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Environment

The optical sensor system developed to detect the amount of salt on a road (Photo: UC3M)

Just as a good meal can be ruined by too much table salt, too much sodium chloride applied to road surfaces to prevent icing can have a detrimental effect on vehicles, infrastructure and the environment. Engineers at Spain's Carlos III University (UC3M) have developed an optical sensor intended to prevent excessive salt treatment by detecting the amount of salt already on the road in real time.  Read More

The humidity-driven flexing of a spore-covered piece of latex rubber (right) drives the mo...

Ozgur Sahin believes that water evaporation is the largest power source in nature. In an effort to demonstrate the potential of this untapped resource, Sahin and his fellow researchers have created prototype electrical generators with rubber sheets that move in response to changes in humidity thanks to a coating of bacterial spores.  Read More

The Salicornia is one species of halophyte that is a promising feedstock for biofuel produ...

Whenever the topic of plant-derived biofuels is raised, the issue of turning valuable arable land over to the task of growing feedstock is generally not far behind. A discovery by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SRBC) that desert plants fed by seawater can produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks could help alleviate such concerns.  Read More

The PLEASED project aims to turn plants into environmental biosensors (Image: Shutterstock...

Many claim that talking to plants helps them grow faster. But what if the plants could talk back? That’s what the EU-funded PLants Employed As SEnsing Devices (PLEASED) project is hoping to achieve by creating plant cyborgs, or "plant-borgs." While this technology won't allow green thumbs to carry on a conversation with their plants, it will provide feedback on their environment by enabling the plants to act as biosensors.  Read More

A new type of carbon nanotube sponge containing sulfur and iron could help clean up oil sp...

A new type of carbon nanotube (CNT) sponge that contains sulfur and iron has been developed and is proving to be more effective at soaking up water contaminants, such as oil, fertilizers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals, than previously seen. The magnetic properties of these nanosponges also make them easier to retrieve from the environment once the clean-up job is done.  Read More

Rawlemon has designed an aesthetic take on  solar power devices

Despite their noble cause of harnessing clean, renewable energy from the sun, solar panels tend to be aesthetically uninspiring. Solar start-up Rawlemon aims to change all that with a new, and undeniably beautiful, take on concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology.  Read More

RUB researchers have developed a bio-based solar cell using cyanobacteria found in hot spr...

Researchers at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum have created a bio-based solar cell capable of generating a continuous electrical current of several nanowatts per sq cm. The new approach avoids damage to the tapped photosynthetic cells, an issue that has plagued previous attempts to harness nature's "power plant."  Read More

Scientists have found huge freshwater reserves under the world's oceans (Photo: Shuttersto...

Scientists in Australia have reported the discovery of huge freshwater reserves preserved in aquifers under the world's oceans. The water has remained shielded from seawater thanks to the accumulation of a protective layer of sediment and clay. And it’s not a local phenomenon. Such reserves are to be found under continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.  Read More

The 'Flying House' will be used to test a new solar thermal heating system as part of the ...

Researchers at the University of Stuttgart are preparing to test a solar heating system capable of long term storage as part of "Solspaces," a three-year project that kicked off in March 2012. The heating concept uses a solar thermal system in conjunction with a sorption tank for storing heat from solar collectors throughout the warmer months that can then be released when the mercury drops.  Read More

The new system puts the weight of vehicles to use

Over the years, various researchers have developed systems in which the weight transferred through cars' wheels onto the road – or through pedestrians' feet onto the sidewalk – is used to generate electricity. These systems utilize piezoelectric materials, which convert mechanical stress into an electrical current. Such materials may be effective, but they're also too expensive for use in many parts of the world. That's why Mexican entrepreneur Héctor Ricardo Macías Hernández created his own rather ingenious alternative.  Read More

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