The times have certainly given way to digital but radio waves are re-defining their value. The Tate Ambient Power Module, patented by Joseph Tate of California, converts radio-wave energy (manmade and natural) into energy that can be used by small appliances such as smoke detectors and clock radios.
The device is simple in its design and composition. The Ambient Power Module (APM) is nothing more than an electronic circuit connected to an antenna and grounded to the earth. Tate made this come to life by just loosely wrapped wire around a 3-inch plastic tube with a whip antenna. This module will deliver low voltage up to several milliwatts dependent upon the local radio noise levels and antenna specifications.
Once put together this crafty little unit can generate 36 volts/9 watts of power, equivalent to the output of several Duracell batteries. Apparently, this device in close proximity to large quantities of metal (bridges, ships, etc) winds up the output. The interesting added bonus to this creative module is that it might also be helpful in forecasting earthquakes by watching the rising and falling energy levels.
- Sustainable Brands® Announces 2014 Innovation Open Semi-finalists
- OF THE SEA, a new film about seafood & sustainability launches on Kickstarter
- Global Reporting Initiative celebrates new era for non-financial information disclosure in the EU
- More Renewable Energy Needed to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change
The Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) is seeking promising social entrepreneurs to enter the 2008 Competition. If you are an entrepreneur (or budding entrepreneur!) with a financially sustainable venture that addresses a social or environmental problem, you are encouraged to apply. Winning plans in the past have ranged from global health to microfinance, from cleantech to education, from fair trade to community development, from business concepts to operating companies, and have included for-profit and non-profit models.
Executive Summaries are due January 16, 2008*
Full Business Plans are due February 27-29, 2008*
For more info, click here.
This week Jamie asked me about the climate change impact of her company’s vehicle fleet and the options for reducing it. Her company has a vehicle fleet of 738 vehicles that average around 30,000 miles per year each. That adds up to 22,140,000 vehicle miles per year, or 0.00131% of US annual passenger miles (22,140,000 miles / 1,689,240,950,000 miles).
We will assume that the average fuel economy of this fleet is 30 mpg. This means that the company uses around 738,000 gallons of gasoline per year (22,140,000 miles / 30 mpg) at a cost of over $2.2 million (at $3/gallon). In a previous AskPablo I determined that a gallon of gasoline results in 19.56 lbs, or 8.87 kg of CO2 when combusted. So that vehicle fleet is responsible for roughly 6,546 mT of CO2 each year!
The net effect: 50% reduction in weight, the ability to form shapes that we not possible before, and a significant diversion of a waste stream.
Two car companies are taking advantage of the product: Hyundai and Chevrolet will use iQ for most of the external and internal panels as well as glazing on their two new concept vehicles, the Volt and the QarmaQ. In the case of the Volt, the prime driving force behind the move is weight – every bit counts with an electric vehicle. In the case of the QarmaQ it was the ability to achieve a shape that would otherwise have been impossible. Either way, both companies will benefit from the added customer satisfaction that comes with purchasing a more sustainable vehicle – assuming they get them beyond the concept stage and on the road soon. Click to continue reading »
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The color-coded red and blue United States map has become a familiar image in the past few years with the “code” dividing the country along political partisan lines of “liberal” vs. “conservative”.
Oversimplified at best, a new color joins the fray and that color is, of course, green.
It’s reported that a recent study from Environment America (which is, for the purpose of full disclosure, headquartered in the green [and blue] state of Massachusetts) shows a growing “green divide” overlaying the familiar red and blue.
States along the northeastern seaboard (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Pennsylvania and Vermont) and west coast (California, Oregon, and Washington) are shown as developing comprehensive environmental strategies in the areas of renewable energy, utility and appliance energy efficiency, building codes for energy efficiency, and “clean car” programs, while states in the mid-west and south lag behind.
What jumps out at me, and probably to you too, is the the “green” states are also, for the most part, the blue states.
This may make a little sense. Leaving to other bloggers all the “values” and “cultural” issues that many love to hurl back and forth at each other across these dividing lines, Democratic political theory is, as I understand and oversimplify it, more friendly to using legislation as a tool for addressing social ills.
What concerns me is the ease with which such a report can be used as a means of further polarization, even if that clearly is not the intent. As valuable as this study my be, it doesn’t, in my opinion, tell the whole story.Click to continue reading »
Los Angeles is not typically known for its eco-cred, but the organizers of Opportunity Green 2007 hope to change that. They have organized a conference to bring together some of the most influential green professionals at the UCLA School of Management this Saturday, November 17.
What makes this conference unique is the opportunity to watch the 2006/2007 California Clean Tech Winners pitch to a panel of noted VC and Angel Investors. For those of us who aspire to own and manage our own green companies, this will be an exciting process to witness and learn from.
At the L.A. Auto Show this year, there were two separate award ceremonies for the Green Car of the Year 2008. Inside, at the “official” award ceremony, the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid was announced the winner. Outside, at an “unofficial” ceremony staged across the street, the Plug-In Toyota Prius Hybrid won the prize.
So which is the greenest car of the two? The Chevy Tahoe gets 20 mpg. The Plug-In Toyota Prius gets 100 mpg. Click to continue reading »
I’m no saint and I’ve never been in a position to be offered any form of sizeable bribe, but it still never fails to shock and outrage me somewhat when I read or hear about the scope and scale of fraud and corruption that takes place on a seemingly regular basis. The greed and lust for power that overwhelms whatever higher and better sensibilities those entrusted with the public or shareholders’ trust possess gives credence to that time-worn dictum ‚Äòpower corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
South Africa emerged from apartheid as something of a beacon due to the leadership and beliefs of Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, who along with many others worked so diligently to forge the foundation for an inclusive, pluralist and democratic society. Unfortunately, it appears that Pres. Mbeki and the embattled African National Congress that reigns over the country’s political system falls far short. In the run-up to national elections, word of ANC corruption, scandals, blind loyalties, misinformation and politically motivated slander emerge on a regular, almost daily basis.
Even worse, such press coverage has rankled the feathers of ANC bigwigs, raising the specter of a state-controlled media that casts a shadow across one of the key checks on abuse of power and influence and one of the pillars of any truly open, inclusive and democratic republic: a free and independent press. Newly minted billionaires with close ties to the ANC along with agents of Pres. Mbeki himself are bidding for control of Johnnic Communications, one of the country’s leading media conglomerates.
Click to continue reading »
The article on Crowd Farms has generating a stirring debate and a lot of interest so I figured I would follow up with a piece that highlights some more applications of this concept of people and motion creating power. The problem with the Crowd Farm plan is it only exists on paper and could be too costly for production, but that is how many great ideas begin in my opinion. Take solar for example, solar panels used to cost some $20 per watt to produce in the early 80′s and now Nanosolar has reduced this cost to below that of coal energy at 30 cents per watt. Some great ideas take time, money and significant effort to produce real-world applications. Finding a balance of how much to leech off a person’s movement is the most difficult problem for human-powered technology. All energy has to come from somewhere which means that if you are the one producing the power then, to some degree, you’re the one feeling the drain.
What can Brown do for you?
It’s not just what United Parcel Service can do for you, but it’s also what they can do to trim operating costs and help the environment – all at the same time.
UPS announced this week that the Petaluma branch in Northern California will lease 42 Xebra electric vehicles to deliver smaller packages in congested areas where driving the Big Brown trucks aren’t so conducive to swift navigation through heavy traffic and, the bane of all urban drivers, finding a place to park (or double park, as the case may be).
The Xebra electric vehicle is manufactured by Santa Rosa-based Zap. In business since 1994, with customers in 75 countries, Zap has made over 100,000 electric and alternative vehicles, from scooters to their planned electric SUV.
And now UPS is one of those customers.
With a ground fleet of 94,542 vehicles moving 16 million packages around the world every day, and a barrel of oil hovering in the 90’s, actively pursuing alternatives to large fossil-fueled trucks is a matter of good business sense as well as environmental concern.
UPS walks the talk with the largest private alternative fuel fleet in the industry.
After all, it doesn’t take a big brown truck to deliver your next order from Amazon to your front door.
Pictured here is an tire made from 85% Citrus Oil – a useful oil extracted from orange rinds discarded by the citrus industry. The remaining portion of the tire is petroleum based traditional material. The prototype, by Yokohama, is one of the most interesting things I saw at the LA Auto Show yesterday and, assuming what their rep says is true, could impact drivers in more ways than one. Do take all this with a grain of salt, as the product is not on the street, so to speak, and there is no information on Yokohama’s website yet about it. Here are some of the highlights:
1) 80% less petroleum used in the manufacture
2) An “air permeation suppression film” which apparently reduces leakage and ensures good pressure
3) Reduced weight, and therefore less resistance
Crowd Farm, developed by two MIT architecture grad students, is a concept that harvests the energy that is transmitted through our feet. It works like this: Beneath highly crowded subway platforms there would be a sub-flooring system made up of blocks that depress slightly due to the force of human footsteps above. These blocks rub together under the pressure generating power the same way as a dynamo, a device that converts energy from motion into an electric current.
This is a concept that is only worth its weight in gold in highly crowded ares where the feet are many since one human footstep can generate enough power for two 60-watt light bulbs for only a mere second. But get a coffee-primed crowd moving by the masses and the Farm could be in business. The typical New York subway train in Manhattan at rush hour will typically have 300 people in it, all of whom ran an average of 150 steps in the station to get onboard. That is equivalent to 45,000 steps every few minutes, which could be transferred to power the subway train. This is a brillant idea for reclycling the energy from human movement.
In a slow housing market, many developers are looking to green features to set themselves apart from the competition. With increasing concern about energy costs, climate change, and indoor air quality, the market is ripe for green building. Market forces at work, with environmentally sound options excelling.
“There are not enough green builders out there, and demand is exceeding the homes available,” says Harvey Bernstein, Vice President of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives for McGraw-Hill Construction. Meanwhile quantity of certified green homes being built is growing rapidly.
Nearly 100,000 homes have been built and certified under voluntary green building programs across the country since the mid-1990s, with a 50% increase from 2004.
Penn State researchers Bruce Logan and Shaoan Cheng announced yesterday the results of experimental research that produces hydrogen from microbes. Built upon earlier work that led to the production of electricity from microbes, Logan’s team has shown how to take those same hard working microbes and make hydrogen. Could the hydrogen economy be just around the corner?
Several years ago, after reading Eco Economy – Building an Economy for the Earth by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, I felt I had a pretty good understanding of how a hydrogen based economy might work. Since its publication in early 2001 (and doesn’t that seem so long ago) I kept reading reports of the “false promise of the hydrogen economy” and my enthusiasm waned for hydrogen, despite my respect for Lester Brown’s visionary work. The obstacles to making hydrogen an efficient carrier of energy do appear daunting.
But technology and human innovation don’t always follow expectations.
This reminds me of the early days of digital audio. Allow me to explain.Click to continue reading »