November 2012, Vol. 24, No.11
Ocean energy generation project makes a splash in Maine
A commercial, grid-connected energy generation system made history on July 24 in Eastport, Maine. Ocean Renewable Power Co. (ORPC; Portland, Maine) launched its TidGenTM turbine generator unit for its Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project, the first commercial ocean energy generation project in the United States, according to an ORPC news release.
The project is the first phase of the Maine Tidal Energy Project, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Maine Technology Institute.
ORPC received a pilot project license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project in February, began installation in March, and on Sept. 13 began delivering electricity to the grid.
As a source of renewable energy, the system generates electricity when its rotating foils are turned by river and ocean currents to power a central permanent magnet generator installed underwater. Turbine generator units are installed in groups to form complete power systems that are designed to resist corrosion, operate without gears and lubricants, and require no fossil fuel or emit anything into the water, the website says.
Not all sea-level rises are created equal: Atlantic coast a 'hotspot' for rising sea level
Portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast are
experiencing three to four times faster
rates of sea-level rise than other coastal areas around the world, according to
a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) news release.
Since 1990, sea level
along a 965-km (600-mi) stretch of coastline from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to
Boston has increased 2 to 3.7 mm/yr compared to the global average of 0.6 to 1
mm/yr, the news release says.
Findings were explained in the USGS report
“Hotspot of Accelerated Sea-level Rise on the Atlantic Coast of North America,”
which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. For the
report, USGS scientists analyzed tide gauge data throughout much of North
America, removing long-term trends associated with vertical land movements, to
focus on recent changes, the news release says.
The report showed that sea-level rise
along this “hotspot” is consistent with slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation.
And the change in circulation may be tied to changes in water temperature,
salinity, and density in the subpolar north Atlantic, the news release says.
“Though global sea level has been
projected to rise roughly 2 to 3 ft [0.6 to 1 m] or more by the end of the 21st
century, it will not climb at the same rate at every location,” the news
Wastewater reveals Texas cocaine use
in Lubbock, Texas, has revealed a secret: cocaine use spikes on weekends.
examining wastewater being transported to the Lubbock Wastewater Treatment
Plant, Texas Tech University master’s student Juliet Kinyua discovered that
traces of cocaine increase by up to a third on weekends, according to the Texas
Tech Today article, “Forensic Science Student Applies New Technique to
average city residents use a total of 900 g of cocaine during an average
weekday, but this total increases to
1200 g on weekends, the article says.
now a doctoral student at the university’s Institute of Environmental and Human
Health, used wastewater epidemiology and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to
test the wastewater for benzoylecgonine, a chemical only produced when humans
metabolize cocaine, the article says.
chemical can be detected within 96 hours after cocaine is consumed, so samples
were collected on Mondays to represent weekend use and on Fridays to represent
weekday use, the news release says.
research was published in the Journal of Forensic Science and could be
used by law enforcement and social workers to understand drug use in
communities, the article says.
California industrial site receives a green makeover
Burbank (Calif.) Water and Power (BWP) headquarters campus has received a green
makeover. BWP and AHBE Landscape Architects (Culver City, Calif.) have
transformed the industrial area into the “EcoCampus.” They completed the first
phase of the project earlier this year.
EcoCampus includes three Platinum-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) buildings, one of which is California’s first LEED Platinum
warehouse, according to a BWP and AHBE news release. It is the only industrial
project out of 150 projects worldwide to be included in the Sustainable Sites
Initiative pilot program, which provides guidelines and performance benchmarks
for landscape design, construction, and maintenance, the news release says.
uses five different types of water filtration technologies, including
infiltration, flow-through, detention, tree root cells, and rainwater capture.
It also includes green spaces to be used by employees and to house filtration
systems, three green roofs on the administration building, a green street that
stretches across three city streets, solar arrays that power the service center
and warehouse buildings, and channels to direct stormwater into a filtration
In addition, an old electric substation was left
on the site; its skeletal remains will be a trellis for plants to grow, the
news release says. “Ultimately, the master plan would see the campus become a
zero-runoff site, far exceeding what state law requires,” the news release