Forget corn-derived biofuels. Think garbage. The process shown here uses lightning-like arcs of plasma to transform garbage and other waste into gases from which methanol and ethanol can be made. Unlike conventional incineration, it doesn’t generate toxic pollutants, and it yields up to six times as much energy as it consumes. Since its fuel–garbage–would be brought to a landfill or incinerator anyway, the technique would avoid the extra energy costs associated with growing and processing corn. The technology, based on research at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center and the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, WA, is now being commercialized by Integrated Environmental Technologies (IET), also in Richland. There’s enough energy in U.S. municipal and other waste to replace as much as a quarter of the gasoline the country uses, says Daniel Cohn, cofounder of IET and senior research scientist at the MIT center. IET is in talks with a utility and several municipalities to construct the first such plants, says CEO Jeff Surma.
View the process of transforming garbage to waste.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
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