Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Waste

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

The upper outside walls of the McGee house are made from over 100 salvaged car roofs

While the McGee house may look like any other new designer home in the neighborhood, its walls tell a different story. Designed by husband and wife team Karl Wanaselja and Cate Leger of Leger Wanaselja Architecture, the upper outside walls of the house are made from over 100 salvaged car roofs. In a pursuit to build a house that utilized green technologies and reused materials, the couple sourced car roofs from a selection of gray-colored cars that had been left for parts in local junk yards in Berkeley, California. Their biggest challenge was sourcing car scraps that were in relatively good condition, without dents and with a good paint finish. The scraps were then cut into long tile-like shapes and used to complete the upper outside walls of the house, rendering a similar appearance to slate.  Read More

The Philips bio-light is 'powered' by glowing bioluminescent bacteria

The search for greener, more power-efficient lighting systems won't stop with compact fluorescents and LED systems if Dutch electronics giant Philips has anything to say about it. In an effort to embrace a truly natural approach to lighting, the company took a cue from fireflies and deep-sea creatures to create a (literally) green light powered not by electricity or sunlight, but by glowing bioluminescent bacteria.  Read More

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu from QUT Chemistry with the titanate nanofiber that can remove rad...

Nuclear power plants are located close to sources of water, which is used as a coolant to handle the waste heat discharged by the plants. This means that water contaminated with radioactive material is often one of the problems to arise after a nuclear disaster. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water, resulting in clean water and concentrated waste that can be stored more efficiently.  Read More

AshPoopie dog poop disposal system

Most dog-walkers accept the necessity of cleaning up after their charges, but no one is claiming that it's a pleasurable experience. While we've seen eco-friendly dog waste disposal bags and systems that turn poop into plant fertilizer, we've yet to come across an approach that takes care of both collection and disposal quite like AshPoopie. Still a concept at this stage, the AshPoopie from Israel-based Paulee CleanTech is a kind of portable refuse incinerator crossed with ordinary one-handed pet waste scoop that's designed to turn feces into 100% sterile ash on the spot.  Read More

The toilet trike will hit the Japanese roads in the coming days, making its way from Kyush...

If you think this smells like a PR stunt, you're right. In an effort to raise awareness about bathroom emissions and water savings, Japanese toilet manufacturer TOTO has created the Toilet Bike Neo Project ... yep, it's a road-going, three-wheeled toilet fueled by "biogas" generated from the toilet waste.  Read More

Researchers have created an efficient new thermoelectric nanomaterial, that could be used ...

Virtually all electrical devices and industrial processes create heat as they operate, which is typically wasted. In the past several years, various thermoelectric technologies have been developed to address that situation, by converting such heat into electricity. The ideal material for the purpose would be one that has a high electrical conductivity, but a low thermal conductivity – that way, it could carry plenty of electricity without losing efficiency through overheating. Unfortunately, electrical and thermal conductivity usually seem to go hand in hand. With some help from an ordinary microwave oven, however, researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a nanomaterial that appears to fit the bill.  Read More

A new technology is able to convert paper mill waste into bio-foam (Photo: P199)

In a world increasingly concerned with waste, the smart manufacturers are identifying ways of utilizing the by-products of manufacturing and creating two products from one process. One example – a graduate student in agriculture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has developed a way of creating foam from the waste from paper mills, radically reducing waste from paper production and creating two products that are highly valuable and in demand.  Read More

A mock-up of an industrial-scale version of The Muncher, a prototype system that rapidly c...

A number of cities around the world now sort their municipal trash, diverting organic matter into giant anaerobic composters that turn it into nutrient-rich soil. Such systems can be very expensive, however, and have a large physical footprint. The composting process can take as little as 14 days, or as long as one year. Nevada-based company Ecologico-Logic, however, has created an alternative system, called The Muncher. Not only is it relatively small, but its makers claim that it can convert organic waste into mulched and liquid compost in less than an hour.  Read More

ZenRobotics staff, with the Recycler robot's picking hand(All images courtesy ZenRobotics)...

Standing around, sorting debris from construction or demolition projects for recycling ... it probably isn't anyone's idea of a good time. Given the risks posed by sharp or heavy objects and airborne particles, it's not a particularly safe way of making a buck either. That's where, perhaps someday soon, ZenRobotics' Recycler autonomous waste-sorting robot arm will come into play.  Read More

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