Hydrogen-Burning Hypersonic Airplane: Going Green at Mach-5

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 29th, 2008 | 17 Comments

The proposed future of air travel is quite a marvel. Seems unfathomable compared to the pollutant, oil-guzzling airliners of today. With the endless and testing delays, the awkward security, and greenhouse gas-emitting beasts, it’s a wonder why solutions have not yet come to fruition.
It just so turns out, it is all happening rather quickly behind the scenes. One proposed aircraft that seems wildly impossible is actually on the slate for possible funding for testing. The concept hypersonic jet has been developed by Reaction Engine and it is aptly called the A2. It is a Mach-5 (3,400 mph) wicked aircraft capable of holding 300 passengers and produces, get this, ZERO carbon emissions!
The project has been supplemented in part through funding from the European Union’s Long-Term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies project, otherwise known in short as (Lapcat). Lapcat is in search for an airliner that can cruise from Brussels to Sydney in less than 4 hours. The A2 can meet the expectations without leaving its footprint behind.

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AskPablo: Should I buy soda in plastic bottles or aluminum cans?

| Monday January 28th, 2008 | 11 Comments

Dear Pablo, Assuming that one can’t break the habit of drinking pop, what kind of container is more environmentally friendly, aluminum cans or plastic bottles (2 liter)?
Aluminum cans take a great deal of energy and natural resources to process and transport. Aluminum begins as bauxite ore, is refined into aluminum oxide, and ends up as blocks of aluminum, a supply chain that can take it halfway around the planet. Next the blocks are heated and turned into large rolls of aluminum before being transported yet again. The sheets are stamped and manufactured into cans, which are then filled and distributed to stores. After weeks or months of travel and processing, the aluminum can is used for maybe a few minutes and discarded.
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Waste Management Greens up its Act

| Monday January 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Waste management. Two words that have in the past been little more then a euphemism for trash pickup, one step to the dump. Now, the company which bears that name has made a concerted effort to shift the perception of what it does to be far wider, and much cleaner then simply a means to convey your trash to the dump, end of story.
Their recently launched site does an admirable job quickly conveying just what it is that they’re doing. And it’s a lot. Ironically, the Flash heavy site itself is a bit of an energy hog, clocking in at 96% of my current generation Macbook’s capacity.
Ignoring this one misstep, it’s clear to see that Waste Management is putting their money where their garbage is.

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The Sky Trust: A Cap-and Dividend System that Pays Citizens

Shannon Arvizu | Monday January 28th, 2008 | 1 Comment

sky444.jpegA new publication, “Citizen’s Guide to Carbon Capping,” presents an interesting concept for making a cap-and-trade system more effective in our nation. This 22-page book (free and downloadable on onthecommons.org) presents concise and innovative ideas for crafting a carbon policy in the U.S. that reduces emissions and enhances our country’s economic well-being. The gem of the plan relies on the idea of the “Sky Trust,” which is a cap-and-dividend system that cuts carbon while supplementing household incomes. Basically, “You gain if you conserve and lose if you guzzle.” The idea is true genius. Lawmakers and presidential candidates that promote the Sky Trust in the coming months will be sure to come out on top with public support.

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HCN’s call for a national energy policy…and candidates’ attention

| Sunday January 27th, 2008 | 0 Comments

I’m not a big reader of magazines or periodicals but one I always look forward to receiving is High Country News, especially when it comes to the environment, politics and the West, one of my favorite reads is High Country News…Check that, I’d say that it is one of my favorite periodicals period.
Decrying our lack of a national energy policy, HCN senior editor Ray Ring in a Jan. 21 feature article resurrects the words of then Pres. Jimmy Carter thirty years ago when the U.S. was facing the first oil and energy crisis. He also offers presidential candidates some advice: pay more attention to the West and its specific needs and issues, particularly in light of growing voting populations and the need to balance social, economic, security, energy and environmental needs.

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Wood-Pellet Stoves: Efficient Heat

| Sunday January 27th, 2008 | 11 Comments

The 1980’s witnessed the inception of wood-pellet stoves but the benefits and efficiency of this innovative product, has not showed its face until recently. A pellet stove is a small electric unit that burns small pieces of recycled and compacted sawdust pellets. The advantages to wood pellet stoves are many, for one, they are extremely efficient, use inexpensive fuel and produce very little waste.
The fuel are the tightly compressed pieces of sawdust which are released into the stoves through some complicated machinery which adds new pellets to the fire when more fuel is needed. All that is required of the user is dumping pellets into the hopper when it is empty. The mechanical auger transfers the pellets into the fire as needed.

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Green Class Meters: Energy Monitoring

| Saturday January 26th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Are you curious to know your energy consumption within your home or business? Here is a simple and easily integrated device for your home or business. Considering the world-wide focus on green building sustainability this is a good measurement point for determining your energy consumption. E-Mon has recently introduced a line of Green Class meters. The E-mon D-mon Green Class meters are a useful tool for monitoring your energy usage data.
The meters provide a wealth of information such as usage trends and a record of the impact that your home or business is having on the environment. For example, a responsible business recently incorporating an energy retrofit will be able to verify the continual effectiveness of an energy savings initiative. It can even be displayed as a statement piece in a lobby or waiting room, highlighting your company’s resolve on reducing its footprint.

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EnviroMedia’s Greenwashing Index is Now Live

| Friday January 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Greenwashing Index from EnviroMediaBack in December I wrote about the upcoming launch of a Greenwashing Index website from EnviroMedia in partnership with University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

The site is now live and I’ve just spent some time taking a look at what they’ve accomplished.

In their own words, the goal of the index is to:

  1. Help consumers become more savvy about evaluating environmental marketing claims of advertisers
  2. Hold businesses accountable to their environmental marketing claims
  3. Stimulate the market and demand for sustainable business practices that truly reduce the impact on the environment.

All visitors can view the ads, there are about 50 currently posted, and registered users can submit and rate ads based on a five-point criteria. The site also offers pertinent news and commentary. The idea is to present both good examples of green marketing as well as pure, unadulterated greenwash. If you’re interested in any aspect of green marketing consider taking a moment or two to check out EnviroMedia’s Greenwashing Index.



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Plant A Tree Every Time You Buy A Book: Ecolibris Shows You How

Shannon Arvizu | Friday January 25th, 2008 | 2 Comments

I admit it. I have an amazon addiction. As a researcher and reporter, I’m committed to buying books. I try to buy used when I can, but sometimes I break down and buy new. I wish I had the option to buy the books I want on recycled paper, but unfortunately, that’s not always offered. But now I can buy a planted tree for every book I buy with Ecolibris.

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Aptera: The New Electric Car on the Block

Shannon Arvizu | Friday January 25th, 2008 | 3 Comments

aptera.jpg Electric car entrepreneurs are really starting to gather momentum this year. Joining the ranks of the Tesla and the Phoenix, the Aptera intends to begin production in late 2008. What makes the Aptera stand out (in addition to its unique aerodynamic design), is its versatility and price. The Aptera is available in two models: a plug-in electric hybrid model ($29, 900) and an all-electric model ($26, 900). Individuals and organizations can reserve an Aptera today for $500 on their website. Talk about a sleek car to slap a corporate logo on for instant green-cred!

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CDP Initiative Aims to Establish Carbon Reporting Across the Supply Chain

| Thursday January 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

ppp028-pollutioncoalplantthailand.jpg Eleven of the world’s largest corporations have agreed to measure carbon dioxide emissions of several hundred companies in their supply chains as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project. The data will be used to develop comprehensive strategies to reduce CO2 emissions, according to a Jan. 20 CDP media release.
Each member of the CDP’s Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration (SCLC) will ask as many as 50 suppliers to complete a standardized request for information, one that is undergoing review and testing during this year’s first quarter. The CDP is aiming to substantially enhance the ability of large companies, as well as their supply chain partners, to develop carbon footprint reduction strategies by enlarging SCLC membership and eventually having tens of thousands of supply chain partners participate in the process.
“The Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration is a key step towards a unified business approach to climate change. By bringing together the purchasing authority of some of the largest companies in the world, CDP will encourage suppliers to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions. This will enable large companies to work towards managing their total carbon footprint, as the first step to reducing the total carbon footprint is to measure its size,” CDP CEO Paul Dickinson stated.

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Eco-Patent Commons Helps Spur Innovation

| Wednesday January 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has teamed up with IBM, Nokia, Sony, and Pitney-Bowes in an “Eco-Patent Commons” program based on the model of the creative commons.

Initially putting a select group of about 31 patents into the public domain, the intent is for more companies to pledge patents designed to foster greater innovation and environmental benefit. A win-win situation for all, it seems.

This short video describes in greater detail the project and some of the initial patents pledged to the program:


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The MS Beluga Skysails Leaves Port on her Maiden Commercial Voyage

| Tuesday January 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

MS Beluga Skysails sets out on its maiden commercial voyageLast month I wrote about an innovative idea from SkySailsof Hamburg Germany set to make shipping more energy efficient while reducing carbon emissions (merchant shipping accounts for some 800 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year): A computer controlled, deployable kite system that harnesses the wind and, under ideal circumstances, can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% – a very old idea utlizing the latest technology.

To update the story, the MS Beluga Skysails set sail today from the northern Germany port of Bremerhaven on her maiden commercial voyage, carrying parts for wind turbines (ironically enough) to Guanta Venezuela.

The voyage is the first of a series of practical tests in which SkySails hopes to fully prove their system to the wider shipping industry.

We’ll keep an eye on the Beluga Skysails as the voyage progresses.

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Wind Energy Grows 45% in 2007

| Tuesday January 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

American Wind Energy Association reports 45% growth in 2007The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported last week record growth in wind power generation with 5,244 megawatts of capacity installed in 2007 – a 45% increase reflecting $9 billion in investment and 30% of all new power generating capacity in 2007.

2008, however, will likely show growing pains as there is a current shortage of wind turbines, a situation that the AWEA sees as a big opportunity for manufacturers and entrepreneurs wishing to get in on a growing market. There’s always a better mouse trap – wind energy technology is ripe for imaginative innovators to not only fill the current need for parts, but to continually make those parts better.

It is also time for government to step up to the plate and push forward in support of alternative energy in a big way. Congress is debating this week the future of alternative energy tax credits set to expire this year with no current provision for renewal.

While the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 recently signed in Congress does provide $2 billion dollars in research for alternative energy, it still pales in comparison to subsidies given the fossil fuel industry.

Farmers also have a great opportunity to capitalize on wind power generation, “growing” energy from wind and leaving their corn for food instead of ethanol. After all, not all alternative energy is created equal.




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Israel and Renault/Nissan Team Up to Bring Electric Cars to the Masses

Shannon Arvizu | Monday January 21st, 2008 | 2 Comments

photo_shai_agassi.jpgIsrael and Renault/Nissan announced today that they will work together, as part of Project Better Place, to create a market and an infrastructure for the mass production of electric vehicles. This move is a testament to the potential of sustainable development when the political will and entrepreneurial spirit are in place.

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