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Environmental

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

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

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