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Environment

The WaterBean portable water filter

It's a given that recycling waste products is a good thing. It's certainly better than sending our trash to landfill where it will sit rotting (or not, in the case of non-biodegradable waste) for decades to come. However, even better than recycling is to not create the waste in the first place. Bottled water is now big business, and more popular than ever before, but bottled water guzzles energy and creates waste that really doesn't need to be created. WaterBean offers one possible solution to the problem.  Read More

John Dabiri has hypothesized and tested counter-rotating arrays of vertical axis wind turb...

Since we first looked at John Dabiri's hypothesis that vertical axis wind turbines should be arrayed like a school of fish to reduce the land area required for wind farm installations, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has continued to work on the idea. Following the latest round of coverage, Gizmag takes a deeper look at his concept, and wonders whether the idea of packing turbines into as tight a space as possible might overlook some wind energy fundamentals.  Read More

The ARES system uses electric locomotives as a form of energy storage

We’ve recently looked at ocean-based energy storage system concepts from MIT and Subhydro AS that are designed to overcome the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources like wind and solar by pumping water out of large tanks and using gravity to let it back in and generate electricity when needed. Santa Barbara, California-based company Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) has come up with a land-based alternative that would provide grid scale energy storage using electric locomotives.  Read More

Howler monkeys are among the species the researchers used to train the system (Photo: Anto...

The tropical ecosystems of Costa Rica and Puerto Rico have ears, and have done for some time. These recording stations were put together with iPods and car batteries which each record 144 60-second recordings every day, and transmit them to a web-enabled base station up to 40 km (25 miles) away. From there they're uploaded to a web app with which biologists train a software algorithm to recognize the chirrups, squeaks and caterwauls of the forest's birds, monkeys, frogs and other fauna. It's all in the name of documenting wildlife, to better understand the effects of deforestation and climate change. And according to scientists at the University of Puerto Rico, it sure beats putting boots on the ground.  Read More

WaterBee demonstration at Castelldefels, Barcelona

With robots doing everything from milking cows to crop dusting, farming has come a long way since they days of plodding along behind a horse and plow. Irrigation practices are also benefiting from advances in technology. The large-scale WaterBee smart irrigation and water management system is a case in point: it allows farmers use their smartphones to not only switch on the water where and when it’s needed, but also to get up to the minute information on field conditions.  Read More

The current wing is an inflateable wing specially built by a kitesurfing manufacturer for ...

The University of Delft has a program devoted to kite-based generation systems, with 20 years of research and development under their belt since Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut established it. Now, members of the team are exploring practical niches where the compromises of kite-based power might pay off. One has just completed a trip through Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal discussing opportunities for rural African kite generation with governmental agencies, universities and companies in the renewables space.  Read More

The DIFIS system dome deployed

When ships sink, as well as the loss of property (and very possibly life), there’s the danger of environmental damage. An oil tanker breaking up is a disaster, but even a cargo ship going down can mean oil leaking from fuel bunkers. Double Inverted Funnel for Intervention on Shipwrecks (DIFIS) is an EU project coordinated by Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) that uses a passive system to catch oil as it leaks out of a wreck on the ocean floor.  Read More

Resolution is a departure from the “tabletop” look of most other solar cars

A group of engineering students from the University of Cambridge is hoping to become the first British team to take home the World Solar Challenge crown with a new solar car dubbed "Resolution." The vehicle, which the team claims "rewrites the rulebook for green vehicles," features solar panels that will move to track the sun as it makes the 3,000 km (1,864 mi) journey across the Australian outback from Darwin to Adelaide.  Read More

A closeup of the wood fibers used by the researchers in their sodium-ion battery (Image: U...

Li-ion batteries may be ok for your smartphone, but when it comes to large-scale energy storage, the priorities suddenly shift from compactness and cycling performance (at which Li-ion batteries excel) to low cost and environmental feasibility (in which Li-ion batteries still have much room for improvement). A new "wood battery" could allow the emerging sodium-ion battery technology to fit the bill as a long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery for large-scale energy storage.  Read More

Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in ...

Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina hit Kickstarter back in March to try and raise enough money for their classroom to go off-grid. A rather modest target of US$800 was smashed within a day by the kindness of the international community and, at campaign end, the kids found themselves with the handsome sum of $5,817 to spend on the purchase and installation of a roof-mounted solar energy harvesting system. A wind turbine was added to the shopping list, and just two months later, the 208ers threw a huge "Flip the Switch" party to celebrate leaving the grid. Sebens reports that the classroom has been running on renewables ever since.  Read More

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