6 Eco-Friendly Ideas to Implement in 2020

A reusable water bottle.

Buying a reusable water bottle is an easy way to cut down on plastic waste. (Image: via Pexels)

Study Finds African Smoke Is Fertilizing Amazon Rainforest and Oceans

The Amazon rainforest.

Research has important implications to better understand Earth’s climate. (Image: blackend464 via Pixabay)

Simple Way to Massively Improve Crop Loss Simulations

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Half of the World’s Annual Rain Falls in Just 12 Days, Study Finds

The findings, which suggest that flooding and the damage associated with it could also increase, have implications for water managers, urban planners, and emergency responders. (Image: sasint via Pixabay)

Ways to Improve Wind Farm Productivity

UCSB mechanical engineer develops ways to improve wind farm productivity. (Image: 12019 via Pixabay)

Why Earth’s Oceanic Plates Suddenly Stop

Earth's mantle (dark red) lies below the crust (brown layer near the surface) and above the outer core (bright red). (Image: Argonne National Laboratory via Flickr)

Details of the True Impact of China’s Ban on Plastic Waste Imports

Over 100 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced because of the policy. (Image: Hhach via Pixabay)

The Story of Pain in Plants and Animals

The villagers get together and yell curses at the selected tree, throwing abuses and negative words at it every day for about a month. (Image: via pixabay )

The Aqueous Storage Device That Needs Just 20 Seconds to Charge

The Aqueous Storage Device

The Aqueous Storage Device That Needs Just 20 Seconds to Charge

A KAIST research team developed a new hybrid energy aqueous storage device that can be charged in less than half a minute. It employs aqueous electrolytes instead of flammable organic solvents, so it is both environmentally friendly and safe. It also facilitates a boosting charge with high energy density, which makes it suitable for portable electronic devices.

Professor Jeung Ku Kang and his team from the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability developed this hybrid energy storage with high energy and power densities over a long cycle life by assembling fiber-like polymer chain anodes and sub-nanoscale metal oxide cathodes on graphene.

Conventional aqueous electrolyte-based energy storage devices have a limitation for boosting charges and high energy density due to low driving voltages and a shortage of anode materials.

Energy storage device capacity is determined by the two electrodes, and the balance between cathode and anode leads to high stability. In general, two electrodes show differences in electrical properties and differ in ion storage mechanism processes, resulting in poor storage and instability from the imbalance.

The research team came up with new structures and materials to facilitate rapid speed in energy exchange on the surfaces of the electrodes and minimize the energy loss between the two electrodes.

The team made anodes with graphene-based polymer chain materials. The web-like structure of graphene leads to a high surface area, thereby allowing higher capacitance.

For cathode materials, the team used metal oxide in sub-nanoscale structures to elevate atom-by-ion redox reactions. This method realized higher energy density and faster energy exchange while minimizing energy loss.

New aqueous storage device can be quickly charged

The developed device can be charged within 20 to 30 seconds using a low-power charging system, such as a USB switching charger or a flexible photovoltaic cell. The developed aqueous hybrid energy device shows more than 100-fold higher power density compared to conventional aqueous batteries and can be rapidly recharged.

Further, the device showed high stability with its capacity maintained at 100 percent at a high charge/discharge current. Professor Kang said:

This research, led by Ph.D. candidate Il Woo Ock, was published in Advanced Energy Materials on January 15.

Provided by: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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Are Microwaves Bad for the Environment? Yes!

Are microwaves bad for the environment? Well, researchers have found the carbon dioxide emitted from microwave usage across the European Union (EU) alone reaches almost the same as 7 million cars.

Despite microwaves accounting for the largest percentage of sales of all types of ovens, with numbers set to reach nearly 135 million by 2020 in the EU, little has been known about their environmental impacts.

Microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all types of ovens.
Microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all types of ovens. (Image: By Adrian Pingstone (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
In a first of its kind comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of microwaves, considering their whole life cycle, sheds new light on one of the most used household items in the world.

Findings on microwaves

  • Microwaves emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in the EU. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.
  • Microwaves across the EU consume an estimated 9.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity every year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity generated by three large gas power plants.
  • Efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behavior to use appliances more efficiently

The main environmental impacts were the materials used to manufacture the microwaves, the manufacturing process, and the waste management of them after they no longer work. However, the largest impact is its electricity consumption.

According to the authors across the EU, microwave consummation is estimated to be 9.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity every year; this is equivalent to the annual electricity generation by three large gas power plants.

It was also found that over the lifetime of a microwave (eight years) it would use 573-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. To give you an idea of how much that is, you could leave a 7 watt LED light bulb on for nearly nine years to consume the same amount of power.

That’s a lot of power when you consider microwaves spend more than 90 percent of their lifetime being idle in the stand-by mode. The researchers suggest that more focus should be placed on using the appliances more efficiently by improving consumer awareness and behavior.

In this new age of technology, consumers are throwing away electrical and electronic (EE) equipment more than ever before, and due to their relatively low cost and ease of manufacture, microwave waste has become a major issue.

Across the EU in 2005, 184,000 tonnes of waste was generated from discarded microwaves, and it is estimated to rise to 195,000 tonnes by 2025. Dr. Alejandro Gallego-Schmid, from the School of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science, explains:

A microwave lifespan in the late 90s was from around 10 to 15 years; today it’s between six and eight years. With the shortened lifespan, it has contributed to one of the major contributing factors to the waste problem. Dr. Gallego-Schmid added that:

The authors indicate change is needed and that existing regulations are insufficient to reduce the environmental impacts of microwaves. There need to be new specific regulations for these devices that target their design.

The researchers believe this will help to reduce the amount of resources used to make microwaves and the waste generated at the end of their lifetime.

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