use lots of hot water, like those in the food and beverage industry.

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In the housing industry, developers are looking into the utilization of solar energy. In fact, some have already installed PV panels in its condominiums to support green living for its residential and commercial tenants. In the U.S., homeowners can sign contracts with a provider to buy power at a fixed price, around 15% less than their electric bills, with installation of the solar panels almost free. Should the residents sell, the next homeowner inherits the panels and the arrangement.

Greater Investor Interest
Alongside the global campaign to switch to renewable energy, tech companies like Google and Facebook have taken the platform to go green as sustainable investments for their data centers. Google announced in 2013 that it will power all of its operations with 100% renewable energy and invested more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects, some of which supply residential energy demand or support renewable energy infrastructure overseas.

Likewise, social media powerhouse Facebook also invested in renewable energy certificates to supply power for its new data center in Iowa and committed to a goal of 25% renewable energy for all of its global data centers by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ renewable energy sector is piquing investor interest. The country ranked 35th out of 40 countries in the Ernst and Young’s latest Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index, which monitored macro, energy market, and technology-specific drivers. The Philippines was among those cited in the EY report due to its “ambitious renewable targets, stable incentive regime, and high energy demand driven by a large and growing population.”

Green Architecture

In support of the global trend to fight climate change, homebuilders and developers have adopted the concept of green architecture (also known as sustainable architecture), or a construction approach to sustainable living, energy efficiency, and conservation of resources, among many others. Here are some green innovations built on the principle of sustainable architecture:

  • Vertical Farming. Vegetation in sustainable cities is important. While there’s land shortage in the urban areas, it’s still possible to plant crops through vertical farming. Plants can be mounted on the external parts of skyscrapers with enough sunlight and water. Plants not only give off oxygen which is essential for human beings, they make infrastructures look nice, too.
  • Natural Lighting. Minimize electricity consumption by situating windows and doors to make full use of natural sunlight. For houses without accessible windows and needs artificial light, use energy-efficient L.E.D. or compact fluorescent bulbs instead.
  • Insulation. Insulation keeps homes warm in cold weathers and cool during the summer season. Insulation can deflect solar radiation, where much of the heat comes from.
  • Quality Materials. Some materials can have more carbon footprint which is not good for the environment. Instead, use recycled or repurposed material when possible, such as adobe from the foundation work, or planking from previous structures. Using low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint is also better for the environment.
  • Water Management. Conserve drinking water by installing a “grey” water system, or a tank or cistern for collecting rainwater and used water from drains. Grey water can be used for irrigating plants, flushing toilets and washing.

Nature has a way of compensating for the destruction man does to the environment. As fossil fuels and crude start to deplete, renewable energy has become a viable alternative to sustain living on planet earth. And it does mankind a huge favor. It’s about time to tap on these resources while they’re still available.

Aby League is an Elite Daily writer. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Mitsubishi donates 2 E.V.s to Laos
Mitsubishi donates 2 E.V.s to Laos
M.M.C. donates two i-MiEV to Laos to help its government popularize E.V.s.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, through its Laos distributor KLM Import-Export Sole Co., Ltd., has donated two electric vehicles to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

In particular, KLM has donated two units of its i-MiEV new generation vehicle. A delivery ceremony was held on September 16 in Vientiane with government officials in attendance.

Due to the great number of water resources that is available in Laosfrom large rivers like the Mekong, the development of hydraulic power generation is being actively pursued. In line with this, E.V.s and natural energy are seen as a good tandem. With that in mind, M.M.C. hopes that expansion of E.V.s could also lead to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

M.M.C. has brought three units of i-MiEV to Laos so far, and is conducting studies of its compatibility in the market. The two E.V.s that were donated to the government will be used to cooperate with the government’s E.V. popularization initiatives.

M.M.C. expects Laos to show progressing economic development in the future as well as drastic growth in its automobile market. Back in December 2013, M.M.C. has signed a contract with KLM for sales and services in Laos to rebuild and strengthen its sales and service network in the country.

In the future, M.M.C. plans to firmly establish its brand presence and further sales expansion in the country with an eye on expanding the current lineup of SUVs and pickup trucks to include E.V.s and other vehicles. – EcoSeed Staff

Chewing produces power with new energy harvesting chin strap
Chewing produces power with new energy harvesting chin strap
This is the experimental set up of an energy harvesting chin strap.
Credit: Smart Materials and Structures/IOP Publishing

The newest clean energy source could be your own jaw.

According to a group of researchers in Canada, jaw movements – from eating, chewing and talking – have proven to be one of the most promising candidates for generating energy from human body movements. Chewing during meals is estimated to be able to generate an average of around 7 mW of power alone.

To harness this energy, the researchers, from Sonomax-ÉTS Industrial Research Chair in In-ear Technologies at École de technologie supérieure in Montreal, Canada, created a chin strap made from piezoelectric fiber composites or P.F.C.

P.F.C. is a smart material that consists of integrated electrodes and an adhesive polymer matrix. This material displays a property known as the piezoelectric effect, which means that they can produce energy when pressure is applied.

The researchers created a chin strap made of a layer of P.F.C., attached to a pair of earmuffs. The chin strap was designed to fit snugly to the users jaw so that when it moved, the strap would stretch.

To test the device, the researchers had people wear it and chew gum for 60 seconds. According to the observed results, the maximum amount of power that could be harvested from the jaw movements was around 18 µW, but taking into account the optimum set-up for the head-mounted device, the power output was around 10 µW.

While this is still a less then optimal output, the researchers believe that by simply adding more P.F.C. layers they can easily improve the devices energy output.

"The power level we achieved is hardly sufficient for powering electrical devices at the moment; however, we can multiply the power output by adding more P.F.C. layers to the chin strap. For example, 20 P.F.C. layers, with a total thickness of 6 mm, would be able to power a 200 µW intelligent hearing protector," said Aidin Delnavaz, a co-author of the study.

The researchers believe that their chin strap could generate power for a number of small-scale implantable or wearable electronic devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, electronic hearing protectors and communication devices.

"The only expensive part of the energy harvesting device is the single P.F.C. layer, which costs around $20. Considering the price and short lifetime of batteries, we estimate that a self-powered hearing protector based on the proposed chin strap energy harvesting device will start to pay back the investment after three years of use," said Mr. Delnavaz.

The researchers will be continuing their work to increase the number of piezoelectric elements in the chin strap and also develop an appropriate power management circuit so that a rechargeable battery can be integrated into the device. – EcoSeed Staff

EDF Renewable Energy to sell 57 MW of Californian solar project to Dominion
EDF Renewable Energy to sell 57 MW of Californian solar project to Dominion

EDF Renewable Energy is selling two of its Californian solar projects to Dominion.

Dominion, an American producer and transporter of energy, will acquire the 32.6 megawatt peak Cottonwood Solar Project and the 24.3 megawatt peak Catalina Solar 2.

The two projects are currently under construction or set to begin construction this year with commercial operation expected in the second quarter of 2015. The total generation capacity of the projects will be 57 megawatts.

“We are glad to extend our relationship with Dominion having first worked together on the sale of CID Solar in May 2014. With this sale agreement in place, we have sold a total of 84 MWp of EDF RE developed solar projects to Dominion,” said Raphael Declercq, EDF Renewable Energy’s Director of Divestiture and Portfolio Management.

Cottonwood Solar will consist of three sites, two ground-mount facilities in the countries of Kern and King and a 1 MW carport structure to be built in Marin County. The project has a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Catalina Solar 2 will be located on 270 acres in the Mojave Desert in Kern Country. It has been designed as a horizontal single axis tracker project and has secured a 20-year P.P.A.

The sale agreement is subject to customary conditions precedent and will close upon completion of the installations. – EcoSeed Staff

Nineteen easy ways students can help save Mother Earth

By Lace Wanders

Students are young, creative, energetic and outspoken that is why they have the perfect qualities to help save mother earth. They can be great eco-warriors that can prevent the Earth from further damage. Unfortunately, students can somehow be childish, selfish, lazy, and irresponsible too.

If only they are aware of how huge their contributions can be to minimize global warming, pollution and other threats against the environment, the world would probably a healthier place to live at. Actually, with simple things, students can create huge ripples of changes. Here are 20 of many ways students can help protect the world from ecological doom:

1. Prefer Green Products- Technology today is becoming aware of their impact to the environment. That is why they are starting to release eco-friendly products for their consumers. Students should check out these gadgets and products, which reduces energy waste and minimizes climate-warming pollution.

2. Study About Environmental Threats- To pro-actively help, students have to fully understand their roles in making a sustainable world. They have to be read news, watch documentaries, and learn breakthroughs. They have to keep themselves updated so that they can make long term actions to help.

3. Volunteer on Environmental Groups- Joining an environmental group is a step that proves how serious you are to help. Joining one needs you to sacrifice a lot of time, but with your classes and writing projects, it would be difficult. You may opt to join college environmental groups, which is less demanding but equally helpful in promoting environmental awareness.

4. Donate What You Can- Donating is not limited to monetary help. You may also donate your time in joining a tree planting campaign or clean up drives around your campus. But if you have extra cash, a few pennies can go a long way.

5. Join Environmental Rallies- You can also encourage other people to join your cause. Rallying is an easy way to voice out your opinion. Secure a permit from your university and organize simple rallies or gatherings to create awareness. Use your creativity in constructing effigies, placards and banners to attract attention.

6. Follow Environmental Leaders- Students are active online. Be informed with the latest news about the environment, by following eco leaders in social media. Know about them and how they help save the environment.

7. Create a Blog- If you have an opinion you want to voice out, you may want to start your own blog. Since you have been writing since you were in primary school, writing blogs won't be difficult for you anymore. Be opinionated and criticize how your school or community helps in building a sustainable world.

8. Segregate Wastes Properly- This is basic, yet many students fail to throw their garbage properly. Students should segregate biodegradable, non-biodegradable, and recyclable wastes.

9. Start a Garden- Staying in a dormitory is not an excuse to discover your green thumb. You can easily start with simple potted plants like basil, mint, dill, and salad greens. They don't only give off cleaner air; these plants are healthy food options as well.

10. Go to Sleep Early- While many students choose to stay late at night to catch up with their essay writing projects, doing so however is not helpful to the environment. Staying late means longer use of energy- from light, laptop, air conditioner, and more. Maximize your time and avoid procrastination to avoid staying so late. Creating a schedule of everything you need to do, can help you save energy.

11. Hang Clothes Dry- After washing your clothes, it is best that you simply hang them dry. It saves energy and at the same time keeps your clothes maintain its color and fit. Air drying also helps make your favorite shirts last longer without spending so much money.

12. Use Both Sides of Paper- Save papers. You know they are made from chopped trees, right? Avoid writing too big on papers, and use both sides to save them. Remember to recycle papers, as well.

13. Minimize Paper Use- If you can submit your essays through email, then do so. Saving paper helps keep more trees on scarce forests around the world. Trees produce oxygen, which helps minimize global warming.

14. Take Shorter Shower- Resources should always be saved. That is why, if possible, shorten your time in the shower. Two minutes off of your shower time helps you save 2 gallons of water. Besides, taking too long in the shower will only make you late for school.

15. Brush Without Running Water- Save water. Closing the faucet when brushing your teeth can actually save 5 gallons per day. Just use a mug of water to gargle after brushing.

16. Walk or Ride a Bicycle- Walking and taking a bike is not only a healthy transportation option, but also helps minimize carbon footprints- no toxic gas nor wasted energy.

17. Buy Second-hand Items- Buying used items does not always mean second-best. Stores that sell used merchandise also sell quality products. You just have to be clever in choosing which items to buy.

18. Make Recycling a Habit- There are many things you can recycle. Papers, batteries, glass, aluminum, metals, bottled water and more. Recycling these products can help eliminate almost 50% of wastes produced by people around the world.

19. Share Awareness Online- Aside from blogging, you can also share videos, photos, infographics and other contents that can spread awareness to people. There are millions of social media users and they can be easily reached by making viral contents.

As students, you can do so many things to help protect the environment. Even with little things such as these, you can create huge ripples of changes to save Mother Earth.

Lace Wanders is a writer and a blogger, who is currently working for She is an animal and environmental advocate, who is active in making petitions to save the world from Global Warming.

RusHydro completes stabilization of Zagorskaya pump storage plant
RusHydro completes stabilization of Zagorskaya pump storage plant
Photo from RusHydro

Russian hydroelectric company RusHydro has successfully completed the stabilization of the Zagorskaya pump storage plant no. 2 after a flooding incident that occurred a year ago.

Back in September 17, 2013, the turbine room of theZagorskaya plant was getting filled with water. After a few hours, the turbine room and the adjacent area became partially flooded. The primary survey of the site showed that the water came in through the deformation joins and intakes of half-finished water pipes.

The stabilization efforts began as soon as the partial flooding at the basement of the powerhouse subsided in the autumn of 2013. By June 2014, the area adjacent to the building was completely drained.

A temporary support was formed beneath the basement plate to prevent further subsiding – this was done by drilling holes and injecting special fluid. At the same time, the turbine room was cleared of the sand drifts. Equipment that was damaged was also assessed and will be replaced.

The plan for the restoration of the facility has been developed by Hydroproject Institute (RusHydro Group) and was appraised and approved by expert community as well as engineering firm Lahmeyer International.

The stabilization work done to the plant laid ground for the upcoming phases of rehabilitation, and the eventual restoration of the plant. – EcoSeed Staff

How the garden office could offer you a greener lifestyle, and cut traffic congestion too
How the garden office could offer you a greener lifestyle, and cut traffic congestion too

By Mark Bailey

“A typical organization’s largest environmental footprint, especially energy use and pollution emissions, can be traced to its employees’ travel to and from work,” according to Prof Joseph Sarkis, professor of management at Clark University in the US. So, more of us should be working at home – whether telecommuting for our existing employer, or even going it alone with a home-based business.

One downside of home-working, however, is the space issue. The productivity benefits of doing less commuting may not feed through if you’re holed up on the sofa with no desk, and a toddler next door. And most of us don’t have unused rooms just waiting to be remodeled as a home office.

More affordable than building a bricks and mortar extension is to opt for a timber garden office. They’re quicker to build, and don’t involve the level of CO2 emissions associated with concrete and cement. The use of timber from sustainably managed and harvested woodlands and forests provides green credentials for the office. Garden office suppliers such as GardenLife Log Cabins sell plenty of models with Forest Stewardship Council certification – just look for a design with the FSC logo.

Another route is to build your own garden office with recycled materials. It’s not for the faint of heart or the DIY novice, though.

With either route, using sustainable timber is the most obvious step towards a greener way of working from home. Think about the following elements too.

Eco-friendly wood treatments

A timber garden building needs to be treated with wood preservative as soon as possible to protect against damp, disease and insects. But you’re probably aware of concerns about the use of conventional solvent and oil-based wood treatments and paints on garden planters and buildings, namely their possible ill-effects for wildlife, plants and even pets and children.

For a more eco-friendly garden office, it’s possible to buy water-based wood preservatives and treatments. Valhalla Wood Preservatives, for example, make a wood treatment that is non-toxic, and ‘friendly to plants, animals and people’. Hannants makes a water-based exterior wood treatment that is 100% VOC-free.

Eco-friendly foundations

If you already have a suitable concrete base for your office, go ahead and use it (though you will have to be careful that water can run off away from the timber, rather than pooling at the base; as the latter will give rise to damp problems).

But if you need to have a base installed, then consider the greener option of an eco-plastic and gravel grid. The interlocking grids are made of recycled plastic and can be cut to any size. Gravel enhances stability and improves drainage.

The system requires little maintenance, and the better ventilation and water drainage can prolong the life of the timber – by helping to prevent damp. This also improves the green credentials of your new office.

Reducing heat loss

If you want a year-round timber garden office, you need to think about insulation. There’s not much use reducing the bills and CO2 emissions associated with commuting if you’re going to replace them with similar ill-effects from domestic fuel consumption. The following will help to minimise heat loss:

  • usingtimber walls at least 44mm thick.
  • using slow-grown Nordic timber. This is denser than faster-grown southern timber, and thereby offers greater insulation and durability.
  • double-glazed windows greatly reduce heat loss and draughts
  • positioningthe office to catch as much sun as possible, especially in winter.

Installing a living green roof can also reduce heat loss, as well as taking CO2 out of the air and providing an attractive habitat for insects. However, you would need to check with the office supplier whether your chosen garden building would be strong enough to support one. If not, discuss other roof insulation possibilities with them. A good supplier should be happy to take the time for such discussions.

The broader picture

When 2,500 O2 staff worked at home for one day in 2012, they saved 12.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent and 2,000 hours of travel time. And that’s just one day. In Australia, where the government is vigorously promoting teleworking, Telstra found that its teleworkers (who work from home an average of five days a month instead of commuting) were each saving over 400 kg of CO2 emissions a year.

As Prof Joseph Sarkis wrote, “Even partial telecommuting can reduce traffic congestion. Less congestion also reduces lost productivity time, wasted fuel, the number of accidents, and lessens road damage, which all have environmental and economic benefits.”

So, on an individual level, the eco-friendly garden office can provide you with a sustainable and green way to work at home, and maybe help you launch your own business. And, on a societal level, it’s through initiatives such as promoting home businesses, home-working and telecommuting that we also tackle wider issues such as traffic congestion and traffic pollution. It looks like a winning solution.

Mark Bailey is a Director of GardenLife Log Cabins, a company based in Edinburgh that makes use of timber sourced from sustainably managed forests to manufacturer high quality timber garden buildings.

China takes big step in reducing ozone depleting gases
China takes big step in reducing ozone depleting gases
China makes big leap in reducing O.D.S. by closing down 5 HCFC production lines.

China has taken a big step towards reducing its hydrochlorfluorocarbons by closing down five HCFC production lines.

The closure of the five HCFC production lines will result in the phasing out of 58.864 tons of HCFC production, the reduction of HCFC production capacity by 88,000 tons, and the elimination of over 93 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions.

Seen as a major leap forward for the Montreal Protocol, the announcement was made at an event commemorating the International Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer.

“Management and phase-out of O.D.S. (ozone depleting substances) in the production sectors is the most effective way to achieve elimination. Through quotas management, China’s HCFC production in 2013 was reduced by 8.38 percent over the baseline year (2009 – 2010), and consumption reduced by 9.14 percent over the baseline year,” Vice Minister ZhaiQuing of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection explained.

The Government of China has been working with the World Bank Group since 2013 in phasing out the country’s HCFC production, with the plan of eliminating the country’s production capacity of O.D.S. by 2030. This stage is supported by a US$95 million grant from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, or MLF.

“China is a key player in the Montreal Protocol’s HCFC phase-out objectives. Today’s announced decrease in China’s HCFC production is a major step in the direction of meeting China’s Protocol obligations ahead of schedule,” said Bert Hofman, World Bank Country Director for China.

“It also generates major benefits in the battle against climate change: The reduction equate to taking approximately 19.5 million cars off the roads, or eliminating annual emissions from 24 coal-fired power plants,” Mr. Hofman added.

“As china is the single biggest producer of HCFCs today, such early achievement is laudable. Under its HCFC strategy, China will phase out its HCFC production, contributing not only to protect the ozone layer but also to mitigate climate change because HCFCs are also power greenhouse gases,” said Tina Birmpili, executive secretary of the Ozone Sectretariat of United Nations Environment Program.

“The funds from the MLF will cover the incremental costs of the phase out, but clearly China’s own effort and contribution is the key. China and its people will be putting in a lot of work and effort. China has a unique opportunity to proceed with its production sector project in a mnner that demonstrates leadership in ensuring the success of the Montreal Protocol,” Ms. Birmpili added.

The Government of China and the World Bank’s partnership has now resulted in phasing-out more than 219,000 tons of O.D.S. from various sectors and also resulted on avoided emissions of 855 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent which compares to eliminating the annual emission of more than 186 passenger vehicles.

It is partnerships such as these that is contributing to the ozone layer’s improvement that is already on its road to recovery (see related story) . – EcoSeed Staff

Largest 100% biomass-fueled power plant in North America opens in Ontario
Largest 100% biomass-fueled power plant in North America opens in Ontario
Pictured, North America's Largest 100% Biomass-Fuelled Power Plant, the Atikoken Generating Station located in Ontario, Canada. "A new era has dawned in Ontario; one where the air will be cleaner and the multiple costsof coal-fired generation have become a distant memory." - Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Energy (PRNewsFoto/Ministry of Economic...)

North America’s largest 100 percent biomass fueled power station is now operating in Ontario, Canada.

The Atikokan Generating Station was previously a coal-burning plant. The plant burned its last coal two years ago, on September 11, 2012. Conversion of the station began in mid-2012 and, with conversion complete it is now generating electricity using only biomass.

Atikokan Generating Station, which is run by Ontario Power Generation, will provide renewable peaking power and can be turned on when electricity demands are highest.

“Close to 100 percent of the electricity that O.P.G. produces is from sources that are virtually free of climate change or smog causing emissions. Atikokan GS is a unique addition to our clean energy portfolio as it provides dispatchable renewable energy that can be used when the power system needs it,” said Tom Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Power Generation.

The biomass used to fuel Atikokan Generating Station is being harvested and processed in Ontario. O.P.G. has contracts in place with two companies, Rentech Inc. and Resolute Forest Products Canada. The two will each supply 45,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually.

The coal-free energy mix is expected to lead to reductions of harmful emissions, cleaner air and a healthier environment.

The conversion of the Atikokan plant is part of Ontario’s plans to close their coal plants. Replacing coal-fired electricity generation is said to be the single largest climate change initiative being undertaken in North America and when fully eliminated will be equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road.

“A new era has dawned in Ontario; one where the air will be cleaner and the multiple costs of coal-fired generation have become a distant memory. Atikokan’s successful conversion to biomass will put Ontario on the world map as a leader in using this sustainable fuel source for electricity production,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy.

Aside from closing their coal power plants, Ontario is moving towards implementing a smarter electricity grid, increasing efficiencies within the electricity system, introducing strong conservation efforts and committing to cleaner energy sources. – EcoSeed Staff

Charging and recharging lithium-ion batteries less damaging then believed
Charging and recharging lithium-ion batteries less damaging then believed
A Stanford/SLAC researcher holds the positive electrode from a lithium ion coin cell battery used in experiments. Scientists charged these batteries with different levels of current for various periods of time, took them apart and used a brilliant X-ray beam to see how the charge was distributed among billions of nanoparticles in the positive electrode.
Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Rapid charging and discharging isn’t as damaging to lithium-ion batteries as originally thought, according to researchers from Stanford University.

Lithium-ion batteries are prized for their high energy storage and their ability to charge and recharge. In a lithium-ion battery, the positive and negative electrodes swell and shrink as they absorb and release ions during charging and discharging.

It was a commonly held belief that the swelling and shrinking of the electrodes caused wear and tear, damaging the batteries ability to hold energy.

However, according to researchers from Stanford and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the shrinking and swelling of electrodes may not be as damaging as originally thought.

“We have found a new way to think about battery degradation,” said William Chueh of S.I.M.E.S., an assistant professor at Stanford’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

“The fine details of what happens in an electrode during charging and discharging is just one of many factors that determine battery life, but it’s one that, until this study, was not adequately understood,” said Mr. Chueh.

To gain their insight into the factors affecting battery life, Mr. Chueh and his team looked at a positive electrode made of billions of nanoparticles of lithium iron phosphate. In an intact battery, if these nanoparticles actively participate in charging and discharging, they’ll absorb and release ions more gently and uniformly. But, if only a small percentage of the particles are sopping up the ions, the electrode is more likely to crack and get ruined, degrading the batteries performance.

The team used small coin cell batteries, charging them with different levels of current for various periods of time and then taking them apart and rinsing the components quickly to stop the charge and discharge process. The electrodes were then sliced into extremely thin slices and taken to Berkeley Lab for examination with intense x-rays from the Advanced Light Source synchrotron, a D.O.E. Office of Science User Facility.

“We were able to look at thousands of electrode nanoparticles at a time and get snapshots of them at different stages during charging and discharging," said Stanford graduate student Yiyang Li, lead author of the report. "This study is the first to do that comprehensively, under many charging and discharging conditions."

The researchers found that only a small percentage of the nanoparticles absorbed and released ions during charging. But, when the batteries were discharged, as the discharge rate increased above a certain threshold, more and more particles started to absorb ions simultaneously, switching to a more uniform and less damaging mode. This suggests that, with a bit of tweaking, the electrode material can be made to get faster rates of charging and discharging while maintaining long battery life.

According to Mr. Chueh, their findings could be directly applied to many oxide and graphite electrodes used in today’s commercial lithium-ion batteries as well as many of those under development.

The next step would be to run the battery electrodes through hundreds to thousands of cycles to mimic real-world performance. The scientists hope to be able to take snapshots of the battery without stopping the charging and discharging process to get a more realistic view of its workings.

Research funding came from the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology Global Research Outreach Program; the School of Engineering and Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford; the Samsung-MIT Program for Materials Design in Energy Applications; and the U.S. Department of Energy; and the National Science Foundation. – EcoSeed Staff