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Pollution

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Fast Company

Sean Hunt PhD ’16, M. Eng ’13 and Gaurab Chakrabarti co-founded Solugen after discovering a way to make chemicals from corn syrup instead of fossil fuels, reports Adele Peters for Fast Company. “Based on a detailed analysis of current products, the company estimates that it could theoretically produce 90% of the chemicals that are now produced by fossil fuels,” writes Peters.

Forbes

Forbes has named Paul Cheek, a lecturer and the Entrepreneur in Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship to their list of the 30 Under 30 Leading The Green Energy Transition. “On a mission to end plastic pollution, Paul cofounded Oceanworks to be a global marketplace for facilitating trade in recycled plastic.”. 

Slate

Research fellow Laura Grego speaks with Slate reporter Seth Stevenson about the growing need to implement policies that help preserve space for all. “It’s not exactly any one person’s responsibility, it’s a shared resource,” says Grego. “We don’t have all of the laws and strategies and approaches to work on the military parts of space. We also don’t have all the regulations to work on the environmental aspects, what people call space sustainability, how do you create space that you can use for generations ahead? How do we make sure that we don’t pollute it? We have a lot of work to do.”

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Steven Zeitchik highlights Prof. Jessika Trancik’s work developing a carbon counter that details the carbon impacts of different cars and MIT startup Form Energy, which is “taking the oxidization process, normally only good for ruining your Saturday garage clean-up, and deploying it to store energy on power grids.” Says Trancik of the importance of allowing people the ability to take stock of their environmental impact: “One of the really important aspects of addressing climate change is bringing everyone into the discussion.”

Science

A new study by MIT researchers finds that air pollution can enhance lightning sparked by wildfires, reports Nikk Ogasa for Science.  Ogasa notes that the researchers “also found that air pollution did more than enhance lightning; wildfire smoke more than tripled the intensity of thundershowers.”

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brian P. Dunleavy writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that business closures and stay-at-home orders intended to stop the spread of Covid-19 helped reduce deaths caused by air pollution by an estimated 95,000 globally in 2020. “The air pollution declines that we calculated are primarily due to reduced economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdown,” writes Dunleavy.

Fast Company

MIT startup Graviky Labs is partnering with the fashion label Pangaia to create clothing featuring graphics made from pollution sucked out of the air, reports Elizabeth Segran for Fast Company. “It’s an entirely new approach to carbon capture,” says alumnus and Graviky Labs co-founder Anirudh Sharma. “We’re literally extracting carbon particles from the atmosphere and selling it to the consumer.”

NOVA Next

Hanna Ali of NOVA Next speaks with Prof. Desiree Plata about methane emissions and Prof. Tim Swager about his work developing sensors that could allow users to “see” methane, track down its source and mitigate impacts. “You probably hear headlines all the time, ‘Everywhere we look for plastics in the environment, we find them,’” Plata says. “The same is true of most industrial chemicals, but the problem is I can’t pull out my cell phone and take a picture of [them]. Tim’s sensors are helping to close that gap.”

The Washington Post

Senior Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff co-authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post, which examines how the high level of herbicide chemicals found in Florida waterways is contributing to a record number of manatee deaths. “If we want to stop manatees from starving, we have to stop using this harmful chemical on our crops, on our lawns and in our waterways,” they conclude. 

E&E News

A new study by MIT researchers finds that the oceans may begin emitting chlorofluorocarbons by 2075, reports Valerie Yurk for E&E News. “Even if there were no climate change, as CFCs decay in the atmosphere, eventually the ocean has too much relative to the atmosphere, and it will come back out," says Prof. Susan Solomon.

CNN

CNN reporter Ivana Kottasová writes that a new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds there has been a significant drop in CFC emissions and a resumption in the recovery of the ozone layer. Prof. Ronald Prinn, director of the Center for Global Change Science at MIT, said that the results were “tremendously encouraging,” adding that “global monitoring networks really caught this spike in time, and subsequent actions have lowered emissions before they became a real threat to recovery of the ozone layer.”

WBUR

Prof. Jessika Trancik speaks with Jesse Remedios of WBUR about her new study that identifies locations where electric vehicle charging stations would have the most impact and help increase the adoption of electric vehicles. “It's important to make sure that chargers are placed where people can charge without having to delay their activities,” Trancik says. 

New York Times

New York Times reporter Brad Plumer spotlights a new study by Prof. Jessika Trancik that finds “new chargers on residential streets, as well as high-speed charging stations along highways, would go a long way to supporting an electric-vehicle boom.” 

Mashable

Mashable reporter Sasha Lekach spotlights a new study by MIT researchers that finds installing more charging stations close to residences and in locations that match where people naturally stop, would help increase usage of electric vehicles. The researchers found that “this helps to make charging more accessible while drivers are going about everyday activities.”

New York Times

Institute Professor Emeritus Mario Molina, who former Vice President Al Gore called a “trailblazing pioneer of the climate movement,” has died at age 77, reports John Schwartz for The New York Times. Molina shared a “Nobel Prize for work showing the damage that chemicals used in hair spray and refrigerators wreak on the ozone layer, which led to one of the most successful international efforts to combat environmental risk.”