New Lithium-Sulfur Batteries Could Double Energy Density While Lowering Costs

July 1, 2015
This new lithium battery that uses sulfur as the oxidizing agent could dramatically increase the range of electric vehicles while lowering the price due of the low cost of sulfur. Lithium however is still rare and expensive. If there is a possibility of combining sulfur with more commonly available alkali metals like sodium in batteries the price should be dramatically lower. The sacrifice in energy density (sodium is heavier than lithium) may be worth it to those with short commutes who do not want to shell out $20,000 -$40,000 for an EV.
 

A Realistic Assessment of the Hydrogen Economy and Fuel Cell Cars

June 27, 2015
Even though I have a personal fascination with fuel cells and even incorporate a fuel cell activity into my lab manual, I think it is a waste of resources to invest in the "hydrogen economy". This article does a great job of summarizing the economic and technological hurdles of using hydrogen as a major transportation fuel. First, it utterly demolishes the myth that hydrogen is a "green" fuel since the only practical source of hydrogen is natural gas. Second, it shows how lithium batteries ar...
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The High Cost of Carbon Emission Reduction

June 22, 2015
Realistic economic trade-offs of policies designed to reduce carbon emission are seldom addressed by environmentalists outside the Copenhagen Consensus, so it is refreshing to see this issue brought up in this journal. Even though the authors rightly emphasis the problem of using agricultural land for biofuel (a policy that I have always strongly opposed), they also touch upon the high cost of carbon reduction technology, which in turn gives consumers less disposable income. The proponents of...
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Battery-Powered Ferry in Norway

June 15, 2015
Given the range limitation of battery-powered transportation I do not expect to see electric cargo vessels in the near future, but this electric ferry that carries passengers and cars takes advantage of the fact that ferries usually cover the same small distance. The installation of a battery unit at the port has cut down fueling time to 10 minutes, making this lag time comparable to that of its diesel counterparts.
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Off-Grid Microshelter

June 10, 2015
This charming little shelter that provides all its utility needs was developed in Eastern Europe. It looks tiny from the outside, but the pictures of the interior convey an efficient use of the limited space. While this may be too small for regular housing, it may provide an interesting model for larger plans. I look forward to seeing the price tag when it becomes available.
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Poor Man's Refrigerator

May 29, 2015
This item is particularly interesting because most environmentally-friendly products are not cheap. This is sold in India for people who lack electricity or cannot afford an electric refrigerator. It is amazingly simple and cost-effective. I would only like to see how cool it keeps food on a hot day.
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WHO Glitch Resolved & New Video About Using the WHO Website

May 22, 2015
The glitch at the WHO website has been resolved. The filtering system does not work for downloading data to so that downloading is quicker. This means I had to change the procedure from what was written in the lab manual. Another part of the problem was that the Safari browser was not downloading the excel file in a usable format, so I used Google Chrome. Now that these problems have been solved I was able to complete the video so that those who are using this lab activity know what changes n...
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Glitch in WHO Website

May 14, 2015
I am in the process of producing a video for navigating the WHO website, but there is a glitch in the Global Health Observatory website that does not filter the data when I download the excel file. For example, when I try to download life expectancy for 1990, the excel file gives me life expectancy for all the years form 1990 to 2013. This was not a problem with I published the manual so it probably can be fixed. I just filled out their feedback form to indicate the problem so they can hopefu...
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New Video on Collecting Data from the U.S. Department of Energy

May 13, 2015
I just posted a new video based on one of the activities in my lab manual. Specifically "The Fossil Fuel Costs of Electric Cars". It involves navigating the U.S. Energy Information Administration website in order to acquire data to calculate how much of each fossil fuel is needed to generate a given amount of electricity. This in turn is used to estimate the efficiency of electric cars in terms of how much fossil fuels they consume at the power plant.
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New Video on the CIA World Factbook

May 10, 2015
I just put out a new video showing students how to download and graph data from the CIA World Factbook. In the past, I had posted an entry about incorporating developmental-related issues in environmental science. I hope that by posting the video,the activity in my book titled Development and Quality of Life is more likely to get used.
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About this blog

This blog was originally created in January 2013 to serve as a means for providing updates on science activities from the environmental science lab manual Ecology, Development, and Sustainability. I have now expanded its purpose to include other items of interest to science teachers. 

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