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Environmental

The hub contains batteries, a motor, gears and a range of sensors

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's SENSEable City team have chosen the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change to show off a new bicycle wheel prototype which not only provides electric rider assist, but also contains "a veritable Swiss army knife's worth of electronic gadgets and novel functions", including sensors to monitor air quality and noise pollution, GPRS and Bluetooth connectivity.  Read More

The USPTO's Green Technology Pilot Program will accelerate the examination of certain 'gre...

Recognizing there’s now a sense of urgency in saving the planet, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will pilot a program to accelerate the examination of certain “green” technology patent applications. According to the USPTO the move is designed to “accelerate development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector.”  Read More

It ain't pretty, but cyanobacteria like this is now an even more attractive source of rene...

A key factor is determining the eco-friendliness of any biofuel is how much energy is required to produce it. If the energy expended in producing it, which more often than not comes from fossil fuels, is too high then the environmental benefits of the fuel can be questionable. Researchers have now developed a process that removes a key obstacle to producing lower-cost, renewable biofuels by programming a photosynthetic microbe to self-destruct.  Read More

A tiny copepod collected this year from the Atlantic depths

“The deep sea is the Earth’s largest continuous ecosystem and largest habitat for life. It is also the least studied,” says Dr. Chris German, who along with hundreds of other Marine Life scientists from around the globe is shedding light on these mysterious depths through an unprecedented census of deep-sea marine inhabitants. Their recordings have yielded astonishing findings of more than 17,500 species of often bizarre marine creatures - from oil-eating tubeworms to elephant-eared octopods - inhabiting the blackest depths between 200 meters and up to 5, 000 meters (~3 miles) below ocean surface. Even more remarkable is the ability of these deep-sea creatures to live and thrive in topographically challenging environments where food availability is marginal, at best.  Read More

The 'Thermeleon' roof tile changes from white to black depending on its temperature

Prototype roof tiles that turn white to reflect heat when they get hot seem like a pretty cool idea, as do tiles that turn black to absorb heat when it’s cold. That’s why a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates has won the third annual MIT MADMEC (Making and Designing Materials Engineering Contest) by demonstrating their thermally-activated, color-changing, roofing material called “Thermeleon” (as in chameleon).  Read More

200 smart fortwo cars are on the streets of Austin as part of the car2go car sharing progr...

car2go, the innovative car sharing program first seen in Ulm, Germany, has launched in Austin, Texas. A joint partnership between the City of Austin and Daimler will initially see 200 smart fortwo vehicles made available 24/7 within the city to a select group of city employees and their relatives, with plans to increase the number of cars and make them accessible to all Austin residents and students in early 2010.  Read More

Biodegradable cups made from corn at Chubby's Tacos in Durham, North Carolina (Photo: Ilda...

In recent years, polylactic acid (PLA) has attracted attention as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics. It is made from corn-starch, or other starch-rich substances like maize, sugar or wheat, and is biodegradable – reverting in less than 60 days in ideal conditions. PLA is already used as a material for compost bags, food packaging, and disposable tableware, and also for a number of biomedical applications, such as sutures, stents, dialysis media and drug delivery devices. Although its price has been falling, PLA is still more expensive than most petroleum-derived commodity plastics, but now a team of researchers has succeeded in simplifying the production of PLA and making the process much cheaper, meaning we could soon see PLA used in a much wider variety of applications.  Read More

Je Sung Park's clever concept design makes the upgrade process both inexpensive and guilt-...

In a world where concern for the environment is high on the agenda, it was only a matter of time before the laptop got a green makeover. Outstripping even the Bamboo notebook in eco-friendly credentials, designer Je Sung Park has pushed the concept to its limit and opened our eyes to the laptop of the future: a recyclable paper design.  Read More

An all too common sight - the car park oil sheen rainbow (Photo: crabchick via flickr)

The rainbow effect caused by varying thicknesses of oil film on water’s surface might be pretty to look at but is indicative of polluted water. This “oil sheen” proves especially difficult to remove, even when the water is aerated with ozone or filtered through sand. But now a University of Utah engineer has developed an inexpensive new method to remove oil sheen by repeatedly pressurizing and depressurizing ozone gas, creating microscopic bubbles that attack the oil so it can be removed by sand filters.  Read More

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission will make global observations of soil ...

The 658kg (1,450 lb) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) this week is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. The unique radiometer it carries will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land thereby playing a key role in the monitoring of global climate change.  Read More

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