German auto giants Volkswagen and Daimler have taken minority shares in renewable-energy specialist Choren Industries, which has developed a process for turning leftover agricultural products and other biomass into liquid fuel.Choren is currently building a beta plant in Freiberg, Germany, that will produce about 15,000 metric tons of fuel a year. That's enough to provide fuel for 15,000 drivers for an entire year. It then hopes to follow up with a production plant that can crank out 200,000 metric tons of fuel. Ten to fifteen of these plants, Choren estimates, could cut up to 3 … Read more
Forget biodiesel. To put a dent in global warming, we are going to have to stop using coal, said Ed Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030 at the West Coast Green conference taking place in San Francisco this week.
"The only fossil fuel that can fuel global warming is coal. If you stop coal, you stop global warming. End of story," he said. Architecture 2030 is a non-profit that encourages builders, suppliers and architects to move toward making carbon neutral buildings by 2030.
The problem with coal is two fold: it spews a lot of carbon dioxide, among other … Read more
SEATTLE--Carbon offsets, energy efficiency credits, renewable energy certificates. The lexicon of the new, niche business world of brokering in greenhouse gases was spoken at the Discover Brilliant conference Monday. (It felt like being in Charlie Brown's classroom.)
Carbon markets have begun to boom over the past year, offering corporations options for offsetting their emissions by trading them with cleaner companies. Many proponents of carbon trading want laws to force businesses to clean up their act.
The inventors of the Universal Serial Bus probably never envisioned just how "universal" their creation would become. Today it's used for pretty much anything, from electric guitars and coffee mugs to cigarette lighters and fragrance oil burners.
But there's at least one non-computing use that we can endorse wholeheartedly: the USB greenhouse. This 9-inch tall, egg-shaped terrarium isn't just a plastic container; growth rates can be monitored with its own software, which reminds you when to water and feed the plants.
We'll be taking bets on how quickly it dies under our brown thumb.… Read more
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy research lab, has come up with a new formula for hydrogen pellets that looks like it holds a lot of energy, per gram.
The PNNL pellet is made out of ammonia borane, or AB, compressed into small pellets. A milliliter of AB weighs about 0.75 grams and can hold up to 1.8 liters of hydrogen. Researchers speculated that a fuel system powered by AB pellets will occupy less space and be lighter in weight than systems using pressurized hydrogen gas. That's one of the pellets (and not … Read more
You've seen picnic ware and household items made out of biodegradable plastic. Now, here's a notebook with a biodegradable chassis.
This Fujitsu LifeBook sports a chassis made from a plastic made from cornstarch rather than petroleum. It costs more, but it's green. Put the chassis in a landfill and it will go away over the course of months. Real plastic will take decades.
Producing the cornstarch-based plastic, which comes from a supplier, also results in 15 percent less carbon emissions. Those vials (pictured at left) to the side, by the way, show the progress from corn kernels … Read more
Plug-in hybrids have emerged as the favorite form of transportation for reducing greenhouse gases in the near term, but calculating their energy efficiency can be a little complicated.
Plug-ins won't conk out after 130 to 200 miles, like electric cars, and they don't require major technological breakthroughs, like hydrogen cars. Converting a Prius to a plug-in hybrid costs about $10,000 to $15,000 now--that's part of the reason only about 50 exist--but if car manufacturers decide to make these at the factory, the additional cost may only run $6,000 or so, say proponents. That'… Read more
We're facing a choice, says the Environmental Protection Agency: build more energy efficient data centers or choke on fumes.
The EPA issued a report today that said that energy consumed by data centers in the U.S. could rise to 100 billion kilowatt hours a year in 2011, a big jump from the 61 kilowatt hours consumed by data centers last year. Without changes or improvements in efficiency, the increase will require ten additional power plants.
That 100 billion kilowatt hours will cost $7.4 billion.
Data centers aren't the largest consumers of electricity in the country. In … Read more
From the Department of Bad Ideas: While we totally understand (and encourage) good old-fashioned price wars, they shouldn't come at the expense of basic functions. Take, for example, the "KanaSD" MP3 player from Greenhouse Japan.
The good news is that it costs about $18. The bad news is that it doesn't have any built-in memory--we're talking none. Instead, you need to get your own SD storage card, which will probably be more expensive than the player itself. Nor can we expect find video playback or a color screen at all on this low-budget device, as … Read more
Americans don't exactly like nuclear power, but they like oil even less.
Concerns about global warming, high oil prices and worldwide political turmoil have made oil the least popular fuel in the U.S., according to a survey from MIT and Knowledge Networks. In the survey, 74 percent of respondents said that they want to see decreased use of oil, up from 56 percent in 2002.
In the previous 2002 survey, nuclear was the least popular fuel. The 2007 survey polled 1,200 adults nationwide.
Nuclear, in fact, has gained a little bit of acceptance. The 2007 survey found … Read more