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Environment

Waste tomatoes tapped as source of electricity

The tomato is a very versatile fruit. It can be juiced, made into cold soup, used as sauce or just eaten raw in a salad. It is a true food icon and now its usefulness could be expanding to an unexpected area as a US team is experimenting with the fruit as a source of electricity. A pilot project developed by researchers based in several American institutions involves a biological-based fuel cell that uses tomato waste from harvests in Florida, giving a new lease of life to organic material that would otherwise end up in landfills.Read More

Eggs to help bring bioplastics out of their shell

Confucious say, "the green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm." The same concept applies to packaging materials, which must protect their contents from the rough and tumble of transport without breaking. Petroleum-based plastics that can take centuries to break down remain the go-to material for such applications, but researchers have found that adding broken eggshells to a bioplastic mix results in a biodegradable material with the strength and flexibility required for packaging purposes.Read More

Backpack-wearing pigeons tweet London air quality readings

Wondering what the air quality is like in London? Well, over the next three days, you can ask a pigeon. More specifically, you can tweet your location to 10 pigeons located throughout the city, each one of which is equipped with a lightweight backpack that monitors ozone, nitrogen dioxide and volatile compounds. You'll receive a tweet back, letting you know just how safe it is to breathe the air in your region.Read More

Feature

Stepping back in time to protect the future of the Great Barrier Reef

Australia's stunning Great Barrier Reef is changing, and not for the better. In the years since the industrial revolution, the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has made the oceans warmer and also more acidic, which is bad news if you're young coral trying to make your way in the world. In the first study of its kind, a team of scientists has altered the seawater chemistry in a natural section of the reef to mimic pre-industrial conditions, observing just how well the coral was able to grow before we came along and altered the landscape. Gizmag spoke with one of the researchers involved to learn how stepping back in time might make for smarter steps into the future.Read More

The hungry little bacterium that could hold the key to the world's plastic waste problem

Hundreds of millions of tons of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic are produced each year to package everything from sodas to shampoo. That only a fraction of this is recycled leaves much of it to rest in landfills and the ocean. But efforts to deal with this monumental mess may soon receive a much-needed boost, with scientists in Japan discovering a new bacterium with the ability to completely break down PET plastics in a relatively short space of time.Read More

Sin City going green: Las Vegas to use solar and pedestrian power for street lights

Cities consume a considerable amount of energy per year on lighting. And if that city happens to be Las Vegas, you can expect the bill to be a doozy. But a recently announced partnership with a New York City-based start-up is set to bolster Las Vegas' commitment to renewable energy sources. Soon enough, some of "Sin City's" sidewalks will be illuminated by EnGoPLANET's innovative, sun- and people-powered street lights.Read More

Random vibrations turn tiny trees into power plants

Step aside windmills, there's a new way to harvest kinetic energy in the works. A research team at the Ohio State University has created electromechanical devices that look like tiny leafless trees and can generate electricity when they are moved by seismic activity, the slight swaying movements of a tall building, or the vibrations from traffic on a bridge.Read More

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