Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Environmental
August 22nd, 2014
9:17
 

Inspired by the wings of desert beetles, a new device made of millions of tiny carbon tubes could one day be used to pull water from the air — even from the most arid desert air in regions where such a device would be especially useful.

Pulickel Ajayan and his colleagues from Rice University created Hygroscopic Scaffolds that attract water molecules from the air.

The amount of water vapor captured depends on the humidity of the air. The new water collection device doesn’t require any external energy, but the production costs of carbon nanotube arrays continues to be a bottleneck.

blog water

Perhaps your expertise could advance this very innovative water collection process?

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Southwest Airlines is partnering with a couple of production companies to upcycle the 80,000 airplane seats they are replacing with a lighter weight material. The decision to replace the seats was sparked by the airline’s plan to reduce fuel consumption.

Southwest partners with a Kenyan social enterprise, Alive and Kicking, to upcycle some of the old airplane seats that would typically end up in a waste stream.

Southwest Airlines

Partnering with upcycler Looptworks in Portland, Oregon, the airline will turn a portion of its leather seats into tote bags, duffle bags and backpacks that the airline will buy back to use as gifts at events.

It’s really quite a simple idea, but has a big impact on our planet.

Check out the details of Southwest Airlines’ upcycling plans

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As more and more emphasis is placed on finding alternative means of energy, here’s an interesting story on Geothermal out of American Samoa.

“The American Samoa Power Authority has teamed up with Quantec Geoscience to look for a source of geothermal energy beneath certain parts of Tutuila, as confirmed by ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae in response to Samoa News queries. The hope is that this form of renewable energy will be able to replace diesel fired power plants in the territory   …this project is designed to cost effectively map the deep layers of rock and water beneath certain parts of Tutuila without the expense and impacts of drilling.”

Mapping of Tutuila being done with an eye toward geothermal energy

Click on the map to earn more about this beautiful region.

Click on the map to learn more about this beautiful region.

Take a look at this accompanying piece on the technology from Leapfrog on 3D Geothermal Modeling

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While cricket consumption isn’t new in the world, the western world has not embraced this way of eating.

In the year 2050 it is estimated that the Earth will be populated by 9 billion people. A sustainable alternative to meat production that will produce enough for everyone, without posing additional stress on the environment is being sought. One such protein source is insects.

Insects have marginal environmental impact. They produce virtually no methane, reproduce extremely quickly, and require minimal feed, water and space. It is estimated that crickets are 20x more efficient to raise for protein than cattle.

eXo, a new start-up in Brooklyn, NY is banking on the success of their protein bars which are made with cricket flour. Their mission is to “normalize insect consumption”. Two Brown University graduates think they have created the perfect food item that American’s will find palatable.

Stockholm is really ramping up their cricket production with plans to create InsectCity and BuzzBuilding.

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Belatchew Labs has developed plans to make Stockholm a sustainable, cricket-consuming city with InsectCity and Buzz Building, an integrated network for cricket cultivation and consumption.

Do you embrace this food source? Will you make it a part of your daily diet?

 

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We consider our electronics very disposable -  when a newer model comes out, we dispose of the old one.  “Urban mining” is the term coined to recover valuable metals such as gold, silver, copper and palladium from the growing mountains of e-waste currently threatening to overwhelm the planet.

BlueOak Resources is banking on a robust business when they open their new “urban mining” refinery plant in Osceola, Arkansas. Production will begin by the end of 2015, bringing 50 technical jobs to the area.

The dumping of e-waste represents the loss of millions of tons of valuable resources. We currently spend upwards of $12Bn per year searching for virgin ore deposits, while the most concentrated sources of coveted metals is literally put to waste.

blog urban mining1

Recovery of this e-waste can be a boon as a source of rare earths and other critical metals used in alternative energy technologies such as wind turbines, hybrid vehicles and fuel cells. According to one recent article, “the use of rare earths in electronic gadgets has risen so much that their concentration in computers is actually higher than that in mines.” At present, however, less than 1% of rare earths contained in discarded products are recovered by recycling.

 blog urban mining2

A possible career choice…

 

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