Another great new invention out of Sweden lets you shower as long as you want with 5 liters (or 1,3 gallons) of water, by constantly filtering and recirculating the water. What comes out of the shower is actually cleaner than what goes in.
If you urinate in the shower, or use excessive amounts of shampoo, the system will sense that and divert that water down the drain, in which case your endless shower might use up to four gallons of water. Normal water use in a shower is about 2.5 gallons per minute, so if you live in California and like endless showers, this seems like a dream come true. The water pressure in the shower is nice and high due to the force created by the recirculating pump.
The shower, produced by a company called Orbital System, is aptly named Shower of the Future. In Sweden where many people have vacation homes on small islands with extremely limited groundwater, this product might be more useful for the second home market, whereas in other countries with more limited water supplies it could be a lifesaver.
The inventor, Mehrdad Mahdjoubi, was inspired by NASA videos of astronauts showering in the International Space Station, and created the product as his thesis project at Lund University. When you are out in space, you have no choice but to reuse the same water over and over again, and the same might be soon true for more and more of the global population. Singapore already purifies sewage water to drinking standard for it’s five million inhabitants.
Sweden is already implementing a lot of effective energy solutions that we haven’t caught on to over here yet. For example, instead of dumping their trash in the landfill, they burn it, powering turbines that create electricity, heat and hot water, which gets pumped through pipes under the streets to heat entire towns, in a process known as district heating. But now they have their sights set on another impressive goal: The carbon negative data center!
Most data centers use vast amounts of energy in an extremely wasteful manner, running their facilities at maximum capacity 24 hours a day, no matter what the demand is. They use approximately ten percent of all global electricity, and their use is increasing by 12 percent a year. According to the New York Times, “data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid”. But the new data center being build outside Falun, Sweden will not pull any power off the grid. It runs on a mix of solar, wind, and hydro power, plus wood chip and sawdust waste. And the heat generated by all the servers will be pumped back into close by buildings through that district heating system. The system will be 25% cheaper to operate than conventional data centers.
Oh, and pollution from burning garbage? It all gets filtered out.
Watch the video, it’s really revolutionary:
Via: NYT, Midwest Energy News, Science Alert, EcoData Center
California is in the throws of a searing four year drought, the worst in 1200 years. There is no end in sight. The snow pack which supplies large parts of the stare with water is at ten percent of normal. Why not just start up a massive desalination project?
The main reason: Cost. desalination plants cost an enormous amount to plan, build and operate. A spokeswoman for the Marin Municipal Water District, in Northern California says “Right now, conservation costs less than desalination.” A proposed desalination plant in famously environmental Marin County was “scrapped despite two decades of planning and millions of dollars spent on a pilot plant.” The price of desalinated water is at least four times the cost of diverting water by conservation methods, such as paying farmers to install drip irrigation, or providing rebates for homeowners to rip out lawns or buy water-efficient toilets.
Then there is the issue of getting rid of all that salt, something which causes environmentalists great concern. The western hemisphere’s largest desalination plant is being built right now in Carlsbad, north of San Diego. It will produce 50 million gallons of water a day, which to put it in perspective, will supply only 7 percent of San Diego’s population. It has survived six years of government permitting, from the Carlsbad City Council to the California Coastal Commission, and and prevailed through 14 lawsuits and appeals by environmentalists. “It’s a test case,” said Ron Davis, executive director of Cal Desal, an industry advocacy group. “We like to tease them: Only the entire future of desal is riding on this project. No pressure.”
And what about farms? Well, they are not anywhere near being able to afford or have access to desalinated water. Sorry.
A new study in northeastern Pennsylvania tested 11,309 drinking water and came to the conclusion that the levels of methane in the water are unrelated to the location of hundreds of oil and gas wells that tap hydraulically fracked rock formations. The study concludes that fracking operations are not noticeably contributing to the leakage of methane from very deep rock formations, where the oil and gas are found and pumped out of, up to groundwater closer to the surface where well water is taken from.
The study was paid for and supported by Chesapeake Energy Corp., which has large oil and gas stakes in Pennsylvania, and led by hydrogeologist Donald Siegel of Syracuse University in New York. His team published the new study online this month in Environmental Science & Technology.
According to the Minnesota Department of health, methane in your tap water is not toxic as, long as it aerates off. However, if the gas gets trapped in an enclosed space it can cause asphyxiation, not to mention explosions if ignited by a spark.
If methane is present in your tap water, the gas coming out alongside the water could light on fire, like in the video below.
Video: Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition
Via: Science Insider, Minnesota department of health
The water situation in California is dire. As the drought heads into its fourth year, wells in some towns are drying up, and farmers are forced to uproot orchards or let their field lie fallow. How on earth could oil companies even consider injected oil-field wastewater into drinkable aquifers?
The State of California has recently shut down twelve oil wells that were injecting water laced with oil and trace chemicals into aquifers that could be used for drinking or irrigation in the valley’s fields and orchards. How could this happen?
California is the third biggest oil producing state in the nation. But its petroleum reservoirs contain more salty water than crude oil. The water gets separated from the oil, and most of the water is pumped back underground, hopefully into the same formation it came from, but sometimes it gets pumped any old place — including usable aquifers.
A San Francisco Chronicle investigation discovered 171 cases in which California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources allowed oil companies to inject the waste water into federally protected high-quality aquifers. Another 253 injection wells went into aquifers whose water could have been used with more extensive treatment.
The state is now under orders from the EPA to come up with a better solution.
What a milestone! How could they do it? Heavy rainfalls this winter boosted hydropower output to close to the country’s total electricity needs. With some help from solar, wind and geothermal sources, Costa Rica has been running completely green energy this year.
Costa Rica has a number of things going for them in this case, such as a small population, (4.8 million) lack of heavy, energy hogging industry, and natural features that lend themselves to renewable energy, but it is still an incredibly impressive and admirable feat. Costa Rica is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2021. They are getting very close to their goal, since currently 94 per cent of Costa Rica’s energy needs are met by renewables.
The government has been in investing heavily in geothermal energy which is an important backup, as hydro power availability can vary widely depending on rains. Dams also typically have a negative impact on fish and wildlife.
Who says wind power isn’t practical? The Chinese are going full sails ahead into a major wind power expansion, reaching a capacity of 115,000 megawatts, more energy than all of the nuclear power plants in the US, where 99 reactors produce about 98,000 megawatts.
Photo: The Guardian
China is also vastly expanding it’s nuclear industry. One third of new reactors in the world are being built in China. Considering their lax safety record in other industries, and coming on the wake of Fukushima, this could be a worrisome development. But the good news is they are expanding their wind power capacity at an even faster clip. Last year wind farms in China reached a capacity of more than five times the megawatts of the nuclear sector. Most of China’s enormous and ever expanding energy needs are still met by burning coal causing massive smog and adding carbon to the atmosphere, so any clean energy there is a huge improvement.
Chernobyl 30 Year Later: Four hundred times more radioactive material was released from Chernobyl than by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Photo: Michael Forster Rothbart
On 26 April 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered a catastrophic nuclear accident that released a significant fraction of reactor core inventory. It caused widespread health and environmental effects. The radioactive particles released into the atmosphere spread over much of the western USSR and Europe and there are still frightening levels of measurable radiation at Chernobyl. A world wide coalition has been formed to deal with the on-going problem that is still being fought, 30 years later. There is a “zone of alienation” that is virtually uninhabited – although brave workers and about 300 residents – crazy enough to ignore the hazard – and have refused to leave. Officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years.
Some residents refuse to leave: Photo: Michael Forster Rothbart
60 Minutes has reported that: 1,400 workers from over 40 different countries, are building a giant arch to cover and encase the damaged reactor. It’s larger than the Statue of Liberty and wider than Yankee Stadium — the largest movable structure on Earth.
The area is being reclaimed by forest, wildlife but even today, radiation levels are so high that the workers responsible for rebuilding the giant arch are only allowed to work five hours a day for one month before taking 15 days off.
What’s alarming – then and now – is that the accident occurred during an experiment scheduled to test a potential safety emergency core cooling feature, which took place during a normal shutdown procedure. On that disastrous day reactor four suffered a catastrophic power increase, which led to explosions in its core.
The government coverup of the Chernobyl disaster was a catalyst for “glasnost”, which paved the way for reforms leading and set the stage for the Soviet collapse.