Sandra O. Snaebjornsdottir
Sandra O. Snaebjornsdottir

See How This Power Plant in Iceland Turns Carbon Emissions Into Stone

Sandra O. Snaebjornsdottir
Sandra O. Snaebjornsdottir

Iceland's Hellisheidi power plant, located about 15 miles outside Reykjavik, is one of the largest geothermal power plants in the world, producing energy for half of Iceland's population through superheated steam.

"Though it sounds like a very green source of energy, they're still emitting CO2," Martin Shute, a hydrologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, says in the video below. "That is because CO2 and other gases are dissolved in the water that comes from the subsurface. It's in the steam that's being released into the atmosphere."

Though Hellisheidi emits only 5 percent of the CO2 produced by fossil fuel–powered plants, Iceland wants to make it even greener by returning the CO2 to where it came from—and keeping it there.

CarbFix is a project founded in 2007 by Reykjavik Energy (which operates the plant through a subsidiary called On Power), the University of Iceland, France's National Center for Scientific Research, and Columbia University to advance the still-emerging technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Their innovative take on CCS involves injecting the emissions from the plant—a mix of CO2, hydrogen sulfide, and other gases—into layers of volcanic basalt rock nearly a mile underground. (Most CCS methods, as Wired notes, involve putting the CO2 in enormous underground reservoirs left behind after oil or gas has been pumped out.)

The CO2 quickly reacts with the basalt, converts to carbonate, and is stored safely as a mineral underground. In one study, the researchers found that more than 95 percent of the CO2 mineralized to carbonate in less than two years.

Learn more about this promising technology in the video below.

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India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished
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iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
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iStock

Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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