Economical tax savings from ecological home improvements
Use Energy Saver's reference list below to see if you are eligible for qualifying credits when filing IRS Tax Form 5695 with your taxes. Bonus points for having your receipts and manufacturer's certification statement on hand! Home Efficiency Improvements
First-time claimers of the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit can get as much as $500 back for qualifying installations in 2016. Follow the links below to review specific requirements for each product. Remember that to claim the credit, all products must have been placed in service by December 31, 2016.
Building Envelope Improvements
Heating, Cooling and Water-Heating Equipment
Home Renewable Energy Systems
Thanks to the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, you can get a tax credit of 30 percent for the cost of adding these renewable energy technologies to your house:
Material can turn sunlight, heat and movement Into electricity -- all at once
Extracting energy from multiple sources could help power wearable technology.
A perovskite solid-solution that exhibits tunable bandgaps in the visible light energy range is showing promising material for light absorption and conversion applications,(solar energy harvesting and light sensing).
Such a common ABO3–type perovskite structure, most widely used for ferroelectrics and piezoelectrics, enables the same solid-solution material to be used for the simultaneous harvesting or sensing of solar, kinetic, and thermal energies.
These results are considered to be a significant improvement compared to those of other compositions which could be used for the same applications. The results pave the way for the development of hybrid energy harvesters/sensors, which can convert multiple energy sources into electrical energy simultaneously in the same material.
Biofuel-producing algae can now be farmed 10x faster than before
New process moderates temperature of grow environment
When the microalgae is first seeded, it’s kept at 15 degrees celsius, which makes it a solution. When it’s heated by just 7 degrees, it becomes a gelatinous mixture in which microalgae grows in clusters 10x larger than in the regular medium. Finally, it’s cooled again for harvesting, at which point it turns back into a solution, which can be separated using gravity.
See also: the study put out by Syracuse University
Reclaimed concrete a house does make
Cement that generates Light
Carlos Rubio Ávalos of the UMSNH of Morelia, developed a cement with the capacity to absorb and irradiate light energy,
The researcher claimed that the applications are very broad, and those which stand out most are for the architectural market: facades, swimming pools, bathrooms, kitchens, parking lots, etc. It would also be useful in road safety and road signs, in the energy sector, such as oil platforms, and anywhere you want to illuminate or mark spaces that don’t have access to electricity since it doesn’t require an electrical distribution system and is recharged only with light. The durability of light-emitting cement is estimated to be greater than 100 years thanks to its inorganic nature, and its material components are easily recyclable.
Maybe it takes a forest to raise a tree
"Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. Regular fatalities would result in many large gaps in the tree canopy, which would make it easier for storms to get inside the forest and uproot more trees. The heat of summer would reach the forest floor and dry it out. Every tree would suffer.
Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible."
Fungus (like mushrooms) can be used in soils to feed on and clean up toxic chemicals / various neurotoxins.
From a press release by the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research:
Because there is often a lot of traffic on the 'fungal highway’, the bacteria may come into close contact with one another, exchanging genetic material in the process. "It’s similar to the transmission of cold germs on a packed train," explains environmental microbiologist Dr. Lukas Y. Wick. "But unlike a cold, the new genes are usually an asset to the soil bacteria. They enable them to adapt better to different environmental conditions." Depending on the genes they receive through horizontal gene transfer, they may be able to adapt to new environmental conditions or access food sources which they were previously unable to exploit. For example, this might include the pollutants toluene or benzene contained in oil and gasoline, which to bacteria with the right genetic makeup are not only not harmful but actually very tasty food. So the passing on of this ability to other bacterial groups can be very advantageous in terms of the degradation of soil pollutants.
Image courtesy of: http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/the-petroleum-problem.html
Nanotechnology scientists are working on a sodium-oxygen, seawater battery
a promising alternative to Lithium
Research into battery improvements has traditionally focused on Lithium as a necessary component. As a 2015 Nature report states:
"... Rechargeable metal–oxygen batteries are very attractive owing to their reliance on molecular oxygen, which forms oxides on discharge that decompose reversibly on charge. Much focus has been directed at aprotic Li–O2 cells, but the aprotic Na–O2 system is of equal interest because of its better reversibility."
Indeed, the other problem with Lithium is that as a rare earth element, it can be increasingly expensive. It also has a relatively small window when it comes to operational safety.
Which brings us to nanotechnology-based options that use seawater as the catholyte — where "catholyte" is a fancy way of saying an cathode + electrolyte combined.
From a recent release of the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces publication:
"In batteries, the electrolyte is the component that allows an electrical charge to flow between the cathode and anode. A constant flow of seawater into and out of the battery provides the sodium ions and water responsible for producing a charge. The reactions have been sluggish, however, so the researchers wanted to find a way to speed them up."
And the scientists briefly summarize their method:
"We applied porous cobalt manganese oxide (CMO) nanocubes as the cathode electrocatalyst in rechargeable seawater batteries, which are a hybrid-type Na–air battery with an open-structured cathode and a seawater catholyte. The porous CMO nanocubes were synthesized by the pyrolysis of a Prussian blue analogue, Mn3[Co(CN)6]2·nH2O, during air-annealing, which generated numerous pores between the final spinel-type CMO nanoparticles. The porous CMO electrocatalyst improved the redox reactions, such as the oxygen evolution/reduction reactions, at the cathode in the seawater batteries. "