Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have built a urinal that converts urine directly into electricity.  And, funny enough, they put it where they thought it might get the most usage – right outside the student union bar at the university!  Staff and students are asked to donate as often as they can.

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Once employed in refugee camps, the electricity produced will power light cubicles, which are often dark and dangerous places particularly for women.

Get more information here:

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Amazing that brilliant minds found a way to use urine, typically considered to be a waste product, of all things!

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March 25th, 2015

Air-conditioning and heating are undergoing a ‘face-lift’ around the world.  The push is to make these systems ever more efficient, while decreasing their destructive impact on our planet’s environment.   Now there’s a way to keep your own personal surroundings at a temperature that’s suited distinctly to you…read all about it here:

CloudsPersonal Cloud


Follows You Around,


Keeps You Cool


This “really cool” tech, named Cloud Cast, is part of ongoing work by the SENSEable City Lab at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built environment. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed – alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure.

Studying these changes from a critical point of view and anticipating them is the goal of the SENSEable City Laboratory, a new research initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Take a look, too, at their information on turning up the heat for yourself: Heat Spotlight Warms You, Not the Room.

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March 20th, 2015

Have you ever pondered how much waste is generated when we do our grocery shopping?  From the large plastic bags at the checkout counter (which you’ve likely replaced with a reusable alternative) to the plastic produce bags, plastic containers for bulk items, and plastic packaging for all of the processed and portion snacks we love.

Not only are we perpetuating the plastic waste, but we typically only have a choice to buy food in bulk.  For example, say you want to make a recipe for savory chicken with thyme.  Your choice is to buy a plastic container of thyme or a VERY large bunch of it – enough to make the chicken recipe for a banquet party (which goes bad before you can come up with enough recipes to use it up!).

Not only does 23% of food waste end up in our landfills, but a high percentage end up in our oceans threatening marine life.  Consumer’s packaging may be used only once, but it truly lives for ever, polluting our environment.

We need more choices when grocery shopping so we can make a difference in our destiny.

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The zero waste grocery store trend is only just starting in the U.S.; so far there is only one completely waste free store in the U.S., In.Gredients in Austin, Texas.

East Berlin introduced the no package store when Original Unverpackt opened.

It may take a cultural change for some to get over their germaphobia, but in the long run, it will greatly impact our future for the better.   Together, we can turn this tide against food waste.

Would you shop at a supermarket without packaging?

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March 18th, 2015

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A new high-efficiency biogas plant developed at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany could accelerate renewable energy production around the globe (Image: Fraunhofer Institute)

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Energy and Safety Technology have developed a “biobattery” in the form of a highly efficient biogas plant that can turn raw materials like scrap wood, straw and sludge into a variety of useful energy sources including electricity, purified gas and engine oil.

The new biogas plant developed at the Fraunhofer Institute can produce biogas to generate electricity by taking a number of materials that would normally have to be disposed of at great cost (like industrial biomass waste, straw, sewage sludge, scrap wood or manure) and process them with high efficiency into a more useful output – biofuel, fertilizer and engine oil.

The end products can be used in various ways: the oil can be turned into fuel for ships or airplanes; the gases are used to produce electricity in a combined heat and power plant; and the biochar can be used as fertilizer.

Hear all about the process:

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Amusement park rides have traditionally been for… well… amusement.  They draw in flocks of families with children, those of a certain age seeking to recapture the fun they had as youngsters, and tourists visiting a particular locale seeking something other than the quiet of a museum to put a spark into their vacation travel.

Here is a concept that’s being explored by the Netherlands to turn an icon of the amusement park into an energy-producing vehicle with a multiplicty of purposes.  Besides producing electricity, the circular construction will also house apartments and a hotel, as well as other possible businesses!

Take a spin inside The Dutch Windwheel

Read more about it here:  Windwheel Roller Coaster Generates  Electricity

The bladeless wind turbine would rely on technology called an electrostatic wind energy convertor, which was developed at Delft Technical University.


How utterly wild would it be to actually LIVE inside this structure?  Since the turbine is bladeless, you’d be surrounded by comfort and quiet…a pretty nice combo for an apartment dweller.  What ‘unusual’ architecture will you contribute to the new look for the Smart Cities of tomorrow?  (Click the pic above if you want to see more about the future of building)

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