Category: Green Technology


French energy company Total is to invest $1.37 billion in the U.S. solar company SunPower. Total is estimating the renewable energy to become competitive with fossil fuels in the near future. When Total approached SunPower with this offer, Total’s stock was already declining.

SolarPower is one of the biggest renewable energy companies out there and it has been one of the fastest growing companies in the past few years. Before Total approached SolarPower, Total has spent two years looking at 200 different companies before making their decision on SolarPower.

If everything goes according to the plan, Total will own 60 percent of Class A common shares and 60 percent of Class B common shares of SunPower’s stock. Total refused to sell the whole company because it wanted to maintain the Silicon Valley’s “entrepreneurial pace.”

Both companies have also decided to keep SunPower’s current managerial team. This shows great companionship between these companies that will set an example for many similar contracts in the future.

This is good news to anyone who is concerned with sustainability. Just the gesture of an oil company investing that much money in the renewable energy will create a much needed awareness. This will start a chain reaction for other oil companies to move toward an alternative fuels or to at least consider partial investments in the renewable energy.

This could actually mark the beginning of the new era.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20058546-54.html?tag=mncol;txt

The greenest transportation around is the bicycle. The problem is that some bicycles are bulky and too heavy for most people. Most of the stores only sell these kind of bicycles. Therefore people have a narrow minded perspective on what is available.

There are foldable bicycles on the market that will fulfill the idea of compact and light. Some of these bikes have set world records as far as being able to fit into buses, yachts, cars and trains.

These bikes have smaller wheels, but are still very fast.

See most popular ones below.

Nice!!

What: Citizen Bike Alloy
Where: Citizen
Why: The heaviest model in this little review, at 14 kg (30 lbs), but with the lightest price. Not bad for a six speed 20” folding bike.
How much: $254

Dennis's favorite

What: iXi Breakaway
Where: iXi Bike
Why: Separating four speed 12.25 kg (27 lbs) city bike, sports a greaseless composite drive chain, integrated carry handle and rain poncho!
How much: $1,000

sweet!!

What: Bike Friday Tikit
Where: Bike Friday
Why: Made in the USA 11 kg (23.7 lbs) commuter that folds in 5 seconds, from a company with legendary customer loyalty
How much: $1,195

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/buygreen-small-wheel-folding-bikes.php

Apple is one of the leading technology companies. Many people associate Apple with earth friendliness and sustainability. Therefore Apple has charts and websites dedicated to show how green they are in comparison to the other companies. People tend to wonder if the statistics are actually true.

Geekphone has decided to do their own eco impact testing of the iPhone. Since there are 100 million iPhones out there, it seems like an important thing to do. They did a good job in this infographic shown below.

Geekaphone's How Green is the iPhone Infographic

Geekphone points out that upgrading should only be done when necessary. The recycling process seems to be just as important. The last thing to note is that the purchase of a used iPhone can probably be most important on the whole list.

With so many iPhones on the market, the impact it can have is fairly dramatic.

Please consider this infographic next time the new iPhone comes out.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/how-green-is-the-iphone-infographic-explains.php

Silva Limited is introducing the most durable and sustainable Macbook case on the market. The case is made out of bamboo and has wool felt inside of it. Silva Limited focuses on making the custom bamboo cases for the 13 inch and 15 inch Macbooks. While the case is beautiful, the price might be too high for some folks.

Photos by Silva Ltd.

When it comes to sustainable materials, the bamboo is on top five list. Bamboo has been used for centuries in home construction, boat construction and gardening tools. In the past five decades the bamboo has been phased out due to the industrial’s ability to reproduce a bit stronger materials. It wasn’t a problem until the world realized how many hazardous chemicals were being used in the production process of such materials. The society today is becoming more aware of the damage that has been done upon earth. Therefore, bamboo is coming back in popularity.

With today’s technology the bamboo can be made as strong as steel. There are already several bicycle and motorcycles manufactures that use bamboo for their frame construction.

The bamboo is also spreading to the protective products, such as cases.

Silva Limited is being one of the leading manufacturers in bamboo cases today.

All of the Silva Ltd bamboo cases are made specifically for Macbooks. They are hand crafted by Justin Silva and thoroughly tested for a perfect fit. Since the cases are made out of bamboo, they only weigh two pounds and are extremely sturdy.  The handle is made out of genuine leather, which will probably out last the Macbook.

Photos by Silva Ltd.

Anything handcrafted is usually built with highest quality in mind and that quality is certainly reflected in the price of $179.99.

The price can be justified by someone who travels a lot or someone who is just completely in love with their Macbook.

The bottom line is, the case is gorgeous, sustainable and durable.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/beautiful-bamboo-case-for-macbook-laptops-are-sustainably-stylish.php

The Lito Green Motion has manufactured an electric motorcycle that goes up to 124 miles per hour. The company has originated from Canada and has decided to build the fastest electric motorcycle available on the market. The motorcycle is called “Sora” and can travel 185 miles on a single charge. It is safe to say that this motorcycle looks awesome.

When it comes to electric motorcycles, the aesthetics are usually the weakest aspect of the whole. Many electric motorcycles look like an oversized moped these days.

But, not anymore!

Photo: Lito Green Motion

The Lito Green Motion from Canada is introducing an all new Sora. The Sora has pretty impressive specifications and definitely falls under the superbike category. What is even more impressive is that the biker can change the driving dynamics by adjusting the seat configuration with a push of a button.

Most of the controls reside on the GPS system, which is built in near the steering wheel. Since there isn’t a gas tank in the middle, it allows for more room for the additional technology and other equally impressive specification. (See list)

All this innovation comes at a price of $44,000.

The company allows anyone to reserve a test drive and with this kind of price, it is highly recommended.

On a positive side, tax incentives and rebates will apply and might justify the high price.

The bike should be available during October of 2011.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/sora-electric-motorcycle-lito-green-motion.php#ch02

LED bulb cost reduction

The LED manufacture Cree has announced a new LED bulb breakthrough. Cree is claiming to have produced an LED light that is similar to incandescent light bulb in color reproduction and in uniformity. Cree has also mentioned a major cost reduction in LED bulb production. This will mean that the possibility of LED bulbs may rise up to 46 percent in commercial lighting industry by 2020.

MR-16 bulb components that go with new Cree XM-L EasyWhite LEDs. (Credit: Cree)

When it comes to light bulb sustainability, the LED technology cannot be beaten. LED lights only use four watts of power, while offering 340 lumens of brightness. The incandescent bulbs use as much as 100 watts of power.

So why aren’t LED bulbs everywhere by now?

The main reason is they are considered to be too expensive. Depending on the company, some LED bulbs can go as high as $50 per bulb. Up until now CFL bulbs have been dominating the market, but because CFL’s contain mercury, many environmentalists are ruling against them.

Cree has claimed to find a new way of reducing the LED cost. The company mainly specializes in projection light fixtures and initially is going to sell package deals to various companies. The actual price reduction hasn’t been announced yet, but If Cree will reduce the price down equivalent to CFL bulbs then the CFL’s will be a thing of the past.

Researchers at University of Illonois are in process of implementing Nanostructured materials into batteries. Professor Paul Braun has been working with his team to make a highly porus metal foams. These foams help battery to stores a sufficient amount of energy much faster. Nanostructured materials have been too hard to work with in the past, but now the technology is there.

Nissan Leaf battery (just as an illustration of an EV battery, they don't have this technology yet). Photo: Nissan

Batteries are the most used source of portable electricity today. In the last few years batteries have been making their way into car manufacturing business. People love the idea of not paying for gas, but having to wait six hours to charge a vehicle is a major turn off for many consumers.

This creates a critical demand for a battery that can charge much quicker.

Professor Paul Braun has a team of researchers who have helped him implement a new technology for faster charging. This technology consists of highly porous metal foams, which will provide a high electrical conductivity. If this technology works as planned, the charging stations will be able to charge electric cars within minutes.

The ability to charge an electric car faster than pumping gas will attract many consumers.

It is safe to say that this day will come soon, so most vehicles could be replaced with electrical vehicles.

Also consider Toyota just reached 1,000,000 Prius sales in the U.S. With this kind of demand electrical vehicles could rule the world in about ten to fifteen years.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/batteries-nanostructured-metal-foams-charge-minutes.php

 

The MIT Media Lab team has manipulated the visual abilities of Xbox 360 Kinect to allow people to use it for business teleconferencing purposes. Media Lab has also altered the detecting depth of the video feed back to make the whole experience way more interactive. This will allow people to use Kinect for fun or business in a whole new way.

The Kinect is an innovative accessory for Xbox 360, which allows people to control video game elements through their body movements. Microsoft has spent years in development of Kinect and has implemented some of the most advanced technology in to it. Up until now, the Kinect has been strictly  used for gaming.

A technology team at MIT Media Lab has untapped some of the hidden resources from Kinect’s hardware. Since Kinect has human limb detection, it was easy for the team to switch it to object detection. This allowed to show movement and distance between presented objects. They were also able to blur people out of the video, so that the focus is only on the speaker. (See video)

This creates the effect of actually being there, since even the person on the other side can also rearrange objects to get real time feedback from the main screen.

Therefore more teleconferencing can be held across long distances and will cut down on travel time, expenses and more importantly green house emissions.

When considering all of the video chatting being used in business, this kind of technology will probably become main stream fairly quickly.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/kinect-used-to-make-teleconferencing-way-more-awesome-video.php

 

The 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society has introduced an artificial leaf. This “artificial leaf” could provide enough electricity to the entire household through mimicking photosynthesis. The leaf is an advanced solar cell made with silicon, electronics and catalysts. It can also split hydrogen and oxygen in bright sunlight to provide ten times the energy as organic leaf.

The artificial leaf technology has been in the works for ten years and could never be practical up until now. The major issue has been the high price of production, but now there is a cheaper way of using nickel and cobalt for manufacturing. This leaf might be cheap enough to provide electricity for homes in underdeveloped countries. So far the artificial leaf prototype has been tested to work efficiently for over 45 hours. The scientist are hoping to make it work efficiently for several years and possibly increasing the overall size of artificial leaf. Currently the leaf measures to be the size of a poker card, which makes it hard to work with.

It seems that turning sunlight into energy is the main focus of green technology today. The solar panel technology is being used on cars, houses, cell phones, back packs and roof tops. This is very exciting time for humanity to start implementing sustainable green technology into the mix.

The green movement is one of the highest considerations today. It can be hypothesized that the green technology is going to be the driving force of the world’s economy for next forty years.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/03/first-practical-artificial-leaf-powers-fuel-cells-for-rural-homes.php

Small Company called Wysips has created a transparent solar power screen for next generation cell phones. The transparent solar screen will be able to charge a cell phone in 6 hours, using only light. This technology will help cell phones to perform faster while making them smaller. Similar technology might be implemented on the future iPhones and iPads.

 

Charging cell phone with light.

Current cell phones are becoming the center point of world’s communication and entertainment. This means the cell phone companies are constantly on a rush to make their cell phones a complete package. The all-in-one goal has much strain on the battery life and the demand for more complicated applications is on the rise. It was just matter of time before someone implemented an alternative charging mechanism.

 

Let’s evaluate the details of Wysips new innovation.

The screen measures to be less than 100 microns deep and is made out of photovoltaic cells that lay down on top of the cell phone’s display screen. Afterwards, the precise layers of cylindrical lenticular lenses are deposited on top. This allows the light to pass through the screen and to charge the battery by focusing the solar energy onto the PV cells, where the electricity is generated.

It is still a prototype, but company’s president is promising major improvements for the next year. The main improvement is going to be charging speed, which will be an hour for 30 minutes of talk time. This will still depend on lighting intensity and the amount of IR and UV radiation in the light.

Although the green technology is the main focus here, the additional electricity input will be able to give cell phone makers the ability implement faster CPUs, while reducing the battery size.

The battery life increase is much needed in iPhones and iPads, due to their video gaming capabilities.

When this technology is adopted, it may be the next technological leap.

 

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/03/your-next-smart-phone-solar-power-screen.php