Graphene oxide nanosheets could help bring lithium-metal batteries to market

Lithium-metal batteries — which can hold up to 10 times more charge than the lithium-ion batteries that currently power our phones, laptops and cars — haven’t been commercialized because of a fatal flaw: as these batteries charge and discharge, lithium is deposited unevenly on the electrodes. This buildup cuts the lives of these batteries too short to make them viable, and more importantly, can cause the batteries to short-circuit and catch fire.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a solution to this problem in the form of a graphene-oxide coated ‘nanosheet’ that, when placed in between the two electrodes of a lithium-metal battery, prevents uneven plating of lithium and allows the battery to safely function for hundreds of charge/discharge cycles. They report their findings in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Source: Graphene oxide nanosheets could help bring lithium-metal batteries to market

Tree Farms Will Not Save Us from Global Warming

Consider this. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its Fifth Assessment Report, presented more than 100 modeled scenarios that it said had a high likelihood of keeping global temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius of preindustrial levels. Nearly all of them assumed that negative emissions technology would be viable and widely used, particularly BECCS.

But there’s a major problem: Research increasingly suggests that the process is not feasible at the scale necessary to make a real dent in global climate goals—at least, not without causing massive environmental or social disruptions. If that’s the case, some experts worry that the models could mislead policymakers into believing there’s a definite “out” if global emissions don’t fall fast enough in the future.

It’s a growing concern among international scientific bodies, as tensions grow between the modeled scenarios involving “negative emissions” and newer research. Just this month, the European Academies Science Advisory Council released a report warning against unrealistic assumptions about carbon dioxide removal, or CDR.

Source: Tree Farms Will Not Save Us from Global Warming

Americans want government action on climate change

A decade ago, climate policy was largely driven by states and localities, in some cases working collaboratively on a regional basis. That began to shift between 2009 and 2016. During this time, federal engagement in attempting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions expanded, addressing the electricity, transportation, and energy production sectors, while at the very same time a number of states and localities backtracked on earlier commitments.

Source: Survey: Majority of Americans want government to step up action on climate change

Threatened archaeology of Mongolia

Climate change and looting may seem to be unrelated issues. But deteriorating climate and environmental conditions result in decreased grazing potential and loss of profits for the region’s many nomadic herders. Paired with a general economic decline, herders and other Mongolians are having to supplement their incomes, turning to alternative ways of making money. For some, it’s searching for ancient treasures to sell on the illegal antiquities market.

The vast Mongolian landscape, whether it be plains, deserts or mountains, is dotted with man-made stone mounds marking the burials of ancient peoples. The practice started sometime in the neolithic period (roughly 6,000-8,000 years ago) with simple stone mounds the size of a kitchen table. These usually contain a human body and a few animal bones.

Over time, the burials became larger (some over 400 metres long) and more complex, incorporating thousands of horse sacrifices, tools, chariots, tapestries, family complexes, and eventually treasure (such as gold, jewellery and gems).

Source: Climate change and looters threaten the archaeology of Mongolia

First annual sea-level report cards

Researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science are launching new web-based “report cards” to monitor and forecast changes in sea level at 32 localities along the U.S. coastline from Maine to Alaska. They plan to update the report cards in January of each year, with projections out to the year 2050.

The lead on the project, VIMS emeritus professor John Boon, says the report cards are designed to add value by providing sea-level updates that are more frequent and localized than those generated by NOAA or other scientific bodies. Boon and colleagues also take a statistical approach that incorporates evidence for recent acceleration in the rate of sea-level change at many U.S. tide-gauge stations.

Boon and his team furthermore stress their use of relative sea-level measurements–changes in water level relative to the land surface on which people live and work–rather than the absolute sea-level measures used in many global models and predictions. The relative sea-level rise in Virginia and other East and Gulf coast areas is due to both rising water and sinking land.

Source: Researchers issue first-annual sea-level report cards

Updated Climate Risk Framework

In the summer of 2016, I blogged about Forum for the Future’s emerging thinking on climate risk and shared the first version of our ‘wedge-and-circle’ climate risk framework (which we use to build corporate and investor awareness of climate risk).

This framework not only illustrates the wide variety of risks that climate change poses (the wedges), but also highlights the fact that these risks do not just apply to corporate assets and operations, but also to supply chains, markets, and the public infrastructure – and even the social cohesion – upon which all companies rely (the circles).


Startup scales up CNT membranes to make carbon-zero fuels for less than fossil fuels

Mattershift, an NYC-based startup with alumni from MIT and Yale has achieved a breakthrough in making carbon nanotube (CNT) membranes at large scale. The startup is developing the technology’s ability to combine and separate individual molecules to make gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from CO2 removed from the air.

Tests confirming that Mattershift’s large-scale CNT membranes match the characteristics and performance of small prototype CNT membranes previously reported on in the scientific literature were published today in Science Advances. The paper was the result of a collaboration between Mattershift and researchers in the labs of Dr. Benny Freeman at The University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon at the University of Connecticut.

Source: Startup scales up CNT membranes to make carbon-zero fuels for less than fossil fuels

Sea Level Rise in the SF Bay Area Just Got a Lot More Dire

Sea levels are rising. But the San Francisco Bay Area has another problem: It’s sinking. By 2100, it could lose 165 square miles to the sea.

The developing world is nowhere near ready to deal with subsidence and rising seas, but neither is the developed world. This is a problem that defies human ingenuity. It’s not like the San Francisco Bay Area can build one giant sea wall to insulate itself. And it’s not like low-lying Florida can hike itself up, or New York City can move itself inland a few hundred miles.

“There is no permanent solution to this problem,” says Arizona State University geophysicist Manoochehr Shirzaei, lead author of the paper. “This will impact us one way or another. The forces are immense, it’s a very powerful process, the cost of really dealing with it is huge, and it requires long-term planning. I’m not so sure there’s a good way to avoid it.”

Source: Sea Level Rise in the SF Bay Area Just Got a Lot More Dire

Federal court to hold first climate change science hearing  

A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered parties in a global warming lawsuit to prep him with a unprecedented court “tutorial” on climate change science.

“The court is forcing these companies to go on the record about their understanding of climate science, which they have desperately tried to avoid doing,” said Marco Simmons, general counsel for EarthRights International, which helps groups worldwide litigate against major industries.

Alsup, appointed to the bench by former President Bill Clinton, has a reputation for immersing himself in the technicalities of legal cases. He famously taught himself the Java programming language in deciding a lawsuit that pitted Silicon Valley giants Oracle against Google. More recently, he asked lawyers for a tutorial on self-driving car technology in a lawsuit that pits Google’s Waymo against Uber.

Source: Federal court will hold first-ever hearing on climate change science

New Forms of Decision Making Needed

US cities facing sea level rise need to look beyond traditional strategies for managing issues such as critical erosion and coastal squeeze, according to new research from Lund University. Civil society initiatives must now play a crucial role in adapting society to climate change, the study argues.

Using the City of Flagler Beach in Florida as a case study, researcher Chad Boda illustrates that the traditional options put forward to address erosion and sea level rise affecting the city’s beach and coastal infrastructure either take a market-driven approach which fails to take into account many environmental and social considerations, or are currently too politically contentious to implement.

Source: Sea level rise urgently requires new forms of decision making: Study