Archive for Resource News

KAWAMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - JUNE 8  A "creuseur," or digger, climbs through the mine in Kawama, Democratic Republic of Congo on June 8, 2016. The cobalt that is extracted is sold to a Chinese company, CDM. Cobalt is used in the batteries for electric cars and mobile phones. Working conditions are dangerous with no safety equipment or structural support for the tunnels. The diggers are paid on average US$2-3/day.  (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
29 November 2016

Where does cobalt used in smartphone batteries come from?

Cobalt is the most expensive raw material used for building lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are used in smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles. In the past year, the price of refined cobalt has been above $20k. Also, in the past 5 years the demand for this element from the battery sector has tripled and is projected to double again by 2020.

BERC_logo-02 (1)
12 October 2016

Getting into Hot Water at a Utility

The electricity industry is going through massive changes and this summer at PG&E I looked at heat pump water heaters as a way of addressing some of those challenges. I found that heat pumps have the opportunity to have positive net economic, environmental, and energy benefits under some scenarios.

11 February 2016

Cleantech in the “Circular Economy”

This month’s Cleantech Forum in San Francisco convened a number of diverse, but similarly relevant panels and breakout sessions around the topics of clean energy and sustainability innovation. One panel topic in particular stood out to me as an often-overlooked piece of the sustainability puzzle: transitioning our exhaustive material flows into closed loops.

11 November 2015


An overview of Smart Grid communication technologies. Part 1 describes AMI.

15 April 2015

A Shaky Future for America’s National Parks?

This year marks the 100th anniversary of meetings on the UC Berkeley campus which ultimately resulted in the establishment of the National Parks Service. Cal recently hosted a conference, “Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century,” discussing the importance and future outlook of public education, public lands, and their intersection.

1 April 2015

State steps up to worsening drought conditions. Sort of.

Despite being several years into a severe drought with only a year’s worth of water in reserve and no relief in sight, it often seems that California is choosing to not be inconvenienced with the worsening drought.

18 March 2015

“Carbon-removing” gas stations: the future of transportation?

Over the past several decades, gas stations have remained largely immune to the disruption that has radically altered other industries. But as climate change continues to increase, the imperative for innovation at the pump will start to increase significantly.

mutant carrot
17 March 2015

Ugly is beautiful (and nutritious, too!)

The unrealistic cosmetic standards we expect from produce may not result in low veggie self-esteem, but they do have severe negative impacts on our food system and precious resources: about 20%-40% of food is wasted due to the aesthetic standards of food retailers.