Driven by sawdust (Day 196)

Image from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - sawdust
Image courtesy of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Back in 2006, a campaign was launched to plant one billion trees every year. In the first five years alone, over 12 billion were planted, and the campaign rolls on today.

The Billion Tree campaign is now managed by the United Nations Environment Agency and efforts like these have had an important role to offset the billions of trees cut down every year.

Of course, all this wood processing creates sawdust and there’s a long list of uses for this by-product including fuel briquettes, animal bedding, mushroom growing, soil amelioration, ‘smoking’ food, building products and more.

One of the latest development involves researchers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium, the Leibniz-Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden, Germany, and the chemical engineering department at the California Institute of Technology in USA.

They have managed to convert sawdust into building blocks for gasoline.

Continue reading Driven by sawdust (Day 196)

Using aerosols to understand our cloud atlas (Day 86)

When most people think of aerosols they think of spray cans.

Coverage by the media in the 1980s and 1990s of aerosols damaging the ozone layer drove this thinking. However, it is just one type of aerosol or “atmospheric particulate”, cholorofluorocarbons (CFCs), that was causing this damage.

Countries are now phasing out the use of CFCs in line with international protocols.

Aerosols are actually just small particles found in the air that can be produced when we burn different types of fossil fuels.

Low-level clouds along the California coast
Low-level clouds along the California coast are visible in this July 26, 2014 image from the NOAA/NASA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-15 satellite. Credit: NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, data from NOAA GOES

Studying aerosols could help us better understand the Earth’s changing climate.

Continue reading Using aerosols to understand our cloud atlas (Day 86)