Photo by Jorrin courtesy Adobe Stock

According to researchers at the University of Exeter, people tend to use less gas and electricity when given information about their neighbors' energy consumption. Similarly, those who reported that their neighbors care about saving energy were more likely to change their consumption behaviors. "We found that when people believe their neighbors cared about energy conservation, they were more likely to subsequently save energy," said one of the study's lead authors, Jon Jachimowicz, in a university press release. "This shows it is not only what most other people are doing that matters to us, but also whether we believe they care about this particular behavior.” [University of Exeter]

In an effort to reduce greenhouse gases, chemists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a "practical, energy-efficient" method for removing carbon dioxide from the air. Using a mixture of amino acids and water, the team created an aqueous sorbent that "grabs" carbon dioxide from the air, resulting in sodium bicarbonate. While it is still cheaper to limit initial carbon dioxide emissions rather than capturing them, if applied on a large scale, this system could help minimize temperature rise on the planet attributed to climate change according to the scientists. [Oak Ridge National Laboratory]

Some tech startups working with LiDAR sensors, artificial intelligence, and digital imaging are developing products for virtual U.S.–Mexico borderwalls in an effort to secure government contracts, according to a recent New York Times article. Sunnyvale, Calif.–based Quanergy is currently testing LiDAR technology along the Rio Grande in Texas to monitor if people are entering the area. While these systems do not provide physical barriers to entry, some believe they would be cheaper to install and maintain than physical borderwalls. [The New York Times]

Researchers at Yale University have created robotic skins out of elastic sheets embedded with sensors and actuators that can be fitted onto deformable objects—such as tubes or stuffed animals—resulting in makeshift robots. “We can take the skins and wrap them around one object to perform a task—locomotion, for example—and then take them off and put them on a different object to perform a different task, such as grasping and moving an object,” said assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio in a press release. “We can then take those same skins off that object and put them on a shirt to make an active wearable device.” [Yale University]

Northern Germany is now home to the world's first hydrogen-powered train. Developed by French train manufacturer Alstom, the two Coradia iLint trains are traveling a 62-mile route that was once serviced by diesel-powered trains. According to a Guardian article, each train is "equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that leaves steam and water as the only emissions," as well as lithium-ion batteries to store excess energy. Alstom has said that it will deliver 14 more hydrogen trains to the region by 2021. [The Guardian]