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Environmental

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

The five pieces show the transformation in stages from wedding dress to fashion garment an...

Aiming to address the issue of “throwaway fashion” and its impact on the environment as landfill, students at Sheffield Hallam University have combined fashion design with engineering to create a dissolvable wedding dress. This truly "wear once" garment can be converted into five different fashion pieces before being dissolved in water leaving no environmental footprint.  Read More

The DBA pen looks good and writes well, and is also the world's only 98% biodegradable pen

There are many pens on the market today that claim to be biodegradable, or ecologically sound – but are they really? DBA in New York wanted to produce a responsible alternative to the vast numbers of wasteful and toxic pens we use and dispose of unethically every day, and claims to have designed not only a pen that looks good and writes well, but is also the world's only 98% biodegradable pen.  Read More

The Urban Forest Map relies on community contributions to build information sharing, and c...

How do we get a good picture of what trees are where, how they are affecting or contributing to the environment, and what problems they might be susceptible to in today's changing world? The main problem with recording this vital information is (to borrow a line) “tree people like planting trees, they don't like entering data.” So why not throw the task open to the local community? The Urban Forest Map is a one-stop repository using information contributed from any willing group or individual and aims to engage community participation to build a complete, dynamic picture of the urban forest.  Read More

Greenbutts LLC has created natural cigarette filters that break down in the environment to...

Let’s start by saying Gizmag doesn’t condone any form of smoking – they’re all bad for you. But we recognize that millions of people do, and it’s not just the extra cost on the community for smoking-related illnesses that irks most non-smokers, it’s also the trillions of cigarette butts that end up littering our sidewalks, roadways, parks, etc., many of which end up in our waterways. Greenbutts wants to tackle the problem with a 100 percent biodegradable cigarette filter... with extra benefits. The manufacturers say when a green butt is placed under a thin layer of soil it sprouts into green grass shoots or even blooming flowers.  Read More

Ford estimates it will save US$1.2 million annually by implementing a new PC Power Managem...

If companies and individuals still need an example of the economic and environmental benefits of switching off electrical equipment when not in use, here it is. Ford estimates it will save US$1.2 million annually on power costs alone and reduce its carbon footprint by an estimated 16,000 to 25,000 metric tons annually by implementing a new PC Power Management program. The new program will centrally control the power settings on Windows laptops and desktop PCs to enable a managed shutdown of computer systems not in use, especially overnight and on weekends.  Read More

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