Articles With "green tech" Tag

Solar Bridge in London Completed and Operational

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on new Blackfriars bridge

Blackfriar’s Bridge, which is the largest solar bridge in the world and part of London’s Blackfriar’s railway station, is finally finished. Work on the structure started in 2009 as part of the worldwide energy conservation efforts. The bridge crosses the river Thames and the solar panels that now cover it were installed by the firm Solarcentury.
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A New Type of Washing Machine Cuts Water Use by 70%

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One of the biggest drains on freshwater resources is the household washing machine. As reported by the EPA, a washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load on average, while a typical US family uses the washing machine once per day. The UK-based company Xeros has come up with a washing technology that uses 70% less water per washing cycle. This technology also uses a special “bead cleaning” method that is environmentally friendly and apparently cleans dirty clothes even better than regular soap.
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Supercapacitors Made of Trees

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Supercapacitors are high-power energy storage devices with far-reaching industrial applications, such as electronics, automobiles and aviation. However one of the main reasons why they have not been adopted more widely is the high cost and the difficulty of producing high-quality carbon electrodes needed to build them. But a team of scientists at Oregon State University has made a discovery that could change all that. They found a process by which cellulose heated in a furnace in the presence of ammonia can be turned into fundamental building blocks for supercapacitors. Cellulose is Earth’s most abundant organic polymer and one of the key components of trees. In other words, trees could one day be instrumental in creating high-tech energy storage devices.

The approach discovered by the scientists is capable of producing nitrogen-doped, nanoporous carbon membranes, which form the electrodes of a supercapacitor, in a cost-effective and rapid way. Furthermore, the only byproduct of this process is methane, which can be used immediately as fuel, making the method very environmentally friendly.

The carbon membranes produced with this method are extraordinarily thin at the nano-scale, meaning that one gram of them can have a surface area of nearly 2,000 square meters. This is what makes them so useful in supercapacitors. The process used to create them is basically a one step reaction, which is very fast and cheap to perform.

The scientists themselves were quite surprised at their discovery. As Xiulei (David) Ji, an assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science and a team member, put it: “For the first time we’ve proven that you can react cellulose with ammonia and create these N-doped nanoporous carbon membranes. It’s surprising that such a basic reaction was not reported before. Not only are there industrial applications, but this opens a whole new scientific area, studying reducing gas agents for carbon activation.”

Supercapacitors are needed primarily for devices where rapid power storage and short, but powerful energy release is required. These include computers and consumer electronics, but can also be used to power cranes, forklifts, and even defibrillators. They can also be used to open emergency slides on an aircraft and for improving the efficiency of hybrid electric cars. Supercapacitors are also capable of capturing energy that might otherwise be wasted, while their energy storage capabilities may also be used to assist the power flow from alternative energy systems, like, for example, wind energy.

Finding a cheap and environmentally benign way of producing these devices is, needless to say, a great breakthrough in the field.

A Glow In The Dark Plant to Replace Lights?

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The company Bioglow has successfully developed a plant that produces light in a completely natural process that requires no chemicals or electricity. These kinds of glowing plants were invented by molecular biologist, Dr. Alex Krichevsky and they are the result of his research into bioluminescent marine bacteria and the molecular biology of plants. Bioglow’s Starlight Avatar, as it is called, is the first light producing plant in the world, and it could become a sustainable replacement for traditional, electric lighting.
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Plastic Bags Can be Recycled Into Diesel Fuel

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Researchers at the University of Illinois, or more precisely the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, have discovered a process that can turn used plastic shopping bags into a compatible drop-in diesel fuel and a number of petroleum products. The recycling process also works to recover most of the initial manufacturing inputs that go into producing plastic shopping bags. Given that each year an estimated 100 billion shopping bags are thrown away in the US alone, this is great news indeed.

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Innovative Solar Oven That Cooks Even at Night

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Solar ovens are a great way to cook sustainably, but they have the drawback of not working very well on cloudy days. However, the new SunFocus solar hybrid oven, made by Sun BD Corporation, takes care of that problem. And what’s more, you can even use this oven to cook at night. This is possible because the SunFocus oven has a hybrid solar and electric system, with the latter taking over once the sun sets or hides behind the clouds.

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