Archive | Recycling

Chevrolet Volt Makers Recycle Oil Spill Materials

The makers of the Chevrolet Volt electric car plan to take advantage of leftover cleanup materials from the BP oil spill.

General Motors announced last week that it intends to recycle 100 miles of boom, or plastic oil containment lines, for vehicle parts instead of going to landfills for materials.

More than 2,550 miles of boom were strung throughout the Gulf last April in an attempt to corral oil before it reached shore. According to AP, only one mile of the vinyl-coated polyester or nylon boom is in use today. Much of the rest was incinerated or sent to landfills.

“Creative recycling is one extension of GM’s overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact,” Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy, said in a statement. “We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude.”

GM will use the boom to make under-the-hood components of the current generation of Volts. The parts will deflect air around the vehicle’s radiator and will consist of 25 percent recycled boom plastic, 25 percent recycled tires, and 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastics.

The Chevrolet Volt can run about 35 miles on stored battery power before switching to a gasoline engine.

Posted in Cars, Energy, Oceans & Coastlines, Recycling, Reduce & Reuse0 Comments

China 'e-waste' Recycling Said Hazardous

CORVALLIS, Ore., Aug. 26 (UPI) — Much of the world’s electronic waste ends up in China for recycling, an activity creating significant health and environmental hazards, researchers say.

Scientists from China and Oregon State University have identified toxic elements in the emissions from cottage-industry recycling workshops in southern China that use low-tech methods to separate reusable electronic components from circuit boards, a university release said Thursday.

Their study was conducted in Shantou City, population 150,000, in southern China’s Guangdong province.

They collected samples as workers were removing the electronic components by heating the circuit boards over grills on stoves burning coal briquettes.

In this “roasting process,” researchers found numerous organic chemicals, heavy metals, flame retardants and persistent organic pollutants being emitted into the air via the smoke.

“The most immediate problem is the health of the workers and the people who live in the city,” Bernd R.T. Simoneit, OSU professor and one of the authors of the study, said. “But this may also be contributing to global contamination. For example, previous studies have found carcinogens in wind-carried dust from Asia.

“The next step is to see to what extent this is harming the environment and creating a health hazard for both the workers, and people living in the path of the emissions,” Simoneit said. “Some of these chemical compounds may be carcinogens; others may be just as harmful because they can act as ‘environmental disruptors’ and may affect body processes from reproduction to endocrine function.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Coal, Electronic Waste, Other, Recycling0 Comments

Scientists Develop Safer Parts for Cars

PFINZTAL, Germany, Aug. 18 (UPI) — German researchers say they’ve developed a way to mass-produce a safer class of materials for use in automobile crash components.

Materials known as thermoplastic fiber composites could replace less-suitable materials in stressed load-bearing structures and crash components in automobiles, the Fraunhofer-Institute for Chemical Technology said in a release Wednesday.

Automakers have previously made such parts from composites using a thermoset matrix. But this approach had a number of disadvantages: difficulty of efficient mass production, potential hazards from splintering in a collision and recycling problems.

The new thermoplastic fiber composite materials, however, once they have reached the end of their useful life, can be shredded, melted down and reused to produce high-quality parts, researchers say.

They also perform significantly better in crash tests by absorbing the enormous forces generated in a collision through deformation of the matrix material — without splintering.

The production efficiency issue also has been resolved, researchers say.

“The cycle time to produce thermoplastic components is only around 5 minutes,” institute project manager Deiter Gittel said. “Comparable thermoset components frequently require more than 20 minutes.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Recycling0 Comments

Primitive Rocks May Hold Early Earth Clues

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) — Geologists say rocks collected from Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic suggest the area can offer clues to the early chemical evolution of Earth.

Researchers from the Carnegie Institution say beneath the island lies a region of Earth’s mantle that has escaped the billions of years of melting and reforming that has affected the rest of the planet, an institution release said Wednesday.

This mantle “reservoir” dates from just a few tens of millions of years after the Earth first came together in the collision of smaller bodies in the solar system, scientists say.

It likely represents the composition of the mantle shortly after the formation of the Earth’s core, but before 4.5 million years of formation and recycling modified the composition of the rest of the planet’s interior.

“This was a key phase in the evolution of the Earth,” Richard Carlson of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism said. “It set the stage for everything that came after. Primitive mantle such as that we have identified would have been the ultimate source of all the magmas and all the different rock types we see on Earth today.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Recycling, Solar0 Comments

Flowers Made the World Cooler, Wetter

CHICAGO, July 20 (UPI) — The evolution of flowering plants has made the world a cooler, wetter place, especially in the world’s tropical regions, researchers say.

Flowering plants are important for climate regulation in rainforest regions with short or non-existent dry seasons and where biodiversity is greatest, ScienceDaily.Com reported Monday.

In the Amazon basin, replacing flowering plants with non-flowering varieties would result in an 80 percent decrease in the area covered by rainforest, researchers say.

This is because the leaves of flowering plants, with higher vein densities than non-flowering kinds, are more efficient at drawing water from soil and returning it to sky, where it can fall again as rain, scientists say.

The process is called transpiration.

“That whole recycling process is dependent upon transpiration, and transpiration would have been much, much lower in the absence of flowering plants,” C. Kevin Boyce of the University of Chicago says. “We can know that because no leaves throughout the fossil record approach the vein densities seen in flowering plant leaves.”

Flowering plants evolved relatively recently in biological history, about 120 million years ago, but now are dominant among world plants, Boyce says.

“They’re basically everywhere and everything, unless you’re talking about high altitudes and very high latitudes,” Boyce said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Biodiversity, Other, Recycling0 Comments

Very Soft Toilet Paper: Becoming Scarce?

WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) — An American Chemical Society report says a growing shortage of high-quality paper for recycling is threatening the supply of soft toilet paper.

The article by Melody Voith, senior editor of the ACS journal Chemical & Engineering News, explains the decline of newspapers and magazines and the growth of electronic communications have combined to reduce the availability of good white office paper, newsprint and other traditional recyclable paper that has been used to make soft bathroom tissue.

Voith explains recycled office paper itself is containing increasing amounts of recycled paper and that, in turn, decreases its usefulness for making high-quality personal paper that is soft enough to satisfy many consumers.

She says chemists are responding to the paper crunch by searching for new coatings, resins and other additives to improve the softness, strength and performance of today’s recycled paper.

The story is available in the journal and online at http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/88/8816cover.html.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Engineering, Other, Recycling0 Comments

New Way Found to Recover Nanoparticles

BRISTOL, England, April 14 (UPI) — British scientists say they have developed a method that might make it easier for manufacturers to recover, recycle and reuse nanoparticles.

The researchers, led by Professor Julian Eastoe of the University of Bristol, said their technique could speed application of nanotechnology in new generations of solar cells, flexible electronic displays and other products.

Eastoe said scientists have been seeking better ways to recover and reuse tiny nanoparticles, but recovering and recycling nanoparticles is especially difficult because they tend to form complex, hard-to-separate mixtures with other substances.

The researchers said they developed a special type of microemulsion — a mixture of oil and water — that might solve the problem. In laboratory tests using cadmium and zinc nanoparticles, they showed how the oil and water in the microemulsion separated into two layers when heated.

One layer contained nanoparticles that could be recovered and the other contained none. The separation process is reversible and the recovered particles retain their shape and chemical properties, which is crucial for their reuse, the scientists said.

The research appears in the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Recycling, Solar0 Comments

Britain Builds Green Towns to Reduce CO2

LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) — The British government is spending $90 million to build four carbon-neutral towns in England.

The so-called eco-towns were chosen from a list of 12 finalists. They are St. Austell in Cornwall, near the western tip of England, Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire near London, North West Bicester in Oxfordshire in the southeast and Rackheath in Norfolk, near England’s East coast.

The money will be used to construct new low-energy houses, a third of them affordable, while also making existing buildings more efficient. Transport, education and administration will also become greener, British officials say. The four cities are expected to house up to 30,000 people within five years.

Several government departments will fund the project, which is intended to pave the way for urban city planning to become more sustainable as Britain aims to reduce its overall carbon dioxide footprint.

Britain’s Housing Secretary John Healy said the eco-towns will set a “global standard for green living while helping tackle climate change and the shortage of affordable homes.”

“People will be able to experience green living for themselves and see how it can change their lives and save money,” Healy was quoted as saying by the Environmental Data Interactive Exchange. “By 2016 there will be 10,000 new eco-homes in these four pioneering areas.”

The latest energy efficiency technology, such as smart metering and waste reduction devices, will be used in the green buildings, and public spaces will be outfitted with parking spaces for bikes and charging devices for electric cars,

Whitehill-Bordon has filed plans to build up to 5,500 homes on a site owned by the British Defense Ministry. It also wants to install a large biomass facility to supply the local community with renewable energy. The city hopes to create some 7,000 jobs in the process.

Officials in St. Austell have chosen land used by defunct industries to house about 5,000 green homes.

In North West Bicester officials have plans to build 5,000 homes and outfit the local school’s roof with solar panels as well as a heat pumping system and green public transport.

The fourth city, Rackheath, plans to construct 6,000 green homes that according to the BBC will incorporate “rainwater recycling, low flush toilets, high insulation levels and environmentally friendly roofs.”

Officials promise that the eco-city projects, which have been met with opposition in some of the towns selected, will benefit the local economies.

“Local workers, including apprentices, will help build these pioneering homes and other projects,” Healy said. “This will arm them with the new skills in green construction, giving them a head start on their career path.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Buildings, Cars, Education, Energy Efficiency, Recycling, Solar0 Comments

Sydney's $1.7 Billion Desalination Plant

SYDNEY, Feb. 1 (UPI) — A $1.7 billion desalination plant has opened in Sydney, expected to supply up to 15 percent of the area’s water needs.

The seawater reverse-osmosis facility in the southern suburb of Kurnell has been driven by concerns about climate change, Sydney’s inconsistent rainfall patterns and a rapidly growing metropolitan area that attracts some 50,000 new residents each year.

“This is about preparing for Sydney’s expanding population. In the face of climate change, in the face of increasing drought, it is important we are securing Sydney’s water supply,” Kristina Keneally, premier of New South Wales, said during the plant’s opening ceremony Thursday.

The desalination plant is now producing 55 million liters per day of water, which will gradually increase to full capacity, 250 million liters a day. Water from the Kurnell facility will be distributed to 1.5 million people as part or all of their water supply throughout Sydney.

The plant is 100 percent offset by wind energy, and a new wind farm with 67 turbines is now up and running nearby at Bungendore.

Officials say coastal ecosystems will not be adversely affected by the salty discharge deposited back into the sea.

But John Kaye, a Greens MP in the New South Wales state Parliament, said the construction in Botany Bay had stirred up heavy metals that could harm migrating whales. Other sea life, he said, could also be affected by the dumping of saline waste back into the Tasman Sea.

“Sydney’s desalination plant was a huge mistake,” Kaye told the BBC.

“The historical records show we did not need it. The government says it is all powered by green energy, but that could have been used to offset coal generation elsewhere,” he said.

To achieve desalination at Kurnell, seawater is drawn into the system via a large 2.5-kilometer underwater tunnel. After gravel, sand, silt, seaweed and other debris have been removed, high pressure pushes the water through membranes small enough to capture the salt in a process known as reverse osmosis.

The desalinated reserves are then re-mineralized and slightly carbonated, while chlorine and fluoride are added, before being pumped directly into the city’s main supply.

Keneally said the project would add about $100 a year to the average person’s water bill, which would allow the plant to be fully paid off in four years.

“By 2025, global demand for water is predicted to grow by over 40 percent,” she said. “Along with dams, recycling and water efficiency, desalination is one of four key ways to ensure Sydney has enough water in the future.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Drinking Water, Drought, Recycling, Water Efficiency0 Comments

Green Leaning Building Codes Shows that California Mandates Greener Buildings

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 13 (UPI) — California’s new green-leaning building code would reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions substantially, a state environmental board said.

The statewide building code adopted this week would cut greenhouse emissions by 3 million metric tons by 2020, the California Air Resources Board estimated.

New codes require energy audits for buildings over 10,000 square feet and mandates 50 percent of construction site waste go to recycling, LegalNewsline.com reported Wednesday.

The code mandates plumbing strategies that reduce indoor water usage and use of eco-friendly paints. The code also allows for local governments to push the standards higher if they choose to do so.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the code adopted by the Building Standards Commission was a “first-in-the-nation mandatory green building standards code (that) … lays the foundation for the move to greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices that decrease waste, reduce energy use and conserve resources.”

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Recycling0 Comments

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