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Environment

Water Pebble watches you (and your water usage) in the shower

In today’s water-conscious environment, any device that helps conserve precious H2O should be applauded. Paul Priestman from design company Priestmangoode has created the Water Pebble – a gadget that monitors how long you’re taking in the shower by flashing red when it’s time to get out. But what makes Water Pebble different from other timing devices is that the Water Pebble memorizes how long you took for your first shower and sets about gradually minimizing the amount of water you use by reducing the time it takes for the device to flash red in subsequent showers.Read More

Plant-based fuel is cheap, easy, and ready to power your jet

Engineers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to convert 95% of the energy of cellulosic biomass into jet fuel using stable, inexpensive catalysts, basic equipment and minimal processing. The end hydrocarbon product is so similar to jet fuel that it is ready for application by present internal engine designs. Read More

'The trouble with gribbles' may actually be a boon for biofuel industry

Just what, you may ask, is a gribble? It’s a tiny marine isopod, and it eats wood. For centuries, they destroyed wooden ships. Today, they continue to munch away on docks and piers. Unlike creatures such as termites, however, gribbles have no helpful microbes in their digestive system to help them digest wood - they themselves possess the enzymes necessary for converting it to sugar. British researchers are now suggesting that what works for the gribbles could also work for converting wood waste and straw into liquid biofuels.Read More

KAIST reveals proof of concept OLEV power road

The commercialization of Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) technology developed by researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has taken another step forward with the introduction of an OLEV “train” for public transportation in Seoul’s Grand Park in Gwacheon City. The vehicle picks up electricity from power cables buried underground through a non-contact magnetic charging method and replaces a trackless combustion engine train running inside the park.Read More

Empower concept chair rocks!

It's ironic that I should be writing this on a 13 hour stopover at an airport doling out foreign notes for endless coffees in Starbucks to justify my use of their power socket and WiFi. What I really need right now is a comfortable fold-out rocking chair that converts my languorous rocking movement into electrical energy to power my laptop. If only such a thing existed! Well, it might not be too far away. The Empower chair won second prize out of 18 shortlisted designs showcased at the Greener Gadgets 2010 Conference...Read More

Corky the Kinetic Mouse - no batteries required

Freeing oneself from the shackles of wired PC periphery does come at a cost. In order to power such liberation, users rely on batteries. Even rechargeable ones impede workflow when they run out of juice. Designer Adele Peters proposes capturing the energy from moving, clicking and scrolling and using it to power Corky, a kinetic mouse made from recycled materials.Read More

Tree seeds could provide low-cost water purification for developing nations

“In the developing world, more than 1 billion people cannot get clean drinking water... The United Nations says that dirty water causes 80 percent of diseases in the developing world, and kills 10 million people annually.” Those sobering lines are from the United Nations’ website, and underscore just how urgently needed water purification is in much of the world. What many people don’t realize, however, is that there are already naturally-occurring water filtration supplies available in many of these areas. They come in the form of seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, and used properly, they can produce a 90.00 to 99.99% bacterial reduction in previously untreated water. Read More

Joos Orange personal solar charger: affordable, rugged and extremely energy-efficient

The Joos Orange personal solar device is an affordable, durable, and waterproof energy source that can be charged by a USB, works in low-light conditions and offers up to 20 times more energy when compared to existing personal solar devices. It delivers more than two and a half hours of cell phone talk time for every hour it has been charged and its polycarbonate case has been encapsulated in urethane ensuring that it is rugged enough to be used outside for many years. The battery can generate enough power to fully charge six standard cell phones or four smart phones and the unit is expected to retail for less than US$100. Read More

Waste-to-Biofuels plant to make gas from garbage

If you’re a fan of the original Back to the Future movie, then you probably liked the scene at the end where Doc Brown used some random household waste to fuel his time-traveling deLorean. Well, we’re now getting a little bit closer to that being a reality... sort of. While practical flying cars, time travel and cold fusion are still a ways off, the ability to power your car with garbage isn’t. Canadian biofuels firm Enerkem is currently working with the city of Edmonton, Alberta, to convert that city’s municipal waste into ethanol. This will lower the city’s greenhouse gas output, keep much of its waste out of the landfill, and produce a “clean” fuel Doc Brown would be proud of. Read More

Information is power for cheaper electricity

Most of the time people don’t really take notice of how much power they’re using because the information isn’t readily available or easy to understand, which is where smart meters come in. They provide users with up-to-date information about how much power is being consumed and how much it is costing, thereby providing the information needed to cut energy usage and save money. Software currently being developed will make smart meters even smarter and help consumers make even bigger savings.Read More

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