The Bioneers

The Bioneers

Hatched in 1990, the idea of the Bioneers, a word that was introduced by Kenny Ausubel, began to spring into action. Bioneers as defined, seek to uphold biological and cultural diversity, and take a more natural approach to the scientific and medicinal fields. Also biomimicry, or going back to nature as the model for problem solving, is the school of thought. Bioneers include a group of earth aware, educated individuals demanding change and examining new and justifiable ways of arriving at solutions. Initially, Bioneer efforts were interested in native cultural and bio-diversification, sustainable farming and conservation. Bioremediation, or naturally dealing with… read more

Getting Schooled on Climate Change

Getting Schooled on Climate Change

Global warming – is it or isn’t it? That seems to be the question a lot lately. Researchers have been following a 1600 year old ice formation and have been documenting its downgrading. It has taken only 25 years for this massive landmark to melt. According to scientists, the effects of global warming have played the major role in melting the massive glacial structure in the Andes, the Quelccaya Ice Cap. Remarkably, researchers acquired and studied samples of the ice structure’s core. They were able to inspect plant life as well as unearth discoveries about the climate spanning almost the… read more

Engineered Algae Could Produce Nanocellulose

Kombucha

One type of ‘wonder material’, nanocellulose, could be produced inexpensively and abundantly by genetically engineered algae, according to reports from the annual American Chemical Society meeting. Nanocellulose-based materials have a lot of potential applications, from biofuels to armor to wound dressings, and their great strength-to-weight ratio means that they can be made to be stiffer than Kevlar and stronger than steel. Genes from the family of bacteria that produce vinegar and Kombucha tea are behind the research that could turn algae into “solar-powered factories” for producing nanocellulose, and researchers say they are at an advanced stage in their work. “If… read more

Making Solar Cheaper

Cost of Solar

Recently a California-based company named Alta Devices announced the news that it had achieved a record for the efficiency of an individual solar cell. Alta Devices have broken their own previous record of 23.5% and the new efficiency levels of 27.6% has been verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Alta Devices makes solar panels using gallium arsenide. Gallium arsenide is a more efficient material than the silicon-based cells which are currently more prevalent. To keep prices down the company uses remarkably small amounts of gallium and arsenic. This is done by creating layers of gallium arsenide only a micron thick. The development… read more

It’s Ions To Mars

ionpropulsion

When ion thrusters were first imagined in the 1960’s, they were little more than a pipedream curiosity. Now, NASA has logged over 43,000 continuous hours with their current model of the futuristic propulsion system. This is a new world record, and a sign that NASA is headed in the right direction. Ion propulsion differs from traditional chemical thrusters in that it doesn’t burn fuel. Instead, the thruster’s energy comes from solar panels or a nuclear-powered system. In the case of the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) ion engine, xenon molecules are ionized and then accelerated electrostatically using a cathode. The molecules… read more

Climate Scientist Hansen to Retire from NASA

James Hansen

James E. Hansen, perhaps the world’s most well known climate scientist, is retiring and stepping away from his position at NASA to pursue climate activism full time. Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the subject of climate change and global warming throughout his career, sometimes earning him censorship attempts, but ultimately giving credibility to climate activism because of his expertise. His warnings to the U.S. Congress in 1988 served as a wake-up call about the threat of the effects of climate change on the planet, and although most legislators… read more

Quantum Dot Solar Cells

220px-Sargent_Group_quantum_dot_solar_cell

More than one hundred of  the world’s first solar cells with EQE (External quantum efficiency)  were created recently showing significantly greater efficiency than regular solar cells. These enhanced solar cells generate 40% more power for every photon which falls on the solar cell. This achievement was possible with the help of Multiple Excitation Generation (MEG). MEG works by splitting and using a greater portion of the energy in the higher energy photons. The test results showed MEG produced an EQU value of 114 % for 4 eV photons. “Since current solar cell technology is still too expensive to completely compete with non-renewable… read more

The Many Uses of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy has been used as a power source for thousands of years. Using the earth’s internal heat as energy provides an efficient and reliable source. In cold months, air in the ground is warmer than the air outside so it can be pumped into areas that need heated up. In warmer months, indoor air can be forced back into the earth’s interior to cool down spaces. It is a low impact form of energy because it does not cause as much disruption to the environment as other means of non-renewable energy, like those that require excessive drilling. It may be… read more

Join The Butts Brigade!

Join the Butts Brigade!

Cigarette butts comprise the largest single item of litter in America. Annually, worldwide cigarette butt litter amounts to 1.69 billion pounds. TerraCycle Inc., a company dedicated to stopping waste from reaching landfill sites, has teamed up with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. to create an alternative way to harness cigarette butt litter. The tobacco company will sponsor TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Brigade. Individuals and groups sign up to collect cigarette waste, print a prepaid shipping label, and then mail the cigarettes to TerraCycle. The waste will then be turned into new products such as shipping pallets, railroad ties, plastic lumber, and ash trays. The program is aimed to target… read more

NASA’s Vegan Garden

Photography by NASA

U.S. astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station will receive a newly developed Vegetable Production System. NASA is currently working on VEGGIE, which is an idea to for fast growing vegan farms to be used in space. VEGGIE is set to launch aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on NASA’s third Commercial Resupply Services mission this year. Imagine that! A vegetable garden in space. “Our hope is that even though VEGGIE is not a highly complex plant growth apparatus, it will allow the crew to rapidly grow vegetables using a fairly simple nutrient and water delivery approach,” said Howard Levine,… read more