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Environmental

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

The BP oil spill, as shown in a NASA satellite image

Whether it's reaching orbit, landing on the moon, building more efficient cars or speeding up human genome sequencing, the X PRIZE has become synonymous with driving innovation. Now there's another scenario that's crying out for the kind of radical breakthrough theses prizes are designed to achieve – the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. The X PRIZE Foundation is planning to answer this call with a new prize aimed at incentivizing privately-funded methods to quickly clean up crude oil from the ocean and coastlines around the spill.  Read More

New, green alternatives to cremation and burial are on the way (Photo: Noel McKeegan)

How would you like your body to be disposed of when you shuffle off this mortal coil? Burial or cremation have long been the only legal options in many parts of the Western world, however neither is particularly environmentally friendly. But greener alternatives that let you make a final environmental statement are on the rise. Two examples are ecological burial (or corpse composting) which uses a form of cryogenics and freeze drying, and resomation, which uses alkaline hydrolysis to break down the body. The end result of both processes is a fine powder, similar to cremation, and each claims to lessen the impact on the environment. However, they may make some traditionalists turn in their graves...  Read More

Sub-Biosphere 2 is a concept for a self-sustaining marine environment for human, animal an...

Phil Pauley, a London-based concept designer, has unveiled his vision for Sub-Biosphere 2 - a self-sustainable underwater habitat designed for aquanauts, tourism and oceanographic life sciences as well as long-term human, plant and animal habitation. If this sounds like a strangely familiar concept, it’s because Pauley’s system is based on the successes of the US Biosphere 2 project – a man-made closed-ecological system in Arizona that was used by researchers to explore the possibility of sustainable living in a closely-monitored environment.  Read More

The Horizon MiniPak will almost certainly be the public's first experience of the coming H...

Today is a day that you will probably tell your grandchildren about – the day they released the first affordable, pocket-sized fuel cell for personal usage. As with flying cars, personal jet packs and a usable voice recognition computer interface, the promise of a safe, affordable, personal power plant was entering the realm of perpetual vaporware. Now it's finally here! Whatsmore, at US$100, the Horizon MiniPak might well prove to be the “disruptive” technology the press release claims it to be. By producing electricity from hydrogen at the point of use and offering effectively unlimited run-time for personal electronics, it will almost certainly be the public's first experience of the coming Hydrogen Economy.  Read More

The polymer-based filter blocks oil and allows water through

With the damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well continuing to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico there’s no shortage of suggestions coming from those concerned about the environmental disaster. We’ve already looked at a number of clean-up options, and now a University of Pittsburgh engineering professor has developed a technique that looks very promising. His filter for separating oil from water not only cleans the water, but also allows the oil to be recovered and stored for the use BP originally intended and the filter to be reused.  Read More

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