Green Gadgets part two

Here are some good examples of green design done right vs. completely misguided.

A computer made from light weight reusable and recyclable materials.  Also if you are tech savvy at all you can just buy new components instead of a whole new system.

The Takeup:

takeup

A computer made out of cardboard.  It’s true cardboard is easily recyclable but how long can a cardboard computer last?  I certainly wouldn’t buy a computer that can be turned into mush by water.

Cardboardcase:

cardboard-case

Blight the lighting shades

Today was the annual Green Gadgets Design competition.  I think it’s fantastic that people are excited about being innovative for a positive purpose.  Many of these products will contribute to a better world and others will simply waste time and money.  We should be skeptical of these new inventions because while they all have good motives, some may do more harm than good.

Blight.  I’m not behind the idea. 

Taking the sunlight that shines on high tech venetian blinds and turning the shades into lamps at night seems like a great idea until we consider the cost of producing these complicated machines.  Motors, circuitry, mini solar panels, paper thin lights are just a few of the things that go into the design.

I can also tell you based on long experience selling and owning Venetian blinds that they break easily, particularly when rolled up and down every day (yes even the high quality blinds).

These would do well marketed to the wealthy chic as an interesting lamp and conversation piece.  I don’t think it should be widely implemented because the construction would be a waste of resources for incomparable gain.

Imprimer

Space Based Solar Power and Microwave transmission

A company called Space Energy Inc. has plans to collect solar enery in space and beam it back down to earth via microwave radiation.  They are currently trying to secure more funding for a prototype to prove the concept works.

In theory this is something that can be done.  We know the physics of the sun’s radiation and have been able to convert and transmit the energy from the radiation for some time.  You may have seen that I am a huge proponent of Space based Solar and Orbiting Solar Arrays.

We should understand, however, that this is a very long term goal.  Space energy inc does say that this energy supply will only become cost effective as the world’s fossil fuels run out and the prices go up. As such it may be difficult to raise the appropriate amount of investment because people generally want to see a return in their lifetime.  It may be up to far thinking governments to shoulder the development costs.

The basic technology has been around since the sixties but it will take some serious commitment to make this a valuable alternative energy.

sbsp

Space Energy Inc.

LED lights, Theory vs Practice

LED technology is the current favorite for lighting in the future. They use less energy than fluorescent lights and can emit more pleasing light.  They also in theory do not need to be replaced for many years.

I worked at a hardware and furniture store when I was in college and we carried many different LED desk lamps over the years.  That experience showed me that LED light bulbs break all the time and are often very difficult to replace.

Now it is certainly possible that these were cheap lights not on par with the LEDs of today but given the simple construction of the diode, I don’t think it should matter.

I understand why in theory these light would last longer, IE there is no filament to burn out etc.   So are some types just better than others?

led

CO2 + H2O = energy

This is well written article on converting Carbon Dioxide and water into energy using nanotubes.  The potential of nanotechnology often seems to good to be true and I really hope the promise pans out.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16621-sunpowered-device-converts-co2-into-fuel.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=environment

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl803258p

My question about clean coal

What happens when the ground moves?

Quick background on clean coal (many seem confused by the ads):  The idea is to pump the CO2 emitted by the burning of coal underground and keep it there forever.  The underground storage containers would ideally be already existing geologic formations.

Say we found enough natural underground airtight spaces to put all our CO2 emissions, at what point does it leak back into the atmosphere? The earth’s crust will move as it inevitably does and decades of carbon emissions will go up all at once.

We should start accepting the fact that humans will eventually burn all the coal and oil and natural gas on the planet. We should strive to slow the pace at which we burn through all the life that existed before us but should also realize that we are rebooting the carbon cycle.

All the CO2 will go into the air eventually and given the extremely high costs of underground carbon storage, perhaps we should let it go up now and focus our energy on dealing with the consequences.

clean-coal

save the rainforest

If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks,” warned Holly Gibbs, of Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

%d bloggers like this: