Electric Vehicles Poised for Huge 2014 Growth

electric-car-yellow

While sales of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles have taken a downturn in the beginning of this year, analysts are saying it won’t last long. 2014 is set to be the year where electric vehicles gain numbers and the approval of the buying public. An analyst at IHS Automotive predicts that the sales of EV’s will rise by up to 67% this year due to a number of key factors.

Batteries

As we start to seriously mass-produce the batteries required for electric vehicles, we create necessary competition with the handful of companies who make them. With each of these companies battling for the best contracts with automakers, the result is reduced cost for the public when battery manufacturers try to undercut each other with lower prices.

Dealership Price Drops

Electric vehicles such as the popular Nissan Leaf have reduced their sticker price by $6,000 over the last few years. Several other automakers have done the same with their hybrid and plug-in models largely due to the reduced cost from battery suppliers. The dealerships that aren’t lowering their prices are making up for it by offering attractive lease and finance rates, which always seems to capture the public’s attention.

New Models

This year will see several automakers who were previously absent from the hybrid/plug-in race join the fight against gas such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen. The result of this will have those who are still brand-loyal to certain companies turn their heads to look at what the future has to offer in the way off new car technology. In addition to the new models being released, the two top selling EV’s (Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf) will be increasing the amount they manufacture this year.

New Markets

Companies like Tesla Motors are set to start selling their all-electric vehicles in more countries around the world. The most significant of which is the massive Chinese auto market that is sure to cause Tesla’s stock and volume to rise along with its popularity.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Apple’s New Spaceship Campus

apple-Campus-2

It could be Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy, or his biggest donut.

The usually energetic founder of Apple looked frail and weak, as he made his initial presentation to Cupertino’s city council seeking approval for a gigantic new home for Apple’s headquarters on June 7, 2011.

Suffering from pancreatic cancer, his charismatic charm during that summer meeting shone through as he quipped with one local politician. The councillor asked Jobs if they granted him permission to build his dream office, would his company provide the city with free Wi-Fi.

Jobs jokingly said if Apple didn’t have to pay taxes any more, then they could talk about providing free WiFi.

Four months later, the iconic leader of one of the most recognized brands on the planet succumb to his illness. Steve Jobs died October 5, 2011. He was 56.

Steve Jobs changed the world through innovative and imaginative tech. From the first iPod in 2001, to the launch of iTunes later that year, to the first iPhone in 2007, Apple’s devices changed the world.

Although Jobs is gone, his dream building is alive and starting to take shape.

In December 2013, construction began on the massive 176-acre site in the South Bay City, of Cupertino, California.

Officially called “Apple 2,” it’s known as the “Apple Spaceship Campus” because the primary building is completely round, and appears to be a spaceship from above.

Designed Norman Foster, known for the bullet-shaped Gherkin in London and the restoration of the Reichstag in Berlin, the four-story donut-shaped building will house 13,000 Apple engineers and designers.

Hidden off the southern edge of the campus is Apple’s top secret research and development facility, and on the other side of the campus, a 1,000-seat underground auditorium will hold press launches for journalists clamoring for the latest Apple product announcements.

 

Whether Jobs’ vision, to create a workplace that encourages creative sharing of ideas remains to be seen. The concept has already been panned by other well respected architects for not being modular as current, more traditional office spaces are.

Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy could be creating a workplace that is designed with the environment in mind. Or it could be his biggest donut, that crumbles and fails to deliver.

Jobs and his design team didn’t design a new corporate campus, they set out to build a park.

The 90,000 square-foot cafeteria allows employees to stroll the surrounding parkland on both the inside and the outside of the giant ring.

David Muffly, Apple’s Senior Arborist and his team, have sculpted the surrounding area like a skilled artist, every plant is planned.

Near the giant fountain a cluster of Apple trees, by the entrance to the cafeteria there are cherry, plum and apricot trees, with persimmons adding color. A dense forest is planned to circle the outside to provide privacy, and there will be green spaces of lawns, gardens and other natural environments all throughout the campus.

According to plans, when the campus is completed in 2016, it will be 80 percent landscape – an increase from the current 20 percent. They plan to increase the number of trees from 4,500 to 7,000.

Muffly, in his nineties, says the idea is to bring California back to Cupertino.

Keeping with the environmental nature of Apple’s new home, the spaceship campus is to be powered entirely by renewable energy.

On-site fuel cell plants and solar photovoltaic arrays on the roof are to provide most of the power. Natural ventilation and radiant cooling will keep the spaceship off traditional air conditioning for 70 percent of the year.

Lisa Jackson left her gig running the American government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take the lead in designing Apple’s renewable energy systems.

Apple CampusThis could be Steve Jobs greatest legacy, or his biggest donut, because keeping the lights on in a 2.8 million square foot spaceship-like building using nothing but renewable energy is something that’s never been done.

The $3 to $5 billion USD price tag to build Steve Jobs’ dream has bold plans, however, little has been made public about the technology envisioned to power the giant spaceship and it’s neighboring structures on the campus.

In theory, it is possible – however powering such a massive structure this way has never been done.

If it works, Steve Jobs will have a far bigger legacy than changing the world through Apple gadgets. He will have proved that it is possible to design our living and working spaces in conjunction with the ecosystems in which we live. That it is possible to reduce our impact on the planet, by living within green spaces that use renewable non-polluting energy sources.

If it doesn’t work, it’ll be the biggest donut visible from space on the planet.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Will Tesla Make the Auto Mechanic Obsolete?

tesla-logo-wallThere are just six parts of a Tesla Model S that must be regularly replaced: the four tires plus the two wiper blades.

The all-electric sedan made in California doesn’t need the gamut of moving parts found in internal combustion engines. That means no valves, camshafts, crankshaft, cylinders or ignition system. There aren’t any connecting rods, clutches or gears, either, nor any need for belts and pulleys, oil filters, spark plugs, mufflers, oxygen sensors or air filters. The list goes on.

It’s a little known feature of all battery electric vehicles: simplicity of design and ultralight maintenance. Car owners are estimated to spend half as much on the care of electric vehicles compared to their dinosaur juice-sipping counterparts, according to the Center for Automotive Research. Why is there such a gap?

Design Differences

Internal combustion engines are inherently complex. They require hundreds and, lately, thousands of specialized components to safely convert fossil fuels into motion via cycles of controlled explosions. And the more ‘modern’ traditional cars get, the more complicated their guts are, and the less friendly to DIY repairs.

Most drivers have grown accustomed to regular oil changes, filter switches, radiator flushes, exhaust system replacements and smog checks. These habits were carefully cultivated by generations of car owners to help the high-maintenance gas engine do its job.

Electric vehicles (EVs), in stark contrast, emphasize self-reliance. The design of an electric propulsion system is elegantly simple, pared down to the basics: a propulsion motor, radiator fans, speed controller fans and, sometimes, a coolant pump. Cars made by Tesla Motors have but one moving part: the rotor. Fewer electronic components are needed, and with regenerative braking, the brake pads in EVs last many times longer than those in traditional cars.

How to Maintain a Tesla

Electric vehicles are easier to own. High-end battery electric cars like Tesla’s cost more up front, but over the long term, serious savings add up alongside some undeniable perks. There is hardly a learning curve on maintenance intervals. Tesla recommends a single annual checkup for its cars to make sure everything is in good working order. Routine software updates are instantly accessible through each Model’s onboard touchscreen.

But what if something does go wrong? Tesla cars are designed for self-monitoring; the car itself will let you know about any problems in a timely fashion. Some maintenance can even be done remotely. If not, you can always call for a ‘Tesla Ranger’ to come to you and troubleshoot the problem on-site. Otherwise, simply head to your local Tesla Service Center.

Need a loaner vehicle? The manufacturer will dispatch one to your house, free of charge. 24-hour roadside assistance is part of the package, too. All of this is available in the basic service contract. And with prepaid in-house repairs for Tesla owners, the company’s eco-friendly cars won’t be filling mechanics’ garages any time soon.

 

The Repair Economy

The century-old car maintenance industry grew up around the tuning, repair and routine care of vehicles that depend on the smooth operation of an internal combustion engine. Understandably, many consumers seek an escape from this web of sunk costs, and EVs seem a promising way out.

The lack of mechanical overhead is a major driving force behind the blooming U.S. EV market. Tesla Motors’ small, sophisticated lineup of roadsters and sedans continues to lead the pack. Could the simplicity of the electric drivetrain smash the market for car maintenance? Will electric vehicles undermine the auto repair economy as swiftly as the Internet hobbled the newspaper business? Only time will tell.

Whether or not you enjoy the smell of motor oil in the morning, there’s no doubt that repair costs negatively affect the average consumer’s bottom line. There’s a reason Silicon Valley startup Tesla is a feared and respected disruptor of the automotive status quo. With a product that renders obsolete nearly all the hassle and expense of car repairs, mechanics indeed have a good reason to worry.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

3D Printing Can Save Our Planet

makerbot-machine

Star Trek science fiction may be closer to reality, as three-dimensional printers may turn our junk into mobile phone cases, tasty treats, and even space ships.

Fans of the famous 1960’s Star Trek series are already familiar with the television show’s replicator technology, which replicated tools, spare parts, and even food and drinks.

Technology hasn’t gone so far as to instantly combine molecular matter into our every wish, as the replicators in the Star Trek universe have. However, 3D printing technology is making it possible to manufacture tools, spare parts and even food – much of it from wasted materials recycled in the printing process.

Well, maybe not recycled in the printing process of food – yuck!

Imagine feeding your old smartphone case into a 3D printer at home, and getting a brand new smartphone case which you designed.Researchers at Michigan Technological University have successfully been able to shred and melt old plastic into the “ink” used in their Filabot 3D printer, to print physical objects. The Filabot can shred 4-inch pieces of thermoplastics such as ABS, HDPE and LDPE, and then melt it down before funneling it through changeable nozzles. The researchers say they can’t use PVC plastics or vinyl because of their toxicity, but do say their 3D printer uses a fraction of the energy to recycle the plastics it can use, to produce the filament used in the printing process.

Or you could turn any compatible plastic item just lying around taking up space, into just about anything else you need, be it a technological fashion statement, a tool, or a toy.

Recycling plastics for use in 3D printers removes these plastics from the waste stream, but also makes the technology more economical.

Current 3D printing devices are expensive, running in price from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, just for the actual printer. Then you have to add the cost of the materials that printer uses to print with, typically a plastic resin, which costs about $50 to $500 per kilogram depending on the type.

Last May, researchers from a handful of Asian and American-based companies spent six days at a conference trying to figure out if 3D printers could go green. The researchers concluded that ultimately, to make the technology completely environmentally friendly, the filaments used in the printing process must also be biodegradable as well as recycled.

Well, you can’t please everyone – however if you have a sweet tooth you may find a use for 3D printers.

ChefJet 3D Printed Food

ChefJet 3D Printed Food

For about $1,300 you can get the Foodini, a 3D printer which can print pasta, chocolate, and even a whole pizza. Later this year, ChefJet will launch a 3D printer which creates sugar-based geometric shapes, which can be used to top a cake, or as funky candy on their own. The ChefJet spreads fine layers of sugar, and then uses an inkjet print head to paint that sugar with water. This recrystallizes the sugar into a hardened 3-dimensional object. The ChefJet has two models, the smaller version is $5,000 and the larger cake-sized version will be about $10,000 when it is released later this year.

3D printers are a long way from providing our every need with environmentally friendly materials. The technology is improving, and they have printers that use recycled plastics, and even foodstuffs like sugar, but we don’t see 3D printers which can combine filament types. How many things around your home are made solely from plastic?

In order for 3D printers to be useful in the home, they must be able to use multiple materials, to enable us to make the items we need. It’s great to be able to design and print a remote control to replace the one the dog ate. However, the remote control has various metals and other components, which need to be printable too, not just the plastic resins which make the case and the buttons.

Leave it to NASA to find a use for 3D printers that is out of this world.

The American government’s National Aeronautics Space Agency (NASA) is experimenting with 3D printers that use laser-melted titanium and nickel-chromium powders to build space-strength metal objects.

Last August, NASA successfully tested a metal 3D printed rocket, which generated 20,000 pounds of thrust – that’s ten times more powerful than the space agency’s previous 3D printed rocket attempts. NASA says the 3D printed rocket is more cost effective to build and maintain, because it is only made of two components, versus the 115 components of a traditional rocket of the same size.

Perhaps that is part of the solution to greening our world with 3D printers, it isn’t just about using recycled materials in the printing process, but also changing the way we design and build objects so they use fewer components as well. We need to think leaner, to reduce what we consume.

NASA is also testing 3D printed small satellites that can be launched from the International Space Station and transmit data back to Earth.

By printing these objects in space, it saves enormous fiscal and other resources, as they don’t have to be made here on Earth and launched into space on expensive rockets.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Tesla Trying to Recall the Recall

telsa-wall-chargerTesla’s big wall charger adapter replacement program is about to get a lot bigger. For one thing, the replacement has become an official recall. Secondly, the number of affected adapters is higher than expected: 29,222 units.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially announced the recall today. Tesla says that the problem lies in “certain NEMA 14-50 (240 volt) Universal Mobile Connector (UMC) adapters” and that the problem is that the adapter, cord, or wall outlet can overheat during charging. This possibility came to light in a garage fire in California in November and has resulted in some melted adapters since then.

As we know, step one in solving this problem was an over-the-air software update (version 5.8.4 or later) that would shut off charging if things got too hot in November. Then, late last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company would send out the replacement wall adapters that has thermal fuses built in. We wondered at the time if this would lead to an official recall, since the charging unit is not, technically, part of the car. It has, even though at the Detroit Auto Show today, Tesla representatives testily said that the even if NHTSA calls it a recall, Tesla just calls it modern technology (Update: and nowElon Musk is chiming in on Twitter). You can read the entire recall notice below and find more details in in the letters between Tesla and NHTSA in this gallery. Tesla says just 2.7 percent of its UMC adapters had been returned because they were defective.

Tesla has had recalls before, bringing the Roadster in for auxiliary cable issues and the first for the Model S because of seat latch problems. This new recall doesn’t mean that Tesla has sold 29,000 Model S EVs – people could have purchased one for home and work, or not bought one at all – but it does imply that the number of Model S units sold is inching close to the 30,000 milestone. We should know more when the company releases Q4 2013 information next month.

Original Article on Greeer.Ideal

Computer Science and Green Technology

computer-science

Green computer science is the study and practice of eco-friendly computing or IT. The scope of sustainable computing touches upon the production, use and disposal of computers. The rapid technological changes have resulted in an endless appetite for newer, more powerful IT products, which has in turn raised the environmental threat as people scrap the older models and purchase modern products.

Today, computing processes and operations are responsible for a large percentage of the overall energy consumption, which contributes to increased green house gas emissions; therefore, it is important to encourage and take part in on – going dialogue to find new environmentally friendly technologies in computer science.

Green computing is an issue that affects everyone, since e-waste threatens the environment through its sheer tonnage and the toxins found in certain products. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that total annual e-waste amounts to tens of millions of tons, which has forced all stakeholders to look for effective solutions. Certain measures and programs such as the energy star rating aim to promote energy efficiency.

Green computing can only work when manufacturers, consumers, and the regulatory agencies work together. Eco-friendly computing goes beyond using computer resources more efficiently; in fact, it encompasses adoption of non-toxic production methods; such as, the design of energy-saving computing devices and production of recyclable and biodegradable electronic components. Other common green technologies in computer science include:

Dynamic Power Scaling Technology

Dynamic power scaling is a computer architecture technique that allows a drastic reduction in the working rate or frequency of a microprocessor or link interfaces to reduce energy consumption and generation of heat by the chip. CPU throttling is most common in mobile devices and laptops, where power comes from a battery and hence is limited.

Dynamic power scaling uses two main techniques; namely, low power idle and adaptive rate. The former forces the processor to operate on a low-power state when not processing packets, and rapidly switch to a high–power state when processing one or more packets. The latter technique works by dynamically adjusting the capacity of a processor or a link according to the service requirements and traffic load.

Virtualization and Cloud Computing

Virtualization is a modern IT paradigm that allows separation of technology implementations and computing functions from physical hardware, while cloud computing is virtualization of computer programs via the internet. Virtualization eliminates the need for hardware associated with certain IT functions, which in turn reduces energy consumption. It works by running two or more computer systems on a single, powerful hardware unit.

Cloud computing is a modern technology that is rapidly gaining traction in the information technology industry. Exponential data growth has led to the increased demand for data storage systems, power, cooling technology, labor, and space. The traditional approach of adding more storage disks, processors and other IT hardware results in increased energy demands hence it is not sustainable. The United States Department of Energy estimates that data centers use up to 100 to 200 times more power than normal office buildings; therefore, a more energy-efficient design for data centers is necessary. Research shows that widespread use of cloud computing can result in a 38% reduction in global data center energy demand by 2020.

Terminal Server Technology

Using terminal servers is a green computing technique that allows multiple users to connect to a central server, which performs all the processing; however, each user experiences the system on his or her terminal. This technique works best when combined with thin clients, which consume as little as an eighth the amount of power a normal workstation consumes.

Energy Star Hardware Components

Energy star labeled computer monitors, laptops, desktops and printers consume less power and power down when not in use. Technological advances have enabled the development of more powerful, energy-efficient hardware, such as LCD monitors, that require significantly less power to operate.

Continued development of green technologies in computer science is necessary to limit power consumption and to protect the environment.


William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes green technologies in computer science and aims to encourage further study with a New Jersey Institute of Technology Masters in Computer Science Online. 

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Cadillac ELR Comes with Free Charging Unit

2014-ELR

Cadillac has announced that they will be providing and installing home charging units for free to early buyers of their plug-in electric ELR coupe. This model began production in 2013 by General Motors and is essentially just a re-tuned Chevrolet Volt as it shares many components including powertrain and battery system. Cadillac has not mentioned how long they will offer this deal but their chief marketing officer has been quoted saying, “Professional installation of the fastest home-charging unit is a natural way to mark the introduction of ELR to the luxury market”. This seems like a great incentive to get people in the driver’s seat of these luxury cars.

The Bare Bones

While on paper it appears to be a re-skinned Volt, GM has made slight adjustments to a few of the systems and features for the ELR. They have tuned the electric drive system to adjust the battery’s output that has resulted in 58 more hp. The ELR does weight more than the Volt so this translates to a slightly shorter electric range, 56km compared to 61km in the Volt. They both have the same 1.4L EcoFLEX LUU inline four gas engine under the hood giving the ELR a total range of 480Km.

The Cadillac ELR is being offered on an “ultra-low mileage”, 39-month lease. For those who qualify, it will cost you about $700 a month with $6,000 down at signing, which is about the same price as the new Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. This new Cadillac comes with an eight year, 100,000 mile extended battery and propulsion warranty and a four year, 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Electric Car Drivers: Major Tempers?

road-rage

Electric cars parked at charging stations at offices and public spaces in California’s Silicon Valley have been unplugged by frustrated fellow electric car drivers looking for a spot to plug in.

A Chevy Volt owner complained publicly on an Internet message board that a Nissan Leaf owner had unplugged his car without explanation.

On Twitter, you get the feeling you’re in school and everyone is egging on two classmates hoping for a fight.

“I’d pay to see two EV owners fight over a charge spot,” said one Twitter user. “I don’t think any fists would be involved… it would be either a slap attack or purses being swung.”

Others on Twitter side with those unable to find a spot to charge, saying they don’t think people should be allowed to reserve spots, or tie them up.

Some angry environmental motorists have written nasty notes and left them on the windshield, screaming at the owners for hogging the charging station.

Others have gone so far to actually voice call and text message the offending driver, giving them a piece of their green mind.

Although electric vehicle drivers may have difficulty finding a place to charge-up, they do get deep discounts on car insurance – provided they don’t end up in jail for getting into a fight for a charging station.

Numerous insurance companies across North America and Europe offer discounted rates for the greener driver. Check out Electric car insurance from The Green Insurance Company to see how one insurer supports the electric vehicle driver.

So far, there haven’t been any reports of charge rage incidents turning violent – but that’s become a big concern for some big companies providing these charging stations to their employees.

SAP’s chief sustainability officer said they currently provide 16 electric vehicle charging stations, but that’s not cutting it for the German software company’s 61 employees that drive electric vehicles to work.

To prevent charge rage from escalating, the company is working on guidelines for their greener drivers.

ChargePoint – a company which manages a large electric vehicle charging network in Silicon Valley – says companies should provide one charging port for every two of their employees’ electric vehicles, to keep up with demand.

Adding charging bays is expensive, especially where companies lease space and don’t want to install permanent stations.

Electric vehicles are still the new kids on the block, as the added cost to purchase an EV over a traditional gas guzzler drives many away. However, latest estimates say there are about 170,000 electric cars on American roads.

Contrast that with statistics that show there is only one charging point for every six electric vehicles in the States.

And American President Barack Obama has said he wants to see one million electric vehicles in the States by next year.

No wonder the stereotypical free-thinking, peace-loving, tree-hugging electric driver is going ballistic. Finding a place to charge-up is like trying to find a parking spot at the busiest mall at Christmas time.

Website Plugincars has created an eight-point charging etiquette list to calm the charge rage storm sweeping across nerd central’s Silicon Valley. Although one of the points is titled “No Nasty Notes,” it says a firm and polite note left on the windshield is okay. Some other tips they suggest include charging only when necessary, charge-up and move on, and don’t unplug hybrids, except when they are done charging.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Top 10 Future Green Technologies

On the face of it, green technologies seem to have slightly lost their sheen in the US, since the cap and trade bill failed to pass in 2010 and climategate reared its ugly head around the same time. But even if ‘global warming‘ is a hysteria plotted by a handful of scientists and venture capitalists are finding themselves unable to commit to some capital intensive green tech sectors, big corporations are still committed to a sustainable future. Here is a look at the prominent green technologies that are thriving – some of them are yet not in the mainstream but are expected to be soon.

Image sources: https://www.tmart.com/

Present and Future Uses of Green Technology

1.Green Architecture

green architecture

The most widely implemented environment friendly technology in urban spaces is green architecture, which is an effort to control urban resource use and make urban expansion more sustainable. Green buildings are constructed in a way that they make the best use of natural light and insulation to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Other features of green architecture can include sourcing of materials from landfills and urban waste, reduced waste production and aiming for zero levels of emissions, water waste, energy waste etc. Notable examples of sustainable architecture include the Z6 House in Santa Monica, California, the CDC Division of Laboratory Sciences in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Lewis Center at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

2. Clean Coal and Carbon Capture Technology

clean coal combustion

While alternative fuels have received much attention over the past few years, clean coal is the emerging trend in industries. Clean coal technology is a combination of technologies that help to reduce the environmental impact of coal. The latest of these is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), which hopes to reduce the impact of coal on global warming. The Great Plains Synfuels plant in North Dakota has created a potentially sustainable clean coal technology by developing a process to extract CO2 from coal gasification, ship it to Canada and inject it into the ground to in turn help in oil recovery.

3. Green Technology in Internal Combustion Engines

While electric cars have seen an emergence in recent years, internal combustion engines are expected to continue to run most vehicles across the world, but in a new eco-friendly avatar. China has already stated a greater focus on energy saving engines that will account for 60% of the total engines used by 2015. In the US, the EPA has been encouraging more fuel-efficient and carbon emission controlled engine designs especially in the heavy duty vehicle sector. These engines should be more robust to variation in fuel, deliver high peak efficiency rather than elastic power delivery and also be able to be produced in high volume to control costs.

4. Solar Technologies

cpv-mirror

Solar technologies continue to be the most accessible green technology that homeowners and commercial spaces can employ to reduce dependence on limited energy resources. Of course implementation depends on the sunlight potential of the area in question. Certain states such as California (with nearly 200,000 rooftop solar systems), Colorado, Delaware, New York, Washington, Utah and Hawaii among others are strong solar constituencies and have solar-friendly policies in place encouraging large scale installations of solar technology. Well-designed systems can reduce peak demand of energy, shift usage time to off-peak hours, enhance sustainability and keep fossil fuel prices low, besides having other advantages.

5. Molten Salt Storage

molten salt storage

Molten salt storage is expected to store greater amounts of energy for future use when applied in solar energy production. Salt can absorb and store large amounts of heat, and as a result, surplus heat in the day can be used to heat the salt. The salt can then be made to generate steam and run a turbine even when the sun is absent. Arizona has already massive solar farms at Solana, which will be the first in the US to use molten salt technology to commercially produce energy.

6. Green Mining Technologies

green mining

One of the dirtiest industries is seeing changes as industry players adopt green technology in an effort to reduce their environmental impact, increase cost savings and raise their bottom line. New innovations are being developed and employed in the areas of membrane-based water purification, remediation of mine tailings (or mine dumps), telematics and sensors to test pollution levels at every stage of operation, water management in hydrometallurgical processes etc. Mining companies have been facing flak for their poor environmental practices, but there is a growing system of smaller companies that are innovating new technologies to make the process cleaner and safer for the local community and the workers.

7. Green Technology in the Agro Industry

field

Agro companies are also facing pressure over increasing crop yields and using environment friendly processes of production, while struggling with water shortage and climate change. As a result, the industry is going green, which is expected to help reduce poverty and develop sustainable agriculture. The US EPA and the USDA promotes education and research on sustainable agriculture technologies including conservation tillage, enhanced nutrient management, integrated pest management and precision agriculture. According to the USDA, new technologies available in these areas are profitable for farmers, but there is often a barrier against their adoption, limiting their implementation. However, green farming continues to be researched and implemented in developing countries that are largely dependent on agriculture.

8. Self-Repairing Concrete and Biomimicry

self repairing concrete

Biomimicry is the imitation of nature to solve complex human problems. This technology has recently been applied to what is known as self-repairing concrete, which can self-heal cracks by using sunlight and moisture from air. Traditional construction products consume a lot of resources and contribute to 40% of landfill wastes according to the US EPA. Self-healing technologies may also allow homeowners to ‘grow’ insulation on their walls and bricks may be created in a mold rather than in a kiln, reducing carbon emissions. Biomimicry is still in its infancy and self-healing concrete costs three times more than traditional concrete. But construction with these materials will be long-term and cost-effective and require fewer raw materials. Therefore there is plenty of potential here for sustainability.

9. Biofuel Production from Biomass Via Pyrolysis

biofuel production

Several companies and research projects are coming up with innovations to convert biomass such as organic waste, forestry and crop residues, waste paper etc. into biofuel that will be stable, work with existing refinery technologies and ensure sustainability. The processes have a lower carbon emission and lower water use than traditional ethanol production. Pyrolysis is one such process that burns agricultural residue in a low-oxygen and controlled environment to produce charcoal with lower greenhouse gas emissions than would be produced if the residue was allowed to decompose naturally. Finland has already seen the establishment of a biofuel plant in 2012 based on pyrolysis that hopes to produce not just heat and electricity for the district of Joensuu but 50,000 tons of biofuel annually.

10. Waste Water to Electricity Generation

wastewater

While on the subject of waste to useful energy, a new hybrid electricity generator developed at the Oregon State University deserves mention. The generator uses two different technologies – reverse electro dialysis and microbial fuel cells to create a system that generates electricity from waste water. The generator will be able to power water treatment while contributing significantly to the main power grid. While it is still to reach mainstream use, the green technology will be able to create a sustainable energy-water relationship, which has been a quest for scientists so far.

The author is an active consultant in development challenges for small and medium companies, with her spare time devoted to hydroponics and eco-friendly home improvement projects for grateful family and friends, Article source Sponsorship by Tmart

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Sugar to Power Future Electronic Gadgets?

sugar-block

Some sweet engineers at Virginia Tech have developed a high-energy battery that runs on all natural sugar, and it could be sweetly powering your smartphone in three years. Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech released his findings on sugar batteries this week. Using sugar to power a battery isn’t new. Known as a “bio-battery” because it uses biological organic compounds, such as the glucose in sugar, has been something scientists and engineers have been toying with for years. The process uses enzymes to break down the organic compound – the sugar – that creates electrons and protons. It’s a similar process to how plants and many animals generate energy. Zhang has a history of mixing enzymes to create alternative fuel sources. He has published numerous papers on extracting various elements, including hydrogen.

Essentially, he’s been researching hydrogen fuel cells which could power cars. His sugar battery was a natural extension of this research, which releases electrons stored in the sugar slowly, using an enzyme cascade to extend the fuel cell’s power. Zhang says sugar is a perfect energy store in nature, so it makes sense to use it for our mobile devices. The reason we haven’t turned our sweet tooth into instant power sources for our tech is that bio-batteries haven’t been that great at storing energy. Typically, they lose their charge within a few hours, which in today’s high-tech world just wouldn’t cut it. However, according to Zhang, his new battery has an energy density higher than previous ones tested, so it can run longer before being refilled. Yes, refilled, with all natural sugar. This essentially makes the sugar battery a rechargeable one, making it twice as sweet. Though this is one battery you wouldn’t plug-in to charge. Instead you would refill it with a sugar mixture, sort of like refilling the ink in a printer cartridge. Zhang’s research says in as little as three years, his sugar battery could be powering our smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. That’s great news, not just for anyone that loves sweets, but for our environment too. Billions of toxic batteries leak their chemical components into our landfill every year, because we simply toss them in the trash. Some estimates claim over 10 billion disposable batteries are thrown out every year across the globe.

Many of these disposable batteries contain lead, mercury, silver, cadmium, lithium and other heavy metals, which we consume through absorption into the water table. These make great components to power our tech, but are toxic when they get inside of us. Lead poisoning can cause learning difficulties and developmental disorders in children, low sperm counts in men, and miscarriages and premature births for women. Mercury and the other toxins all have equally nasty affects on us, some of which can be fatal in the long term. Even rechargeable batteries aren’t much greener. Although they can be recharged numerous times before having to be replaced, they often end up in our garbage dumps too, releasing their toxic brines into our water table, and ultimately into us. Sugar isn’t just sweet, it’s pretty harmless too. Unlike current chemical batteries, which can catch fire or even explode, sugar batteries are non-toxic, non-flammable and they aren’t explosive. It’s only sugar, so there aren’t any chemicals to ignite, or explode. Those heavy metals used in today’s chemical batteries powering your current mobile devices are not needed in the sugar battery. So a sugar-powered battery tossed in the garbage won’t come back to bite us, it just may re-invigorate our sweet tooth, as sugar may power your next gadget.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

6 Million+ Hybrids Sold by Toyota

toyota-hybrids

Talk about a milestone.

The grandfather of hybrid vehicles, Toyota Motor Company, announced on Tuesday they are launching even more of the energy efficient cars after passing the six million global vehicles sold mark.

In total, the 6.072 million hybrids moved include all of Toyota’s brands, including Lexus and other regional names. The figure is current as of December 2013. Right now, Toyota sells 24 hybrid passenger car models (including the Camry, Avalon, Highlander and Prius) and one plug-in model (the Prius Plug-In) in 80 countries around the world.

Even more impressive, Toyota shared that their latest million-unit landmark was reached in record time, taking just nine months to complete. Their long-term plan is to roll out 15 new hybrid models worldwide over the next couple years. The new “Harrier Hybrid” debuted in Japan yesterday and the “Highlander Hybrid” will be available to North American consumers “soon,” according to Toyota.

The company’s ambition is to tweak its vehicle lineup based on different countries and their specific marketplaces to maximize the success of their numerous hybrid vehicle models.

So for all the resources going into the creation of hybrids, what kind of impact have they had on our planet’s environment? In figures shared with the public, Toyota estimates that since December 13, 2013, Toyota hybrids have resulted in approximately 41 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions that would been emitted by fuel-powered cars of a similar size and performance rate. Believed to be the leading cause of global warming, by drastically reducing CO2 emissions, hybrids can realistically slow the impact everyday driving has the overall environment.

Toyota also estimates that their hybrid models have saved nearly 4 billion gallons of gasoline compared to the amount used by cars of a similar size and performance rate.

More than 15 years later, the Toyota Prius, which was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, remains the top choice for consumers choosing a hybrid.  By positing their resources to expand hybrid technological advances that enable the use of different fuel combination, including those necessary for the creation of more environmentally friendly cars, Toyota remains at the forefront of the industry in alternative vehicle creation. Toyota also reiterated its desire to continue creating cars that appeal to the consumer in all ways, putting performance and fun as major components in their design processes.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Biomass Boilers

biomass-boiler

Burning animal and plant material – biomass – is the oldest source of renewable energy we have used to cook our food and keep warm, since our cave dwelling ancestors learned how to build a fire.

We’ve come a long way from creating camp fires in the forest to cuddle around while the fish we caught earlier in the day cooks on that same fire.

Biomass boilers are taking off in the United Kingdom, as a real alternative to burning fossil fuels to heat homes and business.

“Biomass” is anything naturally growing on our planet, which can be burned for fuel. Typically, biomass is any organic material, such as plants and animals. In a sense, if you have used a wood burning stove or fireplace, you have been burning biomass.

Wooden logs, pellets or chips are burned to create a sustained even heat source in a “boiler.” This biomass boiler is connected to a central heating and hot water system to heat the air and water of an entire building, such as a home or business.

The oil and gas we burn took tens of millions of years to form, under the pressure of the Earth’s crust, as layer, upon layer of bones left from animals going back to the dinosaurs is crushed into the black gold we predominantly use today. Hence it’s name “fossil” fuel, as we are literally burning fossils to fuel our homes and businesses.

Contrast that with the significantly shorter amount of time – about a decade – for a tree to grow and the simple fact that trees can be re-planted after being harvested. Once we burn a fossil fuel, it is gone forever.

It also takes significant resources to locate, drill, and mine fossil fuels, as much of what we have left on our planet is deep under the ocean floor.

As it takes considerably more effort to acquire fossil fuels, than the wood products for use in a biomass boiler, there is a cost savings in burning biomass over fossil fuels.

Like burning fossil fuels, burning biomass does create and release carbon into our atmosphere, however the effects of burning biomass are less than those of burning fossil fuels. This is because carbon created from the combustion of biomass is a natural part of the carbon cycle for our planet, while burning fossil fuels is not.

This carbon savings may be 3.9 tonnes a year for an average three bedroom house which burns oil, and could save that family about $441 USD (£270 UK Pounds) annually.

And if you’re in England, the Queen may give you another reason to toss out your fossil fuel burning oil boiler, and replace it with a biomass burning one.

The British government is encouraging residents to install alternatives to fossil fuels, such as biomass, by rewarding people for converting their homes and businesses to these alternative forms of heating with money.

The United Kingdom’s Renewable Heat Incentive program, which the UK claims is the first of its kind in the world, provides financial incentives to off-set the costs of installation and maintenance of alternative forms of heating to home and business owners for up to 20 years of use of these renewable energy alternatives.

It’s part of the UK’s goal to have 12 percent of their heating from renewable sources by 2020, and it’s a huge incentive to those considering biomass boilers, and other alternative forms of energy.

One UK-based company taking the lead on biomass boilers is Air Plants Heating (APH), which sells biomass boilers from 150 to 950 Kilowatts (KW). The company has been in business since 1897, and designs, builds and installs biomass boilers for both residential and business needs across the UK.

APH’s ingenuity and innovation shows that is’ possible for business to make money by going green, by providing solutions to our environmental problems.

And biomass does more than heat air and water, it can keep the lights on too.

Biomass can be used to generate power, as well as heat, and if the planet’s biomass resources are sustainably managed, the waste carefully controlled and governments around the world follow the UK’s lead and create incentives to encourage use, biomass could replace dirty fossil fuels, and put us all on a greener path.

Scientists see the benefits of biomass, and envision it as part of the mixture of alternative fuels we’ll need to adopt to slow climate change and minimize our impact on global warming.

These scientists see a world where biomass is used worldwide, in conjunction with other alternative forms of power and heating generation, including solar, wind and geothermal.

The key to all of this, is to stop using fossil fuels, and start using greener alternatives – such as biomass.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Green Car Vouchers for the Poor

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Transportation is one of the most significant expenses for many people, and has a huge impact on their household budgets. The average household spends at least $9,000 – $10,000 a year on transportation, but these costs may vary greatly depending on where you live and whether you own a car and drive to work each day, or use the public transportation system, instead. In any case, a large percentage of people’s incomes is spent on transportation, which is why they can get a lot of use out of every alternative transportation solution that can help them save some money.

Buying an alternative-fuel vehicle, which has betterfuel economy than conventional cars, is one option, but these types of vehicles are usually much more expensive. People living on a low income really can’t afford to pay $20,000 or $30,000 for a hybrid or anelectric car, no matter how much they care for the environment or want to save on gas. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has decided to address this issue and make green cars more affordable for the poor. The agency, that is in charge of monitoring air quality, among other things, started a program recently, that is supposed to make it easier for poor people to buy fuel-efficient cars.

The program involves giving vouchers to low earners, which they can use to buy an alternative-fuel vehicle of their choice. The agency said that those who receive such a voucher, could even use it to buy the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which has a $21,300 base price, after federal tax savings. In the past, there have been other similar programs created by CARB, that have been intended to promote the use of energy-efficient vehicles and reduce the number of high-emission cars, and some of them are still ongoing, such as the one that awards between $1,000 and $1,500 to those who decide to retire their cars that have high CO2 emissions. In addition to this, there is another program that gives up to $4,000 to drivers to give their old cars up and buy more eco-friendly vehicles. All these programs are part of California‘s efforts to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality.

With this program, the agency will give vouchers that are worth at least $2,500, and no upper limit for the vouchers has been set. This means that CARB could pay the full price of a new electric car for a family of two, or up to $18,000 for a family of three that wants to buy a used hybrid car.

The ultimate goal that the state of California wants to achieve with this program is to increase the number of environmentally-friendly vehicles on its roads, reducing CO2 emissions, and encouraging automakers to develop more green vehicles. It’s also expected to help low-income people to save a significant amount of money on fuel, as hybrids and electric cars are obviously more energy-efficient than conventional cars, but the high purchase price is preventing them from buying such a car.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

The Greenest Cars of 2014

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It’s a new year, and that means new cars—both brand new models and new variants of older models. Whether you pay attention to the CES and auto shows or not, knowing what the greenest cars being released this year can be beneficial. So without any further ado, here are five of the greenest cars coming out this year.

Gas-Powered: Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage

If you’re looking for a green car, but don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it, theMitsubishi Mirage is the way to go. Starting at just under $14,000, it gets 37 mpg in the city and 44 on the highway. It’s a 5-seater, but the luggage space leaves a bit to be desired if you’re using all 5 spots. However, if the backseat is vacant, you can fold it down, providing a lot more space. And for safety specs, the car comes equipped with 7 airbags, so everyone in your car should be protected if you get into an accident.

One thing to be warned about: this car is tiny. At less than 5.5 feet in width and just over 12 feet long, it lives up to the name “subcompact,” so if you’re on the upper end of the height matrix you might feel squished in such a small car; if you’re shorter, it could be the perfect car for you.

Diesel: BMW 328d

2014 BMW 328d

Turbo-diesel engines have been making their rounds since 2006, and 2014 is the year diesel engines are really taking to the road in a green way. The top contender is BMW’s 328d, which fits right into the manufacturer’s line.

The 328d isn’t quite as fast as some of BMW’s newer models, but clocking 0-60 in 7.2 seconds is still fast enough for most buyers, and with a fuel economy of 32 in the city and 45 on the highway, it’s even better.  Seating 5, it’s roomy enough that it should be comfortable even with adults occupying every seat. Starting at $38,600, it’s in the middle of the pack for BMW’s 3 series released this year.

Hybrid: Toyota Prius

2014 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid

Starting at $24,200, Toyota’s latest model of the Prius is a little more expensive than the previous models, but it’s built with the same quality as the past versions. Still seating 5, it’s a little bigger, giving more space to the backseat (which is useful if you have 3 adults back there or three kids on a long road trip). The new Prius averages about 50 mpg between the city and the highway, with an acceleration from 0-60 in roughly 10 seconds, putting it near the top for fuel economy and in the middle for acceleration.

 

 

Plug-in Hybrid: Honda Accord

2013 Honda Accord Hybrid

Winner of the 2014 Green Car of the Year award, the Plug-in Hybrid Honda Accord is a fantastic car. It’s currently the fastest plug-in hybrid on the market, accelerating 0-60 in 7.7 seconds, so if you like a dash of speed with your green, you’ll be content.

The Accord’s fuel economy comes in at an average of 46 mpg, and the electric economy is even better, with 105 mpge on the highway and 124 in the city. The battery has a range of 13 miles, so it’s perfect for running errands close to home. The cost—starting at just under $39,800—is a little higher than most of the other cars in its bracket, but none of the others offer quite the same amenities so the extra cost is well worth it.

 

Electric: Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

In electric cars, Tesla’s Model X—the upgraded Model S—is due out late this year, and it will hit the market with a bang. Going from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, it will be the fastest SUV available, and will even be faster than most sports cars. No doubt the dual motor—first of its kind—is partly to credit for that feat, and the all-wheel drive definitely doesn’t hurt it. Although Tesla has yet to release a figure for the cost, the estimate is somewhere in the $75,000-80,000 range.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal