Nuclear Waste Management
“How can we manage radioactive waste?”
Nuclear power is one of the most hefty and carbon-free sources of energy on the planet. However, they also produce large amounts of nuclear waste which is not only deadly to human health but also does not stop being radioactive for tens of thousands of years! As a result, nuclear power operators will need to grapple with Nuclear Waste Management. This includes isolating the byproduct and designing containers such that no radiation escapes.
Image credit https://images.newscientist.com
Decarbonizing Air Travel
“How can we make air travel carbon-free?”
One of my favorite things to do is travel. Although I don’t get the opportunity often, I love the ability to see new lands, meet new people, and really change my perspective on the world. And one of my favorite parts is traveling to the destination by plane. Being able to gaze upon the entire world through my plane window almost makes me feel like a child again.
However, as a sustainability enthusiast, I feel bad every time I take a flight. I am aware that in one round-trip flight from San Francisco to New York I’ve generated about 20% of the greenhouse gases emitted by the average American car travel. In 1992, it accounted for 13% of all transportation emissions and is expected to grow in the coming years. As a result, Decarbonizing Air Travel is a necessity for achieving a climate-friendly world. This can be done through a multitude of sources, most notably replacement or decarbonization of jet fuel.
Why Cold Waves are Bad for Traditional Energy Generation
“Why does traditional energy generation suffer from cold waves?”
When the weather becomes extremely cold, such as the American Midwestern polar vortex, energy generation in traditional generation facilities becomes much less efficient. This stands in stark contrast to wind turbines, which are much more resilient to colder weather. This is Why Cold Waves are Bad for Traditional Energy Generation.
The Difference Between Reliability and Resilience
“What is the difference between reliability and resilience?”
In the sustainability world, the word resilience is tossed around a lot. However, many times people are actually referring to reliability. Reliability is the measure of how a system can withstand extreme events and resilience is the ability to recuperate from them. This is The Difference Between Reliability and Resilience.
How Trimming Trees Near Transmission Lines Could Increase Infrastructure Resilience
“How could hot areas become more resilient by trimming trees?”
Electrical transmission lines can fault for a variety of reasons. But one of the most common is from being near untrimmed trees. These can fall onto the power lines, causing power disruption. In the case of extreme drought, static buildup can even rupture a fire, as seen in the 2018 Northern Californian Camp Fire. To prevent this, we can simply trim the trees. This allows for increased safety against extreme weather. This is How Trimming Trees Near Transmission Lines Could Increase Infrastructure Resilience in Drought-ridden Areas.
Wholesale Electricity Markets
“How do utility companies purchase electricity generation?”
Utility companies are responsible for transmitting electricity. However, they do not always own generation facilities. Instead, they may purchase it on a competitive platform known as a wholesale electricity market. This decoupling of electrical generation and transmission can create a multitude of opportunities for Power Purchase Agreements.
How Grid Defects Can Increase Climate Change Resilience
“How can grid defection increase infrastructure resiliency to climate change?”
Grid-islanded systems are typically thought of as expensive alternatives to their grid-depended counterparts. But with the advent of ever-increasing storms and floods induced by climate change, their constant reliability will make them a more reliable alternative. Since they can provide power in the case of natural disasters, they can provide extra resilience to communities such as Puerto Rico who experienced a grid shutdown from Hurricane Maria.