Autonomous Draper Drone to detect microplastics in the water

February 27, 2020 by  
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Microplastic pollution is everywhere, but its size — less than five millimeters in length — makes the threat almost invisible to the naked eye. That’s why Cambridge-based research and development lab  Draper  has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency and design firm Sprout Studios  to create the Draper Drone, a concept for an autonomous underwater vehicle that implements Draper’s portable microplastics sensor. Engineered to rapidly count, measure the size of and determine the material makeup of microplastics in real-time, the Draper Drone could help create a global microplastics database for analyzing pollution trends, identifying sources and informing possible solutions to the problem. Microplastics  are created in one of two main ways: the breakdown of larger plastic debris, or from industries that make small plastic particles such as microfibers in clothing and microbeads. These tiny particles, which readily absorb toxins such as DDT and flame retardants, are often ingested by marine life and can potentially have negative effects on human health through the food chain. To provide an easier and more cost-effective way of analyzing microplastic risks and trends, Draper teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency to create an affordable portable  sensor  to measure microplastics in real-time. The team is also developing the Plastic Particle Pollution Index, a standardized microplastics identification system for logging environmental samples. The prototype sensor has been tested in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the technology is expected to be available via open-sourcing.  Related: Microplastics accelerate cell death at 3 times the normal rate, study says Taking the sensor technology a step further, Draper asked Sprout to help design the Draper Drone, an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with the microplastics sensor that could independently scan the top nine meters of the water for microplastics. The conceptual battery-powered drone would be paired with a self-docking,  wind-powered  charging buoy. The project was recently recognized in the 2019 TIME Best Invention List. + Draper Images via Sprout Studios

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Autonomous Draper Drone to detect microplastics in the water

Tech-free hobbies that benefit you and the planet

November 12, 2019 by  
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Technology has become an integral part of our everyday life. From smartphones to smart appliances, the advancements continue to make our lives easier while simultaneous distracting us from traditional hobbies and interests. How we spend our time has changed so much over the past few decades that those seeking to reconnect with non-techy hobbies sometimes struggle to think of ways to spend their time that doesn’t involve a screen of some sort. So we’ve put together a list of eco-friendly hobbies that don’t require electricity and produce little to no waste.  Art Art takes many forms and all of them make great hobbies. Take a class to learn the basics of painting, ceramics or photography. You can even start with a paint by number kit to create your own wall art. Crafting There’s something innately satisfying about creating something creative, and crafting offers the opportunity to make gifts, cozy items for the home or products to sell. Take up sewing, jewelry making or needlework such as crocheting, knitting, counted cross-stitch or embroidery. For papercrafts, gather up the family photos and study your genealogy. Then organize your history through scrapbooking. Related: Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween Puzzles Working puzzles snuggled next to the fire is a mind-expanding pleasure. If you’re looking for more physical activity, you can make your own puzzles from the print to the cutout or complete puzzles and frame them for decor. Reading and Writing Pen and paper bring the opportunity for endless hours of creativity. Practice poetry, jot down life lessons, produce creative pieces of fiction, start an autobiography or complete a manuscript. Sharpen the charcoal pencils and take up drawing — whether it be in the human form of portraits or natural landscapes . Keep the craft of calligraphy alive for the next generation with traditional feather and ink. Of course, reading is a fabulous non-tech activity that offers stress release, the ability to virtual travel to other lands and endless opportunities for deeper knowledge. Just be sure to put the e-reader and audio books aside and pick up a real, old-fashioned paper book. Gardening Gardening provides fresh air, fresh food and fresh flowers. How can that not be a winning combination? Growing your own produce is good for you and the environment. Add in oxygen-producing trees, root systems that filter and absorb water and plants that naturally provide shade to your home and you’ve got a perfectly-contoured hobby. Remember to opt for natural insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers, and skip the lawn tools that require gas or electricity whenever possible. Woodworking Hands on activities are therapeutic for the mind and healthy for the body. Woodworking allows you to express creativity and acquire skills in a variety of ways. Create yard decor with bird/bat/butterfly houses, arbors, lattices and garden boxes . Or accent the inside of the home with furniture and shelves. Further use your skills in combination with crafting by making wooden picture frames, signs and wood-cutouts for wreath-making. Music Take up an instrument or join the choir. Music brings joy to your soul and the spirit of others so experiment. For a unique experience take up an uncommon instrument like an alphorn or hydrolauphone. Heck, you can even make your own instruments from just about anything including fruits and vegetables, household items and jars of water. Knife making Another age-old art that you can master is knife making. Create hunting knives or kitchen knives. Build a small forge and use propane to fire the metal once you grind it into shape. Select, contour, sand and finish wood for handles and personalize with wood burning or carving techniques. Baking and Cooking Baking and cooking might be the ultimately satisfying hobby experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your labors, but you can create endless combinations of yumminess. Enhance your craft with a class on cake decorating or expand into beer/wine/cider making. Models Set up a classic train set and give it battery or solar power. Build miniature replicas or paint unfinished buildings, railcars and landscaping. Similarly, you can take up model building in the form of cars, motorcycles or boats. Sports and games There is a nearly endless list of ways to spend time exercising that require no electronics, produce nearly zero waste and are good for you. Here are some ideas to get you started: Mountain or street biking, running, hiking, training for a marathon, Ironman competition, swimming, tennis, racquetball, basketball, golf, dance, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, scuba diving, kayaking and baseball/softball. If you want to include lawn games, master croquet, cornhole or horseshoes. Bring the games inside with bowling, pool, ping pong and darts. Metal working Working with metal gives you opportunities to make and repair myriad gifts, decor and household items. Learning how to weld also allows you to repair cars and broken items around home. Another fun craft is making colorful designs by grinding layers off of sheet metals. Enjoy nature From day hikes to the vagabond lifestyle, nature provides endless opportunities to improve your health through activity, breathe in the fresh air and imprint images of Earth’s beauty. Take up backpacking, camping or even bird watching and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.  Images via AndreasGramer , LubosHouska , Foundry , rawpixel , Skitterphoto , naive_eye , Pexels, Skitterphoto

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Tech-free hobbies that benefit you and the planet

How to encourage policies and R&D for carbon-reducing technologies

November 10, 2018 by  
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Fighting atmospheric emissions requires CCS and CO2 removal — at scale.

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How to encourage policies and R&D for carbon-reducing technologies

9 corporate venture funds shaping clean energy innovation

November 8, 2018 by  
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Big utilities and fossil fuels giants are taking a more active interest in innovation.

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9 corporate venture funds shaping clean energy innovation

Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the nascent digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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The digital transformation is the idea that strategic business (and some political) decisions will be made using technologies, data and automated processes. The implications of this transformation aren’t as easy to describe, but one of the major ones is eliminating the negative impacts of extracted physical materials on the planet.

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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the nascent digital transformation

Robin Chase, transportation entrepreneur, on transportation opportunities fighting climate change

November 6, 2018 by  
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Robin Chase, transportation entrepreneur, on transportation opportunities fighting climate change

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Robin Chase, transportation entrepreneur, on transportation opportunities fighting climate change

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