Archive for Ecology and Environment

EcoModo – The Best of Treehugger

EcoModo – The Best of Treehugger:
treehugger-gizmodo-week67.jpgThis week at TreeHugger: We found the Magnetically-Levitated Axial Flux Alternator with Programmable Variable Coil Resistance, Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, a residential power generator that goes on your roof (and looks good, too). They are beginning to open the kimono at EESTor, who boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best contemporary lithium-ion batteries in just about every category. We find a home-brewed portable solar kit that’ll power up a laptop or iPod for a couple of hours at a time thanks to a folding solar panel and a couple wires. Lastly, we look to the back of a beetle for a new source of white light.
We get excited about new technologies, and it’s easy to jump the gun, so it is great to find a product that is new, different and actually available. It’s the “Magnetically-Levitated Axial Flux Alternator with Programmable Variable Coil Resistance, Vertical Axis Wind Turbine“, and it has just come on the market. Unlike normal turbines, it doesn’t mind a little turbulence, works well in developed areas, and gets an extra kick from something called “the roof effect.” The center hub floats on a magnet, and the coils that generate the power are at the outer ring, with magnets at the tips of the blades flying over them at high speed. Whoa.

EESTor is stepping out with some big claims about their new battery technology. The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals. Showcasing humility along with techno-brilliance, Richard Weir, EEStor’s cofounder and chief executive, says he would prefer to keep a low profile and let the results of his company’s innovation speak for themselves.

Who says solar can’t power laptops? According to this, a homemade solar kit, costing about $180 total, will keep a MacBook humming for a couple of hours with the help of a few bright sunny rays. It also helps to pull the plug on bluetooth and crank down the screen brightness a big, but we think there’s something to be said for blogging from the park while getting a tan, so it might just be worth it.

Lastly, take a closer look at the Cyphochilus beetle, whose scales might just inspire the next MacBook coating. They emit a brilliant white light without the benefit of dyes, but how? The beetle’s body is covered with long flat scales just 5 micrometers thick. The scales are unique in that they are composed of highly randomized 3D structures, which are sized and spaced precisely in order to maximize the scattering of light, thus creating white light. According to Dr. Pete Vukusic, of the University of Exeter’s School of Physics, “In the future, the paper we write on, the colour of our teeth and even the efficiency of the rapidly emerging new generation of white light sources will be significantly improved if technology can take and apply the design ideas we learn from this beetle.” Who knew bugs could be so beneficial?

TreeHugger’s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.


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A low impact woodland home

A low impact woodland home:

Simon writes –

“You are looking at pictures of our family home in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.” Thanks Jacques – Link.

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Top 10 Future Energy Solutions

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GreenPrint :: Saving Money Today, Trees Tomorrow

GreenPrint :: Saving Money Today, Trees Tomorrow: great idea.
Too bad they don’t have a Mac version.

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Aimulet LA: award-winning eco design

Aimulet LA: award-winning eco design:
aimulet_la.jpg The 2006 Good Design Award for Ecology Design goes to Aimulet LA, a batteryless, light-activated handheld audio communication device with an outer shell made from molded bamboo. [reBlogged from Pink Tentacle]

“The environmentally friendly communication terminal was designed by the Information Technology Research Institute at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology ( AIST).

Aimulet LA is designed to be held up to your ear like a cellphone.

When you stand over special LED emitters set into the ground, Aimulet LA receives the light signals via an array of spherical micro solar cells (called Sphelar by manufacturer Kyosemi) set into the bottom of the handset.

Aimulet LA translates the signals into audio messages that are transmitted through a tiny speaker in the device. In Laurie Anderson’s installation, visitors used Aimulet LA to listen to poems in four different languages as they strolled through a Japanese-style garden.”

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Solar-powered trash compactor

Today’s Innovation Prize Goes To…:

the City of Boston – for its solar-powered trash compactors!


I must praise this compactor for its fault tolerant design: even if the power grid fails, it keeps compacting away. Very Erlangy 🙂

(Alas, if the sun fails, it is in trouble – but then we’d have bigger problems to worry about 🙂 )

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