107. Carbon Capture w/ Algae, Plants Grown in Lunar Soil, Developments for Wind Turbines

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Brilliant Planet plans cheap, gigaton-scale carbon capture using algae | New Atlas (01:08)

  • Direct air carbon capture is currently far too costly – but this London company, Brilliant Planet, says it can do it at enormous scale for a tenth the price, using engineered algal blooms in ponds located near desert coastlines
    • Goals to de-acidify the ocean as well.
  • Direct air capture will need to be part of the decarbonizing equation, and it'll need to be massively scalable, energy efficient and much, much cheaper than today's technology.
  • The idea is to corral and harness the carbon-gobbling power of algae, replicating and maintaining the conditions that cause algal blooms in large, low-density outdoor ponds full of seawater.
    • Algae is an inherently more efficient biological machine for carbon capture than trees or plants
    • Its entire surface area is dedicated to photosynthesis and it doesn't waste resources creating trunks, roots or branches
    • Another bonus is that it grows and proliferates extremely fast under the right conditions.
  • Simplified process:
    • Account for most of the energy this system requires
    • A location is chosen, on flat desert land near a coast,
    • A team of bio-prospectors starts filtering through samples of thousands of local strains of algae, selecting the ones that best fits the location.
    • Thus, there are no introduced species, and the algae is already well adapted to the local climate and conditions.
    • They set up a series of pumps, with which to bring seawater into a series of containers and ponds.
    • In these right conditions they would monitor, they can grow a lot of algae. It also can deacidify the seawater.
  • CEO Adam Taylorm said:
    • “For every unit of water that passes through the system we de-acidify the equivalent of 5.1 units back to pre-industrial pH levels."
  • Taylor says the company's already identified a "short list" of about half a million square kilometers of suitably flat coastal desert land.
    • Potential for about two gigatons – two billion tons – of carbon capture
    • In other words, it could cancel out more than 5.5 percent of humanity's annual global CO2 emissions, offsetting about half the total emissions of today's road transport sector.
  • The company has tested its approach successfully in Oman, South Africa. Now they plan on moving to a large area, roughly 74 acres, in 2023.

Musk's Starlink Internet Is Now Available in 32 Countries | CNET (07:14)

  • SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet service has now rolled out to 32 countries, the company said Thursday.
    • The hardware can ship "immediately" to areas where the service is available.
  • Starlink is available in much of the US, Europe and New Zealand, in addition to chunks of Canada, Australia and South America.
    • Many of the remaining countries and areas show availability coming in 2023.
  • After a few years of launches, the company has amassed a constellation of more than 2,000 low Earth orbit satellites to provide satellite internet around the globe.

Plants Have Been Grown in Lunar Soil For The First Time Ever | Good News Network (09:29)

  • Food has been grown in soil collected from the moon for the first time, paving the way for human migration across the solar system.
    • It is a first step towards producing food and oxygen on the moon, or during space missions.
  • This all relates to NASA’s Artemis program which will lay the foundation for a sustained colony on the lunar surface.
    • Using the moon to validate deep space systems and operations—before embarking on a manned voyage to Mars.
  • Co-author Professor Rob Ferl, talked about the future missions and growing food in the lunar soil:
    • “For future, longer space missions, we may use the moon as a hub or launching pad. It makes sense that we would want to use the soil that’s already there to grow plants … So, what happens when you grow plants in lunar soil, something that is totally outside of a plant’s evolutionary experience? What would plants do in a lunar greenhouse? Could we have lunar farmers?”
  • This University of Florida team planted thale cress seeds in lunar soil picked up by the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 crews between 1969 and 1972.
    • Added water, a cocktail of nutrients, and light, and watched the edible spring salad green flourish.
    • A tiny ‘lunar garden’ was created from just a few teaspoons of the prized dirt specially loaned from NASA.
    • The horticulturalists weren’t sure if they would sprout, but nearly all of them did.
  • This discovery opens the door to “resource independence” from Earth.
    • Makes missions more sustainable on the lunar surface knowing you can start the growing process and feel that into more growth.
  • Co-author Prof Anna-Lisa Paul talks on what the plants had to go through to grow:
    • “At the genetic level, the plants were pulling out the tools typically used to cope with stressors, such as salt and metals or oxidative stress. So we can infer the plants perceive the lunar soil environment as stressful … Ultimately, we would like to use the gene expression data to help address how we can ameliorate the stress responses to the level where plants – particularly crops – are able to grow in lunar soil with very little impact to their health.”
  • Follow-up studies will build on these questions and more. For now, the researchers are celebrating..

Denmark is launching a huge trio of 15-MW offshore wind turbines | Interesting Engineering (15:03)

  • European Energy and Vestas, a wind turbine manufacturer, have greenlit the installation of the latter's flagship V236-15 MW offshore wind turbines in Denmark.
    • Danish city of Frederikshavn "a focal point in the future of offshore wind technology", per a press release.
  • The offshore wind turbines are planned to be built and operational by 2024, with further plans involving turning green power into green fuels that can help the maritime industry run on sustainable energy.
  • Offshore wind energy is acquired by using the wind force produced on the high seas, where it reaches a greater and more consistent speed than on land due to the lack of obstructions.
    • Erected on the seafloor
    • Outfitted with cutting-edge technological advancements
  • Vestas will design and build three of its newest offshore wind turbines at three of the five test spots presently being developed by European Energy
    • Roughly four kilometers off the coast
    • Enabling Vestas to demonstrate the wind turbines' viability in an offshore environment
    • Provide early know-how with installation methods and technician training
  • Christian Gjerløv, Head of Offshore Wind Technology at Vestas, talked on the venture:
    • “We are working on getting our flagship offshore wind turbine constructed here in Denmark and look forward to the joint efforts with European Energy to achieve the construction of the offshore wind turbines at the test site outside the city of Frederikshavn … The position will provide us with a unique opportunity to test the offshore wind turbines close to our factories and research facilities in Denmark prior to the serial production and export to the global market."

SkySpecs watches wind turbines from above, lands $80M led by Goldman Sachs | TechCrunch (19:20)

  • The company, SkySpecs, is using drones and AI to detect future equipment failures before they grind those giant turbine blades to a halt.
    • Works with wind farms to monitor the health of turbine blades from above.
    • Just locked down a fresh $80 million Series D funding round led by Goldman Sachs to expand its “geographic footprint” and software tools.
  • SkySpecs builds its hardware and software in house, and already claims to monitor the health of close to half of all turbine blades in North America.
    • 71,666 turbines in the U.S. alone
  • Since it launched in 2012, the firm says its drones have inspected more than 300,000 blades across dozens of countries.
  • SkySpecs’ larger goal is to “help displace fossil fuel generation” by making renewables more efficient, per a statement from the firm.
  • Danny Ellis, CEO, SkySpecs, talks on renewables and his company:
    • “Renewable energy is becoming a viable, attractive, and profitable energy source. In order to scale fast enough to meet the demand, the market needs experts and solutions to help them navigate the complexities of managing their assets. We help customers get the most out of the life of their assets by identifying solutions to their most complex problems … That’s why we’ve developed a solution set that enables companies to manage and optimize their assets from the planning phase right through the full asset lifecycle, including predicting future failures, and prioritizing repairs in order to optimize their maintenance budgets.”
  • SkySpecs is one among many drone businesses to focus on monitoring critical infrastructure.

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