For platinum catalysts, a tiny squeeze gives a big boost in performance, Stanford study finds

A nanosize squeeze can significantly boost the performance of platinum catalysts that help generate energy in fuel cells, according to a new study by Stanford scientists.The team bonded a platinum catalyst to a thin material that expands and contracts as electrons move in and out, and found that squeezing the platinum a fraction of a nanometer nearly doubled its catalytic activity. The findings are published in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Science.

Saharan dust in the wind

Every year, trade winds over the Sahara Desert sweep up huge plumes of mineral dust, transporting hundreds of teragrams — enough to fill 10 million dump trucks — across North Africa and over the Atlantic Ocean. This dust can be blown for thousands of kilometers and settle in places as far away as Florida and the Bahamas.The Sahara is the largest source of windblown dust to the Earth’s atmosphere. But researchers from MIT, Yale University, and elsewhere now report that the African plume was far less dusty between 5,000 and 11,000 years ago, containing only half the amount of dust that is transported today.

OCEANIC 'HEAT SINK'

A new multi-institutional study of the so-called global warming “hiatus” phenomenon — the possible temporary slowdown of the global mean surface temperature (GMST) trend said to have occurred from 1998 to 2013 — concludes the hiatus simply represents a redistribution of energy within the Earth system, which includes the land, atmosphere and the ocean.In a paper published today in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, lead author Xiao-Hai Yan of the University of Delaware, along with leading scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and University of Washington, discuss new understandings of the global warming “hiatus” phenomenon.

Future PM2.5 air pollution over China

With rapid industrialization and urbanization over the past decades, China has experienced widespread air pollution induced by fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 µm or less (PM2.5). To protect human health and meet the newly implemented annual PM2.5 target (less than 35 µg m-3), great efforts are needed to reduce emissions effectively. It is, therefore, essential to understand how future PM2.5 concentrations are affected by changes in anthropogenic emissions. 

Thanksgiving Dinner's Carbon Footprint: A State-by-State Comparison

The environmental impact of your Thanksgiving dinner depends on where the meal is prepared.Carnegie Mellon University researchers calculated the carbon footprint of a typical Thanksgiving feast – roasted turkey stuffed with sausage and apples, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie – for each state. The team based their calculations on the way the meal is cooked (gas versus electric range), the specific state’s predominant power source and how the food is produced in each area.They found that dinners cooked in Maine and Vermont, states that rely mostly on renewable energy, emit the lowest amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is tied to climate change. States that use coal power, such as Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky, have the highest carbon dioxide emissions.

Concrete jungle functions as carbon sink

Cement manufacturing is among the most carbon-intensive industrial processes, but an international team of researchers has found that over time, the widely used building material reabsorbs much of the CO2 emitted when it was made.

U.S. record high temps could outpace record lows by 15 to 1 before century's end

If society continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current rate, Americans later this century will have to endure, on average, about 15 daily maximum temperature records for every time that the mercury notches a record low, new research indicates.That ratio of record highs to record lows could also turn out to be much higher if the pace of emissions increases and produces even more warming, according to the study led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The decline in emissions also has negative implications

In large parts of Europe and North America, the decline in industrial emissions over the past 20 years has reduced pollution of the atmosphere and in turn of soils and water in many natural areas. The fact that this positive development can also have negative implications for these regions has been demonstrated by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in the journal Global Change Biology. According to their findings, declining nitrate concentrations in the riparian soils surrounding the tributary streams of reservoirs are responsible for the increasing release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and phosphate and a deterioration in water quality. In the case of drinking water reservoirs this can cause considerable problems with respect to water treatment.

Ammonia-rich bird poop cools the atmosphere

It turns out bird poop helps cool the Arctic.That’s according to new research from Colorado State University atmospheric scientists, who are working to better understand key components of Arctic climate systems.

UNIST Researchers Turn Waste Gas into Road-Ready Diesel Fuel

Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today. With the effectuation of the Paris Agreement, there has been a rising interest on carbon capture and utilization (CCU).A new study, led by Professor Jae Sung Lee of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST uncovers new ways to make biofuel from carbon dioxide (CO2), the most troublesome greenhouse gas. In their paper published in the journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, the team presented direct CO2 conversion to liquid transportation fuels by reacting with renewable hydrogen (H2) generated by solar water splitting.