Fleet of solar-powered charging stations prepares The Netherlands for the EV revolution

August 10, 2016 by  
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As electric car sales boom around the world, so too does the need for effective ways to keep their batteries charged and their tires rolling. In the Netherlands, a cool solar-powered option could be leading the way for EV charging networks in other countries. Fastned already has 51 attractive solar-powered EV charging stations and plans to expand its network to include 200 locations in the Netherlands alone. Unlike some EV charging networks (ahem, Tesla ), the Fastned stations in the Netherlands are not free for drivers to use. Rather, the company operates on a monthly subscription model which requires customers to pre-register in order to buy electricity on demand at one of its solar-powered canopy-shaped charging stations. Last month, the company rolled out a new fast charge option in Amsterdam for EV drivers in a rush, which costs 19 cents per kWh plus a recurring monthly fee. Related: The UK will have more electric vehicle chargers than gas stations by 2020, according to Nissan The electricity that flows through Fastned’s chargers and into the green vehicles that visit comes from solar panels on the canopy’s roof (which can charge three cars) as well as wind power obtained through a contract with a third party provider. Fastned offers a range of membership packages depending on the frequency of charging services a driver might need. Plans for regular users come with a small monthly fee and a low rate for charging, while infrequent users can opt to pay a higher rate while waiving the monthly fee. Fastned founder Bart Lubbers told Fully Charged that it will someday add other amenities to its charging stations, which would make them look more like fancy rest stops in America, complete with restrooms and fast food options. Via Treehugger Images via Fastned

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Fleet of solar-powered charging stations prepares The Netherlands for the EV revolution

16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels

August 10, 2016 by  
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In the midst of South Africa’s worst drought in recorded history, one Johannesburg schoolgirl has created a super absorbent polymer that could change the way crops are grown. The polymer is created from simple, readily available recycled materials – orange peel and avocado skin – and it’s capable of storing hundreds of times its own weight in water. Kiara Nirghin’s project ” No More Thirsty Crops ” won the Google Science Fair’s Community Impact Award for the Middle East and Africa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwRmICCVY_Q Considering that South Africa’s agricultural union has been pleading with the government for subsidies to help weather the recent water crisis , Nirghin’s project could offer much-needed relief. Her super absorbent material could be used to create reservoirs that farmers could use to maintain their crops at minimal cost. Nirghin knew that other super absorbent polymers rely on chain molecule polysaccharides to give them their power, and her project sprang to life when she learned that orange peel is composed from 64% polysaccharide . It also contains pectin, which is used as a gelling agent in numerous applications. When combined with oily avocado peel and left in the sun, the mixture undergoes a reaction and forms a polymer compound. Related: South Africa is relaxing restrictions on GMOs to fight drought-related food crisis As a Google Science Fair winner, Nirghin has been assigned a mentor from the company to help her develop her idea further, including potential tests on the field. Soon, she’ll learn if she’s one of the sixteen finalists in the global competition – but even if she doesn’t make it to the final round, it sounds like she has a promising career ahead of her. + Google Science Fair Via CNN

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16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels

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