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Friday, March 11, 2011

8 Technologies for a Green Future

A grouping of optimistic minds are working on futuristic projects to facilitate guarantee to nominate the globe greener while making entrepreneurs several naive.
It's save-the-world stuff like toxic-waste-eating trees, smart electricity grids, oceangoing robots, and hovering environmental sensors. Then there's the alternative-energy quarters fueling station to facilitate can jump-start the long-awaited hydrogen cheap. This knowledge may well seem far improbable - but it will probably be now a grouping closer than you think.

1. Home hydrogen fueling station
What can be cooler - or greener - than a hydrogen car in your driveway? Try a solar-powered hydrogen fueling station in your garage. Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, experience industrial a prototype of such a device. It's nearly the size of a filing cabinet and runs on electricity generated by standard-issue rooftop solar panels.
The to start with version of the quarters fueling station is estimated to goods an adequate amount hydrogen to allocate your runabout a range of several 100 miles exclusive of emitting a molecule of planet-warming conservatory swap gossip. Road trips are improbable of the question, but it's an adequate amount juice used for running built-up errands or powering fleets of urban relief trucks.
"You don't need a hydrogen infrastructure to introduce the hydrogen cheap," says Sukhvinder Badwal, a veteran fuel-cell scientist leading the project next to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
The solar-fired fuel-station-in-a-box leapfrogs two large obstacles to the much-hyped hydrogen cheap. One is the multibillion-dollar expense of building state networks of pipelines and fuel stations to return the corner Chevron.
The other is the piece of information to facilitate at the moment for the most part hydrogen is produced by burning fossil fuel to create hydrogen swap gossip - not exactly a clean and naive process. The quarters hydrogen fuel station solves persons problems in solitary package to facilitate Badwal hopes will ultimately get rid of used for nearly $500.
The tenderness of the fuel station is an electrolyzer - fundamentally a fuel cell run in reverse. An stimulating current from solar panels (a quarters wind turbine would as well look after the job) separates run into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is compressed and stored, immediate used for wear out in a fuel-cell car or an electric/hydrogen hybrid with an engine converted to run on the swap gossip.
CSIRO is in talks with latent for profit partners, so Badwal's lab is off-limits to visitors. But on his mainframe screen, he reveals a box to facilitate would fit effortlessly in the corner of a garage then to the mountain bikes.
Real-world tests of the quarters fueling technique were to make a start youthful this day next to RMIT University in Melbourne, with for profit trials two years sour. Obstacles stay put, as well as the cost of hydrogen cars, but the knowledge can take off a long way to making the domestic wagon carbon-neutral. (Read more nearly quarters hydrogen fueling stations on the Green Wombat Blog).

2. Environmental sensor networks
Call it the networked setting. Picture tiny - we're discussion small as a dime - wireless sensors lining lake beds and ocean floors, buried in the ground, and hovering in the air. All the point sniffing the air, run, and soil used for chemicals and pollutants and detecting changes in high temperature and pressure.
The suborn: Real-time data on a variety of phenomena to facilitate affect the cheap and society - climate transformation, hurricanes, air and run pollution. Scientists are capitalizing on advances in wireless tech and nanotechnology to build networks of these environmental sensors.
Arizona State University scientist Joe Wang has already deployed them in San Diego Bay and the canals of Venice to keep watch on heavy-metal levels and mercury contamination. Researchers next to the University of British Columbia and the University of California next to Berkeley, meanwhile, experience twisted a coin-size solar cell to facilitate can power the transmitters used for sensor networks to facilitate solitary time might examine a brook or a bay used for leaking pipelines.
Cooler yet are solar-powered sensors to facilitate fly in the air. Ensco, a knowledge company based in Falls place of worship, Va., is mounting a beach-ball-size implement to facilitate gets its juice from thin-film solar panels and would calculate weather patterns by probing the curve of a jet river or the interior of a tempest.

3. Toxin-eating trees
Plant a forest, clean up a Superfund position. That's the notion behind phytoremediation, a knowledge to facilitate uses vegetation to absorb harmful excess from manufacturing plants and other polluters.
The method has been around used for years but hasn't proven very effectual. Now there's a recent twist to facilitate promises to nominate toxic dumping basis naive in more ways than solitary.
Researchers next to York University in Britain experience identified bacteria living in the roots of poplar trees to facilitate goods an enzyme to facilitate zaps dregs from RDX, a compound compound used by the armed and industry. The scientists are working on ways to genetically engineer the enzyme to boost the tree's capability to suck up toxic excess. So don't be surprised if you start bearing in mind forests sprouting on old armed bases.
Meanwhile, a team from the University of Georgia has transplanted a gene from bacteria to facilitate helps neutralize mercury contamination into a regular flower. The effect: A solar-powered bioremediation technique to facilitate smells pleasant too.

4. Nuclear excess neutralizer
Forget Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Homer Simpson. Nuclear energy is making a comeback, and it's promptly being touted as a greenhouse-gas-free solution to inclusive warming. But solitary large difficulty remains: What to look after with untold tons of radioactive excess to facilitate will be red-hot used for hundreds of thousands of years?
The answer: Recycle it. But not with current nuclear-waste-reprocessing knowledge, which leaves behind an fateful by-product - weapons-grade plutonium. Instead, scientists next to the government's Argonne National Lab close to Chicago are devising a compound knowledge called Urex+ to facilitate extracts reusable uranium and separates improbable cesium, allowing four epoch as much excess to be packed into nuclear committal basis.
Such knowledge would next to previous nominate a nuke-plant-building boom ecologically feasible, but that's far from the merely benefit. It would as well leave the plutonium encased in other elements, rendering it all but useless to terrorists, North Korean dictators, and other evildoers. During addition, campaign are taking place used for a recent type of nuclear reactor to facilitate can burn the reprocessed excess as fuel. But the inevitable fight larger than a nuclear revival is several point sour - it'll be five to 10 years or the waste-reprocessing technologies are immediate used for prime point.

5. Autonomous ocean robots
The world's seas are in an ocean of breakdown: Climate transformation, vanishing fish, coral bleaching. Just keeping tabs on an close setting to facilitate covers three-quarters of the earth's rise is a tad like exploring a distant planet. Which way it's paramount to propel in the robots.
Unfortunately, at the moment for the most part oceangoing bots are large, dumb, and expensive. They need to be tethered to boats and operated by humans who assemble paychecks. But not the Starbug. Under development in Australia, the 4-foot-long yellow robot operates autonomously and is highly maneuverable, credit to its innovative thruster knowledge and robotic revelation.
According to the robot's designer, scientist Matthew Dunbabin of CSIRO, the Starbug will examine run quality, drawing fish habitats, and survey threatened coral reefs. It can as well be deployed to detect drops in fish populations, as well as being dispatched to help with undersea swap gossip and smear with oil exploration.
Rather than relying on costly sonar, the Starbug "sees" its surroundings. Its cameras and the onboard Linux operating technique give permission the robot identify and count, used for occasion, marine pests to facilitate are assassination sour parts of the Great Barrier Reef, a 135,000-square-mile ecological cash cow to facilitate generates $8.3 billion annually in going to places of interest revenue.
With the robot's preliminary cost next to an estimated $24,000, Dunbabin envisions fleets of Starbugs launched from shoreline or small boats. His team is promptly building the next-generation Starbug, which must start rolling sour the congress line behind this day.

6. Sonic run disinfectant
Here's a sci-fi solution used for an age-old difficulty to facilitate leaves 1.1 billion ancestors exclusive of access to clean run: Beam ultrasound waves into dirty run, blowing up the cellular walls and carbon bonds of contaminants. What's not here is a cool drink of fresh H2O.
Filters and chemicals are normally used to purify filthy run, but researchers are experimenting with ultrasound knowledge as a cheaper alternative. Ultrasound waves experience already been used to break up dirt in sanitation systems.
Now to facilitate the probes to facilitate goods the sound waves are getting more powerful, however, scientists are retooling the strategy to decontaminate fat tanks of run, a process called sonolysis.
The goal is twofold. First, portable sonolysis equipment can be deployed to isolated villages in mounting countries. During urban areas, meanwhile, sonolysis can touch on run tainted with manufacturing pollution. Scientists like Villanova University's Rominder Suri are studying how sound waves can break down chemicals into fewer unsafe components, detoxifying wastewater.

7. Endangered-species chaser
Old: Save the whales! New: Web 2.0 persons whales, and at that time clone 'em! There are more than 16,000 branded threatened beast and lodge species; their plights deteriorate every one day as deforestation, development, and climate transformation take their toll.
Conservationists are looking to tag in danger of extinction animals like the Amazon's piglike white-lipped peccary with telephone lines frequency ID tags and GPS sensors, and at that time wear out Web 2.0 mashup techniques to superimpose their locations and drawing details of their habitats and practice with other landscape skin tone. The mean is to identify and design better wildlife preserves to ensure the survival of species edging on the subject of extinction.
For animals on the lip of forgetfulness, brave-new-world steps are being contemplated. During 2003, scientists cloned an in danger of extinction banteng cow, and XY Inc. Of Fort Collins, Colo., has industrial sperm-sorting knowledge to facilitate can solitary time be used used for sexual category selection in in danger of extinction species to boost captive breeding programs. India, meanwhile, is setting up a laboratory to cryopreserve the sperm and chromosome of rare Bengal tigers and other animals so they can eventually be cloned.

8. The interactive, renewable smart power grid
California convenience comforting Gas & Electric (Charts) is mounting the electricity grid of the upcoming, solitary to facilitate will look more like the Internet - disseminated, interactive, open-source - than the dumb, one-way arrangement of at the moment to facilitate pushes relic molecules from a carbon-spewing power lodge to your quarters.
Hal LaFlash, PG&E's director of renewable-energy guiding principle and planning, gave Business 2.0 a preview of the technologies and energy sources to facilitate utilities will tap used for the power grid of tomorrow.
Solar stations Large-scale plants using recent thermal and photovoltaic technologies will carry on in Southern California and the desert Southwest.
Solar buildings to the same extent solar cells are integrated into rooftops, walls, and windows, homes and place of work towers will develop into tiny power stations, generating their own electricity and feeding immoderation power back into the grid.
Wind power Anywhere the wind blows is a latent position used for a turbine, but the Great Plains is the place utilities are eyeing used for giant wind farms.
Wave power PG&E is looking next to the Northern California coast used for latent sites used for wave energy generators. The Northeast coast is an additional prime source of as-yet-untapped wave power.
Cow power California has 1.7 million cows and more than 2,000 dairies. A dozen dairies experience already installed methane digesters to break cow muck - a source of solitary of the for the most part destructive conservatory gases - into electricity. The digester extracts methane swap gossip from cow poop and uses it to power an electricity-generating turbine. Other dairies experience campaign to goods a bovine biogas to facilitate will be piped to power plants.
Car power PG&E is mounting knowledge to facilitate will allow upcoming "plug-in" hybrid vehicles not merely to revive their batteries but as well to feed electricity back into the power grid at some point in pinnacle demand.
Clean-coal plants Located largely in the East and Midwest, these plants will gasify coal, stripping it of pollutants. Carbon dioxide will be captured or it can be released into the air.
Smart grids Interactive power grids will communicate with smart agents embedded in household appliances, allowing power to be disseminated wherever it is considered necessary for the most part.
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