Gaudreault C.,National Council for Air and Stream Improvement Inc. |
Miner R.,Research Triangle Park
Journal of Industrial Ecology | Year: 2015
Methods for carbon footprinting typically combine all emissions into a single result, representing the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) over the life cycle. The timing of GHG impacts, however, has become a matter of significant interest. In this study, two approaches are used to characterize the timing of GHG emission impacts associated with the production of energy from various biomass residues produced by the forest products industry. The first approach accounts for the timing of emissions and characterizes the impact using Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 100-year global warming potentials (GWPs). The second is a dynamic carbon footprint approach that considers the timing of the GHG emissions, their fate in the atmosphere, and the associated radiative forcing as a function of time. The two approaches generally yield estimates of cumulative impacts over 100 years that differ by less than 5%. The timing of impacts, however, can be significantly affected by the approach used to characterize radiative forcing. For instance, the time required to see net benefits from a system using woody mill residues (e.g., bark and sawdust) is estimated to be 1.2 years when using a fully dynamic approach, compared to 7.5 years when using 100-year GWPs, with the differences being primarily attributable to methane (CH4). The results obtained for a number of different biomass residue types from forest products manufacturing highlight the importance of using a fully dynamic approach when studying the timing of emissions impacts in cases where emissions are distributed over time or where CH4 is a significant contributor to the emissions. © 2015, Yale University. Source
The pesticide maker highlights its work to foster the insects around the world, welcoming school-age children at the site built apart from plant research labs and executive offices. Amid the displays are bottles of Bayer pesticides, something that struck Cara Garrison, a student at Raleigh's St. Thomas More Academy, as odd. "I thought it was a little weird to see some of that among all the bee-related things," Garrison said. "I was like, is that supposed to be there?" That display in that building captures Bayer's multi-billion-dollar balancing act. Some of those pesticides contain tobacco-derived chemicals called neonicotinoids that many researchers say play a role in declining bee populations. Bayer spent $12 million last year, when it earned profits of more than $3.6 billion, promoting bee health as the world's top neonic maker and No. 2 Syngenta fend off suggestions the chemicals are bee-killers. Both companies are fighting pressure from regulators in the U.S. and Europe with publicity campaigns and lobbying aimed at telling people that neonics are beneficial and safe when used correctly, and that bees face greater peril from parasites, pathogens and poor diets as wild flowering plants diminish. Bee die-offs could disrupt the human food chain, with a third of the foods consumed by Americans and Europeans dependent on pollinators like them. Researchers suspect neonic pesticides play some role in reported die-offs and the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder. But they don't know how much. A comparison of more than three dozen pesticides found neonics produced by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta among the chemicals most toxic to bees, according to a September study by USDA researchers. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto—which coats its seeds with neonics—are encouraging nonprofits, landowners and governments to plant more flowers and other plants bees need to feed. Their representatives are speaking at beekeepers' conferences and visiting agricultural research universities. Besides inviting visitors to bee centers on its corporate campuses outside Raleigh, North Carolina, and Monheim, Germany, Bayer offers teachers a downloadable digital science lesson about bees. A company Twitter feed promotes the benefits of neonics and studies that refute their link to bee deaths, often using the hashtag #FeedABee. A global agro-chemical trade magazine recently honored Bayer's pro-bees campaign for what judges said was its effort "to broaden understanding and shift conversation from blaming solely pesticides towards a multiplicity of factors." Critics say that is all little more than propaganda akin to the cigarette industry's efforts to confound people by highlighting inconclusive science. "I call it a red herring. You claim that ours isn't the only problem, so therefore it isn't a problem," said Massachusetts beekeeper Dick Callahan, a retired executive with a doctorate in entomology who co-authored a Harvard study on the effects of neonics on honeybees. The companies blame a parasitic mite as the biggest bee-killer. Callahan said while the mite may be the greatest adversary of his honeybees, it doesn't explain why mite-free bumble bees are also disappearing. Neonics were a breakthrough because they can be used to coat seeds rather than sprayed over plants. As the plant sprouts, the chemical is incorporated into every part of it—from roots, to stalk, to the flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Without neonics, growers could face extensive crop losses since old pesticides have been phased out because of the hazards they posed to humans and wildlife, said Dominic Reisig, an insect researcher at North Carolina State University who advises farmers. "I think the final verdict is still out there" on how large a role neonics play in bee deaths, Reisig said. "I would say clearly there's something there, but is it one percent? Ten percent? Ninety percent? We don't know." Bayer produces three of the world's top five neonic pesticides in a worldwide market estimated to be worth about $3 billion, with Bayer's two top-selling products taking about half the market, said Sanjiv Rana, editor-in-chief of Agrow, a trade publication for the agricultural chemicals industry. Syngenta's best-selling neonic is worth about $1 billion in annual sales, Rana said. Becky Langer, the Bayer CropScience manager for U.S. bee health, denied the company's 4-year-old campaign is related to the company's neonic sales. It grew out of decades of research on the interaction of chemicals and the crucial pollinators, she said. "One didn't pop up because of the other," said Langer, whose center oversees bee field research locations in North Carolina, California and Ontario, Canada. She said: "Bee numbers are actually not declining." But that depends how you count. On the one hand, figures from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the U.S. Department of Agriculture show there are more bee colonies now than 30 years ago. But those numbers can be deceiving since beekeepers routinely separate a healthy hive into two, a practice that helps overcome accepted annual losses of about 18 percent. Beekeeper Steve Hildebrand, who keeps about 20 hives outside Raleigh, annually divides healthy colonies to replace dead ones. "It's harder to keep bees than it used to be," he said. "It seems to get harder every year." Losses in the U.S. the past five years have been especially acute, with reported annual losses of 30 percent to 45 percent, according to a study authored by researchers including the University of Maryland's Dennis vanEngelsdorp . The heavy death toll continues through the spring and summer, when bee populations are collecting pollen and should be their healthiest, the study said. Across Europe and nearby countries like Algeria, beekeepers reported 17 percent of colonies lost last winter, twice that of the previous year. That has regulators and retailers zeroing in on neonics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working on new risk assessments, and the European Union is reviewing a 2-year-old ban on the biggest-selling neonics from crops during their flowering stage. "We're going to push with every ounce of our energy to get this thing reversed," former Syngenta Chief Executive Officer Michael Mack told stock analysts in February. Meanwhile, Bayer and Syngenta are working on new bee-saving products. Syngenta is testing biological and chemical agents to fight mites and parasites. Bayer is working on repellants to keep bees away from pollinating plants until pesticides lose their killing power, remote sensors for monitoring hive health, and the latest in a 30-year series of mite-killing treatments. Work to develop a new miticide is worthwhile even though the parasites will likely develop a resistance before long, Bayer CropScience North America CEO Jim Blome said. "It's very difficult to get your investment back that way. In fact, you won't," Blome said. "We believe in expanding bee populations." A carpenter bee pollinates a flower in the garden at the Bayer North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson) Explore further: EU bans three pesticides harmful to bees
A startup based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, Phononic, wants to make refrigeration and temperature control far more efficient, and steadier, than is possible with traditional systems. Instead of relying on vapor compressors, fans, chillers or passive heat sinks, Phononic makes semiconductors that are smaller than a dime, and actively remove heat from the places or devices where they are installed. The company has raised $30 million in new equity funding to support the international expansion of its business, and ramp up the use of its tech within refrigeration and electronics. CEO and founder Tony Atti said Phononics’ technology is both quieter and less energy intensive than other available systems. But customers are embracing it for cost-savings, not to look “green.” “We can draw a line between a solid state, sustainable solution and something that has real economic value for our customers,” he said. So far, Phononic chips have been used in wine chillers, medical refrigerators that are used to keep vaccines and biologics at a steady temp, and even in fiber-optic cables, which heat up undesirably as light and data travel through them. Investors in Phononic’s new round of funding came from a mix of venture and public equity firms: GGV Capital, Lookout Capital, Eastwood Capital Corp, Venrock, Oak Investment Partners, Tsing Capital, Huaneng Invesco WLRoss, the Wellcome Trust and Rex Healthcare Ventures. With their investments, GGV Capital’s Jenny Lee is joining the board at Phononic along with Bill Holland, Chairman of CI Financial. Lee compared Phononic’s technology to LEDs, which transformed lighting and adjacent industries. She wrote in an email to TechCrunch: Given the new funding, Phononic plans to add at least 20 new hires to its sales and customer care departments over the next year, Atti said, and to build out its manufacturing and delivery capacity to serve a growing number of healthcare and life sciences customers, first in the U.S. and later in China. The company employs 110 full-time today. It has established a factory in North Carolina already and some local operations in China. Additionally, Atti said, the business will continue research and development efforts to make its chips even smaller. The CEO’s vision is to “decentralize the cold chain and climate control,” he said. To translate that for laypersons, Phononic aims to bring its tiny cooling chips to every industry that requires temperature control to safeguard inventory and people. A 6 oz. or smaller chip, like those made by Phononic, compare to a 22 oz. traditional, vapor compressor refrigeration unit. They can clear up space for inventory within refrigerated trucks, cargo ships and containers, or shelves on a refrigerator in a retail setting like a grocery store or restaurant. If Phononics’ technology shrinks even further, it could be small and lightweight enough to keep everything from smartphones to drones at a steady, ideal temperature.
"I did it! I did it!" he laughs. It is the first time the 20-year-old business student at the College of Charleston has written a software program. Light on. Light off. It seems simple, but teaching students to write code is one way this grand old lady of iron latticework and history is trying to become an entrepreneurial haven. Cities and states across the country are trying to promote entrepreneurship, especially in technology. With dreams of becoming the next Silicon Valley - or at least something like it - they are providing money and expertise to startups and clustering tech companies in millennial-friendly neighborhoods. These aren't the tech giants, like San Francisco (Silicon Valley), New York City (Silicon Alley) or Boston (Route 128). These places aren't even ready to challenge Austin, Denver or Miami - at least not yet. They are small and midsize cities where centuries-old mills, foundries and factories have collapsed. Now they are trying to build 21st century economies - from the downtown up. In Charleston, the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Technology, or ICAT, program at the College of Charleston is nurturing - and funding - the business dreams of students such as Rojas-Rodriguez. ICAT was created this year with a $250,000 grant from South Carolina's Commerce Department, and has raised another $250,000 from private companies and individuals. Six of the eight student projects in the inaugural class have been incorporated as businesses. "We don't promise kids that they'll be millionaires, or even successful entrepreneurs," ICAT Director Christopher Starr said. "But we give them the whole experience. They'll be ready if they want to do it. And we want them to do it here." Others in Charleston are pursuing similar strategies. The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit business-accelerator with four locations in the metro area, provides mentors, free or cheap office space and training for startups in any industry. The nonprofit takes a $5,000 cut if the startup reaches $100,000 in investment or $250,000 in revenue in its first two years. The Charleston Digital Corridor, another accelerator, is planning to open its third startup space, on the edge of downtown. Such efforts have led to dramatic growth in the number of startups in Charleston, according to the Digital Corridor, which has graduated 92 startups in its spaces. "We're reimagining the 21st century mill town for a technology future," said Ernest Andrade, director of the Digital Corridor. Luring millennials - those born between 1981 and 1996 - is an essential piece of the puzzle. They want to live, work and play in one place. That means bike paths and bike lanes and affordable apartments near workplaces, so millennials can walk or ride their bikes to work. And cities have to have clusters of restaurants, bars and music venues, so millennials can hang out and have fun. Chattanooga, Tenn., has renovated and redesigned its downtown with a combination of city funds, tax incentives and private investment to include a river walk, green space, an aquarium and soon an "innovation district" that will include nearly 400 apartments as small as 300 square feet. Developers have purchased a 90,000-square-foot downtown building from the city to house a nonprofit enterprise center and accelerator. Chattanooga's city-private partnership will spend $500 million to develop tiny apartments and redevelop open space downtown. "Our city is going through a major transformation," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, a Democrat, said. "We've transformed from a dying foundry town into a growing technology center." Access to high-speed Internet is crucial to startups. Nine cities, including Kansas City, Mo., Atlanta and Salt Lake City, are part of Google Fiber, which provides Internet 100 times faster than what the average American has. Chattanooga credits its superfast Internet - 1 gigabit per second - for its burgeoning startup culture. The city of 173,000 calls itself "Gig City." "We brought a group of wickedly smart young entrepreneurs from around the world here to say, 'What would you do with a gig?'" said Ken Hays, the director of the startup accelerator Chattanooga's Enterprise Center. "We've started to attract some talent to this town." States and the federal government are helping, too. President Barack Obama's TechHire initiative will dole out $100 million in grants to cities, states, universities and community colleges to train workers through coding boot camps. Twenty cities, including Chattanooga, Kansas City, Portland, Ore., and Salt Lake City, have committed to work with regional companies to provide the training. Having major research universities nearby is a huge plus for cities and their efforts to encourage a startup culture. Their graduates can work in tech startups or start their own. That's how Research Triangle Park near Durham, N.C., became one of the most successful startup incubators in the country. Starting in the 1950s, the park worked closely with Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University to provide low-rent space and training for students. The goal was to keep bright students in North Carolina after they graduated. Many stayed to start and run companies. Eventually the eight-county area between Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill became known as "The Triangle" and lured major employers, such as IBM. Tech hubs in San Francisco, Boston and Austin all benefit from world-class universities. "The nucleus of a startup ecosystem is talent and money," said Bjoern Herrmann, CEO and founder of Compass, a San Francisco-based company that provides reporting and benchmarking software to startups. His annual survey of startup economies worldwide ranks Silicon Valley, New York City, Los Angeles and Boston as the world's largest. Chicago, Seattle and Austin also rank in the top 20. "Universities are a strong factor in why the Bay Area and Boston are thriving," Herrmann said. "The flow from these universities can have a huge impact." Smaller cities are trying to copy those successful models. In Kentucky, the University of Louisville has partnered with nearby General Electric Appliance Park to launch a small factory where entrepreneurs can work with GE engineers and test new manufacturing ideas. "It's a mashup that's really exciting in Louisville," said Amy Liu, who directs the Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation. The Brookings Institution and Rockefeller Foundation project has helped 29 metropolitan areas and states in five years to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. It helps when cities and regions focus on "what makes them unique," Liu said. Portland, for example, is marketing its sustainable and green expertise. The city is known for its "crunchy" lifestyle - parodied on the TV program "Portlandia" - and its dedication to sustainable building and urban planning. But only recently did city leaders recognize that green companies, such as architecture firms specializing in green building, could work together to attract new business. Portland businesses have cooperated to land clients from Japan and Brazil. "People are realizing that when they compete against each other, they're stealing a piece of the pie," Liu said. "But they're not making the pie any larger." Explore further: Startup scene flourishes in US capital
Periodic addition Four new elements have been officially added to the periodic table, completing its seventh row. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, announced on 30 December that evidence supporting the discoveries of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 by laboratories in Russia, the United States and Japan was valid. See go.nature.com/vgug27 for more. Volkswagen sued The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking Volkswagen to court after revelations that the company fitted vehicles with devices that circumvent emissions regulations. Volkswagen has admitted using such ‘defeat devices’ and has apologized for fitting them to some models of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche cars. On 4 January, the Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the EPA, said that nearly 600,000 vehicles sold in the United States had used the illegal devices, causing harmful air pollution and violating the US Clean Air Act. Guinea Ebola-free Ebola virus is no longer spreading in Guinea, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on 29 December. The announcement came 42 days after the West African country’s last patient, a newborn, tested negative for the virus for a second time. Health officials will now watch closely for flare-ups of the deadly disease. Last November, a cluster of three Ebola cases emerged in Liberia, months after the WHO had announced the end of Ebola transmission there. Alfred Gilman dies Pharmacologist Alfred Goodman Gilman (pictured), who shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of G proteins, died on 23 December, aged 74. G proteins are attached to the internal surface of a cell’s membrane and are involved in transmitting signals from the outside to the cell’s interior. Around 40% of pharmaceuticals act by binding to specific receptors that are coupled to G proteins. Gilman was an editor of the textbook The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, originally co-written by his father. Fellowship refusal The American Association for the Advancement of Science said on 22 December that it will not award an honorary fellowship to chemist Patrick Harran, who was prosecuted for the accidental death of 23-year-old researcher Sheharbano Sangji in his lab in 2009. Last November, Harran was named as one of 347 scientists elected to receive the honour. But the organization subsequently learnt of the death, from a chemical fire in Harran’s lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, and reconsidered his nomination. See go.nature.com/jsujun for more. Moon base no more Russia’s plans to build a Moon base are on hold, according to 29 December reports. The Russian newspaper Izvestiasays that a draft revised programme to 2025, developed by the country’s space agency Roscosmos, no longer includes plans to create a lunar base, a long-held goal. The agency proposes cutting the budget for human Moon missions by 20%, or 88.5 billion roubles (US$1.2 billion), the newspaper adds. Roscosmos told the news agency Reuters that it was revising the scale of its programme, but declined to comment on the figures. India biotech boost India has launched a strategy for biotechnology development for 2015–20, aiming to increase its biotech turnover from US$7 billion to $100 billion by 2025. The country will invest in a new generation of biotech products, create infrastructure for research and development and commercialization, and establish India as a major biomanufacturing hub, science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan announced on 30 December. Plans include a network of biotech incubators, technology-development centres and 150 technology-transfer organizations. Theoretical physicists are rapidly churning out papers as they rush to analyse tantalizing hints of a new particle — a boson — in data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Experimental results announced on 15 December at CERN, which hosts the LHC near Geneva, Switzerland, sparked a flood of papers posted on the preprint server arXiv — 150 had been published as Nature went to press — even though the statistical significance of the findings is low. See go.nature.com/eqmchr for more.