Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Sustainability
March 27th, 2015
5:39
 

Botany is an exciting field.  Plant life has been cataloged, drawn/painted/photographed, distilled, and used for both nutritional and medicinal purposes for centuries.  However, overharvesting and pollution have caused many varieties to suffer and/or become extinct.  Among our goals to save the planet, plant life takes a high priority.

Read about studies taking place in South Africa to capitalize on the health-giving properties of indigenous plants.  This research could bring about economic as well as life-saving benefits!

SceletiumScientists break

 

botanical boundaries

 

And make a visit to the website for Stellenbosch University, where this research is taking place.

 

 

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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.

 blog Pee-Power-Large-1_300m

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
5:35
 

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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This story featured in Smithsonian almost brought actual tears to my eyes.  While a chocolate flavor crisis is not at the top of most peoples’ minds, my love of that particular food-stuff is unquenchable. Sooo – I thought I’d share this article, as well as links to some of the organizations that are working to keep chocolate chocolatey.

We’ve done a LOT of tinkering with food – chemicals, cloning, grain-free, organic, gluten-free, etc., etc.  Undeniably, food shortages remain a CONSTANT source of concern world-wide.  “Waste not, want not” are words to live by – but, if foods become “Taste not”, will that lead to ‘want not’, too? That’s the concern of food manufacturers…

What cookery wizardry can you add to the recipe?  If you can bring out some new technology that’s safe for the Earth and helps save the flavor of foods, you’re sure to be popular!

How to Save the Chocolate Tree

Without Sacrificing Flavor

 

Choco splash

Check out these programs dedicated to being “flavor savers”

Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative—a partnership between the FCIA and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Wilbert Phillips-Mora is head of the Cacao Genetic Improvement Program at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica.

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March 18th, 2015
10:48
 

blog fraunhofer

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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