Sweden Opens World’s First Mall for Repaired and Recycled Goods


A new generation of recycling has now gone from local drop-off centers to a shopping mall that sells only repaired or upcycled products. The new recycling establishment, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, has nothing to do with the fish; instead, it was named after the Swedish town in which the building is located, Eskilstuna, Sweden. The facilities contain both a recycling center and a shopping mall. Customers can donate the items that they no longer need, then shop for something new – all in one stop. Dropped off goods are sorted into various workshops where they are refurbished or repaired accordingly. Products are then sorted into 14 specialty shops that include furniture, computers, audio equipment, clothes, toys, bikes, and gardening and building materials; all garnered from second-hand products.

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What Can the World Learn From Germany’s First Zero-Emission Train?


The transportation industry has a massive impact on the environment, largely because it’s collectively responsible for burning most of the world’s petroleum and creating carbon dioxide emissions. Last fall, French manufacturer Alstom demonstrated the Coradia iLint, a zero-emissions train that is carbon-neutral, but in a way you probably wouldn’t expect. The train requires a hydrogen tank and a fuel cell, but the hydrogen it uses is a waste product created by the chemical industry. By relying on a substance that’s otherwise useless, the train doesn’t place an additional burden on the environment. The train will permanently take passengers on the German Buxtehude/Bremervörde/Bremerhaven/Cuxhaven route beginning in 2018.

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Solar Experiment Lets Neighbors Trade Energy Among Themselves


In a promising experiment in an affluent swath of Brooklyn, New York, dozens of solar-panel arrays spread across rowhouse rooftops are wired into a growing network. Called the Brooklyn Microgrid, the project is signing up residents and businesses to a virtual trading platform that will allow solar-energy producers to sell excess-electricity credits from their systems to buyers in the group, who may live as close as next door. The project is still in its early stages — it has just 50 participants thus far — but its implications could be far reaching. The idea is to create a kind of virtual, peer-to-peer energy trading system built on blockchain, the database technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

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Dried Shrimp Shells Could Replace Plastic Bags In Certain Countries


Plastic bags are a global problem. Annually, some one trillion of them are used around the world, and fewer than 5 percent are actually recycled. This means a massive buildup of waste, litter, and chemical toxins in the environment. Material engineering professor Nicola Everitt, from The University of Nottingham in the U.K., thinks she might have the solution: Shrimp shells. For the past year, Everitt has been working to turn crushed up crustacean shells into biodegradable plastic bags so that they can be used in Egypt, a country with a severely inadequate waste disposal system. Right now, she and the team in Egypt are working to optimize the Chitosan extraction process, which takes about three days to complete. If the team is successful in Egypt, Everitt plans to explore production in other countries where there is a similar abundance of shrimp shell waste, like Thailand.

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Renewable Energy is Expanding So Fast, Power Grid Infrastructure Can’t Keep Up


Renewable energy is gaining ground. In some places, though, it may be gaining too much too fast. The infrastructure isn’t able to handle the large amounts of added energy from renewables, in countries like China and Germany. Providing adequate energy has always presented challenges. With the new technologies that are available today, new opportunities, as well as new difficulties, arise. Although the transition may seem problematic, the benefits are well worth it. Consumers can help move the transition forward by learning more about renewables and purchasing renewable energy when possible. As a country and a planet, we need to invest in new technologies, work to increase grid flexibility and be open to new ideas if we are to navigate the move to a more renewable energy generation mix smoothly.

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Music professor receives patent to help fight bark beetles ravaging Western forests


UC Santa Cruz music professor David Dunn has joined forces with two forest scientists from Northern Arizona University to combat an insect infestation that is killing millions of trees throughout the West. They are applying the results of nearly a decade of acoustic research in an unconventional collaborative effort to stop bark beetles from tunneling through the living tissue of weakened, drought-stressed pine trees. The trio has now received a patent for a device that uses sound as a targeted sonic weapon to disrupt the feeding, communication, reproduction, and various other essential behaviors of the insects.

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The Ocean Holds Enough Uranium To Power The Planet For 10,000 Years


Researchers developed a new way to extract uranium from seawater, bringing us closer to nuclear power that can sustain us for 10,000 years. Uranium makes up a teeny percentage of the particles in the ocean, about 3 parts per billion or roughly the equivalent of a grain of salt dissolved in a liter of water but the thing about the ocean is there’s a whole lot of it. Uranium exists in water bonded to two oxygen atoms in a molecule called uranyl. To capture the uranyl, long strands of plastic coated in a chemical with a negative charge called amidoxime were left underwater for a month, where they would passively soak up that uranium goodness

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10 Companies Going From Waste-to-Landfill to Zero Waste


Business leaders around the world are contemplating how to take their companies to the next level when it comes to sustainability because many believe they can create closed looped systems that are both profitable and sustainable. Despite what’s happening in Washington, American businesses are rising to the occasion and doing just that — cutting carbon emissions, conserving water and energy, and engaging employees around their goals. Has your company ever thought about going zero waste? These 10 firms working toward zero waste to landfill prove it’s possible. And no, it won’t kill jobs or hurt profits.

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For the First Time, Wind on the Plains Supplied More Than Half Region’s Power


Wind turbines across the Great Plains states produced, for the first time, more than half the region’s electricity last Sunday. The power grid that supplies a corridor stretching from Montana to the Texas Panhandle was getting 52.1 percent of its power from wind at 4:30 a.m. last Sunday, Little Rock, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool Inc. said in a statement last Monday. As more and more turbines are installed across the country, Southwest Power has become the first North American grid operator to get a majority of its supply from wind.

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Cryogenic Energy Storage: A Step Towards a 100% Renewable Energy Future


Despite our increasing usage of renewable energy, there are still some big hurdles to achieving sustainability. The most recent challenge, which underlines the need for increased investment in renewables, comes in the form of storing renewable energy for later use. Most of us became familiar with the concept of cryogenic storage in the Sci-Fi movies and comic books we enjoyed as kids. While this actually deals with the preservation of usable electricity instead of human bodies, the idea is very much the same. Thanks to some recent breakthroughs, scientists have found that we can freeze energy via liquid nitrogen or liquid air. A process that works by collecting the heat dissipation that occurs by exposing incoming electricity to extremely low temperatures, cryogenic energy storage is an attractive option on account of its relatively low cost and its smaller physical storage requirements.

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