Friday, June 08, 2007

Plasma Gasification turns trash into clean energy

Startech Environmental is an environment and energy
industry company engaged in the production and sale
of its innovative, proprietary plasma processing
equipment known as the Plasma Converter System(TM).

The Plasma Converter System safely and economically
destroys wastes, no matter how hazardous or lethal,
and turns most into useful and valuable products.
In doing so, the System protects the environment
and helps to improve the public health and safety
The System achieves closed-loop elemental recycling
to safely and irreversibly destroy Municipal Solid
Waste, organics and inorganics, solids, liquids and
gases, hazardous and non- hazardous waste, industrial
by-products and also items such as "e-waste," medical
waste, chemical industry waste and other specialty
wastes while converting many of them into useful
commodity products that can include metals and
a synthesis-gas called Plasma Converted Gas (PCG)(TM).

Among the many commercial uses for PCG, is its use to
produce "green electrical power," Gas-To-Liquid (GTL)
fuels such as ethanol, synthetic diesel fuel and other
higher alcohol "alternative" fuels. Hydrogen, for use
and sale, can also be separated and recovered from the
PCG synthesis gas mixture. The Startech Plasma Converter
is essentially a manufacturing system producing commodity
products from feedstocks that were previously regarded as
wastes.Startech regards all wastes, hazardous and
non-hazardous,as valuable renewable resources.
Popular Science Magazine, in its March '07 produced
a 9-page, well-illustrated feature article on the
Startech Plasma Converter as the "Miracle Energy Machine
-- How to Turn Toxic Waste into Clean Power."

The above is From the Company website:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eco- Friendly Piping

GreenPipe USA is a distributor of well-designed and environmentally friendly piping products. Their Pipe replaces traditional systems such as copper, PVC, black pipe, galvanized and other piping materials.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Solar Flashlight Delivers Light to the Poorest Villages

The BoGo Light is a scientific, eco-friendly breakthrough that according to its inventor is making an impact worldwide. "From Cairo to Cape Town, from the Caribbean to the Amazon, it is improving the lives of individuals, families, and entire villages by replacing costly kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights with an affordable, long lasting, solar flashlight".

BoGo means Buy one, Give one. "We want our lights to benefit the less fortunate; therefore, with each light purchased in the developed world, a second identical light will be donated to an organization that will distribute it in the developing world with our direct financial support".

Learn more:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Spirit of International Cooperation

If we can do this in space, can we do it on Spaceship Earth?

Computer-generated image of a space shuttle docked at a fully completed International Space Station

In this computer-generated representation, a space shuttle is docked to a completed and fully operational International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is to be completed with elements from the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia.

Image credit: NASA

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Plug & Play Backyard Wind ( almost)

According to Popular Science Magazine ( nov. 2006 issue) the Skystream 3.7, available this month from Southwest Windpower, can be installed in a day (after a concrete base is poured). The easy install is made possible by integrating the inverter and the controls into the turbine body which allows only four simple wires to connect directly to your circuit breaker box. An optional wireless antenna sends your computer updates on wind speed, power output, and power savings.

This latest innovation in residential power generation was developed in collaboration with National Renewable Energy Labaoratory (NREL) in Golden Colorado. NREL has been running extensive reliability, performance and endurance testing on the prototype for 2 years. It is now ready to take to market.

I guess its more like pour, plug and play... and don't forget the crane!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WhisperGen™: Domestic Cogeneration Appliance

Not exactly carbon free but certainly doing lots more with less.

The engineering of this sleek home appliance combines a stirling engine with a patented 'woble yoke' transmission technology. The yoke converts the linear motion of the engine's four pistons into rotary motion able to drive an

The result is a domestic cogen boiler unit that produces hot water for space heating, showers and electicity to feed back to the grid ( AC models) or to charge batteries in off grid applications ( DC models).

The product is currently available in the UK on "advanced trial".
The AC system runs on natural gas or LPG only. The DC unit runs on automotive diesal and a kerosene version is available. Potentially the AC unit could run on Biogas and the DC unit could run on Bio Diesal or other natural oils. According to the comapny use of alternative fuels will involve a 2-3 year testing and certification process.

In 2004, Whisper Tech signed an agreement with Powergen, a German-owned electricity distributor which is one of Britain's largest energy companies to supply at least 90,000 of the units over five years.

I have yet to find pricing but I know this is not going to be as cheap as a dishwasher even thought it looks like one. I imagine prices will come down if and when mega mass production gets into full swing. If you think of the cost of a conventional hot water heater / furnace plus the value of instalation and electrical generation your talking mucho dinero.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Flexible Plastic Nano Solar

Using oil to produce flexible nano enabled polymers that generate electricity from the sun is certainly a higher and better use than burning such complex hydrocarbons in cumbustion engines. This is the innovation upon which Massachestts based Konarka is building its company.

According to the company, "Konarka’s products take light in and deliver power out. This direct current (DC) electrical energy can be used immediately, stored for later use, or converted to other forms of energy. Because Konarka’s technology utilizes a wider range of the light spectrum than conventional solar cells, all visible light sources — not just sunlight — can be used to generate power."

With funding from investors Silicon Valley Bank, Chevron, the Massachusetts Technology Collaboartive and a host of venture capital firms, Power Plastic (tm) might actually get to market.

Guess who is getting a first crack at this new technology? Why the military of course! Currently Plastic Power is being developed for portable, electric-generating quonset huts. Other military applications include battery charging on the battlefield, remote power for unmanned vehicles and soldiers, and solar-powered sensor networks.

Konarka also envisions using the power-generating capabilities of Power Plastic(tm) to structures including tents, awnings, roofs, windows and window coverings. And they plan to be the power supply of choice for consumer electronics such as cell phones and portable music players as well as business products such as PDAs, and laptops.

There are no hard specs or effeciency analyses on the company's website as far as I can tell.

The big breakthrough lies in the claim that the photo reactive material is lightweight, coatable, flexible, more versatile, printable and uses ubiquitous roll-to-roll, easy to scale manufacturing technology. All this is supposed to translate to truly affordable photvoltaics.

No wonder they won the 2005 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award among numerous others.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Biorock®/ Mineral Accretion Technology

This posting provides some more info on some of the technology used by Dr. Thomas J. Goreau, namely the Biorock® Process. I wonder if he used geodesic and tensegrity structures as the frame for the Biorock(R) if there would be an advantage?

Biorock Technology, or mineral accretion technology is a method that applies safe, low voltage electrical currents through seawater, causing dissolved minerals to crystallize on structures, growing into a white limestone similar to that which naturally makes up coral reefs and tropical white sand beaches. This material has a strength similar to concrete. It can be used to make robust artificial reefs on which corals grow at very rapid rates. The change in the environment produced by electrical currents accelerates formation and growth of both chemical limestone rock and the skeletons of corals and other shell-bearing organisms.

The Biorock Process is owned by Biorock, Inc. and is licensed to GCRA for applicable projects.

Biorock methods speed up coral growth in damaged areas and restore authentic coral reef habitat and species. Biorock structures become rapidly colonized by a full range of coral reef organisms, including fish, crabs, clams, octopus, lobster, sea urchins. Species typically found in healthy reef environments are given an electrical advantage over the weedy organisms which often overgrow them in reefs stressed by humans. The advantages corals gain from mineral accretion are cancelled if they no longer receive current, at which point weeds will overgrow the corals. If the current is maintained, coral reefs can often be restored even in areas where water quality would prevent their recovery by any other method.

Biorock structures cement themselves to the hard bottom providing a physical wave barrier which over time, grows larger and stronger. Biorock materials are to an extent, structurally self healing. If a section is damaged, the cracks will fill making them ideal for breakwater shore protection.

Biorock projects can be powered by a wide range of electrical sources including renewable energy like windmills, photovoltaic solar panels and tidal current generators. This enables their construction in areas where conventional electric power is unavailable.

The mineral accretion process was first developed by architect Wolf Hilbertz in order to provide alternative construction materials. He and Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance later developed its use for reef restoration and shore protection.

Biorock® is a registered trademark of Biorock, Inc. The Biorock Process is owned by Biorock, Inc.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tidal Energy as Tool to Restore Dead Coral Reefs

This strikes me as a **very compelling** breakthrough with regard to coral reef restoration.
Dr. Thomas J. Goreau and his team received an award in the IDEAS Competition at MIT, Cambridge, MA for their tidal energy device which is used to re-establish dead coral reefs. The coral communities grow very quickly and can survive at higher water temperatures.

See the fascinating 3 min 40 sec video clip in which Professor Goreau eleoquently explains and illustrates the results of his research:

For more information got to


Monday, August 28, 2006

PV's with Concentrators Yield 35% Effeciency Rate

The Boeing Company has signed a contract to provide 600,000 solar concentrator cells to SolFocus, Inc., a California-based renewable energy company that is developing renewable terrestrial energy alternatives.

Under the 12-month contract from SolFocus, Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., Spectrolab will build and deliver 600,000 solar concentrator cells that will be used to convert the sun's rays into affordable electricity for homes and businesses. The cells produced for SolFocus will be capable of generating more than 10 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 4,000 U.S. homes. With the average solar cell efficiency above 35 percent at concentration, Spectrolab's concentrator photovoltaic cells generate electricity at a rate that can be more economical than electricity generated from conventional, flat panel photovoltaic systems.

A significant advantage of concentrator systems is that fewer solar cells are required to achieve a specific power output, thus replacing large areas of semiconductor materials with relatively inexpensive optics that provide optical concentration. The slightly higher cost of multi-junction cells is offset by the use of fewer cells. Due to the higher efficiency of multi-junction cells used in the concentrator modules, only a small fraction of the cell area is required to generate the same power output compared to crystalline silicon or thin-film, flat-plate modules.


State of the Planet 2006 eBriefing

The Earth Institute at Columbia University, in cooperation with the New York Academy of Sciences, is pleased to announce the publication of a NYAS eBriefing based on the recent Earth Institute conference, State of the Planet 2006: Is Sustainable Development Feasible?

This free web-based report includes a comprehensive meeting summary, links to video and transcripts of the conference, a wide-ranging set of open questions, a rich library of related resources, and additional background information.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Solar Generator Uses Mass Produced Autoparts to Cut Costs

A set of prototype solar concentrators
installed in Lesotho.
(Courtesy of Amy Mueller.)

Matthew Orosz, an MIT graduate student advised by Harold Hemond, professor of civil and environmental engineering are working on alternative approaches to solar-based electricity that could significantly cut costs compared to photovoltaics panels. Their goal is to put the ability to harvest electricity from the sun into the hands of villagers in poor countries.

According to Kevin Bullis of MIT's Technology Review the system works like this:

"The basic design of Orosz's solar generator system is simple: a parabolic trough (taking up 15 square meters in this case) focuses light on a pipe containing motor oil. The oil circulates through a heat exchanger, turning a refrigerant into steam, which drives a turbine that, in turn, drives a generator."

"The refrigerant is then cooled in two stages. The first stage recovers heat to make hot water or, in one design, to power an absorption process chiller, like the propane-powered refrigerators in RVs. The solar-generated heat would replace or augment the propane flame used in these devices. The second stage cools the refrigerant further, which improves the efficiency of the system, Orosz says. This stage will probably use cool groundwater pumped to the surface using power from the generator. The water can then be stored in a reservoir for drinking water."

"The design uses readily available parts and tools. For example, both the feed pump and steam turbine are actually power-steering pumps used in cars and trucks. To generate electricity, the team uses an alternator, which is not as efficient as an ordinary generator, but comes already designed to charge a battery, which reduces some of the complexity of the system. And, like power-steering pumps, alternators, including less-expensive reconditioned ones, are easy to come by."

"As a result, the complete system for generating one kilowatt of electricity and 10 kilowatts of heat, including a battery for storing the power generated, can be built for a couple thousand dollars, Orosz says, which is less than half the cost of one kilowatt of photovoltaic panels."

World’s First Maglev Wind Generator

Chinese developers unveiled the world’s first full-permanent magnetic levitation (Maglev) wind power generator at the Wind Power Asia Exhibition 2006 held June 28 in Beijing.
Magnetic levitation, maglev, or magnetic suspension is a method by which an object is suspended above another object with no support other than magnetic fields. The electromagnetic force is used to counteract the effects of the gravitational force.

Regarded as a key breakthrough in the evolution of global wind power technology—and a notable advance in independent intellectual property rights in China—the generator was jointly developed by Guangzhou Energy Research Institute under China’s Academy of Sciences and by Guangzhou Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Science & Technology Co., Ltd. The Maglev generator is expected to boost wind energy generating capacity by as much as 20 percent over traditional wind turbines. This would effectively cut the operational expenses of wind farms by up to half, keeping the overall cost of wind power under 0.4 yuan ($US 5 cents), according to Guokun Li, the chief scientific developer of the new technology. Further, the Maglev is able to utilize winds with starting speeds as low as 1.5 meters per second (m/s), and cut-in speeds of 3 m/s, the chief of Zhongke Energy was quoted as saying at the exhibition. When compared with the operational hours of existing wind turbines, the new technology will add an additional 1,000 hours of operation annually to wind power plants in areas with an average wind speed of 3 m/s.


Photo Caption/Credit:Using magnetic levitation for a frictionless air bearing

Saturday, August 19, 2006

George W. Hart's Rapid Prototyping Web Page

George is active in using rapid prototyping (RP) technology for a range of purposes, including art, math, and education.

His web page collects in one place some of the models he has designed, with links to papers that have further information about the algorithms, etc. Files for most of these models are provided, which are available for free download so that you can replicate these intricate geometric forms on your own RP machine, as long as you give George design credit when displaying them.

As former artist in residence at MIT, George is also a gifted educator working all over the world and at the leading edge of where mathematics and art intersect. A tour of his website will undoubtedly amaze and inspire all who have interest in this vital subject.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Climatron® conservatory

The stunning Climatron® conservatory has become a symbol of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The geodesic dome was inspired by the design of R. Buckminster Fuller.

Covering over a half-acre, the Climatron houses some 1,200 species of plants in a natural, tropical setting. Visitors enjoy bananas, cacao, and coffee trees, plus a collection of orchids and epiphytes. The Climatron is also home to a variety of animals, including tropical birds. Several pools and waterfalls give a sense of lushness, as if visitors were within a true tropical rainforest. The Climatron is ever-changing and is an impressive display throughout the year. Learn about plants and their roles in global and regional ecosystems with computerized, interactive exhibits in the attached Brookings Interpretive Center.

For more info:,1249,640197791,00.html

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Materials Information Society

With its great arching dome and its semi-circular office building, the ASM International Headquarters conveys the imaginative force that marks ASM.

Started in 1958, completed in 1959 and formally dedicated in 1960, one outstanding feature of the building is the geodesic dome or "space lattice" designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. A symbol of man’s mastery of his metal resources, the open-work dome made of extruded aluminum stands 103 feet high and 250 feet in diameter, weighs 80 tons and contains more than 65,000 parts. The dome is ornamental and open, honeycomb-like, and stands on five pylons, two of which rise up from courtyards set into the building.

Need Directions?


Monday, August 07, 2006

Animated interactive design makes global stats easy to grasp

Hans Rosling's nonprofit called Gapminder, uses animated interactive design to make global statistics understandable

Gapminder is a non-profit venture for development and provision of free software that visualise human development. This is done in collaboration with universities, UN organisations, public agencies and non-governmental organisations. Gapminder is a Foundation registered at Stockholm county administration board (Länstyrelsen) (reg. nr. 802424-7721). It was founded by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling on 25 February 2005, in Stockholm. Gapminder Foundation will advance software development that have been done earlier by the non-profit company Gapminder Ltd. Funding has been and is mainly by grants from Sida for the Trendalyzer project. Being a producer of global public goods Gapminder benefit from free and creative inputs from pilot-testers and other end-users in many institutions and organisations.

Learn more:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dutch Wind Mill Tree

next gen windmills

Bright posted a proposition by One Architecture, Ton Matton and NL Architects, comissioned by the Dutch government, for a next generation windmill. The proposed mill is shaped like a tree and can hold up to 8 turbines and be as high as 120 meters! A tree shaped mill is less intrusive in the flat Dutch landscape than the mill-parks they use

Via Inhabitat

Fuller Inspired Furniture

From Architecture to Artful Furniture Design
Designers innovative pieces are informed by the works by Fuller, Safdie, and Van Der Rohe.

In the 19th century, Chicago architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase "form follows function." Today, the Chicago Furniture Designers Association borrows the still-relevant words to dub its latest exhibit. "Form Follows Form, Architecturally Inspired Furniture," which will be held September 21—October 28, presents the creations of Chicago designers that honor the tradition and the institution of architecture itself. Suddenly, the act of building furniture takes on a whole new meaning, as designers integrate architectural concepts into their pieces. The show will be held in the Upper Level Sculpture Gallery in the Paul V. Galvin Library at the Illinois Institute of Technology .

Entries are still be entered for the juried show, but some designs of note are already in the lineup, including a Buckminster Fuller-inspired chair by John Kriegshauser that is so structurally efficient, it weighs less than 3 pounds but can support a large man; a infinitely reconfigurable coffee table by Robert Frazier that takes it cues from Moshe Safdie; Dolly Spragins's whimsical "Windy City," inspired by the elasticity of skyscrapers; and Lisa Elkins's coffee table, which r

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Vetical Axis Wind turbine promises a "Quiet Revolution"

Elegant looking indeed, but what will make this vertical wind turbine perform any diffferent than other vertical axis sytems that have apperared over the years, only to receed quietly into obscurity. Common knowledge says that energy output per dollar invested cannot compare to the advanced horizontal turbines that are spreading like wildfire. But according to Treehugger
the UK company called "Quiet revolution LTD. might be offering something revolutionary -- at least interms of simplicity of design ( very few moving parts result in vibration free and virtually silent operation) and double- duty functionality by integrating LED lighting in the blades to provide decorative lighting or even messaging. The product was developed by XC02, ( an appropriate name for an engineering and design studio dedicated to providing low-corbon solutions in the built environment.

According to Treehugger:

Trials were carried out at the end of last year and with the results XCO2 say that the Quiet Revolution will be capable of producing 10,000 kWh per year based on an average wind speed of 5.8 m/s. “If you had two of them that would satisfy the 10% renewable energy requirement for a 1200 square-metre office building,” says their marketing director Julia Grove.

Physical dimensions:
5m high x 3.1m in diameter
Direct drive, mechanically integrated,
weather sealed 6kW
permanent magnet generator
Power control
Peak power tracking constantly
optimises turbine output for all
sites and windspeeds
Operation mode
Max wind speed: 16m/s;
Min wind speed: 4.5m/s
Design life
25 years (annual inspections recommended)
Rotor construction
Carbon fibre & epoxy resin blades and connection arms
Brake & shutdown
Over-speed breaking above 14m/s wind speed, auto shutdown in high wind speeds (above 16m/s)
Remote monitoring
Event log can be accessed via GSM Dial up. Remote monitoring stores operation and kW hours of electricity generated


Two years on components