Carbon dioxide capture using magnesite


SONY DSC
Magnesite is used in a variety of way, even in jewelry. (source)

Eden DeWald | August 15th, 2018

Each ton of crystalline magnesite can remove up to half a ton of  atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, the rate of formation for naturally occurring magnesite is fairly slow and needs to occur under high temperatures and pressures. Researchers at Trent University in Ontario, Canada have found a way to both speed up the process of producing magnesite and produce it at room temperature.

Polystrene microspheres were used as a catalyst to start the crystallization at room temperature. The microspheres were preserved in the process, making them potentially reusable for more magnesite production. The formation occurring at room temperature is another aspect which makes this production process more sustainable. Not having to heat and pressurize the magnesite for a long period of time makes the whole production process more energy efficient.

Magnesite can take up to thousands of years to develop naturally—this new process only takes 72 days. Research concerned with using magnesite for carbon sequestration is still in development, but the discovery of an easier production process makes it more viable.

On the Radio: New carbon reduction incentives for farmers


Carl Wycoff / Flickr
Carl Wycoff / Flickr
June 1, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at a new set of incentives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that could help farmers combat global warming. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: USDA to give incentives for farmers

A new set of incentives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture may give farmers even more reasons to combat global warming.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

In an effort to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration, the USDA has released new programs to persuade agricultural producers to generate renewable energy in their operations. The initiatives, carried out under the 2014 farm bill, are voluntary, but could lead to a 120 million metric ton reduction of greenhouse gases from the ag sector per year. Agriculture is one of the leading greenhouse gas emitting sectors in Iowa.

The programs will incentivize several GHG-lowering practices, like cover crops, lagoon covers (to manage methane emissions), tree planting and independent energy generation. These practices could coincide with Iowa’s existing nutrient reduction strategy.

For more information about incentive-based programs, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2015/04/0109.xml

On the Radio: Agriculture now highest source of greenhouse gases in Iowa


Cattle grazing in a field in Story County (Carl Wycoff, Flickr).
Cattle grazing in a field in Story County (Carl Wycoff, Flickr).

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at the Iowa DNR’s 2013 Greenhouse Gas inventory, which shows that Iowa’s agriculture industry is now the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions for the state. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Agriculture is now the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resourcesʼ 2013 Greenhouse Gas inventory report
found that Iowaʼs agriculture industry contributes to 27 percent of the stateʼs
greenhouse gas emissions.

The figure is due in part to Iowaʼs increasing dependence on wind energy, which has
drastically decreased the need for coal use over the last decade and brought emissions
from electric power generation down to 25 percent.

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture include those from animal digestive
systems, plant fertilizers and agricultural runoff. The most common of these gases are
methane and nitrous oxide.

Although agricultural emissions increased last year, Iowaʼs total emissions have now
decreased for three straight years.

For more information about greenhouse gas emissions, visit
IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, Iʼm Jerry
Schnoor.

http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryAir/GreenhouseGasEmissions/
GHGInventories.aspx

UI reminds students to “Power Down” over break


A flyer for the University of Iowa’s Power Down campaign. Download here.
KC McGinnis | December 17, 2014

With thousands of students and faculty finishing up the Fall semester, the University of Iowa is reminding the UI community to “Power Down and Unplug Over Break.”

The UI Office of Sustainability has forwarded a checklist to remind students, faculty and staff what electrical items need to be unplugged over winter break in order to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. Appliances like microwaves, LCD screens, printers and small refrigerators can use up substantial energy even when turned off, adding unnecessary expenses and increasing carbon emissions from power plants. The UI recommends these appliances and devices be unplugged, rather than turned off, whenever possible.

The UI also recommends turning down the heat over break, listing tips for cutting down on energy use, like opening south-facing blinds during the day. Doors and windows should remain closed whenever possible, and fume hood sashes in labs should be closed as well. Even power strips should be unplugged, since they can draw energy even when turned off or with nothing plugged into them.

Those who complete the UI’s power down checklist will be entered in a drawing to win LED flashlights.

For a helpful table showing how much energy various appliances use in power save mode, click here.

On the Radio: Energy efficiency under the Clean Power Plan


Compact fluorescent lamps are known for using energy more efficiently than traditional bulbs. (Adam/Flickr)
Compact fluorescent lamps are known for using energy more efficiently than traditional bulbs. (Adam/Flickr)

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at how energy efficiency and renewable energy will reduce power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Energy efficiency under the Clean Power Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan aims to significantly reduce power plant emissions through energy efficiency and other renewable energy measures.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

States will be given a considerable amount of flexibility for meeting the goals of the newly proposed Clean Power Plan. The EPA expects electricity bills for Americans to be reduced by roughly 8 percent in 2030 through improved energy efficiency for homes and businesses. Once implemented, the plan will set a global standard for responsible energy use and sustainability.

Coal, oil, and natural gas will continue to have a role in the American energy sector; however the Clean Power Plan aims to reduce the nation’s dependency on non-renewable and environmentally-damaging energy sources.

For more information about the Clear Power Plan, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

On the Radio: Carbon emission reductions under the Clean Power Plan


Chris/Flickr
Chris/Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon emissions in Iowa and across the country. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Clean Power Plan carbon reductions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan aims to significantly reduce power plant carbon emissions by 2030.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Power plants are currently the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly one-third of heat-trapping gas emissions. There are about 1000 fossil fuel-powered plants in the U.S. and 37 plants in Iowa that are impacted by the plan.

The plan proposes to cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States.

This includes a 25 percent reduction in pollutants that contribute to soot as well as smog which are known to cause asthma, heart disease, and other health problems.

 Iowa has until June 30, 2016 to draft and submit a plan for reducing power plant emissions in the state.

For more information about the Clear Power Plan, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

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From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

On the Radio: Iowa’s role in the Clean Power Plan


Photo by André van Rooyen (Flickr)
Photo by André van Rooyen (Flickr)

This week’s On the Radio segment provides an overview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently announced Clean Power Plan and what it means for Iowa’s energy providers. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Clean Power Plan overview and state’s roles

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan strives to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2030 – but what does it mean for Iowa?

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The Clean Power Plan – which was unveiled June 2nd – aims to reduce pollution from existing fossil fuel-burning power plants. Each state is given a goal for carbon emission reduction which allows for flexibility. The proposal gives states a 10- to 15-year window to meet these goals.

Because of a proactive investment in wind energy, Iowa’s carbon reduction goal is significantly lower than surrounding states. Iowa is expected to cut power plant emissions by 16 percent – nearly half the national average.  Reductions for neighboring states range from 21 percent for Missouri to 41 percent in Minnesota.

For more information about the Clean Power Plan, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.