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China plans to build the first ‘clean’ commercial nuclear reactor

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Are you intrigued by the possibility of using nuclear reactors to curb emissions, but worried about their water use and long-term safety? There might be an impending solution. LiveSciencereports that China has outlined plans to build the first ‘clean’ commercial nuclear reactor using liquid thorium and molten salt.

The first prototype reactor should be ready in August, with the first tests due in September. A full-scale commercial reactor should be ready by 2030.

The technology should not only be kinder to the environment, but mitigate some political controversy. Conventional uranium reactors produce waste that stays extremely radioactive for up to 10,000 years, requiring lead containers and extensive security. The waste also includes plutonium-239, an isotope crucial to nuclear weapons. They also risk spilling dramatic levels of radiation in the event of a leak, as seen in Chernobyl. They also need large volumes of water, ruling out use in arid climates.

Thorium reactors, however, dissolve their key element into fluoride salt that mostly outputs uranium-233 you can recycle through other reactions. Other leftovers in the reaction have a half-life of ‘just’ 500 years — still not spectacular, but much safer. If there is a leak, the molten salt cools enough that it effectively seals in the thorium and prevents significant leaks. The technology doesn’t require water, and can’t easily be used to produce nuclear weapons. You can build reactors in the desert, far away from most cities, and without raising concerns that it will add to nuclear weapon stockpiles.

China is accordingly building the first commercial reactor in Wuwei, a desert city in the country’s Gansu province. Officials also see this as a way to foster China’s international expansion — it plans up to 30 in countries participating in the company’s “Belt and Road” investment initiative. In theory, China can extend its political influence without contributing to nuclear arms proliferation.

That might worry the US and other political rivals that are behind on thorium reactors. The US-based Natrium reactor, for instance, is still in development. Even so, it might go a long way toward fighting climate change and meeting China’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2060. The country is still heavily dependent on coal energy, and there’s no guarantee renewable sources will keep up with demand by themselves. Thorium reactors could help China wean itself off coal relatively quickly, especially small-scale reactors that could be built over shorter periods and fill gaps where larger plants would be excessive.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/china-molten-salt-thorium-clean-nuclear-reactor-214210381.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Fingas

Concrete buildings could become rechargeable batteries you can live in

Concrete is the most widely consumed material in the world after water. Now, researchers have been exploring how it can be used to store electricity to eventually transform concrete buildings into rechargeable batteries that we live and work in. The engineers from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology demonstrated a prototype concrete battery that holds 10 times more power than previous approaches, you’d need 200 square meters of concrete batter to “provide about 8 percent of [a typical home’s] daily electricity consumption,” says researcher Emma Zhang. — Read the rest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2021/07/19/concrete-buildings-could-become-rechargeable-batteries-you-can-live-in.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=concrete-buildings-could-become-rechargeable-batteries-you-can-live-in
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The Article Was Written/Published By: David Pescovitz

Residents claim massive bitcoin mining operation is heating up a local lake

Residents in upstate New York are angry because they say a large bitcoin mining operation is heating up Seneca Lake. Seneca Lake is one of the largest Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Typically, the lake is used heavily for boating, fishing, swimming, and other leisure activities in the summer. However, residents say that a gas-fired power plant nearby pollutes … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/residents-claim-massive-bitcoin-mining-operation-is-heating-up-a-local-lake-07681398/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Satsuki Then

New York City project to use clean energy to fund high-speed broadband, WiFi access

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A new type of housing initiative kicking off in New York City seeks to address two major problems facing the U.S. today: The lack of widespread, high-speed broadband access for low-income residents, and the need to more widely deploy clean energy technologies.

Why it matters: The project is a unique marriage between two of the Biden administration’s top infrastructure policy goals, except on a local level.


Driving the news: Using funding from the New York Green Bank and New York State Housing Finance Agency, the Workforce Housing Group — a New York-based affordable housing development organization — is set to launch a project involving about two-dozen buildings in New York City.

  • These buildings will capitalize on the cost savings of solar power to bring high speed broadband and WiFi access to residents who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
  • One goal of the project is to improve low-cost, high-speed internet access to residents of affordable housing units in East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, according to an announcement set to be made Tuesday.

The details: The project is being funded through a loan to cover the up-front costs of the installation, with loan payments to be offset by the expected energy savings on utility bills.

  • Additional savings from generating solar power would go towards providing free wifi and high-speed broadband connections for residents.

What we’re watching: Brandon Gibson, co-founder of Flume Internet, a New York-based company that will be providing the broadband access, told Axios the project could be replicated by other communities.

  • “We’re not aware of anyone else really doing that around the country,” Gibson said. “[We’re] really excited to set this as a precedent, and we’ll use it moving forward while working with other developers and other landlords in and around the country.”
  • “We expect this innovative structure to serve as a model for further partnerships with housing finance agencies and affordable housing developers as we continue advancing New York State’s equitable energy transition,” said Andrew Kessler, acting president of the New York Green Bank, in a statement.

Source: https://www.axios.com/new-york-city-solar-energy-affordable-broadband-a3207461-b00e-465e-8a1e-140290b5dd3d.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Freedman

This Solar Crypto Mine Plan Is Stranger Than Fiction

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A Montana crypto empire wants to build out one of the nation’s largest solar projects, promising it will power a technological revolution in the state. But some residents are worried about the impact the project could have on their community–and it brings up a question of whether installing huge renewable energy…

Read more…

Source: https://earther.gizmodo.com/this-solar-crypto-mine-plan-is-stranger-than-fiction-1846966085
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Molly Taft

Toyota is planning a hydrogen-powered Corolla endurance racing car

While much of the focus for green automobiles of the future has been on battery electric vehicles, there are other green alternatives. One of the other major green alternatives is hydrogen, as it produces no emissions when burned. Toyota is one of the few companies to have a production hydrogen-powered vehicle available to purchase. The automaker recently announced it would … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/toyota-is-planning-a-hydrogen-powered-corolla-endurance-racing-car-24670286/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Shane McGlaun

Firms backed by Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Gates have funded an electric motor company that can slash energy consumption

Sometimes the smallest innovations can have the biggest impacts on the world’s efforts to stop global climate change. Arguably, one of the biggest contributors in the fight against climate change to date has been the switch to the humble LED light, which has slashed hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions simply by reducing energy consumption in buildings.

And now firms backed by Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Gates are joining investors like Amazon and iPod inventor Tony Fadell to pour money into a company called Turntide Technologies that believes it has the next great innovation in the world’s efforts to slow global climate change — a better electric motor.

It’s not as flashy as an arc reactor, but like light bulbs, motors are a ubiquitous and wholly unglamorous technology that have been operating basically the same way since the nineteenth century. And, like the light bulb, they’re due for an upgrade.

“Turntide’s technology and approach to restoring  our planet will directly reduce energy consumption,” said Steve Levin, the co-founder (along with Downey Jr. ) of FootPrint Coalition Ventures

The operation of buildings is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions worldwide, Turntide noted in a statement. And, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), one-third of energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. Smart building technology adds an intelligent layer to eliminate this waste and inefficiency by automatically controlling lighting, air conditioning, heating, ventilation and other essential systems and Turntide’s electric motors can add additional savings.

That’s why investors have put over $100 million into Turntide in just the last six months.

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 16: Tony Fadell Inventor of the iPod and Founder and former CEO of Nest attends a conference during Viva Technology at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on June 16, 2017 in Paris, France. Viva Technology is a fair that brings together, for the second year, major groups and startups around all the themes of innovation. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)

The company, led by chief executive and chairman Ryan Morris is commercializing technology that was developed initially at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Turntide’s basic innovation is a software controlled motor, or switch reluctance motor, that uses precise pulses of energy instead of a constant flow of electricity. “In a conventional motor you are continuously driving current into the motor whatever speed you want to run it at,” Morris said. “We’re pulsing in precise amounts of current just at the times when you need the torque… It’s software defined hardware.” 

The technology spent eleven years under development, in part because the computing power didn’t exist to make the system work, according to Morris.

Morris was initially part of an investment firm called Meson Capital that acquired the technology back in 2013, and it was another four years of development before the motors were actually able to function in pilots, he said. The company spent the last three years developing the commercialization strategy and proving the value in its initial market — retrofitting the heating ventilation and cooling systems in buildings that are the main factor in the built environment’s 28% contribution to carbon dioxide emissions that are leading to global climate change.

“Our mission is to replace all of the motors in the world,” Morris said.

He estimates that the technology is applicable to 95% of where electric motors are used today, but the initial focus will be on smart buildings because it’s the easiest place to start and can have some of the largest immediate impact on energy usage. 

The carbon impact of what we’re doing is pretty massive,” Morris told me last year. “The average energy reduction [in buildings] has been a 64% reduction. If we can replace all the motors in buildings in the US that’s the carbon equivalent of adding over 300 million tons of carbon sequestration per year.”

That’s why Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition, and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the real estate and construction focused venture firm Fifth Wall Ventures have joined the Amazon Climate Fund, Tony Fadell’s Future Shape, BMW’s iVentures fund and a host of other investors in backing the company.

The company has raised roughly $180 million in financing including the disclosure today of an $80 million investment round, which closed in October.

Buildings are clearly the current focus for Turntide, which only yesterday announced the acquisition of a small Santa Barbara, Calif.-based building management software developer called Riptide IO. But there’s also an application in another massive industry — electric vehicles.

“Two years from now we will definitely be in electric vehicles,” Morris said. 

“Our technology has huge advantages for the electric vehicle industry. There’s no rare earth minerals. Every EV uses rare earth minerals to get better performance of their electric motors,” he continued. “They’re expensive, destructive to mine and China controls 95 percent of the global supply chain for them. We do not use any exotic materials, rare earth minerals or magnets.. We’re replacing that with very advanced software and computation. It’s the first time Moore’s law applies to the motor.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/03/firms-backed-by-robert-downey-jr-and-bill-gates-have-funded-an-electric-motor-company-that-can-slas/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jonathan Shieber

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