Students compete to design energy-efficient, battery-powered rail vehicles

June 7, 2018 by  
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Students in Sweden showed off creative designs for energy efficient , battery-powered rail vehicles at the Delsbo Electric competition in late May. One team set a new record, for the “lowest energy consumption per person-kilometer ever for a man-made engine driven vehicle.” According to an emailed statement, the winning vehicle could transport a person around 1,640 feet with the energy of a single Google search. Dalarna University students won the Delsbo Electric 2018 competition with the Eximus III, which transported six people from Delsbo to Fredriksfors and back on a track around two miles long. The average weight of the passengers was over 110 pounds, and the vehicle speed was more than six miles per hour. Eximus III’s energy consumption was 0.63 watt-hours (Wh) per person-kilometer, the lowest ever recorded for a man-made vehicle powered by an engine. Related: Swedish students design one of the world’s most energy-efficient rail-bound vehicles Students also competed for the HHK Innovation Award, given by experts from company Hudiksvalls Hydraulikkluster (HHK). Linköping University students nabbed that prize for Helios, which boasted a vehicle body and wheels comprised almost entirely of wood  and a windshield made from recycled plastic . Solar panels atop the roof provided clean power. Emil Fernlund, a member of the team, said in a video , “Our whole approach is based on sustainable design . We want to show that you can build energy efficiently and use renewable materials .” Chairman of the HHK Innovation Award jury and HHK Cluster Manager Paul Bogatir said in a statement, “Helios is a beautiful concept and it inspires the industry and the world to think about energy efficiency during the whole product life cycle — not just when the product is in use.” One team, from the Chalmers University of Technology , showed off a prototype for a Maglev train that could travel on existing tracks. While it’s not ready to be implemented yet, the students hope people will be able to ride it in a few years. + Delsbo Electric + Linköping University Images courtesy of Hudiksvalls Hydraulikkluster / Delsbo Electric

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Students compete to design energy-efficient, battery-powered rail vehicles

Trump’s nuclear bailout could cost consumers up to $17 billion each year

June 7, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration is taking unprecedented steps to bail out failing nuclear and coal power plants, effectively nationalizing the American energy market with potentially drastic consequences for the renewable energy industry and the American consumer. According to an updated report from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), the Trump Administration’s plan could result in artificially high electricity prices. The planned subsidies for nuclear power plants alone could increase the overall cost of electricity in the U.S. by up to $17 billion each year; the subsidies for coal plants would add even more. This skewing of the American energy market, which has recently seen significant progress made by wind and solar energy, could also result in the decline of renewable energy in the U.S. “By pushing for a nationwide bailout for nuclear power and coal, the Trump administration is rushing headlong into an energy buzz saw, and they don’t even seem to know it,” NIRS executive director Tim Judson said in a statement. It should come as no surprise to those who have followed President Trump that he would take steps to support coal and nuclear power at the expense of renewable energy. What is surprising is the heavy-handedness with which his administration is attempting to directly subsidize failing businesses, thereby ignoring the Republican Party’s long-held belief in the supremacy of a market free from government intrusion. By doing so, Trump could decimate the renewable energy industry, which employs more American workers than coal and nuclear combined. Related: Trump orders Perry to take steps to curb coal plant shutdowns The administration claims that it must act to save failing coal and nuclear plants in the interest of national security. Not everyone is buying that excuse. “The Administration’s warnings of dire effects from power shortages caused by shortages of reliable and resilient generation are contradicted by all of the bodies with actual responsibility for assuring adequate supplies,” said former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Peter A. Bradford. “There are no state or federal energy regulators petitioning DOE for these measures. Indeed, those who have spoken clearly have said that such steps are unnecessary. … As was said in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq , the facts are being fixed around the desired end result.” In order to enact its bailout policies, the Trump Administration has three options: Congressional action, review and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or a formal National Security Council assessment. While the bailouts are likely to be delayed for the foreseeable future, if they even occur, the Trump Administration’s decision to subsidize failing power plants at the expense of American industry and consumer well-being makes its priorities quite clear. + Nuclear Information & Resource Service Images via GorissM and Ron Reiring

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Trump’s nuclear bailout could cost consumers up to $17 billion each year

Broccoli powder could pack a veggie punch in smoothies, soups and lattes

June 7, 2018 by  
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Do you consume the recommended serving of vegetables every day? Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study finding only one in 10 adults eat enough vegetables or fruit. Scientists in Australia — a country where the average person also isn’t getting the recommended daily veggie intake — came up with a possible solution: broccoli powder . A Melbourne-area cafe, Commonfolk Coffee , recently tested it out with a latte. How do you take your coffee? Milk, sugar…broccoli powder? There's a new latte shaking up Melbourne's coffee culture. #TenNews @CaryRachel pic.twitter.com/FBMv0JYkkq — Ten News Melbourne (@tennewsmelb) June 6, 2018 Australian science agency  Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Hort Innovation developed broccoli powder that provides one serving of broccoli in two tablespoons. They created it using what CSIRO called imperfect-looking broccoli — produce that otherwise might have been trashed. Related: Korean barista creates incredible works of latte art The Melbourne cafe’s broccoli lattes received mixed reviews — in a Ten News Melbourne video , one person said it wasn’t bad; another person said they liked it but described the taste as “milky broccoli.” But there are other uses for the powder for those who can’t stomach a broccoli latte, like in soups, smoothies or baked goods, according to Hort Innovation CEO John Lloyd. “With a rising trend in healthy eating across the board, Australian growers are always looking at ways to diversify their products and cut waste while meeting consumer demand,” Lloyd said in a statement . “Research shows the average Australian is still not eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables a day, and options such as broccoli powder will help address this.” ?????????… …nah but drink whatever floats your boat. Although can you really go past a sustainable and ethical single origin espresso *sans broccoli* ????? > > > #broccolatte #broccocino #coffee #cafe #cafes #melbourne #instacoffee #coffeeoftheday #coffeelovers #vsco #vscocam #vsco_hub #vscobest #vsco_best #vscogood #vscocamphotos #vscofeature #liveauthentic #MKexplore #neverstopexploring #letsgosomewhere #shootaward #igmasters #justgoshoot A post shared by C O M M O N F O L K (@commonfolkcoffee) on Jun 6, 2018 at 1:15am PDT Whole broccoli goes into the 100 percent broccoli powder, which is made through pre-treatment and drying processes. The final product keeps the nutrient composition, color and flavor of fresh broccoli, according to CSIRO. Lead researcher Mary Ann Augustin said broccoli’s high fiber and protein content, as well as bioactive phytochemicals, means the vegetable is an ideal candidate to turn into powder. John Said, managing director of leading broccoli producer  Fresh Select , seems to be on board, describing the project as “the emerging new food trend.” He said farmers in Australia “will have access to an alternative market whilst improving farm yields and sustainability.” + CSIRO Image via CSIRO

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Broccoli powder could pack a veggie punch in smoothies, soups and lattes

Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

June 4, 2018 by  
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Urban development and industrialization hasn’t been great for bees — they have to fly longer distances, which has played a role in their declines, according to the initiative City Bees. The initiative’s  Bee Saving Paper  offers a juicy solution: biodegradable paper that functions like a bee energy drink. Out of 469 bee species in Poland, 222 are on the verge of extinction, and the sad story is similar around the world. City Bees teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi IS Warsaw , Manufaktura Papieru Czerpanego w Koby?ce , paper craftsmen and entomology experts to create Bee Saving Paper, a bee-friendly product with many uses: bags, coffee cup sleeves, picnic plates and more. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit How does this product work? It’s created with what the initiative called an energy-rich glucose that won’t make the paper sticky but is appealing for the buzzing insects . Seeds from the Lacy Phacelia plant are also incorporated in the paper . Finally, a water-based UV paint helps attract bees to the paper; the paint is applied in a pattern of what bees see as red circles, similar to how they view meadows. The designers hope bees consume the glucose and collect the Lacy Phacelia seeds to redistribute them so they grow into flowers . “We’ve managed to develop and produce what is probably the first paper nature would not only like you to use, but maybe even to drop,” project senior creatives Tomasz Bujok and Anna Gadecka said. “We know our innovation won’t solve the worldwide problem of the declining bee population by itself, but we hope we’ll at least make people realize how important bees are to us.” Bee Saving Paper has been tested in the field by a beekeeper , the team said, and they’re ready to work with large brands and mass-produce the paper. You can find out more on their website . + Bee Saving Paper Images via Bee Saving Paper

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Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

June 4, 2018 by  
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Climate change disproportionately impacts the Arctic, where rising global temperatures wrought by the burning of fossil fuels have brought rapid, fundamental changes to places like Alaska. In a new study published in Global Change Biology , researchers conclude that 67,000 square miles of land in Alaska, 13 percent of the total land, have been affected over the past three decades. The land has been impacted by what the study calls ‘directional change,’ in which a location has experienced fundamental change in its ecology from historic levels. For example, some areas have become greener and wetter and others have dried out as glaciers shrink and wildfires rage across the state. Even trees have shifted, with treelines moving farther north to adjust to a warming Arctic. To study the drastic changes in Alaska , scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used satellite and aerial imagery integrated with field data to create a mapping algorithm that assesses the level of change throughout the state. The study analyzed 540,000 square miles of land, noting the various kinds of changes in different Alaskan ecosystems. Near the tundra, the environment is becoming greener as trees and other plants spread beyond their traditional northern border. Meanwhile, interior forests are drying out, resulting in increased and more intense wildfires, which the researchers conclude is the greatest factor in Alaska’s ecological change. “What impressed me [was] how extensive and influential the fires were,” study co-author Bruce Wylie told Earther . Related: One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact Climate change has also disrupted the state’s historic water patterns. Melting permafrost has led to depressions, allowing wetlands to form in unusual places. This has also exacerbated erosion along the coasts, which are being tested by an ever-shorter season of sea ice. The comprehensive study of these varied changes may be helpful as scientists and policymakers plan for Alaska’s future. “Now with this study we have spatially explicit interpretations of the changes on the land, with specific drivers identified and attributed to the changes,” NASA carbon cycle scientist Peter Griffith told Earther . However, there is still so much more to learn. The study’s results, limited by available technology and resources, do not tell the whole story. + Global Change Biology Via Earther Images via Depositphotos and USGS

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Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

‘House of Trash’ proves how waste can transform into beautiful home design

May 30, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based engineering firm Miniwiz is already known as a pioneer in technology for the  circular economy , but now it is determined to find a new place for old waste — back into our homes. The innovative company has recently teamed up with homeware company  Pentatonic to create the House of Trash, a home design exhibit that showcases everyday decor and furniture made from post-consumer waste. Already known internationally, The House of Trash celebrates Miniwiz’s expansion into the Milan market. Located on Foro Bonaparte in the center of the city, the home is filled with various prototype products designed by Pentatonic . According to its description, the space is a 360-degree real-world demonstration of what can be achieved by converting consumer waste into usable products. Related: Miniwiz’s Stylish Re-Wine Desktop Lamp is Made from 100% Trash Everything from food packaging and coffee cups to furniture and artwork in the house is made with trash. Also on display will be prototypes of Pentatonic’s AirTool Soft, which is a line of modular fabric components woven from trash on Italian looms. Additional displays include recycled pieces by multidisciplinary Italian architect, Cesare Leonardi and an art series, “We’re All In This Together,” by famed graffiti artist, Mode2 . After its unveiling, the home will become a permanent place where the sustainably-minded companies can display their latest  green innovations . The space will allow people and companies of all backgrounds to come together and collaborate on ideas that address sustainability, recycling and eco-consciousness. According to Miniwiz founder Arthur Huang, Milan is the perfect setting to find a real market for the innovative “trash technologies.” He said, “There is no better place than Milan to engage designers and architects with our trash innovation and circular technology.” + Miniwiz + Pentatonic Images via Miniwiz

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‘House of Trash’ proves how waste can transform into beautiful home design

In good company: How Obvious Ventures is disrupting venture capital

May 17, 2018 by  
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Impact investing isn’t about being”cute.”

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In good company: How Obvious Ventures is disrupting venture capital

Inside Kathy Hannun’s quest to provide accessible household geothermal energy

May 16, 2018 by  
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It’s about the consumer-friendly product, yes, but for this ex-Googler, it’s especially about the right employees.

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Inside Kathy Hannun’s quest to provide accessible household geothermal energy

When cheap doesn’t cut it: Why energy buyers should look at value, not just cost

May 16, 2018 by  
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As renewables are mainstreamed, the cheapest energy project may no longer create the best value.

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When cheap doesn’t cut it: Why energy buyers should look at value, not just cost

How sustainable designer Bill McDonough is re-fashioning the fashion industry

May 14, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: William McDonough and Katrin Ley of Fashion for Good on how they take sustainability in fashion to the molecular level.

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How sustainable designer Bill McDonough is re-fashioning the fashion industry

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