Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Water Pressures
August 17th, 2015

While bacterial spores are not the stuff of everyday delight (at least, not among the vast majority of the world’s population), there’s a conversational buzz about them that might just provide a lot of happy to a lot of the planet.  Producing energy to power our many gadgets and gizmos – not to mention fueling our transporatation and warming or cooling our homes – is a BIG concern.  As we seek new ways that are ecologically-minded to accomplish that goal, there’s research afoot to harness the power in an unlikely source.

Bioengineers from Columbia University have demonstrated a technique for powering small devices using nothing more than changes in atmospheric humidity.  This technique uses ‘water power’, via evaporation, to create ENERGY!  And the hope is that powering these small devices will be scalable to larger applications.  Biology, chemistry and engineering unite and…

“…new research shows that bacterial spores can be used to actively convert humidity into energy and force, potentially powering all kinds of machines and devices.”


Photo credit: Mindbug Studio

Read this piece from Discovery News and watch the videos shared there:

Hot and Humid?


There’s Energy in That


So, next time you’re caught in the sticky weather, think of the uses for all the perspiration you’re enveloped in that’s evaporating without you having to do a thing…  Makes you feel like a human battery charger, doesn’t it?

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The word “nerd” has been applied to those of a particularly scholarly or bookish disposition.  (Generally, it’s not used in a complimentary fashion.   It’s also been the name of a candy – but that’s another story altogether.)  Perhaps ‘nerd-i-ness’ will get a better reputation from it being the appellation of a new item:  the Nano-Electro-Robotic Device (NERD) – a robotic germ!  It’s a different slant, and it comes from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“The research is the latest entry in the first generation of bio-electromechanical devices designed to combine living organism with nonliving technology to conduct research and solve a variety of different problems by using miniature machines too small for the naked eye to see.”


Graphene dot germ

Here, the spore reacts actively to humidity; and the reaction is translated to an electronic response from the interfaced graphene quantum dots. (Credit: Berry Research Laboratory at UIC)

Robotic germ equipped with


graphene quantum dots


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February 9th, 2015

If you are a fan of restricting your water usage and waste to help our planet, you’ll love this Shower of the Future!  Although not currently widely available on the consumer market, the OrbSys recycling shower may be the future of your cleanliness routine…  A new kind of shower, created in Sweden, that saves up to 90% of the water and 80% of the energy consumed by a normal shower!

orbital-recycling-showerThe shower head system is designed to purify and recycle the water you use in the shower, pumping freshly cleaned & filtered water back onto you – saving water normally ‘wasted’ that goes straight down the drain.  Read about it here: Save Water!  And take a look at this article as well:  Possibly the most energy efficient shower in history

There’s a complete FAQ section on the OrbSys company website – if you’re interested in owning one of these, you may find this information helpful: How can I get my Shower of the Future as soon as possible?   The only way to get the Shower of the Future before 2016 is to Pre-order it on this website.

Of course, if you normally serenade the surrounding bathroom as you shower, you may have to choose longer songs that will allow you to fully enjoy your energy saving shower system.  And you can simultaneously feel virtuous about your contribution to helping the environment!  (You may want to invest in those singing lessons you thought about, too – for the sake of anyone who is within earshot of your ‘free concerts’ Smiley face)


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January 31st, 2015

The study of life forms other than human has led to many fascinating (and sometimes awe-inspiring) discoveries.  Each marvel that the plant and animal kingdoms reveal to us provides new roads for adapting these behaviors into our technologies.

Sensor technology has been incorporated into many current products, and has the potential to be used for a myriad of diverse purposes.  New York University (NYU) is examining what is being termed as a “Sixth Sense” in fish.  Beyond autos that self-park, avoid collisions, and don’t allow you to change lanes when there’s an oncoming vehicle in your blind spot, what applications can you envision that will make practical use of sensory technology?  Read the news release from NYU and find your way to float your ideas!

They See Flow Signals:  Researchers Identify Nature of Fish’s “Sixth Sense”Fishy


And here’s another article from that discusses the research:  Fish “flow sensors” give them sixth sense

If you’re interested in the published study by the researchers, click here for the article in the journal Physical Review Letters of The American Physical Society.

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January 13th, 2015

When we think of hydro-electric power, we usually envision massive structures – - mighty dams that pump vast amounts of water into energy production.  What if bigger isn’t always better?  Here’s a story out of Colorado in the United States that shows how you can be small and mighty!

“A fledgling industry is taking shape, focused on putting small electricity generation on already existing water infrastructure – known as small hydro.”  (Check out the related content links at the bottom of the story for more information…)


Small Hydro Is Renewable


Energy The New Congress


Might Just Get Behind


Colorado Dam

The outlet at Button Rock Dam on Ralph Price Reservoir, near Lyons, Colo.
Joe Mahoney Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

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