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VATIS Update Waste Management . Apr-Jun 2015

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Waste Management Apr-Jun 2015

ISSN: 0971-5665

VATIS Update Waste Management is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of Waste Management. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

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Contents

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IN THE NEWS

Illegally traded e-waste poses risks to health

According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), up to 90 per cent of the world’s electronic waste, worth nearly US $19 billion, is illegally traded or dumped each year. Each year, the electronic industry – one of the world’s largest and fastest growing - generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste from goods such as computers and smart phones. Forecasts say that figure may reach 50 million tonnes already by 2017. The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) estimates the price of a tonne of e-waste at around US $500. Following this calculation, the value of unregistered and informally handled, including illegally traded and dumped e-waste ranges from US $12.5 to US $18.8 billion annually.

Innovative solutions to combat illegal and unsustainable handling of e-waste are emerging. Recovering valu-able metals and other resources locked inside electronic products, for example, can reduce the amount of e-waste produced, diminishing pressure on the environment, creating jobs and generating income.

The growing volumes of e-waste, municipal waste, food waste, discarded chemicals and counterfeit pesti-cides, all contribute to increasing pressure on the environment. The report also points to the fact that every year, roughly one third of the food produced for human consumption globally. The global waste market is estimated to be worth US $410 billion a year, generating jobs and incomes. As with any large eco-nomic sector, it creates opportunities for illegal activities at various stages of the waste chain. Concentrated on making profit, operators are prone to ignore waste regulations and expose workers to toxic chemicals. On a larger scale, organized crime may engage in tax fraud and money laundering, as volumes handled go largely unregistered, allowing for substantial under and over reporting.
Source: http://www.unep.org

E-waste recycling still falling short

According to a new report from the United Nations, a record level of discarded electrical and electronic products, amounting to 41.8 million tons worldwide, was thrown away last year, with less than one-sixth of it being properly recycled,. It was the largest amount ever discarded, and there is no sign it will slow down. Even countries like Japan that have recycling and recovery programs discard a massive – and dan-gerous – amount of e-waste. The study, conducted by United Nations University, found that in volume terms, the largest amount of e-waste was generated in the U.S. and China, which together accounted for 32 percent of the total. The third most wasteful country by volume was Japan, which discarded a grand total of 2.2 million tons in 2013.

Even though Japan’s per capita waste, 17.3 kg per inhabitant, was lower than some less densely populated countries, other countries, such as those in Africa, had much lower amounts of e-waste. Af-rica’s average was 1.7 kg per person, one-tenth the amount of the waste generated by the average Japanese. This kind of refuse is dangerous and highly toxic. The refrigerators, washing machines and mi-crowave ovens routinely discarded contain large amounts of lead glass, batteries, mercury, cadmium, chro-mium and other ozone-depleting CFCs. The 7 percent of e-waste last year made up of mobile phones, calcu-lators, personal computers, printers and small information technology equipment also contained poisonous components.

E-waste last year also contained valuable resources worth $52 billion, only a quarter of which was recovered. With better recovery systems, those resources wouldn’t end up in dumps, increas-ingly located in poorer countries, but would be recycled. Japan was one of the first countries to impose recycling of e-waste, and the system here is better than in many countries. The government reported that 556,000 tons of e-waste was collected and treated in Japan in 2013, but that still only accounts for one-quarter of the total. Individuals should make sure that their disposal of even small gadgets is han-dled correctly. Governments around the world, including Japan, need to impose stricter rules, establish better disposal and recycling systems, and increase oversight.
Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Strong action required on environment pollutants

According to a new report entitled “Human biomonitoring: facts and figures”, pre-sented at the WHO mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Process in Israel, on 28-30 April, exposure to toxic metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) remains a public health is-sue of serious concern. The report reveals that substantial numbers of children and women of child-bearing age in countries of the WHO European Region are exposed to pollutants at levels that can cause adverse health effects. Human biomonitoring (HBM) measures levels of pollutants in the human body – including from blood, urine, hair and breast milk – reflecting exposures through various pathways.

Early-life exposure to mercury and lead can affect neurological development. While exposure to most POPs has declined steadily, their presence in breast milk remains an issue of concern owing to their po-tential endocrine-disrupting properties. The benefits of breastfeeding, however, outweigh the risks of ex-posure to pollutants. More than 140 000 registered chemicals are in use in Europe. HBM studies highlight the importance of monitoring exposure to chemicals, especially among the most vulnerable groups, in order to inform and guide policy-makers in developing protective measures.

Exposure to pollutants varies substantially across the Region. Higher levels of exposure to DDT (dichlorodi-phenyltrichloroethane) and phthalates were found in lower-income countries, while exposure to mercury is higher in countries with high fish consumption. The report identifies concerns about the lack of HBM data that can be used effectively for policy development and monitoring.
Source: http://www.euro.who.int

China to reduce soil pollution

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors has approved the Contaminated Site Management Project, which is financed by a $15 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). According to the World Bank, this project will help clean up contaminated sites and improve its man-agement of soil pollution. “With GEF’s support, the project will help the Chinese government manage contaminated sites in a sustainable way and reduce environmental and health risks. This will also contribute to China’s implementation of the Stockholm Convention on the Elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants.,” said Qing Wang, at World Bank.

In the last three decades, China’s rapid industrialization has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty but has worsened its soil, air and water quality. Soil pollution, in particular, has become a serious health and environmental threat, contaminating the food chain with heavy metals, fertilizers and pesticides, persistent organic pollutants and solvents, and polluting groundwater and surface water. Soil pollution is also a barrier to the redevelopment of scarce urban land, and clean-up can unlock value for local government and resi-dents alike.

The project will support China’s ongoing efforts in policy making and improve the country’s capacity to manage contaminated sites. The project will also help develop new technical guidelines for the prevention and control of soil pollution; provide training for government officials, cleanup professionals and offending companies; enhance public awareness and participation, and provide technical assistance to pre-vent contamination. The project will also showcase environmentally sound identification of pollution sites and cleanup of sites contaminated with pollutants. It will demonstrate the entire cleanup process, as well as global remediation technologies with a potential for scaling up in China.
Source: http://www.finchannel.com

Hong Kong to build first e-waste plant

Recycling company Alba Group, Germany, has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build and operate Hong Kong’s first electronic waste recycling facility in Tuen Mun. Alba Integrated Waste Solutions Hong Kong, a subsidiary of the Alba, has signed a 12-year contract with the government. It will spend two years building the plant and then operate the collection and recycling system in the city for the next 10 years. The government will also fund the operation costs, which are based on the volume of e-waste collected and treated at the plant.

“If the price of the recyclables did not fall during the 10-year period, the company would expect a turnover of about HK$2.5 billion over the decade. The recyclables would be mainly sold to mainland buyers,” said Axel Schweitzer, at Alba. Schweitzer said the plant would be capable of processing 30,000 tonnes of waste a year but the capability could be extended to a maximum of 56,000 tonnes by ar-ranging additional shifts as needed.

The city produces about 70,000 tonnes of electronic waste a year. The system will be in line with the govern-ment’s proposed “polluter pays” scheme, where importers or distributors of five categories of appliances – televisions, fridges, washing machines, computer products and air-conditioners – will have to pay a “recycling fee” to help fund disposal of the city’s electrical goods. Cus-tomers who buy a new television, for example, will be able to request the retailer to arrange free removal of the old set. The government said that the level of the fees will be submitted to Legco for approval “in due course”.
Source: http://www.scmp.com

Ship recycling project launched in Bangladesh

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Government of the People’s Republic in Bangla-desh have launched the “Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh – Phase I” project, marking a key milestone on the road to improving safety and environmental standards within the industry. Ship dismantling on beaching yards has been strongly associated with environmental pollution, unsafe working conditions, and it has been particularly controversial in Bangladesh due to the use of child labor. In 2010 the industry was shut down for almost a year largely over the use of underage workers.

The project aims at improving standards and stability within the country’s ship recycling industry and consists of five different work packages, including studies on economic and environmental impacts, the management of hazardous materials and wastes, recommendations on strengthening the Govern-ment’s One-Stop Service, a review and upgrade of existing training courses, and the development of a detailed project document for a possible follow-up project to implement the recommendations of phase I. The project is being overseen by the Marine Environment Division of IMO in partnership with the Ministry of Industries of Bangladesh and includes collaborative work with the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

In a statement earlier, the Clean Shipping Network (CSN), a network of 32 multinationals, condemned the breaking of ships on tidal beaches. The shipping companies mentioned the NGO Shipbreaking Plat-form’s list of shipping companies involved in the practice and asked them to review their policies and practices regarding the selling and recycling of end-of-life vessels. The shipping companies were also asked to report on their ship recycling policy in the Clean Shipping Index questionnaire, a tool used by leading in-ternational cargo owners to evaluate the environmental performance of their providers of sea transports.
Source: http://www.maritime-executive.com

Thai plans roadmap for waste management

Following a guideline given by Thailand’s Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the cabinet has considered a roadmap on solid waste management for the whole country. According to the roadmap, six prov-inces in critical waste situation will undergo a systematic procedure to deal with waste materials in three stages namely upstream, mid-stream and down-stream management. These provinces are Ayutthaya, Nak-hon Pathom, Saraburi, Lopburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.

Provinces which are not in critical situation will deal with the problem in three steps. The first step is for them to dispose waste materials in a proper landfill in order to ensure fire control and make it ready to be brought up for electricity production. The second step involves permanent waste disposal in which waste materials are transferred to standardized incinerators such as one at TPI Cement Factory. The other step involves co-operation with the private sector in producing refuse-derived fuel stick for power generation and the disposal of new solid waste.

At present, there are five provinces having over one million tonnes of accumulated solid waste, seven prov-inces having 500,000–1,000,000 tonnes, twenty five provinces having 100,000 –500,000 ton-nes, ten provinces having 50,000–100,000 tonnes, twenty provinces having 100–50,000 ton-nes and five provinces having fewer than 100 tonnes. Udon Thani, Amnat Charoen and Chumphon are prov-inces setting themselves to dispose all of the accumulated solid waste within six months.
Source: http://www.news.thaivisa.com

Viet Nam orders waste sorting at source

Aiming at strengthening reuse and recycling of waste, the Prime Minister of Viet Nam, has ordered indi-viduals and organisations to sort waste at the source before it is collected. Households will have to separate solid waste into biodegradable waste such as leftovers, recyclable materials such as paper, glass and bot-tles, and other kinds of waste.

Organisations will have to classify hazardous waste with codes. The waste will be kept in suitable packages to avoid leakage and environmental pollution before they are handed over to authorised agencies specialis-ing in treating hazardous waste. The decree requires owners of hazardous waste to register with the natural resources and environment departments in their localities.
Source: http://www.vietnamnews.vn

PLASTIC WASTES

Tyre recycling process

Tyre recycling specialist Green Distillation Technologies (GDTC), Australia, has become the first Austra-lian company ever to receive Edison Award held in New York on 23 April. GDTC, which has developed a destructive distillation process for transforming end of life tyres into carbon, oil and steel, has been awarded a bronze medal. Destructive distillation uses controlled heat to reduce whole tyres to their constituent ele-ments. These then reform into oils, which are distilled and collected. Carbon is the most abundant element in tyre rubber and is delivered up in a highly-pure powder form. Steel that is used in tyre manufacture is col-lected clean and unchanged. This process bears some resemblance to pyrolysis in that both use heat and air exclusion, however destructive distillation differs in a number of ways.

While oils produced from a pyrolysis process typically begin to separate from the moment they are manufac-tured, GDTC claims that oils from its process do not separate: “We have samples from more than three years ago that are still ‘whole’.” The Australian firm reports that its process is entirely emis-sion free as although exhaust gases result from the oil burnt to generate the heat needed during the process, some of these gases are directed back into the heating circuit while the remainder are passed through a lime bath scrubber where the dioxides of carbon and sulphur are converted into calcium carbonate and sulphate, leaving only nitrogen and water vapour to be released into the atmosphere. All vapours from the process are contained within the system and condensed.

GDTC director Trevor Bayley said that strong demand exists for all three materials that result from the de-structive distillation process, adding that the company could sell the oil “many times over.” He said that a company which imports two billion litres of fossil fuel and diesel into Australia a year was inter-ested in acquiring the entire annual oil output of the Green Distillation Technologies facility in Warren (New South Wales). The Warren plant is where Green Distillation Technologies began testing its process in 2009. The company aims to have the facility completely operational before the end of 2015, at which point it will be capable of processing 19,000 tonnes of tyres annually.
Source: http://www.tyrepress.com

Pakistan to commercialise plastic waste recycling

After conducting a successful experiment on recycling plastic waste, researchers in Pakistan are now looking to commercialise the process named ‘tertiary recycling’ as it is not only the best option to solve the problems concerning disposal of plastic waste. The test was conducted in 2014, at the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Research Institute of Chemistry, Pakistan, under the supervision of King Fahd Univer-sity of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) Professor Dr Farhat Ali. Tertiary recycling, also called feedstock recycling, returns plastic to their constituent monomers or to their basic hydrocarbon feedstock. The resulting raw material is reprocessed either into plastic or other products of the oil refining process.

In Pakistan, plastic is recycled via primary and secondary recycling, also known as mechanical recycling. “This is a thriving industry that provides an opportunity to scavengers to collect, do kerb-side sorting of different plastic goods and sell them to different manufacturers. Our proposal of converting plastics to fu-els is tertiary recycling and to the best of my knowledge there is no such industry in Pakistan,” said Farhat Ali. This concept of feedstock recycling is based on thermal and/or catalytic breakdown of plastic waste to a mixture of basic hydrocarbons, which can be valuable either as a fuel or in raw form. The main issue is the collection and segregation of plastic material from the other stuff found in mixed waste

Solid waste in Pakistan is generally composed of plastic, rubber, metal, paper, cardboard, textile, glass, food, animal waste, agriculture waste, wood and bones. The management of solid waste as a whole is very inefficient as only about 50% of total waste is collected. There is no separate arrangement for recycla-bles. In order to put up a processing plant for tertiary recycling of plastic waste, a constant supply of feed-stock is essential. Therefore, it is necessary to establish an efficient system for the collection of plastic waste. The present arrangement of mechanical recycling is, therefore, more attractive and profitable for the domes-tic industry.
Source: http://www.tribune.com.pk

A new way to recycle plastic in outer space

Tethers Unlimited Inc. (TUI), the United States, has won a NASA contract to build technology that will convert waste plastic into precious tools and containers, all while in the weightless vacuum of deep space. In a contract worth up to $750,000, TUI will develop a working version of its Positrusion method for con-verting plastic pieces into filament. The filament can then be fed into a 3-D printer to manufacture a variety of plastic parts while in orbit, instead of incurring the expense of bringing those parts up from the ground, and bringing the waste plastic back to Earth. “TUI is also working on related technology to develop recy-clable packing materials so that the packaging used to bring anything to the International Space Station could then find a second life as feedstock for the Positrusion device,” said Rob Hoyt at TUI.

Hoyt added the savings are substantial, because getting a tube of standard resin for 3-D printers to the space station can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while NASA also spends heavily to get waste materials back down from the space station. Under the contract, TUI will produce a “flight-ready” version of the device, which would be configured to fit into the space station’s equipment racks. Hoyt esti-mated it would weigh about 50 pounds. “Hopefully after that they’ll select us for flight, and we’ll get additional funding to deliver flight hardware and test on orbit,” said Hoyt. Design for the device has been very exacting, because it has to operate in a micro-gravity environment of the space station, and be completely safe.

“It forced us to step back and redesign the process to make it safer and simpler, and we ended up with a technique that makes filament with much better dimensional quality than commercially available fila-ment. We think this Positrusion technique we’ve developed could be suited for recycling plastic waste in the home and office environment,” said Hoyt. The technology also has to be easy to use because astronauts usually are pressed for time while in space flight. While the current application for the Positrusion is for the International Space Station, further it could be used for deep space travel. Tethers Unlimited has been expanding out from its initial mission, which was developing filament technologies to drag no-longer-usable satellites out of orbit.
Source: http://www.bizjournals.com

From plastic waste to precious fuel

SME Cynar, the United Kingdom, has partnered with Loughborough University, the United Kingdom, to commercialise its patented technology which converts a wide range of waste plastics into useable liquid fu-els. Landfilling plastics means landfilling valuable material. With a UK landfill tax of £80 per tonne and a plastics recycling rate below 20%, UK taxpayers spend millions annually to landfill plastics that are difficult to recycle. Cynar Plc and Loughborough have been working to recover that value by converting end-of-life plastics otherwise destined for landfill into transport fuel. Cynar’s technology involves heating plastic waste to around 400 to 500 °C in the absence of oxygen.

Since 2012, Loughborough Chemists have been working with Cynar to understand the underpinning science – known as pyrolysis – which involves the spontaneous breaking of chemical bonds at ele-vated temperatures. To help Cynar optimise pyrolysis, bespoke test facilities including a lab-scale recycling plant have been installed at the University. The collaboration has resulted in defining the acceptance levels of contaminants, narrowing the pre-processing and separation required. These advances in plastic waste feedstock selection and suitability have contributed to improved fuel quality and improved yields of fuels, consequently improving the price, competitiveness and commercial appeal of Cynar’s fuels. The eco-nomic impact of the collaboration is significant and wide-reaching.

Cynar’s diesel has gained EU recognition as a viable alternative fuel, generating global interest in the technology as a preferable alternative to both landfill and traditional fossil fuels. The collaboration has con-tributed towards generating a reliable domestic source of sustainable transport fuel without the costs of im-port, extraction or refinement. The collaboration will also have a profound environmental impact by improving process efficiency and reducing carbon emissions throughout the life cycle of the fuel. The technology is now being rolled out internationally and its partnership with Loughborough continues, enabling Cynar to remain at the forefront of this exciting technology. Contact: Cynar Plc, 601, Capital Tower, 91 Waterloo Road, Lon-don, SE1 8RT, UK. Tel: +44-203-1700-844; E-mail: info@CynarPlc.com.
Source: http://www.lboro.ac.uk

Plant oils used for novel bio-based plastics

Researchers from Washington State University’s (WSU) School of Mechanical and Materials Engi-neering, the United States, have developed a new way to use plant oils like olive and linseed oil to create poly-urethane, a plastic material used in everything from foam insulation panels to tires, hoses and sealants. The re-searchers, led by Michael Kessler, have published a paper on the work in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Polyurethane is extremely tough and corrosion- and wear-resistant, but researchers would like a more environmentally friendly alternative to the petroleum-based product. About 14 million tons of polyure-thane was produced in 2010, and production is expected to increase by almost 30 percent by 2016.

While there are already some polyurethanes made from plant materials, Kessler’s research group developed a new method that uses vegetable oils to create materials with a wide variety of flexibility, stiff-ness and shapes. Plant oils are inexpensive, readily available, renewable and can be genetically engineered. In the study, the researchers made polyurethane using olive, canola, grape seed, linseed and castor oils. While other researchers have struggled with using petroleum-based solvents, the WSU researchers, working with colleagues from Iowa State, the United States, and from Cairo universities, didn’t use solvents or a catalyst in their production.

To make polyurethane, manufacturers combine two types of chemical compounds in a reaction. One of the chemicals is a polyol, which is a compound with multiple hydroxyl functional groups that are available for reac-tion. Some oils, like linseed oil, have five or six reactive sites, making the material stiffer. Others, such as olive oil, have fewer reactive sites, making the material more flexible. Kessler, who is director of the Center for Bio-plastics and Biocomposites, hopes that the method is appealing to the plastics industry. The center, a collabo-ration between WSU and Iowa State University, is the first industry and university cooperative research center devoted to the development of biologically based plastics.
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com

Indian rail to run on diesel made from plastic

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Petroleum have developed a method to convert plastic into diesel. Indian Railways, a rail network operator owned by the government of India, is soon to set up plants to manu-facture diesel from plastic with technology patented by scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP). Announced by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Sci-ence and Technology, the move is part of plans to reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuels. “We are the first to have the capability to convert one tonne of broken buckets, mugs, toothpaste tubes, bottle caps and other polyolefins products into 850 liters of the cleanest grade of diesel,” said Vardhan.

Apart from the plastic-to-diesel technology, CSIR-IIP has developed a method to produce low-carbon jet fuel from the inedible, drought-resistant Jatropha plant. “We have gone several steps ahead in developing alternative sources of jet fuel. Jatropha apart, CSIR-IIP has the knowledge to make jet fuel out of any non-edible oil – even the waste cooking oil from our kitchens is soon to become prized material in the mar-ket,” said Vardhan. The minister remarked that the advanced training courses run by CSIR-IIP for the Indian hydrocarbon sector has made a major impact on human resource development. He stressed the im-portance of imparting necessary skills to operate and optimize plant operations at the international level.
Source: http://www.asianscientist.com

Plastic road made by using bitumen technology

Jamshedpur Utility and Services Company (JUSCO), India’s only comprehensive urban infra-structure services provider, has constructed plastic road using bitumen technology on waste plastic, ranging from poly-bags to biscuit packets, for constructing roads. JUSCO that maintains and provides municipal ser-vices in Jamshedpur city has constructed 12-15 Kms road and planning to widen 22 roads using environ-ment-friendly technology of utilizing waste plastic. “As far as we know, Jamshedpur is the only city, where bitumen technology (Dry Process) patented by Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE), India, has been implemented on accumulated waste plastic for the first time” said Gaurav Annand at JUSCO.

Annand added that there is no maintenance cost involved for first 5 years and the usage bitumen has been reduced by 7% ever since JUSCO began using waste plastic in road construction and it saved 1 tonne of bitumen that costs around Rs. 50,000 for 1Km long and 4 meter wide road. The plastic tar roads have bet-ter binding property, water resistant ,high softening point and can withstand high temperature and higher load and costless as compared to bitumen road and has no toxic gas emission.
Source: http://www.wordlypost.in

ELECTRONIC WASTE

Lamp recycling plant

Major bulb and lamp recycling systems supplier Balcan Engineering, the United Kingdom, has com-pleted its first installation in Bulgaria. Balcan has developed a system for e-scrap firm Eltech resource JSC, Bulgaria that processes up to 1500 linear tubes per hour alongside the processing of other types of lamp and bulb. The MP4000 bulb and lamp recycling plant incorporates the latest technology to recycle all parts of lamps. It features dual loading areas for both linear fluorescent lighting as well as whole and crushed lamps.

“The installation of this equipment marks a significant step forward in the provision of safe and sus-tainable recycling in Bulgaria. Eltechresource has taken the lead in investing in this equipment and can now offer a technologically advanced and proven recycling system to customers for all types of lighting which meets current legislation for the handling of e-scrap,” said Alistair Rinfret at Balcan. Balcan’s recycling equipment and technology is used throughout the world in the processing of more than 250 million lamps per year.
Source: http://www.recyclinginternational.com

Scientists develop rare earth recycling process

Scientists at University in Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium, have developed a new process based on ionic liquid technology for recycling rare earth metals europium and yttrium from waste fluorescent and energy saving lamps. The university explained that compared to traditional solvent the ionic liquid has a multitude of advantages, including its selectivity for metal dissolution and its reusability. The recycled metals are said to be directly reusable in new lamps.

KU Leuven noted that for many modern electronic and cleantech applications rare earth elements are indis-pensable, and while rare earths are not actually ‘rare’ as such, they are difficult to mine and to purify. Worldwide there is an increased interest to recycle rare earths from waste streams to mitigate the supply risk. Two critical rare earths, europium and yttrium, are used in red lamp phosphor, a substance which transforms ultraviolet light into red light. This phosphor has been used for more than 40 years in the colour screens of televisions and in the tubes of fluorescent lamps.

“Because it is very difficult to replace the red phosphor with a rare earth free mixture, attention goes out the recyclability of the red phosphor fraction from fluorescent lamps,” said Professor Koen Binne-mans at KU Leuven. To tackle this problem, chemists developed an alternative method. Instead of employ-ing an acid as the solvent, chemists used an ionic liquid which is an organic dissolving agent that consists entirely of ions or electrically loaded particles. “It does not evaporate, it is inflammable and it works very selectively. The recycled europium and yttrium can be directly reused,” said David Dupont at KU Leuven.
Source: http://www.waste-management-world.com

Recycled DVDs found a new life

A team of researchers from Institute of Chemistry, Poland, Military Institute of Chemistry and Radiome-try, Poland, Kent State University, the United States, Micromeritics Instrument Corp., the United States, have managed to recycle old discs into two types of activated carbon. The resulting activated carbon has a high surface area and large volumes of fine pore. These characteristics allow the material to absorb carbon diox-ide and other toxic compounds from the air. CDs and DVDs are fast becoming a large problem in landfills.

Recycling discs can be difficult due to the different materials present and at the moment there are few places consumers can dispose of their unwanted discs for recycling. The solution of turning recycled DVD discs into activated carbon will not only remove the discs from landfill but also produce a valuable environmental resource. Activated carbon can be used in a wide variety of applications including water purification, chemical purification and even sound absorption. Researchers now plan to use this technique to manufacture activated carbon for use primarily to absorb carbon dioxide emissions as well as adsorb hydrogen gas and benzene, a carcinogenic compound used in industrial processes.
Source: http://www.greenoptimistic.com

INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATER

New technology to recycle wastewater

An European Union (EU)-funded project has developed an innovative system of recycling the waste wa-ter from olive oil production. ‘Algatec II’ is a collaborative research project addressing the ‘optimization of the biotechnological recycling solution for olive washing water’ funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. By using the water recycling system olive producers use up to 90 percent less water, a major benefit for the environment. The ALGATEC II project is made up of five partners from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany, Italy and Spain.

In order to process 100 kg of olives, about 50 liters of water are used to wash the olives before processing. The leftover waste water is contaminated and cannot be disposed of. This is because the polyphenols which are found in olives, though good for human health, can be harmful to the environment if released in large quantities. Traditionally, waste water would be left in large evaporation ponds but this method has a few drawbacks: capacity is limited, stagnant water causes the development of bad odors and the breeding of insects, and the ponds would often have to be emptied manually.

Using the new technology developed by ALGATEC II, after the olives are washed, the used water is pumped into a photo bioreactor where the pollutants are absorbed by micro-organisms. Solar panels heat the water to increase the growth of micro-organisms when sufficient sunlight is not available during winter months. The water then runs through two membrane filters where any residual pollutants are removed. The purified water can be used to wash another batch of olives or even as drinking water. A demonstration plant has been set up at the University of Huelva, Spain. The next step is to develop a business plan to market the water recy-cling technology.
Source: http://www.oliveoiltimes.com

Wastewater purification device

Ab Roobesh Rosoob (Mahsar) Engineering and Productive Company, Islamic Republic of Iran, has pro-duced waste water purification devices using nanotechnology. This device works based on the haemodynamic method and has a high efficiency in water purification process. It has been used in various parts, including puri-fication of waste water of oil wells in South of Iran. Devices for physical purification of water through haemody-namic method have numerous applications in various industries such as petroleum, gas, petrochemicals, water and waste water, medical industries, hygiene and electronics.

The quality of the products produced by plants and industries can be improved by using this technology. Some of the common applications of haemodynamic waste water purification device can be used in laborato-ries, electronics and pharmaceutical industries, including desalination of seawater and its conversion to drinking water, desalination of well water and production of ultrapure water. Concentration of fruit juice, milk, or sugar solutions, concentration of coffee, tea, amino acids and other organic materials are among the other applications of the device.

According to the company, the production of the devices to purify waste water of dairy products with a ca-pacity of 300 cubic meters per day and purify waste water of starch with a capacity of 200 cubic meters per day are among the other achievements of the company. Separation process is carried out in the device through pressure system. The solution passes through the polymeric nano-membrane that keeps the fluid on one side the vessel due to the pressure, and only the pure fluid diffuses into the other side of the vessel.
Source: http://www.nanotech-now.com

New method to remove cyanide from wastewater

Chemists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Netherlands, have discovered a new method for remov-ing cyanide from the waste water of steel mills. The removal of cyanide from such water is expensive but essential. Paula Oulego Blanco, Dr Raveendran Shiju and Prof. Gadi Rothenberg from the UvA’s Sustainable Chemistry research priority area discovered a way to do this faster, cheaper and more effi-ciently. “Society needs more and more steel. In 2014, the worldwide production of steel was a stag-gering 1.6 billion tons. Any improvement in the production process results in a benefit to the environment. Our new catalyst enables a simple, efficient and safe removal of cyanide from the steel waste water,” said Rothenberg.

The group first tested the new catalyst in the laboratory using a ‘cocktail’ of simulated waste water. When that proved to be a success, the researchers repeated the experiments and the measurements with waste water from a steel mill. Here, too, they found a reduction of 90%. The invention pertains to a heterogeneous catalyst. This is a solid material that does not dissolve and is not consumed during the process. This means that a small amount of catalyst can be used to purify large amounts of waste water. The intimate reactions at the catalyst surface are still unknown, as is the case in many solid-catalysed reactions.

The UvA has filed a patent application that will be made available to the steel-making industry. Rothen-berg’s research group has patented several different catalysts over the past few years. Some of these are now applied by the chemical industry, while others form the basis for start-up companies or bilateral collaborations. Steel is one of the most widely used materials on earth. Its ubiquity in everyday life makes its absence almost uni-maginable. The production of steel has an impact on the environment, and steel-making companies are continu-ously trying to improve their environmental performance and invest in new technologies to achieve this goal.
Source: http://www.uva.nl

Membrane bioreactor for wastewater treatment

An ultra-modern unit for the treatment of food processing industrial wastewater, a membrane bioreactor (MBR), has been installed at the facilities of the Food Industry Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones para la Industria Alimenticia - IIIA) in Cuba. This was the first time in Cuba that such state-of-the-art technology for the treatment and purification of wastewater aiming at water reuse has been incorporated. The system con-sists of biological waste water treatment processes provided with a submerged ultra-filtration membrane filtra-tion system (MBR system). The project is primarily funded by the European Union (EU) and UNESCO-IHE and has a total duration of 48 months starting on 2013 and finalizing in 2017.

The MBR system incorporates the newest ideas and features in wastewater treatment that may allow produc-ing a treated effluent with an excellent quality ideal for its subsequent reuse. This technology will be evaluated for the first time considering the local conditions in Cuba aiming at reusing the treated water for either industrial or agricultural applications. The introduction of this technology at a demonstrative scale represents a milestone in the wastewater treatment arena in Cuba. The analytical equipment was carefully selected by the laboratory experts at UNESCO-IHE. This equipment will allow the Cuban partners to conduct high quality analytical de-terminations of the characteristics of industrial effluents produced at selected food processing industries in Cuba.

Knowing the characteristics of the effluent discharges is the first step for allowing an in depth evaluation of the existent (and future) waste water treatment plants located at the food processing industries. As a part of this project, and as a preparation for the proper operation of both the MBR system and the laboratory equip-ment, Cuban professionals affiliated with the Food Industry Research Institute (IIIA) and participated in sev-eral advanced training activities carried out in the Netherlands and Croatia.
Source: https://www.unesco-ihe.org

New technology purify water in minutes

Jhostoblak Corporate, Mexico, claims to have developed a new technique that can recover and purify sea and wastewater in just two and a half minutes, regardless of the content of pollutants and microorgan-isms. The PQUA system, works with a mixture of dissociating elements, capable of separating and removing all contaminants, as well as organic and inorganic pollutants. According to Jhostoblak engineers, the meth-odology is founded on molecularly dissociating water pollutants to recover the minerals necessary and suffi-cient in order for the human body to function properly nourished.

Engineers developed eight dissociating elements, and after extensive testing on different types of contami-nated water, implemented a unique methodology that indicates what and how much of each element should be combined. The corporation has a pilot plant in their offices that was used to demonstrate the purification process, which uses gravity to save energy.

In this phase solid, organic and inorganic matter as well as heavy metals are removed by precipitation and gravity; and a sludge settles at the bottom of the reactor. The latter is removed and examined to determine if it is suitable to use as fertiliser or manufacture construction materials. Subsequently, the water is conducted to a clarifier tank, to sediment the excess charge of dissolved elements; then the liquid reaches a filter to re-move turbidity and is finally passed by polishing tank that eliminates odours, colours and flavours. The treated water is transported to a container where ozone is added to ensure its purity, and finally is ready to drink. The resulting liquid is fresh, odourless and has a neutral taste.
Source: http://www.zeenews.india.com

BIOREMEDIATION

New range of aquaculture bioremediation solutions

Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Canada, has launched LALSEA BIOREM, a new range of aquaculture bio-remediation solutions, at VIV Asia 2015 Tradeshow held in Thailand. LALSEA BIOREM is a range of syner-gistic combinations of specifically selected naturally occurring microorganism strains that help maintaining water quality during crop cycles, naturally degrading organic wastes and helping control phytoplankton blooms. LALSEA BIOREM is a range of 100% biodegradable, drug-free solutions to optimize sustain-able shrimp and fish production. LALSEA BIOREM is based on the combination of complementary microor-ganisms carefully selected for their activity, properties and synergies. LALSEA Biorem has been formulated to respond to a wide range of conditions.

Aquaculture Bioremediation is complex because the conditions from one pond to another can be very diverse (in terms of salinity, pH, minerals, organic load, microorganism population, etc.). It has proven to get the best results in farm as well as laboratory testing. “The main target is prevention: to pre-vent the development of anaerobic condition, to help maintaining a good equilibrium of the algal bloom, to help maintaining a low load of pathogenic bacteria, etc. We have also paid special attention to de-velop a user-friendly formulation: thanks to our development platform LALSEA BIOREM can be directly used in pond water without any pre-fermentation phase,” said Stéphane Ralite, at Lalle-mand Animal Nutrition.

For the development and application of our Bioremediation range we have the chance to rely on a very unique tool: one if not the largest collection of microorganisms of marine origin and a cutting-edge screening platform, notably based on our SeaRCH patent. It allows us to screen, select and study a huge number of candidates based on several biological properties: their ability to survive, grow and be efficient in a panel of pond environments (various pH, oxygen level and salinity), as well as beneficial features. The link between the Aquapharm platform, aquaculture research laboratories and farms al-lows us to support our science lead, field supported approach and makes our propositions based on technical facts,” said M. Castex, at Lallemand Animal Nutrition.
Source: http://www.lallemandanimalnutrition.com

Scientists use algae as biofuel to mop pollutants

Scientists from Rice University (Rice), United States, in one of the first studies to examine the poten-tial for using municipal wastewater as a feedstock for algae-based biofuels, have found that they could grow high-value strains of oil-rich algae while simultaneously removing more than 90 percent of nitrates and more than 50 percent of phosphorous from wastewater. The findings have been published in the online journal Algae. “Biofuels were the hot topic in algaculture five years ago, but interest cooled as the algae industry moved toward producing higher-value, lower-volume products for pharmaceu-ticals, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and other products,” said Meenakshi Bhattacharjee at Rice.

Bhattacharjee said the algae industry’s reliance on chemical fertilizers is a double whammy for algae producers because it both reduces profit margins and puts them in competition with food producers for fertiliz-ers. A 2012 National Research Council report found that “with current technologies, scaling up produc-tion of algal biofuels to meet even five percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs could create unsustainable demands for energy, water and nutrient resources.” The 2012 report also pointed to wastewater-based cultivation as a potential way to make algae production sustainable. An added appeal is that the method could potentially address a looming environmental problem: nutrient pollution in U.S. waterways.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nutrient pollution from excess nitrogen and phosphorus, is “one of America’s most challenging environmental problems.” The study was made possible by help of the Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering, which helped re-searchers set up a test involving 12 open-topped 600-gallon tanks at one of the city’s satellite waste-water treatment plants. The tanks were fed with filtered wastewater from the plant’s clarifiers, which remove suspended solids from sewage. Various formulations of algae were tested in each tank. Some were monocultures of oil-rich algal strains and others contained mixed cultures, including some with local algal strains from Houston bayous. Some tanks contained fish that preyed upon algae-eating zooplankton.
Source: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

Bioremediation of soil and groundwater

A researcher from the Finnish Environment Institute, Finland found that the addition of carbon, which is required as a nutrient by the microorganisms in soil and groundwater, is a promising method in the remedia-tion of soil and groundwater contaminated with the pesticide atrazine. There is a demand for the remediation method, as atrazine is the most common pollutant found in groundwater in Finland.

The study compared four bioremediation methods that were used for reducing the amount of atrazine in soil or groundwater. Factors that must be taken into consideration when choosing the most suitable biore-mediation method include land use, the geographic origin of the soil, treatment history and the amount of organic matter.The degradation of atrazine was enhanced by the addition of decomposer microorganisms or the nutrients they need, i.e. carbon, to the soil. Adding carbon in particular to Finnish subsoil, which is poor in carbon, contributed to the degradation of low concentrations of atrazine as well.

There is a need for effective remediation methods, as a large part of the contaminated groundwater is situ-ated in water catchment areas. Some groundwater intakes have even been closed due to atrazine. Atrazine is removed at activated carbon filter plants, for example, but they are expensive to build and maintain.

The degradation of atrazine was compared in Finland and India from 2009 to 2014. The study was con-ducted in close collaboration with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), the Finnish Environment Institute’s partner in India. This collaboration made it possible to compare tropi-cal farmland in active agriculture with the subsoil of northern coniferous forests that was contaminated twenty years ago through contact with groundwater. In India, atrazine continues to be used widely as a her-bicide.
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com

Bacteria could help clean up radioactive soil

A team of researchers at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Kyushu Synchrotron Light Research Center, Kagoshima University, Japan, and Florida State University, the United States, has found that a highly acidic pro-tein from salt-loving bacteria could be used to remove radioactive cesium from contaminated soil. Proteins from salt-loving microbes could be the key to cleaning up leaked radioactive strontium (Sr2+) and cesium (Cs+) ions from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant incident in Japan. The publication of the X-ray structure of a beta-lactamase enzyme from one such microbe, the halophile Chromohalobacter sp. 560, reveals it to have highly selective cesium binding sites. The team has led to a 1.8 to 2.9 angstrom resolution structure for this enzyme.

The team demonstrated how they could locate cesium ions in a specific site within the protein even in the presence of a nine-fold molar excess of sodium ions, which would normally out-compete any binding site. Intriguingly, the presence of strontium and cesium ions does not diminish the activity of the enzyme deter-mined using isothermal titration calorimetry. “The observation of a selective and high-affinity cesium-binding site provides important information that is useful for the design of artificial cesium-binding sites that may be useful in the bioremediation of radioactive isotopes,” the team explained. It is well known that proteins from salt-loving bacteria have an abundance of acidic amino acids and so present an acidic surface that can interact with a range of metal ions.

There are twelve types of such enzymes recorded in the Protein Data Bank that can bind to sodium, magne-sium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, strontium and cadmium ions. Indeed, the presence of these materials in various enzymes is usually a prerequisite for their structure and functionality. Because of this metal affinity, the team reasoned that proteins from halophiles might be useful as molecular mops for separating precious metals from mixtures or in remediation when toxic metals ions must be extracted selectively from a site. The team suggested that protein absorbents related to the beta-lactamase from Chromohalobacter might be designed using the techniques of synthetic biology. The genes for such an agent might then be engineered into new breeds of plant that could be grown on the site.
Source: http://www.asianscientist.com

AIR POLLUTION CONTROL

New method to convert waste CO2 into fuels

Scientists from University of California Berkeley (UCB), the United States, has developed a new system that uses sunlight to convert waste carbon dioxide (CO2) into valuable chemical products – like biodegradable plastics, pharmaceuticals, and liquid fuels. In their hybrid system, metal nanowires and bacteria work together to mimic photosynthesis – the process whereby organisms can harvest energy from sunlight to produce nutrients from carbon dioxide and water. But rather than producing nutrients, this engineered system uses sunlight to convert captured carbon dioxide emissions and water into acetate – a versatile chemical building block that can be used to synthesise more complex molecules.

While it’s still some way off being commercially viable, a scaled-up version of the system could one day provide an alternative to carbon capture and storage, offering a clean option to keep CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. “We believe our system is a revolutionary leap forward in the field of artificial photosynthesis. Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground.,” said Peidong Yang, at the UCB. The system is comprised of ver-tically arranged silicon and titanium oxide nanowires. These wires absorb sunlight, which triggers the reduc-tion of CO2. This structure of wires is then populated with bacteria.

For this study, the team used Sporomusa ovata, a type of anaerobic bacteria that readily accepts electrons directly from the surrounding environment and uses them to reduce CO2. ‘S. ovata’ is a great CO2 catalyst as it makes acetate, a versatile chemical intermediate that can be used to manufacture a diverse array of useful chemicals. Once the CO2 has been re-duced by S. ovata to acetate, genetically engineered E.coli are used to synthesise targeted chemical products. The team achieved a solar energy conversion efficiency of up to 0.38% for about 200 hours under simulated sunlight, which is about the same as that of a leaf. But they still have some way to go before their system solves world’s CO2 storage problem.
Source: http://www.sciencealert.com

A better way of scrubbing CO2

A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has discover means by which the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants might one day be done far more efficiently and at far lower costs than today. By appending a diamine molecule to the sponge-like solid materials known as metal-organic-frameworks (MOFs), the researchers were able to more than triple the CO2-scrubbing capacity of the MOFs, while significantly reducing parasitic energy. Details on this research are reported in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Approximately 13 billion tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year as a result of burning coal for the production of electricity. These carbon emissions are major contributors to global cli-mate change and the acidification of our planet’s oceans. However, given that the US holds the world’s largest estimated recoverable reserves of coal, coal-burning power plants will continue to be a major source of our nation’s electricity generation for the foreseeable future. This makes the wide-spread implementation of carbon capture and storage technologies at coal-fired power plants an imperative.

Current carbon capture and storage technologies are based on aqueous amine scrubbers that impose a substantial energy penalty for their use. If widely implemented, these scrubbers would consume about one-third of the energy generated by a power plant and this would substantially drive up the price of electricity. MOFs have been proposed as a highly promising alternative to amine scrubbers. Consisting of a metal cen-ter surrounded by organic “linker” molecules, MOFs form a highly porous three-dimensional crystal framework with an extraordinarily large internal surface area. By altering their composition, MOFs can be tailored to serve as highly effective storage vessels for capturing and containing CO2.
Source: http://www.newscenter.lbl.gov

Clay works for capturing CO2

In a study done by researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway, results show that ordinary clay can work just as effectively as more advanced materials. Clay offers many benefits compared to other materials, particularly because other potential materials can be expensive, difficult to produce, toxic and not particularly environmentally friendly. A possible practical future use of this discovery could be to include clays in CO2 filters for industrial-scale CO2 emissions reduction. “It is quite remarkable that clay can capture as much CO2 as other materials that are being investigated. What we are doing is basic research. It will take more research to develop the tech-nology, so we don’t expect clay-based CO2 capture to be readily available anytime soon,” said Jon Otto Fossum, at the NTNU.

NTNU researchers Leander Michels, and Fossum led the research effort, in cooperation with researchers from the Institute for Energy Technology, Norway, and scientists from the Slovak University of Technology, Lund University and the Universidade de Brasilia. A good material for capturing CO2 must meet specific requirements. It should have a large surface area and good adsorption capability. It should be able to capture CO2 selectively before it captures other molecules, and it must be reusable. Moreover, it must be environmentally friendly. Certain clay minerals meet these criteria, particularly smectite, a group of clay minerals that swell in contact with water, which are known as layered nanosilicates. The researchers used synthetic smectite in their experiments.

The researchers found that CO2 in gaseous form binds to smectite, and that it is not only the smectite clay surfaces in themselves that are responsible for binding CO2, but principally that ions associated with the clay surfaces are the active capturers. A smectite clay called lithium-fluorohectorite can retain CO2 at temperatures up to 35°C at ambient pressure. The CO2 that is captured by the clay is released when it is heated to temperatures above this limit, which allows CO2 cap-ture to be controlled. “Our experiments show that this kind of smectite can capture and retain as much CO2 as other materials that have been studied for this purpose,” said Fossum.
Source: http://www.science20.com

Patented technology to control mercury emission

Within the coming year, stringent mercury emission regulations in the United States will take effect. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) rule requires that all coal- and oil-fired power plants larger than 25 MW must remove roughly 90% of mercury from their emissions. To meet the requirements Midwest Energy Emissions Corp. (ME2C), the United States, an emerging leader in mercury emission control technology, has developed proprietary cut-ting-edge technologies to remove mercury from coal power plant emissions. Driven by its patented SEA™ Technology, ME2C uses a powerful combination of science and engineering to design custom-tailored solutions, formulated specifically to fit customer needs.

ME2C’s cost-effective strategy for mercury control can meet or exceed EPA’s MATS compli-ance mandates for coal-burning power plants, and the company will guarantee its performance. The tech-nology has been successful across a myriad of fuel and system types and is environmentally friendly, allow-ing for the recycling of fly ash for beneficial use. The patented SEA™ approach delivers advanced solu-tions, geared for maximum economic benefit. ME2C’s SEA™ Technology delivers an approach to mercury capture that works in tandem with proprietary products to ensure maximum mercury capture with superior economics, compared to the typical mercury removal techniques in use today.

This tailored approach maximises the efficiency in use of materials for mercury control, delivering the least amount of impact on balance-of-plant systems and operations. With early commercialisation success as far back as 2010, ME2C procured mercury capture system and supply contracts for two large 700-MWh gener-ating units in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The company is now well on its way to full deployment of its tech-nologies to provide total mercury control at coal power plants across the United States, having now con-tracted on a total of 15 electric generation units, and sights set on greater things ahead. With more than $2.7 million in revenues for FY2014, ME2C is executing a critical path toward building a large and thriving energy technology company in the mercury emission control industry.
Source: http://www.envirotech-online.com

Novel material to capture CO2 from thin air

The Arizona State University’s (ASU), Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE), the United States, has developed a novel synthetic material that is a thousand times more efficient than trees at capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. “The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached the point where simply reducing emissions will not be enough to tackle climate change,” said Klaus Lackner,.at CNCE. Referring to recent environmental reports, Lackner empha-sized the need for prolonged periods of carbon capture and storage – also known as “negative carbon emission”.

Trees and other biological matter are natural sinks of CO2, but they do not trap it permanently and the amount of land required is prohibitive. During the past few years, Lackner and his colleagues have de-veloped a synthetic membrane that can capture carbon dioxide from the air passing through it. The membrane consists of an “ion-exchange” resin – positive anions in the resin attract carbon dioxide, with a maximum load of one carbon-dioxide molecule for every positive charge. This process is moisture sensitive, such that the resin absorbs CO2 in dry air and releases it again in humid air. As a result, this material works best in warm, dry climates.

To keep costs low, the first step – capturing the carbon from the air – is free. The resin it-self is readily available and can be mass-produced, because it is already widely used to soften and purify water. The collectors trap between 10 and 50% of the total CO2 that passes through. Compared with the amount of CO2 that a typical tree collects during the course of its lifetime. Lackner estimates that about a hundred-million shipping-container-sized collectors would be needed to deal with the world’s current level of carbon emissions. As these collectors would typically be-come saturated within an hour, Lackner envisions a “ski-lift” approach where saturated panels are taken away to a humid environment to release their CO2 and then recycled back to the dry air for more carbon capture.
Source: http://www.physicsworld.com

Researchers find cheaper way to convert CO2

A collaboration of researchers at Washington University, the United States, and Korea Univer-sity, Republic of Korea, used copper oxide nanowires as a catalyst to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon monoxide, which can then be used as a feeder material to create plastics and higher-carbon polymers. The reduction of CO2 is a very energy-intensive process, so the researchers have developed a method to tap solar energy to allow the conversion. In this collaboration, the two labs compared two different methods of using nanowires to convert CO2 to another material. Results of the research have been published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Previously, researchers developed various nanostructured materials for the conversion of CO2 and showed that they could create nano- and meso-structures with titanium dioxide coated with platinum, animated-graphene-encapsulated photocatalysts and others. “Platinum is expensive, therefore the process would be difficult to scale up. So one has to look into earth-abundant and cheap materials to ad-dress conversion of CO2 at the industrial and even global scale,” said Dr. Parag Banerjee, assistant professor of materials science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

To create the catalysts, researchers used copper oxide nanowires, which absorb the light and create electrons and holes. A few atomic layers of zinc oxide on top of the wires allow these electrons to stay on the surface for a long time. “If you have free electrons, you can initiate chemical reactions. That’s what this catalyst does – it enables electrons to react with gas molecules, which stick to the catalyst surface. Without the zinc oxide added to the copper oxide, this wouldn’t work. And using zinc oxide alone, it wouldn’t work either, because you need the right material to absorb light, and that’s what the copper oxide does. Every-thing has its own role to play in this catalyst,” said Banerjee.
Source: http://www.phys.org

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