• Decommissioning Fukushima: Mapping boron distribution in molten debris

    Decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant just got one step closer. Japanese researchers have mapped the distribution of boron compounds in a model control rod, paving the way for determining re-criticality risk within the reactor.

  • Humans have been causing earthquakes in Texas since the 1920s: Study

    Earthquakes triggered by human activity have been happening in Texas since at least 1925, and they have been widespread throughout the state ever since, according to a new historical review of the evidence. The earthquakes are caused by oil and gas operations, but the specific production techniques behind these quakes have differed over the decades.

  • With drought easing, California rolls back water conservation rules

    California announced on Wednesday that it was rolling back mandatory water conservation rules which were put in place at the height of a 4-year drought. The decision to roll back the restrictions came after water conditions in many parts of the state have improved as a result of a wet winter.

  • DHS efforts to address EMP threats to the electric grid fall short: GAO

    A report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that as of July 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken several actions that could help address electromagnetic threats to the electric grid. Although these are positive steps, GAO says that its preliminary work indicates that DHS has not effectively coordinated with stakeholders to identify critical assets or collect necessary risk information, among other responsibilities.

  • Bringing energy prices down and keeping the lights on

    Peak demand is posing an increasing challenge to the U.K.’s electricity system. Researchers at the University of Oxford have launched a five-year program to investigate ways of relieving peak demands on the U.K.’s electricity grid that also might make energy bills cheaper too.

  • Mapping Louisiana’s water flow interactions to preserve state’s fresh water

    As part of an effort to preserve Louisiana’s fresh water resources, RTI International worked with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to develop two online tools, released today, that offer a first-of-their-kind look at how Louisiana’s waters interact with each other. These tools will help fishermen, oystermen, planners, decision makers, and all Louisianans understand the state’s unique water flow patterns.

  • Water 4.0—the next revolution in urban water systems

    In his 2014 book, Water 4.0, UC Berkeley environmental engineer David Sedlak identifies four “revolutions” in the development of urban water systems. Sedlak says that we need a fourth revolution now. Soaring urban populations and a changing climate create chronic water shortages in some cities and too much water in others. Some contaminants may pose hazards in extraordinarily small concentrations. And aging pipe networks threaten the health of entire communities, as seen this year in Flint, Michigan.

  • Raccoon brings down grid, cutting power to 40,000 Seattle homes

    A raccoon broke into a Seattle, Washington power substation on Wednesday morning and single-handedly (some suggest: single-pawedly) brought down the electrical grid, cutting power to more about 40,000 homes. The raccoon did not stay inside the substation for long, but still managed to cause thirteen separate system outages.

  • Building security into cyber-physical systems

    We are immersed in a cyber-physical world. Information technology is deeply embedded in traditionally non-IT systems, including automobiles, the electric grid and emergency response. But in many of these systems, security is largely incorporated as a last step, like a suit of armor over a vulnerable body. To help bake security into the very core, a new draft NIST publication recommends ways to incorporate time-tested security design principles and concepts into these systems at every step, from concept to implementation.

  • Growing demand for bioenergy threatens global food supply

    As countries around the world look for ways to reduce their use of fossil fuels, the growing demand for bioenergy runs the risk of threatening the global food supply. Researchers have developed a certification scheme for biomass resources designed to incorporate food security, to help ensure people in affected regions of the world can continue to put food on their tables.

  • Governor Brown issues order to continue water savings as drought persists

    Moving to bolster California’s climate and drought resilience, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. the other day issued an executive order that builds on temporary statewide emergency water restrictions to establish longer-term water conservation measures. The governor’s office says that Californians have responded to the call to conserve water during the drought by dialing back sprinklers, replacing lawns, fixing leaky faucets, and installing more efficient toilets and washing machines. Between June 2015 and March 2016, Californians reduced water use by 23.9 percent compared with the same months in 2013 — saving enough water to provide 6.5 million Californians with water for one year.

  • Floods, coastal erosion may expose contents of UK landfills

    The contents of historic coastal landfill sites in England and Wales could pose a significant environmental threat if they erode, according to a new study. The main risks to these landfills come from the effects of climate change, including erosion and flooding with salt water from storm surges and higher water levels.

  • Mapping water use of America’s water resources

    Water is one of our nation’s most important natural resources, one that is long been considered inexhaustible. Yet changes in land use, climate, and population demographics are placing unprecedented demands on America’s water supplies. As droughts rage and aquifers dwindle, people may wonder: Is there enough water to meet all our needs?

  • Marine Corps, Sandia collaborate on microgrids and renewable energy planning

    The U.S. Marine Corps are the first boots on the ground in a crisis. On the front lines, they must be able to power up securely without plugging into utilities. They require nothing less than completely reliable and cost-effective energy independence. Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories are collaborating with the Marine Corps to increase their energy security and reduce fuel dependence through alternative technologies, including renewable energy and microgrids.

  • Protecting Texas electrical grid key to preserving national security

    Protecting America’s most vulnerable asset – our electric power grid – starts with Texas, according to a new study. “As Texas goes, so goes our national security,” says the study’s author. “Outside of California and the Beltway, Texas is arguably the most important state for defense readiness.” Hardening the state’s electric power grid should be top priority.