By: Gunnar W. Schade, Texas A&M University

FrackingUrban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s.

Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress.

But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution.

As a result, in recent years there has been a spike of research to determine what the extent of emissions are from fracked oil and gas wells – called “unconventional” sources in the industry. While much discussion has surrounded methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, less attention has been paid to air toxics.

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I4OC logoECS is proud to announce its partnership with the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC). By joining forces with I4OC, ECS has opened up citation data, further expanding accessibility to scientific knowledge by releasing into the public domain reference data published in ECS journals.

This partnership aligns directly with ECS’s Free the Science initiative, which seeks to make our peer-reviewed research free to all readers while remaining free for authors to publish.

“We applaud the efforts of I4OC. In addition to our significant amount of open access full-text content, we are excited to be able to provide yet another mechanism for researchers to freely access a very important part of ECS content,” says Mary Yess, chief content officer for ECS. “Opening up our citations will not only allow scientists and engineers easy access; but because the citations are in common, machine-readable formats, this will also allow them to data mine those citations. All of these open access opportunities are a critical to progress in our fields and others.”

Since its establishment in April, I4OC has worked to partner with publishers to provide accessible citation data. Citations are a central component to scholarly information, providing credibility to statements and bolstering overall discovery and dissemination by highlighting research.

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ECS Teams Up With Tesla

On Saturday May 20, ECS participated in Pennington Day, a local community festival that highlights local artists, food and other vendors, and nonprofits. As one of the largest organizations in Pennington, NJ and with an important message to communicate, ECS took to the streets for the all-day street affair.

To engage passersby, we partnered with Tesla to demonstrate what our sciences look like when applied to the real world. The Tesla Model X, with its DeLorean-esque doors attracted plenty of curious people who inquired about the car’s capabilities. The top 3 questions were:

  • How far can you drive on one charge?
  • Where are there charging stations?
  • How much does it cost? The model we had was $110,000!

Pennington DayAnd for something for younger, budding scientists, we collaborated with students from PRISM (Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials) at Princeton University. They worked on building molecules out of gumdrops and toothpicks!

We had a steady stream of visitors, including some of our members, throughout the day and gave away prizes to people who could answer questions about our sciences. A big thanks to the organizers of Pennington Day and our partners at PRISM and Tesla for making our booth so successful at this event!

Mark Glick speaking at the 6th International ECS Electrochemical Energy Summit.

Mark Glick speaking at the 6th International ECS Electrochemical Energy Summit.

Global investments in renewable energy have continued to grow over the past five years, exceeding $329 billion in 2015. As technological solutions that drive down costs continue to emerge, more countries are adopting standards to encourage the growth of renewable energy. In the United States, Hawaii is looking to set the standard in clean, sustainable energy for the entire country.

During the October PRiME 2016 meeting in Honolulu, HI, policy makers and researchers from around the world came together for the 6th International ECS Electrochimical Energy Summit, focused on Recent Progress in Renewable Energy Generation, Distribution, and Storage.

“For us, it’s important that we continue to bring the opinion leaders as well as the leading scientists and researchers to Hawaii because we believe that we’re the center of a lot of important activity,” Mark Glick, summit moderator and Hawaii State Energy Office Administrator, tells ECS. “There’s nothing more exciting to demonstrate relevancy than to have the leading scientists in the world in the largest research conference of its kind come to Hawaii.”

One hundred percent renewable standard

Since 2008, Hawaii has been on the cutting-edge of the renewable energy industry in the United States. As oil prices rocketed from $74.44 to $102 a barrel (inflation adjusted), the state found itself in a unique position to commit to greater utilization of renewable energy sources.

“After the oil price shock, we decided we needed to change our course,” Glick says. “So we set forth a renewable portfolio standard. At that time, we aimed for 40 percent renewable energy by 2030. Since then, we’ve been so successful at getting ahead of the curve on that renewable portfolio standard.”

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Deadline for Submitting Abstracts
Dec. 16, 2016
Submit today!

231st ECS MeetingTopic Close-up #3

Symposium IO4: Solid-Gas Electrochemical Interfaces 2 – SGEI 2

Symposium Focus is on electrochemistry in many solid-state electrochemical processes and devices (such as gas electrolysis, fuel cells, ionic separation membranes, metal-air batteries, and gas sensors) occurs within a localized region near the interface between the reactant gas and one or more solid phases. During the last 10-15 years, it has become increasingly clear that the composition, structure, and/or properties of materials within this localized region deviate substantially from the bulk material(s) comprising the electrocatalyst.

Examples include stoichiometry variations in the vicinity of a three-phase boundary (TPB), enhanced activity near solid-solid heterointerfaces, cation segregation associated with surface reconstruction, and cation stratification/interdiffusion or secondary phase precipitation near gas-solid or solid-solid interfaces. Recent advances in both analytical techniques and modeling are beginning to shed new insights into these local variations in structure/composition, and the role they play in governing local rates.

These include new in situ experimental methods that probe the thermodynamic state of the solid bulk and surface under finite driving force, scanning probe and other methods that can spatially resolve local variations in conductivity, structure, composition, and reaction rates, and modeling methodologies that consider heterogeneity and local properties, including ab initio methods that consider variations in structure/composition at surfaces.

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A new breakthrough in the measurement of solar energy flow has emerged from Lund University.

For the first time ever, researchers have successfully demonstrated the accurate measurement of solar energy in and between different parts of a photosynthetic organism. Gaining this basic understanding could potentially open doors to the development of solar energy technologies with much higher efficiency levels.

Researchers have known about the photochemical reactions inside organisms for over 80 years, but have not understood exactly how solar energy is transported to the organism.

“Not even the best solar cells that we as humans are capable of producing can be compared to what nature performs in the first stages of energy conversion,” says Donatas Zigmantas, co-author of the study. “That is why new knowledge about photosynthesis will become useful for the development of future solar technologies.”

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Image: NASA

Image: NASA

New satellite images of the algae blooms taking over waterways in Florida have recently been released, showing a 500 percent increase in the amount of water the algae has affected in just two short months.

According to the Florida Oceanographic Society, the blooms in and near Lake Okeechobee in Southern Florida have grown from 22 square miles in early May to a current estimate of 239 square miles.

The growing algae blooms, which have resulted in a state emergency for four Floridian counties, are primarily caused by fertilizer runoff from the surrounding farming communities, adding a buildup of Nitrogen and Phosphorous. With this, algae grows and reduces the oxygen levels in the water, which kills aquatic life and can be poisonous to humans.

Earlier this year, we talked to past ECS President Daniel Scherson about the often unrecognized issues related to algae blooms.

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Open Access LogoA recent survey shows the scholarly publication model is changing, and researchers are embracing that change.

A survey of over 6,500 academics commissioned by Jisc and Research Libraries UK found that two-thirds of the scientific community support abolishing the traditional subscription-based publishing model in favor of open access.

In addition to the well-over 50 percent of researchers in favor of a more open access model, 40 percent of respondents stated that a journal’s openness is a very important factor in choosing where to publish. Compare that to a study done just three years ago where less than 20 percent put major emphasis on access, and the shift in the world of publishing becomes even more prevalent.

“The ability to disseminate research material online to anyone with internet access,” Paul Even, founder for the Open Library of the Humanities, told Time Higher Education, “without the reader bearing the cost, is becoming more and more important to researchers from across a broad set of disciplines.”

ECS is also embracing the changing publishing industry through our Free the Science initiative. Free the science seeks to remove all fees, providing complete open access to the ECS Digital Library for authors, readers, and libraries.

Learn more about Free the Science.

Please join us on Tuesday May 31 at 0700h for an invigorating morning run in support of ECS’s open access efforts.

The race winners (top male and top female) runner will each receive an Open Access Credit! This credit may be used to publish a paper as OA in either JES or JSS.

For more information on ECS publications, please visit the ECS Digital Library and the ECS online store and be sure to stop by the ECS Publications booth, located on the Sapphire Level of the San Diego Hilton Bayfront.

Looking forward to seeing you in San Diego!

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