Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wind-Powered Electric Eco Car Drives 3,000 Miles on $13 of Electricity [Cars]


Wind-Powered Electric Eco Car Drives 3,000 Miles on of ElectricityThis open-topped beauty is the Wind Explorer, a German-made electric car that's just driven across Australia. And it only used around $13 of electricity on its 18-day trip.

It's powered by two methods—a motor running on an internal battery that can be charged by the mains supply or a portable wind turbine, or, er, dragged along by kites. The turbine is a 20-foot-high telescopic bamboo mast that can be deployed in half an hour. Not particularly convenient for the daily commute, but a nice bit of thinking about how we might survive once the planet's oil's all been guzzled. [Wind Explorer via Like Cool]


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New York City turns to sewers for energy solutions


Listen up New Yorkers, those hot nuts you just swallowed could be used to light the signs on Broadway. Okay, so that's a stretch, but the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) just issued a plan to turn the stuff you flush, along with rest of its wastewater, into renewable energy. New York City produces about 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater daily, yielding 1,200 tons of biosolids that can be harvested to procure methane -- already accounting for 20 percent of the city's energy -- and butanol, a clean gasoline alternative. The plan, which also includes wind and solar projects, aims to use gas, converted by large digesters, to "power wastewater operations, meet on-site heat and electricity needs, and, where feasible, sell excess energy to the market." As the DEP points out, the plan isn't far fetched -- we've seen a couple of solutions for turning human excrement into usable energy, and a project already under way in Greenpoint is estimated to procure enough methane over the next year to heat 2,500 homes. Now, if that doesn't give you a newfound respect for the porcelain throne, we don't know what will.

New York City turns to sewers for energy solutions originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 16 Feb 2011 16:25:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Bridge This Fine—and Eco-Friendly—Deserves To Be Made [Architecture]


A Bridge This Fine—and Eco-Friendly—Deserves To Be MadeCan we make a rule, architects and city-planners, to always include wind turbines in bridges from now on? Not only do they look absolutely fantastico, they could also perform a vital role in the future. Come see a closer view:

A Bridge This Fine—and Eco-Friendly—Deserves To Be Made

This Solar Wind concept is the brainchild of designers Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino, who came second in a competition to dream up a bridge spanning the Italian areas of Bagnara and Scilla.

If chosen, the solar highway would stretch 12.4 miles, with the bridge's wind turbines generating enough electricity to power 15,000 houses a year. Naturally the solar panels would also generate electricity, and the greenhouses would allow passing drivers to buy roadside fruit and vegetables from indie growers. [New Italian Blood via GizMag]


Shell Oil pulls the plug on its last algae biodiesel research project


Algae biodiesel has looked so promising (as in 100 times more fuel than corn or soy) that the U.S. Department of Energy gave $9 million to Cellana, a joint research venture between Shell Oil and HR Biopetroleum, specifically to look into the alternative energy source's prospects. It seems, however, that those prospects were no longer attractive to Shell, which has announced it will no longer pursue algae biodiesel, because it feels it doesn't have sufficient commercial viability. Partner HR Biopetroleum has stated it cannot continue the project on its own as Shell pursues other biofuel initiatives with other companies.

Shell Oil pulls the plug on its last algae biodiesel research project originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 03 Feb 2011 10:28:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

RecycleBank√Ęs CEO Jonathan Hsu On New Site, Rewarding Green Behavior Beyond The Bin


RecycleBank — a loyalty rewards program that encourages people to lower the environmental impact of their lifestyles, for example, by recycling more and tossing less — introduced a redesigned website and mobile apps, and began offering new services to customers and partners on Monday.

Chief executive of RecycleBank, Jonathan Hsu, said some of the new features he’s excited about, include:

    1. “Learn and earn” quizzes that give RecycleBank users a small number of redeemable points for correctly answering questions about ecology, energy and the like.

    2. Local search capabilities, encouraging users to do more “green” things around their communities, or to buy from more green service providers and suppliers near their homes, for points.

    3. Rewards from more local, small-to-medium sized businesses, so members can cash in points for a discount at a sustainable grocer or dry cleaner within their zip code, not just redeem points for freebies and discounts from large chains.

    4. Facebook, Twitter and further mobile integrations that let RecycleBank users interact with or access the site’s content and features via their iPhones and iPads now, and in coming quarters their Android devices.

Hsu recently completed his first 100 days as CEO at RecycleBank. The New York City startup is venture-backed by Kleiner Perkins, RRE Ventures and Sigma Partners, and was originally founded by Ron Gonen. Hsu said that the site and its new features hint at some of the changes to come for Recyclebank, overall:

“Today, RecycleBank is an innovative program to increase recycling in over 300 cities in the U.S. and U.K. The site redesign is all about the member experience. [It will] let members see their impact from recycling, and a number of other sustainable and community enhancing behaviors, beyond that, now. It helps people understand the context of their actions and where they fit in the world.”

With the ramped up search and content, the company stands to double its advertising and sponsorship revenue within two years. Hsu confirmed about 10 percent of RecycleBank’s revenue comes from ads and sponsored content now, and that even at maturity, it won’t likely comprise more than 25 percent.

RecycleBank’s move to offer points to users who implement energy efficiency measures at home — whether that’s by installing solar panels, turning off the lights more frequently, or insulating their homes better — could spell competition for other startups in the green consumer web space, from OPOWER to EnergySavvy.

Hsu says, however, he envisions RecycleBank as an agnostic provider of rewards programs to motivate and reward environmentally sound behavior, and help other companies do the same.

The CEO explained:

“In order to make a real impact, and move what's going on in our communities and environment in a better direction, we have to collaborate with one another rather than compete.

Here’s an example, some waste haulers have their own incentive programs [editor's note: like Waste Management's Greenopolis]. However, we still work with three of the largest waste haulers in the world, Waste Connections, Republic, and Veolia.

In energy, there are a lot of individual device makers — including smart meter and solar companies — who have approached us to offer their products within our rewards catalog, to reach new members through our service and turn them into customers. Even more of them have asked us to allow their businesses to utilize our green currency to incent people to go ahead and make purchases [so they'll earn points for using the devices over time].

Now, we’re lead generating for energy businesses, and motivating people through incentives around more than recycling. We are already working with Efficiency 2.0, but also hope to work directly with utilities like Duke Energy on this.”

Today, only a small amount of the company’s revenue comes from companies paying to offer green points to RecycleBank users, or “affiliate commerce.” Hsu says that should come to comprise the largest piece of RecycleBank’s business, over time.

The bulk of the company’s revenue today comes from municipalities and waste hauler partners who pay RecycleBank a percentage of increased savings they generate by diverting trash from the waste stream to the recycling stream per city or campus.


NASA's Sustainability Building, the government's greenest building, opening in California this year


You may or may not have heard about NASA's project to build the most sustainable federal building in Moffett, California. The project began about two years ago, and will supposedly be finished this May. The experimental, earthly 'space station' cost $20.6 million to build, and includes 50,000 square feet of work space on two floors. The building also includes radiant ceiling panels, heating panels on walls, and radiant concrete flooring. When completed, the Sustainability Base will use 90 percent less potable water than a regular office building of the same size, and it will be able to create 22 percent more energy.

NASA's Sustainability Building, the government's greenest building, opening in California this year originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 31 Jan 2011 16:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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UM students make cheap and portable solar charger / light source for developing nations


Solar power is the most egalitarian of all energy sources, yet residents in many parts of the world still lack access to electricity. Three University of Michigan engineering students have created an affordable solution to this problem -- to the delight of camping geeks everywhere -- with the Emerald, a portable solar panel that does double duty as both a cellphone charger and personal light source. We've seen the personal solar panel idea before, but the price of entry made it an untenable solution for developing nations. Solar-powered light bulbs have been around for a while too, but the Emerald's light lasts for eight hours on a charge (as opposed to the bulbs' two to six hours), and it's able to fully charge a phone in the same time it takes an outlet to do the job. They aim to sell the device for the low, low, price of under twenty bucks for customers in the developing world, which is 90 percent cheaper than other solutions and 100 percent more awesome.

Continue reading UM students make cheap and portable solar charger / light source for developing nations

UM students make cheap and portable solar charger / light source for developing nations originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 31 Jan 2011 18:35:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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