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Environment

Energy-generating sOccket soccer ball scores a goal in off-grid villages

What kid doesn’t like kicking around a soccer ball? Imagine if this fun activity could also provide enough energy to power something useful in a modest off-grid African village, like a reliable light to cook by or an emergency mobile phone. The sOccket is a prototype soccer ball that captures kinetic energy when it is kicked or thrown, stores it in an internal battery and makes that energy available for a myriad of small but useful purposes. In other words, it’s a fun, portable energy-harvesting power source that is designed to take a kicking.Read More

Mason bees fly to the rescue of failing orchards

Many readers would already be familiar with Colony Collapse Disorder and the mysterious worldwide disappearance of honeybees. Everything from mites to viruses to electromagnetic radiation are suspected as its cause and it is potentially disastrous for crops that rely on the bees for pollination. Well, on a small scale at least, help is on the way - some fruit growers in North America are now turning to the indigenous mason bee as an orchard-pollinator. Not only are mason bees not affected by CCD, but they're better at pollinating than honeybees, you need less of them, and they have a more laidback personality, meaning less of those nasty stings.Read More

Wattbox: Habit-learning device to lower energy bills

The adage “less is more” rings true when discussing energy usage - as energy costs rise, using less saves you more money each year. And studies have shown that householders who know how much energy they use on a daily basis tend to use significantly less. A new device called the Wattbox - a smart control unit for central heating and hot water heaters that learns householders' energy habits and provide immediate feedback on consumption - could deliver home energy savings of up to 20 percent without compromising comfort say UK researchers. A great feature of the Wattbox is that it is retrofittable, meaning it’s suitable for all houses, not just new ones.Read More

Vapur - the reusable, flexible water bottle

Personally, I’m not a fan of bottled water. Firstly, tap water in many parts of the world is safe, tastes fine, and it's free. Then there's the waste that bottled water causes – an enormous amount of energy is consumed in manufacture and most bottles end up in landfill. So when I see a product like the Vapur, I instantly warm to it. It’s a flexible, reusable water container that rolls up like a tube of toothpaste when it's empty to fit in your pocket, purse or backpack – then in the dishwasher, not in the trash.Read More

Modular SunSine solar panels from GreenRay will generate AC power

Solar power start-up GreenRay Inc. has developed the SunSine AC “solar appliance” that integrates the complex components of conventional solar power systems into modular, plug-and-play panels for easier installation, reduced cost, and increased safety. GreenRay designed the SunSine AC to produce standard alternating current (AC) electricity that is suitable for use in homes and small businesses, and the company hopes that by simplifying the technology and making it more affordable, it can make solar power more accessible to homeowners.Read More

Solar glazing chases sun from dawn until dusk

In the age of green energy we are seeing interesting new developments that marry building materials with the capacity to harness renewable power sources. Building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) or concentrating PV technologies aren't new, but the ability to concentrate and maximize the capture of energy by tracking sunlight from dawn to dusk is. The Center for Architectural Science and Ecology CASE has unveiled a new Integrated Concentrating (IC) Dynamic Solar Facade which does just that - and it looks great!Read More

Honda's next gen solar-powered hydrogen fuel cell station for home use

Honda has begun work on a smaller solar hydrogen station prototype intended for use as a home refueling appliance. Capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles it is designed to be a single, integrated unit that will fit in the user's garage. Honda's next generation Solar Hydrogen Station, though not as big as the previous systems, will still produce enough hydrogen (0.5kg) via an eight-hour overnight fill for daily commuting (10,000 miles per year) for a fuel cell electric vehicle.Read More

Calera and Novacem use concrete to capture CO2

Concrete seems pretty inoffensive. It just looks like mud, and appears to do nothing except sit there and harden. The fact is, though, concrete is the world's third-largest source of man-made carbon dioxide. Its production process accounts for at least 5% of the CO2 our species pumps into the atmosphere annually. Apparently, however, it doesn't have to be that way. Two companies are now using different technologies that not only make concrete carbon-neutral, they actually make it carbon-negative.Read More

Build your own electric car with Trexa

Trexa has revealed details of a lithium-powered, all-wheel vehicle development platform that will enable engineers and developers to create custom "vehicle apps", doing for builders of electric vehicles what the iPhone did for application developers. Modular and scalable, the standard Trexa platform will feature an aluminum, carbon steel tubing and thermoplastic shell containing open source and user programmable electronics and advanced battery technology.Read More

Computer modeling indicates white roofs may be a cool idea

Previous studies have indicated that painting the roofs of buildings white could be a low tech way to reduce global warming by reflecting the sun’s rays back into space. Now the first computer modeling study to simulate the impacts of white roofs on urban areas worldwide has added more weight to such a proposal indicating that painting every roof in a city entirely white could cool the world’s cities by an average of about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.4 degrees Celsius. Read More

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