Freshkills Park Blog

The facts of bioremediation

Greenmuseum interviews Terry Hazen, Director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology and the Head of Ecology at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about bioremediation, its benefits and its hazards.  Hazen is a well-spoken expert on the subject of remediating contaminated sites and the microorganisms that can be used to do so.  Below, he gives a comprehensive lecture on the subject as part of the lab’s lecture series.

October 20, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Toward the Sentient City

Amphibious Architecture

Amphibious Architecture, an East River water monitoring system, is one of five commissioned projects included in the exhibit.

Toward the Sentient City, an exhibit organized by The Architectural League of New York, examines the implications for architecture of the proliferation of sensor, mobile and other new technologies.  According to curator Mark Shepard:

The exhibition examines the relationship between ubiquitous computing, architecture and the city in terms of the active role its citizens might play – or neglect to play – as both designers and inhabitants, in the unfolding techno-social situations of near-future urban environments.

The exhibit includes TrashTrack, the very intriguing project which we’ve blogged about before, as well as Too Smart City, an array of street furniture, signage and trash receptacles that interacts with passers-by.  The trash cans demonstrate “overly enthusiastic usage of computational intelligence” by analyzing garbage deposits and throwing recyclable or unacceptable trash back out.  Among other projects on display is Amphibious Architecture, a submerged water monitor system in the East River, designed by Columbia University’s Living Architecture LabThe exhibit is on view until November 7th at The Urban Center, 457 Madison Avenue, New York City.  Admission is free.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return on investment in habitat corridors


Aerial views of the square natural areas targeted in the study, and the linear habitat corridors established between them.

Habitat corridors are planted or wild strips of land between natural areas that encourage wildlife to migrate from place to place and, in turn, to help fertilize a broader range of places through the seeds they carry on them or digest.   A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the establishment of habitat corridors between existing natural areas–and the resulting migration of wildlife between those areas–can increase biodiversity not only in connected sites, but also in habitat adjacent to those sites.  In the study, conducted in South Carolina in conjunction with the USDA, the biodiversity spillover effect was found to extend beyond the boundaries of the connected natural areas by as much as 30%, resulting in a 10-18% increase in plant life–particularly native plants–in the larger area.  The findings suggest that investments in habitat connections can pay off on a scale even beyond their designed ambition.

The master plan for Freshkills Park includes the establishment of habitat corridors around the bases of each of the site’s four landfill mounds, connecting to three large adjacent natural areas–the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, the Staten Island Greenbelt and Arden Heights Woods–as well as expanding biodiversity in the Freshkills Park site, itself, and in the general vicinity.

(via Scientific American)

September 23, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , | 1 Comment

Diffuse light solar panels

indirect_solar copy

Researchers in Jerusalem are developing a new type of solar cell that can generate power from diffuse light. The cells form panels that transmit light to silicon solar receptors at their edges. GreenSun Energy of  Tel Aviv say their panels have achieved a 12% efficiency rate, much lower than the world’s most efficient cells, but hope to eventually reach a 20% efficiency. The panels use 80% less silicon than traditional cells, making them more cost-efficient.

The panels would not need direct sunlight to generate power, which not only means they’ll be more useful in regions with less sunny days and in locations without optimal exposure, but also that there will be less efficiency loss due to heat. Once developed, the company hopes to sell the panels at less than a quarter of the price of conventional solar panels.

(Via Inhabitat)

September 22, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , | 3 Comments

Spray-on solar

Nano-inks being spray-painted onto solar cells. Credit: Beverly Barrett

Researchers at the University of Texas are developing solar photovoltaics 10,000 times thinner than human hair that can be spray-painted onto surfaces.   The ambition of the  project is to develop a solution of sunlight-absorbing nanoparticles that can be sprayed onto a surface to create a solar panel–a process similar to newspaper printing.  The technology they’re working with uses copper indium gallium selenide instead of silicon and could be cheaper than fabricating conventional solar panels.

(via Inhabitat)

September 11, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Landfill methane used for hydrogen fuel

Catalyx Nanotech is the first company to use methane for nanofiber production. Through a demonstration project at a California landfill, the company was able to split methane into pure hydrogen and carbon to produce nanofibers.  Carbon-based nanofibers can be applied to a number of  uses: medical, energy, protection, textile; in this case, they’ll be used for hydrogren fuel supply.  The company says that by making hydrogen at a local landfill they will avoid a hugely expensive and energy inefficient process of fabricating and transporting the hydrogen.

(via Clean Technia)

September 11, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , | 2 Comments

Survey of city parks

Chugach State Park in Anchorage, the nation's largest urban park (image by Robert Cushing via

Chugach State Park in Anchorage, the nation's largest urban park, at 495,000 acres (photo by Robert Cushing via

The Trust for Public Land, a national, non-profit land conservation organization, has released its annual city park survey, revealing some interesting statistics about the nation’s urban parkland.  Some notable facts from the survey:

  • New York City has the most parkland as a percentage of city land–19.6%–of high-density cities in the US.  San Diego tops intermediate-density cities with 21.9%, and Anchorage trumps all low-density cities with a whopping 39.9%.
  • Washington D.C. leads all high-density cities in total acres of parkland per 1,000 residents with 12.9 acres.
  • San Francisco spends more tax dollars ($300) per person on parks than any other city in the nation. The national average is $100 per person.
  • Central Park is the nation’s most visited park, with 25 million visitors a year. That’s more than five times the number of annual visitors to the Grand Canyon. Chicago’s Lincoln Park is next highest with 20 million visitors; Balboa Park in San Diego, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Forest Park in St. Louis round out the top five.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | 1 Comment

Plastic bag breakthrough?

Plastic bags are an environmental bane: they take a really, really long time to decompose in landfills, they’re the largest pollutant in the world’s oceans, and the general the accumulation of plastics is “one of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet.”

Enter Daniel Burd.  The 16-year-old winner of the 2008 Canada-Wide Science Fair has deduced a way to make plastic bags decompose in a matter of months.  Burd mixed together ordinary household chemicals, yeast and water, then added the mixture to ground-up polyethlene plastic bags and dirt.  After three months of bacterial culture growth and further tests on full polyethlene strips, he identified two types of bacteria which, at the right concentration and temperature, can produce 43% degradation of plastic within six weeks.  The byproducts of the process were water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.  He now looks forward to trying the process at an industrial level.

(via WebEcoist)

August 31, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Is ecological restoration worth it?

It takes a lot of money to clean up damaged environments, and justifying the cost of expenditure with measurable results hasn’t always been possible.  A new study published in the recent “Restoration Ecology” issue of Science quantifies the impact of ecological restoration projects on levels of biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to provide substance to cost-benefit analysis. Through survey of 89 restored environments worldwide, the study found that biodiversity can increase 44% and ecosystem services 25% through ecological restoration.  Some restoration projects were more successful than others–saltwater marshes, which abound at the Freshkills Park site, fared poorly on scales of both biodiversity and ecosystem services.  In a few cases, restoration was found to have negative effects on one or both measures.  The study may be used to inform land management decisions about allocating resources to restoration projects.

(via Scientific American)

August 25, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Sludge + worms = compost

Researchers in India have been able to turn solid textile mill sludge into nutrient-rich compost in a 6-month experiment using vermicomposting and manure, according to a report published in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution. The process resulted in increased nitrogen and phosphorous content, both important for plant growth. The pilot project indicates that a shift can be made from disposing of the sludge in landfills or incinerators, which can create environmental hazards, to a safer and more natural alternative.

(via GreenBiz)

August 20, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment