London’s ‘Super Sewer’ Finally Underway To Help Stop Waste Flowing Into Thames : News : TravelersToday

Workers have started the construction of London’s “super sewer” in an effort to reduce the waste that goes into the Thames river. The project’s goal is to address the waste problem that the city has especially with its growing population. Currently, a hole is being dug at the new tunnel’s center.According to City A.M., workers from Tideway have started digging a 30-meter diameter hole to mark the new tunnel’s central point. The hole is as big as the dome at St Paul’s Cathedral while the tunnel has a length of 16 miles.Just this year, about 1.2 million tons of sewage waste has been dumped straight into the Thames river due to the fact that the old Victorian sewers can’t handle the huge amount of waste that flows through it. BBC reported that the old tunnels’ waste would overflow to the river even if it would just rain for a few millimeters.The proposal for the Thames Tideway Tunnel isn’t a recent one because it has been floating in the air since 2005. However, there were some issues that needed to be clarified with regards to the contracts so the go-signal for the project’s construction was given on February 2015.

Source: London’s ‘Super Sewer’ Finally Underway To Help Stop Waste Flowing Into Thames : News : TravelersToday

This new battery runs on seawater : TreeHugger

There have been so many new approaches to batteries lately that it’s hard to keep track of them all, but most of them have one thing in common: they are all cheaper and safer than lithium-ion batteries.Listen, lithium-ion batteries are the best we’ve got on the market right now. They can store a lot of energy in a small, lightweight package — that’s why they’re in basically everything we own — but they also have some drawbacks. The materials needed to make them aren’t earth-abundant, which makes them more expensive, especially as you scale up in size. They are a fire risk and they also have a fairly short life span.For years, researchers have been looking to more abundant, safer materials to create a better battery. Engineers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) are just the latest. They have developed a seawater battery that runs on water and salt, which they say could soon rival the lithium-ion battery in performance.Sodium is the sixth most abundant element on earth, making this battery far cheaper to manufacture and using seawater specifically greatly reduces any chance of fire. The researchers believe that in the future, seawater could be the key to the large-scale energy storage that’s needed as the world shifts to more renewable energy. The batteries could also be used as emergency back-up energy for homes, businesses and ships.The seawater battery works much like a lithium-ion battery as the structure is the same, swapping out lithium for sodium. The university explains:The battery extracts sodium ions from the seawater when it is charged with electrical energy and stores them within the cathode compartment. Upon electrochemical discharge, sodium is released from the anode and reacts with water and oxygen from the seawater cathode to form sodium hydroxide. This process provide energy to power, for instance, an electric vehicle.The salt water is not just acting as an electrolyte; according to the American Chemical Society newsletter it is actually a “catholyte — an electrolyte and cathode combined. In batteries, the electrolyte is the component that allows an electrical charge to flow between the cathode and anode. A constant flow of seawater into and out of the battery provides the sodium ions and water responsible for producing a charge.”Currently, the seawater batteries have a lower electrical output than lithium-ion batteries, but the researchers are working on building the batteries in various sizes and shapes to increase the charge rate. They will soon start mass producing the seawater batteries in a testing facility and join cells together in battery packs. The goal is to produce a battery pack by the end of next year that is capable of providing the home energy needs of a family of four.

Source: This new battery runs on seawater : TreeHugger

A Giant Japanese Toilet Company Is Making A Toilet For The 2.5 Billion People Who Lack One | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

The Japanese toilet giant Lixil counts brands like Grohe and American Standard in its portfolio, and it’s known for fancy, automated johns that some compare to iPhones for engineering quality. But it’s the SaTo (“Safe Toilet”) division of the company that could have the widest impact in the world.SaTo is the name of a low-cost toilet first developed with American Standard, with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Designed for parts of the world where there are no sewer systems, the SaTo has sold more than 1 million units so far, encouraging Lixil to think bigger. It’s now turning SaTo into its own division, with a mission to spread cheap-but-effective toilets to the 2.5 billion in the world who still lack them.

Source: A Giant Japanese Toilet Company Is Making A Toilet For The 2.5 Billion People Who Lack One | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

Want to make your barren yard lush again? Just add a bit of soil from your local meadow. A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green.”This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters.”Soil isn’t as simple as it seems. It contains microscopic bacteria and fungi, as well as tiny worms called nematodes and other invertebrates. Ecologists have long known that these underground communities build critical partnerships with the plants growing nearby. But many of these partnerships remain a mystery. Small-scale studies in greenhouses have shown that adding the right soil can promote the growth of a particular plant community, and some researchers have even tried soil transplantation—replacing one soil with another—to get certain endangered plants to grow.Such need is great across the globe, where many once-fertile lands are turning into desert, and a significant amount of agricultural land is lost every year. What’s more, when governments and nonprofit organizations try to bring back grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems destroyed by agriculture and other human uses, they are often disappointed: Restoration can take decades. It sometimes fails altogether.E. R. Jasper Wubs, an ecologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen, hoped to find a better way. But instead of doing wholesale transplantation of soil—which can be expensive—he wanted to see what would happen with a booster shot.He and colleagues set up a series of 2- to 5-hectare plots on abandoned, degraded farmland in the Netherlands. They removed about 60 centimeters of top soil from part of each plot and spread a 1-centimeter-thick layer of soil in others. The soil was taken from either a heathland—rolling hills dominated by heather and small shrubs—or a grassland. They then added seeds from 30 plant species from a variety of habitats and waited—for 6 years.When their waiting was up, they compared the seeded areas with and without the added soil layers, looking at which species were thriving and which were not. The source of the added soil greatly influenced what grew where, they report today in Nature Plants. Plots with heathland soil were covered with heather and gorse, whereas plots with grasslands soil were overflowing with a variety of grasses. The added soil made the existing land richer—as the researchers found more nematode worms, more bacteria, and more fungi in those sections of the plots. Those with heathland soil also had a greater diversity of springtails and mites.

Source: Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

U.S. to offer $4.5 billion for electric-car charging stations via DoE loan guarantees

The Obama Administration said yesterday that it will invest up to $4.5 billion to build electric-car charging stations in a major push to create comprehensive charging infrastructure in the U.S.Officials hope this will lead to the construction of enough new charging stations to quell “range anxiety” and enhance the appeal of electric cars for consumers.The program will use Department of Energy (DoE) loan guarantees, and promote partnerships between Federal, state, and local governments and automakers.DON’T MISS: CA issues $9 million in grants for electric-car fast charger installationsAmong the goals of the program are a national network of DC fast-charging stations, and the creation of a coalition among 50 carmakers, utilities, and charging-network operators that will work together to ramp up charging infrastructure.State and local governments will also be encouraged to buy electric cars for their fleets.The DOE believes increased charging infrastructure will pave the way for widespread electric-car adoption.

Source: U.S. to offer $4.5 billion for electric-car charging stations via DoE loan guarantees