What is Peat Moss? How Could It Harm the Environment?

Plants, Technology
[caption id="attachment_24609" align="alignright" width="480"] A beautiful peat moss bog.[/caption] Peat is composed largely of sphagnum and other mosses, although some other plant material may be included. Because these plants grow in wetlands, the abundance of water decaying plants breakdown slowly and without the presence of oxygen. That is, decomposition is anaerobic, more than aerobic. Commercializing Peat Moss Harvested peat is employed in a number of ways. Perhaps best known is its use as a soil amendment and in the manufacture of peat pots for seed germination. In some regions, dried peat is used for the generation of electric power. There might not be much impact from this, except over large periods of time, meters-deep peat bogs form. They become a valuable resource. However, the need for peat is sometimes less…
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Fly Ash for Concrete: Lowers Cost, Rids Waste and Aids the Environment

Chemistry, Technology
[caption id="attachment_15873" align="alignright" width="440"] Finding uses for waste products - Fly Ash[/caption] Fly ash for concrete? Most concrete is formulated from water, broken stone or gravel, sand, and cement—generally Portland cement. The formulation can include a small quantity of waste material. Fly ash is one such waste material. It offers three advantages. It reduces the need to dispose of some of earth’s abundant fly ash waste, it decreases cost, and decreases helps decrease damage to the environment. What is Fly Ash? Fly ash is the lightweight particulate carried along by flue gases produced from burning coal in boilers. It may be removed electrostatic precipitation. Although coal is mostly carbon, coal deposits are embedded in rock. Thus, inevitably, burning coal yields some silica (SiO2), alumina (Al₂2O3), and calcium oxide (CaO). Tragically,…
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Cement Production Aggravates Carbon Dioxide Levels

Chemistry, Manufacturing
The greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, has been present in our atmosphere for thousands of years. Although plants consume CO2, the supply is excessive. To label some sources as natural and some as man-made is futile. Here we discuss how producing cement aggravates carbon dioxide levels. To Illustrate Much of mankind spends considerable time in temperatures around the 80 to 100 degree range. If that temperature increased by 30 to 40 degrees, health and welfare would be endangered. Some carbon dioxide is necessary for proper ecosystem function. But as carbon dioxide increases, the planet's welfare is called into question. So what represents the percentage carbon dioxide due to cement production? Limestone to Lime There are many materials containing a limestone (calcium carbonate, CaCO3). While this ingredient is used in producing cement,…
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Maximize Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Gas Production

[caption id="attachment_11780" align="alignright" width="480"] What fuel do you use?[/caption] Heating one’s home is important to life and comfort. However, as in other areas of life, there are issues to consider. Burning fuel for heat releases carbon dioxide greenhouse gas. But now, let’s flip that. Let’s consider it from the “Devil’s perspective.” Consider the production of destructive carbon dioxide as the intended accomplishment, with the release of heat as a side effect. Fuel of Choice The fuel we choose is based in part on cost in dollars and cents. Some of our choices are heating oil, wood, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and coal. In terms of cost, how do these compare? Back to the flip, how efficient are these fuels in maximizing carbon dioxide greenhouse gas production? For simplicity’s sake, we…
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Comparing Hemoglobin and Chlorophyll

Biology, Medicine
[caption id="attachment_7766" align="alignright" width="440"] Hemoglobin tetramer ribbon CC-by-SA3.0 Zephyris[/caption] Are there similarities between the plant and animal world, for instance, between hemoglobin and chlorophyll? In nature, one can expect many parallels. Many animals have four feet. There are apes, lions, camels, and tortoises. Are all these related? Not really. Again, nearly all animals have two eyes in their head. Is there significance beyond the fact that this enables stereoscopic vision along an excellent line-of-sight? And so we come to the two substances most closely associated with life processes: the chlorophyll of plant life and the hemoglobin of animal life. Chlorophyll produces the food plants need for survival. Hemoglobin carries nutrients and oxygen essential to animal life. Although animals and plants are different, there are interesting parallels to be seen in…
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Yeast and Baking Powder Bread Dough

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_6469" align="alignright" width="440"] CC-SA 3.0 by Lou Sander[/caption] Have you ever made dough with yeast and baking powder? Bread is one of the staples of life. Some translations of the Bible read, "Give us this day our daily bread." Most bread is leavened bread. Leavening refers to an ingredient or ingredients designed to raise and lighten bread, through the incorporation of tiny gas bubbles throughout the dough. Dough rises through two mechanisms, employing yeast and baking powder. The first is a biological process, the second is a chemical process. Either procedure results in a delicious, decidedly edible product. Yeast Rolls Yeast rolls and other breads are raised by means of microscopic animals called yeast. Yeast combines oxygen from the air with carbohydrates such as glucose sugar to produce carbon…
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Carbon Monoxide is More Dangerous than Carbon Dioxide

[caption id="attachment_5355" align="alignright" width="440"] Carboxyhemoglobin - CCA SA 3.0 Unported by Rifleman 82[/caption] Human and animal life requires an exchange of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). If the atmosphere contains more than a minimum of carbon monoxide (CO), life is at risk. Why? Consider the properties that distinguish carbon dioxide from the monoxide. Carbon Dioxide Carbon dioxide contains two atoms of oxygen bonded to one atom of carbon. The structure is written O=C=O. The length of its double bonds is 116.3 picometers. Bonding is covalent, not ionic. Water solubility at 250C is 1.45 g/l. Carbon Monoxide Carbon monoxide is written simply C≡O. The triple bond is 112.8 picometers. It consists of two polar covalent bonds plus a coordinate covalent bond. Its dissociation energy is 1072 kilojoules per mole. Water…
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