The Royal Society of Chemistry reports that US researchers have developed an efficient way of producing hydrogen from urine – a feat that could not only fuel the cars of the future, but could also help clean up municipal wastewater.
Using hydrogen to power cars has become an increasingly attractive transportation fuel, as the only emission produced is water – but a major stumbling block is the lack of a cheap, renewable source of the fuel. Gerardine Botte of Ohio University may now have found the answer, using an electrolytic approach to produce hydrogen from urine – the most abundant waste on Earth – at a fraction of the cost of producing hydrogen from water.
The San Jose Mercury News reports: After two sharp quarterly declines, worldwide venture funding for clean technologies rebounded in the second quarter of 2009 amid rising confidence — particularly in Silicon Valley and throughout California.
From April to June, venture investments in clean tech totaled $1.2 billion across 94 companies, according to preliminary results released Wednesday by The Cleantech Group, a San Francisco research and strategy firm, and Deloitte & Touche.
What once was the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building is undergoing a $500 million eco-friendly makeover that will cut energy consumption nearly 40% in the next three years. The famous New York City landmark is the test case for a new process of analyzing and retrofitting existing structures for environmental sustainability, which will provide a replicable model for similar projects around the world.
“In this distressed economic climate, there is a tremendous opportunity for cities and building owners to retrofit existing buildings to save money and save energy,” Mr. Clinton said today.
On the outside, the building will get 6,500 windows refurbished into triple-glazed insulated modules, dramatically improving summer and winter efficiency. On the inside, the 78 year-old building is getting upgraded lighting, lighting controls and lighting design; upgraded or overhauled furnaces, chillers, and air-handlers. There will also be an emphasis put on demand-side management systems, allowing tenants to use their energy efficiently.
“Commercial and residential buildings account for the majority of the total carbon footprint of cities around the world – over 70 percent in New York City,” said Anthony E. Malkin of building owner, Empire State Building Company. “Most new buildings are built with the environment in mind, but the real key to substantial progress is reducing existing building energy consumption and carbon footprint.”
Read more at cleantechnica.com
The United States Interior Department has found a use for 670,000 acres of previously considered worthless sunny deserts and wind-swept plains: solar energy production.
As part of President Obama’s pledge to move away from reliance on fossil fuels and to double renewable energy in three years, the plan has identified 24 solar energy zones spanning six states that could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.
At the same time, it has become a controversy as environmentalists and politicians, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, have decried federal plans to open ecologically sensitive land to development.
“This environmentally sensitive plan will identify appropriate Interior-managed lands that have excellent solar energy potential and limited conflicts with wildlife, other natural resources or land users,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, hoping to appease doubts about the plan.
The department says the objective is to provide landscape-style planning and zoning for solar projects on Bureau of Land Management lands in the West, allowing a more efficient process for permitting and sitting responsible solar development .
Read more on Reuters.
In this current recession, everyone is looking for ways to save money. Adam Boesel, the owner of The Green Microgym in Portland, Or., has found a way to shave operating costs while also giving his clients a workout.
The clever proprietor has doctored up the fitness club’s spin bikes with weed whacker motors and truck alternators so that patrons can create energy to help power the 2,800-foot space.
The opening of The Green Microgym coincides with the announcement of M2E’s kinetic charger, which can generate energy from motion. The kinetic energy system uses the Faraday Principle, which states that the movement of a conductor through a magnetic field produces voltage in the conductor proportional to the speed of the movement. In this case, the conductor is a wire coil.
The system uses a magnet that moves against the coil every time the charger moves, generating a charge that is captured in a capacitor. A logic circuit takes the charge to the built-in Li-Ion cell, where it is stored until use.
Boesel expects patrons to power only a quarter of the gym’s power at first, but after he equips the elliptical trainers with similar motors, he hopes that the energy supply will become entirely self-sufficient.
Everybody knows about Wind and Solar Power as alternative energy, but there is a new kid on the block: Geothermal Power.
When a historic seminary in the heart of Manhattan went searching for a way to cut its energy costs in an environmentally friendly way, it didn’t turn to the heavens for sun or wind power but sought salvation in an unlikely direction for a religious institution. It looked underground.
Tapping the energy stored in the Earth, The General Theological Seminary plans to construct the largest geothermal project on the East Coast; large enough to supply water to heat and cool the seminary’s 275,000 square feet of space.
Currently, geothermal power accounts for only half a percent of the nation’s energy generation, but that is likely to double in the next few years with 103 new plants under construction. The Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that if all the heat trapped up to 2 miles under the U.S. were tapped, it could generate enough electricity to meet all of the country’s power needs for 30,000 years.
Read more in the Chicago Tribune online.
Many people think of Google Inc. as just a search company, but now it can add renewable energy investor to its resume. Google is all about changing the world in a positive way, according to CEO Eric Schmidt, who has proposed a plan to help provide the world with renewable energy.
Google plans to put clean energy at the heart of the U.S. energy mix, promoting energy efficiency, a massive renewable-energy push to replace coal, and an accelerated rollout of plug-in cars.
The plan sets a target date of 2030 to get Power Companies and Utilities totally off carbon fuels, currently the most common power source, by calling for heavy increases in wind and solar power, with wind power being the closest thing to a free substitute for coal. Unfortunately, most populated areas are temperate and not very windy, so part of the challenge is finding the correct grid technology to bring energy to customers.
Google plans on investing $3.5 trillion in the project over the next 22 years, but expects to generate a cost basis savings of $4.4 trillion based on the right assumptions and investments.
If just 0.3% of the Sahara Desert was used as a concentrating solar plant, it would produce enough clean power to provide all of Europe with clean renewable energy. That is why 20 German companies are gathering next month to discuss plans and investments to carry out a 400 billion-Euro project proposed by the Desertec Foundation, to erect 100 GW of concentrating solar power plants throughout North Africa.
Instead of constructing the entire project in just one location, Desertec plans to scatter the plants throughout several politically stable countries. The power generated would be transported over high-voltage DC lines across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, where it would supply 15% of the energy demand.
Along with providing clean energy, this project also aims at providing fresh drinking water and farming the desolate desert region by building desalination plants that will use concentrated solar power to provide energy and waste heat to create freshwater from seawater.
Even though the project is still 10-15 years away from breaking ground, several major players are getting involved.
Read more at inhabitat.com.
Everyone loves predicting the future. It offers endless possibilities of fantastical technological inventions and advances. When will there be flying cars or time travel? Filmmakers and fiction writers concoct extraordinary tales that capture the attention of mass audiences time and again.
So when several of the world’s top scientists met at the kickoff event of a collaboration between IBM and the University of Southern California to explore the intersection of creative arts and science and technology, it was only natural for them to foresee how technology would affect life in 2050.
As one might expect, the predictions created quite a buzz. Suggestions included that supercomputers will soon become handheld devices; clean water and energy will be available to the entire world, and personal pharmacies built into the human body will administer medicine based on data from internal sensors.
Seem like a bit much? Think back to a world 20 years ago when the Internet was used only by the military and computers were the size of a large living room.
IBM scientist Don Eigler suggests that by 2050 we will have laptops with 100,000 times more horsepower than a state-of-the-art machine today. “What would you do with it?” he asked the audience. “We’ll find new ways. I just can’t think of any today.”
Read Dan Farber’s report in CNET.