Bicycle highway in the Netherlands built using recycled toilet paper

October 3, 2017 by  
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People in the Netherlands use an estimated 180,000 tons of toilet paper every year. Because this amounts to a lot of trees, last Fall the Dutch province of Friesland repurposed the product to make a bicycle highway . The stretch of roadway, about 0.6-miles-long, connects the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden to the town of Stiens. It is the first bicycle lane in the world to be paved with toilet paper — but few can tell the difference. In the Netherlands , roads are typically paved with blacktop. Specifically, open-graded asphalt friction course (OGFC) is used because it is porous and water permeable. “When roads get wet, [they get] slippery, so we use this asphalt because it takes water away from the road surface quicker,” said Ernst Worrell, Professor of energy, resources, and technological change at Utrecht University. The country sees an annual rainfall of 27 to 35 inches per year, so this safety measure is important. While the method is effective, it isn’t the only way to build safe asphalt-type roads, as the province of Friesland recently proved. Last fall, a bicycle highway was built using tertiary cellulose extracted from waste streams. CirTec and KNN Cellulose developed the technology for extracting and cleaning the cellulose fibers. The process entailed sifting paper fibers out of wastewater with a 0.35-millimeter industrial sieve. The fibers were then run through a series of machines, which cleaned, sterilized, bleached and dried them. This produced a fluffy, grayish material. According to Chris Reijken, wastewater treatment advisor at Waternet, “If you look at it, you would not expect it to have originated from wastewater.” Technically, the uses for the reclaimed cellulose are endless. The product could be used in building insulation, biofuel , textiles, pulp and paper, filters — and more. But due to sanitization concerns, it cannot legally be used in products that come into direct contact with people. Related: London Unveils $1.51 Billion Bicycle Master Plan With 15-Mile Bike Highway As a result, the recycled toilet paper was used to construct a bike highway. And so far, officials are reportedly pleased with the investment said to have held up well so far. The success of the project resulted in the same mixture being used to reinforce a dyke on the West Frisian Island of Ameland and to repave a parking lot of a children’s petting zoo in Groningen. CityLab says the city of Amsterdam is now interested in using cellulose from wastewater in its roadways. “It’s a strange idea for people that there’s [toilet paper] in the road,” says Michiel Schrier, provincial governor of Friesland. “But when they cycle on it or feel it, they can see that it’s normal asphalt.” It’s still too early to say whether products from recycled toilet paper will become mainstream, but, in the Netherlands, at least, they’re off to a good start. To repair all roadways in the Netherlands, 15,000 tons of fiber would be needed. From toilet paper alone, this wouldn’t be possible. But using tertiary cellulose from other waste sources, such as diapers and beverage cartons, two million tons could be created. Greener roads are just around the bend. Via CityLab Images via Pixabay , KNN Cellulose

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Bicycle highway in the Netherlands built using recycled toilet paper

Scientists create eco-friendly, biodegradable microbeads

June 9, 2017 by  
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Microbeads ‘ detriment to the environment is well-documented , yet many companies continue to put the tiny plastic spheres in their products. Scientists at the University of Bath came up with a solution. They created microbeads from cellulose instead, and their alternative is both biodegradable and renewable. One shower can pollute the ocean with 100,000 plastic particles, according to an estimate cited by the University of Bath. These plastic microbeads less than five millimeters in size are way too small to be filtered out by sewage filtration systems, and from sunscreens, toothpastes, or cosmetics end up in the ocean. Fish, birds, and other marine creatures then consume them. Researchers think from there, the microbeads may be entering our food supply . Related: Greenpeace identifies brands that are still polluting oceans with microbeads So a research team at the university developed a way to continuously make biodegradable microbeads. They dissolve cellulose and reform it into beads, by making droplets that are set. They say their process is scalable, and they can draw cellulose from waste products such as those from the paper-making industry. These waste products offer a renewable source of cellulose. Their biodegradable microbeads will stay stable in a body wash, but at sewage treatment facilities can be broken down by organisms. Or the beads will break down in a short period of time if they do make it into the wider environment. Scientist Janet Scott said they’ll biodegrade into harmless sugars. She said in a statement, “Microbeads used in the cosmetics industry are often made of polyethylene or polypropylene, which are cheap and easy to make. However these polymers are derived from oil and they take hundreds of years to break down in the environment…We hope in the future these [microbeads] could be used as a direct replacement for plastic microbeads.” The journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering published a study on the research online the end of May. A team led by Scott just received more than £1 million, around $1.2 million, in funding to develop porous beads, microsponges, and capsules from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council . Via the University of Bath Images via University of Bath

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Scientists create eco-friendly, biodegradable microbeads

Renewable energy powers half of the UK

June 9, 2017 by  
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The UK is not slacking in its goal to slash carbon emissions by 57 percent (based on 1990 levels) by the year 2030. Such was made evident on Wednesday, when the country successfully generated 50.7 percent of its energy from solar, wind, hydro and biomass. Another first was recorded when nuclear, wind and solar each generated more electricity than gas and coal combined. The National Grid tweeted the good news and said, “For the first time ever this lunchtime wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined.” According to Engadget , favorable weather conditions helped the UK reach this milestone. Clear skies and very strong winds resulted in wind farms contributing 9.5GW of power and solar panels around 7.6GW of electricity. If nuclear sources were added to the equation, Britain would have sourced 72.1 percent of its electricity from low-carbon sources. As a result of the surge in renewable energy , coal production was entirely stopped for the rest of the day. Aware that “dirty” fossil fuels contribute to climate change which may propel natural disasters, the UK government has begun lowering coal production with an intention to abandon it completely by 2025. Related: First Apple Store in Southeast Asia is 100% powered by renewable energy The sovereign state is making notable strides in its goal to become a leader in renewables. At the end of 2016, the UK was able to source 50 percent of its electricity from renewables and other low carbon sources. Reportedly, wind, solar and hydro energy contributed about one-fourth of the total energy; 25 percent was derived from nuclear reactors. Via Engadget Images via Pixabay

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Renewable energy powers half of the UK

9 of the world’s biggest fishing companies agree to protect the oceans

June 9, 2017 by  
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The world’s oceans are in trouble, and nine of the biggest fishing firms recently decided to help. They’re banding together in a voluntary initiative to protect oceans from problems like overfishing , which is rapidly depleting the oceans of fish . They’ll also target issues like pollution and the use of slave labor . The initiative, known as the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS), is backed by the Stockholm Resilience Centre . The companies committed to boosting transparency to reduce illegal fishing in the supply chain, as well as avoiding products obtained through slave labor. They’ll also focus on plastic pollution and greenhouse gases . The Guardian reported it’s the first time companies from the United States, Europe, and Asia have come together to work towards such goals. Related: The world’s fish are vanishing far faster than previously thought Stockholm Resilience Centre deputy science director Henrik Osterblöm told The Guardian, “Sustainable marine ecosystems will be essential to feed a growing population, but the oceans are at risk. Seafood makes up 20 percent of the global intake of animal protein.” Among the nine companies are the two biggest companies in terms of revenue, Maruha Nichiro Corporation and Nippon Suisan Kaisha. The two biggest salmon companies, two biggest tuna companies, and two biggest aquafeeds companies also signed, according to the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The organization initiated the conversation, inviting 13 corporations that control 11 to 16 percent of wild marine catch and 40 percent of valuable species. Osterblöm said the center was excited so many companies did show up and agree to the initiative. According to The Guardian, it’s estimated around half of the world’s catch comes from illegal fishing – those fisherman either trespass into waters, use illegal gear, or catch more fish than they’re supposed to, sometimes even catching endangered fish. Slavery has also marred the industry; an investigation in 2014 found exploitation and loss of human rights was rampant in parts of fishing grounds in Asia. Announcing the initiative is part of the United Nations Ocean Conference this week. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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9 of the world’s biggest fishing companies agree to protect the oceans

8 fabulous and creative Father’s Day gifts from $0 to $27,500

June 9, 2017 by  
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Finding the right gift for Dad can be elusive; ties, golf clubs, and a good set of knives feel kind of tired by now. So we rounded up 8 gifts that transcend the standard gift box and fit a variety of budgets and personalities. Whether you pick a tiny timber cabin for your backyard or a palm-sized solar lamp for nighttime adventures, Dad will love that you went the extra mile for a sustainable, stylish present. 1. Sustainable wood “blocks” Building block love is enduring, and Kengo Kuma’s Japanese spin on the all-age, favorite toy will be a hit with every member of the family. Using FSC Japanese cedar and a triangular shape, Kuma collaborated with conservation group More Trees  to create the Tsumiki (which is the Japanese word for building blocks ). Dads (and their kiddos) will love to arrange the Tsumiki into architectural configurations as well as whimsical animals and myriad creative designs. + Tsumiki blocks 2. Shoes partially made with recycled plastic bottles Perhaps Papa needs a new set of kicks. Gift him a pair of these versatile canvas shoes created as a collaboration between Timberland and Thread , a responsible fabric company. The outsoles comprise 15 percent recycled rubber and the uppers are crafted from 50 percent recycled PET bottles found in the streets and landfills of Haiti . The venture not only yields lightweight, stylish shoes , but also job opportunities and a cleaner environment in Haiti. + Timberland x Thread Collection 3. Electric bike The Propella 2.0 rides and feels like a traditional bike , but it’s got plenty of tricks hidden in its design. What looks like a water bottle is actually a battery that will help power Dad on a commute or joy ride around town. The bike’s lightweight design and pedal-assisted electric power means that riders can top out at 20 mph, a boon when it’s time to pick up the kiddos from childcare. Electric blue rims add a playful element to the otherwise minimalist design. Preorder the Propella 2.0   here for a September delivery. Related: 8 Last minute Father’s Day gifts for the procrastinator’s Papa 4. Portable solar lamp The Little Sun Original , designed by Olafur Eliasson , resembles a flower , and it is powered by the sun. Ideal for camping trips, taking midnight walks on a beach, or reading after the kids go to bed, this dimmable lamp comes with an affordable price tag ($25) and can stay charged for up to 50 hours. This gift for Dad also pays it forward: for every Little Sun sold, another goes to rural Africa to be sold at a locally affordable price by trusted partners. + Little Sun Original 5. Mini aquarium ecosystem Aqua Design Innovations’ EcoQube C was the most popular aquarium ever on Kickstarter, and the allure is understandable. This portable ecosystem uses an integrated aquaponics filter to turn fish waste into plant fertilizer. The fertilizer fuels the growth of the plant, which then cleans the water, reducing the need for filter changes and also reducing energy and water usage. The same company recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for the EcoQube Frame , a vertical veggie and sprout garden. It’s available in December, so we now also know what Dad is getting for the holidays… + EcoQube C 6. A jacket and a backpack in one It’s a jacket, it’s a backpack , it’s a RuckJack , and it goes from one to the other with a zip, flip, and clip. Dad can start off an adventure wearing the RuckJack as a backpack; if the weather gets cool or rainy he can quickly convert it into a jacket and use the extra cargo bag on the back panel and extra pockets to distribute the rest of his load. RuckJack has partnered with WeForest to plant 10 trees in deforested areas around the world with every RuckJack purchase. + RuckJack Image via Agenzia Del Demanio 7. A free Italian building An Italian castle, farmhouse, inn, or monastery for FREE ? Sounds like the best, gratis Father’s Day present for an entrepreneurial DIY dad. 103 historic buildings are up for grabs with the caveat that new owners have to restore the sites and transform them into a tourist-friendly destination, such as a restaurant or hotel . If the family has ever dreamed of moving to Italy and setting up a picturesque B & B or trattoria, now is your chance. Our only suggestion: run this one by Dad before committing to this exciting and challenging effort designed to promote slow tourism. Apply (in Italian) here . 8. A MUJI mini house If you’ve got a tiny backyard and a spare 27 grand and change (and live in Japan), you can gift Dad with the ultimate tiny escape . Courtesy of cult minimalist company MUJI , these tiny timber cabins are sleek and simple…especially if it’s a kid-free zone and the floor isn’t littered with toys and clothes. One side is comprised almost completely of a sliding glass door; it’s almost as if they designed it so Dad can lay in a comfy position inside while watching the kids play just outside the door. + MUJI hut

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8 fabulous and creative Father’s Day gifts from $0 to $27,500

4D printed flowers could be the first step toward a medical breakthrough

January 29, 2016 by  
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We’ve written many, many times before about the promising uses of 3D printing when it comes to medicine — doctors are already using for everything from crafting low-cost prosthetics , to mending or even replacing broken bones, and even creating new drugs . But when it comes to replacing organs, there’s one major problem 3D printed materials face — they just can’t move or change shape over time in a way that mimics natural processes. That’s why researchers at Harvard are beginning to test out “4D printing,” a method of 3D printing objects that can be designed to shift and flex over time. Read the rest of 4D printed flowers could be the first step toward a medical breakthrough

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4D printed flowers could be the first step toward a medical breakthrough

Bacteria “mini-factories” could someday replace consumer plastics

May 7, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Bacteria “mini-factories” could someday replace consumer plastics Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: aakriti jain , bacteria , cellulose , growduce , guillian graves , micro factory , recyclable materials , SCOBY , sustainable material

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Bacteria “mini-factories” could someday replace consumer plastics

Super-Durable Material Made from Wood Waste is Stronger, Cheaper, and Lighter Than Kevlar

September 4, 2012 by  
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Ever wondered why paper beats rock in a game of roshambo ?  It turns out that cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) derived from wood pulp extract can be used to create one of the strongest materials known to man.  Out-toughing even Kevlar and carbon fiber , the material is lightweight, cheap, and abundant.  Found in forest by-products such as sawdust and wood chips, CNC could be used to create materials with applications in military defense, engineering, medicine, and consumer products. Read the rest of Super-Durable Material Made from Wood Waste is Stronger, Cheaper, and Lighter Than Kevlar Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cellulose , cellulose nanocrystals , cnc , forest products laboratory , glucose , kevlar , lignin , madison , us forest service , wisconsin

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Super-Durable Material Made from Wood Waste is Stronger, Cheaper, and Lighter Than Kevlar

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