Author Archives for Jaymi Heimbuch
ForeverGreen Enterprises and International Power Group have partnered up to launch a venture to build a power plant in Indiana that will convert hazardous waste into energy. 750 tons a day of industrial, chemical and medical garbage will be converted to methanol and hydrogen, plus a little electricity – but we don’t know how much of an output the plant will have.
This is an effort to find a new niche away from cellulosic and municipal waste conversion, which has seen a flood of interest the last couple years. ForeverGreen feels that all this other junk has potential, and no one else is really going after it…yet.
Construction is set to start at the very beginning of 2009, and in about 22 months, the plant will hopefully start turning hazardous materials into useable substances using a combination of International Power’s waste-heat-to-energy process and ForeverGreen’s gasification process. The byproducts will include scrap steel and silicates – among other things?
Details are still vague while the companies work to find financing to cover the full project, but we’ll follow this one as construction time approaches.
Sweden plans to have future homes come equipped with smart meters. But some folks want to know what’s up with their energy consumption now, and without having to look online all the time. Enter the concept Spark Lamp.
This lamp is truly one of the oddest things I’ve heard of, but could be kinda cool…kinda. During the day, you flip the lamp upside down so that the solar panels located on the bottom can charge up. Then at night, you flip it right side up and turn it on. It then connects to your Wi-Fi and changes to a certain color to show what your energy consumption is at compared to your monthly goal. The indicators are red, yellow and green and you can guess what they mean.
After about 3 seconds, the light turns to white and you can use it as a lamp. So it is an interesting little check-in device…that is only available in Sweden and that I don’t expect will become very popular. Yes, it is more multipurpose than a regular old solar powered light, but still. It would take some interesting planning on where to place the lamp in order for it to get needed sunlight to charge. It might prove to people that just jumping online is an easier way to check your energy consumption.
Hey, sailor, got a light? In Brian Bosley’s case, he needed a light and power to take his small boat around the world. But as anyone who has a boat knows, space is at a premium on vessels. So Bosley, an inventor with a background in aviation, along with some fellow sailors, made solar power portable.
The Solar Stik was born in Key West during the winter of 1997-98 out of necessity. Three small boats, including Bosley’s, were in need of a power generating system that could supply enough energy for fridges, long-range communications and lights. The original design used a free-standing system and after several thousands of voyaging miles testing the system, the original inventors, who put the first units together late at night, were surprised at how well their make-shift on-the-go solar system worked.
A tripod was added on and more tests were done. Eventually the design developed as more components were added. The solar panel lifting arms have three attachment points that act as a lateral stabilizing mechanism, preventing damage during rough seas or high winds. Once the system mount is secured, it can be left outside indefinitely. It takes just minutes to set up and the system can be easily disassembled for transport and to power down when storms arrive.
The military has already taken notice of the usefulness of the Solar Stik in certain regions where power may be off-the-grid and some local governments have purchased the units as part of their emergency response plans. Prices for the units start at $150 for marine systems and go up to $350 for its most high-tech units.
There’s a difference between something being green, and a company putting a green spin on a product. A new startup called GoodGuide is to be a source for free, scientist-verified data about products we purchase so we can ID for ourselves if what we’re consuming is as green as the company says it is.
Drawing from over 650 data sources, GoodGuide is building a database that figures out what is physically healthy, socially healthy, and environmentally healthy, so that people can compare products and make their priority decisions. It is a great sibling site to the new Wikia Green.
GoodGuide is also implementing ways you can get the info while you’re standing in a isle staring at your options. You can get text messages right now, and soon there will be an iPhone app available. The site is in beta now, yet still has over 61,000 products already listed. Good to know that while we’re staring at 15 different kinds of toothpaste, we have someone to help us pick one.
The green movement just might be the solution our flagging economy needs. A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council discusses how the US can create 2 million new jobs in 2 years by investing in clean tech.
The real clincher for greenies is that the report shows that green investing will create four times as many new jobs as the same amount of investment in oil. The amount of investment analyzed was $100 billion, which isn’t outrageous considering the hundreds of millions already going into clean tech by different companies, foundations, and even the DOE. The report notes that this could also include auctions of carbon permits with the cap-and-trade system.
The jobs would be nationwide in fields that already exist – construction workers would be employed to set up wind and solar farms, engineers would be employed for site and product design, etc.
Two millions jobs and serious investment in clean energy tech are both deeply needed. The report shows it’s an awesome possibility. Hopefully politicians and leaders are listening.
We’re starting to see elements added to cars that help tell the driver when and how to save gas, rather than having the driver rely on gathering their own tips and implementing them. Nissan’s Eco Pedal is one such gadget. And now Mercedes-Benz has their own.
Their new C-Class will have a C 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Prime Edition that will help drivers save fuel by telling them when to switch gears. A display will inform the driver of the best time to shift to maximize mileage. We’ll be able to see this in action this fall, when about 5,000 of these models exit the factory. The model is part of the BlueEFFICIENCY series that will have various green-ish measures such as reduced weight, better aerodynamics, and improved fuel consumption. All rather ho-hum measures, but it’s something.
Yep, that’s a “duh” title. But worth mentioning since there’s some fun news coming from the Bay Area.
We talked awhile ago about San Jose’s drive to become the greenest city around. We’ve also covered some excellent green initiatives coming out of San Francisco. Well, there’s more to it than just introspection and self-improvement for these two cities. They represent some significant Keeping Up With the Jones’ syndrome for cities, which is some of the best news the green movement can get right now.
SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and SJ Mayor Chuck Reed are both actively working on one-upping each other, with Newsom joking about how he daily scans San Jose’s news and website for info on what the city has done to green up. Both are working on getting clean tech companies to call their cities home, and both are pursuing greener options for everything from transportation to renewable energy.
Both mayors pointed out how great it is to compete for green status at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Clean & Green conference yesterday, noting that all major cities are beginning to take similar steps. Since San Francisco and San Jose are only an hour apart from one another, the result may be a very clean Bay Area.
Staten Island is changing over 15% of its bus fleet to hybrid electrics. Within two years, they’ll add 159 Next Generation Orion VIIs to their stash, helping to cut down on pollution and fuel use and becoming the first municipality in the whole U S of A to get these green busses.
Busses get a ridiculously bad gas mileage, and the hybrid version will boost that from 2.5 mpg to 3.4 mpg. While that’s still horrible, it is definitely an improvement. More efficient busses are a concern of many cities, especially as a way to jump much closer to carbon cutting goals. Ann Arbor grabbed a few last year, and companies are working on better hybrid versions to further clean up city transportation. Perhaps we’ll someday see a version of Toyota’s wireless electric hybrid pulling into city stops.
A bit of hilarious news: Alaska doesn’t get much action, really, so it’s no surprise that police thought they were pulling over a UFO when they saw the above solar car tooling down the road. I’d probably have thought the same thing, except that UFOs are unidentified FLYING objects…
But it was just Marcelo da Luz in his Xof1 taking a jaunt across the state to try and set a world record. A citizen dialed 911 upon seeing the vehicle, and police chased it down but didn’t do more than ask him what was up with the crazy car.
He might have responded:
The Power of One Solar Car Project, or Xof1 for short, was initially developed with the intention to compete in the prestigious World Solar Challenge. Instead their car set off to break the world distance record for a solar car. The space age looking car weighs roughly 660 lbs (300kg) with driver and the entire top body of the car is covered by solar cells and tops out at 75mph (120 km/hr).
It’s just one of 7 times he’s been pulled over during the race, so he might possibly have come up with something a little more creative or colorful by this point…
The Fairfax 5 Theater just installed a 27 kw PV system, making the landmark a greener place to watch a film. While not the very first theater to be solar powered (hello, Palm Theatere), it is the first major motion multiplex cinema to slap on some PVs for renewable power. The rooftop system is made up of 42 solar modules, and utilized state rebates and federal tax credits to help speed up the pay-back period to just 5 years. The system is expected to save over $600,000 in energy costs over its 30 year lifetime. Not too bad! And considering the theater has been around since 1952, it is likely it’ll be around to see that savings.