Innovation

Flush choices

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Especially during the election, many among the climate-concerned called for a "Manhattan Project"-style initiative to devise or develop the technology that's going to save our asses.

But that's not a good analogy, because we don't need one solution — instead of trying to create one thing, we must solve a myriad of problems that don't all stem from the same stalk, even if energy is the most common point. That means we need a myriad of solutions.


They make the solar better

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At Mass. Energy's annual meeting Wednesday night, solar vet Henry Vandermark told me about of SolarWave Energy, a venture he has in start-up that provides a real-time, remote monitor for solar systems. 

As I understand it, Vandermark will sell his service to installers, as a constituent of their warranty services, allowing them to make service calls before a crisis, and avoid making business calls when they may not be necessary. 


Energy-harvesting wall switches

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An interesting product I came across at GreenBuild was the home-control system being offered by Verve Livings Systems. The tech-candy for me is their wall switches, which convert the energy you use to flip the switch into a pulse that sends the instruction to a a central controller, dousing or dimming the light in question, or performing more complicated routines if programmed that way.


E.O. Wilson on GMOs

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As I continue to read "Naturalist," EO Wilson's biography, bolstered by my exposure to him during the closing session of GreenBuild, I find myself increasingly convinced that everything he says is considered, wise, and valuable. Certainly, this is hagiography, but at least I see it as such, and for today, I'm sticking with it anyway. You can judge as you wish. In his GreenBuild appearance, while talking about water and food scarcity, both of which are worthy topics on their own, he paused for this blanket statements: "Many people are afraid of a super bug.


A better approach for harvesting rainwater?

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One "future growth opportunity" for our green practices at home is capturing the rain as it falls, to be used for irrigation. To me, the barrels are mostly unsightly and they are a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. I was thinking that I would need to get a big tank, pay someone to dig up the yard, and then put in pumps — all pretty invasive, not to mention expensive.


Bucky Fuller, visionary even now

I once said in print that Jean-Luc Ponty was the greatest jazz violinist alive, and a friend who was a more seasoned music critic blanched at my boldness — who was I to opine so broadly? He was certainly right — I'm nowhere near the authority on such a matter. But I also felt that not only was it a defensible opinion, but who was anyone to say otherwise, definitively? No objective standard exists to settle the point.


Mini-nuke plants

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Writing at offgrid.com, Nick Rosen discusses micro-nuclear plants, which, the story says, could power 20,000 homes for 10 years or more.

The devices, said to be only a few feet across, would be buried well underground, have no moving parts, and be powered by low-energy uranium that would be difficult to enrich into nuclear weapons. All the steam, to run turbines, and waste would be contained underground.


From Tom Friedman

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Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”


Carbon sequestration trial in Germany

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Using Swedish technology, a utility plant in Spremberg, Germany, near the Polish border, has begun capturing the carbon released by the burning of coal for electricity.

First, the lignite coal is being burned in pure oxygen, which makes the effluent cleaner — still carbon-laden but with less sulphur, mercury, and other elements typical to coal burning.

The effluent is then compressed until it is liquid, and injected underground into naturally occurring caverns.


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