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Environment

New reverse-osmosis membrane to improve desalination

Increasing numbers of countries turning to desalination plants to bolster dwindling water supplies with most new facilities making use of reverse osmosis technology. Unfortunately these systems are susceptible to clogging and membrane damage, which places higher energy demands on the pumping system and necessitates costly cleanup and membrane replacement. Now researchers have unveiled a new class of reverse-osmosis membrane that resists the clogging that typically occurs when seawater, brackish water and waste-water are purified. Read More

SunChips unveils world's first fully-compostable chip bag

The last thing the world needs right now is more discarded food packaging, which is why it’s good to hear that Frito-Lay is about to introduce a 100% compostable bag for their SunChips snacks in the US and Canada. Made with plant-based polylactic acid, the new bags will completely biodegrade within about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin. Read More

One of the world's greenest skyscrapers approaches completion

The 71-story Pearl River Tower, described as one of the most energy-efficient skyscrapers in the world, has reached its topping out milestone on the way to its planned completion later this year. (For those not in the architectural know, topping out or topping off is a ceremony held when the last beam is placed at the top of a building.) With a height of 309.6 meters the 2.3-million square-foot Pearl River Tower incorporates the latest green technology and engineering advancements, the most immediately obvious of which will be a pair of openings in the tower’s facade which feed wind turbines to generate energy for the building.Read More

Improving the fuel economy of heavy vehicles

While there are fuel consumption standards for passenger cars, there is no such regulation of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the U.S. With such vehicles accounting for about 26 percent of the transportation fuel used in the U.S. regulators are looking to establish fuel economy standards for these vehicles in the next few years. Now a new U.S. report has been released recommending the best ways to measure and regulate fuel economy for these vehicles, and assess technologies that could improve it. Amongst its findings, the report says that some vehicles could cut their fuel use by about 50 percent through the use of a combination of technologies. Read More

Renewable biofuel oozes from reprogrammed microbes

It seems like every day, a new way of producing biofuel is being discovered. Within the past few years, we’ve reported on technology that harvests biofuel from garbage, booze, crop waste, carbon dioxide and wood-munching marine isopods. Now, Arizona State University has announced a new development in the harvesting of biofuel from cyanobacteria microbes - ASU researchers Xinyao Liu and Roy Curtiss have genetically engineered bacteria that literally ooze the stuff out of their skins.Read More

BunBun eco light - a flashlight with a twist

Japanese manufacturer Landport has created an ingenious variation on the wind-up flashlight with the BunBun - a compact torch that can be charged simply by swinging it about in front of you. Once you extend the handle and bend it at the hinge, you can charge the built-in rechargeable battery by cranking the BunBun for 30 seconds. Just this short amount of charging will give you about 5 minutes of juice. Read More

Ostara reactors harvest phosphorus from raw sewage

Here’s something rather important that you might not know: there may be a worldwide phosphorus shortage within the next few decades. The majority of the world’s phosphorus is currently mined from non-renewable phosphate rock deposits, and widely used in crop fertilizers. Scientists have begun to question just how much more phosphorus is left, and what the agriculture industry will do once it runs out. The answer – or some of it, at least – could be bobbing in a pool of raw sewage. Ostara, a Canadian nutrient recovery company, has developed a method for harvesting phosphorus from municipal wastewater and converting it to fertilizer.Read More

Lower cost solar panels using plastic electronics

It seems that half the world’s R&D is involved in solar energy, which isn’t a bad thing considering the mess our reliance on traditional energy generation has got us into. Interestingly, engineers at Princeton University have developed a new technique for producing electricity-conducting plastics that could dramatically lower the cost of manufacturing solar panels, making alternative power within reach of more consumers and industry.Read More

Century Gothic is the 'greenest' font

If you're looking for an easy way to make your contribution to saving the planet, then it could be as simple as switching your font to 'Century Gothic'. University of Wisconsin - Green Bay (UWGB) has rolled out the change this semester, saying it uses 30% less ink than its default font Arial when printed. Read More

Drawing inspiration from Mother Nature in designing an ‘artifical leaf’

Producing an artificial leaf capable of harnessing Mother Nature’s ability to produce energy from sunlight and water via photosynthesis has been a long-sought goal for researchers aspiring to provide an environmentally-friendly way to free to world of its dependence on coal, oil, and other carbon-producing fuel sources. Now a group of Chinese scientists has presented a design strategy based on the chemistry and biology of natural leaves that could lead to working prototypes of an artificial leaf that captures solar energy and uses it efficiently to change water into hydrogen fuel.Read More

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