A Stinky Fruit Transformed Into Energy Storage

Scientists at the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering have figured out a way to turn fruit into energy storage. The durian fruit which primarily grows in Southeast Asian countries can have its biowaste transformed into supercapacitors. The process that the scientists have created not only creates value-added products but also reduces environmental pollution.  Read the full article here.

Research Shows That Ethanol Is Currently The Cleanest Burning Biofuel

The University of Central Florida researchers have been conducting a study into the many types of biofuels to see which one produces the least amount of emissions. And the winner is ethanol, according to the results ethanol produces the least amount of soot. Soot exposure is directly linked to respiratory disease, cancer and heart problems.

Ethanol is already in most gas sold in the US, which gives it an advantage over other biofuels since the infrastructure is in place. It’s also compatible in current engines, as well as, cheap to produce.

This study is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and will continue through 2021 to collect data and improve combustion models.

Turning Trash Into Graphene

Researchers at Rice University have figured out a way to turn trash into graphene. All it takes is a jolt of electricity. Graphene is an important material that’s found in electronics, solar panels, and asphalt. The process which is known as “flash graphene” production, can yield massive quantities of graphene flakes.

This new process is far cheaper and greener than traditional methods. It allows upcycling of food waste, plastics, and even rubber tires.

The world throws out about 40 percent of all food due to it going bad, and with concerns about plastic pollution. “Flash Graphene” production is an effective way to deal with these issues.

New Air Conditioning System Uses Pure Water As The Refrigerant

As temperatures keep rising year after year, air conditioning becomes a necessity during the summer. A company called OxiCool is getting quite the attention at this year’s CES. The company system offers air conditioning with zero emissions, cools an entire house with just water, and is powered by natural gas.

Unlike a traditional air conditioning system that uses a refrigerant that transitions between liquid and gas, absorbing and releasing heat over and over again. The OxiCool system uses pure water as the refrigerant. Because of this, the system uses 90 percent less energy compared to a traditional air conditioner.

The OxiCool system works by using natural gas to boil water in a vacuum chamber while molecular sieves capture the excess H2O vapor, reducing the pressure inside, fans and condensers cool the vapor to return it to its liquid form, starting the cycle over again.

According to the company’s website, the system will soon be able to use solar thermal energy as an option. The company will begin taking pre-orders starting Jan. 10.

Ford And McDonald’s Partner To Create A Hybrid Plastic Made From Coffee

Ford and McDonald’s have partnered together to make car parts using recycled coffee chaff. When coffee roasters put beans through a roaster, a papery skin called chaff comes off which, engineers combine with plastic to form a hybrid pellet that can be used in place of traditional petroleum plastic in some car parts.

This new hybrid plastic can be melted and molded, and it’s lighter and less energy-intensive than full petroleum plastic. Ford’s first part for its new coffee plastic is a headlamp housing. According to Ford, the coffee plastic version will be 20 percent lighter compared to the equivalent traditional plastic.

This hybrid coffee plastic is a promising step forward, hopefully, similar developments will follow from other manufacturers.

Researchers Use Bananas And Oranges To Clean Wastewater

Penn State Harrisburg graduate students in environmental pollution control Rizki Prasetyaningtyas and Saskia Putri have figured out a unique way to use bananas and oranges. They plan to use them to clean heavy metals from wastewater coming from textile mills. Both students are from Indonesia where much of the world’s textiles are produced, however, their pollution controls are quite lax. Currently activated carbon is used to remove heavy metals, but it’s expensive.

To test their theory, the two researchers cleaned the peels, dried them in a low-temperature oven for 48 hours, dried them in a furnace for another three hours, crushed them and sifted them through a sieve. When mixed with a solution containing chromium in normal concentrations, the peels worked very well to absorb and bind to the metal. Interestingly bananas worked better than oranges.

With the success of chromium removal, the two researchers have begun to use fruit peels to remove other chemicals in wastewater, including zinc and copper. Although the project is ongoing, initial testing has shown the peels to effective at absorbing zinc and copper from the wastewater.

Danish Brewer Carlsberg Is Working On “Paper Bottle” Prototypes

To reduce the use of plastic bottles, Danish brewing giant Carlsberg is working on two prototypes for “paper bottles”. In an announcement made during the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen on Friday, October 11, the company said its “Green Fibre Bottle” prototypes were produced from sustainably sourced wood fibres and “fully recyclable.”

To make sure these “paper bottles” can hold beer, the prototypes use an “inner barrier”. One prototype uses a recycled polyethylene terephthalate polymer film barrier, which acts as a thin internal lining. The other uses what Carlsberg described as a “100% bio-based” polyethylene furanoate polymer film barrier.

According to the company, they are pleased with the progress although some remaining technical challenges need to be overcome. The ultimate goal is to produce a 100% bio-based bottle without polymers that can be brought to market.

Carlsberg is one of many major international firms looking to change the way it packages products. Earlier this week Unilever, whose brands include Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and Lipton, said it would halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025.

Prototype System Uses Algae To Sequester Carbon Dioxide

A new company, Hypergiant Industries of Texas, has created a prototype of what it calls an Eos Bioreactor. This Bioreactor uses A.I. to capture and sequester carbon from the atmosphere using algae.

The prototype bioreactor is 3′ x 3′ x 3′ and holds 55 gallons of water and algae. “Algae wants CO2 and light,” the company explains on its website. The system uses an artificial light source. The algae and water are pumped through a series of tubes to maximize their exposure to light sources lining the inside of the Reactor.”

Inside the reactor, the algae absorb the carbon dioxide and in the process creates biomass, essentially dried algae. The company says the algae biomass can then be “harvested and processed to create fuel, oils, nutrient-rich high-protein food sources, fertilizers, plastics, cosmetics, and more.”

Currently, the company doesn’t have a timeframe when the product will begin selling. Next year the company plans to make and design algae boxes open-source and see what the world will make of them.