Wednesday, December 22, 2010

EPA Prevented The Release Of 11.8 Billion Pounds Of Hazarous Waste In 2010

WASHINGTON D.C.  - In a recent year end report detailing annual enforcement and compliance results, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through enforcement of regulation, and compliance actions forced polluters to pay more than $110 million in civil penalties and commit to spend an estimated $12 billion on pollution controls, cleanup, and environmental projects that benefit communities. The total accumulated effect of all enforcement, and subsequent reductions in emissions due to infrastructure improvements is expected to prevent the release of nearly 1.4 Billion pounds.

To read the rest of this article, please click here:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of the More Efficient Filters On Earth - Found In Whales

With advances and fabrics, construction, and implementation, current filtration technology is among some of the most advanced sectors of industrial engineering today. However for all of man's research, and achievements, sometimes nature still comes out on top in terms of who has the best "technology".

A recently released study has found that Blue Whales which are the largest animals ever to live, could very well also be the most efficient animals ever. By using a method called Filter-Feeding, the Blue Whale can take in more than 90 times more energy than it uses.
These truly gigantic animals, (at over 33 metres (108 ft) in length and 180 metric tons (200 short tons) or more in weight), dive up to 500 meters beneath the surface, then lunge into the swarms of tiny Krill (A type of Shrimp) above them at several meters per second. With their large mouths open they are able to catch large amount of the tiny Crustaceans. As they strike, their massive mouths fill with huge volumes of water, including plenty of Krill. The water is then pushed out through large filters,  called Baleen, in the Whale's mouth, trapping the Krill.
But recently a team of scientists lead by Robert Shadwick of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and Jeremy Goldbogen of the University of California, San Diego wondered how such a feeding process could be energy efficient. This feeding technique takes a lot of effort due to the energy needed for the lunges. "We wondered how they coped," says Robert Shadwick. They led a team who set out to track blue whales as they fed. In small boats they zoomed up alongside surfacing whales and attached tracking devices to them using suction caps.

How Energy Efficient?

The team followed 265 Blue Whales over the course of 200 foraging dives and 654 lunges. Based on the data they collected, the team estimated that the Whales expend about 3200 kilojoules of energy (About 13.3 million calories) with each dive. This astronomical number at first seems quite high, but it is drawfted when you consider how much energy the Whales get from their food. Using data on known Krill densities, the team estimates that with each lunge, the Whales collected between 34,000 (142,256,000 Calories) and 1,912,000 kJ (7,999,808,000 Calories) – up to 237 times the energy used. That is an efficiency factor of nearly 237 times more energy received than expended. Even when taking into account the dives, the Whales still netted nearly 90 times more energy.

A close up of the Blue Whale's Baleen, or Whalebone
Shadwick went on to explain how during the course of the Whales migratory lifestyle this great efficiency is needed when the Whales have to deal with seasonal starvation. 

All of this is thanks to the Blue Whale has Baleen, or Whalebone, in place of teeth. These narrow vertical plates, which hang inside the mouth cavity, are fringed on the inner edges to trap the Krill engulfed by the whale in a mouthful of water. It is easy to see why these are being called "Natures most efficient Filters".

So next time you think your Filtration system is world class, just remember that you have a long way to go, before you can match efficiency with natures Blue Whale.

Monday, December 20, 2010

California Diesel Regs Cut Black Carbon Soot in Half, Shows the World How to Reap Big Benefits for Health and Climate

Washington, D.C., December 15, 2010 – Cleaner air and significant climate benefits are the result of California laws implemented two decades ago to reduce soot pollution from diesel trucks, according to a new paper published yesterday in Atmospheric Environment. Dirty diesel-burning vehicles are normally guilty of polluting the air with black carbon soot, dark-colored particles that kill and cripple, and cause climate change.

“A leading cause of respiratory diseases, soot is responsible for some 1.9 million deaths a year,” notes paper co-author, Professor V. Ramanathan, in a recent opinion piece published in the New York Times. California’s regulations have cut black carbon emissions from the state in half, providing a direct positive effect on local and regional air quality.

Black carbon is a formidable climate warming agent, estimated to be the second or third greatest contributor to global warming.  While in the atmosphere, the dark particles absorb heat and contribute to global temperature rise.  After a few days to a few weeks, the dark particles fall out of the atmosphere and can settle on snow and ice where they darken the surface and absorb more heat, leading to accelerated melting.

“As this study shows, the technology already exists to solve the black carbon problem,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Because black carbon is short-lived in the atmosphere, reducing it provides fast benefits for public health and climate change.”

In addition to improving diesel vehicles, cleaner burning cook stoves can reduce black carbon in countries such as India, China, and much of Africa. Prof. Ramanathan, along with his daughter, Nithya Ramanathan, both at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, launched Project Surya several years ago to bring improved cookstoves to Indian villages. The Project Surya team works with local women to collect data on black carbon by providing them with cell phones to take photos of black carbon filters.

“We know how to cut black carbon; we have the solutions,” added Zaelke. “Getting rid of black carbon can avoid millions of deaths and incapacitating injuries a year.  Whether you view the issue from a public health or climate change perspective – we need to take fast action now to cut black carbon.”

For more information, see:

Bahadur, R., Feng, Y., Russell, L.M., Ramanathan, V. Impact of California’s Air Pollution Laws on Black Carbon and their Implications for Direct Radiative Forcing, Atmospheric Environment (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.10.054.

Contact Info: Alex Viets, IGSD: +1.213.321.0911,

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Rules On Safe Carbon Capture & Storage Technology Issued By EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a new set of regulations aimed at maintaining the environmentally safe operation of Carbon Dioxide capture and storage technologies. CCS technologies allow for the large stationary emitters of CO2 such as coal burning power plants, to collect large amounts of Carbon emissions created during the course of burning fossil fuels, and sequester them underground in large geologic formations.

These two new rules deal with the potential effects of CCS operations on drinking water reserves, and for methods of tracking the amount of Carbon these facilities are sequestering underground. Ground water resources are now protected by a new class of injection well termed Class VI under the EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. It ensures that potential sequestion sites are located properly, constructed, tested, monitored, and closed. The second new regulation deals with the way that EPA tracks Carbon sequestering with regard to its greenhouse emissions tracking program.

The new rules are part of a larger effort by the Obama administration to overcoming the barriers to the widespread, cost-effective deployment of CCS technologies within the next 10 years. EPA chief Linda Jackson is quoted as saying: “Today the Obama Administration reaffirmed its commitment to leading the way in the clean energy future.  We’re taking a major step towards path breaking innovations that will reduce greenhouse gases and put America in the forefront of the clean energy economy,”

To view the entire press release in the Resources Section click here:
EPA Finalizes Rules to Foster Safe Carbon Storage Technology