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The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, John Reilly, co-director emeritus of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, outlines a roadmap for how the U.S. can meet the Biden administration’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2030 below 2005 levels. “By exploiting declining costs of zero- and low-carbon energy sources in a more aggressive and focused way, the U.S. can meet its target within eight years,” writes Reilly, “all while substantially reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, including high-priced gasoline, and cutting back the air pollution, climate and health impacts resulting from their combustion.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jeff Kart writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that yeast, an abundant waste product from breweries, can filter out even trace amounts of lead. The researchers demonstrated that in just five minutes “a single gram of the inactive, dried yeast cells can remove up to 12 milligrams of lead in aqueous solutions with initial lead concentrations below 1 part per million.”

Forbes

Prof. Jessika Trancik speaks with Forbes contributor Peter Cohan about the carbon emissions associated with gas, hybrid and electric vehicles, and the site she and her research group developed to allow consumers to compare personal vehicles against climate change mitigation targets. “In most locations, compared to [gas-powered vehicles], EVs produce emissions savings greater than 30%,” says Trancik. "Most savings are greater depending on the geographic location, the electricity supply, and the vehicle model.”

Mashable

Mashable reporter Emmett Smith spotlights how MIT researchers have developed a new technique to clear dust from solar panels without using water. The new method uses “electrostatic repulsion, where an electrode that glides above the panel electrically charges dust particles and subsequently repels them.”

Popular Science

MIT engineers have developed a new contactless method to clean solar panels that could save billions of gallons of water, reports Anuradha Varanasi for Popular Science. “I was amazed at the sheer amount of pure water that is required for cleaning solar panels,” says Prof. Kripa Varanasi. “The water footprint of the solar industry is only going to grow in the future. We need to figure out how to make solar farms more sustainable.”

Tech Briefs

Prof. Kripa Varanasi, graduate student Sreedath Panath, and a team of researchers are developing a water-free way to clear dust off of solar panels, reports Billy Hurley and Ed Brown for Tech Briefs. “Water is such a precious commodity, and people need to be careful about how to make use of this resource that we have,” says Varanasi. “The solar industry really needs to keep this in mind; we don’t want to be solving one problem and creating another.”

The Daily Beast

MIT researchers have developed a new water-free system that uses static electricity to clear dust from solar panels, reports Miriam Fauzia for The Daily Beast. “By using this technique, we can recover up to 95 percent of a solar panel’s power output,” explains graduate student Sreedath Panat.

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Chen Ly writes that MIT researchers have developed a new technique that uses static electricity to remove the dust from solar panels, which could save around 45 billion liters of water annually. “I think water is a precious commodity that is very undervalued,” says Prof. Kripa Varanasi. “What I’m hoping is this will spur more people to think about water issues.”

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.”