A Brewing Problem

Delaney Reynolds

Today almost one in three American households have a pod-based coffee machine. Last year K-Cups accounted for most of Keurig Green Mountain’s $4.7 billion in revenue (more than five times what the company made five years prior). While profitable, the company has received some backlash because they are generating a ton of plastic waste.

The cups that hold the coffee brew inside of them are not recyclable or biodegradable and are becoming more and more popular. Even with this backlash, the company continues to grow without making any changes to the plastic that it uses and in fact, inventor of the K-Cups, John Sylvan, even says that he regrets making them because of all of the plastic he is wasting.

In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if they were placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times and almost all of them ended up in landfills. A video called “Kill the K-Cup, before it kills out planet” was made about the pollution of these K-Cups and can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/116606409

Last year, Keurig Green Mountain pledged to create a fully recyclable version of the K-Cup by 2020 and last month the company’s annual sustainability report reaffirmed that vow. While nice to think about, the inventor of the cups, Sylvan, said that, “no matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable. The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers.”

If you ever find yourself throwing out a K-Cup, and then you remember that 13 billion went into landfills last year, do you feel okay contributing to that? That’s what it comes down to.” – Hachey, leader behind the Kill the K-Cup campaign

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/

Air Pollution Exposure worsens Blood Sugar and Cholesterol

Christopher Dorsy

According to the Endocrine Society’s Journal of clinical Endocrinology and metabolism, the more air pollution one inhales, the higher the chance of contracting one of these cardiovascular diseases. This is not only an issue pertaining to diseases and pollution, but also a financial issue worldwide. As of 2011, $320 billion was spent treating cardiovascular disease. Researchers analyzed the results of more than 600,000 blood samples taken from 2003-2012, and the reports showed that the participants tended to have poorer cholesterol and higher blood pressure when exposed to large amounts of air pollution. This exposure also showed less levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol.

This research shows another example of the countless reasons of how and why the excessive amount of pollution is an issue, not only in terms of the climate or health, but also economically.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160524144659.htm

 

San Francisco mandates solar on all new buildings 10 stories or less

site-photo

Nicolas Montana

What Other Cities Can Learn From San Fran’s New Solar Law

Although those who reside outside of San Francisco may not be aware of the fact, mid-April 2016 marked a huge milestone in the advancement of green technology in the city and its mandated usage in all newly-constructed buildings. The new legislation, unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on April 19, states that all new buildings with 10 stories or fewer, including all residential and commercial projects, must include a photo voltaic solar panel installation that encompasses 15 percent of the building’s total rooftop. San Francisco’s new law doesn’t officially take effect on January 1, so builders and contractors still have time to prepare their businesses for the new regulation. However, any buildings that are under construction within San Francisco city limits will be required to accommodate the recent legislation.San Francisco is certainly the first major U.S. city to require the installation of solar panel systems on new buildings, but it’s not the first governmental entity to do so.

Using Tomatoes for Power

Gian Paolo Catalfo

Dr.Llinas

Scientists are now looking for a way to use damaged tomatoes to conduct power. Namibia shrestha said “We have found that spoiled and damaged tomatoes left over from harvest can be a particularly powerful source of energy when used in a biological or microbial electrochemical cell, who is working on the project. “The process also helps purify the tomato-contaminated solid waste and associated waste water.” They want to use this a source of energy because florida generates 396,000 tons of tomatoes waste every year. So, the team developed a microbial electrochemical cell that can exploit tomato waste to generate electric current. Shrestha explains, “Microbial electrochemical cells use bacteria to break down and oxidize organic material in defective tomatoes.”

http://www.enn.com/business/article/49424

“Dirty Blizzard” sent 2010 Gulf oil spill pollution to seafloor

 

last chem article picture

Patricio Salvidea

Dr. Llinas

After the massive oil spill that occurred on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, in 2010, there was an extreme amount of contamination on the surface of the ocean floor. Over 200 million gallons of crude oil was gushed into the Gulf between April-July of 2010. New studies have shown that the repercussions of this contamination are worse than we had originally predicted.

The studies uncovered suggest that the ecological effects could last longer than previously thought. New shed light and countless studies have enabled us to see that the effects of our contamination have a tremendous impact on our ecosystem and our planet Earth. The contaminants of the crude oil have gone deep into the ocean floor, affecting all of our coral and marine life. These oil pollutants are carried downward by marine snow, and have now  been found to stay in the water for a lot longer than originally predicted (close to five months).

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160530153258.htm

 

THE LAST BLOG OF MY JUNIOR CHEMISTRY CAREER

Tiago Rachelson:

Mass bleaching has destroyed almost half of the coral north of Australia. This coral reef is 1,400 mile long. 95% of coral has survived in the South, and the mildly bleached coral that exists in the north can most likely survive and regain its color in the next couple months. Bleaching however, slows the area’s reproduction and growth. Bleaching happens when “water temperatures rise as little as 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.” Then, colorful algae jump off the coral, turning it white. In order to restore color, the temperature needs to drop. Climate change isn’t helping… it’s almost as if you have a fever, but the thermostat is broken.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/30/world/australia/bleaching-coral-death-great-barrier-reef.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fearth&action=click&contentCollection=earth&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=030australia-master768

A Warning System For Tsunamis

Fabiana Lacau

The way that warning systems are set up are by analyzing patterns that have occurred in region-specific areas by using sensors in the ocean. However, these senors can’t say how hard the water will hit the coast or how much. If a real tsunami does not match any of the known scenarios a significant loss of life could occur.

Scientists at the Australian National University developed the Time Reverse Imaging Method to take real-time data from the ocean sensors and use that information to recreate what the tsunami looked like when it was born. If scientist have the source of the wave they can make much better predictions as to what might occur when it hits the shore. This new method is much more accurate and fast enough to compete with existing algorithms. The fact that new method is not based on guessing but real time information without sacrificing speed is something that is being emphasized by Jan Dettmer, a scientist from the university. [The Time Reverse Imaging Method] is not based on some guess, it’s based on [real-time] information,” said Jan Dettmer, a seismologist at the university. “[This method] would improve accuracy without sacrificing speed.”

The researchers studied plate tectonics in the Japan Trench to help create the algothrim.  With tsunamis killing an average of 8,000 people every year, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction which it is imperative to give an early warning.

“Once the earthquake happens, then we have minutes,” Dettner said. Dettmer’s system takes scientists one step closer to accurately predicting a tsunami’s trajectory. In order to predict its course, you need know the initial sea surface displacement, or, what the wave looked like when it first started.

The plan is to apply test his method on other recorded earthquakes and fine-tune the technology until it is ready for implementation, which could be in less than five years.

“This is a step forward,” Dettmer adds. “This research can be part of the next generation of tsunami warning systems that are based on real time information.”