“Norsk Hydro to acquire German aluminum recycler” – Recycling Today, 3 March 2015

Norwegian aluminum and renewable energy company Norsk Hydro is purchasing WMR Recycling GmbH, which, according to Hydro, means Hydro will be the leading entity in aluminum scrap sorting technology.

WMR utilizes x-ray transmission and other forward-thinking technology to sort scrap; the facility has the ability to sift through 36,000 metric tons of scrap annually. The aluminum scrap will also be used to provide material for Hydro’s other Europe-based recycling plants. Hydro will employ some of WMR’s technology to improve their Neuss, Germany-based used beverage can (UBC) plant so that it runs on a closed-loop recycling system.

Hydro recycled almost 1.1 million metric tons of aluminum in 2014, but now that number will surely climb. In 2013, Hydro was working with WMR to transfer some of its aluminum scrap supply to Hydro’s recycling facilities.

Hydro’s move will reflect Norway’s high appetite for a low carbon lifestyle, which will now be aided by an intensified recycling culture.

(From Recycling Today)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 4, 2015

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“US Coal Exports Aiding Global GHG Emissions” – Environmental Leader, 29 July 2014

Though the US is moving away from coal and towards natural gas — and despite Obama’s dedication to curbing coal-fired power plants’ emissions and bettering fuel economies — the US still exports coal to other areas in the world, and these exports aren’t likely to cease. In continuing to export coal, the US is transferring its potential greenhouse gas emissions to other countries.

Many of the US’s exports are being transported to countries with lenient regulations on emissions, countries that make no effort to lessen the effects of climate change. Almost nine percent of global coal exports are produced by the US.

The US continues to turn a blind eye to the potential for increasing the world’s GHG emissions because of business, jobs, and money that domestic coal supplies; if the US doesn’t provide the coal, then surely another country would step up and take our place.

The biggest emitter of GHG, China is working towards lowering the country’s coal use. However, Germany is undergoing a coal-revival and importing coal from the US. Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions grew by 1.2 percent in 2013. Worldwide coal use grew more quickly than all other fossil fuels in 2013, by three percent.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

July 31, 2014

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“Coal: The fuel of the future, unfortunately” – The Economist, 19 April 2014

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The Economist

While natural gas has been waging a war on coal, coal will likely persist as a serious player in the energy market. Coal is inexpensive, plentiful, and easy to mine, ship, and burn. It is a cheap energy source for developing countries, and a great way for these countries to become rich.

Still, the issue remains that coal is not a clean energy source. Mining, transporting, storing and burning coal is a dirty job; underground mining can cause health issues for miners. Transporting coal has negative environmental impacts; opencast mining, a surface mining technique, destroys topsoil and devours water supplies. Coal is the biggest single source of pollution in the world, expending one-third of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The US is experiencing a large shift away from coal and towards natural gas. Many big US coal companies, like American Electric Power and Duke Energy, are closing coal-fired plants. Yet, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that coal will still be producing 22% of the US’s energy by 2040. Coal currently produces 26% of the US’s energy. China, the world’s biggest pollutant, is trying to restrict its coal consumption, but developing countries like Africa and India are picking up where China has left off. In Germany, coal is the cheapest it’s ever been. Japan, too, has recently authorized a new energy plan that has solidified coal’s role as the country’s main energy source.

Besides these boons for coal, international coal companies should still be worried for two reasons: one, that governments will place restrictions on coal; and two, the global oversupply of coal, which has pushed prices down and caused some coal companies to lose profits.

Still, coal remains a worthy adversary to oil and gas. Coal mining doesn’t necessitate expensive equipment, like drills, platforms and pipes, and when prices drop, companies can stop manufacturing and wait until prices pick back up.

Technological advances for producing clean coal—pulverizing coal, separating the gas from coal, scrubbing emissions and capturing carbon dioxide—look promising, though the methods are costly. A $5.2 billion clean-coal plant is being built in Mississippi, which was entirely funded by taxpayers. This will be the most expensive power plant ever completed, so we can probably safely assume that clean-coal plants won’t be the norm any time soon.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 20, 2014

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“India became 3rd-largest economy in 2011 from 10th in 2005″ – Times of India, 30 April 2014

According to a report released by the International Comparison Program—presented by the Development Data Group at the World Bank—in 2011, India’s economy grew to the third largest in the world from placing at the 10th largest in 2005 and is now ahead of Japan. The US is still the largest economy, succeeded by China.

China, India, and Indonesia’s rankings, in comparison to the US, doubled; Brazil, Mexico, and Russia grew by a third or more. In 2011, worldwide production of goods and services amounted to more than $90 trillion, and almost half came from low and middle-income countries. Six of the world’s 12 largest economies have been classified as middle-income countries: China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico.

The six biggest middle-income economies contributed 32.2 percent of the world GDP, while the six biggest high-income countries—US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, and Italy—contributed 32.9 percent.

China and India are growing rapidly and, with the exclusion of Japan and South Korea, account for two-thirds of the Asia and Pacific economy. China and India also account for almost 80 percent of investment expenditure in the same Asia and Pacific region.

Rise of middle-income countries will continue to provide the largest export markets for high-income countries, benefiting the world economy and reducing global income inequality.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 2, 2014

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