Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
January 22nd, 2015

Along with all of the latest buzz about asteroids following the December 3 launch of Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, NewScientist has published an article describing the advances that have been made in space farming.

If you want to start a space farm, head for an asteroid. It seems there’s enough fertilizer zipping around the solar system to grow veg for generations of space colonizers – and researchers are already beginning to grow viable, edible plants in space.

Wieger Wamelink and colleagues at the Alterra research institute, part of the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, reported this year that they grew a veritable salad – wheat, tomato, cress and mustard – for 50 days with no added nutrients. The plants even grew better in the simulated space soil than controls grown in poor quality Earth soil.

Asteroid soil is highly nutritious for plants, according to Michael Mautner of Lincoln University in New Zealand. He has grown edible plants directly in material from c-type asteroids, which fell to Earth in meteorites. He simply ground up the meteorite and added water.

I found this cute ad:

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How does your garden grow?

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January 16th, 2015

In some agricultural areas of Mexico, farms rely on surface water sources including streams and canals to irrigate crops. Many of these sources contact microbiological contaminants such as E.Coli bacteria, harmful protozoa, and chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. These contaminants pose substantial risks to farm workers as well as to the crops they cultivate and sell both locally and internationally.  Conventional water treatment systems use filters or chemicals to purify water but rarely address all potential contaminants with one solution.

To address this problem, Puralytics has developed LilyPad—a solar-activated photochemical water treatment product—designed to break down the harmful molecular bonds of contaminants and chemicals in streams, ponds, ditches, and other waterways near agricultural lands. This same process also kills microbes, including viruses, bacteria, and protozoa that render water unhealthy. The reusable pads last for several months at a time and help ensure farmers have access to clean water for agricultural use and improve prospects for organic farming.

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How inventive – using one energy source (solar) to clean another great energy source (water)!

For more information about this new technology click here

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January 14th, 2015

As further proof that you can now 3D-print anything, a company called Natural Machines has introduced a 3D printer for food called Foodini.

From spaghetti to chocolates to pumpkin gnocchi, the variety of foods that this new technology can produce is pretty amazing.  From savory to sweet temptations, the possibilities are endless!  The ability to plug the printer into a computer means that all sorts of novelty patterns become simple to make.

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3-D gingerbread house cookie to prop on your hot beverage cup

Currently, the device only prints the food, which must be then cooked as usual. But a future model will also cook the preparation and produce it ready to eat.  What a boon for college students!

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Pizza from start to finish

Natural Machines’ co-founder Lynette Kucsma said she is hoping that families and restaurants will both want to get their hands on the device.

The idea also comes with a social element too. “There’s a touchscreen on the front that connects to a recipe site in the cloud, so it’s an internet-of-things, connected kitchen appliance,” said Kucsma. Users will also be able to control the device remotely using a smartphone, and share their recipes with the community.

Taste tests have produced positive results – how do you feel about eating something you’ve printed?


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Packaging is perceived by many as a major cause of waste. While some might argue that that perception is misguided, the high visibility of packaging coupled with the tendency for its functionality to be short-lived means that any green credentials are often overlooked.

One emerging innovation gaining traction is the use of more natural, biological waste-derived nutrients such as straw, crops, fruit peelings and bark.

Take a look at what Dell is doing to reduce our footprint in this world:

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The European Union is also focusing a bright light on this subject with their recent initiative, the European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries (BBI). The aim is to trigger investments and create a competitive market for bio-based products and materials sourced locally and “Made in Europe”, tackling some of Europe’s biggest societal challenges.

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The aim of the BBI is to use Europe’s untapped biomass and wastes as feedstock to make fossil-free and greener everyday products. At the heart of it are advanced biorefineries and innovative technologies that will convert renewable resources into sustainable bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels.
Are you inspired by any of the new technologies that are being developed?
Do you have a really amazing proposal that is stalled due to lack of funding?  You can submit your great idea and apply for secure funding through this webpage.


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January 5th, 2015

With the holidays just behind us in the United States, many have resolved to begin 2015 by eating with consciousness of the health effects or harmful consequences of their food choices (and the potential benefits of taking off any extra pounds that accumulated from a surfeit of sugar-plums and figgy pudding…).

For many, ‘cheap’ takes precedence over all other considerations.  There’s a wave sweeping the country to help the less affluent have greater accessibility to better eating and healthier choices – and make an economic impact locally, as well.  Put down that doughnut and check it out!

Learn about Food Tank and their goals for the better use of the planet’s

food resources and the human community.

FoodTankMission: Food Tank is focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. We spotlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

Here’s an interesting Q&A with Michel Nischan, founder, CEO, and president of Wholesome Wave.  He will be speaking at the 1st Annual Food Tank Summit on January 21-22, 2015.

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