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Site: http://phys.org/technology-news/

A team of researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), in collaboration with the Nobel Laureate Carlos Rubbia from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS, Potsdam, Germany) and the King Abdulaziz University of Arabia Saudi, have developed a technology based on the use of carbon dioxide to improve the energy production in solar fields. The usage of this fluid on solar energy has been verified by the research group of UPM at the Almeria Solar Platform (PSA), achieving excellent results:  fluid and inexpensive solar fields that are friendly to the environment. Agriculture has always been a benchmark for production systems in which huge areas are required to obtain economic benefits and trying to reduce harvesting costs. This principle can be applied to the use of solar energy on solar fields for renewable energy production where there are two major competitors: photovoltaic energy and thermal energy. The first competitor cannot currently store large amounts of the energy produced with optimal performance. However, thermal energy allows us to storage energy improving the management of renewable energy, similar to a dam that stores water for a hydroelectric plant. In the case of solar thermal energy, there are four commercialized technologies with varying costs and energy conversion efficiencies: parabolic trough, power tower, solar dish and linear Fresnel system. The first two types have been developing since the 80s but the other two technologies have been less developed. In fact, the analogous to the three-bladed wind turbines has not been found yet. Researchers have carried out a study that adopts an innovative prospect for making design decisions:  thermal coherence that prevents excessive temperatures or unnecessary material usage. Observing other fields of energy engineering such as nuclear powers plant is required, since numerous plants work with moderate temperatures (300ºC). Therefore, the solar industry trend of reaching higher temperatures can be unsuitable. Besides, the high production cost can slow down the technological development of the assumed design philosophies. Thus, the disruptive innovation proposed in this study has more potential. The development of these ideas leads to an improved concept of Fresnel by using carbon dioxide as a fluid working that can be used in severe thermal applications such as the cooling of high-temperature nuclear reactors. In addition, the usage CO2 in solar energy can work to confine this fluid and, at the same time, prevent emissions by replacing other thermoelectric plants that use fossil fuels. The technology, developed by UPM researchers, is currently being exploited through the Futuro Solar project by signing an agreement between UPM and OHL Industrial. The Futuro Solar project was submitted in the 2nd call for Research and Development Projects co-financed by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism (EEA-Grants). This technology is an advanced prototype of the learning curve regarding the current state of thermosolar technology. It is expected to start operating in spring 2016. Explore further: NREL report finds similar value in two concentrating solar power technologies More information: José M. Martinez-Val et al. A coherent integration of design choices for advancing in solar thermal power, Solar Energy (2015). DOI: 10.1016/j.solener.2015.06.016


Padmanabhan M.,Leibniz University of Hanover | Jungcurt S.,Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
Ecological Economics | Year: 2012

Institutions for biodiversity governance are located at the interface of human and ecological systems. The analysis of such institutions is challenged due to addressing a multitude of complex interactions between these two systems occurring at different natural scales and levels of human organization. Due to this complexity, empirical analysis of biodiversity management often leads to context-specific explanations, providing little scope for comparative work or the development of more generalised, theory-based accounts. We aim at reducing complexity in understanding human-biodiversity relations, making cases comparable across sites, and propose that, in order to address complexity, we need a method of abstraction that leads to the development of a more structured analysis, based on selection of explanatory factors according to cconceptual models as well as empirical significance. We suggest that the stylisation of typical "resource use-perspectives" - the combination of typical transactions that are inextricably linked by the interest of the actor - can be a useful method for realizing appropriate model selection. In this paper, we provide an account of how use-perspectives can be developed and to what kind of analysis they can contribute, using the example of agrobiodiversity in grain as seed, food, or genetic material. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. Source


Baccile N.,Paris-Sorbonne University | Baccile N.,CNRS Laboratory of Condensed Matter Chemistry, Paris | Falco C.,Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies | Titirici M.-M.,Queen Mary, University of London
Green Chemistry | Year: 2014

The role of 13C solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) in the elucidation of the structure of biomass and carbonaceous solids derived from biomass has been crucial since the mid-70s, which gives it a more than 30-year history. As soon as magic angle spinning was coupled to cross-polarization, ssNMR suddenly became of high use to approach structural resolution in cellulose, lignin, coals and various types of carbonaceous materials, up to the more recent hydrothermal carbons (HTC). This review focuses on the specific contribution that ssNMR has made to this field and in particular, the technical advances in the field of ssNMR (advanced pulse sequences for spectral editing, more advanced Magic Angle Spinning probes, high-field spectrometers) will be outlined in terms of their usefulness for the specific purpose of studying the structure of complex biomass (lignin, cellulose) and their char obtained either via a pyrolytic or hydrothermal approach. © 2014 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Source


Pahl-Wostl C.,University of Osnabruck | Conca K.,American University of Washington | Kramer A.,Adelphi Research | Schmidt F.,Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
Ecology and Society | Year: 2013

Over the past decade, the policy and scholarly communities have increasingly recognized the need for governance of water-related issues at the global level. There has been major progress in the achievement of international goals related to the provision of basic water and some progress on sanitation services. However, the water challenge is much broader than securing supply. Doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of some of the existing governance processes, in the face of trends such as the unsustainable use of water resources, the increasing pressure imposed by climate change, or the implications of population growth for water use in food and energy production. Conflicts between different water uses and users are increasing, and the state of the aquatic environment is further declining. Inequity in access to basic water and sanitation services is still an issue. We argue that missing links in the trajectories of policy development are one major reason for the relative ineffectiveness of global water governance. To identify these critical links, a framework is used to examine how core governance processes are performed and linked. Special attention is given to the role of leadership, representativeness, legitimacy, and comprehensiveness, which we take to be critical characteristics of the processes that underpin effective trajectories of policy development and implementation. The relevance of the identified categories is illustrated with examples from three important policy arenas in global water governance: the effort to address access to water and sanitation, currently through the Millennium Development Goals; the controversy over large dams; and the links between climate change and water resources management. Exploratory analyses of successes and failures in each domain are used to identify implications and propose improvements for more effective and legitimate action. © 2013 by the author(s). Source


Lelieveld J.,Max Planck Institute for Chemistry | Lelieveld J.,Cyprus Institute | Kunkel D.,Max Planck Institute for Chemistry | Lawrence M.G.,Max Planck Institute for Chemistry | Lawrence M.G.,Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics | Year: 2012

Major reactor accidents of nuclear power plants are rare, yet the consequences are catastrophic. But what is meant by "rare"? And what can be learned from the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents? Here we assess the cumulative, global risk of exposure to radioactivity due to atmospheric dispersion of gases and particles following severe nuclear accidents (the most severe ones on the International Nuclear Event Scale, INES 7), using particulate 137Cs and gaseous 131I as proxies for the fallout. Our results indicate that previously the occurrence of INES 7 major accidents and the risks of radioactive contamination have been underestimated. Using a global model of the atmosphere we compute that on average, in the event of a major reactor accident of any nuclear power plant worldwide, more than 90% of emitted 137Cs would be transported beyond 50 km and about 50% beyond 1000 km distance before being deposited. This corroborates that such accidents have large-scale and trans-boundary impacts. Although the emission strengths and atmospheric removal processes of 137Cs and 131I are quite different, the radioactive contamination patterns over land and the human exposure due to deposition are computed to be similar. High human exposure risks occur around reactors in densely populated regions, notably in West Europe and South Asia, where a major reactor accident can subject around 30 million people to radioactive contamination. The recent decision by Germany to phase out its nuclear reactors will reduce the national risk, though a large risk will still remain from the reactors in neighbouring countries. © Author(s) 2012. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Source

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