Published: Sunday 15 October 2000

safe fuel: Norwegian researchers have started testing a new type of fuel designed to burn plutonium without breeding it. If successful, it could help rid the world of its stockplies of plutonium waste from nuclear weapons and power stations. Before it is irradiated in reactors, plutonium is mixed with uranium oxide, some of which is changed into more plutonium by the radiation. In the "inert matrix fuel" being tested at the Halden research reactor in Norway, the uranium is replaced by a compound called yttrium-stabilised zirconium oxide. This will still produce radioactive waste, but with a much shorter life than plutonium, which poses a threat for tens of thousands of years.

ecoauditing product: Ernest & Young, the global audit and consultancy organisation. has launched an environmental accounting product. The product, is being envisaged as a technique to identify, measure and allocate environmental costs, integrate such costs into business decisions and finally convey these to the stakeholders. According to the officials of the consultancy, the need to have the product arose from the fact that corporate organisations will be, in future, managing a number of issues related to the environment.

biomass atlas: A national biomass resource atlas is being prepared in pursuance of the India's agricultural policy. The atlas will help in boosting power generation from biomass, according to government authorities. The National Biomass Resource Assessment Programme has been assigned the task to study biomass use and availability in various talukas and then prepare the atlas. The programme has already studied 150 talukas and further 175 will be studied soon.

waste utilising plant: Tamil Nadu's first power plant using solid waste as fuel is being set up at Perungudi, Chennai. The 15 megawatts plant will utilise solid waste to produce electricity, without leading to air pollution, as no toxic fumes will be released into the atmosphere. Power generated at the plant will be bought by the Tamil Nadu State Electricity Board. The plant will be built and managed by Australia-based Energy Development Limited.

safe technique: Incinerating waste leads to pollution. But, now researchers of Colorado have developed a technique which they claim will help in lowering the no x emissions. Using a silica-allumunia catalyst, with high energy radio waves in the flue of an incernator, lowers the NO x emissions. Very thin and porous layers are placed on an inert plate that is put in the flue. A high electromagnetic field heats up the catalyst and this is extremely effective at breaking down NO x .

simple yet clean: A new car, Nissan's Sentra CA, is a good example of the fact that exotic remedies for air pollution, such as all-electric cars, may not really be necessary to reduce carbon emissions. The car meets California's tough regulations for Super-Ultra-Low- Emission Vehicles. The Sentra CA uses a trio of three-way catalytic converters that limits pollutant escape. An electrically controlled swirl control valve helps reduce hydrocarbon emissions during startup. While plying on the road, Sentra CA emits fewer vapours as compared to a normal car parked with its engine off, because the car's exhaust system and metal gas tank prevents evaporative emissions.

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