Month: November 2019

  • SeedBomb that can Plant Trees

    No matter how you say it, the word bomb always sounds negative. In this case, there is a positive outcome. The Seed Bomb is the brainchild of a group of inventors hoping to create an effective way to not only plant seeds, but nurture young trees and other vegetation to strength without human cultivation.

    The so-called Seed Bomb is a large bomb-like device that contains many small capsule-shaped pods. The pods contain soil, moisture, seeds or seedlings, and nutrients for early plant growth. The pods resemble small terrariums that keep moisture inside and allow sunlight in. One end of the capsule is heavier than the other and is designed to settle into the earth in an upright position.

    As the plant matures, the organic capsule disintegrates and the new plant is on its own. There is no waste material remaining. No cultivation, watering or fertilization is required. Some have humorously called it a “weapon of mass forestation”.

    Although the name Seed Bomb lacks the sound of mass appeal, the idea seems solid. To plant large tracts of land with trees or other oxygen-producing plant life, the cost of labor and equipment would make the effort unattractive at best. This mass-planting method could help solve that problem.

    In areas of the world where forests have been destroyed at an alarming rate, the Seed Bomb could begin the re-growth of massive regions of the world. Using this method, a variety of trees and plants could be planted in a random manner, much like nature had originally done. The capsules require no care or human interaction to create viable plant life. The method may be too expensive for smaller areas or in developed countries where re-planting regulations have been enacted to protect forests from total loss.

    Another use not mentioned by the inventors may be the planting of food crops in undeveloped countries. The capsules could be filled with a food crop capable of thriving in a previously barren region. Genetic engineers could help with plant development. The self-sustaining capsules would allow the crop to become hardy and prepared for the ambient environment, perhaps eliminating famine.

    The Seed Bomb could be used to return previously extinct plant life to remote areas without leaving a significant human footprint. How about placing genetically engineered plants in existing forests to control insects or disease? Perhaps placing plants that provide food for animals is another use for this technology.

  • Urban Decay – Does the rise of the city mean the end of the countryside ?

    Urban sprawl or suburban sprawl is a term related to the spreading of a city and its suburbs over rural land at the fringe of an urban area. Sprawl consumes much more land than traditional urban developments because of the low-density nature of the sprawling development.

    The trend in the United States and many other developed nations has been to develop new land close to urban areas, but not within walking distance. The idea has been that low-density areas offer better schools, lower crime rates and increased privacy. For the most part, this has been true. However, closer examination reveals that inhabitants of these low-density developments are statistically more overweight, in poorer health and require the increased use of automobiles. The latter causing increased fossil fuel emissions and a higher rate of automobile deaths.

    In addition to residential sprawl, retail and manufacturing sprawl is also a concern. Traditional industrial developments involve the extensive use of impervious paving methods and huge energy consumption. The trend has been to develop residential areas as far from industrial and retail developments as is reasonably possible. This type of development increases the automobile dependence that America has been experiencing.

    Another problem has been the more recent trend toward so called leap frog development. Some developers have purchased large tracts of rural land, much of it wooded land, and have cleared the land to create large subdivisions with large individual tracts. Although an attractive development to some, the reality is that severe damage is done to the environment and indigenous wildlife. In these cases, what had been wildlife habitat has been de-forested and developed for human use. These developments break-up the continuity of wildlife areas and limit the ability of such indigenous life to survive.

    There is, however, encouraging news. Many strip-malls are being converted to lifestyle centers which include common areas, plazas, café’s and recreational spaces. This increases the public use of these previously low-density developments and provides needed recreational opportunities. European countries such as France Belgium and Germany have implemented size restrictions for malls, superstores and strip-malls in an effort to control sprawl.

    Many cities have enacted growth boundaries in an effort to stop sprawl and encourage the re-development of urban areas that are currently in disrepair. This has brought new life to many previously disadvantaged areas and has increased the property values thereof.

    The American Institute of Architects recommends against sprawl and instead endorses smart, mixed-use development, including buildings in close proximity to one another that cuts down on automobile use, saves energy and promotes walkable, healthy, well-designed neighborhoods.

    The Sierra Club, a San Francisco, California (USA) based environmental organization, opposes sprawl and supports investment in existing communities. Many other such organizations worldwide are taking a stand against sprawl and are advocating smart design technologies.

    A number of studies indicate that affluent empty nesters are heading back to inner city areas to downsize their housing and enjoy the cultural diversity and convenience of these high-density areas. In many such cases an automobile is not required. For example, in most US cities, older parts of the city are being demolished and new condominium mixed-use developments have emerged. These communities offer walking-convenience to shopping, dining, entertainment and recreational facilities of many diverse types. As a result, many urban areas that were previously high-crime areas, have become safe and healthy, upscale residential areas.

    It would appear that two things need to happen to prevent the increase of sprawl. First, every area at risk of sprawl will need to enact legislation to limit growth and set boundaries. Second, citizens must take an active role in affecting such legislation, while also working locally to discourage sprawl by taking advantage of the low-cost real estate hidden in every city.

  • Is Nanotechnology a Threat or an Opportunity?

    Nanotechnology is the engineering of tiny particles, systems or machines. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about the width of three or four atoms. Scientists are developing machines so small that the naked human eye cannot see them.

    The theoretical possibilities of nanotechnology were first envisioned in 1959 by renowned physicist Richard Feynman. The word nanotechnology was popularized in the 1980’s by K. Eric Drexler. The US National Nanotechnology Initiative was created to fund nanotechnology research.

    These tiny machines can be used to build other tiny machines or to perform any purpose desired. Such tiny creations are already in use today and have been for some time. Here is how many experts describe the development timeline:

    (a) 1st Generation Passive Nanostructures (2000)
    Dispersed and contact nanostructures (aerosols, colloids, coatings)

    (b) 2nd Generation Active Nanostructures (2005)
    Bio-active and health-related (targeted drugs, biodevices)

    (c) 3rd Generation Systems of Nanosystems (2010)
    Assembling and networking mechanical systems (robotics)

    (d) 4th Generation Molecular Nanosystems (2015-2020)
    Designed atomic structures (Independent systems)

    Nanosystems can be used for any imaginable purpose. Perhaps unfortunately, that includes military uses. Any military use could also become a terrorist threat, if this technology falls into the wrong hands. However, military use may become necessary if terrorists obtain the technology from a country other than the US. Just as medicines and life-saving procedures can be delivered by nanosystems, so can biological weapons and other destructive nanosystems.

    The possibilities of nanosystems sound like something from a comic book or science fiction movie. Small machines that can be injected into the human body to produce a necessary drug or hormone are not out of the question. Microscopic machines that can perform detailed microsurgery procedures without cutting the skin are already being developed.

    The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology is working to design and promote mechanisms for safe development and effective administration of molecular manufacturing. As with any emerging technology, it is difficult to govern something that has never been done before, yet as new technologies develop, systems to control them develop as well. It seems that necessity speeds the processes on all levels.

    Imagine a tiny nanosystem that could produce insulin within the body after being injected by a very small needle. Insulin-dependent diabetes would be a worry of the past. Perhaps an antibody-producing nanosystem that eliminates minor illnesses is more to your liking. Or a nanosystem that hunts and kills cancer cells without chemo-therapy or radiation. All of this and more is possible through nanotechnology.

    Likewise, tiny killing machines and bio-weapons nanosystems are possible. Once again we find the human race on the verge of amazing advancements that could improve the entire human condition or destroy the entire human race. This is not a new situation for us.

    The discovery of nuclear energy has been both a blessing and a curse. Nuclear power plants are capable of producing enormous amounts of electrical energy or create bombs that could destroy everything we know. Advanced medical discoveries have produced amazing new medicines that can improve a person’s way of life or be abused and ruin lives.

    The end result will depend on the decisions we make as the human race. There will always be those who work to subvert and distort the intended use of an invention or discovery, yet we cannot stop working for new discoveries, for it is the lifeblood of human nature. We will always want to find ways to improve our lives and the lives of others.

    As with anything else, there will be risks of opportunities and threats of danger involved with nanotechnology. However, can we really stand in the way of discoveries that could very well lengthen and even save our very lives?

  • Carbon Nanotubes Make Bulletproof Vest Bounce Off Bullets

    Nanotechnology is the study and development of particles and even machines on a cellular scale. A nanometer equals one-billionth of a meter. Nanoparticles are already being used in medicine and nanomachines are being developed to perform a variety of tasks. Nanotechnology will affect every part of our lives within the next decade.

    For example, Nanoparticles are currently being used to carry medicines directly to a targeted organ while not affecting other organs. This decreases the occurrence of side-effects due to healthy organs being harmed by medicine intended for a diseased organ. Another exciting development will be nanomachines that produce insulin from within the bloodstream of a person suffering from diabetes, thereby eliminating the need for injections or oral medications.

    Nanotechnology will also improve the lives and safety of persons in every area of endeavor. Scientists at the University of Sydney are developing a nanoscale carbon fiber that could revolutionize bullet-proof vests. Traditional bullet-proof vests are not always bullet-proof. A traditional bullet-proof vest works by distributing the force of impact over an area larger than the bullet. Unfortunately, the impact of the bullet can still cause internal injury, depending on the distance from which the bullet was fired and the caliber and velocity of the bullet.

    Carbon Nanotubes woven into bullet-proof vests absorb the force of the bullet and cause the projectile to bounce off, causing no harm to the person wearing the vest. The same carbon Nanotubes could be woven into any garment, giving the wearer optimal protection from projectiles and other objects that may cause a threat. Carbon is an abundantly available, natural material that is relatively easy to work with.

    Not only can bullet-proof vests be made more reliable, but safety clothing and gear of all types could likewise be made safer. Industries such as construction, transportation, airlines, heavy manufacturing, blasting and many more could benefit from the added safety of carbon Nanotubes woven into garments of all kinds.

    Police officers and soldiers in the field would be the most obvious to benefit from new bullet-proof technologies. Traditional bullet-proof vests are heavy and bulky, often limiting the movement of the wearer. The new nanotube vests would be thin and lightweight, yet more effective than the older versions. Police and soldiers would be able to move more freely and carry more equipment due to the greatly reduced weight and bulk of nanotube bullet-proof vests.

  • Network cooling

    If one person, running LocalCooling on one computer, can make a difference to global warming, imagine what a change could be made by running LocalCooling on all the computers in an organization! Not only does installing this application translate into money saved through energy savings, but your commitment to LocalCooling proves your environmental credentials and shows your willingness to put in place practices that reduce your carbon footprint and CO2 emissions.

    To make it easier for organizations to implement energy savings, LocalCooling is designed to be installed across whole networks of computers, quickly and easily. Enjoy the benefits of network cooling, today, by following these easy steps:

    1. Create a corporate account on LocalCooling.com. It is important that when you create this you select I want to create this group, from the Create an account page, and then enter a group name.

    2. Then create LocalCooling.com accounts, for all network users, by exporting the directory service file in comma spaced variable [CSV] format.

    3. You can then upload the CSV version of the directory service file to our website. The upload option can be found towards the bottom of the My account page of LocalCooling.com.

    4. You will then need to ensure that LocalCooling is running on each user’s PC. To achieve this, individual users can install LocalCooling themselves. Alternatively, as Network Administrator, you can use one of a number of different network deployment methods, including logon scripts, Active Directory Group Policies, SMS/Configuration Manager, or a range of third party products. For more information about MSI options please visit:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742606.aspx

  • Impact of Toxic Household Chemicals On The Environment

    Just a generation ago no one seemed concerned about any danger with common household products and the environment. Cleaning and home care habits that seemed harmless in the past now pose a danger to the earth and its inhabitants. Below we will look at a few of the most common dangerous ingredients in household products.

    • 2-butoxyethanol (aka: ethylene glycol butyl ether)
      Contained in many carpet cleaners and specialty cleaners. It can be inhaled or absorbed by the skin and may cause liver or kidney damage. Studies indicate this chemical can affect the reproductive organs of humans and wildlife.
    • Methylene Chloride
      Contained in many paint strippers and related products. Listed as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
    • Naphthalene (or: paradichlorobenzene)
      Used in moth balls and moth crystals. Both chemicals are suspected to cause cancer in humans and wildlife.
    • Silica
      Made from ground quartz. Known to be cancer-causing when inhaled. Found in many abrasive cleaners.
    • Toluene
      Used in solvents and many paints. It is a reproductive toxin to humans and wildlife. Expecting mothers can NEVER use products containing toluene.
    • Trisodium Nitrilotriacetate
      Used in laundry detergents and listed as a possible carcinogen. Can also adversely affect the operations of wastewater treatment plants.
    • Xylene
      Found in graffiti and scuff removers, some spray paints and certain adhesives. Known to cause reproductive damage and memory loss.
    • Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite)
      Perhaps the most commonly used household cleaning product. Very dangerous, even deadly, when mixed with certain household cleaners containing acids (toilet bowl cleaners for example). Very toxic to fish when released in the environment.
    • Phosphates
      Formerly a main ingredient of laundry detergent, phosphates have been all but eliminated from laundry detergents, but are still used in dishwashing detergents. Most commercial dishwashing detergents contain 30-40% phosphates. Phosphates choke natural waterways and kill aquatic life.

    Impact of Toxic Household Chemicals On The Environment

    One idea might be to make a list of these chemicals to take shopping with you. Check the labels for these ingredients and stop using these products. There are many new products available that do not contain these chemicals, yet still do a great job in the home. For the time being, the healthy alternatives are a little more expensive, but the healthful value is far greater than the expense. Try looking for locally-made, natural cleaning products when possible. An internet search will also lead to many new products that do not contain harmful chemicals.

  • Environmental Priorities

    The World is experiencing a global food price crisis which saw prices of wheat rising by 130% in the year to March 2008, and those of soya and rice rising by 87% and 74% respectively over the same period. The consequences of this are real increases of poverty, global inequality and a reduction in life expectancy. Prices have since declined since March, but are still somewhat higher than levels back in 2000.

    The causes of this are various, and include the high oil prices of the last few years. However the widespread drive, by many nations, to increase the production of biofuels (which involve turning food into fuel) certainly isn’t helping.

    The point here is not to riff on a depressing melody about how the World is slowly starving itself to death through excessive population growth, because it isn’t. Over the last 50 years, while the World’s population has more than doubled (to around 6.5 billion), the food available, per head of population, has kept up and even increased. Instead my point is that while biofuels seem, at a level that appeals to us viscerally, to be a clever way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, in the short-term they cause more harm than good by increasing death rates due to global poverty.

    Therefore the question we must ask ourselves is which is the more important problem to address: global inequality today as a result of poverty, or the risk of increased global inequality tomorrow by not adequately addressing the problem of man-made environmental change? Let’s look at this another way. Standards of living and levels of food consumption are a function of the wealth of the nation, and we also know that national wealth is a function of levels of industrialization and economic output. If we then acknowledge that economic growth still, generally speaking, requires increased energy consumption we are faced with the hard fact that reductions in poverty will create increases in CO2 emissions.

    Put bluntly, with today’s technology less poverty means more CO2. Placing this in perspective, since 1981 economic growth has reduced the numbers of people living in poverty by a little over half a billion, (or has halved levels of global poverty in comparative terms) at the same time as World population has increased by about 2 billion, from around 4.5 billion in 1980, to around 6.5 billion now. This reduction in poverty has been energized by fossil fuels, and increasing CO2 emissions are the consequence.

    Although it is very easy to talk of the World’s “addiction” to fossil fuels and to paint cataclysmic images of global meltdown from out-of-control global warming, but this planet presently forms a home of 6.5 billion people who keep themselves alive using their wit, intellect and, in no small part, the substantial energy resources they have to hand.

    Blithely demanding sudden reductions in CO2 emissions without adequately explaining where these reductions will come from may condemn millions of people to poverty and loss of life. Indeed, although we can probably agree that reductions in CO2 emissions are much to be desired, should they be global development priority number one? Is there not a danger that they might instead impede the achievement of other valuable objectives such as the eradication of global poverty?

    And there is another thought worth considering. Although the 20th century saw a rapid growth in population, from about 1.7 billion people on 1900, up to 6 billion in 2000 this trend isn’t expected to continue. Preindustrial nations tend to have high birth-rates and high-death rates, giving a low and stable population. As they industrialize and start to experience the benefits of better food and higher standards of living the death-rate drops quickly while the birth-rate diminishes more slowly.

    This phase (of high birth rates and low death rates) is associated with the rapidly growing population we have seen in most of the World in the last 150 years. There is a final transition when both the birth rate and the death rates are low, and which is associated with a stable population level. The populations of Europe and Japan have reached this stage (indeed they may even be diminishing) while North America is reaching it (population growth in the US is still driven up by high numbers of immigrants, who also tend to have a higher birth rate).

    This suggests that the more quickly countries make the transition to economic affluence, the less time they spend in the hinterland of low death-rate and high birth rate associated with rapid levels of population growth and so the lower their eventual maximum population. So, if measures we implement to stem CO2 emissions in some way slow the rate of economic growth we might inadvertently increase the eventual maximum world population and so actually worsen the long-term drain on the World’s resources!

  • Hottest Chili Pepper In The World Used In Hand Grenades

    Defense scientists in India are working on a new use for the Bhut Jolokia pepper. The Bhut Jolokia pepper is also known as Ghost Chili or Ghost Pepper and is listed in the Guinness World Records as the hottest chili pepper in the world. Indian weapons experts believe the peppers can be used in modified hand grenades to disable and disperse unruly crowds without hurting anyone.

    Scoville Heat Units (SHU) is the measurement used to define the hotness of chili’s and other peppers when ingested. Capsaicin is the chemical that causes peppers to burn the senses. The highest level of capsaicin delivers the hottest sensation. Bhut Jolokia peppers rate the highest at 1,041,427 SHU. By comparison, the well-known habanera pepper rates a mere 350,000 SHU!

    Although Bhut Jolokia peppers are used for seasoning food, experienced cooks do so very carefully. Other common uses include medical treatments for stomach ailments and heat exhaustion. This unique chili pepper originated in northern India and is a naturally-occurring hybrid. Natives have long used the pepper extract as a deterrent for wild elephants.

    Indian officials believe the use of Bhut Jolokia pepper grenades will serve a useful role in controlling crowd insurgency without inflicting permanent harm on rioters. The burning effects last for about thirty (30) minutes and effectively disable the sinuses and eyes.

    In the United States, sprays containing pepper extract have been in use for decades. Private individuals can purchase pepper spray canisters for personal protection without any special permit and it is not illegal to carry them. Granted, the pepper extract in these sprays is nowhere near as hot as Bhut Jolokia, but perhaps with good reason.

    The US legal system has determined that in some cases the use of pepper spray has caused permanent damage to a person and has further found the user of the spray liable for damages. If an innocent person is exposed to pepper spray, the user of the spray is guilty of an unprovoked attack.

    Then there is the lesser-of-two-evils consideration. If a rioting mob threatens the welfare and safety of innocent bystanders, which is better, bullets or pepper grenades? Most of us would prefer the pepper grenades. Although this is an interesting development to watch in India, the majority of Americans probably hope Bhut Jolokia pepper will only appear in very select restaurant kitchens under strict supervision.

  • Energy Generation and Conservation

    How we generate energy is the question that seems to underlie all others when discussing environmental issues, so this article will focus on just discussing some “facts” about energy usage, as best we know them.

    In 2005 the World consumed around 500 EJ (5 * 1020 or 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules) of energy. But what does this mean in practice? Well (and apologies for any people still using “Imperial” units, but this article will be in metric) one Joule is enough energy to apply a force of one Newton for a distance of 1m in 1 second. Or it is very roughly the energy released by a small apple falling one meter down from its tree. If the World used 500EJ per year, then it uses 16 * 1012 Joules every second. Since one joule per second is a Watt we can say that the World needs 16 * 1012 Watts of power to operate.

    However, what does it mean to “consume” energy? After all the physical law of the conservation of energy states that in an isolated system the total amount of energy remains constant. Well by “consume” we actually mean “convert”: for example we convert the chemical potential energy of fossil fuels into electrical energy (and a lot of waste heat) in a power station. We then distribute that electricity around the country (converting some more of it into heat in the process) and eventually convert that electricity into, for example, the light, sound and heat generated by a TV. (Quite quickly even the light and sound will also become heat as their energy dissipates.)

    In each isolated system (say the power station) if we add up all the energy outputs (heat, sound, light and electricity) they will equal the energy inputs (in a power station, fuel oil). However that isn’t to say that all the energy output is particularly useful and much of the energy (such as the heat disappearing out of the chimney) is wasted.

    Looking at another system, if you stick one liter of petrol in your car, you will have access to around 35,000 Joules of energy (stored as chemical potential energy of the chemical bonds that make up the petrol) of which only about a fifth (20%) will be converted into the kinetic energy (ie the “movement energy”) of your car, while the rest will be converted into heat (of the engine block, tires and break blocks etc), light (of the break blocks, or of the explosion of combustion), and sound.

    Your car may also have converted some of the energy of the drive shaft into electricity and then stored it as chemical potential energy in a battery, and if you were driving up a hill you may have also converted the energy in the petrol to gravitational potential energy. However, in both these circumstances the “cost” of the stored energy is that less of the chemical energy of the fuel will have been converted into kinetic energy.

    So if the World needs 5 * 1020 J per year, where does it come from? The following table shows the contributions different energy sources make to overall usage:

    Resource – Percentage usage – Energy/year in EJ (10^18 Joules)

    • Oil – 37% – 185
    • Coal – 25% – 125
    • Nuclear – 6% – 30
    • Biomass – 4% – 20
    • Hydro – 3% – 15
    • Solar Heat – 0.5% – 2.5
    • Wind – 0.3% – 1.5
    • Geothermal – 0.2% – 1
    • Biofuels – 0.2% – 1
    • Solar Photovoltaic – 0.04% – 0.2

    The first three items on the list are fossil fuels, and together with nuclear energy are classified as being “non-renewable” since there is a limited supply of oil, coal, gas and uranium in the Earth’s crust. Estimates of precisely how much energy is stored as these non-renewable sources is speculatively given as something between 300 * 1024 and 400 * 1024 joules of energy. Although this high figure might indicate otherwise, many commentators suggest that oil and gas might only last another 50 years, while we only have 150 years supply of coal and 250 years supply of uranium remaining.

    However major caveats should perhaps be added to these figures of fossil fuel and uranium reserves. Oil was stunningly cheap throughout the 1990s despite the fact that even then China’s economy was growing rapidly. Cheap oil means not only that we have more than we need, but also that there is little spare cash to invest in finding new oil fields and bringing them online (hence the World’s reserves may appear lower than they actually are because we don’t have the financial incentive to look for them).

    Recent political instability and ongoing global economic growth have done much to limit the availability of oil, driving the price up. But the price signal of increased prices has stimulated new investment in the search for and development of new oil fields and also has made the World’s vast reserves of oil sands (which exceed the World’s reserves of conventional crude oil, but which aren’t traditionally included in estimates of global oil reserves) cost effective to develop driving down the price of energy as supply improves. Furthermore, since fast breeder nuclear reactors generate more nuclear fuel as part of their waste, to a degree nuclear power might even be renewable.

    The remaining items on the list are renewable fuels most of which gain their energy more or less directly from the Sun (which provides the earth with 4.57 * 1024 Joules of energy per year, of which 2.34 * 1024 actually makes it to the planet surface). This is a phenomenal amount of energy, and redirecting just 0.02% would be enough to meet all our present energy requirements, while having the added benefit of emitting no carbon dioxide. However all the renewables bring their own particular problems including the fact that they are generally accessible for only a limited amount of time: solar power isn’t available at night (also the technology to convert sunlight into electricity in the day is expensive), while wind power is less available at night and during summer, tidal power relies on the twice daily tides, and wave power is also limited during the summer months.

    Although it isn’t a point that is often dwelled upon in great detail, electrical energy is also very difficult to store on a large scale (which is another factor in favor of fossil fuels, which are natural stores of energy). National grids tend to store energy by pumping water to high dams and then releasing it when they need the energy, but other than that they are limited to turning power stations on and off. The large scale use of batteries to store megawatts of electricity is not particularly practical. Much has been said of the use of hydrogen as an energy source, however since the hydrogen would probably be extracted from water, using electricity, it would be fairer to say that hydrogen is primarily a mechanism for storing electricity. Having isolated the hydrogen using electricity, the stored hydrogen is then used in a fuel cell to generate a smaller amount of electrical energy.

    As outlined at the beginning, this article is only designed to be an accelerated and sweeping overview of the manner and extent of the World’s energy consumption, which I hope remained reasonably realistic about the merits of the different technologies. The key point to take away is that the World requires truly massive amounts of energy, and that fossil fuels, for all their faults, are used because they are effective. Most people would agree that CO2 emissions make the long-term use of fossil fuels undesirable, however when promoting alternative and renewable energy sources we shouldn’t be unrealistic about the size of the problem of making these viable at an industrial level.

  • Power Shirt Generates Electricity Using Nanotechnology

    Nanotechnology is the science of engineering microscopic particles to perform tasks on a cellular level. Some nanoscientists are developing microscopic machines to perform tasks in a world so small that the unassisted human eye is unable to watch. Various nano-fields have emerged: nanomedicine, nanoengineering, nanoagriculture, and many more. Scientists are making astounding discoveries on the nano scale level.

    A growing number of people are discovering new and innovative ways to create electricity without the use of fossil fuels or other non-renewable sources, even green ways to power portable electronic devices. Most people use a number of portable electronic devices such as, cell phones, PDA’s, laptop and micro computers, MP3’s, games, etc. Power for these devices can be harnessed using small solar cells, micro-wind generators, hand-crank generators and more.

    Scientists at Georgia Tech are developing a power-generating fiber that can be woven into commonly worn articles of clothing. Zinc Oxide, a naturally-occurring substance formerly used in medicines, is formed into nanowires. These microscopic wires are then woven into textiles made of virtually any fabric (the researchers used Kevlar in their experiment). As the nanowires move among the fabric, tiny vibrations and friction create electricity. And we all thought static electricity in clothing was bad.

    It is estimated that one (1) square meter, or about nine (9) square feet of this nanowire-woven fabric can create eighty (80) milliwatts of electricity. This power can then be converted to a form useable by your portable electronic devices.

    When woven into fabric used for exercise, such as running shorts or jogging pants, the amount of electricity produced would be increased by movement. Power could then be stored in rechargeable batteries and transferred to small electronic devices. Clothing designed for night use could also be illuminated using the power generated by the garment itself, thereby providing light for work or safety.

    As this technology improves, we could see power-generating nanowires woven into automobile seats, home furnishings, blankets or any imaginable fabric application. Imagine an outdoor flag that generates small amounts of electricity when the wind blows, stores that power in rechargeable batteries, then those batteries are used to recharge your cell phone!

    The principle of vibration creating movement in the fabric which produces electricity has made some persons wonder how this material might work in sound-dampening blankets. If such blankets were placed around large machinery or other loud equipment or devices, the vibrations could create electricity for green uses. Perhaps there is at last, a useful purpose for noise pollution.

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