All posts by Jonas Heath

Blades of wind towers are a problem because they are not recyclable

There is a rather particular problem concerning the exploitation of wind energy which perhaps many people have not considered. The problem is that it is not possible to recycle the material that makes up the blades.

An interesting article, which appeared on the website of the National Public Radio in the United States, takes this very topic into consideration and estimates that in the United States alone there will be more than 720,000 tons of material consisting almost of blades that will have to be disposed of in the next 20 years.

The same blades represent a not insignificant problem: while the other parts of a wind tower, including the internal turbine, are made of materials that can be recycled or resold, the blades, made with a mix of materials made of resin and fiberglass, are difficult to recycle.

In essence, they make up mountains of material without any value. Even placing them in a landfill is very difficult: they are not removable objects, and are made up of a single body that cannot be dismantled.

A new method for cutting these blades into three pieces by filling the third part with the two smaller sections was devised by Cindy Langstrom who manages a project for the disposal of wind turbines on behalf of the municipality of Casper, Wyoming, but these are always good methods, certainly not definitive.

However, Karl Englund, the technology director of the start-up Global Fiberglass Solutions, states in the interview in the article that he has found a solution. His company can grind the blades to produce a sort of chocolate chip-sized pallet.

The resulting material can then be used as a coating, as a pallet for packaging or as a pipe material. This small company has already opened its wind turbine plant in central Texas and plans to expand into other countries.


Links/Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/10/759376113/unfurling-the-waste-problem-caused-by-wind-energy?t=1568715682910

New method detects diabetes and prediabetes by analyzing the eye

According to a new study, presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), it is possible to predict type 2 diabetes or the condition of “prediabetes” by analyzing the lens in the eye.

The study was conducted by Mitra Tavakoli, of the Medical School of the University of Exeter. According to Tavakoli, it is possible to predict who will develop type 2 diabetes or prediabetes by measuring the level of autofluorescence in the eye lens.

This method could help with the delay of diabetes diagnosis: from the onset of type 2 diabetes to the diagnosis, in fact, it can take several years and this can make less fruitful medical interventions to prevent complications.

The same researcher has used a newly developed biomicroscope that performs a deep scan of the eye to assess possible states of advanced glycation products (AGE). The increase in these products contributes to the development of various diseases and complications of diabetes, including retinopathy and neuropathy.

This new microscope uses a blue light beam and performs a non-invasive analysis. “The results of this preliminary study showed that the autofluorescence of the lenses is significantly higher in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The level of AGE products was related to blood sugar levels,” says Tavakoli.


Links/Sources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190916101847.htm

Neonicotinoid pesticides cause sparrows to suffer

A group of toxicologists studied the white crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) and found that these birds suffer greatly if they eat seeds from fields treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.

In particular, researchers found that these small migratory birds become “anorexic” when exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides. The latter has been the subject of various studies published in recent years and it has been discovered, among other things, that they can decimate pollinating insects including bees and bumblebees.

This type of pesticide has worried the authorities so much that the European Union banned three pesticides of the neonicotinoid class as early as 2018. The researchers kept several hours of white crowned sparrows in cages. Some of them were given low doses of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide.

and quantities injected were equivalent to those they could ingest if they ate seeds from a field treated with this pesticide. Following this “treatment,” the researchers released the birds with a small radio transmitter placed on their backs.

The researchers found that the birds that had been given pesticides ate far less than the others, about one third less. This situation lasted for 3-4 days after administration, once considered by the same researchers as necessary to get the pesticide out of their bodies. After this phase, the sparrows then returned to eat regularly to regain the lost fat.

The study appeared in Science.


Links/Sources:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6458/1177