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Environmental

A diagram illustrating how the hydrogel sensor works (Image: Birck Nanotechnology Center, ...

Scientists have used gelatinous hydrogel to create an inexpensive new type of biochemical sensor that is highly sensitive, sturdy, long-lasting, and has few moving parts. The gel expands or contracts according to the acidity of its environment, a quality that allows the sensor to measure changes in pH down to one one-thousandth on the pH scale. This amount of accuracy, along with its robustness, could make it ideal for chemical and biological applications such as environmental monitoring in waterways and glucose monitoring in blood.  Read More

Conceptual illustration of the Sahara Forest Project that will produce fresh water, electr...

An ambitious project that aims to turn arid desert land into a green oasis took a step closer to becoming reality last week when an agreement was signed on the rights to develop a pilot system in Jordan. The Sahara Forest Project’s (SFP) first facility will be located on a 2,000,000 square meter plot of land in Aqaba, a coastal town in the south of Jordan where it will be a test bed for the use of a combination of technologies designed to enable the production of fresh water, food and renewable energy in hot, arid regions.  Read More

 i-Tree software provides analysis, benefit-calculations and assessment tools to quantify ...

Trees make a huge contribution to the green infrastructure of our towns and cities, both in carbon sequestration and aesthetics, yet the economical value of them is often forgotten leading them to be undervalued or seen as a nuisance. The i-Tree tool aims to change the way people see trees – it is a freely available software suite from the US Forest Service which provides analysis, benefit-calculations and assessment tools to quantify the contribution made by trees in the urban environment to allow communities to understand the economic benefit of protecting our urban forests.  Read More

The HOT reactor (the silver-colored tank left of center) at the Lake Taihu cleanup site in...

Just under a year ago we reported on a method to clean polluted water and soil by infusing them with pressurized ozone gas microbubbles. The process was developed by Andy Hong at the University of Utah and has now moved out of the lab and is being put the test in a demonstration project in eastern China. If all goes to plan the process has the potential to boost a wide range of environmental cleanup efforts around the world.  Read More

Haier's bike-powered washing machine

Chinese electronics giant Haier was showcasing its green credentials at IFA 2010 with this human powered washing machine. An exercise bike with a lithium-ion battery that collects energy as you pedal is hard wired to the front loading machine. When you pedal, you power the machine. Twenty minutes effort is said to give you one cold cycle wash without drawing power from the grid. It's an idea we've seen elsewhere in fledgling form – and its a good one. We'd love to see it get beyond prototype stage.  Read More

Potentially toxic petroleum-based wood adhesives may soon give way to safer soy-based glue...

Two thousand years ago Jesus may have walked on water, but soon we may be walking on food. In a bid to become more environmentally sustainable, scientists have unveiled a new "green" alternative to commonly used petroleum-based wood adhesives. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Products Laboratory in Wisconsin, speaking at this week's 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, talked about the development of a soy-based glue. The substance is derived from food products such as soy milk and tofu, and could mean a new generation of eco-friendly flooring, furniture, cabinets and other wood products.  Read More

One of Otarian's new London restaurants

A vegetarian diet, according to its proponents, has a lighter ecological footprint, reduced resource impacts, and lower carbon emissions than the non-vegetarian equivalent. A new fast-casual vegetarian restaurant chain, however, is taking “eating green” to a whole new level. Otarian, which already has locations in New York and opens in London this Friday, is the first global chain to carbon footprint all of its menu items according to the internationally recognized PAS 2050 standard. Not only can diners see the carbon figures for each item listed on the menu, but foods that generate too large of a footprint are simply not offered. The restaurant is also testing out the World Resources Institute's new product carbon foot printing standard, which Otarian claims “will help diners to understand the environmental impact of their food choices in a highly measurable and quantifiable way.”  Read More

Barnacles are a major cause of fouling of ship hulls (Image: NOAA)

Fouling of hulls is a major problem for world shipping – for private leisure craft as well as large cargo ships – with barnacles being a major culprit. It reduces the performance of vessels and increases their fuel requirements. Medetomidine has proved effective in preventing fouling of ship bottoms and now researchers attempting to develop new, environmentally friendly methods to limit marine fouling have identified the gene that causes barnacles to react to the substance, opening up the possibility of an antifouling paint that is gentle to both barnacles and the environment.  Read More

The on-call robotic rubbish collection service is being trialed in Peccioli in Italy
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You've had a party and your garbage bin is overflowing but the regular collection is still several days away. Imagine being able to make a call and have your rubbish collected at a time that suits you. For 100 households in Peccioli, Italy it's a reality. They are part of a two month trial of DustCart, a robot that provides an on-demand garbage collection service - just make a call and DustCart will soon arrive at your door to take away the trash.  Read More

The AEROCORK cork composite material (Photo: Paul Ridden)

Many of the exhibitors we encountered at the Paris Green Air Show were showing off aircraft that ran on electricity, alternative fuels, or that reduced the consumption of fossil fuels. One booth, however, was displaying a different sort of green aviation product – a low-impact, natural cork composite called AEROCORK, intended to replace PVC foam and other petroleum-based building materials in aircraft. It is the result of a collaboration between three Portuguese tech companies.  Read More

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