Jeff Bezos and his plans to combat climate change
Amazon CEO Jeff Bazos speaks at a press conference to unveil the companies plans to fight climate change. (Image Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
On September 19th, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a new plan to help fight climate change called The Climate Pledge. The goal is to cut down on carbon emissions, becoming carbon-neutral by 2040, which is 10 years earlier than Paris’ goals. They are also aiming to have 80 percent of their energy use to be renewable by 2024, while by 2030, they’re aiming to run entirely on renewable energy. Amazon will also measure and report on their emissions usage regularly, put decarbonization strategies in effect, and neutralize remaining emissions. It will be a challenge for Amazon to reduce emissions, especially with its massive infrastructure, which is needed to deliver packages. One way to counter this is by using electric vans for deliveries, which Bezos has already put into action by placing an order for 100,000 electric vans from Rivian. Bezos said Amazon gets 40 percent of its energy from a renewable source, all of which comes from 15 utility-scale solar and wind farms. Bezos has also invested $100 million to The Nature Conservancy to aid with reforestation. The company has also developed its own system to calculate its carbon emissions and will hold a conference to share their method with other companies aiming to reduce their carbon footprint. Some of Amazon’s commitments to their plan came from Amazon employees, which was outlined in a Medium post on September 9th. However, Bezos didn’t agree to end all contracts with fossil fuel companies, but they did attempt to sell their services to oil and gas companies.
Iceland vows to save glaciers with ‘CarbFix’
Solheimajokull glacier has been melting rapidly every year in Iceland. Scientists are hoping CarbFix can help solve the effects of climate change. (Image Credit: Istvan Kadar Photography / Getty Images)
One of Iceland’s glaciers, Sólheimajökull is rapidly melting, at a size that’s equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool, due to the ever-increasing temperatures and rising water levels every Summer, when the glacier loses two feet of ice per week. About ten years ago, the glacier wasn’t in a melting catastrophe as it is today, but instead, it was completely covered in ice. Oddur Sigurðsson, a glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorologist Office, predicts that 300 glaciers will melt within 200 years, causing a rise in global sea levels by 1cm. To help combat this, Iceland has pledged to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040. Icelandic scientists at the Hellisheidi Power Station have come up with a process known as CarbFix, which has already reduced the plant’s emissions by a third. CarbFix extracts CO2 from steam (created from turbines) and soaks it with water, creating carbonated water, which is transferred into basalt rock underground. This method is faster than other carbon capture techniques, taking 2 years to mineralize. This allows it to stay buried forever and doesn’t require leak monitoring. Other companies in Iceland have pledged to try this method. CarbFix can only store 12,000 tons of CO2 released from the plant each year. In comparison, a gas power plant releases 800,000 tons of Co2 per year. It can be scaled, but it will have big costs to upscale the method.
Moltex Energy invests a large sum of money for salt reactors in the future
British energy company, Moltex Energy proposes salt reactors, which are safer for the environment. (Image Credit: Moltex)
British nuclear energy company, Moltex Energy, has raised $7.5 million through Shadow Fundr, a crowdfunding investment site. Their goal is to further develop a stable salt reactor (SSR) and to start a pre-licensing process in Canada, while continuing business in the U.K. Nuclear fission has different varieties, which are broken down from materials they used in order to observe and/or cool the process that gives off heat. One of which is a molten salt reactor. The moderation and cooling process works by circulating molten salt, which is a combination of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride. MSR is safer because gases aren’t created and the reaction occurs at atmospheric pressure, which makes it impossible for radioactive material to be released. It works by having the fuel salt held in vented tubes, which are then inserted in an assembly tank, just like the ones used in pressurized water reactors. It’s the final stage in water reactors when converting uranium into a functioning fuel rod. However, it would be filled with safe molten salt coolant in the assembly tank. An additional coolant system then transfers some heat into a reserve system, which could be used when energy is low or to supply renewable energy sources.
Researchers convert carbon dioxide into formic acid that can serve as an energy source
Rice university researchers adjust the reactor device to convert carbon dioxide into formic acid. (Image Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University's Brown School of Engineering)
When it comes to global climate change, scientists are more inclined to put the blame on greenhouse gases, mainly because of how it traps heat in the atmosphere. Greenhouse causes are responsible for environmental issues; including glacier ice melts, rising sea levels, loss of ocean life, and many problematic weather events. All of these can worsen over time unless a change is made. Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in the uprising of greenhouse gases, which gets produced from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation. Researchers from Rice University have developed a device called a reactor that converts CO2 into pure formic acid and can also be modified to produce alcohol-based fuels. This conversion is useful because it can be used to generate electricity, while keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The reactor performed with a 42 percent conversion rate, meaning nearly half the energy can be stored in formic acid as liquid fuel. It was also able to produce formic acid for up to 100 hours with little degradation. The technology could help with energy storage in small areas. Formic acid can be used as a storage material for hydrogen, which can one-day power vehicles and trains. Formic acid can also hold close to 1,000 times the energy as the same amount of hydrogen. The researchers also plan on enhancing the process and reduce costs to introduce the technology around the world to combat climate change.
Google purchases renewable energy package
On September 19th, Google unveiled its plans to make the largest purchase of renewable energy in history. Their purchase contains a 1,600-megawatt package of wind and solar agreements with 18 new energy deals. Over $2 billion of their investment will be going towards building new infrastructures in the United States, Europe, and Chile. This new purchase is enough to cover capacity costs of a million rooftops. Last year, the company purchased more renewable energy than they used. Google has also made a promise to use recycled materials in every “Made By Google” products by 2022. However, Google employees think the company can have a bigger impact on reducing its environmental footprint. In a Medium post, Google employees stated “Google Cloud makes significant revenue licensing infrastructure, machine learning, and engineering talent to fossil fuel companies, promising to help them extract fuel reserves faster.” Demands for Google were also listed, as follows: zero emissions by 2030, zero contracts for fossil fuel companies, eliminate funding for climate-denying lobbyists and politicians, and promises not to harm climate refugees, or individuals who may be displaced as a result of climate change.
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