Future of Engineering

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stunning Solar Powered Plant Pot Glows In the Dark

Until now, the fragrance of fresh flowers or the splash of nature's colors would have enticed a passer by to stop by and take a look at your well maintained garden.

This time your flowers are going to take the backseat. Your pot is going to bask in the spotlight. The humble clay pot has had a makeover. It has turned into a stunning solar powered plant pot that glows in the dark.

"As its name suggests, this stylish designer pot soaks up the sun's rays in order to charge an internal battery that powers several built-in LEDs.

As night falls the entire pot begins to glow, adding an enchanting touch of magic to your garden/patio. You can even choose between a pot that glows constant white or one that gently phases through a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colours."

It comes with a ground spike and a solar cell which enables the pot to be placed in shade too. A 3m cable connects the pot and the solar cell that is stuck to the ground. It comes with an eco-friendly tag; cos it doesn't require any electricity to function. Prices range from $39 to $45.

This fashionable garden accessory is sure to make heads turn.

Source - Firebox

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Honda's Clarity - A Car That Runs on Hydrogen and Emits Only Water

A car which runs on hydrogen and electricity and emits only water from its exhaust pipe has started to come off a production line.

The first recipients of this technological marvel are Hollywood celebs Jamie Lee Curtis, husband Christopher Guest, '24' actress Laura Harris and film producer Ron Yerxa.

Hybrids require conventional gasoline, but the Honda Clarity is powered entirely by hydrogen.The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity. The electricity then powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle. Water is the only byproduct the FCX Clarity leaves behind.

Currently Honda aims to roll out just 200 cars a year. You don't have to be a celebrity to afford them, you can lease them out for $600 per month, including insurance.

Honda's creation FCX Clarity cars ushers in a new era of eco-friendly cars.The day isn't far when fuel cell cars will be a part of the mainstream and not just limited to celebrities.

Source - Honda

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Famous Five's Cool Invention - Air-Powered Go-Kart Race Cars

Mr. Langille and his four colleagues are thrilled with their project. “It was an awesome experience, very fulfilling. We’re excited to see it work so well because there were a lot of people who were doubtful and it was exciting to get an A+.”

The Famous Five in Enid Blyton's stories were popular for their investigative skills that kept the little readers spellbound throughout the world.

Dalhousie University's Famous Five are sure to keep Racing fans and scientists spellbound with their latest invention - air powered go-kart cars.

Five Dalhousie mechanical engineering students David Alderson, Scott Allan, David Langille, Michael Roy and Dave Spencer had set upon an ambitious task for their year-long research project. They planned to develop a air powered go-kart cars. That's definitely a tall order.

To achieve it the students modified a 40-year-old snowmobile engine and ran compressed air through the engine to produce power similar to a gas engine. They attached the engine to a refurbished go-kart using two scuba tanks to house the air. The air is released through a standard scuba fitting with a high-flow regulator. The released air travels through tubing to a ball-valve connected to the foot pedal and throttle. “It operates much like a normal rotary engine,” says Mr. Langille.

The students are currently working on setting right the drawbacks. The major drawback is that it runs out of air quickly. But once the engine's capacity is refined one can look forward to a successor to conventional gas-powered engines.

The students officially unveiled their air-powered go-kart at Kartbahn Racing in Bayer’s Lake Business Park last week and invited members of the media to take it for a spin.

Source - Dalhousie University
Catch the exciting drive here.
Image credit - Nick Pearce

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Can Nanotubes Be A Source of Energy?

Image courtesy: Physorg

You have heard of carbon nanotubes, those quaint nano-stuff that can do many amazing things. Now some folks feel these can also play a role in the alternative energy domain. Read on.

When present in specially organized clusters, one could visualize carbon nanotubes as "nanotube forests." Within this forest, each individual nanotube acts like a tiny spring, and some scientists think that if you combine billions of them, they could do things that no steel spring could achieve.

Especially Carol Livermore. An assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Livermore believes these stronger-than-steel nanotubes could open new possibilities for energy generation and storage.


It is well known that you can store energy in the deformation of a spring. That is hardly a challenge. The main challenge with storing energy in springs is most don't store a lot of energy per unit of weight or volume. Livermore and is team feels that this problem can possibly be taken care of by carbon nanotubes because they can stretch incredibly far without breaking.

Nanotubes work like expansion springs - pull them and they stretch, release them and they are back to their original shape, while releasing energy. This property has already been shown with individual nanotubes. And, as mentioned earlier, these deformations can be for extreme lengths / dimensions. Now, take this useful property of nanotubes, and then combine billions of such nanotubes together into bundles. Now you can explore if extreme deformations of such bundles can produce vast amounts of energy. This is what Livermore intends to do.

With a grouping of nanotubes as long as an inch or two, it will be possible to test the qualities of the carbon nanotubes in a visible experiment. Instruments could measure the amount of force used, and the amount of energy returned when the spring contracts.

What are the possible applications of energy from such nanotube bundles? Some of the possibilities discussed are high-end mechanical watches that need winding only once, regenerative braking devices for bicycles etc. They are also thinking of ways in which the nanotube springs could replace some kind of batteries. Not exactly earth-shaking, but hey, this is just the beginning. Essentially, what these folks are looking at are ways to capture & store mechanical energy and release it to do useful things. I'm sure there are more interesting applications one can visualise and perfect if the technology works out fine.

Source: Boston.com

Some related news items you could find useful:
Nanotubes Grown Straight in Large Numbers, Silicon Nanotubes Store Hydrogen More Efficiently Than Carbon Nanotubes

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Bags Now Power Your Mobile - Solar Bags Have Arrived!

Now this is interesting. Call it the marriage of design and ecology. Eco-totes are becoming more and more in vogue now, with the Solar Bag being the latest in this series of eco-conscious innovations.

The Solar Bag is a bag with a miniature solar panel built into its front to accumulate energy. Inside there’s a battery and a range of plugs so you can hook up your I-Pod, mobile phone and every type of digital device.

The Solar Bag comes in two styles: a small trunk made from Bordeaux or black chamois, or classic arm-bag. With our entire society becoming eco & green conscious, eco-totes such as the Solar Bag will likely be frequently heard about from now on!

Designer Ennio Capasa is credited with developing the Solar Bag.

Of interest to you also could be the Power Purse, another cool eco-tote, developed by Solarjo. This again is covered with small solar panels that can power cell phones or any other gadgets through a USB port built inside.

Related stuff: Noon Solar - creates green totes and satchels chosen for their sustainability, Voltaic Backpacks - mobile solar power generators designed to charge virtually all handheld electronics.

We live in interesting times.

Sources: Boing Boing Gadgets, Crave, CNC Costume National, Racked

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Biocatalysts - Generics Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Go Green

Green chemistry incorporates concepts such as atom economy, convergency (higher process efficiency with fewer operations), reagent optimization (use of catalysis and more selective and recyclable reagents), and raw material efficiency.

One of the emerging green chemistry aspects is biocatalysts.

An advantage of these biocatalysts and of green chemistry in general, is the ability to manufacture a product in more generic facilities, compared to the demands of traditional chemocatalysis, which typically requires high pressure and high or low temperature reactors.
Another green chemistry strategy is telescoping, which aims to minimize the carryover of impurities from one process step to the next. The ability to make a product or an intermediate without any side products eliminates purification steps, saving time, energy, cost, and waste.

Interest in biocatalysis is high in the generics industry, in particular, as the generics manufacturers are actively seeking strategies to lower manufacturing costs and increase profit margins. It is predicted that biocatalysis technology will improve incrementally, with advances in proteomics enabling molecular evolution to be more directed and structure-based and less dependent on random mutagenesis.

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Keywords: Green chemistry, recyclable reagents, BioVerdant, IChemE Alex Tao, CSO, Codexis, biocatalytic enzymes, biocatalysts, green generic facilities, generics industry

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Microfiber Fabric Creates Electricity, Uses Zinc Oxide Nanowires

Scientists have developed a microfiber fabric that generates its own electricity. The cloth makes enough current to recharge a cell phone or power a small MP3 player.

The fibers are coated with zinc oxide nanowires; one fiber is also coated with gold. When rubbed together, they generate electrical current. The shirt generates power as it moves, so a person walking or a slight breeze would create power. A 3 meter square piece of fabric is enough to power an iPod!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Algae Startups to Watch - GreenFuel, Petrosun, Solazyme

If corn-based biofuels are the Britney Spears of the cleantech world (a fallen star but still all over the place), fuel made from algae is the next great American Idol winner (major potential in the pipeline). And despite the fact that algae-to-biofuel startups have been taking their sweet time bringing a pond scum fuel product to market, some inroads have been made recently — GreenFuel is building its first plant, PetroSun starts producing at their farm on April 1, and big oil Chevron and Shell have made some early bets as well.

As we watch this play out, here are 15 algae biofuel firms that you should know about
GreenFuel Technologies
Blue Marble Energy
Inventure Chemical
Live Fuels
Solix Biofuels
Aurora Biofuels
Aquaflow Binomics
Petro Sun

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Keywords: Algae Startups, Pond Scum, Fuel Tanks, corn-based biofuels, cleantech world
GreenFuel, PetroSu,Solazyme , Blue Marble Energy , Inventure Chemical , Solena
Live Fuels, Solix Biofuels, Aurora Biofuels, Aquaflow Binomics, Petro Sun Bionavitas, Seambiotic


India's Future Lies in its Water Management

How India manages its fresh water and the populations’ response to water issues will determine whether it will be a giant civilisation, just another giant or a giant problem. Its river basin’s are not only catchments of precipitation or Monsoon but social, cultural and political needs and challenges of highland, lowland urban and rural citizens. India will only be a giant if it survives and prospers after this global environmental change.

Dam building and the National River Linking Project need further study and careful examination because of the lack of a comprehensive environmental and cultural information database. So too the building of mega infrastructure in a seismically sensitive area of the Himalayas needs careful planning even if this hinders economic development.

Full report from here

Keywords: India Hydrological Future, river basins, seismically sensitive area

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Cow Dung, Agriculture Waste as Fuel - Ann Christy, MIT BioVolt Cells

While the brightest scientists in the world are in the process of inventing high-tech equipments and processes in pursuit of alternative energy, there are folks who are looking at utterly down-to-earth sources for the same. Take Ann Christy, for example.

Ann Christy, an associate professor of food, agriculture and biological engineering at Ohio State University, has been conducting new research into the use of cow waste to produce energy. According to Ms Christy's research, the bacteria in cow dung release electrons during the digestion on cellulose - "in the form of undigested plant matter in the cows' waste.

Ms Christy's team of scientific researchers have so far succeeded in producing half of the power required to energise an AA battery. "While that's a very small amount of voltage, the results show that it is possible to create electricity from cow waste," she commented.

This is hardly the first time cow dung is used as fuel. In fact, in developing and poor countries, cow dung has been used as a form of fuel for ages. What is significant about recent research are the more scientific methods used to explore the potential of cow waste as a fuel. Current use of cow dung in poor countries, though intuitive, might not be the most optimal way to use it.

It is hoped that researches such as these will enable us to accomodate animal and human waste as a significant alternative energy source. Don't look forward to waste powering your car anytime soon, but they could at least power your mobile battery!

See also related researches done last few years in using cow dung as fuel here, here, here and here

Energy from waste is an interesting domain because of its double-benefits - creates energy from a free resource while improving the environment by sanitizing waste.

On related developments in the waste-to-energy domain, a team of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have also created waste-powered fuel cells. The MIT BioVolt cells are capable of running on plant waste and can generate electricity for household use in off-grid areas and developing countries.


Monday, April 14, 2008

UK Wind Turbines, Wave, Tidal, Hydro Energy Devices to Increase

Nearly 10,000 wind turbines will be spinning on land and sea by 2020 if Britain is to meet a new renewable-energy target announced recently.

The estimated fivefold increase in the number of turbines would be required to meet a new renewable-energy target for the UK under a plan detailed by the European Commission. Under the proposals, which are still to be agreed by member states, the UK would have to ensure at least 15 per cent of energy – in the form of electricity, heating and fuel – will come from renewable resources. Given limited scope to reduce fossil fuels used for transport and heating, renewable electricity supplies will need to make up between 30 and 40 per cent of the total.This could potentially mean a total of 5,200 turbines on land and 4,000 on sea, plus a mix of about 5,000 wave, tidal, and small run-of-river hydro and biomass devices by 2020, generating up to 46 gigawatts – or around 37 per cent of electricity demand.

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Oorja - A Small Stove in India to Reduce Carbon Emissions

A $17 stove could reduce carbon emissions and improve women’s health in India. The invention of a tiny stove in India demonstrates the link between reduced carbon emissions and improved health – and how technology can contribute to slowing climate change. Global energy giant BP is producing and marketing Oorja, which means energy in Hindi, a small pellet stove that produces substantially fewer emissions than the traditional wood-burning stoves so common throughout India. In developing the stove, BP ran models by rural consumers. A team of businesswomen based in villages sell stoves and fuel made of agricultural waste products, while also offering BP advice on promoting other energy products to rural India’s millions. In wealthy and poor countries alike, efforts to control climate changes will require innovative and affordable alternative-energy products, combined with meticulous grassroots marketing campaigns in order to change old habits.

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EcoGlove Reusable Gloves, Uses Cold Plasma Sterilization

The makers of the humble disposable rubber gloves are turning “green”, with the introduction of the reusable EcoGlove.

EcoGlove chairman Patrick Hampe claimed that the gloves would be cheaper for end users, reduce the risk of latex and chemical allergies, and friendlier to Mother Nature.

After use, the new gloves would be reprocessed by its manufacturers – sanitised and checked for defects – before being repackaged and sent back to the users.

A machine using cold plasma technology sterilises the gloves, and as a quality control measure, Hampe said any one set of gloves are only allowed to be reused seven times.

With EcoGlove, Hampe said the carbon footprint would be reduced by 60%, as there would be almost zero wastage.

Hampe said Loprol is a formula that is almost free from proteins, which trigger latex allergies, while most chemical allergies are linked to nitrile gloves.

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Zenith Solar of Israel Pioneering Concentrated Solar Power Method

Israeli energy startup Zenith Solar is pioneering a "concentrated solar power" method that is up to five times more efficient than standard technology

Rooftops all over Israel look strikingly similar: More than 1 million households in the nation of 7.1 million people have solar panels that produce hot water—a relatively simple technology that gained popularity after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, when oil prices shot up sharply. As of the early 1990s, all new residential buildings were required by the government to install solar water-heating systems.

Zenith Solar, based in Nes Ziona near Tel Aviv, is a pioneer in a new type of solar energy that uses mirrors and lenses to focus and intensify the sun's light, producing far more electricity at lower cost. Compared with traditional flat photovoltaic panels made of silicon, this so-called concentrated solar power technology has proved in tests to be up to five times more efficient

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Plastic Bags Not an Environmental Disaster?

You've all heard the claims -- plastic bags kill marine animals. Hundreds of thousands of them.

Apparently, the problem started with a typo in an 2002 Australian Government report. It attempted to quote from an Canadian study 15 years earlier, which found that up to 100,000 marine animals had been killed over four years by "discarded nets" from the fishing industry. Somehow, the 2002 report replaced that phrase with "plastic bags." But finally science seems to be winning out. According to David W. Laist of the Marine Mammal Commission, and author of a primary research paper on the subject, "plastic bags don't figure in entanglement. The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands." Professor of Marine Biology Geoff Boxshall concurred, “I’ve never seen a bird killed by a plastic bag"

Plastic bags are much cheaper than paper, which is why stores favor them. They take less resources and energy to produce, they're far cheaper to ship and store, they're recyclable and some are even biodegradable. Those savings aren't just for the stores, they translate into lower food costs and less damage to the environment, says this interesting post.

Surprising, I'd all along thought that plastic bags were an environmental disaster!

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Free Flow Power Corp. to Install Turbines in Mississippi River Bed for Electricity

A New England startup company wants to harness the mighty river Mississippi for generating electricity. The company, Free Flow Power Corp., is pursuing a $3 billion plan to install thousands of small electric turbines in the river bed, reaching from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico, that would collectively generate 1,600 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 1.5 million homes. Gloucester, Mass.-based Free Flow Power is among a number of developers of so-called hydrokinetic projects, defined as those that produce electricity from river currents or ocean waves and tides — not dams

Each site would consist of hundreds or thousands of turbines installed over several miles. The turbines, which would be attached to pilings in the river bed, are about 2 feet in diameter and probably would be made of carbon fiber or another lightweight composite material, Irvin said. The river’s natural flow would spin the turbines to generate electricity, which would be transmitted to the power grid

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Sault Ste. Marie Invention Makes Biodiesel from Cocunut Oil

Are green-energy petrol-alternatives the renewable saviour gas guzzlers need? Green technology from two Sault Ste. Marie residents could mean a new career for many Filipino farmers - producing fuel from coconut oil.

Green Corp. entrepreneurs Luc Duchesne and Norman Jaehrling finished their latest innovation, the Greenstar 1000, last week - a $300,000 machine that produces 1,000 litres of biodiesel in a 10-hour shift. That's 5,000 litres every two days.

Coconut farmers will share the Greenstar machines, housed in explosion-proof trailers, to create biodiesel from coconut oil, which they can then sell to local oil companies.

Critics however argue the alternative fuel push is responsible for large-scale deforestation and a worldwide food crisis.

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Iceland Turns to Geothermal and Hydroelectric Power to Cut Oil Dependence

Problems linked to foreign oil dependence are real and frightening

In fact, Iceland, in its effort to reduce dependence on imported oil and clean up its environment at the same time, is trying to become the world’s first petroleum-free economy. President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson described his nation’s situation this way: “We have this eternal machine in this country created by the Almighty consisting of the fire below under the ground and the glaciers and the water that comes from the sky, and it goes on and on, year after year, century after century, creating this fascinating source of energy.”

So Iceland set out on an ambitious and risky program to develop its existing resources. Rather than import every joule of their energy, Icelanders drilled wells to tap hot underground water and built a grid of pipes throughout the entire city of Reykjavík to circulate the water to heat the city’s homes and offices. Soon, Icelanders were also using their volcanoes and many rivers to generate copious amounts of geothermal and hydroelectric energy

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Keywords: Real-World Solutions, Foreign Oil Dependence, environmental regulation, Vikings, hydrogen-powered ships, Daimler Chrysler, Toyota, hydrogen-powered cars, Hertz, Jules Verne, Asgeir Margeirsson, geothermal company, Geysir Green Energy


Arctic Ocean Has 400 Billion Barrels of Oil - the Next Saudi Arabia?

Just when we thought that diminishing oil supplies would spur rapid transition to solar and wind power and other non-fossil sources, the Las Vegas-based Arctic Oil & Gas has announced that new geological data on the Arctic Ocean suggests the possible presence of 400 billion barrels of oil.Arctic Oil & Gas cites recent scientific evidence that huge, floating mats of azolla decomposed soon after the age of the dinosaurs and exist today as "vast hydrocarbon resources" trapped in layers of rock below the polar ice cap.

The latest report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, as we know, that the ice cap is warming faster than the rest of the planet and ice is receding. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic has as much as 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Moscow reportedly sees the potential of minerals in its slice of the Arctic sector approaching $2 trillion. Major petroleum companies are now focusing research and exploration on the far north. In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue "a serious, competitive battle" that "will unfold more and more fiercely.

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Pedal Powered Washing Machine - by Bart Orlando

This article appeared in the HSU Lumberjack newspaper in 1997. The article is based on an interview with the pedal powered washing machine designer, Bart Orlando. Since then, the pedal power drive line of the washer has been simplified. The number of fanbelts used has been reduced from two belts to one belt. Now, one fanbelt connects the flywheel of the exercise bike directly to the pulley which drives the transmission of the washer. This reduces the amount of friction by eliminating one belt and two pillow blocks. Less friction translates into less pedaling effort.

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Nokia's Mobile Eco Sensor - More Aware of Your Health & Environment

This concept from Nokia, truly is surfing the Eco trend wave.

To help make you more aware of your health and local environmental conditions, the Nokia Eco Sensor Concept will include a separate, wearable sensing device with detectors that collect environment, health, and/or weather data. You will be able to choose which sensors you would like to have inside the sensing device, thereby customizing the device to your needs and desires. For example, you could use the device as a “personal trainee” if you were to choose a heart-rate monitor and motion detector (for measuring your walking pace).

The concept consists of two parts – a wearable sensor unit which can sense and analyze your environment, health, and local weather conditions, and a dedicated mobile phone.

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Park Hotel, Hyderabad - India's First Green Hotel

For the new-age green consumer and those who believe in sustainable tourism here is a good news. After eco-friendly hotels, India will have it’s first green hotel — The Park Hotel in Hyderabad. The investment in this 280-room hotel, scheduled to start operations by mid-2009, will be around Rs 350 crore, 15% higher than a regular hotel. And it might not be a good idea for smokers to book a room in the hotel as 90% of it’s area will be non-smoking. Another Park Hotel property lined up in Pune, for which the group recently acquired 90,000 sq ft, will also be built on the lines of green buildings

An eco-friendly hotel is constructed using recycled materials, whereas a green building aims at saving energy. “Though the initial cost of construction is almost 15% higher for a green hotel, we will be able to recover that through efficiency in operations. A green hotel saves 34.7% of the energy costs,” added Bali. According to Spectral Consultancy Services, The Oberoi Group also has two green hotel projects in the pipeline — in Hyderabad and Goa

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Pot-in-Pot - A Wireless Fridge, Refrigeration Without Electricity

For hundreds of years a similar type of cooling has been employed by desert dwellers around the world. The concept is explained by a simple law of thermodynamics. When moisture comes in contact with dry air it evaporates. You see, water has this amazing characteristic of having a very high retention of heat. This ancient technology has been used for cooling water for hundreds of years

Mohammed Bah Abba took this idea one step further. By placing one pot inside another and filling the gap in between the two pots with moist sand he was able to create a refrigeration system that requires nothing more than a little bit of moisture. The moist sand filling the gap between the two pots draws heat away from the inner pot and dissipates the heat through the evaporation of the moisture. The inner pot is filled with perishable foods that would normally last for mere days, but with this system can last for weeks. Mohammed Bah Abba's invention awarded him the Rolex Award for Enterprise, and has been recognised as a very important contribution to societies with limited energy resources, or where energy costs are prohibitive. Many families no longer rely on their children to "rush sell" their food goods and can now sell when the demand arises due to the reduction of spoilage

Mohammed is a a lecturer at polytechnic college in Northern Nigeria, and comes from a family of pot makers. He drew on his childhood experience and invented his Pot-in-Pot cooling system in 1995 and received the Rolex Award in 2000.

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CR5 - Using Concentrated Solar Power to Produce CO, Fuel from CO2

Using concentrated solar energy to reverse combustion, a research team from Sandia National Laboratories is building a prototype device intended to chemically “reenergize” carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using concentrated solar power. The carbon monoxide could then be used to make hydrogen or serve as a building block to synthesize a liquid combustible fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The prototype device, called the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5, for short), will break a carbon-oxygen bond in the carbon dioxide to form carbon monoxide and oxygen in two distinct steps. It is a major piece of an approach to converting carbon dioxide into fuel from sunlight.

The Sandia research team calls this approach “Sunshine to Petrol” (S2P). “Liquid Solar Fuel” is the end product — the methanol, gasoline, or other liquid fuel made from water and the carbon monoxide produced using solar energy.

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15-Year-Old Llew Falla Uses Cow Manure to Produce Electricity & Methane

There's two schools of thought on the latest invention from Llew Falla, Sarnia's 15-year-old science fair whiz.

Some say there is unlimited application potential for the project, called CH4 optimization of biowaste via microbial fuel cell control. Then, there's the notion the kid's project is full of crap.
Actually, both are correct.

Falla's entry in the upcoming Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Atlanta, Ga., uses cow manure to produce electricity and methane gas.

He's found a better way to break down cow manure using a microbial fuel cell to produce clean, usable electricity and methane gas.

The hydrogen and ions in the manure react with water, generating electricity and methane gas. The gas is trapped and stored in a separate chamber.

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Firewinder the Eco-friendly LED Light Powered by Wind

This might not be the most practical outdoor light in the world, but what the Firewinder lacks in pedestrian utility it makes up for in sheer engaging awesomeness. Transforming wind into light, the Firewinder is a hanging, wind-powered LED light that can be powered by the smallest breeze. Unlike most wind turbines that spin vertically, the Firewinderspins in a horizontal direction, illuminating its LEDs in a spiraling helix of light. The coolest thing about the Firewinder is that it doesn’t just run on or off, but instead is visibly reactive to subtle changes in the environment. How bright the LEDs glow corresponds directly to how fast the turbine spins, enabling observers to visualize the power of wind.

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Japan Aims for 10 % Energy from Ocean - Wave Energy Update

Ocean Energy Association Japan (OEAJ) is proposing to meet 10 per cent of Japan's energy needs from ocean energy by 2050. The recommendation was part of a report submitted to the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation, a governmental body set up to develop new oil alternative technologies in the 1980s.

OEAJ is hoping to kick-start the second stage of wave development in the country. The association is aiming to develop new wave power devices capable of generating outputs at JPY20 (US$0.20) per kWh during the second stage development.

Japan is among the pioneers behind the modern wave developments in the 1970s. Major wave power inventions originating from Japan include the Oscillating Wave Column (OWC) and Kaimei in the 1970s. The OWC technology is commonly applied to wave developments following the 1970s.

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Intelligent Energy, Suzuki Motor Pact for Hydrogen Motorcycle

Leading fuel cell power systems company Intelligent Energy has strengthened its relationship with the Suzuki Motor Corporation with an agreement that will see the progression to commercially viable fuel cell motorcycles.

The collaboration has already resulted in the Suzuki Crosscage, a hydrogen fuelled concept motorcycle unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor show. Intelligent Energy's high performance fuel cell power systems coupled with Suzuki's commitment to low-emissions transport mean the reality of hydrogen powered motorcycles is closer than ever.

Intelligent Energy's proprietary Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell designs are based on the use of thin metallic plates, which make the fuel cell stack compact and amenable to mass manufacture.

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Waste to Ethanol, Biodiesel - U of Maryland Invention Promises Biofuels Advance

University of Maryland research that started with bacteria from the Chesapeake Bay has led to a process that may be able to convert large volumes of all kinds of plant products, from leftover brewer's mash to paper trash, into ethanol and other biofuel alternatives to gasoline. That process, developed by University of Maryland professors Steve Hutcheson and Ron Weiner, professors of cell biology and molecular genetics, is the foundation of their incubator company Zymetis, which was on view today in College Park for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and state and university officials.

Partnership with the State enables University of Maryland faculty and students to commercialize new discoveries quickly

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Dye Based Solar Cells with Titanium Oxide Nanocrystals To Be Embedded In Consumer Products

Dye based solar cells are made of titanium oxide nanochrystals. These are coated with light absorbing dye that can be used in various materials including glass and plastic. The dye is immersed in an electrolyte solution. When light reaches the surface, the dye sets free electrons which in turn create ‘holes’ – positive charges as a result of ‘lost electrons’. The titanium dioxide semiconducts and transfers electricity to an electrical circuit and energy is created.

The solar cells convert light to electricity with an efficiency of 7.2 percent, which is a record for this type of cell. Solar panels typically convert 16 percent to 20 percent of light into energy. But the advantage of the organic dye cells is that they also convert low light and that they can be ‘tuned’ for specific wavelengths.
The first company manufacturing dye sensitized solar, Konarka, based in Lowell, MA, announced it had successfully conducted the first-ever demonstration of manufacturing solar cells by highly efficient inkjet printing ten days ago. Konarka is focusing on getting the technology embedded in hundreds of day to day products. In the Summer Konarka is planning on shipping out its first products, mainly gadgets, lights and smart cards.

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Jayant Baliga's IGBT's Could Have the World's Smallest Carbon Footprint

NC State Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Jayant Baliga, may have the world's smallest carbon footprint - the amount of greenhouse gases that a person directly or indirectly releases into the atmosphere each year.

One of Baliga's inventions is responsible for eliminating the need for more than 100 gigawatts of power, which translates to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of about 1 trillion pounds per year. Now, he is working to make his footprint even smaller by pursuing new inventions that further improve energy efficiency.

The energy saved by the use of IGBTs in electric motors and energy-efficient light bulbs alone equals 100 gigawatts, meaning that new one-gigawatt, coal-fired power plants won't need to be built to match the former demand. There are economic benefits as well - to the tune of $2 billion for each plant that does not have to be built.

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Oil, Gas Extraction Technology Bought by Platina Energy Group

An energy production company bought gas technology developed by UT researchers and will soon install it into oil wells. The technology, licensed to Platina Energy Group Inc., will reduce the amount of equipment used to extract gas and oil from wells and will help eliminate the problem of pump cavitation, which occurs when there is excess air in the pump. Kamy Sepehrnoori and Augusto Podio, petroleum and geosystems engineering professors, helped develop technology that allows a submersible pump and a jet pump to be used together in a gas well, so a separate gas vent line is unnecessary. Max Green, licensing specialist at UT's Office of Technology Commercialization, said the technology will be installed on older oil wells that do not produce oil on a large scale. Green said Platina is the only company licensed to use the technology, though it has the right to sublicense the technology to other companies.Rick Friedman, an associate director for licensing at UT, said giving Platina exclusive rights to the technology gives the company a competitive advantage.The office receives about 140 invention disclosures per year from faculty members who want their technology commercialized, Friedman said. The office then decides if it wants to secure patent protection for the technology and commercialize the invention.The office signs about 30 to 40 new licenses per year.

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Oil Producing Yeast, Buoys for Ocean Waves to Electricity New Energy Sources

Chances are you've heard of hybrids and biofuels, but what about oil-producing yeast and turbine like buoys that transform ocean waves into electricity? Those are just a couple of the alternative-energy sources that may power the future according to Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund and coauthor, with Miriam Horn, of the new book "Earth: The Sequel" (Norton).

"Everyone knows the current story of melting glaciers, rising sea levels, worsening hurricanes, dying coral reefs," said Krupp. "'The Sequel' is the story of what happens next. We are just on the threshold of a great race." While he says oft-cited solar power technology is our best bet for now, Krupp emphasizes that quirkier projects, like algae concoctions that eat up carbon emissions, are essential elements of a smart, diversified energy strategy. NEWSWEEK's Katie Paul talked with Krupp about why he thinks the next industrial revolution looks bright green. Excerpts from the talk are provided in this article

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A123 Company Says Its Auto Battery will Propel EVs

For all the doubts about whether a tiny, 7-year-old company can essentially rewire the domestic auto industry, A123's executives express abundant confidence in their invention.

"Today, we are providing enough batteries to power the equivalent of 100,000 vehicles," said Ric Fulop, one of A123's founders and its chief evangelist. "If you look at other technologies, they're still in the lab. It's years before they get into mass production."

The hurdles to powering vehicles with electricity instead of oil have become less daunting in the past year, but they're still towering: Cost, Safety, Longevity, Environment...

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Keywords: Tech company, future of autos, A123 Systems, Chevrolet Volt, battery pack
General Motors Corp, chief evangelist, Ric Fulop, Chevy Volt

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Statoil Growth - Wireless, Real-time Data Integration Key

A report emanated from the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) and bore the title “Potential Value of Integrated-Operations on the Norwegian Shelf.” OLF released the report in 2006.

The report found if oil and gas companies active in the Norwegian shelf quickly were to integrate their operations, they could increase their revenues from the shelf by $41.5 billion. If they do not, they can expect to miss $10 billion in potential revenues within the next three years alone. These staggering figures reflect an array of challenges the industry faces and the scale of the prize at stake.

Although the prescribed solution to these challenges goes under different names—Integrated Operations (Statoil), eOperations (Hydro), Smart Field (Shell), Field of the Future (BP), and i-field (Chevron)—the key elements are broadly the same.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Boeing Makes First Ever Hydrogen Battery Flight

US aircraft maker Boeing flew a plane that was powered by a hydrogen battery at the start of 2008 for the first time in aviation history, senior company officials said in Spain on Thursday.
"For the first time in the history of aviation, Boeing has flown a manned airplane that was powered by a hydrogen battery," Boeing chief technology officer John Tracy told a news conference at the firm's research centre in the central Spanish town of Ocana.

The plane, which used propellers, flew at a speed of 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour for about 20 minutes at an altitude of about 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) using only the hydrogen battery for power, Boeing said in a statement.

The director of the Ocana research centre, Francisco Escarti, said the hydrogen battery "could be the main source of energy for a small plane" but would likely not become the "primary soruce of energy for big passenger planes".

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Wind-powered Airplanes by Dr. Josef Popf. Airplane Hybrids?

An announcement made recently is stirring excitement in the aviation industry as a scientist turned inventor claims he can dramatically reduce or perhaps remove fossil fuels from modern flight. His innovative design employs wind power to make an airplane version of popular hybrid cars. He claims his prototype is cheap and scaleable–and it can easily be added to existing aircraft. The implications are far reaching as the aviation industry comes under increasing pressure to reduce their green house gas emissions. According to inventor Dr. Josef Popf, “The idea struck me as I was driving through a wind farm in Kentucky. Why not strap one of those puppies to an airplane? When I first started doing the math, it was really just for fun. I expected the wind turbine to slow down the airplane.

But the deeper I delved into the problem, the more plausible it started to appear. Then, after about two solid months, I found the answers I needed and filed for a patent.”

Essentially, it’s not so different from the hybrid systems employed by hybrid cars. As an airplane cruises or comes in to land, the turbine super-charges high-capacity batteries. That energy can then be used during future take-offs and landings. The trick, according to Popf, is to use the wind turbine at high altitudes, where the thinner atmosphere puts less stress on the airplane, preventing excessive drag.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Converting Plant Sugars into Hydrogen to Power Fuel Cell Vehicles

Sugar-powered cars may be in your future. Chemists report development of a “revolutionary” process for converting plant sugars into hydrogen, which could be used to cheaply and efficiently power vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells without producing any pollutants. The scientists will describe their unique hydrogen production system in April at the American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans. Percival Zhang, a scientist at Virginia Tech, is developing a new process for converting plant sugars into hydrogen that could be used to cheaply and efficiently power vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells without producing any pollutants.

The process involves combining plant sugars, water, and a cocktail of powerful enzymes to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide under mild reaction conditions. The new system helps solve the three major technical barriers to the so-called “hydrogen economy,” researchers said. Those roadblocks involve how to produce low-cost sustainable hydrogen, how to store hydrogen, and how to distribute it efficiently, the researchers say.

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Fuelstar Combustion Catalyst Increases Fuel Efficiency, Cuts Fuel Costs

A 1992 Kiwi invention called Fuelstar, a fit-and-forget fuel combustion catalyst provides greater overall engine efficiency by giving more complete combustion. The benefits are improved performance, better fuel economy, a cleaner engine and lower exhaust emissions.

The car-engine unit is about the size of a soft-drink can and is plumbed into the fuel supply line.
When fuel flows through the unit on its way to the carburettor or injection system, minuscule particles of metallic tin are released into the fuel and are carried through to the combustion chambers.

These particles are far too small to damage engine components. The tin changes the combustion characteristics of the fuel, giving a more complete and more prolonged fuel burn, resulting in improved efficiency and performance.

California Environmental Engineering tested a Fuelstar installed in a 6.9-litre Nissan diesel truck and found it reduced fuel consumption by 27 per cent. It also brought down emissions of CO2 by 30 per cent and particulates by 24 per cent.

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Project Better Place Teaming with Renault-Nissan to Promote Electric Vehicles

Today more than three billion cellphones are in use around the world. They have changed, for better or worse, not just the way we communicate, but our sense of what it means to keep in touch.

Now a private investment company with an ostentatious name hopes to employ the kind of marketing structure that put cellphones in so many pockets to launch a new era of electric cars.
Project Better Place is teaming up with Renault-Nissan in a scheme designed to drive electric vehicles from the fringe category and into the mainstream of personal transportation.

They are starting in Israel and Denmark, but if Project Better Place lives up to its name and makes this ambitious plan work, it could be a natural fit in British Columbia.

Although electric cars have been around for almost as long as their conventional gas and diesel-powered cousins, they have been held back by limited performance and range and high costs.
Project Better Place has no world-beating technology to change the performance equation. What it has is enough startup capital -- $200 million committed so far -- and a marketing idea to offer not just an electric car, but a system to make it work.

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BASS Founder Ray Scott Invention Helps Prevent Lake Fish Kills

Ray Scott never had any notion of being an inventor. He's a fisherman -- and a good one at that.

But when the man who founded the BASS sport fishing empire looked out one morning from his Pintlala home and saw his lake filled with dead fish, he put on his thinking cap and designed a product that now is being produced by a Wisconsin-based company.

Scott turned to specialists at Auburn University to get answers to many questions. He learned that the days of hot weather had depleted the oxygen from the bottom of the pond.

The Auburn officials told Scott that if he wanted to ward off future fish kills, he needed to invent a device that would ensure oxygen levels remained balanced in the pond. Scott went to work on a water-circulating device.

Over the next 10 years, he continued to tinker with his invention, building a series of prototypes and testing them.

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Saving the Coral Reefs with BioRock Mineral Accretion Technology

The oceans can't recover from the heat trap of carbon-dioxide as quickly as the atmosphere could. The rise in temperatures in the ocean work on a mean turnover rate of up to 1000 years, so even if all carbon-based energy extraction were to cease right now, it is probably too late to prevent a rise in temperatures to levels mortal to coral reefs

Corals lay the foundation for underwater colonies of marine life. If the coral die out, the effects run straight up the food chain to the fish that humans depend on for food. Unless we find a way to assist the coral to recover, we will reduce the available food stock for humans from the sea.

Perhaps there is a way for humans to undo the damage we have caused and allow our foodstocks to return to sustainable levels. Bio-Rock Mineral Accretion Technology may be one way that we can put things back to normal. Biorock Technology, or mineral accretion technology is a method that applies safe, low voltage electrical currents through seawater, causing dissolved minerals to crystallize on structures, growing into a white limestone similar to that which naturally makes up coral reefs and tropical white sand beaches. This material has a strength similar to concrete. It can be used to make robust artificial reefs on which corals grow at very rapid rates.
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Cooling Blankets from Kalb Corp. Could be Used by US DoD

You need not come from a big town or a big company to develop a hot idea.

The Kalb Corp., run by Mike Kalb and his son, Rob, in the tiny town of Oneida, about 12 miles northwest of Galesburg, is a perfect example. Their specialty, which is to throw a cooling blanket over an overheated exhaust, has some people at the Pentagon hot and bothered.

The Kalbs design custom fabricated blankets that go over diesel engine exhaust pipes. They are designed to shield hot exhaust from areas where people might touch it or where random debris could ignite, creating a fire hazard. Their signature product, HeatBlocker, reduces exhaust temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit down to between 200 and 225.

Its primary application has been on heavy diesel equipment associated with mining, landfill and construction applications. But the Department of Defense is looking to develop a new generation Humvee-type vehicle. The Kalbs' product could both reduce the risk of fires from exhausts and dramatically reduce the thermal signature, making the vehicles less vulnerable to heat-seeking missiles.

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Sewage-Based Fertilizer (Biosolids / Sludge) Safety Doubted

It was a farm idea with a big payoff and supposedly no downside: ridding lakes and rivers of raw sewage and industrial pollution by converting it all into a free, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Then last week, a federal judge ordered the Agriculture Department to compensate a farmer whose land was poisoned by sludge from the waste treatment plant here. His cows had died by the hundreds.

The Associated Press also has learned that some of the same contaminants showed up in milk that regulators allowed a neighboring dairy farmer to market, even after some officials said they were warned about it.

About 7 million tons of biosolids - the term that waste producers came up with for sludge in 1991 - are produced each year as a byproduct from 1,650 waste water treatment plants around the nation. Slightly more than half is used on land as fertilizer; the rest is incinerated or burned in landfills. Giving it away to farmers is cheaper than burning or burying it, and the government’s policy has been to encourage the former.

In 1999, the agency awarded a $12,274 grant to the University of Georgia to study the problem of sludge's negative impacts on the environment. That research would result in a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Environmental Quality finding that the city’s sludge was safe and that EPA’s regulations were working.

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Processor Heat Converted to Electricity - Orest Symko

Perhaps AMD and Intel should not have abandoned the Gigahertz-race and bunsen-burner processors after all: Scientists from the University of Utah today said that they can convert waste heat into sound and electricity.

Physicist Orest Symko and his research team at the University of Utah said they succeeded in building small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity.

According to Symko, most of the heat-to-electricity acoustic devices are housed in cylinder-shaped "resonators" that fit in the palm of a hand. Each cylinder, or resonator, contains a "stack" of material with a large surface area – such as metal or plastic plates, or fibers made of glass, cotton or steel wool – placed between a cold heat exchanger and a hot heat exchanger.

When heat is injected, the heat builds to a threshold and moving air produces sound. The sound is then converted into electricity by using "piezoelectric" devices that are squeezed in response to pressure, including sound waves, and change that pressure into electrical current. Only about 20% of the sound energy is lost when pressure is converted to electricity, Symko said.

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"Instant Water Boiler" Invention Uses Sound Waves - by Peter Davey, NZ

Ninety-two-year-old Peter Davey of New Zealand says he invented a unique water boiling gadget 30 years ago. He claims it uses sound waves, not a heating element, to boil water in seconds. Davey noticed as he played the saxophone at home that everything resonated at a different frequency.

"The glasses will tinkle on one note. Knives and forks in the drawer will tinkle on another note and I realised that everything has its point of vibration," he said. "In the same way, a component in the ball is tuned to a certain frequency."

A retired engineering professor, Arthur Williamson, was invited to look at the boiler in action. He said:

"I don't know enough about sound to know whether you can transfer that amount of energy via soundwaves. I doubt it," said Williamson. He did remember an alternative kettle years ago that had two perforated metal plates inside. The power ran between the plates, through the water. "The resistance through the water provided the load. I wonder if it isn't working like that? Without taking it to bits, you can't tell."

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Humans Causing New Extinction Event: Australian Scientist

Australian National University scientist says the planet is losing species at a similar rate to the period when the dinosaurs were wiped out. Will Steffen from the Fenner School of Environment says the planet is in the midst of a new geological age, the Anthropocene, in which humans are causing mass species extinction. He says the era began with the industrial revolution and accelerated in the 1950s as humans began burning more fossil fuels and consuming more resources. Professor Steffen says the current levels of species extinction are at least a hundred times greater than natural loss rates.

Professor Steffen says the Anthropocene age will continue for some considerable time."Even if we cut down emissions to zero or close to zero tomorrow, there would be significant amounts of extra CO2 up there for centuries into the future, and I think also in terms of biodiversity loss, there is what some people call committed biodiversity loss, or species that are on their way to extinction and there probably isn't much we can do to turn them around," he said.

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Nanosieves to Remove Water Out of Biofuels & Save Energy

A new type of membrane, developed by scientists of the University of Twente in The Netherlands, can stand high temperatures for a long period of time. This ‘molecular sieve’ is capable of removing water out of e.g. solvents and biofuels. It is a very energy efficient alternative to existing techniques like distillation. Even after testing during 18 months, the new membranes prove to be highly effective, while having continuously been exposed to a temperature of 150 ºC. Existing ceramic and polymer membranes will last considerably shorter periods of time, when exposed to the combination of water and high temperatures. The scientists managed to do this using a new ‘hybrid’ type of material combining the best of both worlds of polymer and ceramic membranes. The result is a membrane with pores sufficiently small to let only the smallest molecules pass through.

Manufacturing the new hybrid membranes is simpler than that of ceramic membranes, because the material is flexible and will not show cracks.

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Lifesaver Bottle by Michael Pritchard - Filters Impure Water, Lightweight

The water in Michael Pritchard's fishtank came straight from his garden pond and it showed. The greenish gunk looked and smelled like it ought not to go anywhere near a human digestive system. But after pumping it through his lightweight, handheld device it came out crystal clear and he even persuaded some onlookers to taste it. The Lifesaver bottle was one of several inventions at a show of military technology hosted by the National Army Museum in Chelsea recemtly.

Once a hurricane or earthquake hits, one of the most pressing logistical needs is to provide clean drinking water to the victims. A transport plane can typically hold enough bottled water for 800 people for a month. The same plane can carry 125,000 Lifesaver bottles. At one bottle per family, that's enough to keep half a million people in drinking water for 16 months. The bottle works by using a handheld pump mechanism to force water from the outside to the inside of a narrow coiled tube inside the device. The polymer that makes up the tube has pores in it that are 15 billionths of a metre in diameter - small enough to filter out bacteria and viruses

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

iPod Operated by the Wink of Eye Created by Taniguchi

A Japanese researcher says he has developed a system that will soon let people run their iPods with the flick of an eye.

The system, comprising a single-chip computer and a couple of infrared sensors, monitors movements of the temple and is so tiny that it can be built into the side of a pair of eyeglasses. Closing both eyes for one second starts an iPod, while blinking again stops the machine. A wink with the right eye makes the machine skip to the next tune while with a wink of the left eye it goes back. As a person does not have to move either hand, the system can serve as "a third hand" for caregivers, rock-climbers, motorbike drivers and astronauts, as well as people with disabilities.The Kome Kami Switch is also capable of operating television sets, air conditioners, room lighting and other household electronics.

The inventor Taniguchi hopes the system can eventually be adapted to run cellphones, wheelchairs and robots as "an ultimate remote control" used in everyday life

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Waste Heat, Sound into Electricity - Orest Symko

Scientists from the University of Utah today said that they can convert waste heat into sound and electricity. Physicist Orest Symko and his research team at the University of Utah said they succeeded in building small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity.

According to Symko, most of the heat-to-electricity acoustic devices are housed in cylinder-shaped "resonators" that fit in the palm of a hand. Each cylinder, or resonator, contains a "stack" of material with a large surface area – such as metal or plastic plates, or fibers made of glass, cotton or steel wool – placed between a cold heat exchanger and a hot heat exchanger. When heat is injected, the heat builds to a threshold and moving air produces sound. The sound is then converted into electricity by using "piezoelectric" devices that are squeezed in response to pressure, including sound waves, and change that pressure into electrical current. Only about 20% of the sound energy is lost when pressure is converted to electricity, Symko said.

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Keywords: Orest Symko, resonators, steel wool, heat exchanger

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Greek HydroSol Group Produces Solar Energy from Water

A solar platform in Almeria, Spain, produces hydrogen from renewable resources by means of a reactor made by the HydroSol team, coordinated by Athanassios Constantopoulos.

An important step toward a hydrogen society was made on March 31, 2008 by a Greek research team from Thessaloniki working in Spain which held its first official demonstration of a pilot-scale solar reactor at Spain’s Almeria Solar Platform. The project produces clean energy in the form of hydrogen exclusively from water and the sun without emitting any pollutants or greenhouse gases.

The efficiency of converting the solar energy is as high as 70 percent and appears to be the answer to the difficult problem of producing economically efficient hydrogen from renewable energy sources. It is the largest solar reactor in the world, producing 100 kilowatts, and has therefore attracted the attention of researchers and investors from around the world

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Keywords: Almeria, solar extractor, HydroSol team, Athanassios Constantopoulos, Thessaloniki, Descartes Prize, Thessaloniki, oxygen-deficient ferrite structures


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Plant Cellulose to "Green Gasoline" - George Huber, James Dumesic

A simple (one step) direct conversion process from plant cellulose into gasoline components.

Researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of "green gasoline," a liquid identical to standard gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources like switchgrass and poplar trees. Reporting in the April 7, 2008 issue of Chemistry, Sustainability, Energy, Materials, chemical engineer George Huber from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and his graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components.

In the same issue, James Dumesic and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced an integrated process for creating chemical components of jet fuel using a green gasoline approach. While dumesic's group had previously demonstrated the production of jet-fuel components using separate steps, their current work shows that the steps can be integrated and run sequentially, without complex separation and purification processes between reactors.

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Motorcycle MPG - Best Mileage Motorcycles, Motorbikes Fuel Economy

This post was originally about an innovative Homemade Kawasaki Motorcycle that gave an equivalent of 300 MPG. Since then, we have had thousands visit this page looking for motorcycle and scooter MPG in general. As a result, we decided to focus this page on motorcycles and scooter MPG web resources. We have kept the original post as well...it is at the very end :-)

In these days of super-high fuel costs, we hope you find this resource useful.

You might like some of these useful stuff that could contribute to fuel economy.


Motorcycle MPG Resources
Found a lot of folks visiting this page for the key word "motorcycle mpg" so decided to add a list of useful web resources for these visitors. I don't like to disappoint my visitors :-)

Can MPG Alone Get You on a 250 Cruiser? - An interesting article on the mysterious world of motorcycle MPG data and why there is no major fuss by the motorcycle manufaturers about their MPGs, something their four-wheel counterparts never tire of doing. And oh, while you are here, do not miss reading the comments. There are as many interesting inputs and points raised in the comments (perhaps more) than in the article itself.

Here's a discussion on the MPG you can get from Honda bikes. Most of the numbers discussed are in the 35-60 range.

100 MPG Diesel Motorcycle - Diesel Alternatives - Combat-Tested Diesel Motorcycles Get Ready For The Asphalt Jungle

"I'm curious why fuel economy of motorcycles is relatively poor compared to that of a car. For instance, several of the honda 750cc models get approx 45 mpg. Now a car that's several times heavier with twice as many wheels (greater rolling resistance), a much larger frontal area, and an engine twice as big can get the same mileage. Based on the car's fuel economy, you'd expect a motorcycle with an engine half the size and much less rolling resistance and smaller frontal area could do much better.
Are motorcycles tuned drastically differently -- like for high revs and hp? Can they be re-tuned for improved fuel economy?" - Interesting question, doubtless many of you have asked this yourself - see the discussion on this topic here

What's Your Best Motorcycle MPG? You can bet a question such as this will have many tongues wagging and much data being thrown about, and you are right. See a lively discussion on this topic here

The Measure of Motorcycle's MPG - A Los Angeles Times article

Motorcycle Fuel Economy Guide - from Total Motorcycle

Total Motorcycle Fuel Economy Guide

Guide to Motorcycle Fuel Consumption - tips and suggestions on how to get better mileage from your motorcycle

Motorcycle Fuel Consumption & Real World Performance Guide

Craig Vetter's Streamlined High Mileage Luxury Touring Bike

Fuel Economy in Honda Motorcycles - a good discussion @ Fireblades

Sportbike, Motorcycle Weight, Horsepower, Fuel Economy - Numbers for every sportbike tested by Sport Rider from 1997 to the present.

Honda Announces Next Generation Powertrain Fuel Efficiency Targets for Motorcycle and Automobiles

The Designs & Inventions of Craig Vetter

How to Save Gas with an I-Scooter

The Measure of Motorcycles' MPG - "There's no standardized test for bikes' fuel economy, so where are figures coming from? Hint: the EPA emissions test is involved." So says this LA Times article.

Motorcycle Fuel Economy Should Spike Sales - a brief 2004 news report, has a nice graph from the Honda Environmental Annual Report that shows the improvement in motorbikes' fuel economy in the previous few years.

Motorcycle Fuel Economy Discussion - a forum discussion at Motorcycle Smack discussion board

What Kind of Fuel Economy Does Your Motorbike Get? - some answers and numbers to this question @ Yahoo Answers

The Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contests - 1980 through 1985

Motorcycle Fuel Consumption & Real World Performance Guide

Sport Bike Motorcycle Weight, Horsepower, Torque and Fuel Economy

Jay Leno's Eco-friendly Custom Bike

Motorcycle Fuel - Flex-fuel, Will You Bite?

Motorcycle Fuel Consumption Real-world Guide - from Motorcycles KMPL

Some useful web resources for saving gas - this is in general, not specific to motorbikes or scooters

101 Ways to Use Less Gas

Thirty Gas Saving Tips

29 Tips on How to Save Money on Gas

Top 15 Ways to Save Money on Gas

11 Car Care Tips that Save Gas

Seven Interesting Ways to Save Gas

13 Ways to Significantly Reduce Your Gas Costs

Nine Ways to Save Gas & Money

66 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline

Other Interesting Motorcycle Articles & Links

Inexperienced Motorcyclists, in Search of Fuel Economy - these folks might pose dangers on the road, says this post

15 Motorcycle Tips for Riding in Traffic

Motorcycle Riding Tips in the City

Original Blog Post

Homemade Electric Kawasaki Motorcycle Gives 300 MPG - Ben Nelson

If you are a frequent motorbike rider, you know the kind of MPG that will make you pleased - 70, 80? How about 100 MPG? That must be awesome, right?

Now what would you say if someone tells you he can make your motorbike give an equivalent of 300 MPG? You would of course dismiss it as fanciful thinking. You'd dismiss it even faster when you come to know that the chap who tells you this is an amateur who tinkers around in his sparetime and who buys his spares on Craigslist and eBay.

But it is a fact that this homemade electric motorcycle gets the gas price equivalent of 300 miles per gallon. Its speeds hit 40mph within its modest 15 mile range. And yes, the engine runs silently with zero vibration.

Well, Ben Nelson did spend some good amount of time in producing his beauty. He spent $100 for a Kawasaki rust bucket with a broken tranny, a seized engine, no clutch, a detached seat and a badly dented gas tank. Following instructions from forum folk, he methodically converted the gas motorcycle into a purely electric one.

What followed was a proud accomplishment for Nelson: "It goes 38 miles an hour and it's a 'hot rod!" he's fond of saying. And the topper: Using a meter to measure the amount of electricity that flows from an outlet to the cycle's battery charger, Nelson calculates the machine gets the equivalent of about 300 miles per gallon. That includes $6 a month extra he pays a utility for "green" electricity. So his machine gives you a more than 400% higher returns on your spending (300 MPG vs 60 MPG), and it is green!

Nelson admits frankly that he doesn't even own any power tools other than a drill, doesn't know how to weld and only took one metal shop class in high school. But he loves to learn new things. Now that's DIY ethics for you!

Sources: Gizmodo, TreeHugger, Kawasaki Fuel Efficiency Guide


AEG Carbon Fib6er-elastomer Composite Bipolar Plate for PEM Fuel Cells

Fuel cells constitute one of the most promising sources of environmental friendly energy for the future. A proton exchange membrane (pem) fuel cell is a stack of electrochemical cell systems (figure) placed in series.

American engineering group (aeg, akron, oh) has developed a new elastomer-carbon fiber composite bipolar plate for pem fuel cells with high electrical conductivity, high strength, light weight and very low permeability. This new unique composite bipolar plate is a less-expensive and light-weight alternative to graphite and steel. The use of highly conductive elastomer compound and multi-stage molding technology enables the fabrication of bipolar plates with high carbon fiber content. This composite bipolar plate is a promising solution, and this plate has the potential for being produced at low cost. The plate is produced using short carbon fiber structure with elastomer impregnation into pre-form uncured structures.

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Keywords: Carbon fib6er-elastomer, proton exchange membrane (pem), electrochemical cell systems, mass-production technologies, fuel cell system assembly, elastomer-carbon fiber, multi-stage molding technology

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Volvo Hybrid Refuse Trucks in Final Trials - Uses I-SAM System

Volvo has launched two hybrid refuse trucks into trials in regular daily operations in sweden with refuse collection firms renova and ragn-sells.

Although both trucks use a charge-sustaining hybrid system for motive power, one of the trucks is equipped with a second, grid-charged battery that powers the refuse compactor. The hybrid system used in the refuse truck is a version of volvo’s i-sam (integrated starter, alternator, motor) parallel hybrid system. The i-sam system comprises a starter motor, drive motor and alternator fit between the clutch and the i-shift automatic transmission.

Full report here

Keywords: Renova, Ragn, Charge-sustaining, Hybrid system, Grid-charged battery, I-SAM (integrated starter, alternator, motor).

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Boeing Plane Flies on Hydrogen, Fuel Cells

Engineers from across Europe have successfully developed and flown a manned airplane powered by hydrogen and fuel cells — a first in history and a step towards cleaner and more energy-efficient aviation, Boeing announced recently.

The breakthrough is "full of promises for a greener future," Boeing Chief Technology Officer John Tracy told reporters at the company's research center in Ocana, Spain, where the aircraft was on display.

Given rising fuel costs and concerns about climate change, the air industry is keen to find ways to cut energy bills and emissions tied to global warming. While hydrogen is still expensive to produce as an energy carrier, it emits no pollutants.

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Free Flow Power Corp Installing Turbines in Mississippi Bed to Generate Electricity

For more than a century, the Mississippi River has been one of the nation’s most important transportation corridors, a muddy, winding pathway for moving bulk commodities such as grain and coal and other goods.

Now, a New England startup company wants to harness the mighty river for a secondary purpose — generating electricity. The company, Free Flow Power Corp., is pursuing a $3 billion plan to install thousands of small electric turbines in the river bed, reaching from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico, that would collectively generate 1,600 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 1.5 million homes.

Gloucester, Mass.-based Free Flow Power is among a number of developers of so-called hydrokinetic projects, defined as those that produce electricity from river currents or ocean waves and tides — not dams.

Like the dozens of young companies building wind farms across the Great Plains or putting solar panels on roofs in California, interest in hydro-kinetic projects is a response to a growing appetite for renewable energy as the nation tries to wean itself off crude oil and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas linked to global warming.

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Invention Scrubs 90% of Coal Plant Pollutants for Fraction of Cost

Let's face it. For all the big nice talk about alternative energy, it’s not realistic to eliminate fossil fuels in the next 50 years, unless you can afford to shut down the world economy!

The US Department of Energy’s 2008 energy outlook estimates the use of renewables will increase by only 2.5 percent in the next 23 years.

By 2030, it estimates that the use of coal will constitute 55 percent of the nation’s fuel, up from 49 percent last year. The chief reason? There’s an estimated 300-year supply of coal in known reserves in the United States alone, the Energy Department said.

So it looks like coal is going to be a very popular fuel having phenomenal growth. But with that growth will come a surge of roughly 500 million metric tons of emissions, the Energy Department predicts.

All these mean that the urgent need of the hour is a method of removing carbon and other polluting emissions so that coal becomes an acceptable long-term fuel source.

Which is exactly a US scientist has thought up!

A Colorado scientist David Neumann has teamed up with Colorado Springs Utilities to test an invention that could revolutionize the power industry and save the planet at the same time.

Air Force Academy graduate Neumann, who holds a doctorate in physics, has developed a process he says he believes will scrub 90 percent of pollutants spewed by the city’s coal-fired electric plants for a fraction of the cost of other processes under development. If successful, the new chemical treatment would mean thousands of coal-burning plants worldwide could sharply curtail power plant emissions.

So far, there is no proven technology for removing carbon from the emissions, but Neumann said he believes his invention will handle carbon as well as the other pollutants. He also said his unit would be 20 times smaller than other versions being tested, which can cover acres.

The testing of Neumann's process, which has just begun, will start on a small scale.

It is hoped that the test will lead to a way to reduce the cost of retrofitting coal plants. Some analysis suggest a market potential of $700 billion pollution control market worldwide for existing coal plants alone. So, well, Neumann is perhaps not doing it out of just altruism alone, but he deserves the returns if he is successful, doesn't he?

Neumann, after retiring from Space Command in 1994, he started Neumann Systems Group Inc. has done research and development on high-powered lasers for defense contractors. He and his associate, Tom Henshaw decided to work on a way to adapt their laser business to pollution control, and they ended up with a much more powerful (and possibly far more remunerative) idea than their original one!


Cloncurry Solar System Stores Energy in Graphite in Australia

In what is believed to be a world first, purified graphite is being used for energy storage in systems being installed at Lake Cargellico in New South Wales and Cloncurry in Queensland. The Queensland installation will make Cloncurry, which has a population of about 2,400, the first town in Australia to rely exclusively on solar power.

The purified graphite technology was invented by Australian Scientist, Bob Lloyd.

The Cloncurry system, which relies exclusively on a concentrated solar power , will have the mirrors guide the sun’s rays into holes in the bases of 54 elevated graphite blocks, heating them to 1800 degrees celsius. The stored heat will be used to produce steam which will drive turbines on demand.

For more information: www.lloydenergy.com

Via: Aussie Renewables


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Paper-Thin, Bendable Batteries from Thin Battery Technologies Inc.

The idea of having a flexible, paper-thin battery that powers your mobile devices is not that far-fetched. As a matter of fact, this technology is currently being used in smaller applications, and newer and more powerful thin batteries are in development as we speak. Keep reading to find out more!The possibilities for a flexible, lightweight battery are seemingly endless. Of course, it will take further development to get to the point where we can throw away our bulky cell phone or PDA batteries and replace them with a paper thin one.

A company by the name of Thin Battery Technologies Inc. (TBT) was founded in 2003. This Ohio-based company began producing paper-thin batteries back in 2005 after about five years of research and development. They currently produce these tiny, paper-like batteries for applications such as RFID tags, trans-dermal drug delivery patches, data loggers, sensors, and displays. They produce Carbon-Zinc electrolyte based batteries that are "green" compliant, and in turn are safe for the environment.

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Electric Hybrids for Off-road Vehicles - Aggressor, Renegade

Think of an “off-road” vehicle, and billy goat four-by-fours usually come to mind — the ones that chug along using muscular John Deere-style powerplants or diesel engines.

Electric motors? They’re for golf carts, or sissified urban commuter boxes and not for brawny rock crawlers, right?

The leading off-road manufacturers beg to differ. Judging by the concept cars shown by Jeep and Land Rover at this year’s Detroit auto show, they think electric motors do have a future in their vehicles.

The Army agrees on the potential of electrically driven vehicles and has a contract with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide to develop a diesel-electric Alternative Mobility Vehicle, or “Aggressor.”

Like civilians, the Army wants to cut fuel use, because fuel constitutes 70 percent of the materiel it moves into combat zones

Jeep’s Renegade concept, shown for the first time at this year’s Detroit show, examines the possibility of the company making the logical step into dune buggy-style vehicles — small, open vehicles with fat tires pushed to the far corners

Electric power is perfectly suited for off-roaders, according to Doug Quigly, executive engineer for Jeep’s environmentally responsible vehicles.

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Dr Richard Pike of Royal Society of Chemistry Warns of Biofuel 'Dead End'

Biofuels may be a "technological dead end" with no practical future, one of Britain's leading chemists has said.

Just one flight to New York would use up a year's yield of biofuel from land equivalent to 30 football pitches, said Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Pressure from farmers and manufacturers as well as muddled planning by decision makers could be leading the country up an energy supply blind alley, he added.

Dr Pike urged restraint on the promotion of biofuel as the simple answer to Britain's future fuel demands, and called for "clear debate and sounder legislation" to ensure future energy challenges were met the right way.

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Why US Automakers Don't Sell a 50 Mpg Car

Just hop on a plane and fly to Europe, where all new cars average 43mpg, or Japan, where the average hits 50mpg. In the United States, people are stuck at 25mpg in our considerably larger and more powerful cars, trucks and SUVs. So why can't they do better? Here's the dirty little secret: they can. "If you want better fuel economy, it's just a question of when auto companies want to do it and when consumers decide they want to buy it," says Don Hillebrand, a former Chrysler engineer who is now director of transportation research for Argonne National Labs. "Auto companies can deliver it within a year."

A 50mpg car would certainly put a tiger in the tank of the moribund U.S. auto industry. But don't get your checkbook out quite yet. The reality is that you won't see a car on a showroom floor in America with 50mpg on the window sticker for at least three years and maybe longer. Sure, all auto companies are focusing on jacking up fuel economy, especially since Congress just mandated that all new autos sold by 2020 must average 35mpg. The new mileage mantra also is motivated by the fact that car sales are weak, partially because of panic at the pump. But putting out a 50mpg car any time soon is daunting even to the maker of America's mileage champ, the 48mpg Toyota Prius. "We're close enough to spit at that now," says Bill Reinert, Toyota's national manager of advanced technologies. "It's not an incredible stretch, but it's an incredible stretch to do it on a mass-market basis."

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Remote Server Farms Powered by Wind, Solar to Cut Carbon Footprint

Remote hi-tech outposts where computers are housed in 'server farms' and powered by wind and solar energy could slash the carbon footprint of business-related IT, a Cambridge computer guru believes.

Professor Andy Hopper, who heads up the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, said it was the belief "that we can help save the planet and provide a sustainable future for generations to come" that was driving exciting new research at the Computer Laboratory. He said: "Computing power can be moved around the world and can be done anywhere in the world where the energy is available."

Professor Hopper said that the energy needed to power computers was extremely portable and therefore could be created from solar or wind energy in one location and transferred to computers in another, faraway place.

Since it was easier and more efficient to transfer information than to transfer power across great distances, Professor Hopper suggests moving server centres closer to the source of the energy. He is championing 'server farms' located in remote areas with ample wind or solar energy, connecting to computers around the country.


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Arctic Oil & Gas Lays Atrocious Claim to All Arctic Ocean Oil

Las Vegas-based Arctic Oil & Gas has controversially laid claim to nearly all of the Arctic Ocean's undersea oil , and has said that new geological data suggests a "potentially vast" petroleum resource of 400 billion barrels. That figure is backed by some professional research. The world consumes about 26 billion barrels per annum, so that's 15 years of world demand.

According to the US Geological Survey, the region may contain 25 percent of the world's remaining oil and gas reserves. Global warming is melting much of the Arctic's ice cover, and this has raised the possibility of increased shipping and oil and gas exploration. Now you can understand why there is such a rush of action to lay claim to this territory.

The Las Vegas company has raised eyebrows around the world with its bid to lock up exclusive rights to extract oil and gas from rapidly melting areas of the central Arctic Ocean, currently beyond the territorial control of Canada, Russia and other polar nations. The company has filed a claim with the United Nations to act as the sole "development agent" of Arctic seabed oil and gas.

While acknowledging that the Arctic's petroleum deposits are the "common heritage of mankind," the firm has argued that the polar region requires a private "lead manager" to organize a multinational consortium of oil companies to extract undersea resources responsibly and equitably. The Canadian government is not amused, and has dismissed the company's claim as having no force in law, but experts are still concerned the firm's actions.

All these concerns have not deterred the Las Vegas company from forging ahead on its ambitious explaoration plans. The company recently announced that it expects its success in locating hydrocarbons to focus on Marine Magneto-Tellurics (MMT), a form of electromagnetic (EM) data acquisition technology. The MMT data will be combined with seismic data to produce a hydrocarbon map or model of the targeted region.

It also recently invited major oil companies from Canada, Norway and Denmark to join the Arctic Consortium to explore and develop the Arctic Commons Abyssal property.

You can find some more on this from here , here, here, and here

For those wanting to know more about the Arctic Ocean, here is the resource from our beloved Wikipedia


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Timber Housing, Ty Unnos Modular Building Suggested for Future Homes

Timber housing is the future for better homes

Timber housing can help the UK to catch up on the shortage of new homes, construction industry leaders have been told. A conference in North Wales, Sustainable Construction: The Business Benefits and Natural Materials in Construction, was told there is a need to use timber housing if Wales is to meet sustainability targets.

Greater collaboration is needed across the building sector to make the most of new techniques and practices, the briefing told. The Ty Unnos system of modular building, using standard section Welsh Sitka spruce, was cited as another example of systems which offer the opportunity to use locally-sourced timber to meet the construction needs of Wales.

Full report here

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Samsung, Toshiba Lead Electronics Cos' Race to Get Green - Greenpeace

Environmental group Green-peace recently came up with good news: two Asian consumer electronic companies figure at the top of the rankings in Greenpeace's Guide to Green Electronics.

The group first launched its guide in August 2006, as a challenge to electronic companies to "green" their products from production to disposal. The volume of toxic waste from production processes and management of waste and discarded products were points of concern in Greenpeace's guide. The group claimed that since the guide was launched, the world's leading consumer electronic brands have greatly improved in their policies on toxic chemicals and e-waste.

This year, Greenpeace has named Korea's Samsung and Japan's Toshiba as two Asian electronic companies that have shown great improvement in their production process to keep the world green. It said Samsung is consistent in its practices and policies, keeping the company's top ranking with a score of 7.7 out of 10. Toshiba climbed from sixth rank last year to join Samsung at the top by improving its score on electronic waste management. Greenpeace said Toshiba has taken care of its own branded discarded products.

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Wal-Mart Supercenter in Las Vegas Uses New Tech to Cut Energy Use

Skylights will provide most of the daytime interior lighting at the new Wal-Mart Supercenter. Fluorescent lights that either dim or turn off when the sun is shining will complement the skylights.

The new Wal-Mart Supercenter in southwest Las Vegas, which the retailing giant calls its most efficient yet, uses new adaptations of old technology to cut energy use by 45 %. Soon, most of the technology will be incorporated into traditional Wal-Mart store features. Some of those features include heat-soaking floors that will help cool the 210,000-square-foot store's interior and pipes that run through the concrete floors every six inches. The pipes carry cold water from indirect evaporative coolers on the roof and keep the floor temperature at 67 degrees to 68 degrees.

Wal-Mart has said it is the world's biggest private user of electricity and has huge potential to cut back on greenhouse gases from fossil fuels burned to create electricity

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Johnathan Goodwin - an Auto Mechanic Does What Detroit Says is Impossible

This is an interesting story. It centers on Kansas City auto mechanic and inventor Johnathan Goodwin.

Two years ago, Goodwin got a rare chance to show off his tricks to some of the car industry's most prominent engineers. He was driving a converted H2 to the SEMA show, the nation's biggest annual specialty automotive confab, and stopped en route at a Denver hotel. When he woke up in the morning, there were 20 people standing around his Hummer. Did I run over somebody? he wondered. As it turned out, they were engineers for GM, the Hummer's manufacturer. They noticed that Goodwin's H2 looked modified. "Does it have a diesel engine in it?"
"Yeah," he said.
"No way," they replied.
He opened the hood, "and they're just all in and out and around the valves and checking it out," he says. He'd filled it up with grease from a Chinese restaurant the day before and was worried that the cold morning might have solidified the fuel. But it started up on the first try and ran so quietly that at first they didn't believe it was really on

And they're like, 'Is it running? Yeah, you can hear the fan going.'" One engineer turned and said, "GM said this wouldn't work."

Remember -- Detroit tells us it's impossible to increase gas mileage without taking a hit on horsepower. Yet here's Goodwin -- with an eight-grade education -- able to design motors that blow the doors off the conventional wisdom.

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