Smart Highways Have Arrived

smart-higheway-lights

It might look like something out of a sci-fi movie, but a Dutch engineering firm has successfully created a “smart highway” with glow-in-the-dark roads. The smart highway was demoed on 500 meters of road in the Netherlands last week, and showed promise for expanding the use of technology to other areas.

Beyond just looking awesome, the roads will make driving at night safer, while also eliminating (or at least, greatly reducing) the need for streetlights.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Reducing Business Energy Costs

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It is possible for each business to make changes in order to reduce energy costs. Changes may consist of investments on a large scale or for some more frugal businesses, the green standard may come by way of subtle changes. Regardless, green standards in the work environment or within the domestic environment are necessary in order to reduce pollution and make the planet a healthier place to live for future generations.

Practical Energy Tip Number One: Attain useful advice from an energy auditor.

Many businesses find seeking out the recommendations of experts the best way to effect cost-savings as it pertains to their energy usage. The frugal business owner is advised to contact his or her local utility company to determine if the utility will provide either a free evaluation or an evaluation at a reasonable cost. The evaluation supplied by the Utility provides you with energy and cost saving measures particular to your business operation. Once at the business location, the auditor evaluates: energy needs of the business; energy usage of the commercial enterprise, and ways which energy and money can be saved.

Managers who are very green conscious may wish to take matters one step further. There are many online energy saving calculators available for use. In order to make use of an energy calculator, all that is need is for you to plug in the necessary information relative to the business enterprise. Once the information is plugged in: you are provided with relative recommendations how your business can specifically save energy; inclusive of a projection of any upfront costs with respect to implementing the energy savings.

Also, a value is provided as to how much your business can save, over time, in the implementation of certain energy-saving changes. A figure is provided how much the business can save energy-wise over time too. An energy saving calculator is found at the link www.energyguide.com.

Practical Energy Tip Number Two: Implement ways to cut down on energy usage within a commercial enterprise on a day-to-day basis.

There are an abundance of simple ideas that managers can use in order to assure energy usage and costs are kept to a minimum. This is another area the green style manager may wish to make changes.

  1. Change your light bulbs to the energy efficient models. Specifically-speaking, the energy saving bulbs are referred to as CFLs which stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamps. Also, install Light Emitting Diodes referred to as LEDs.
  2. Make it a point to install Motion Detectors which shut off lights automatically in portions of the building where business activity is not conducted on a regular basis.
  3. When lights are not being used: turn them off.
  4. Make it a point to use the natural light from the sun by installing skylights.
  5. Install power strips, which make it possible to unplug a number of computers and printers simultaneously and at day’s end.
  6. Install a thermostat that is programmable.
  7. As much as possible, replace old-style appliances with energy efficient appliances.
  8. Install faucets providing a low flow, toilets which also provide a low flow and other type items within employee restrooms.
  9. A water heater providing energy efficiency is another recommended installation.
  10. Make certain to combine delivery trips, if you use a vehicle for such use. Use a GPS system known as a Global Positioning System in order to travel a route which is the shortest distance from point a to point b and in order to practice avoidance of heavy traffic. The preceding measure will assure you do not spend as much on gasoline.

Practical Energy Tip Number Three: Make use of new technology in order to reduce energy related costs

Commercial Enterprises are wise to make use of new forms of technology in the reduction of Energy Costs. In example, a Web Camera and software allows commercial enterprises to hold virtual-style meetings. The virtual style meeting allows persons involved in the meeting to save time and money. The associated cost of gasoline is decreased; and by staying in and conducting a virtual meeting, no harm with regard to pollution results from driving to and from meetings; flying to the client’s location or visiting internal employees at other office locations.

The business manager also can take advantage of the newest technology in order to establish work arrangements, which prove flexible and beneficial to their employees as well as cost-effective. In example, two or three members of staff may work from home on certain days. By allowing certain employees to work from home money is saved in way of overhead costs and the equipment supplied in order to have employees work in-house.

Practical Energy Tip Number Four: Educate members of staff about green-style initiatives

Education is a very important component of green style initiatives as it relates to Energy Saving policy-making. Make it known to your employees that you would like to enforce certain energy saving policies and guidelines within the work environment. Invite members of staff to provide ideas on how to cut energy costs even further. The issue of energy reduction and cost-savings must be approached with a positive and sincere attitude. The majority of work teams are more than pleased to offer possible green style solutions and ideas to their department managers and supervisors.

Practical Energy Tip Number Five: Add new space or construct new buildings making use of energy saving materials, devices, and systems

Any business that intends on increasing its operation by way of new construction is wise to plan the new building or space, assuring energy conservation measures are put into place. In fact, energy conservation measures with respect to any type of new construction must become a top priority. Placing energy conservation elements within the new construction will save you a great deal of money in the long run. The following materials and items are suggested when constructing any green style building:

Use drywall, which is thick, in order to prevent any cooling loss or heat from escaping the structure. Install skylights in order to take advantage of the natural light of the sun. Make use of a low energy light system and install solar panels.

In conclusion, there are literally hundreds of ways to reduce energy usage and in effect cause a reduction to the energy bill. Some green-style initiatives cost nearly zero while other measures are quite a bit more costly. You may wish, when building, to consult a builder who has a great deal of experience in building green. Whatever you decide initially, there is nothing to prevent you from continuing to add to energy reduction measures within the working environment.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Green Engineering @ 2014 Winter Olympics

green-olympics

The Sochi Olympic games provided a sporting spectacle that the entire world was able to enjoy, centering around a town in southern Russia where athletes from many countries gathered. There were events like ski jumping, snowboarding, bobsledding and many others. These were not things for which the Sochi area was already prepared, so billions of dollars were spent to build new facilities and buildings. Some of these structures were built to accommodate the games themselves, while others were built to house all of the athletes who were competing. A lot of media attention focused on how much money was spent, but not nearly enough focused on the green technologies that were used in the building projects.

Zero Waste

When the games were first announced for Sochi, the Russian government released a statement saying that they wanted the Olympics to create zero waste. They really wanted everything to work in harmony with nature, rather than destroying nature in an effort to create all of the things that were needed. This made a lot of sense for the Olympic games since the winter games tend to focus so much on outdoor activities, such as cross country skiing. There were many shots of the beautiful mountain backdrop, and Russia wanted to compliment this setting with green building practices.

New Standards

This focus marked a huge turning point for Russia as a nation, as this was the first time that these green standards had been used in the country. Everything from energy consumption to trash creation was considered. It sets a precedent for the future, which could really be beneficial in the long run. Some of the structures were designed to house future events, such as the World Cup, so these green standards could come into play for far more sporting events in the area in years to come.

Water Conservation

For example, one system that was set up was a rainwater usage system to help to conserve water. Rather than relying entirely on wells, like most places do, the Olympic venues were designed with a system that collected rainwater, filtered it out, and used it in many different functions. While drinking water was still pulled from wells to ensure that it was clean and safe enough for consumption, other things, such as toilets, could be operated on rainwater. This meant less energy consumption and less waste of water with the influx of people.

Environmentally Friendly Building Materials

For many of the structures, environmentally friendly building materials were used during construction. This included many materials that were made from recycled items. This could not be done in all situations, of course, but it was done as much as possible so that waste from other projects could be put to good use on this extensive project.

Heat Recovery

Of course, having this many people in these huge venues during the winter meant that a lot of energy had to be used to heat the buildings. To make this less wasteful, heat recovery systems were used, along with advanced heating and cooling systems that were designed for efficiency. This made it possible to give everyone a safe and comfortable environment without the massive spending on oil and gas that would have been needed without these system. This was done both to save money and to reduce the environmental impact of the games.

The Green Games

In the end, the green tactics used in Russia had a huge impact because of the scope of the event. Savings on water, heating and electricity grew to huge proportions with extensive use, and many recycled building materials were used on dozens of giant structures.

Managing Green Data Centers

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Businesses everywhere are going green and becoming more interested in environmentally-friendly ways to accomplish things. This can be seen all across the world, in all industries, and it has even made it into schools. Data centers are no exception. When managing a green data center, there are many different components that have to come together to reduce the environmental impact of the center itself. For example, the Green Data Center at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, is one of the most environmentally friendly data centers that you can find in the entire world. The building looks boring and nondescript from the outside, but the advancements inside are dramatic.

New Buildings

One thing about green data centers is that they often have to be built in new buildings, as old ones are just too outdated to support the technologies that are going to be used. In some cases, these outdated building may be hindering the efficiency of the data center as a whole, so it is actually worth it to relocate. Construction is never great for the environment, but these new structures will actually be better for the environment in the long run than continuing to limp along in older buildings.

Advanced Cooling Systems

Many data centers rely on standard heating and cooling systems, which use a lot of energy and tend to be very wasteful. The servers produce a lot of heat when they are running, and using forced air to cool them down is not a good way to do things. As a result, a green data center is going to have a special cooling unit installed – the one at Syracuse stands out on the roof of the building – that is designed to efficiently cool the servers. Older technologies that were designed to cool people and spaces just cannot keep up with the demand.

Going Off of the Grid

Another interesting thing that is often done is that a green data center will run completely off of the electrical grid. Rather than hooking up to the city’s electrical system, generators will be brought in that run off of things like natural gas. These generators were originally used just to back up the data center in case there was a power outage and the grid failed. These days, a handful of efficient generators are enough to keep the entire center running so they only have to switch over to the grid if there is a problem.

One of the largest impacts of this is that energy conversions are not needed. The grid is going to use AC power at a high voltage. A computer, however, has to run on DC power at a low voltage. This means that a traditional data center has to convert all of the electricity that comes into the building so that it can be used at all. A lot of energy is wasted during this process. The generators, however, can be set up to produce exactly the type of energy that is needed, taking the conversion out of the equation and saving as much as 10 percent on energy costs.

Using All Energy

Finally, the trademark of a green data center is wasting nothing. The center should use heat-capture systems that take the heat from the exhaust that is created by the natural gas generators, which are creating the electricity, and use that heat to produce hot water. This energy would have been wasted otherwise, so this is essentially “free” hot water. Systems like this allow all of the energy to be used so that there is less waste and less need for fuel.


William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes how to manage a green data center and aims to encourage further study with a masters of engineering management online.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Natural Gas Vehicle Technology

natural-gas

Natural gas is being used by more than half of all household in the U.S. to heat their homes, as well as to power various appliances, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and furnaces. This widespread use of natural gas in American households is mostly due to the fact that it’s much cheaper than electricity and other energy sources. It’s a very clean and abundant energy source, which are only some of its benefits, so the question is why it hasn’t been used to power cars, in addition to powering household appliances.

The Natural Gas Coalition estimates that there are only 130,000 CNG vehicles on U.S. roads today. There are a couple of reasons why natural gas vehicles are not commonplace, including the limited fueling stations and the high purchase price, but there are a few automakers, such as Honda and General Motors, that are looking to change that, trying to build affordable vehicles that run on natural gas.

Just like conventional vehicles, natural gas vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine, but it uses compressed natural gas, instead of gasoline. In addition to the engine, these vehicles are equipped with another tank where the compressed gas is stored. The car still has a fuel injection system, and it can run on gasoline or diesel, as well, if the driver chooses to turn the stop drawing fuel from the CNG tank and switch to the other tank.

One of the main downsides of CNG vehicles is sheer size of CNG tanks, which are quite bigger than gasoline tanks, and are usually mounted in a car’s trunk, reducing its cargo capacity to a great extent. Also, these CNG tanks are quite expensive to manufacture, which contributes largely to the high production costs of natural gas vehicles. As far as range is concerned, they may have an edge over other alternative fuel vehicles, as they can go over 200 miles before they need to be refueled, but it’s still far from the capabilities of gasoline-powered cars, that can travel about 350 miles on a full tank. This, along with the fact they are not zero-emission vehicles, makes them less environmentally-friendly than electric and hybrid cars. However, they are much cleaner than conventional vehicles, as their CO2 emission levels are about 20% lower than cars powered by diesel or gasoline.

Currently, there are just few signs of the much needed governmental support and there are only a handful of car manufacturers that are putting an effort into building natural gas-powered vehicles. Honda, which already offers one such vehicle on the market, and General Motors, which plans to do the same thing in 2015. Honda is the only company that sells a CNG vehicle at the moment – the CNG Civic, which costs about $26,600, and qualifies for a $3,000 fuel credit. GM, for their part, intends to launch a CNG version of the Chevrolet Impala in 2015, but they are expected to build less than 1,000 units. Even so, these car makers are taking serious steps for promoting natural gas cars, hoping that they will encourage consumers to adopt these alternative fuel vehicles.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Money: The Reason We Aren’t 100% Solar YET

solar-every-house

Solar energy from our Sun is constantly bombarding us, even at night – we just can’t see it because of our planet’s orbit and rotation.

So how come we don’t have solar panels on every rooftop harnessing the natural renewable energy of the Sun?

Money.

Not the cost to you, those costs have dropped significantly over the years as more companies start-up to compete for your solar installation dollars. And government programs across Canada, the United States and Europe lessen the financial burden of turning your roof into a green energy source.

It’s the lost money the electrical utilities lose, as you edge ever close to being off the grid.

And it is that massive electrical grid to blame.

A report from the Canadian Electrical Association, conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, claims it will cost about $294 billion over the next 20 years to maintain the nation’s electrical system. That’s an electrifying $15 billion every year, until 2030.

In the United States, the numbers are just as staggering.

According to the American-based Electrical Power Research Institute, it could cost $476 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade the States to their nationwide smart grid.

Keeping you and your neighbors on the electrical grid, doesn’t just keep you burning fossil fuels or smashing electrons together to generate nuclear energy, it also pays those billions of dollars needed to keep the electrical grid running.

The United States has the largest electrical grid in the world, with 3,200 utilities, connected to 2.7 million miles of power lines, selling about $400 billion worth of electricity annually – mostly from burning fossil fuels, such as coal.

With the billions it costs to maintain our electrical systems, you’d think we’d all have gone solar. Again, it comes down to money.

Regulators set the rates utility companies may charge their customers, based on the number of customers, the costs of generating the power and the costs of managing and maintaining the infrastructure that it takes to get that generated power to those customers.

However, when you install a solar power system, you effectively become your own utility company, and return excess power to the grid.

This means the utility company has to cut you a cheque for the power you generated. This is called “network metering,” and most utility companies hate it, because although they are rightly paying you for your added energy to their system, they still have to pay the billions to maintain the grid, which isn’t something you or your neighbors pay to use when you generate your own power.

This sort of logic is used by electrical utilities to justify raising their rates. They claim, the more people switching to solar, the more money they need to charge to cover the added cost of these independent power sources using their electrical grid.

Ironically, as electrical rates increase, people look for alternatives, so they are more likely to switch to solar power, another alternative such as wind, or even simply use less electricity.

Which means the electrical companies have to raise their rates even more, just to maintain their enormous infrastructure.

Electrical grids cost billions to maintain because they haven’t been ungraded much since Thomas Edison first invented the light bulb.

Americans are paying about 43 percent more to maintain the power grids than they did in 2002, yet the grid has become less reliable, with blackouts taking 20 percent longer to repair.

Power grid costs have risen twice as fast as the rate of inflation.

It doesn’t make sense to have enormously costly power grids. However, having your own solar generation capability makes perfect sense.

As solar panel technology improves, even in low light conditions, they are still able to generate power. And as the costs continue to fall to install solar power systems, from the increased competition of installers and from government incentives, we may live in a world where neighborhood blackouts never occur – because everyone generates their own power.

This isn’t too far from reality, according to Navigant Research, which monitors clean energy trends. They say worldwide revenue from the installation of solar power systems will climb to $112 billion annually in 2018.

Some areas of the States could see “grid parity” – when residential solar is equal in cost to power from a utility — within three years, and the rest could follow in a decade or less. Navigant released a report, that says by the end of 2020 solar will be competitively priced against retail electricity, without government subsidies, in a significant portion of the world.

So the future may be bright for solar, as we rid ourselves of the expensive power grids strung across our cities and towns.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Rechargable Battery Technology

battery-energizer

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, about 70% of American carbon dioxide emissions are generated from two sectors, transportation and power production. The other 30% or so comes from industry, commercial, residential, and agriculture. US President Obama suggests that, to clean up carbon dioxide emissions and assure energy independence, the US needs to focus on an “all of the above” strategy.

This strategy doesn’t really do much, however, to address the problems we’re facing, regarding increasing carbon dioxide emissions, which is arguably the more serious. If we focus on natural gas extraction and opening up more domestic oil drilling, that may reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. On the other hand, it does nothing for our emissions.

Cleaning up power plants, which account for about 38% of emissions, helps reduce our carbon footprint. Still, this would only reduce emissions by mere percentage points and still leave us dependent on fossil fuels, both domestic and international. Regarding the transportation sector, which accounts for about 31% of national emissions, improving fuel economy, by partial electrification or better internal combustion engine technology, still only counts for single digits in percentage points.

Renewable Energy, On the Rise

To really tackle the problems of carbon dioxide emissions and energy independence, at the same time even, then drastic measures need to be taken. Really, just two technologies would solve at least 70% of American emissions: rechargeable battery technology and renewable energy.

Actually, the use of renewable energy in the US has been on the rise, but there’s a problem. It hasn’t been replacing any fossil fuel technologies. Rather, this increase in renewable energy utilization has merely been keeping up with increasing energy demands.

Of course, part of the problem with renewable energy has to do with intermittency, that is, solar power only works when the sun shines, and hydroelectric power only produces power when there has been enough rain. In California, for example, photovoltaic solar power installations have exceeded 1 GW in capacity, and the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant just went online in Ivanpah, adding an additional 377 MW.

California’s solar power capacity is now about 4.2 GW but, unfortunately, even the Sunshine State has cloudy days, which reduces that capacity and, of course, there is no solar power generation at night. What this means is that California can not free itself of fossil fuels (unless it increases nuclear capacity, why not?).

A True “All of the Above” Solution

Rechargeable battery technology, I believe, is the one technology that can really solve both energy independence and emissions. Grid-scale backup power can keep things running for hours, even days, and nearly eliminate the requirement for fossil fuel power generation. This would also reduce or eliminate the need for petroleum imports. There are limitations at the moment, but technology such as liquid batteries has the potential to go 500 miles on a charge.

The transportation sector can also be switched over to pure electric powertrains, further reducing or eliminating petroleum consumption and, therefore, the need to drill or import the stuff. Because these electric vehicles will recharge on renewable energy, further drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions could be realized.

True, this is all going on, very slowly, and on a small scale, but as long as the federal government is subsidizing fossil fuels instead of focusing on a real long-term solution, I can’t see how it’s going to make a difference.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Eco-Friendly Toys

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When it comes to toys, most parents are aware of how important it is to select age-appropriate products for their little ones. However, there are other issues with toys that go beyond whether they are a choking hazard or not. Most toys, for example, are not made with the environment in mind; in fact, some even contain toxic materials. Green toys are a great option for parents that want to have fun with their children but don’t want to worry about what they are playing with. These tips will help you choose wisely the next time you go toy shopping.

Avoid Plastic

Staying away from plastic is easier said than done; the vast majority of children’s toys are created from it. However, there are a few other options. Look for solid wood toys or items made out of felt, cotton or wool. If you do choose a wooden toy, look for something with a non-toxic finish.

If do decide to bring home a plastic toy, avoid BPA and PVC at all costs. This is particularly true if you think the child will put the toy in his or her mouth. Instead, look for plastics #1, 2, 4 or 5 as they are safer; you should be able to find what kind of plastic the toy was made with by looking at the bottom of the packaging.

Go Battery Free

Batteries present a lot of problems. Non-rechargeable batteries, for example, eventually go bad and wind up in landfills. In addition, batteries are made with toxic metal, which many parents do not want around their children. Toys that are battery-free help stimulate the imagination; they also get kids up and moving because they encourage activity.

Buy Less

Babies and toddlers don’t need much. They often enjoy sitting in the laundry basket or playing with a box. Get creative, and help your little one learn to enjoy what they already have before purchasing a bunch of new toys. Your child likes playing with you, regardless of what you are actually playing with, and the time you spend together is better than any toy. Also, consider swapping toys with your family members and friends. This simple idea is an easy way to make your toy rotation richer without emptying your wallet.

Stay Local

Many eco-conscious parents understand the importance of using local services, like Preventive Pest Control. However, the same concept holds true when it comes to toys. Purchase products made from local companies to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Also, some foreign countries don’t regulate their toys as well as the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. If you do decide to buy from a global company, keep that in mind and stick to the ones that must adhere to stricter regulations.

Shopping for toys sounds easy, but finding safe products that your child will enjoy is actually a bit difficult. However, if you go green, you can’t go wrong. Not only will your child have fun, but you won’t have to worry about what they are playing with. As an added bonus, the Earth benefits from your eco-friendly choices as well.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Making the Data Center Greener

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It takes a lot of energy to make your data center operate at optimal performance. That surge of electricity not only causes high bills but also leads to increased emissions that affect the environment. Large data centers use more than 30 billion kilowatt hours of electrical power in a year, and some use enough electrical energy to power thousands of homes.

For instance, an NSA data center in Utah consumes 65 megawatts of energy, which is more than enough to power 65,000 homes. In addition, it uses 1.5 million gallons of water each day just to cool the servers. No matter the size of your data center, you have to take into consideration the amount of energy you use and how you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Create a plan

Sometimes, you have to spend money to save money. Don’t let the costs deter you from implementing a green data center. Gather your energy bills and find out where you receive your energy and how your data center uses it. Use your baseline findings to calculate your return on investment after you transition to a green data center.

Improve your monitoring

Environmental conditions change both indoors and outdoors. Install interior temperature and heat monitors to know when you need to adjust your system. These monitors give you a way to check for extreme humidity levels and temperature changes, both of which affect servers and downtime. Many of these monitors also have low-power modes for reducing energy consumption.

Implement a better heating and cooling system

Your data center needs an efficient heating and cooling system, from vents and safety plates to blanking panels and floor tiles. Blanking panels insulate your cables and reduce heat loss, and safety plates separate your components and prevent heat buildup. In addition, consider evaporative cooling for your data center. It does away with air conditioning and increases your savings.

Use server virtualization

If you really want to maximize your server resources, go with server virtualization. It partitions your physical server into several virtual servers and masks the resources from the users. Software divides the physical server into various virtual environments called private servers. Server virtualization has many benefits:

  • Every virtual server can run its own operating system.
  • You can independently reboot virtual servers.
  • It requires less hardware, which reduces overall costs.
  • It conserves space.
  • It utilizes resources and saves on operational costs.
  • Use alternative power sources.

Along with evaporative cooling, check out other alternative energy sources. Equip your data center with solar panels. For the energy you don’t use, you can sell it back to the electric company. Research wind energy and heat pumps for an effective way to power your data center while cutting costs.

Redesign your data center

Cut the costs of electricity by implementing more natural light in your data center. Consider adding skylights and more windows. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with eco-friendly LED or CFL bulbs. These bulbs use far less energy than traditional bulbs and last more than 10 times longer. Redesign your floor plan to make the best use of the space.

Cut costs from the outside

Take a look at the U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEED certification requirements for data centers and take steps to get into compliance. Reduce your costs and help the environment by choosing to buy your parts and supplies from eco-friendly companies. If you construct new space in your data center, make sure to use eco-friendly materials, such as recycled wood and plant-based rigid foam for insulation. Invest in low-emission carpet and paint for your data center, and use drought-resistant plants in your landscaping to conserve water.

What are you doing to make your company greener?

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

The Future of Sustainable Buildings

green-roof-top

A new technology in robotics could mean big changes to the ways of the traditional building industry. The TERMES project is a group of small robots that are able to act independently of one another to achieve a common goal, similar to the way that an ant or termite colony work to build a hill out of soil.

Check out this video of the robots at work:

From Gigaom:

The robots work with the help of just four sensors, which keeps their cost down. They are also capable of climbing the height of one brick, which means they can use the bricks as stairs to build very tall structures.

The big idea here is that the robots would be programmed with the final blueprint of what structure needs to be built, and without someone needing to individually program each robot, the structure would be built with very little oversight. Each robot knows what the next step is, based on the progress of the other robots in its team.

When combined with a technology such as 3D printing and the evolution of using sustainable materials in building, the process could eliminate an enormous amount of carbon emissions from the traditional building process.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Nissan Taps Tesla Owners for Info

nissan-leaf-white

Nissan is looking to boost sales of their all-electric model “Leaf” by talking to Tesla owners to find out what they love and what they hate about driving an all-electric vehicle. Nissan hopes to make improvements to its little electric car, making it more of a pleasure to own and operate.

Be-Leaf in Nissan

In 2011 Nissan released the Leaf making it the worlds first all-electric production car. Three years have passed since this release and Nissan has failed to meet their expected sales goal of 20,000 units a year. This would have been easier to do when the Leaf was the only option on the market but now there are several models in direct competition with Nissan.

It’s no secret that the Tesla Model S is the fan favorite among all-electric cars, despite its steep price tag. Nissan has reached out to Tesla owners in the Sacramento area to ask what they think about their Model S. This market study requests that the participants start with a web-based survey, are asked to keep a “driving diary” of their vehicle in everyday life for about a week, and the study ends with a brief interview with Nissan staff.

Nissan is looking for specific information on where and when people charge their vehicles, how often they have it plugged in for, how far it’s driven on a daily basis, and whether a full charge is used everyday. Other inquiries included asking about the features that owners like and dislike about their Tesla Model S.

Most agree that it’s fair to assume Nissan is doing all of this to improve their current all-electric model but some have suggested that Nissan may be on a mission to knock Tesla off of its high horse where it dominates the higher-end of the electric vehicle market.

High-End Competition

Nissan/Infiniti has shown us several concepts for higher-end electric cars such as the Infinity LE all-electric luxury vehicle but with a range of just under 100 miles, there is no way to compete with the Tesla Model S that boasts a range of three times more than that. Not to mention that when this Infinity model was brought to the Goodwood Festival in England and put on the track, it totally embarrassed itself by breaking down in front of spectators which is probably the reason why Nissan/Infinity has yanked this concept from future production.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Toyota’s Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging

toyota-wireless

Though it’s something that Nissan has been familiar with for quite some time, Toyota is now beginning to test wireless charging systems for its plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

According to Toyota,

The charging system uses magnetic-resonance technology, which transmits electricity by utilizing the magnetic resonance resulting from changes in magnetic field intensity between a coil on the ground that transmits and a coil on the vehicle that receives. The system can reduce drops in power transmission efficiency that can be caused by misalignment or height differences between the transmitting coil and receiving coil.

Would the introduction of wireless charging increase your chances of buying a Toyota EV model for your next purchase?

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

3D Printing: How Green Is It?

3d-printing-mold

Despite being established in the 1980s, it is only in recent years that 3D printing has had a major impact on our day-to-day lives. Nowadays, we can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV without being greeted with another new development that is steadily revolutionising our how we live.

But, how environmentally friendly is 3D printing? In this post, we’ll be taking a look at just how green the newest craze in the world of technology can be.

Materials

In traditional manufacturing processes, raw materials like iron and steel feature heavily. These materials have been used in the process for many years, but are often detrimental to the environment as they come from core, using up the earth’s resources.

3D printing, however, is greener in this sense as it often makes use of plastic. Once created, this is much more favourable to the environment as it can easily be recycled.

In an effort to be kinder to the environment, many manufacturers are making the switch from traditional methods. For example, companies like Omega Plastics, which specialises in injection moulding, is welcoming 3D printing into its business.

 

Distribution

Shipping products around the globe can be very costly, while also generating a hefty carbon footprint. Whether it’s by air or car, it all contributes to our carbon emissions.

However, 3D printing works to minimise this. Designs for products can be quickly and easily sent to different locations via email, before being printed onsite, lessening the environmental impact of distribution.

 

Food production

According to Nature.com, agricultural food production accounts for around one third of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, 3D printing could be the solution to lowering emissions created by the agricultural industry.

Back in 2012, The Guardian published an article about meat that had been scientifically created in a laboratory. Produced from cow stem cells, this type of food manufacturing results in a 96 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases, as well as taking up just one per cent of the land currently used for agricultural purposes.

Although this concept is still being investigated as a plausible alterative to food production, there is potential for 3D printing to transform the way we produce meat, making it a quicker and much more environmentally-friendly process, with far-reaching benefits.

This isn’t the only way that food production has been affected: Gizmag recently published a story about developments that could allow astronauts to enjoy pizza in space. Take a look at a video of this impressive process here.

As we continue to learn more about 3D printing, food production, as well as other industries, are sure to become even greener.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

BMW’s Laser Light Technology

bmw-laser-light

When talking about lasers, most people would only think of scenes from their favorite sci-fi movies but BMW has brought this futuristic technology into the present day. The new BMW i8 will come equipped with a set of “Laser Light” headlights that use lasers to emit a beam that’s more powerful than the newest LED technology.

BMW has designed this new technology for the new i8 hybrid sports car, which is set to go on sale in the near future. Aside from looking very cool and super sleek, these new headlights have several benefits to their use.

More Efficient, Smaller, and Brighter

They use less energy than traditional headlamps used today which is a huge deal for any car that is powered either fully or in part by electric drive as power must be conserved as much as possible to allow further travel in the vehicle.

They take up less space in the front of the vehicle as the surface needed to reflect the laser beam is a fraction of the size required for LED or traditional lights, another huge victory for hybrid cars as space for the necessary systems always seems to be limited.

The last benefit is that these laser lights shine brighter and further than any other options currently on the market today. These laser lights can shine up to 600 meters in front of the car compared to the 300-meter capability of LED headlights. Leave it to BMW to design something that is smaller, uses less energy but is more powerful than the status quo.

Safety Concerns

The public has raised concerns about these cars shining their laser headlights into the eyes of oncoming drivers but BMW has dealt with this issue very carefully. The blue laser is first reflected off a series of mirrors that direct the beam into a lens filled with yellow phosphorus gas. When the blue laser meets the yellow gas, the result is a super bright white light that can be focused to a finer point than traditional headlamps. With this process, BMW assures us that these fancy new lights will not damage the eyes of those who look upon them.

The BMW i8 will be the first vehicle available for purchase to utilize this laser light technology, making BMW a trailblazer yet again in the world of automotive advancements. I don’t think I’m the only one looking forward to seeing these lights and this car in action on city streets after the sun has set.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal