Balance/Sustainability — Reusing oil to build electric cars

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According to a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the “heavy and gooey” leftovers from the petroleum refining process could become a key ingredient in making electric vehicles lighter, cheaper and more efficient.

As global oil prices continue to rise and electric vehicles become an increasingly attractive option for buyers, researchers have been looking for a way to lower the price of these cars and make them perform better.

While carbon fiber materials – like those used for some tennis racquets or bicycles – combine strength and lightness, they are expensive to produce compared to those made of steel or aluminum, according to the scientists, who published their findings on Friday. in Scientific Advances.

But MIT scientists have found a way to make these fibers from the “ultra cheap feedstock” available from petroleum refining called “petroleum pitch,” which is essentially a mixture of heavy hydrocarbons.

“The terrain is incredibly messy,” researcher Nicola Ferralis said in a statement. “That’s actually what makes it beautiful in a way, because there’s so much chemistry that can be harnessed. It makes for a fascinating material to start with.

Today we will examine India’s recent decision to buy oil at a very favorable price from Russia. Next, we’ll go beyond Earth’s atmosphere to a researcher trying to construct a framework to govern human conduct in orbit.

For Equilibrium, we are Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Please send advice or comments to [email protected] and [email protected]

Let’s go.

India buys Russian oil and fends off pressure to sanction

The state-owned Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia this week to meet the country’s energy needs, despite pressure from Western countries to refrain from such transactions, the Associated Press reported.

Not only has India spoken out against an embargo on Russian oil, but New Delhi has also expressed its intention to buy more, an Indian government official told the AP.

The Financial Times described India, the world’s third largest energy consumer, as having “recovered several shipments of Russian oil”.

first words“Oil shipments already committed from Russia that do not find buyers in Europe are being bought by India,” Alex Booth, head of research at data analytics firm Kpler, told The Times.

“Exports to India surged in March ahead of any official announcement from New Delhi,” Booth added.

Why did India make this choice? It was a steal. While the United States, Britain and other Western countries discouraged India from taking such a step, Russia was offering a steep discount on oil sales – 20% below global benchmark prices – reported the AP, citing Indian media sources.

Recent global price spikes have been a challenge for India, which depends on imports for 85% of the oil it consumes, according to the AP. Meanwhile, the country’s oil demand is expected to jump 8.2% this year.

Sides of the story: Earlier this week, the White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiHealth Care – Pelosi fires higher on COVID-19 funding Defense and National Security – Blinken details Russia’s possible next steps Biden says US is open to helping Ukrainian refugees MORE said that while India’s purchases of Russian oil would not violate US sanctions, the country should “think about where you want to be when the history books are written.”


While India was not sourcing much oil from Russia due to the associated high shipping costs, Vivekanand Subbaraman, research analyst at Ambit Capital, told the Financial Times that “that seems to be changing.”

“I think the three state refiners will buy oil from Russia given how import-dependent and politically sensitive energy is for Indians,” Subbaraman said.

On the defensive : Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi stressed on Thursday that several European countries are still importing energy from Russia and that Russia is not a major supplier of oil to India, the report said. Hindustan Times.

Follow the money: One potential financial route to doing business with Russia cited by Indian media has been a Soviet-era payment mechanism that directly exchanges Indian rupees for Russian roubles.

It was a process devised during the Cold War to circumvent the US dollar, New Delhi-based news analytics site ThePrint reported. India paid rupees for items purchased from Russia, which equaled the value of the product in rubles.

But government officials are skeptical that this kind of payment mechanism could work the same way today, according to ThePrint.

India’s perspective: Regardless of the method of payment, India needs trade with Russia for its survival, Amit Cowshish, a retired Indian Ministry of Defense official who previously oversaw India’s military procurement, told The Washington Post. India.

The country’s armed forces would be devastated within a year if New Delhi could not trade with Moscow, according to Cowshish.

Learn more here.

Avoid resource wars in space

Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty says outer space has become a “totally Wild West” as more government and commercial entities navigate the ambiguous legal environment above Earth.

Aganaba, professor of space and society at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Interplanetary Initiative, sat down with Equilibrium to discuss how insights from environmental law can help prevent conflict in the new space race.

First words: Faced with questions such as how to dispose of waste, how to exploit resources and how to share vital goods, including water and oxygen, “we have this border mentality that we can learn from and say, ‘Well , we don’t want to make the same mistakes in space,” Aganaba told Equilibrium.

Environmental law in space? Aganaba found environmental law to be a surprisingly good lens for studying the fragile environment of human life in space.

A vast ocean: Like the oceans, the size of which does little to protect vulnerable and vital coastlines, the seemingly infinite vastness of space masks the fact that the area available for human economic activity is shockingly limited – as are the resources of oxygen and water needed to survive.

Let’s take the question of water and oxygen: In space, they will be rare and future astronauts or colonists will have to either bring them or extract them from the environment.

But Earth’s mining laws translate poorly to space, Aganaba said. The overarching legal treaty for space governance – the Outer Space Treaty, which she described as “the Constitution of Space” – prohibits countries from “appropriating” extraterrestrial environments.


“Non-appropriation” has been broadly interpreted to mean a ban on planting flags or claiming territories – which, on Earth, are the essential first steps in the exploitation of resources, such as hydrogen and oxygen, which colonists might have to extract to make air and water.

This is a big legal challenge: “All capitalists have a big problem with that,” Aganaba said, “because they’re like, ‘Why would I go to space, invest in finding a mine – and then it belongs to the whole world? ?'”

A possible answer: Some claim that even if the mine could not be appropriated, the resources could.

Countries might say that they won’t own, say, pieces of territory on the Moon, “but we will protect the rights of our citizens who seek it out.”

But “protection” is a risky concept: it clashes with the other glaring hole in the Outer Space Treaty: the problem of military activity in space. When the treaty was signed in 1967 by the United States, the then Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, space was accessible only by the craft of the two major superpowers.

Space is already militarized: “We keep saying, ‘Should we weaponize space? Should space be militarized? without really acknowledging that it already is,” Aganaba said.

“The American interpretation is peaceful means non-aggressive,” she added, but pointed out that during the 1991 Gulf War, space surveillance and communications aimed missiles at their targets. “Would you say the use of GPS to navigate missiles is aggressive or not? »

What space do we want? Without a firm and agreed international legal environment for space, Aganaba says we will have more conflict and militarization.

Last words: “As a person of diversity, equity and inclusion – I don’t want a domain that is exclusively militarized or reserved for dominant players,” Aganaba said.

“As an African, if there are resources up there, if there are benefits there, you know, ordinary children in Africa should also be able to benefit from them.”

Read the full interview – which discusses the pivotal role the African Union could play in crafting a new model space law – here.

Continued Friday

Work from home, drive less, fly less to avoid oil shocks: energy agency

Manchin’s mixed messages challenge Democrats

Lake Powell Reservoir Falls To Dangerous Levels

Please visit The Hill’s sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. We’ll see you on Monday.

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