December 14, 2010

Wooden iPhone and iPod Accessories from Renewable Materials

Modern culture is addicted to their electronic gizmos that are upgraded often and accessorized with products made from non-renewables. iWave Audio has created a Grass Roots Collection made from renewable materials like recycled wood.

I've been enviously looking at wooden iPhone cases, but I questioned their durability. Unfortunately, my concerns were valid when testing out iWave's wooden case. When placed on my phone, I noticed there was a little crack that had formed on the top of the case. When I tried removing the case, the whole thing broke into three pieces. I was sorely disappointed. Other wooded iPhone cases may be stronger, but I am not tempted to waste money and try one after this experience. I truly am saddened, as I liked the way my phone looked in the case.

The Grassroots Kaolin ECO-200 Earbuds (Natural) are more durable than the iPhone case. They also have an integrated microphone.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

December 3, 2010

Streetcars Make a Come Back and Put Americans Back to Work

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Once upon a time, every major American city had streetcars. As American's love of the automobile blossomed and families moved to suburbs, cities pulled up streetcar tracks to make room for cars. Fortunately, streetcars are making a comeback, and one American company is leading the way.

The Apollo Alliance has identified United Streetcar, the only manufacturer of modern streetcars in the United States, as a having the "Right Stuff":

Chandra Brown, the president of United Streetcar, literally brought back the streetcar industry to the United States after a hiatus of more than 58 years. Streetcars are now being made in America again, by union workers, and are providing a clean transportation alternative to automobiles in more and more U.S. cities. United Streetcar exceeds federal "Buy America" requirements, with 70 percent of component parts coming from more than 20 different states. At the Monday night event, Brown said that her company is competing against European companies for a contract to build streetcars for Washington, DC, and that there is currently no incentive for our nation's capital to select a company that employs American workers.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 16, 2010

Research Develop Microscopic Solar Cells Can Self Repair

I always like it when things fix themselves. From my internet to my car, I am always hoping that when things go wrong, they will simply correct themselves.  Now, scientists have developed a tiny solar cell that can do just that. 

BBC reports:

Researchers have demonstrated tiny solar cells just billionths of a metre across that can repair themselves, extending their useful lifetime.

The cells make use of proteins from the machinery of plants, turning sunlight into electric charges that can do work.

The cells simply assemble themselves from a mixture of the proteins, minute tubes of carbon and other materials.

The self-repairing mechanism, reported in Nature Chemistry, could lead to much longer-lasting solar cells.

Image:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Vishvarupa

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 3, 2010

iPhone App Drip Detective Helps You Calculate Water Waste From Drips and Leaks

Ever wonder how much water you are really wasting from the leaky faucet? Drip Detective is a new iPhone or iPod touch that lets you calculate exactly how much water is wasted. Calculations are made by either measuring volume or tapping the screen each time a drip falls from your leak.

Leaks are extremely annoying and usually fixed on the indoors, but outdoor water fixtures are a different story. We have a leaky one, and even though it is minor, it is amazing to see how much water is wasted over a day, week, month, or year.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 26, 2010

Whiskey By-Products Could Power Cars in Scotland

Biofuels have been criticized for taking away agricultural food production land, but Scottish researchers have found one solution using the by-products of whiskey. Care2 reports:
Scotland produces large quantities of whisky, enough that there are 1,600 million liters of pot ale and 187,000 tons of draff left over. These waste products can now be used to create biobutanol, which is said to produce 30 percent more power than ethanol. The university has filed a patent for the new biofuel and envisions a commercial operation to produce and sell it. Biobutanol can be used in ordinary cars, and requires no adaptions. The plan is to have the new biofuel available at petrol pumps already in use. Presumably it would be blended with conventional petroleum fuel to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It could also be offered in a pure form.

Image:  Attribution Some rights reserved by duluoz cats

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 25, 2010

Reusable Moshi Neato Computer and Flat Screen TV Cleaning Kit Features Green Packaging

Two weeks ago, we reviewed a Non-Toxic, Biodegradable, NOT Natural CyberClean for Electronics. I was disappointed with this product for many reasons, but I mostly wanted something to clean my computer screen. I usually just use a microfiber cloth, but this often just moves the dust around. I discovered in Macworld the moshi neato Screen Cleaning Kit and had to try it.

neato provides a simple yet effective solution for display cleaning. neato does not require the use of any solvents that could potentially damage the screen's anti-reflective coating. Its effectiveness lies in the fact that Neato is comprised of Terahedron, known for its superior cleaning capabilities and microfiber filaments that will not scratch your display. The other component of neato is GeckoPad, a patented elastomer that can adhere to a wide variety of surfaces. Since GeckoPad is not a glue, neato can be attached and removed repeatedly without leaving any residue. This comes in handy for sticking neato to the sides or back of the display for convenient access. Both components of neato are hand-washable and renewable. With proper care, neato can be reused countless number of times, making it the most effective and eco-friendly screen cleaner on the market today.

The grey pad is used for wiping dust particles off your screen, then the black one removes smudges. The grey pad worked well, but the black one did not get all of the marks off of the screen, although it got the majority of them.

Moshi uses soy inks on its packaging and all of the materials are recyclable. It would be better if the packaging was made from recycled materials.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 20, 2010

Improve Your Fuel Efficiency with the Lemur Vehicle Monitor Keychain

Ever wonder what your car's real gas mileage is or how much fuel you waste by idling? Lemur Vehicle Monitors LMED-001 EconoDriver Wireless Vehicle Monitor can give you those answers and more from your keychain.

Lemur Vehicle Monitors EconoDriver is a wireless vehicle monitor that provides real-time driving feedback to help drivers save money spent on fuel. Reports cost per trip in dollars and cents. Reports distance traveled. Reports wasted fuel in dollars and cents. Provides a green rating based on your style of driving, the more leaves you get the better driver you are. Also displays your fuel economy in miles per dollar so you know how far you can drive on one dollar. Plus more cool features. Simple self install. Plug and play on any vehicle made since 1996.

I have not personally tried this gadget, but it sounds really cool. You could learn a lot from your keychain that could change your driving habits to be more fuel efficient...just don't get into an accident because you are staring at it!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 29, 2010

WTF? DIY Personal Satellite Kit for $8000

Have you ever dreamed of having your own personal satellite orbiting the earth? Now's your chance. For $8000, Interorbital will sell you:

A TubeSat is designed to function as a Basic Satellite Bus or as a simple stand-alone satellite. Each TubeSat kit includes the satellite's structural components, printed circuit board (PCB) Gerber Files, electronic components, solar cells, batteries, transceiver, antennas, microcomputer, and the required programming tools. With these components alone, the builder can construct a satellite that puts out enough power to be picked up on the ground by a hand-held amateur radio receiver. Simple applications include broadcasting a repeating message from orbit or programming the satellite to function as a private orbital amateur radio relay station. These are just two examples. The TubeSat also allows the builder to add his or her own experiment or function to the basic TubeSat Kit. Examples of add-on experiments or applications include the following:

▼ Earth-from-space video imaging
▼ Earth magnetic field measurement
▼ Satellite orientation detection (horizon sensor, gyros, accelerometers, etc.)
▼ Orbital environment measurements (temperature, pressure, radiation, etc.)
▼ On-orbit hardware and software component testing (microprocessors, etc.)
▼ Tracking migratory animals from orbit
▼ Testing satellite stabilization methods
▼ Biological experiments
▼ On-orbit advertising
▼ Private e-mail
▼ Space art
▼ Space burials

Do we really need more space junk? Already, old satellites have turned into debris that is "dangerous" and could potentially impact other satellites. Do we really need a bunch of small personal satellites in outer space too?

So far, most interest in the personal satellites has come from universities and hobbyists.

Via: Discovery News

Image: Interorbital

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 29, 2010

Most Solar Town in America: Mojave Desert Town Nipton, CA

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Thanks to Skyline Solar, Nipton, California will soon be the "most solar town in America". Nipton is located in the Mojave Desert is is considered the gateway to Mojave National Preserve. With a population of only 37 residents, it would not be hard to make this town 100% solar, although Skyline is shooting for 85% as their goal.

Skyline Solar, a manufacturer of High Gain Solar (HGS) arrays for commercial, industrial, government and utility markets, today announced the first commercial installation of its High Gain Solar (HGS) 1000 system in a new municipal solar power plant in the tiny desert town of Nipton, Calif. The 80-kilowatt Nipton plant is an upgradeable solar power system that will provide roughly 85 percent of Nipton's electricity needs--the highest percentage of solar electricity of any town in the United States.

"As the gateway community to the Mojave Desert, Nipton seeks to be a good steward of the environment. Sustainability is paramount to this endeavor," said Gerald Freeman, Principal Administrator for Nipton. "It is with this in mind that we are extremely pleased to be utilizing the HGS 1000 as our primary source of energy. And the HGS upgradability is a very attractive option."

From nineteenth century mining town to green energy town, Nipton's history in the Mojave Desert continues to evolve.

Image: Ken Lund

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

May 11, 2010

US Department of Energy Awards 13 Projects $62,000,000 for Concentrated Solar Research

solar installation.jpg
The United States Department of Energy has awarded 13 projects $62,000,000 for Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). Green Car Congress reports:

CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. CSP plants can include low-cost energy storage, allowing them to provide electricity even when the sun is not shining.

The selected projects will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation to an average of about 18 hours per day, a level of production that would make it possible for these plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants.

The following companies won the awards:

  1. Abengoa Solar, Inc. - Lakewood, CO - up to $10.6 million

  2. eSolar, Inc. - Pasadena, CA - up to $10.8 million

  3. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne - Canoga Park, CA - up to $10.2 million

  4. General Atomics - San Diego, CA - up to $2.1 million

  5. HiTek Services, Inc. - Owens Cross Roads, AL - up to $3.0 million

  6. Infinia Corporation - Kennewick, WA - up to $3.0 million

  7. PPG Industries, Inc. - Cheswick, PA - up to $3.0 million

  8. SENER Engineering and Systems Inc. - San Francisco, CA - up to $3.1 million

  9. SkyFuel, Inc. - Albuquerque, NM - up to $4.3 million

  10. SunTrough Energy, Inc. - Chatsworth, CA - up to $4.5 million

  11. Terrafore, Inc. - Riverside, CA - up to $1.4 million

  12. University of South Florida - Tampa, FL - up to $2.5 million

  13. Wilson TurboPower, Inc. - Woburn, MA - up to $3.7 million

I hope the number 13 is lucky for the DOE, and the money is not spread too thin to bring about results that will make solar an actuality in replacing coal-fired power plants.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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