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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

UMD-led study finds China’s SO2 emissions down 75% since 2007, India’s up 50%; India may now be the top SO2 emitter

November 13, 2017

Although China and India remain the world’s largest consumers of coal, a new University of Maryland-led study found that China’s sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 75% since 2007, while India’s emissions increased by 50%. The results suggest that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world’s top sulfur dioxide emitter. The open access study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Sulfur dioxide is an air pollutant that causes acid rain, haze and many health-related problems. It is produced predominantly when coal—which typically contains up to 3% sulfur—is burned to generate electricity.

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DOE to award up to $36M for design and testing of advanced carbon capture technologies for coal-fired power generation

October 16, 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $36 million (DE-FOA-0001791) to continue the development of carbon capture technologies to either the engineering scale or to a commercial design, with an eye to reducing fossil fuel power plant emissions. DOE is currently targeting transformational technologies that by 2030 will support a new coal-fired power plant with CO2 capture with a cost of electricity at least 30% lower than a supercritical, pulverized-coal plant with CO2 capture, or approximately $30 per tonne of CO2 captured.

The new FOA has two Areas of Interest: (1) Scaling of Carbon Capture Technologies to Engineering Scales Using Existing Host Site Infrastructure; and (2) Initial Engineering, Testing, and Design of a Commercial-Scale, Post-Combustion CO2 Capture System.

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DOE invests $17.4M in projects to advance recovery of rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts

August 17, 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected four projects to move on to a second phase of research in their efforts to advance recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from coal and coal byproducts. (Earlier post.) DOE will invest $17.4 million to develop and test REE recovery systems originally selected and designed under phase 1 of a prior funding opportunity announcement through DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

REEs are a series of chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust that are essential components of many technologies, including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care, and national defense. The demand for REEs has grown significantly over recent years, stimulating an emphasis on developing economically feasible approaches for domestic REE recovery. These four selected research projects will further the goals of FE’s Rare Earth Elements Program by focusing on the development and validation of cost-effective and environmentally benign approaches for the recovery of REEs.

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Coal-tar-based pavement sealant a major source of PAH contamination in Milwaukee streams

December 29, 2016

Runoff from pavement with coal-tar-based sealant is the primary source of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to streambed sediments in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to a US Geological Survey and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District open-access study published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Pavement sealant is a black, shiny liquid sprayed or painted on asphalt parking lots, driveways and playgrounds to improve appearance and protect the underlying asphalt. Pavement sealants that contain coal tar, a known human carcinogen, have extremely high levels of PAHs. Some PAHs are toxic to fish and other aquatic life and several are probable human carcinogens.

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Honda to show EV concept with AI emotion engine from joint project with Softbank

December 06, 2016

At CES 2017, Honda will showcase what it calls a future technology path toward a redefined mobility experience. The exhibit will include the NeuV, a concept automated EV commuter vehicle equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) called the “emotion engine” that creates new possibilities for human interaction and new value for customers.

The emotion engine is the focus of a joint research project with Softbank Corporation that Honda announced in July 2016 to apply the AI technology in mobility products. (Earlier post.) The “emotion engine” is a set of AI technologies developed by cocoro SB Corp., which enable machines artificially to generate their own emotions.

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Global Carbon Project: Low growth in global carbon emissions continues for third successive year

November 14, 2016

Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project. Decreased use of coal in China is the main reason behind the 3-year slowdown.

The projected rise of only 0.2% for 2016 marks a clear break from the rapid emissions growth of 2.3% per year in the decade to 2013, with just 0.7% growth seen in 2014. The new data shows emissions growth remained below 1% despite GDP growth exceeding 3%. Detailed data were made available in the open-access data journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD). This is the fifth update of the global carbon budget published by ESSD in the living data format.

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