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Manufacturing plants have been driving down unplanned down time by monitoring the condition of critical machines and equipment systems to detect failure modes and plan repairs for the least cost to their plants.
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USDA develops switchgrass with bigger yield, more biofuel
Researchers working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a variety of switchgrass that produces bigger yields and more biofuel. Rob Mitchell, with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Nebraska, gives credit to retired geneticist Ken Vogel who developed the Liberty variety of switchgrass.
“He was able to identify an upland type and a lowland type that had similar genetics so they were able to be crossed,” Vogel says.
Drought helps invasive species thrive in Utah forests
An invasive species has spread like a disease through Utah’s forests, killing thousands of trees.
The problem isn’t going away, but the Forest Service and arborists are trying to work together to make the best of the situation.
“We are just trying to make it a healthier forest, and, obviously, with the dead trees, it doesn’t look very healthy right now,” said Rick Schuler, District Ranger for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Genera Energy provides insight in choosing a biomass solution
Genera Energy via Biomass Magazine
Genera Energy, a recognized innovator in sustainable biomass feedstock supply advancements and supply chain improvements, released a new infographic featuring a visual overview of biomass feedstock and guidelines for choosing the best solution for every biomass project. The four-page infographic highlights key supply chain elements and explores which biomass crops are best suited for an application.
provides a framework that natural resource managers and researchers can use to design monitoring programs that will benefit future generations by distilling the information needed to make informed decisions. Receive an exclusive 25% discount off this title. Visit CRC Press now!
A year after massive Rim Fire, US Forest Service to decide on future of scorched timber
The Associated Press via The Huffington Post
U.S. Forest Service officials say they tried to balance competing interests in a plan released recently that allows loggers to remove trees killed in a massive central California wildfire last year, but environmentalists called it a travesty and threaten to sue.
The highly awaited decision will allow logging on 52 square miles of forests blackened in the Rim Fire, which burned 400 square miles of the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park's backcountry and private timber land.
Fracking rules expected to be finished in September
Regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on federal lands are undergoing final review at the White House and are expected to be finalized in September.
The rules proposed by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management would institute guidelines governing the drilling method on public and tribal land. The agency sent the rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget recently.
International Energy Agency releases mid-term forecast for biofuels, renewable energy
The International Energy Agency has released its third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, which includes forecasts for global biofuel and renewable energy growth. Within the report, the authors predict that the expansion of renewable energy will slow over the next five years unless policy uncertainty is diminished. In the power sector, the report indicates the use of renewables grew strongly last year, reaching almost 22 percent of global generation.
Blue light changes bacterial lifestyle
Cyanobacteria may have once changed the entire atmosphere of the Earth with their photosynthetic activity, making it the oxygen-rich environment that it is today. Now, scientists have uncovered how light causes lifestyle changes in cyanobacteria, inducing the transition from a solitary planktonic existence to a social sessile one. This research has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Cyanobacteria are a type of microalgae highly suitable for biomass production and biotechnology research.
Can biochar fertilize soil and help fight climate change?
Napa Valley grower Eckhard Kaesekamp is very pleased with a certain group of around 20,000 grapevines he has been nurturing — their yield has been 5 percent better than what he’d expected. Their root mass is greater than his other vines as well — which means they’ll hold water better.
Kaesekamp, whose Knights Grapevine Nursery supplies vines and rootstocks to the region’s wineries, believes these vines did especially well thanks to a soil treatment called CoolTerra — a product made from a carbon-rich substance called “biochar” that is supposed to improve soil fertility and increase water and nutrient retention.
Pennsylvania finally reveals fracking has contaminated drinking water hundreds of times
For the first time, Pennsylvania has made public 243 cases of contamination of private drinking wells from oil and gas drilling operations.
As the Associated Press reports, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection posted details about the contamination cases online recently. The cases occurred in 22 counties, with Susquehanna, Tioga, Lycoming and Bradford counties having the most incidences of contamination.
Vetting out the differences in greenhouse gas and criteria pollutants
“Greenhouse gas” is a term most people are familiar with as pollutants that are damaging to the earth’s environment. Carbon dioxide is the most frequently talked about as it accounted for about 82 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in 2012. Say “criteria pollutants,” though, and you’ll often get a blank stare about what that means. There is a distinct difference that everyone should be aware of.
How to convert standing dead trees to lumber
Mother Earth News
When many people see a pile of dead logs, their first thought is, "firewood." However, some people realize that lumber comes from trees and hence logs can be converted into lumber. They also know when they need lumber the easiest place to get it is at a lumber yard, and that it has been kiln dried to a specific moisture content and finished down to a nominal size.
Mountain forest changes threaten California water supplies
Hike high enough up California’s Sierra Nevada and the forest morphs around you. At around 6,000 feet, the dazzling diversity of the lower montane forest, replete with California black oak, ponderosa pine and incense cedars gives way to more monotonous landscapes of red fir and lodgepole pine. Hike further still and trees eventually disappear altogether, replaced with rocky topographies reminiscent of Mars. As the globe warms, these landscape transformations are occurring at higher altitudes.
Taurus Energy notes global surge in cellulosic biofuels testing and partnering activity
In Sweden, Taurus Energy has revealed that it is currently holding discussions and negotiations on XYLOFERM with over 10 companies, noting that, "The level of interest in producing second-generation ethanol has increased over the past year, since a number of production facilities have come on-stream. Leaders in the industry no longer regard ethanol produced from cellulose as a 'fuel of the future,' since it can be produced for commercial use now."
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