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Wax, wood and CO2

Season 2, Ep. 13

Three tons of wax. A 4-story office building made almost entirely of wood. And putting CO2 to work instead of letting it heat up the planet: Scientists and engineers across the globe are harnessing unlikely materials to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's show looks at how a zero-emissions office building combines integrated solar panels, heat pumps and a huge vat of wax to heat and power the structure, with enough left over to sell. We'll also look at highly efficient heat pumps using CO2 as the stuff inside that makes it work. They're spreading worldwide, and can be found everywhere from inside your Volkswagen ID electric car to the Large Hadron Collider. And also — at a hotel in Hell, Norway, where electricity use was cut by 70 per cent — without making a pact with the devil!

Our guests on today's show are Tore Kvande and Armin Hafner.

There's a video on Professor Hafner's work at CERN here, and more about CoolCERN, here.

Find a related podcast episode here.

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More Episodes

6/2/2022

Getting to Net Zero

Season 2, Ep. 11
We all know that climate change is real and that we have to do something about it. In today's podcast extra episode, we go behind the scenes at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and talk to Anders Hammer Strømman, who was one of the lead authors for their latest report, released in April this year. Anders is a professor at NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme where he has specialized in Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental input-output analysis, which are tools that enable us to understand the real environmental costs of the goods and materials we use in everyday life.We talk about why cutting carbon emissions quickly is a little like skiing up a big mountain, how battery companies need to come clean when it comes to how they make their products, why some version of a home office could be good for the planet, and why your individual choices can actually make a difference.  And we talk about why Anders is optimistic and thinks we can make this shift — even though the governments of the world have been slow to act. Anders encouraged me (and by extension, you, my listeners) to look at the entire report (nearly 3000 pages — not 3675 as I say in the podcast!) but that's probably more than most of us have time for. You can look at the chapter that Anders was lead author on, on Transport, here (the link will start a pdf download). You can read an even more condensed version of the WG III report and its major findings here. The bottom line is that we CAN make this happen! Thanks this week for help from Ole Marius Ringstad, who did the sound design for the episode. Stay tuned for an update about next season, coming in the autumn.
4/13/2022

The Alchemists: Turning wild water into white coal

Season 2, Ep. 10
The secrets behind how Norwegian scientists and engineers harnessed the country’s wild waterfalls by developing super efficient turbines — and how advances in turbine technology being developed now may be the future in a zero-carbon world. They include an engineer who figured out how to take advantage of national fervour and build the 1900s equivalent of a super computer, a WWII resistance fighter who saw something special in tiny temperature differences, and researchers today, who are finding ways to cut environmental impacts from current hydropower plants and craft the designs we need to confront climate change.The guests on today's show were Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug, Vera Gütle and Johannes Kverno, with cameo appearances by Hans Otto Frøland and Svein Richard Brandtzæg.You can read an article written to accompany the podcast, with photographs from the lab here There's also an online photo gallery with a brief history of the Waterpower Laboratory here.You can read more about some of the research being done at the lab here:HydroFlex: The HydroFlex project is a four year long, € 5.4 million research project financed through EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, coordinated by Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug and based at NTNU’s Waterpower Laboratory. The aim of the project is to increase the value of hydro power through increased flexibility in operations.Stojkovski, Filip; Lazarevikj, Marija; Markov, Zoran; Iliev, Igor; Dahlhaug, Ole Gunnar. (2021) Constraints of Parametrically Defined Guide Vanes for a High-Head Francis Turbine. Energies. vol. 14 (9).Gütle, Vera. (2021) How to avoid gas supersaturation in the river downstream from a hydropower plant. MSc thesis.
3/30/2022

The Detectives: Hunting toxic chemicals in the Arctic

Season 2, Ep. 9
Baby grey seals. Polar bears. Zooplankton on painkillers. How do toxic chemicals and substances end up in Arctic animals — and as it happens, native people, too? Our guests on today's show are Bjørn Munro Jenssen, an ecotoxicologist at NTNU, Jon Øyvind Odland, a professor of global health at NTNU and a professor of international health at UiT —The Arctic University of Norway, and Ida Beathe Øverjordet, a researcher at SINTEF.One of the most useful websites on arctic pollution is the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, AMAP. Rachel Carson's book is Silent Spring.Here's a selection of articles from today's episode:Sørmo, E.G., Salmer, M.P., Jenssen, B.M., Hop, H., Bæk, K., Kovacs, K.M., Lydersen, C., Falk-Petersen, S., Gabrielsen, G.W., Lie, E. and Skaare, J.U. (2006), Biomagnification of polybrominated diphenyl ether and hexabromocyclododecane flame retardants in the polar bear food chain in Svalbard, Norway. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 25: 2502-2511. https://doi.org/10.1897/05-591RBourgeon, Sophie; Riemer, Astrid Kolind; Tartu, Sabrina; Aars, Jon; Polder, Anuschka; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Routti, Heli Anna Irmeli. (2017) Potentiation of ecological factors on the disruption of thyroid hormones by organo-halogenated contaminants in female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Barents Sea. Environmental Research. vol. 15Nuijten, RJM; Hendriks, AJ; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Schipper, AM. (2016) Circumpolar contaminant concentrations in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and potential population-level effects. Environmental Research. vol. 151.Chashchin, Valery; Kovshov, Aleksandr A.; Thomassen, Yngvar; Sorokina, Tatiana; Gorbanev, Sergey A.; Morgunov, Boris; Gudkov, Andrey B.; Chashchin, Maxim; Sturlis, Natalia V.; Trofimova, Anna; Odland, Jon Øyvind; Nieboer, Evert. (2020) Health risk modifiers of exposure to persistent pollutants among indigenous peoples of Chukotka. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). vol. 17 (1).