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Pollution

— Pets

Water-soluble bags let dog waste get flushed

By - August 8, 2011 4 Pictures
Dog poop bags have become so commonly used, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time that dog-walkers typically let their pooches go Number 2 in parks or on other peoples’ lawns, with no intentions of cleaning it up. While it’s definitely a good thing that such is no longer the case (for the most part, at least), there’s still the small matter of what happens to the bagged excrement once it’s thrown away. Conventional bags keep it sealed inside, perhaps so that future archeologists can marvel at it when digging through our landfills. Even biodegradable bags take a long time to break down under certain conditions, and leave landfills full of untreated feces. Flush Puppies flushable doodie bags, however, reportedly allow dog poop to be flushed down the toilet, so it can be treated in a municipal sewage system. Read More
— Environment

Lab-in-a-briefcase designed to test for polluted soil, on the spot

By - July 8, 2011 1 Picture
In the same way that polluted water can be deceptively clear, polluted soil can just look like plain old dirt. Given the contaminants that can be left behind by gas plants, oil refineries and other industries, however, it's very important to check that the soil in an area isn't toxic, before building houses or growing crops there. Presently, soil samples have to be sent off to laboratories, where processing can take up to two weeks. British entrepreneur Ed Bell, however, has invented a briefcase-sized soil-testing unit that can be carried into the field, where it provides results within minutes. Read More
— Good Thinking

Floating +Pool would let New Yorkers swim in the river

By - June 23, 2011 8 Pictures
It's a hot summer day, you're sweaty and uncomfortable, and there's a river full of cool, clear water right beside you. Do you jump in? Not if you're in New York City, as the rivers that flow through that city are too polluted for swimming ... or at the very least, that's the perception that most people have of them. Three young entrepreneurs, however, have proposed a way of getting New Yorkers into the Hudson, East and/or Bronx Rivers. It's called the +Pool (Plus Pool) – a public swimming pool that would float in the river, allowing people to swim in filtered river water. Read More
— Environment

EU project to demonstrate 'cheaper, easier' method of CO2 capture

By - June 13, 2011 1 Picture
If there’s one big environmental concern surrounding power plants that burn material such as coal in order to produce power, it’s the amount of carbon dioxide that they release into the atmosphere. Various experimental technologies have been developed for removing most or all of the CO2 from smokestack effluents, although no one system appears to have been universally accepted as of yet. One technology that shows some promise, and that could perhaps be used in conjunction with other systems, is called Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). Norwegian research group SINTEF is now building a special new type of CLC system, for use in the DemoCLOCK pilot project, to be installed at Spain’s Elcogas Puertollano power plant. Read More
— Good Thinking

LifeStraw Family to produce clean water and reduce carbon emissions

By - May 27, 2011 4 Pictures
Given that approximately one sixth of the world's population lacks access to safe drinking water, it would obviously be a very good idea to create something that allows those people to easily and cheaply filter their local tainted water. That was the thinking behind the LifeStraw. Developed by European disease control firm Vestergaard Frandsen, the simple device allows individual users to drink directly out of unclean water bodies, without ingesting pathogens or other pollutants. Now, the larger-scale LifeStraw Family is being introduced in Kenya, where it could potentially save millions of lives, reduce air pollution, and pay for itself in the process. Read More
— Environment

Loowatt creates energy and fertilizer from human waste

By - May 2, 2011 8 Pictures
Of all the things that people traditionally discard, one that most of us likely think the least about repurposing is human feces and urine. Sure, we recycle our plastic and paper, and compost our fruits and veggies, but ... that stuff? Actually, there are various worldwide projects aimed at using municipal raw sewage for things such as fertilizer or a power source. While those projects only come into play once the waste has been flushed, however, the UK’s Loowatt system gets users involved from the bottom up (sorry), collecting waste directly from the toilet and using it to create biogas and fertilizer. Read More
— Environment

Biodegradable golf balls made from lobster shells

By - April 25, 2011 1 Picture
Golf balls may be small and the ocean may be huge, yet traditional plastic-skinned balls that are whacked into the sea are nonetheless a source of pollution, and a potential hazard to marine life – anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where a whale got one of Kramer's golf balls down its blowhole? It would certainly stand to reason that biodegradable balls would be the logical choice for golfers who want to use the ocean as their driving range, and such balls do already exist. A team from the University of Maine, however, have recently created golf balls made from lobster shells ... and they have a couple of advantages over similar products. Read More
— Environment

Cleaner-burning cook stove designed for use in developing nations

By - April 13, 2011 1 Picture
Chances are that even if you own a propane camp stove, you’ve tried cooking over an open fire at least once. When you did, despite your best efforts, you probably ended up sucking down a lot of smoke in the process. Now, imagine doing that for every meal. For many women in the developing world, breathing in toxic smoke while cooking over a wood, kerosene or coal fire is part of their daily routine. Not only can it have a detrimental effect on their own health, but it also worsens local air pollution and (in the case of wood fires) deforestation. The Eco Fire Pot Stove, however, is designed to allow these women to cook while breathing clean air. Read More
— Environment

Microwaves utilized to convert used motor oil into fuel

By - March 29, 2011 1 Picture
It has been estimated that over 8 billion US gallons (30.3 billion liters) of used motor oil are produced every year by the world’s cars and trucks. While some of that is re-refined into new oil or burned in furnaces for heat, neither of those processes are entirely environmentally-innocuous. In other cases, it is simply discarded. Today, however, researchers from the University of Cambridge announced the development of a process that uses microwaves to convert waste oil into vehicle fuel. Read More
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