Photokina 2014 highlights

Waste

Collecting plastic nurdles with the 'Nurdler'

You may have heard about the huge floating islands of garbage swirling around in the middle of the Earth's oceans. Much of that waterlogged rubbish is made up of plastic and, like Electrolux with its concept vacuum cleaners, U.K.-based Studio Swine and Kieren Jones are looking to put that waste to good use. As part of an ambitious project, they’ve come up with a system to collect plastic debris and convert it into furniture.  Read More

Bill Gates weighs evaluates the Toronto Toilet at the Reinvent the Toilet fair in Seattle

In an effort to improve conditions for the more than 2.5 billion people worldwide with no access to safe sanitation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year awarded grants totaling US$3 million to eight universities to reinvent the toilet. At the two-day “Reinventing the Toilet” fair held in Seattle this week, where Bill Gates was on hand with 50 gallons (189 l) of fake feces made from soybeans and rice to put the various designs through their paces, a California Institute of Technology (Caltech) team claimed first place for their solar-powered toilet.  Read More

A Japanese inventor has built a waste basket that tracks garbage tossed in its general dir...

We've all done it: you toss a piece of trash at a nearby waste basket only to have it ricochet off the edge, forcing you to make that shameful walk to go pick it up and drop it in carefully. You only have your own hand-eye coordination skills to blame, but if you think about it, shouldn't catching trash be the garbage can's job? That certainly seems to be the thought process that led one Japanese inventor to construct a smart trash can that tracks garbage tossed in its general direction and then moves across the floor to catch it.  Read More

The BYPASSER system is designed to minimize wasted water, by only dispensing water that's ...

What do you do when you want hot or cold water from the faucet? You set the temperature, turn the tap on, then wait for the water to reach the desired temperature before using any. Chances are, though, you simply let that initial not-hot-or-cold-enough water go down the drain. The new BYPASSER system from Belgium’s W&E Savings has been designed to keep that water from being wasted.  Read More

A sapphire disk etched in platinum could preserve information for future generations to de...

Storing data for longer than a few years is tricky enough with rapidly advancing technology, so what are you supposed to do if you need to store data for thousands or even millions of years? That's just the problem facing nuclear waste management companies, who need a way to warn future civilizations of hazardous sites that will withstand the test of time. Luckily a recent proposal may have the solution with a sapphire disk etched in platinum that could survive longer than humanity itself.  Read More

The Fuel Nozzle Drip Retainer is said to virtually eliminate the wasted drops of fuel that...

For most of us, it’s simply one of life’s little annoyances ... those last few drops of fuel that dribble out of the nozzle at the gas station. For the guys at Canada’s Dram Innovations, however, that run-on is a serious problem – and one that they’re addressing, with their Fuel Nozzle Drip Retainer.  Read More

An internet company in Mexico has placed devices in several parks that accept pet waste an...

Getting people to clean up after their dogs in public places is never easy - just take a look at how many "land mines" are dotted around your nearest park. One internet company in Mexico however, has hit on a clever incentive to encourage people to scoop up after their pet. Dog walkers in Mexico City are now finding pet waste disposal bins showing up in some parks that activate a free wireless network for a set amount of time depending on the size of the "deposit."  Read More

KeepCup, who claims to be “the world’s first barista standard reusable coffee cup”, has ar...

KeepCup, which claims to be “the world’s first barista standard reusable coffee cup,” has arrived on the shores of Italy, bringing to 32 the number of countries where the cup is now available. Developed in 2009 in response to the large global waste generated from disposable coffee cups, KeepCup attempts to blend the best elements of disposable and reusable cups.  Read More

Scientists have created a rechargeable battery using the lignin from pulp and paper mills

Scientists have discovered that lignin, a plentiful byproduct of the pulp and paper industry, can be used to store an electrical charge. They've used the material to create a prototype lignin-based rechargeable battery, and suggest that it could one day be used as a less expensive, safer alternative to the precious metals currently utilized in battery cathodes.  Read More

The pilot plant in Stuttgart that makes biogas out of waste from wholesale markets (Photo:...

Some readers might remember the Mr. Fusion unit in Back to the Future that Doc Brown fills with household garbage, including a banana peel and some beer, to power the iconic time-traveling DeLorean. While we're still some way from such direct means of running our cars on table scraps, researchers at Fraunhofer have developed a pilot plant that ferments the waste from wholesale fruit and veg markets, cafeterias and canteens to make methane, which can be used to power vehicles.  Read More

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