The Latin American country of Costa Rica has achieved an impressive milestone in green energy production by generating 100 per cent of its energy from renewable resources, with a combination of hydropower and geothermal for 75 days in a row.
Thanks to the favorable rainy conditions in the first months of the year, four of Costa Rica’s hydropower plants — Arenal, Cachí, La Angostura and Pirrís — are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. Using a mix of geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the nation of 5 million inhabitants hasn’t needed an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on since December of 2014.
What an extraordinary effort by a small nation! Way to go!
In honor of World Environment Day, here’s one of the most fuel efficient, yet distinctive and drop-dead gorgeous superyachts in the world. While many superyachts are designed to pamper their owners and impress their guests, one of the main objectives of the 140-foot-long yacht Adastra was fuel economy. It’s fast, seaworthy, comfortable, stunningly beautiful, self-sufficient, and most of all green.
How Captain America inspired new fuel efficient cars
Materials scientist Suveen Mathaudhu shows us how both our favorite superheroes and real-world scientists create materials to save the world every day.
Some of Mathaudhu’s own research at UC Riverside has been inspired by Captain America’s shield: is it possible to make a material that is both incredibly strong and super lightweight?
Advances in this area have already made a real impact, particularly in transportation. Lighter vehicles mean better fuel efficiency, making cars cheaper to run and better for the environment.
The Ford F-150, the top-selling pickup truck in the US, shifted from a steel frame to an aluminum frame, increasing the fuel economy of the vehicle by taking over seven hundred pounds out of the frame of the vehicle.
Making the frame weigh less is a big start, but there’s another less obvious source of weight: wiring. The average automobile has between 45 - 110 pounds (20 -50 kg) of electrical cabling.
“Most of it is thick copper cable, and copper cable is heavy – and now copper is very expensive,” said Mathaudhu. “If we could get a fraction of that conductivity in aluminum, it would not only be cheaper to implement, it would be lighter weight even though it will never have the conductivity that copper will inherently have.”
Mathaudhu’s research has shown how you can use nanostructured features in aluminum to maintain its conductivity, while simultaneously boosting the strength of the aluminum. Aluminum is both cheaper and lighter, so by moving toward aluminum cabling, car manufacturers can solve two problems at once.
If you replaced steel and aluminum components and body parts with magnesium metal ones, you’d have automobiles that are as much as 50% lighter! That means they would be more fuel-efficient than their heavier pals.
The race towards lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles just ramped up a notch.
Infinium, a small business funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has developed a new way to make magnesium metal – a zero-emissions, energy efficient technology that also costs much less than current production methods: 1.usa.gov/28MPrtk
Brick manufacturer saves 16 per cent of fuel through kiln efficiency
Midland Brick identified 23.5 TJ of fuel savings through gas metering of individual kilns. Through that and resulting efficiency measures such as insulation and installing doors to the end of the kilns, their energy use was reduced by 16 per cent, equivalent to taking 1800 motor vehicles off the road.
Future airline passengers might feel like they’re hitching a ride on a bird rather than sitting inside a stiff aluminum and composite body.
A glimpse outside the windows could one day reveal a twisting and bending wing composed of a single continuous surface. Gone will be the clunky flaps we are all accustomed to, replaced with shape-changing surfaces that would remove gaps and open joints. It’s a 21st century upgrade that would reduce the wing’s weight and drag while upping aerodynamic and fuel efficiency.
That’s the idea, at least, behind the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) flight research project, an experiment being run by NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab. The two agencies are jointly testing the trailing edge upgrade called FlexFoil. After a number of laboratory tests and simulations, two 18-foot FlexFoils were affixed for the first time to a Gulfstream III business jet testbed this summer. Flight-testing is now underway to determine whether flexing wing edges do in practice what lab findings have suggested.
“We have progressed from an innovative idea and matured the concept through multiple designs and wind tunnel tests, to a final demonstration that should prove to the aerospace industry that this technology is ready to dramatically improve aircraft efficiency,” said Air Force Research Lab program manager Pete Flick.
Drawing a link between reduced fuel consumption and climate change, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that his administration will issue tougher fuel-efficiency standards for delivery trucks by March 2016.
Obama has opted to bypass Congress and is directing the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draft the new standards, allowing him to put a new regulatory structure in place before he leaves office.
Because carbon was determined to be a danger to the public, Obama has authority under the 1970 Clean Water Act to regulate carbon pollution levels without Congressional approval. The EPA is also required to regulate anything that could be a danger to human health.