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    So what are everyone's plans for Earth Day?

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    Wednesday, 18 January 2012 18:34

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Green Technology

Hurrah for new advancements in power storage!  This week has been good for batteries!

via [ecogeek.org]

Windturbines

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most frequent objections to renewable energy systems is that their production is too variable. But technologies continue to be developed that will allow storage of power generated from wind, solar, and other intermittent renewable sources. The latest development comes from researchers at Isentropicin Cambridge, England who propose giant batteries filled with gravel and argon gas. These batteries would provide a number advantages over pumped hydro, which is presently used for almost all electricity storage today, as well as over underground compressed air storage.

The gravel battery system would use excess capacity generated by a renewable source to heat and pressurize the argon gas and then pump it through a gravel filled silo to store energy. Then, when demand calls for electricity, the system is simply operated in reverse to generate electricity. According to the company, the system's "round trip efficiency is over 72% - 80%." This is comparable to the efficiency of pumped storage hydro, which has an efficiency of 70 - 85%. But gravel batteries are much more compact, and can be more readily installed in relatively flat areas characteristic of many areas with good windpower potential, such as the American Great Plains. A gravel battery can use far less land (1/300th) than that required for a pumped hydro lake, as well.

Underground compressed air storage is another technology that has been suggested, but that requires the presence of underground caverns, which are not always present where you might want to put a power storage facility. In addition to being able to be located anywhere, gravel batteries could be relatively inexpensive because they do not need costly materials. Costs could be as low as $55/kWh, and $10/kWh at scale for large installations.

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Innovation and technology can be such a sweet mix! :)
Written by Megan Treacy on 11/03/10

Beaded Washing
A new washing machine design uses 90 percent less water and reduces utility bills by 30 percent by cleaning clothes with tiny plastic beads.

The machine by UK company Xeros Ltd uses 3mm-long nylon beads that can get into all crevices and folds of clothing and absorb stains and dirt.  Stephen Burkinshaw, a polymer chemist at Leeds University, discovered that nylon beads at 100 percent humidity could attract stains away from clothing and into the center of the beads, preventing deposition back onto the clothes.

The machine uses a small amount of water to dampen the clothes and to reach the right humidity level, then the drum is flooded with the beads.  When the cycle is complete the beads drain away with the water to be reused hundreds of times.

I'm sure you've already started questioning what happens to these plastic beads once they're done scrubbing clothes.  The company wants to eventually create a closed loop where the saturated beads can be refreshed and reused in the machines, but for the time being they will be collected and recycled.

Xeros says that if all of the US used these machines instead of regular washing machines, it would save 1.2 billion tonnes of water per year and  the CO2 emissions saved would equal taking 5 million cars off the road.  The machine would also eliminate the need to dry clean many delicates, another environmental benefit.  The Xeros machine is expected to be available by the end of next year.

via Guardian

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BIg Blue is bringing us some good news each month.  Reducing our power consumption for our computers is going to be critical for success in the future.

via [ubergizmo.com]

IBM

IBM has recently rolled out its latest version of the Power processors that are touted to lay the foundation for companies' green IT efforts, while helping the company's bottomline by opening up new revenue streams. The Power 7 chips will utilize a mere 25% of the energy used by its predecessor, the Power 6, although it boasts double the performance. Main rivals for the Power 7 chips would include Sparc and Niagara processors from Suna nd Hewlett-Packard's Itanium chips. Good to see IBM helping keep the earth green - let us hope that other companies will also not let up on their efforts.

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This is some great news. These types of inventions will help bring us to the cradle to cradle future we all desire!  :)

via [inhabitat.com]

by Sarah Parsons, 02/08/10

sustainable design, green design, car body battery, energy storing car body material, electric vehicles, sustainable transportation, new materials

As battery manufacturers race to produce more efficient lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, some scientists are looking to make the cars themselves a power source. Researchers are currently developing a new material that can store and release electrical energy like a battery. Once perfected, scientists hope the substance will replace standard car bodies, making vehicles up to 15 percent lighter and significantly extending the range of electric vehicles.

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Viva Effieciency!

via [your-story.org]

Funds to be Used for Commercialization of Energy Efficiency Software for Data Centers

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Power Assure™, Inc, a developer of power management solutions for data centers, today announced it has been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to augment product development efforts and drive commercialization of its power management software for deployment in government and enterprise data centers. Power Assure reduces data centers’ energy consumption by an average of 50%, helping companies meet energy reduction targets and regulatory requirements.

The DOE award was granted to Power Assure based on its principal goal of transforming data center energy strategy from an “Always On” to an “Always Available” model, which dramatically increases the efficiency of data centers. The root cause of high fixed energy expenses in data centers is that they are built to remain “always on,” consuming their full power load regardless of user demand. Because data center operators can’t predict demand spikes, they build to meet peak capacity loads. With Power Assure’s “always available” approach, the number of servers in use adjusts automatically, in real time, to changing customer demand, while guaranteeing customer service level agreements.

“As more emphasis is being placed on reducing energy consumption, there will be more scrutiny on data centers to cut their energy use,” said David Cappuccio, managing vice president and chief of research for the infrastructure teams with Gartner. “As part of this trend, data center operators not only have to start monitoring their energy use, but also find ways to automatically turn off equipment they don’t need.”

The DOE grant will be used in conjunction with Power Assure’s existing funding to enhance, manufacture, and deliver business management software for reducing energy consumption and related CO2 emissions in large enterprises. Power Assure’s novel approach will leverage “model-based” optimization technology from PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). Power Assure and PARC are working closely together to enable the “always available” approach.

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I love LEDs. These babys are going to be everywhere.

via [goodcleantech.com]

Lighting Examples

It seems like compact fluorescent bulbs just came on the scene, and already there's a new sheriff in town. LEDs are proving they can do a better job at illuminating while using even less energy. Check out the picture at left: on top is a parking lot for Sarasota Memorial, the second-largest public hospital in Florida, as lit by 250-watt metal halide cobra head lights. Below that is the same lot lit by 75-watt EvoLucia-brand LED cobra head lights. The new lights will use 67 percent less electricity and do a much better job of illumination.

"The new LED lamps are more cost-efficient, but more than that, they will improve the security of our campus by providing longer-lasting coverage and cleaner, whiter lighting for improved visibility at night," said Sarasota Memorial Public Safety Director Mickey Watson. "Our older lights required considerably more maintenance and subsequent costs for replacement parts." The new LEDs should run for 12 years before needing replacement.

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Robots are the future.  We must comply!  :)

via [cleantechnica.com] Written by Tina Casey

Fibrwrap Construction, FYFE Company and the University of Californai will develop robots to repair water mains.

With over two million miles of aging water mains to maintain, the U.S. is on the brink of a water supply precipice.  A modest project seeded with just a few thousand dollars could go a long way to resolving the crisis, by developing robotic water main repair devices that can work much faster than human crews.

The real kicker is the ability of small robotic devices to reach inside small pipes as well as the larger human-sized water mains.  Water supply robots are already in use for inspection purposes.  It’s a more sustainable approach that would practically eliminate the need to excavate thousands of miles of water mains for repair or replacement.  In turn, that would make a significant dent in carbon emissions from earth-moving machines and other utility streetwork.

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There have been some great advancements in using bioplastics.  Hopefully they will aid the situation, not hinder it.  :)

via [renewableenergyworld.com]

If The Graduate were written today, Mr. McGuire’s career tip to Benjamin probably would have been “green,” rather than “plastics.”  But it’s likely Benjamin would have responded in the same quizzical way: “Just how do you mean that, sir?”

It was difficult to envision the vast number of new products, businesses and careers that would emerge from the plastics industry following World War II. The same is true for the green energy industry today.  A report issued December 16 by PricewaterhouseCoopers sheds some light. http://www.pwc.com/us/cleantechrevolution

To know where the business opportunities will be, watch the unusual alliances forming among industries, according to “Cleantech Revolution: Building Smart Infrastructures.” We see hints already as automakers, utilities, battery makers and communications providers ally in preparation for an expected $165 billion smart grid build-out. The report cites several examples, among them:

  • Nissan’s partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric to build electric vehicle charging stations
  • Echelon and T-Mobile’s deal to create wireless networks connecting utilities to smart meters
  • Cisco assisting Duke Energy in building a smart grid

“As the build-out gains traction, it has the potential to support a proliferation of new businesses across sectors, much like the evolution of both the semiconductor industry and the Internet,” says Tim Carey, PWC U.S. clean technology leader.

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More good news on the Green Products new front!

via [greenbiz.com]

Green Confidence

Oakland, CA — A monthly index measuring consumer attitudes found that interest in green products improved modestly last month, although the uptick could be due more to purchases in the last six months, rather than those that are planned.

The Green Confidence Index (GCI) from GreenBiz.com, Earthsense and Survey Sampling International also revealed that Americans are more likely to believe business should support -- not fight -- regulations that rein in greenhouse gas emissions, even if it means prices could increase.

The GCI is a monthly snapshot of American attitudes in three areas: purchasing, awareness and information, and how leaders and institutions are addressing green issues. In November it stood at 103.2, a 3.2 percent improvement since GCI’s launch in July. The Purchasing Index spanning past and planned green purchases grew 5 percent in November, compared to the month before.

The latest figures are a “tiptoe” in the right direction, according to Earthsense chief research officer Amy Hebrand. 

“Pent-up demand remains stable, with more consumers intending to buy green products in the future than do so now across consumable products,” Hebard said in a statement today. “That pent-up demand is especially evident among ‘big ticket’ items, where green purchasing is more dependent on price parity with conventional products -- a situation likely to change as credit markets loosen and consumers can take a longer view of expenditures.”

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California in da house! Bringing new clean ideas to the leaders of world!

via [sfgate.com] by Andrew S. Ross

Whether a climate deal gets struck or not, some Bay Area clean-tech companies are flying their marketing flags at the Copenhagen summit. And the U.S. government is there to assist.


"We're here to help them get exposure, to introduce them to people here," said Stephan Crawford, head of the U.S. Commerce Department's San Francisco office, in a phone interview from Copenhagen.

Cisco Systems Inc., which needs no introduction or help, is the biggest Bay Area presence on the block. The San Jose networking colossus is both a summit sponsor and the Danish government's "technology partner," largely by virtue of its videoconferencing Global Climate Change Meeting Platform. The facilities enable delegates from dozens of countries there to hook up live with folks back home, and U.N. officials around the world to get together in real time. That could come in especially handy as negotiations get down to the wire.

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Now some good news for the websites of the world!  Less carbon emissions!

via [triplepundit.com] By Mary Catherine O'Connor

From a carbon emissions point-of-view, is it better to buy products online or in a store? You probably guessed the former. And if so, you’re right, according to a study conducted by MindClick GSM, a sustainability consulting firm and released today by GigaOM Pro, a subscription based research and analysis service covering green IT (among other topics).

MindClick decided to use the two biggest shopping days of the year—Black Friday and Cyber Monday—as a launching point for their research. The National Retail Federation conducted a survey late last month in which it asked consumers about their anticipated spending over the Thanksgiving weekend. The results showed that, on average, consumers would spend $343 inside stores and $104 through online purchases.

The researchers took these numbers and ran with them, calculating that the negative environmental impact of an in-store purchase made on Black Friday is 50 times that of an online purchase made on Cyber Monday. And in more general terms, it found that carbon emissions related to purchasing an item inside a store represents an increase of more than 15 times that of an online purchase.

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