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Discarded Solar Panels Result in Toxic Pollution

Solar Panels

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Photovoltaic panels, used to produce renewable solar power, become complex pieces of electronic waste at the end of their functional lives. The International Renewable Energy Agency projects that up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will be discarded by 2050, and that the world will be generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually. Recovering the silver and silicon inside them requires costly, specialized solutions. Many solar panels contain lead that can leach out as they decompose in landfills. Some panels are exported to developing countries with weak environmental protections. Most are rated for about 25 years of use, so a major influx is due to arrive shortly.

Nonprofit PV Cycle collects thousands of tons of solar e-waste across the European Union each year, where producers are required to ensure that their solar panels are recycled properly. Recycle PV Solar, one of the only recyclers in the U.S., where almost no regulations exist, reports reclaiming just 10 percent of the country’s solar waste. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is investigating new processes to recover all metals and minerals at states of high purity, with the goal of making recycling as economically viable and environmentally beneficial as possible.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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