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Wind-Up and Solar-Powered Lanterns

by Justin Thomas •

Here are some lanterns that can be charged via the sun or via human power. Freeplay’s Indigo is a well-designed, rugged lantern. It’s one of those products that, when you hold it, feels extremely solid. This lantern shines with a cluster of seven bright LED bulbs. It won’t brighten a room, but at full power, it provides good illumination. It …

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Christmas Trees Made With Recycled Bottles

by Justin Thomas •

These two Christmas trees were made with recycled bottles. Quite an efficient use for all those empties! The one of the left was made with 1050 beer bottles by Paul Deakin, a student at the University of Southampton (the south coast of England). The tree on the right was made with Grolsch beer bottles. Anyone feeling inspired to knock a …

Optimal Gift Wrapping

by Justin Thomas •

Optimal gift wrapping comes from renewable sources and does not contain toxic substances. Virgin forest fiber, bleach and heavy-metal inks need not be a part of gift giving. What are some of the better choices? One of the more optimal ways to wrap gifts is Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese technique of wrapping gifts using cloth. The appeal of this form …

HP To Install 1 Megawatt Solar Rooftop

by Justin Thomas •

Hewlett-Packard has announced it will install a 1-megawatt solar array in its San Diego facility. The installation will be made up of 5,000 panels on seven buildings. It’s a large solar array, but smaller than Google’s 1.6-megawatt solar array, which is thought to be the largest corporate installation to date in the United States.

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Biomethane: A Fuel From Pure Grass

by Justin Thomas •

This is highly optimal. In Austria, cars can now fill up on a renewable, locally-produced fuel. The fuel is called “biomethane”, and it’s created by fermenting meadow grass (Poa pratensis). The grass is grown without the input of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. And it’s a true ‘cellulosic biofuel’ — it doesn’t rely on grains and oilseeds.

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Extreme Folding: MIT’s Bike Folds To Become Suitcase-Sized

by Justin Thomas •

A group at MIT has unveiled a scooter that folds in half, and collapses to the size of a suitcase. The low-cost bike could be carried on a bus or stored under your desk at work. A prototype of the new design was recently unveiled at the Milan Auto Show. According to William J. Mitchell of MIT’s Smart Cities Group, …

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Throttle-Free Electric Bike To Be Introduced In 2008

by Justin Thomas •

Scheduled for release in early 2008, the iZip Express is an electric bike that will operate without a throttle. Instead, the bike has a special torque sensor that applies power as the rider requires it. Basically, the harder you pedal, the more the motor assists you. Test drivers have said that this automatic drive system is one of the most …

The Wind Shade Roof

by Justin Thomas •

Personally, I find combination of clean energy and art to be compelling.  Michael Jantzen‘s designs certainly embody both ideas. Pictured above is his “Wind Shade Roof” concept – it’s a swimming pool complex with wind turbines integrated into the roof. The turbines provide power for night lighting, pool heating and pumps. I’m sure the design is not entirely optimal, but also …

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Solar Beads Could Cut Costs By 50%

by Justin Thomas •

Here’s another solar innovation that could reduce cost of solar energy by as much as 50%. A company in Japan has developed a novel way of making solar cells with arrays of thousands of tiny silicon spheres surrounded by hexagonal reflectors. The key advantage of the system is that it reduces the total amount of silicon required, says Mikio Murozono, …

Google Wants To Make Clean Energy Cheaper Than Coal

by Justin Thomas •

eSolar is one of the early-stage companies Google is working with. Google has announced a plan to develop sources of renewable energy that will be cheaper than coal. The new initiative, RE<C, (renewable energy is cheaper than coal) will begin by focusing on solar power technology, and will also encompass geothermal energy production. According to the Google.Org blog, of the …