Climate Benefits of Natural Gas Questioned in New Report
According to a comprehensive assessment of more than 200 studies, methane leaks from the production of natural gas negates its benefits and can actually do more harm to the planet. Although burning natural gas produces 30 percent less carbon-dioxide compared to burning diesel, the drilling and production of natural gas can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more destructive than carbon dioxide. The report, published in the journal Science, synthesizes the results of 20 years’ worth of methane leakage studies. The study concludes that there is already about 50 percent more methane in the atmosphere than previously estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Solar Trade Dispute Between US and Taiwan Continues
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously voted to continue its investigation of Taiwanese imports of solar PV products. The move, which was spurred by a petition before the start of the year, seeks to close a loophole in the earlier ruling by which Chinese solar PV firms can avoid tariffs by having cells made elsewhere before being reassembled for export. The ITC will present its views to the Department of Commerce on Feb. 24. Some say that it could take a full year for the final ruling.
FERC Approves Permit for 240 MW Alaska Tidal Energy Project
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a successive preliminary permit for Turnagain Arm Tidal Energy Corporation’s 240 MW tidal energy project in Alaska. The proposed project will have an estimated average yearly generation capacity of 1,271,950 megawatt-hours. The company previously held a 3-year permit for the site that expired Jan. 31,2013. During the term of the previous permit, the company filed progress reports outlining its progress towards a license application and submitted a Notice of Intent to file a license application for the project. This demonstrates that the company was diligent in pursuing the requirements of its prior permit such that issuing a successive permit is reasonable, says FERC.
Graphene’s Water-Filtration Potential Unveiled by New Research
New research from the University of Manchester shows that thin membranes made from graphene oxide laminates have an astonishingly accurate mesh that effectively filters water while still allowing utra-fast filtering speed that can be compared to warm water passing through a coffee filter. Researchers report that when immersed in water, the graphene laminates become slightly swollen but still allow ultrafast flow of not one but two monolayers of water. With the goal of making a filter that allows a glass of drinkable water made from seawater after only a few minutes of hand pumping, the team is looking to further reduce the mesh size to filter even the smallest salts such as in seawater.