Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pavegen taps pedestrians for power in East London (video)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/29/pavegen-taps-pedestrians-for-power-in-east-london-video/

When we were kids, we assumed that in the future everything would be powered by tiny nuclear fusion reactors: automobiles, toothbrushes, time machines (apparently we read a lot of sci-fi from the 1950s). The truth, as usual, is more mundane than all that: some of the more promising advances we've seen in green energy has been kinetic, taking the movement of automobiles or the tides and converting it into electricity. Pavegen, for example, can be set in public walkways to generate as much as 2.1 watts of electricity per hour from the footsteps of grizzled pedestrians. Using marine grade stainless steel and recycled materials, just five of these bad boys distributed over a well-worn sidewalk should be able to generate enough energy to keep a bus stop going all night. If not put into nearby lighting, the units are equipped with lithium polymer batteries for storage. Currently being tested in East London, look for them throughout the UK in 2010. Video after the break.

[Via Inhabitat]

Continue reading Pavegen taps pedestrians for power in East London (video)

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Pavegen taps pedestrians for power in East London (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 29 Oct 2009 13:41:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Future of Charging Gadgets? Toshiba's Methanol Fuel Cell Is Promising, Flawed [Fuel Cells]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/4VBIUVrttRk/the-future-of-charging-gadgets-toshibas-methanol-fuel-cell-is-promising-flawed

As mentioned last week, Toshiba's first batch of 3,000 direct-methanol fuel cell (DMFC) chargers—the first from a major manufacturer—hit Japan on Thursday. The IDG News Service has been testing one, and here are their first impressions:

Some quick background: DMFCs produce electricity from a reaction of methanol, water, and air—the only by products are a small amount of water vapor and carbon dioxide. You refill the fuel cell with a few squirts of methanol, and presto, you're able to charge gadgets without a wall socket.

The idea has been in development for 10 years, and Toshiba says that they're "seriously considering and researching the next model to [be available for the] worldwide market."

IDGNS tested the new Dynario charger on gear like the PSP and iPod, and say it pretty much does its job flawlessly—though it won't support every device you connect to its USB socket, including the iPhone. Toshiba has a list, and says about four out of five gadgets should work.

The ¥29,800 (roughly $325) charger is about the size of a PSP, and has a brushed metal finish. It has a small battery to "kick start" the power generation, which charges itself in operation.

50ml refill bottles/cartridges come in packs of 5 for ¥3150 (about $35), so clearly this isn't cost-effective yet. IDGNS says each methanol bottle is good for about 3.5 refills, and each refill charges a cellphone twice.

And while the charger itself is cleared for airline travel, the me! thanol b ottles aren't. Toshiba hopes to sell them at airports for quick charges before or after flights. So travel aside, maybe the technology has more potential for emergency kits for use in blackouts and natural disasters? Time will tell. [PC World]




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Beijing Expansion Looks Like High Tech Eden [Architecture]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/9qDoclXOVx0/beijing-expansion-looks-like-high-tech-eden

They may have some of the dirtiest city skies in the planet, but at least the Chinese authorities are doing something about it. Check out the green, beautiful urban planning for the future of Beijing Central Business District:

I don't know if the lush gardens, the green public transportation, and the pedestrian and bike-friendly road network would help with their contamination problems, but they sure look pretty. SOM—the architects who won the Beijing Central Business District competition—say that it will help save a lot of money and resources:

The SOM plan defines new strategies for building municipal infrastructure and high performance buildings. Implementation of the plan could reduce energy consumption within the district by 50%, reduce water consumption by 48%, reduce landfill waste by 80%, and result in a 50% reduction in carbon emissions. Reduction in emissions from office buildings alone would equate to a reduction of 215,000 tons of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of planting 14 million adult trees.

Now, if they could make the Chinese government to respect Human Rights, then this city expansion would be truly people-friendly. [SOM via Otto]




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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Southwest builds first 'green plane,' Ma Earth shows her gratitude

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/25/southwest-builds-first-green-plane-ma-earth-shows-her-gratitu/

Southwest Airlines may not own a plane with a headrest infotainment system, but it's still far and away the most enjoyable commercial flight you'll find in the US of A (save for Virgin America, naturally). Granted, we'd like to see in-flight WiFi offered on a few more of its flights (read: 100 percent of them), but hey, we'll take free checked bags and friendly employees any day of the week. We'll also take fuel savings and environment stewardship, both of which Southwest is aiming to give us by creating the planet's first "green plane." By utilizing recyclable InterfaceFLOR carpet, weight-saving seat covers and life vest pouches, a lighter foam fill in the seats and aluminum (as opposed to plastic) seat rub strips, the newfangled Boeing 737-700 ends up some 472 pounds lighter than a conventional one. The savings? 9,500 gallons of jet fuel per year. We're not sure when the bird is expected to take her first voyage, but here's hoping a few others are hatched in the near future.

[Via DailyFinance]

Read - Southwest press release
Read - China View's fuel calculations

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Southwest builds first 'green plane,' Ma Earth shows her gratitude originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 25 Oct 2009 00:11:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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America's (newest) largest solar plant set to go live in Florida

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/25/americas-newest-largest-solar-plant-set-to-go-live-in-florida/

If all goes well, this 25-megawatt solar plant in Florida won't be America's largest for long, but it's not like we'd pass up the opportunity to let this $150 million facility bask in its own glory (and the sun, if we're being thorough) while it can. The Desoto facility is just one of three solar projects that Florida Power & Light is spearheading, and judging by the proximity of this one (in Arcadia) to the 75-megawatt facility planned for nearby Charlotte County, we'd surmise that the two are linked in some form or fashion. President Obama is expected to show up rocking a set of Kanye glasses underneath a welder's mask when the plant is fired up this Tuesday, and while it'll only provide power to "a fraction" of FP&L's customer base, it'll still generate around twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the US of A.

[Thanks, Yossi]

America's (newest) largest solar plant set to go live in Florida originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 25 Oct 2009 08:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maldives Government Meets Underwater to Show Effects of Global Warming [Scuba]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/GM77gV-7QZI/maldives-government-meets-underwater-to-show-effects-of-global-warming

The Maldives, a stretch of islands off the coast of Sri Lanka, are so close to sea level that global warming poses a serious threat. So the government held a cabinet meeting underwater to bring attention to the problem.

Most of the Maldives lie less than three feet above sea level, which puts them much more at risk if global sea levels keep rising. Some scientists have warned that the islands could even be uninhabitable within 100 years (provided a rise of 7-24 inches), and the Maldives government has been vocal in the campaign to battle rising sea levels. Eleven of the 14 cabinet members attended the meeting, conducted with whiteboards and microphones 20 feet underwater, and all signed their wetsuits, to be auctioned off for the cause. [Telegraph, image from AP via CBC]




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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amazing Student-Made Solar Homes Compete in International Solar Decathalon [Architecture]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/0gmcqcOqBVA/amazing-student+made-solar-homes-compete-in-international-solar-decathalon

The Solar Decathalon, a 10-criteria (it's a little bit of a stretch to decathalon, but that's okay) judging contest, just completed this year's competition, and there are some incredible works here. I love that each group used its hometown aesthetic.

Student groups from around the world (and several from the States) competed to create a net zero-energy, 800-square-foot house powered exclusively by solar energy, and came up with some great ideas. The house pictured above was created by the team from Cornell University in upstate New York, using silos to reflect the bucolic look of that area. Other teams experimented with automatic shutoffs for TVs and lights or sophisticated purification of shower and rainwater. The winner will be announced this coming Friday, and you can check out the current standings here. [CNET]




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Mizzou's nuclear battery to power things smaller than your brain can imagine

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/10/mizzous-nuclear-battery-to-power-things-smaller-than-your-brain/

Oh yeah, everyone loves the extended battery, but are we really kosher with the added bulge? A team of boffins at the University of Missouri certainly aren't, as they've spent the last good while of their lives researching and developing a new nuclear battery that could be used to power devices much smaller than, well, most anything. The radioisotope cell, as it's called, can reportedly "provide power density that is six orders of magnitude higher than chemical batteries," and while some may question the safety of this potentially volatile device, the liquid semiconductor (used instead of a solid semiconductor) should help ease concerns. The current iteration of the device is about the size of a penny, and it's intended to power a variety of MEMS systems. Now, if only these guys could find a way to make a standard AA last longer than a week in our Wiimote, we'd be pleased as punch.

[Via BBC, thanks Jim]

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Mizzou's nuclear battery to power things smaller than your brain can imagine originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 10 Oct 2009 11:52:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Roof tiles change color based on the temperature, your house's mood

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/09/roof-tiles-change-color-based-on-the-temperature-your-houses-m/

Roof tiles change color based on the temperature, your house's mood
Okay, sure, ideally your entire roof would be comprised of solar tiles that would meet your entire house's energy demands and would also water your lawn and clean your gutters while they were up there. But, despite pledges of "affordability" something tells us it'll be awhile before your roof starts juicing your gadgets. This solution from MIT looks a little more practical -- and affordable. They're simply tiles that change color based on the temperature, Hypercolor style. In the cold they turn jet black, absorbing the sun's warmth and channeling that into the house. In heat they turn white, reflecting that same light and cutting down on cooling bills. Simple and smart. The MIT team calls the tech Thermeleon, and while early prototypes do change color as designed, it remains to be seen how durable the tech will be, and a leaky roof is no good regardless of how efficient. Asphalt shingles reign supreme for yet another year.

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Roof tiles change color based on the temperature, your house's mood originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 09 Oct 2009 09:17:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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NSF awards Harvard $10 million for robot bees (video)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/09/nsf-awards-harvard-10-million-for-robot-bees-video/

When we heard that the National Science Foundation awarded $10 million to Harvard to make a swarm of robot bees, our first thought was: "We could do it for half the price." Then we remembered that the university has been down this path before, including its robot fly program (whatever happened to that thing?) and might be the better choice after all. What does the NSF and Harvard hope to get for all that time and money? Aside from insight into such areas as distributed intelligence, robotic flight, and energy storage, a swarm of these bad boys could be tasked to do anything from battlefield spying to pollination (which might be necessary, with the way that real bees are vanishing at such an alarming rate). The RoboBee project is slated to run for the next five years. Video after the break.

[Via Switched]

Continue reading NSF awards Harvard $10 million for robot bees (video)

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NSF awards Harvard $10 million for robot bees (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 09 Oct 2009 15:14:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ecomodo - The Best of TreeHugger [Ronudups]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/Vqjlug-RYaE/ecomodo-+-the-best-of-treehugger

This week on TreeHugger, a new place to put dead gadgets, how green is Dell's Latitude Z wireless charging, Apple's Tablet to take Kindle's place in schools, new iPhone apps, and more!

Can Energy Dashboards Change Behavior, Permanently? - West Coast Green looks at the gadgets that help us monitor our energy use, and weigh in on just how helpful they are, or aren't.

See Where Stuff Comes From with SourceMap - Imagine a future in which pointing a PDA at a product bar code returns an instant readout of product source and environmental footprint. That's SourceMap - the Wiki of visualizing supply chains.

Meet Your New E-Waste Recycling Symbol: "4th Bin" Winners Announced - Curious about what to do with your gadgets after the sparks die? Here's your answer...

Friends Again? HP Gets Props from Greenpeace in Latest Gadget Guide - Greenpeace gave HP the what for when they tagged the company's roof with "hazardous products." But it looks like HP has cleaned up its act, and Greenpeace is giving them a hat tip for it.

Kindle e-Reader Hits Schools, Students Say "Meh.." - Kindle got a lukewarm reception when it hit a few university classrooms, though when ! you hear students' reasons, you can't really blame them for giving a thumbs down.

Apple's Tablet to Take Over Textbooks, Magazines, Newspapers - Apple is likely perfectly happy at Kindle's ho-hum school trial, because the company is edging its soon-to-be-released Tablet at just such a market.

Dell's Latitude Z and Its Wireless Charging Misses the Green Boat - The Dell Latitude Z has some phenomenal features...but its new wireless charging is among its least green.

Zipcar iPhone App Makes Car-Sharing Even Better (as Long as You Don't Abuse Remote Honking) - Zipcar, one of the heavy-hitters of the car-sharing world, has released a new iPhone and iPod Touch free app that will make interacting with the company's reservation service and vehicles better than ever.

These Smart Clothes Dryers Could Reduce Electricity Demand by the Equivalent of 6 Coal Power Plants - No joke! Whirlpool announced it will produce 1 million "smart" clothes dryer in 2011 and if all are installed, bye-bye power plants.

Google Earth Ramps Up for Copenhagen: New Layers for Exploring Climate Change Scenarios (Video) - Google has let loose an interesting tool in preparation for COP15 that allows users to explore what the world might look like if various levels of warming, sea rises, and so forth occur. You're able to see played out som! e of the what-if scenarios you're hearing about as the Copenhagen date approaches.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.




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Monday, October 5, 2009

Crank This Battery To Charge Up [Batteries]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/7O1MbUWplO4/crank-this-battery-to-charge-up

The Wind Up Battery is a rechargeable battery with a little pop-out hand-crank to power up using some good ol' fashioned elbow grease. I'd probably looks like an idiot using it, but better than suffering without a AA.

Designed by Qian Jiang, the concept is actually rather brilliant since it wouldn't require an additional gadget to recharge your batteries and depending on how many recharges it would allow for, it might be a rather good deal too. Since this battery is still a concept, we're a bit skeptical about the claim that it could be fully charged in 20 minutes, but that would be fast enough for most of us. Those of us who haven't got the arm muscles of a noodle that is. [Yanko Design]




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