L Prize: LED Bulb Competition

Philips Electronics LED bulb Source: Kimberly Janeway's blog at consumerreports.org

On the NPR show, Science Friday, it dedicated a whole show to the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prizes (L Prize) Competition and how Phillips Electronics is the first company to enter.  The guest speaker for this show was Jim Brodrick, Lighting Program Manager for the Building Technologies Program (with DOE).  Brodrick was very pleased to have Philips summit their bulb because he believes that this will spur other companies to enter. Continue reading


Metrobus in Mexico City Wins Harvard University Award for Sustainable Transit Project.

3053226323aa3240a9ffMexico City’s Metrobus project received the 2009 Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership from Harvard University. Metrobus is a sustainable transit project in one of the world’s most populated and congested cities.

“Metrobus, which focuses on massive transport systems and better vehicle fuel efficiency, has shown to be a viable and economically efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Gloria Grandolini, World Bank Director for Mexico. “Mexico is at the forefront when it comes to implementing this type of projects and once again demonstrates its willingness to improve the environment,” she added.

By introducing cleaner, more efficient buses, and convincing many commuters to leave their cars at home, Metrobus has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from Mexico City traffic by an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 tons a year. In addition, the project removed 800 polluting minibuses from the road and encouraged greater use of sidewalks and bicycles throughout the city.Metrob%C3%BAs_Set_Dominguez
The World Bank has supported Mexico’s efforts to attain a sustainable environment with loans totaling US$2.7 billion for the 2008-2009 period. The projects seek to integrate environmental considerations into public policies, in order to increase competitiveness and economic and social development while simultaneously protecting the environment. 

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Salty or Sweet? Harnessing the Sun for Desalination

Here is one for all of the science buffs! Two Canadian engineers recently unveiled a cheaper desalination method that harnesses the sun to power the desalination process, which in turn could lower the cost of desalination by almost 80%. This process requires a bit more ingenuity than the typical prototype, but if it does work as described then this might prove to be one of many answers used to solve the linger issue of water scarcity.

I will try to sum up their process as best I can (with the limited science and engineering knowledge that I have).  The engineers, Ben Sparrow and Joshua Zoshih, believe that they can create an ample amount of fresh water with less than 1 kWh of electricity. The only energy required is a very small amount (remember, less than 1 kWh) used to pump the water through the system, As described in The Economist, “Their process is fuelled by concentration gradients of salinity between different vessels of brine. These different salinities are brought about by evaporation.” Therefore, no other source of “paid” power is needed to produce this freshwater because the rest of the energy comes from natural sources (sun, air). See visual below for more information!

The article goes into more detail, and it is interesting to compare this system to the ones that are currently proposed by businesses such as G.E. It does appear that there are striking benefits to this system such as the performance of this process improves in arid regions (which are the regions that most need this type of technology), and it requires less pre-treatment and chemicals than traditional processes.

Perhaps there is more to this story than at first meets the eye? Admittedly, I have very little knowledge of desalination, but the proposed process seemed ingenious when I read about it. Perhaps there are many more of these ideas floating out there? I also am sure there are cons to this system. However, I will need to do a little more research to understand that side of the story a little better.

Manure to Electricity

There is concrete evidence that climate change is mainly due to anthropogenic actions. We are emerging into a world where consumers are becoming more concerned on where their food is coming from and the impacts that food production has on the environment.  Recently, cattle farmers are targeted in terms of rearing practices and amount of methane gas cattle emit.  Although, methane is a natural by-product from a cow, there are increasing concerns with the high demand of beef and therefore an unhealthy amount of cattle that are reared to meet the beef consumption—especially in the United States.   Continue reading

What’s Beneath the Surface?

Antarctice IceNPR had an interesting story today about what lies beneath the Antarctic Ice. To the left is one of the satellite images planes have been taking from above. What’s really cool about the technology this plane has is that there are lasers and other sorts of devices that can actually take pictures of what’s under the surface. Gaining this kind of information about life underneath the ice will give great insight to scientists that has never been available before. This technology will also be useful because it can detect water under the ice which can help us understand in more detail, the effects of the possible melting of this ice within the context of climate change. Amazingly enough, there are volcanoes, lakes, and rivers under the ice as well. Apparently scientists already knew these can exist but these images give confirmation and more detail to this subject. This technology will be key as further changes continue to happen due to climate change. Scientists will be able to track changes underneath the ice as it melts and formations change.

To read the whole article, visit NPR directly.

Green Technology as a Public Good?

At the last week’s conference on “Climate Change: Technology Development and Transfer,” Indian PM Singh proclaimed that green climate technologies should be considered global public goods (GPG). Although Singh’s statement failed to grab headlines in the Western press it a remarkable and important idea that will surely receive increasing scrutiny. Continue reading