A greener concrete? UW-led coalition seeks to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint

Concrete is the most widely used manmade material in the world. Each year, more than 1 cubic yard of concrete is created for every person on the planet.

Every year the United States alone uses about 300 million cubic yards of ready-mix concrete to make streets, bridges, buildings, dams and driveways — and it lasts a very long time.

But, what if concrete could be made “greener”? What would the global energy savings be if concrete had a 50 percent smaller carbon footprint?

Preparing to install the world’s largest underwater observatory

The basement lab near the University of Washington campus is, literally, buzzing. High-voltage machines produce energy that will soon run through cables snaking along the seafloor. A dozen engineers hunch over electronics, making alterations or running checks. In one corner, a nitride-coated titanium shaft has been sitting in a bucket of saltwater for four months to test the coating for corrosion. A glass-walled cleanroom prevents contaminants from interfering with seals on housings designed to keep out seawater pressing in at 4,200 pounds per square inch.

Space-age domes offer a window on ocean acidification

A row of space-age domes off the Washington coast may provide a peek at the future. Not the future of space travel, but of climate change and the effects of increasingly acidic oceans.

A University of Washington class is using the nation’s first controlled-ocean research tool to study the effects of increased acidity on marine ecosystems.

“The goal is to study the impact of ocean acidification on biological community structure in seawater from the San Juan Islands,” said James Murray, a UW oceanography professor.

Burke Museum Herbarium Launches New Wildflower App

The University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum, the authors of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, and High Country Apps have partnered to produce the new Washington Wildflowers wildflower identification app for iOS and Android mobile devices. The app provides images, species descriptions, range maps, bloom period, and technical descriptions for more than 850 common wildflowers, shrubs, and vines that occur in Washington and adjacent areas of British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon.

The paradox of reduce-reuse-recycle

When I think Cleantech, my mind goes straight to the triangular logo on my waste container at work: “reduce, reuse, recycle.”  These three words are central to most enduring cleantech innovations, though sometimes in paradoxical ways.  “Reduce” is the most prone to paradox, since reducing one thing generally happens by increasing another. Let’s explore this “reduce” paradox via two well-known examples in that space.

UW students create, harvest fog in campus ‘hoop house’

In the fog chamber, a thick cool mist rolls from one end to the other blurring glasses, wetting caps and coats and sending water dripping down the latest test panel.

University of Washington students have been testing low-cost materials capable of harvesting water from fog in a temporary “hoop house” next to the Botany Greenhouse. They create the fog with a specially adapted power washer and record how much water condenses and drips off various panels of low-cost materials, such as shade cloth.

The engineering and interface design behind the UW’s EcoCAR 2

The UW EcoCAR 2 team is finishing its overhaul of a new car before shipping it out for initial performance tests. In order to make the most energy-efficient, plug-in hybrid possible, the team has carefully implemented designs developed through years of work.

“Since it ships out so soon, we’re nearly there,” said Tyler Rose, communications manager and MBA candidate at the Foster School of Business. “We’ve taken out the interior and prepared the battery cells, which will go in back, to power the electric motor.”