2010: The Year of Compressed Air Energy Storage?

There are signs that 2010 could be the coming out party for Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES). With the onslaught of large wind and solar deployments that will be added to the grid to meet state renewable portfolio standards requirements, there is a lot of buzz about the need for energy storage systems, particularly bulk energy storage. Bulk systems can store megawatt-scale amounts of energy produced during off peak times. They then discharge that energy during peak times, when prices are higher, and over many hours.

BP cements Gulf oil well ahead of permanent plug

BP finished pumping cement into its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday to seal off the source of the world's worst offshore spill, paving the way to permanently plug the blow-out later this month. The daylong cementing operation followed earlier injections of heavy drilling mud this week that had subdued the upward pressure of oil and gas inside the deep-sea Macondo well. The crippled wellhead was provisionally capped in mid-July. "This is not the end, but it will virtually assure us that no oil will be leaking into the environment," retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who oversees the U.S. oil spill response operation, said at a briefing in Washington. "Monitoring of the well is under way in order to confirm the effectiveness of the procedure," BP said in a statement announcing completion of the cementing work.

The Views of Mars

Of all the planets in our solar system Mars has always been the one most dreamers think of. Many science fiction myths have been based on Mars such as Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom and its many canals as well as the Ray Bradbury Martian Chronicles. All dreamed of a friendlier Mars than has been found. Now all can see detailed images of Mars. The latest set of new images from the telescopic High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter offers detailed views of diverse Martian landscapes.

The Views of Mars

Of all the planets in our solar system Mars has always been the one most dreamers think of. Many science fiction myths have been based on Mars such as Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom and its many canals as well as the Ray Bradbury Martian Chronicles. All dreamed of a friendlier Mars than has been found. Now all can see detailed images of Mars. The latest set of new images from the telescopic High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter offers detailed views of diverse Martian landscapes.

Sewage-cleaning device produces electricity, too

Small units that purify household sewage could provide a source of electricity for urban and remote communities in the developing world, according to researchers. The units would be populated with Shewanella oneidensis, one of several types of bacteria that can break down organic matter in sewage, producing electrons and protons. If the sewage is placed between electrodes with the bacteria present, this process can be harnessed to generate an electrical current.

Earth’s Inner Core Might Be on the Move

Earth's solid inner core may be continually inching eastward relative to its liquid outer core, renewing itself by shedding its front while solidifying its back, a team of French scientists suggests. The idea counters traditional theory that the big ball at the center of the Earth stands still, growing uniformly in all directions as the planet cools. It could shed light on the nature of the core — such as its age, apparent seismic mismatches, and a mysterious coating of dense fluid on its surface.

Myanmar creates world’s largest tiger reserve, aiding many endangered Southeast Asian species

Myanmar has announced that Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve will be nearly tripled in size, making the protected area the largest tiger reserve in the world. Spanning 17,477 square kilometers (6,748 square miles), the newly expanded park is approximately the size of Kuwait and larger than the US state of Connecticut.

BP gusher stopped, most remaining oil degrading naturally

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a major report by the federal government addresses the fate of the oil released while the well was gushing, and what is likely to happen to the remaining oil in the ocean. The report was prepared by a team of federal agencies and scientists from NOAA, USGS, and NIST, and as well as independent scientists from universities, Environment Canada, Exxon Mobil, and other companies. The study concludes that the vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed much of which is in the process of being degraded. A significant amount of this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts. A third (33 percent) of the total amount of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill was captured or mitigated by the Unified Command recovery operations, including burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead, according to a federal science report released today. An additional 25 percent of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and 16 percent was dispersed naturally into microscopic droplets. The residual amount, just over one quarter (26 percent), is either on or just below the surface as residue and weathered tarballs, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Dispersed and residual oil remain in the system until they degrade through a number of natural processes.

Climate Models and Warming

Climate models use various methods to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice. All climate models take account of incoming energy as short wave electromagnetic radiation, chiefly visible and short wave infrared, as well as outgoing energy as long wave infrared electromagnetic radiation from the earth. Any imbalance results in a change in temperature. The most talked about models of recent years have been those relating temperature to emissions of carbon dioxide. These models project an upward trend in the surface temperature record, as well as a more rapid increase in temperature at higher altitudes. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg have developed a new model that specifies the maximum volumes of carbon dioxide that humans may emit to remain below the increased climate warming of two degrees Celsius. To do this, the scientists incorporated into their calculations data relating to the carbon cycle, namely the volume of carbon dioxide absorbed and released by the oceans and forests.

iPads for New Med Students at UC Irvine

Goodbye heavy textbooks. Goodbye notebooks filled with doodles and illegible handwriting. The iPad has now arrived to the world of academia. The University of California Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine’s incoming class of 2014 will all be receiving iPad tablet computers fully loaded with everything they need for their first year of courses. The wireless, hand-held computers will contain hundreds of medical applications and learning tools that can be adapted to each student's unique learning style.