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I have been doing research on more social games (see my old post) and came across Harpooned– a free downloable game about whaling in Japan.

Harpooned is a free game for Windows. It is a Cetacean Research Simulator, where you play the role of a Japanese scientist performing research on whales around Antarctica.

Space Movers: The Bloom Initiative

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Social Gaming Network (SGN) is known for making popular Facebook apps and games. They just release a new green game called “Space Movers: The Bloom Initiative” focus on tree conversations.

From Market Watch:

SGN has united with the Arbor Day Foundation to re-grow forests around the world. SGN will donate up to $50,000 of Space Movers game revenue — equivalent to planting 50,000 new trees — to the Arbor Day Foundation. With the help of donors and corporate sponsors like SGN, the Arbor Day Foundation works to support positive tree conservation and education projects. SGN will also provide the opportunity for users to donate money to the Arbor Day Foundation from within the game.

Space Movers is the first social game production of its kind. The game was designed in-house at SGN, with an original soundtrack and advanced social gaming features and branded with the Arbor Day Foundation’s logo throughout the game. Space Movers will first be available on Facebook and soon players will be able to compete asynchronously with old friends and new opponents on additional social networks like MySpace and Bebo. With the release of this game, SGN has catapulted social gaming to the next level. Not only does Space Movers include adorable characters, a quick paced gaming experience, and a catchy beat — but game play is now a meaningful and world changing experience.


A new process stores carbon dioxide in precast concrete.

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A Canadian company says that it has developed a way for makers of precast concrete products to take all the carbon-dioxide emissions from their factories, as well as neighboring industrial facilities, and store them in the products that they produce by exposing those products to carbon-dioxide-rich flue gases during the curing process. Industry experts say that the technology is unproven but holds great potential if it works.

Concrete accounts for more than 5 percent of human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions annually, mostly because cement, the active ingredient in concrete, is made by baking limestone and clay powders under intense heat that is generally produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Making finished concrete products–by mixing cement with water, sand, and gravel–creates additional emissions because heat and steam are often used to accelerate the curing process.

But Robert Niven, founder of Halifax-based Carbon Sense Solutions, says that his company’s process would actually allow precast concrete to store carbon dioxide. The company takes advantage of a natural process; carbon dioxide is already reabsorbed in concrete products over hundreds of years from natural chemical reactions. Freshly mixed concrete is exposed to a stream of carbon-dioxide-rich flue gas, rapidly speeding up the reactions between the gas and the calcium-containing minerals in cement (which represents about 10 to 15 percent of the concrete’s volume). The technology also virtually eliminates the need for heat or steam, saving energy and emissions.

Work is expected to begin on a pilot plant in the province of Nova Scotia this summer, with preliminary results expected by the end of the year. If it works and is widely adopted, it has the potential to sequester or avoid 20 percent of all cement-industry carbon-dioxide emissions, says Niven. “If the technology is commercialized as planned, it will revolutionize concrete manufacturing and mitigate hundreds of megatons of carbon dioxide each year, while providing manufacturers with a cheaper, greener, and superior product.” He adds that 60 tons of carbon dioxide could be stored as solid limestone–or calcium carbonate–within every 1,000 tons of concrete produced. Further, he claims that the end product is more durable, more resistant to shrinking and cracking, and less permeable to water.


The Cryosphere Today

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The Cryosphere Today is a website by University of Illinois devoted to the current state of our cryosphere. It gathers and re-represent the snow and ice data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA. One can download the Sea Ice Animations from 1978-2006 and a custom apps for iPhone.

From Wikipedia:

“The cryosphere, derived from the Greek word kryo for “cold” or “too cold”, is the term which collectively describes the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets, and frozen ground (which includes permafrost). The cryosphere is an integral part of the global climate system with important linkages and feedbacks generated through its influence on surface energy and moisture fluxes, clouds, precipitation, hydrology, and atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Through these feedback processes, the cryosphere plays a significant role in global climate and in climate model response to global change.”

Honda makes first hydrogen cars

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Japanese car manufacturer Honda has begun the first commercial production of a zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle.

The four-seater, called FCX Clarity, runs on hydrogen and electricity, and emits water vapour.

Honda claims the vehicle offers three times better fuel efficiency than a traditional, petrol-powered car.

Honda plans to produce 200 of the cars, which are initially available only to lease, over the next three years.

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of wider adoption of fuel-cell vehicles is the lack of hydrogen fuelling stations.

Original Article from BBC

Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest

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Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest is a real-time strategy game in which players use the Touch Screen to control units of woodland creatures—named Ecolis, Ecoby and Ecomon—to protect the naturally beautiful Mana Woods and recover the polluted land. All creature types have unique skills that must be strategically managed. With proper nurturing, they can evolve to learn new abilities that help complete the game’s more than 40 environmental missions. As players grow their woodland army, they must plant new trees to revitalize the woodlands and prevent deforestation.

Wave Power Boat to sail from Hawaii to Japan

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From Pop Sci:

This month, 69-year-old Japanese sailor Ken-ichi Horie will attempt to captain the world’s most advanced wave-powered boat 4,350 miles from Hawaii to Japan. If all goes as planned, he’ll set the first Guinness world record for the longest distance traveled by a wave-powered boat and, along the way, show off the greenest nautical propulsion system since the sail.

At the heart of the record-setting bid is the Suntory Mermaid II, a three-ton catamaran made of recycled aluminum alloy that turns wave energy into thrust. Two fins mounted side by side beneath the bow move up and down with the incoming waves and generate dolphin-like kicks that propel the boat forward. “Waves are a negative factor for a ship—they slow it down,” says Yutaka Terao, an engineering professor at Tokai University in Japan who designed the boat’s propulsion system. “But the Suntory can transform wave energy into propulsive power regardless of where the wave comes from.”

Fuel from Algae

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In Sundance one movie I really want to watch but don’t got a chance to see is Josh Tickell’s film “Fields of Fuel,” a documentary about renewable fuel. I do a research and find out this company is one of the sponsors:

From Technology Review:

Solazyme, a startup based in South San Francisco, CA, has developed a new way to convert biomass into fuel using algae, and the method could lead to less expensive biofuels.

The new process combines genetically modified strains of algae with an uncommon approach to growing algae to reduce the cost of making fuel. Rather than growing algae in ponds or enclosed in plastic tubes that are exposed to the sun, as other companies are trying to do, Solazyme grows the organisms in the dark, inside huge stainless-steel containers. The company’s researchers feed algae sugar, which the organisms then convert into various types of oil. The oil can be extracted and further processed to make a range of fuels, including diesel and jet fuel, as well as other products.

The company uses different strains of algae to produce different types of oil. Some algae produce triglycerides such as those produced by soybeans and other oil-rich crops. Others produce a mix of hydrocarbons similar to light crude petroleum.

Solazyme’s method has advantages over other approaches that use microorganisms to convert sugars into fuel. The most common approaches use microorganisms such as yeast to ferment sugars, forming ethanol.

Save energy by using asphalt road

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This awesome Dutch company plants this energy efficient water pipes system under the asphalt concrete:

Developed by Ooms Nederland Holding in collaboration with WTH and TipSpit, Road Energy Systems® extracts energy from asphalt concrete. The system exploits the heat-absorbing capacity of asphalt concrete, which is enhanced by its black color. The thermal energy produced is used to cool buildings, houses and roads in summer and heat them in winter.

Road Energy Systems® consists of a layer of asphalt concrete that has a closed system of pipes running through it. The pipes are connected to underground aquifers (water-bearing sand). In summer the sun heats the asphalt concrete pavement, which in turn raises the temperature of the water in the pipes. The water is then transported to the heat source area, where it is stored for several months. As soon as autumn arrives, the system brings the warm water to the surface, where a heat pump raises its temperature to a level suitable for low temperature heating systems. The surplus thermal energy is used to keep the temperature of the asphalt concrete above freezing point. The asphalt concrete cools the water to the point where it can eventually flow to the cold source. In summer the process is reversed. Water is pumped up from the cold source and used to cool buildings. This warms the water, which then moves through the asphalt collector again, is heated further by the sun and then injected into the heat source in the ground

You can download their English brochure here.

60% Solar Heat to Electricity conversion efficiency- by Super Soaker inventor

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image courtesy of Designboom.com

Lonnie Johnson has been inventing thermodynamics systems for NASA and other organizations. But one day while he was working on a environmental heat pump he got the idea of a powerful water squirt gun- the Super Soaker, which the product alone makes him hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now he is back, with a new solar technology called Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System, or JTEC. The company claims that this new method can convert up to 60 percent of received solar energy into electricity without using any photovoltaic (PV) materials.

Here’s some info from Popular Mechanics:

This is not PV technology, in which semiconducting silicon converts light into electricity. And unlike a Stirling engine, in which pistons are powered by the expansion and compression of a contained gas, there are no moving parts in the JTEC. It’s sort of like a fuel cell: JTEC circulates hydrogen between two membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA). Unlike a fuel cell, however, JTEC is a closed system. No external hydrogen source. No oxygen input. No wastewater output. Other than a jolt of electricity that acts like the ignition spark in an internal-combustion engine, the only input is heat.

Here’s how it works: One MEA stack is coupled to a high- temperature heat source (such as solar heat concentrated by mirrors), and the other to a low-temperature heat sink (ambient air). The low-temperature stack acts as the compressor stage while the high-temperature stack functions as the power stage. Once the cycle is started by the electrical jolt, the resulting pressure differential produces voltage across each of the MEA stacks. The higher voltage at the high-temperature stack forces the low-temperature stack to pump hydrogen from low pressure to high pressure, maintaining the pressure differential. Meanwhile hydrogen passing through the high-temperature stack generates power.

Original article via Popular Mechanics

the world’s lowest-cost solar panel $.99/Watt

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 photo source: NanoSolar.com

Nanosolar is a startup based in Silicon that got heavy financed and already won contracts from Department of energy and DARPA. They has developed a proprietary NanoParticle ink that makes it possible to simply print CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenium) onto a thin polymer that does not involve the expensive silicon. Here’s some key point from their site:

– the world’s first printed thin-film solar cell in a commercial panel product;

– the world’s first thin-film solar cell with a low-cost back-contact capability;

– the world’s lowest-cost solar panel – which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as $.99/Watt;

– the world’s highest-current thin-film solar panel – delivering five times the current of any other thin-film panel on the market today and thus simplifying system deployment;

– an intensely systems-optimized product with the lowest balance-of-system cost of any thin-film panel – due to innovations in design we have included.

photo source: NanoSolar.com

The Price of Biofuels

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Technology Review has a great 3-part article about the economy downturn and science of the biofuels in U.S.A.

“Now ethanol producers are struggling, and many are losing money. The price of a bushel of corn rose to record highs during the year, exceeding $4.00 last winter before falling back to around $3.50 in the summer, then rebounding this fall to near $4.00 again. At the same time, ethanol prices plummeted as the market for the alternative fuel, which is still used mainly as an additive to gasoline, became saturated. In the face of these two trends, profit margins vanished.”

David Berry on Novel Biofuels

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David Berry is the 29th years old genius behind the innovation of Renewable petroleum from microbes.

“Berry took the lead in designing a system that allowed LS9 researchers to alter the metabolic machinery of ­micro­örganisms, turning them into living hydrocarbon refineries. He began with biochemical pathways that microbes use to convert ­glucose into energy-storing molecules called fatty acids. Working with LS9 scientists, he then plucked genes from various other organisms to create a system of metabolic modules that can be inserted into microbes; in different combinations, these modules induce the microbes to produce what are, for all practical purposes, the equivalents of crude oil, diesel, gasoline, or hydrocarbon-based in­dustrial chemicals.”

The TR35 Innovator of the Year below explains how to create organisms that produce hydrocarbons. Here is the link to the video and the link to the Technology Review page.

DIY 1000 watt wind turbine

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Click on the pic to learn!

fuel cell that uses bacteria to generate electricity from waste

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Researchers at the Biodesign Institute are using the tiniest organisms on the planet ‘bacteria’ as a viable option to make electricity. In a new study featured in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, lead author Andrew Kato Marcus and colleagues Cesar Torres and Bruce Rittmann have gained critical insights that may lead to commercialization of a promising microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology.

“We can use any kind of waste, such as sewage or pig manure, and the microbial fuel cell will generate electrical energy,” said Marcus, a Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student and a member of the institute’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Unlike conventional fuel cells that rely on hydrogen gas as a fuel source, the microbial fuel cell can handle a variety of water-based organic fuels.

“There is a lot of biomass out there that we look at simply as energy stored in the wrong place,” said Bruce Rittmann, director of the center. “We can take this waste, keeping it in its normal liquid form, but allowing the bacteria to convert the energy value to our society’s most useful form, electricity. They get food while we get electricity.”

Original article via BioDesign Institute Arizona State University

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