The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat

November 29, 2017 by  
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We’ve all been there – you need to wash just a few clothing items but you don’t have nearly enough for a full load of laundry . The gentlewasher offers a solution, washing clothes in five minutes with less water than washing machines and zero electricity . The hand-powered device can wash up to 12 T-shirts or eight dresses at a time, and it uses around 4.7 gallons of water – compare that to 13 gallons for an Energy Star washing machine, or 40 gallons for an older model washing machine. Need to wash delicates in a hurry? The gentlewasher makes hand-washing clothes a breeze. It’s easy to use: attach a water hose, put in clothes and a teaspoon of detergent, and start turning. After a two-minute wash cycle and two-minute rinse cycle, the garments are ready to hang-dry. The ergonomic handle ensures you won’t get too tired during the process. Related: 14-year-old girl invents pedal-powered washing machine from bike parts The gentlewasher lives up to its name, and it can actually prolong the life of your garments with the help of patented honeycomb holes that create a protective water layer so garments won’t come into contact with the drum. The company says that their product is the most sustainable and gentlest washing device for apparel ever. The company, based in the Netherlands, says results are “as good as a front-loading machine.” The gentlewasher is designed for clothes that should be washed by hand, but it can be used for all types of garments. It’s especially useful for people on the road – such as those traveling in an RV or camping. And it could even come in handy in between laundry loads or for cutting down trips to the laundromat for those living in tiny city apartments. The company says their mission is to “develop an affordable washing device for people around the world,” as five billion people worldwide still don’t have access to washing machines and must spend hours washing clothes. You can buy a gentlewasher online for $269. + gentlewasher Images courtesy of gentlewasher

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The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat

This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels

November 24, 2017 by  
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A Swedish power plant northwest of Stockholm hopes to go fossil fuel free by 2020 – and they’re turning to recycled wood and trash for alternatives, including discarded apparel from retail chain H&M . This year they’ve already burned around 15 tons of H&M clothes. A power plant owned and operated by Malarenergi AB in the town of Vasteras, Sweden is working to transition away from oil and coal, and are turning to a fuel source you might not expect: discarded garments. Head of fuel supplies Jens Neren told Bloomberg, “For us it’s a burnable material. Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.” Related: Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida Sweden boasts a nearly emission-free power system, according to Bloomberg , due to wind, nuclear, and hydro plants. But some local municipalities do use oil and coal for heating on winter days. The country hopes to move away from fossil fuel units by converting old plants to burn trash and biofuels instead. Where do the H&M clothes come in? Malarenergi has a deal with nearby town Eskilstuna to burn their garbage, and some of that comes from a central warehouse of H&M’s. The clothing company’s head of communications Johanna Dahl told Bloomberg, “H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use. However it is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed.” The Vasteras plant, which supplies power for around 150,000 households, has burned around 400,000 tons of garbage this year. Bloomberg reported earlier this week, the last coal ship docked in the area to drop off supplies to last until 2020 for the plant’s last two fossil fuel generators, which date back to the 1960s. In 2020, the plant will add a wood-fired boiler to help trash- and biofuel-burning units meet demand. Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos and Per Nyström, Scheiwiller Svensson Arkitektkontor AB/Malarenergi AB

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This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels

Turkey poop could offer a potent alternative to coal

November 24, 2017 by  
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Turkeys don’t just offer fuel on a Thanksgiving plate. Two Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers found turkey poop could act as a potent alternative energy source – and could actually replace around 10 percent of coal utilized for electricity generation. Turkey, chicken, and other poultry poop, when treated and converted to solid biomass fuel, could offer an alternative to coal. Biomass comprises 73 percent of renewable energy production around the world, according to a press release on the work, but instead of growing crops for biomass, utilizing turkey excrement could solve two problems. The researchers said in the statement, “Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem. Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels .” Related: 6 Ways to Convert Poo into Power They compared turkey poop as biochar and hydrochar; the first is “produced by slow heating of the biomass at a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free furnace” and the second by “heating wet biomass to a much lower temperature of up to 250 degrees Celsius under pressure” in a process known as hydrothermal carbonization (HTC). Turkey poop processed as hydrochar seemed like the better option, offering 24 percent higher net energy generation, according to the researchers, who said, “Poultry waste hydrochar generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, an important factor in replacing it as renewable energy source.” The researchers discovered greater temperatures during the HTC process resulted in a reduction of methane and ammonia emissions , although there were increases in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide . But researcher Amit Gross said, “Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural waste.” The journal Applied Energy published the research online this month. Via American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Images via Andrea Reiman on Unsplash and Pixabay

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Atlanta says all new construction must be "EV ready"

November 24, 2017 by  
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Several countries have already stated that within the next decade or so combustion vehicles will no longer be allowed, but here in the United States, the government hasn’t really made any significant mandates around EVs. Except for the city of Atlanta, which recently passed a new law that mandates all new residential homes and public parking facilities to accommodate electric vehicles . The new ordinance requires 20 percent of parking spaces in new commercial and multifamily parking structures to be EV ready, and new residential homes must also be equipped with the infrastructure needed to install EV charging stations. Related: California may ban gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030 “Today, the City of Atlanta has taken a historic step to increase our EV readiness and to ensure we remain a leading city in sustainability. I want to thank Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms for introducing this legislation and the Atlanta City Council for their work to pass this ordinance,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a Tuesday statement . “I am proud of our City’s commitment to energy conservation, as well as our efforts to ensure that EVs and EV charging stations remain accessible to everyone.” The new “EV Ready” ordinance will go into effect immediately. This isn’t the first time that the Atlanta has made efforts to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road. The city already has a fleet of 60 electric vehicles and even its police department has a small fleet of electric vehicles. + City of Atlanta Via Treehugger Images via Honda, Chevy and Ford

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Atlanta says all new construction must be "EV ready"

Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

November 21, 2017 by  
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The Netherlands’ legendary Afsluitdijk dike has been in use for 85 years but it needed a renovation — so the Dutch government turned to designer Daan Roosegaarde for help. Studio Roosegaarde recently unveiled their Icoon Afsluitdijk project featuring three eye-catching designs: Gates of Light, Windvogel, and Glowing Nature, with elements from clean power -generating kites to live bioluminescent algae . Studio Roosegaarde launched three striking designs at the Afsluitdijk. Icoon Afsluitdijk is intended to bolster the causeway’s iconic value, with the installations bringing light to the area after sunset. Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Gates of Light includes restored 1932 floodgates fitted with prisms that reflect light from vehicle headlights. If there are no cars by the Gates of Light – which the studio described as an example of a “futuristic and energy neutral landscape” – the structures don’t light up. Studio Roosegaarde said they were inspired to utilize retroreflection based on how butterfly wings reflect light. Windvogel could offer enough power for 200 households. The smart kites’ lines move back and forth in the wind to generate energy , much like a dynamo on a bicycle, according to Studio Roosegaarde. Glowing Nature is an exhibit in the dike’s historic bunkers featuring living algae. The bioluminescent microorganisms only light up when touched under optimal conditions and care. They could offer inspiration for light or energy solutions for the future, according to the studio. Roosegaarde said in a statement, “The Afsluitdijk represents a part of Dutch daring and innovation. We live with water, we fight with water, and we endeavor a new harmony…By adding a subtle layer of light and interaction, we enhance the beauty of the dike and form new links between man and landscape, darkness and light, poetry and practice.” Gates of Light will become a permanent part of the dike. Glowing Nature and Windvogel can be glimpsed until January 21, 2018. + Studio Roosegaarde Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

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Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

Scientists warn of more severe earthquakes in 2018 as Earth’s rotation slows

November 21, 2017 by  
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You wouldn’t have felt it, but sometimes the Earth’s rotation slows down. Sure, the fluctuations are minute – maybe a millisecond here or there. But two geophysicists think there could be more destructive quakes next year because of the phenomenon. There is a silver lining: such small changes also might help us forecast earthquakes. Scientists have charted minuscule changes in the length of a day on our planet for decades. Sometimes we gain a millisecond, sometimes we lose one. But it turns out these tiny changes could impact us in a big way. They could be involved in the release of large amounts of underground energy . Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana and Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado, Boulder presented the idea in a research letter published by Geophysical Research Letters in late summer and at The Geological Society of America’s annual meeting last month. Related: Formerly undiscovered tectonic plates may explain mysterious Vityaz earthquakes Slowdowns in Earth’s rotation have corresponded with global increases of magnitude seven or greater earthquakes during the last century, according to the researchers: Bilham said, “The Earth offers us a five-years heads-up on future earthquakes.” In slowdown periods, Earth often sees two to five more large earthquakes than usual – but these arrive after the slowdown begins. Earth’s magnetic field develops a temporary ripple as day length fluctuates over decades, according to Science Magazine . Both effects could be caused by small changes in molten iron’s flow in the outer core , researchers think. Earth spins 460 meters per second at the equator, according to Science Magazine, and “given this high velocity, it’s not absurd to think that a slight mismatch in speed between the solid crust and mantle and the liquid core could translate into a force somehow nudging quakes into synchrony.” Bendick said the connection may seem crazy. But other researchers are intrigued – and geologist James Dolan of the University of Southern California said we should know if they’re on to something in five years. Based on the research, Earth should see five more major earthquakes than average starting in 2018 and we may have a new tool for earthquake forecasting. Via Science Magazine and The Guardian Images via Lorenzo Bollettini on Unsplash and Depositphotos

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Scientists warn of more severe earthquakes in 2018 as Earth’s rotation slows

Nebraska grants TransCanada approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline

November 20, 2017 by  
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Nebraska just gave the go-ahead for Keystone XL , allowing TransCanada to clear the last regulatory hurdle for the hotly contested oil pipeline . After a nine-year battle, TransCanada can move forward with the project against which thousands have protested. However Nebraska’s Public Service Commission didn’t approve the company’s preferred route – but an alternative route TransCanada portrayed in the past as unworkable. Nebraska approved a permit for the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline in a three to two vote. But the state approved an alternative route that would move the oil pipeline east – which would avoid more of Nebraska’s Sandhills region. It would still cross parts of the Ogallala aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for Nebraska and a large part of the Great Plains. The pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil every day from the Alberta tar sands to Texas refineries. Related: Keystone 1 oil pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons days ahead of Keystone XL permit decision This decision could complicate the process for TransCanada, as they may have to arrange easements from landowners, according to The Washington Post . Environmental activists are vowing to continue the fight. CREDO Action Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson said in a statement, “This shortsighted and dangerous decision is a slap in the face to the people of Nebraska and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who weighed in this year urging the Public Service Commission to stop the pipeline. But the nearly decade-long fight to stop Keystone XL does not end today. Pipeline fighters have been told time and time again that this pipeline is a done deal. We did not stop fighting when Trump tried to force the pipeline’s approval earlier this year and we will not stop now.” The approval comes mere days after TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. Via The Washington Post and CREDO Action Images via chesapeakeclimate on Flickr and Depositphotos

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World’s largest sovereign wealth fund could ditch oil and gas stocks

November 20, 2017 by  
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Norway raked in money from oil in the past. But now the country’s Norges Bank , which manages its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest – is recommending the government dump fossil fuel stocks. They said the move “will make the government’s wealth less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices.” According to Bloomberg , this could mean unloading $35 billion in stocks – and European oil stocks plummeted after the proposal. The movement for fossil fuel divestment appears to be gaining speed. Norway could get rid of their shares of big oil companies like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. 350.org’s Bill McKibben said the proposal was “as astonishing as the moment when the Rockefellers divested the world’s oldest oil fortune.” Norway’s fund controls around 1.5 percent of global stocks, according to Bloomberg. Related: Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels Norges Bank recommended the move in a letter to the Ministry of Finance, but the government probably won’t make its final decision until next year. They said the idea requires a thorough assessment. The move could include divesting from current shares, and not investing in oil and gas in the future. Bloomberg said the fund has already sold most of its coal stocks. While environmental activists have praised the proposal, Bloomberg said it’s more about hedging risk than combating climate change . Norges Bank deputy governor Egil Matsen said in their statement the advice is based on financial arguments, and doesn’t reflect a certain view of the “profitability or sustainability of the oil and gas sector.” Rystad Energy senior partner Per Magnus Nysveen said “this has nothing to do with the environment .” But according to Mindy Lubber, president of nonprofit Ceres , if Norway takes the significant step, others will follow – which could ultimately be a good move for the planet. Via Bloomberg , The Guardian , and Norges Bank Images via andy muir on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Should hydroponic veggies be labeled organic?

November 20, 2017 by  
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Does produce grown hydroponically deserve the organic label? Some organic farmers don’t think so, and they gathered at a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting where the board voted on a ban on hydroponic practices in organic farming, reports NPR . Hydroponic farmers fought back, saying they can produce food with less water . Organic farmers turned out at the NOSB meeting in Jacksonville, Florida in an attempt to have the organic label removed from hydroponic vegetables . Vermont farmer Dave Chapman of Long Wind Farm , who’s the National Organic Coalition executive director, said the founding principles of organic farming center around “ soil health, regenerating the soil” as opposed to simply providing plants with nutrients. Related: 40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water Hydroponic farmers disagree. Wholesum Harvest marketing manager Jessie Gunn told NPR, “We can grow our tomatoes organically with three to five gallons of water, per pound of production, as opposed to growing tomatoes in open fields, which can use anywhere from 26 to 37 gallons of water.” Cultivating crops in fields “uses more water, more land, destroys more natural habitat. I mean, what is the true essence of organic?” Hydroponic vegetables are taking over a growing share of sales to grocery stores . Chapman said already, most organic tomatoes you’d find in a supermarket today never touched soil. He said soon virtually all organic tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and most berries and lettuce, will be grown hydroponically, which he considers tragic. Other people, such as members of the Recirculating Farms Coalition , consider hydroponic farming to be sustainable, a sensible choice “especially for a planet with a changing climate , and assorted challenges in reducing use of water, energy , and space.” The 15-person NOSB, a federal advisory board for the United States Department of Agriculture, voted against the ban, eight to seven. Via NPR Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s cheapest solar power to be generated in Mexico

November 20, 2017 by  
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Solar power set to be generated in Mexico will be the world’s cheapest — with prices as low as 1.77¢/kWh, according to data from Mexico’s  Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (Cenace) . Mexico’s Department of Energy recently announced the companies selected to complete new renewable power projects and the rates for which this electricity will be sold. The lowest price for solar in Mexico has been set just below that of Saudi Arabia at 1.77¢/kWh, and is expected to continue to decrease to 1¢/kWh in 2019 or sooner. In this most recent bidding round, 15 bids from eight solar and wind energy companies, including Canadian Solar, ENEL Green Power, and Mitsui, were approved in a sign that Mexico’s renewable surge is not slowing down. The clean energy projects recently approved by Mexico will be online and selling power by 2020. These projects and others are important steps towards meeting Mexico’s goals under the Paris agreement as well as regional goals established by Mexico, the United States, and Canada . In 2016, all three countries pledged to source 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Canada is on track to meet this goal while Mexico continues to build up its renewable portfolio. As it was when the regional pledge was made, the United States still lags behind in its transition to clean energy. Related: World’s largest solar plant in a refugee camp opens in Jordan Mexico’s achievement of cheap solar energy exceeds the expectations of skeptics who believed that such a price in a country like Mexico, rather than one like wealthy Saudi Arabia , would be highly unlikely. Despite its economic challenges, Mexico is proving that affordable renewable energy is possible around the world, brightening the prospects of the Paris agreement even as the United States refuses to participate. If current trends continue, the world may soon be faced with the prospect of plentiful, clean, affordable energy, the possibilities for which are endless. Via Electrek Images via Presidencia de la República Mexicana/Flickr   (2)   (3)

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