Tag Archives: Green technology

Recycling Plastic Bottles to Build A Home!

I received an email today with pictures of a home being constructed, wondering why that warrants a mention here? Well the home had walls made of mud and recycled plastic bottles! I remembered seeing it somewhere long time back, think it was either on Discovery or on Natgeo, not sure. Anyways the pictures had no  details and the finished homes kind of had an adobe like South American flair, so thought the best way would be to do a web search. On searching I came across this website Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientes based in Latinamerica.

 

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Eco-Tec is the brainchild of Andreas Froese a German construction engineer who found his calling in helping the poor and disadvantaged build homes out of waste materials.  Froese began to develop his technique in 2001 in Honduras and since then has made over 50 different bottle construction projects around the world. One article about him starts with the liens Andreas Froese is in love with trash! it could not be more simply put.

How is it built?

The method includes filling the bottles with sand and stacking them in rows on top of each other. On the walls, every bottle is tied to one another to create a network, with one tie at the neck and another tie at the base of the bottle. Agricultural twine (sisal or nylon) is widely available. Bottles are first cleaned out and the labels etc removed.

A mesh screen is used to screen rubble, earth, or foundry castings into usable grades.  They always use local materials.  In cities, they use rubble, while in rural areas river sand or earth is used.  Clean plastic debris and plastic bags may be used to fill the bottle bricks. A funnel, made from the top half cut from a plastic PET bottle is used to fill the bottles. The drier the materials the easier it is to fill the bottles.

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On the walls they typically use a clay soil mix similar to adobe, however rice husk or grass may be added. To strengthen the structure in wet climates, every 4-6 rows a mixture of lime and cement is used to avoid problems. If one does not have sand, a soil mixture may be used with up to 1 part cement, 10 parts soil, and 0.5 part lime.

Eco-Tec says their PET-bottle buildings are very much like an adobe. In general, they say PET-bottle houses are bioclimatic in design, which means that when it’s cold outside is warm inside and vice versa.

SV-AS10 ImageData

 

The Positives:

  • Makes use of plastic bottles which mostly end up in land fills.
  • Reduces CO2 emissions from the non-usage of bricks (bricks need to be baked there by release a large amount of CO2 into the air).
  • Looks unique and being bio-climatic will help in reducing power consumption.

Check out the Eco-tec videos below
1. Why Eco-tec?

2. How to make a bottle brick – starring Andreas Froese:

Live Green!
For More details visit – http://eco-tecnologia.com

$10million X Prize Shared by 3 Ultra-efficient Cars

Progressive Auto Insurance the 4th largest Auto Insurance company in the US, got together with X PRIZE to inspire a new generations of super-efficient vehicles that help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change. The prize was $10 million which would be divided between the winners.

The main criteria for the winner of the ten million dollar cash purse was for the team to design a car that would win a long-distance stage race for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles-per-gallon energy equivalent, they could be entirely new or modified existing models. Primary importance was that they be production capable not merely conceptual.

On September 16th 2010 in Washington DC the Progressive Auto Insurance X Prize was awarded to 3 teams –

  1. Mainstream Class – Edison2 and it’s “Very Light car no:98” Winner of $5Million
  2. Alternative Side by side Class – Li-ion Motors “Wave2” Winner of $2.5Million

  3. Alternative tandem Class – Winterthur teams “X-Tracer” Winner of $2.5Million

The Very light car no:98 lives up to its name by keeping its weight to 830 pounds which is around 1/4th the weight of a normal car. It seats four and is built on a steel frame of mostly aluminum parts. The Edison2 team is aiming at producing it for a market price of 20,000$.

The Wave2, a two-seat electric car that gets 187 miles on a charge, and The X-Tracer Team’s motorcycle-like electric mini-car, the E-Tracer 7009, gets 205 miles on a charge. Both of those companies are taking orders for their cars. X-Tracer Team says the electric E-Tracer will be available to U.S. consumers next year.

The X Prize, which is funded by Progressive Insurance, gave 111 teams 30 months to develop their vehicles and then put them through driving, safety and efficiency tests. All of the winners are now eligible for a U.S. Department of Energy program that will help ready the vehicles for introduction to the U.S. market.

Read the Entire AP Article HERE

Check  out the Progressive Automotive X Prize Here

Why the Teams Think it is Important?

What caught my eye was the fact that all the winners were electric vehicles. May be in the not too distant future there will indeed be green cars. Live Green!

Ivanpah Solar Project In California

There are many new Alternative energy projects coming up all over the US, and the US still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to alternative energy when compared to the developing economies China and India. China is the leader in investment in alternative energy programs world over.

Under the EERE’s solar Energy technologies program many new alternative energy programs are developing. On August 12th the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a power purchase agreement for the utility-scale Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. CPUC granted a 20-year contract between Southern California Edison Company and Ivanpah operator BrightSource Energy, Inc. for 117 megawatts (MW) of planned production from the three-tower, concentrating solar power (CSP) complex in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California. The contract calls for electricity to begin flowing on September 30, 2013. The site’s three plants will feature the company’s proprietary solar power tower technology, which employs thousands of flat mirrors to concentrate the sunlight on a central tower-mounted receiver. Water pumped to the receiver is boiled into steam, which drives a turbine to produce electricity. Solar power towers allow the capture of a greater percentage of solar energy than do other solar thermal technologies. Ultimately, the project is designed to generate approximately 400 MW of electricity, an output that would nearly double the existing generation capacity of CSP facilities in the United States.

The project will be sited on about 4,000 acres of public land proposed public land in San Bernardino County.

Project Overview
  • An approximately 400 megawatt solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers.
  • The complex is comprised of three separate plants to be built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and will use BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower (LPT) technology.
  • The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day.
  • Located approximately 4.5 miles southwest of Primm, Nevada, in the desert on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • When constructed, Ivanpah will be the first large-scale solar thermal project built in California in nearly two decades and the largest in the world.
  • The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the US today.
Environmental Benefits
  • Avoids 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year; the equivalent of removing 70,000 cars off the road annually.
  • Employs a closed-loop dry-cooling technology, which reduces water use by 90 percent. Will use 100 acre feet per year, the equivalent of 300 homes’ annual water usage; and nearly 25 times less water than competing technologies.
  • Cuts major air pollutants by 85% compared to new natural gas-fired power plants.
  • Technology places individual mirrors onto metal poles that are driven into the ground, reducing the need for extensive land grading and using far fewer concrete pads than other technologies.
Economic Benefits
  • Construction Jobs                                 : 1,000 jobs at peak of construction; average 650 jobs annually over 3 year period
  • Operations and Maintenance Jobs : 86
  • State and Local Tax Benefits             : $400 million*
  • Total construction wages                   : $250 million
  • Total Employee Earnings                   : $650 million
    *Based on 30 year plant life cycle

Read the entire article here

Check out Brightsource Energy website

Zero Race: The Renewable Energy Car Race Around the World

On 16th August 2010 started a race of 4 teams with vehicles running on renewable energy which the organizers are calling Zero Race! The Zero Race Adventure draws inspiration from Jules Verne’s “Around the world in 80 days” by racing around the world in 80 days! The Race will cover 18,650 miles across the continents. The Sponsor’s include United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Sustainable Energy Europe etc…

The cars starting from Geneva Switzerland heading eastward will cross Berlin, Moscow and Shanghai and then travel by ship to Vancouver. From there they will continue along the west coast of North America all the way to Cancun, Mexico. In December, the vehicles will be shipped again to Portugal, and travel over southwest Europe to complete the final leg of the global journey. After 80 days, 30,000 kilometers through 16 countries and 150 city stopovers the race will be completed at the end of January 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Swiss man behind “The Zero race” Louis Palmer is the first man ever to travel around the world in an electric car, he did it in 534 days which he named the Solar Taxi.

The mission of “The ZERO Race” is to educate, raise public awareness, inspire and help governments and people to take action towards a sustainable future.
(1) AWARENESS to prove that electric cars running on renewable energies provide a reliable and ecological solution for human transport and mobility.
(2) EDUCATION to raise public awareness worldwide about ZERO-emission technology and involve major government stakeholders.
(3) INSPIRATION to create new ways of thinking about mobility, cars and renewable energy.
(4) ACTION to show that practical solutions exist towards protecting the future of the planet and its inhabitants.

The ZERO Race will involve many public events, press conferences and spread the following messages on its global tour:

  • This is a race to save the world; it is a race for clean technology.
  • This is a race to Cancun to Seal the Deal at the UN Climate Change Conference.
  • This is a race towards the future and the future is Green.
  • This race stands for an ecological, economical and efficient lifestyle change: it is possible!Check out the route of the ZERO RACE:

The Teams:

  1. Orlikon Solar Racing Team from Switzerland
  2. Power Plaza Team From South Korea
  3. Team Trev from Australia
  4. Vectrix Team from GermanyWatch the TED Talk by Louis Palmer in Geneva 2009:

    Interesting Facts about the race:
  • The cars are required to carry two passengers and drive at least 250 kilometers at an average speed of at least 80 kilometers an hour.
  • This is the longest race of its kind.
  • The ZERO Race is a 100% carbon neutral event. All unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions generated in its planning and implementation will be compensated by purchasing offsets from a credible organization.

  • Competition Criteria
  • Reliability – based on vehicle performance assessed by the number of breakdowns or repairs needed during the Zero Race
  • Power and Speed – based on acceleration and range capacity to complete the Zero Race track (evaluation by a panel of race car drivers)
  • Energy efficiency – based on assessments by vehicle manufacturers and various other experts
  • Popularity of the vehicle, based on the judgment of the general public
  • Safety – based on evaluations by transport engineers
  • Design – based on opinion polls by spectators and the general public along the way

Louis Palmer aims to hold this race every two years, watch the website to see if the race passes your city. What a green concept to have a zero emissions race across the world!

The icing on the cake for me was when I read that the teams have also chosen an endangered animal from their respective countries to highlight the threat to biodiversity and raise awareness as 2010 is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.

The Korean team picked the Amur Tiger which has disappeared from their wilderness. The Swiss team picked a Dragon fly Sombre Goldenring,  The Australians picked the Golden green frog and the Germans have chosen a bird (will have to find out which one and will update that part 🙂 )

Check out their website for more details HERE

The Ultimate winner as the Zero Race team says will be Planet Earth! 🙂

AIRPOD The Greenest Car of Them All

What can be greener than a car that runs on compressed air!! Julés Verné in the 19th century dreamt of a future where cars would run on nothing but air! Too good to be true? Think again, the future Julés Verné talked about is already here. Let’s meet the Flowair and AIRPod Series of Cars from the French Manufacturer MDI.

Guy Negré a French Engineer who worked in the F1 circuit for years along with his son Cyril Guy Negre has created a compressed air engine which runs as the name says on “Compressed Air”. Guy shares his Birthday with Julés Verné and has now managed to make his imagination reality!

Compressed hot air is used to push the pistons which propel the vehicle forward. The air that comes out according the Guy is cleaner than the air that goes in as it gets filtered on the way out. The Engineers who work with Guy Negre who is the CEO at their French company MDI (Motor Development International) say their prototype can run for 220 kilometers for the price of  1.5€ before it needs refueling!

The technology was developed way back in the late 1990’s and the issue they were facing with launching a market viable car was getting the financial backing required. They were planning to have it on the road by 2004.  In 2009 MDI came out with AIRPods a new series of cars for the city dweller. With small size, a tiny price, zero pollution, fun and futuristic design, AIRPod marks a turning point in the range of urban vehicles while renewing the idea of the automobile and transportation. It can be driven with a joystick, it only costs one euro per 200 km and leaves no one indifferent in the traffic crawl.

The cars will have to get refilled by air from air pubs or at home using the air stations. The system of the engine is pretty simple, the car body is fiberglass and the chassis is aluminum making it very light. A smaller car in streets where space is premium is the way the auto industry is headed and Green is the only way forward.

The Department of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure of Luxembourg (SNCH) and Luxcontrol have issued the first official Certificate of Road worthiness to  the AIRPod in the May of 2010. The European expansion phase for AIRPod is underway within the other member states of the European Union Commission.

When will they come to the US? I have not seen any mention of that. What I know is that: road safety tests in the US – No air compressed car has succeeded in crash testing and the MDI cars are yet to be tested independently. Once that part is taken care of, it makes it more real to me as an individual thinking about buying an air car.

The patents for the engine have been borrowed by many companies world over including Tata Motors the manufacturers of the Nano – the commons man’s car also the cheapest auto worldwide at 2000$.

Zero emissions, decent speed what more does one need? A Clean Green Driving Machine! Once the safety concerns are addressed I guess we can all ride on hot air! Literally 🙂 Live Green

What can be greener than a car that runs on compressed air!! Julés Verné in the 19th century dreamt of a future where cars would run on nothing but air! Too good to be true? Think again, the future Julés Verné talked about is already here. Let’s meet the Flowair Series of Cars from the French Manufacturer MDI.

Guy Negré a French Engineer who worked in the F1 circuit for years along with his son Cyril Guy Negre has created a compressed air engine which runs as the name says on “Compressed Air”. Guy shares his Birthday with Julés Verné and has now managed to make his prediction reality!

Compressed hot air is used to push the pistons which propel the vehicle forward. The air that comes out according the Guy is cleaner than the air that goes in as it gets filtered on the way out. The Engineers who work with Guy Negre who is the CEO at their French company MDI (Motor Development International) say their prototype can run for 220 kilometers for the price of 1.5€ before it needs refueling!

The technology was developed way back in the late 1990’s and the issue they were facing with launching a market viable car was getting the financial backing required. They were planning to have it on the road by 2004. In 2009 MDI came out with AIRPods a new series of cars for the city dweller. With small size, a tiny price, zero pollution, fun and futuristic design, AIRPod marks a turning point in the range of urban vehicles while renewing the idea of the automobile and transportation. It can be driven with a joystick, it only costs one euro per 200 km and leaves no one indifferent in the traffic crawl.

The cars will have to get refilled by air from air pubs or at home using the air stations. The system of the engine is pretty simple, the car body is fiberglass and the chassis is aluminum making it very light. A smaller car in streets where space is premium is the way the auto industry is headed and Green is the only way forward.

On the negative side – Road safety tests in the US. No air compressed car has succeeded in crash testing and the MDI cars are yet to be tested independently. Once that part is taken care of it makes it more real to me as an individual when thinking about buying an air car.

Zero emissions, decent speed what more does one need? A Clean Green Driving Machine!

http://mdi.lu/english/airpod.php

Check out the Video about Compressed Air Technology cars from MDI below

Source for information MDI website

The Sun Lights Up Dallas Pathways At Night

Lea Bogdan had covered this new green building in Dallas downtown called the 17seventeen on the inhabitat website and I wondered what was the new lighting she was referring to. So I thought about taking a closer look at it.  No, it is not moon light and it is not your usual solar garden lights on stakes either, Solar Cynergy a company based in Norco California has a series of lights which can be integrated into the flooring thus lighting up pathways during the night. They are manufacturers of architectural solar lighting for residences, developments and cities. Looking at the product I think it could be called a solar brick light or something, as the encased light does resemble kind of a brick with its thickness and sturdiness.

Rectangular lights

The units come in 3 shapes: circular, square and rectangular shaped. The units also come in 5 colors: Blue,Green, White, Halogen White and Red. The units are all self contained and get charged by sun-light during the day. The units are removed from view and embedded beneath a scratch-resistant polycarbonate resin surface, the solar panels cycle power to a capacitor that charges during the day and automatically illuminates the LEDs at nightfall via a photosensor.

Solar Cynergy specifies that the lights need a full day of sunlight exposure before it can start lighting up the night. These lights can be integrated into the floor or walls where they will be exposed to direct sunlight. These lights which are of the top most quality do not come cheap it is priced from around 900$ for a 6pack of the round lights to around 2000$ for the rectangular lights 6pack.

The incorporated lighting really adds to the building’s architecture visually and also is a very green idea put into use in a large scale setup. Aesthetically and environmentally the solar pavers make a lot of sense. Check out the pictures below and follow the links below for more details.

Read the Full article on Inhabitat here

Check out Solar Cynergy website here or their blog here

A video I found on youtube showing the lights a little more clearly check it out:

You can check out the prices at the links below which will take you to Amazon.com or look for a retailer here

Square Blue Solar Light 6 pk

Rectangular Blue Solar Light 6 pack

Mission Fake Chicken

Picture courtesy Time magazine

Going Vegetarian has never been easier. It is one of the ways to really go Green. If everyone would avoid meat once a week it can reduce the amount of green house gases by a good amount. These days you can pretty much find vegetarian alternatives to almost every meat favorite from soy sausages and “Fib Ribs” to Tofurky jerky and mock lobster. Most restaurants including fast food chains are providing vegetarian menus and veggie burgers too.

One of the things that have been missing has been Chicken! This spring, scientists at the University of Missouri announced that after more than a decade of research, they had created the first soy product that not only can be flavored to taste like chicken but also breaks apart in your mouth the way chicken does: not too soft, not too hard, but with that ineffable chew of real flesh. When you pull apart the Missouri invention, it disjoins the way chicken does, with a few random strands of “meat” hanging loosely.

Read the entire article here

Check out the video here

FYI – By switching to a vegetarian diet, you can save more than 100 animals a year from misery.

And if you are planning to go vegetarian start with the birds and their eggs as they are smaller more of them need to lose their lives to feed a few of us.

If interested in going vegetarian check out go veg GO GREEN!!

Meguru A Car Made With Bamboo and Paper

The Green Car from Japan

Picture Source CNET

The three wheeled Meguru a 3 wheel car manufactured by metalworking firm Yodogawa and blade maker Kinki Knives Industries in Osaka Japan has Bamboo and Paper used in its construction! Meguru is Japanese for “to move” and the manufacturers are considering mass manufacturing of Meguru as a small Taxi or more of an Auto-rickshaw (the 3 wheel taxi’s which are a common sight in many a south Asian city).

The Meguru has a steel frame and its floor is bamboo, the folding doors are made of Bamboo and washi paper! It looks quaint and can travel at 25 miles per hour and one charge of it’s lithium ion battery will take you a distance of 25 miles!

Check out the video on Meguru

I think from what I see it will be useful in smaller roads and for short distance rides. It is a step in the right direction don’t you think? Incorporation of traditional green materials into the Auto-industry!

You can read more about it in thisarticle by Tim Hornyak

Your Own Wind Turbine Basics

Picture courtesy Dhruv

Wondering about How to get a Wind turbine for your home? Wondering whether it will be worth it? Wondering what, how etc… Then read on…

Before starting realize if you don’t live in a plot around an acre in area it is better to not to go for full fledged wind energy.

Reasons – Turbines needed to generate enough power to run a home are generally large and noisy. The standard towers stand at 80-120 feet with turbine blades between 10 -20 feet.

Simply put wind turbines collect kinetic energy (energy from the moving wind which turns the blades) and convert it into electricity usable in homes. If you live in a neighborhood with decent wind during most of the time (7-10 miles per hour minimum) meaning open areas around etc that will help. Homes are also connected to a local utility just in case there is not enough wind. When your turbine produces power you use it and sell the excess back to your utility (check with your local utility whether they have the set up for that).

Before thinking about going with wind turbines find out whether there are any zoning or other restrictions in your area. Some restrictions might cap the height of structures allowed in an area etc…  Also whether your utility company is set up to buy back the excess power you may generate, meaning a grid connected system. Stand-alone wind energy systems can be economically viable for homes, farms, or even entire communities (a co-housing project, for example) that are far from the nearest utility lines.

Size of the Turbine – In general homes use around 800-2000kWh per month, there by requiring a 5-15 kilowatt range turbine (which will again depend mainly on the wind in your locality).  The towers are generally 80-120 feet tall and the rotors around 10-60feet in length. Smaller turbines have rotor blades between 3feet to 4 feet in length.

Price – A standard home wind turbine can cost 6000 to 22,000$ as per the manufacturers charges based on the size, application, service agreements and installation. There are 2kWh turbines available from around 2000$ and smaller 450Watt turbines for less than 1000$. A wind turbine will lower your power bills by 60-90%. One good thing is the larger turbines are made to function smoothly without major maintenance for up to 20 years.

If economics is of concern make sure you have a steady wind of around 10mph for a steady production of electricity. Check your wind resource here or get an anemometer for around 500-1500$ to measure the wind in your site.

Another option is to have a hybrid system ie a system with a photovoltaic cell system (Solar) so that it will make up for lower wind speeds in summer when the Sun shines bright!

Once you invest in a wind turbine, be ready for the long haul it is a long time investment for economic and environmental returns.

Some interesting facts from the EERE website –

Today, U.S. wind energy installations produce enough electricity on a typical day to power the equivalent of more than 9.7 million homes.

America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be consumed for steam or cooling in conventional power plants. Is that cool or what??

Over its life, a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases, that is so Green!!

If you are thinking about installing a wind turbine I hope this article helped you. Live Green!!

Some more pages to read if interested:

1. EERE Wind
2. Bergey
3. American Wind Energy Association

Electricity from Algae

 

Remember learning about photosynthesis in school? It used to be very intriguing. Many of us friends would dream about being more like a plant (basically not having to stay in and have lunch during lunch break, just run and play outside and your skin producing energy using photosynthesis!) it sounded so farfetched still photosynthesis was something that awed us even at that age. During Photosynthesis Solar energy is used by chloroplasts to create energy for the plants, a change from light energy to chemical energy.

The Stanford University Researchers have gone ahead and worked a way to trap the energy the plants produce and use it to generate electricity! What can be greener?

WonHyoung Ryu is the main author of this work. He says, “We believe we are the first to extract electrons out of living plant cells.” The Stanford research team created an exclusive, ultra-sharp gold nano electrode for this project.

At the end of the day for any energy solution to be viable it has to be affordable. According to Ryu that will take further research and investment. May be not so far in the future we will have algae tanks instead of coal run power plants. Green energy!

You can read more about it here