Kamal Meattle: How to grow your own fresh air

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Researcher Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air.

Gas Zappers- solo show at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

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Please come to Gas Zappers solo show at BAM/PFA! We are gonna debut the long anticipating Gas Zappers’s online game. I will be there on Oct 30 giving talk to Prof. Richard Rinehart‘s class.

October 22, 2008 – February 8, 2009

Gas Zappers, by artist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, is an interactive online art game that tackles global warming. Hung is among the contemporary artists and educators who have adopted video games as a new platform for social debate and aesthetic experience by developing “serious games.” In Gas Zappers, the idiom of the video game is exploited to challenge and illuminate the simplistic notion of quick fixes to environmental issues.

Berkeley and the Bay Area have been at the center of the cultural debate around alternative energy sources and global warming, due in no small part to developments like the $500 million joint project between UC Berkeley and British Petroleum to develop alternative biofuels. Gas Zappers furthers this discourse in a serious game that is also at times fantastical and wry.

Like much of the artist’s work, Gas Zappers is visually frenetic and colorful, referencing numerous popular and political sources. The animation style of Gas Zappers reinforces and goes beyond the game’s subject of global warming, caricaturing the exasperating and vulgar noise of the political media engine itself. In adopting the artistic strategies of photomontage, political satire, humor, and surrealism, Hung is an artistic descendent of Dadaist John Heartfield, whose photomontages lampooned Hitler and Mussolini. Ken Johnson wrote for the New York Times, “Looking at Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung’s art is like peeking into the fever dream of an overworked political blogger. Mr. Hung, 31, is a fierce, funny and inventive political satirist.”

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung received a New Media Fellowship, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, to develop Gas Zappers. A video version of the work was shown in the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. BAM/PFA’s exhibition, on view starting October 22 at bampfa.berkeley.edu/exhibition/gaszappers and in the museum’s Bancroft Lobby, is the world premiere of the fully realized work, including the interactive game.

Richard Rinehart
Digital Media Director and Adjunct Curator

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.


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.”

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.

DIY 1000 watt wind turbine

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Click on the pic to learn!

Zap-X Electric Car

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Zap-X by Zap + Lotus
From www.zapworld.com

ZAP has announced with Lotus Engineering the development of the new ZAP-X Crossover, incorporating distinct technological advancements that will result in one of the most advanced electric cars ever developed. ZAP and Lotus are utilizing the award-winning APX lightweight aluminum architecture design to achieve unprecedented levels of performance and utility for electric cars. The drive system alone is enough to excite driving fanatics, featuring an innovative all-wheel drive option with revolutionary electric motors inside each of the wheels, potentially delivering 644 horsepower and speeds up to 155 mph. An advanced battery system will enable the car to travel a range up to 350 miles between charges, with a rapid charge technology that can recharge the batteries in as little as 10 minutes.”

This car looks like it was inspired in part from the Hypercar concept introduced years ago by The Rocky Mountain Institute. The car is scheduled to cost $60,000 U.S. scrilla, a bit spendy but I think it is better value than most (any?) other cars priced at $60,000. This car blows away the supposedly “eco-friendly” hybrids on the market now as well as ANY typical combustion powered cars! The car also boasts on board PC, photovoltaic solar collecting windows, biodegradeable batteries and more! Kudos that it doesn’t look like the typical intentionally wierd electric car. Definitely a better foray into the world of efficient, all electric, combustion-free automobiles. We’ll see how it pans out after it is in production. Next steps… make the energy source 100% free and decentralized.http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8231784665681850497

View the PDF overview of the Zap-X

Water as Fuel

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There have been various stories going around the internet on the subject of water being used as a fuel source/carrier. I have compiled a few of these notable stories here for your convenience. The first story I found interesting is (salt) water being burned if it is subjected to a specific frequency. The person who discovered this is John Kanzius who was researching how to use radio frequencies to kill cancer cells. See video here:

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The implication of the usefulness of water as fuel is obvious as it would completely change our civilization. Although the net output of the energy from the burning compared to the initial input energy needed must be calculated to determine how useful it is, the fact that water can be used this way is still curious and an oddity. It is interesting that it burns “as hot as the sun”, supposedly, and that it is still cool to the touch?! This is odd.
Next is a story about Stan Meyer, an inventor who designed a car powered by water. His story is pretty interesting and controversial. Of course the actual efficiency and net output of the water power needs to be verified and proven useful, but the usage of water is the key point of interest. Video here:

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Some links to check out:
Pennsylvania Man Claims He Made Fuel From Salt Water

Brilliant TV Packaging

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Designer Tom Ballhatchet create this brilliant TV packaging.

via  Giz Modo

“Greensulate”- mushroom insulator

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Eben Bayer grew up on a farm in Vermont learning the intricacies of mushroom harvesting with his father. Now the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate is using that experience to create an organic insulation made from mushrooms.

Combining his agricultural knowledge with colleague Gavin McIntyre’s interest in sustainable technology, the two created their patented “Greensulate” formula, an organic, fire-retardant board made of water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite, a mineral blend found in potting soil.

The two say recent tests at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have shown it to be competitive with most insulation brands on the market. A 1-inch-thick sample of the perlite-mushroom composite had a 2.9 R-value, the measure of a substance’s ability to resist heat flow. Commercially produced fiberglass insulation typically has an R-value between 2.7 and 3.7 per inch of thickness, according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Here’s how it works: A mixture of water, mineral particles, starch and hydrogen peroxide are poured into 7-by-7-inch molds and then injected with living mushroom cells. The hydrogen peroxide is used to prevent the growth of other specimens within the material.

Placed in a dark environment, the cells start to grow, digesting the starch as food and sprouting thousands of root-like cellular strands. A week to two weeks later, a 1-inch-thick panel of insulation is fully grown. It’s then dried to prevent fungal growth, making it unlikely to trigger mold and fungus allergies, according to Bayer. The finished product resembles a giant cracker in texture.

original article via PhysOrg

Popeyes’ dream home

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We all know how good spinach is for your body, but did you know that it is also good for your house? That’s the proposition behind the house designed by Matthew Coates and Tim Meldrum. Together, they have designed a residence which obtains its electricity from spinach, making it worthy of being declared the winner of Cradle to Cradle contest.

original article via Inhabitat

Car with a clean breath

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MD!, a French company has developed a car that uses compressed air as its primary fuel source. Their special designed engine uses Compressed Air Technology(CAT) that incorporates compressed air and gasoline and enables up to 2000 km (1242 miles) mileages with zero pollution in cities.

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Not your 90’s Thigh Master

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image courtesy of Thigh Master

Thigh Master is a servo-controlled ring of thorns worn around the thigh which pierces the user when she consumes too much electricity! I would love to see Suzanne Somers wearing it! Watch the video here.

From the official site:

While technologists scramble to develop technologies for the production and storage of environmentally friendly electricity, it is also important to address our personal role in conserving energy.

Indeed, thermodynamics shows that we can’t get energy without spending it, and while great efficiencies may be found in energy generation, it is clear that the most substantial way to solve the energy crisis is by reducing demand.

While reformulating lifestyle and habits is usually thought to be the job of media, public relations, and activism, there is no reason that technology should not be central to how we understand, consider, and change our own energy usage.

Project Thighmaster is a system that alleviates this condition by assuring that reminders to save electricity will not go unnoticed, increasing its owner’s peace of mind by setting a penalty for environmental waste.

The system consists of a personal techno-garter — inspired by the Opus Dei cilice popularized in Dan Brown’s Davinci Code — worn on the thigh, communicating wirelessly to a set of low-power sensors measuring the wearer’s personal energy consumption. If the wearer’s electricity use exceeds a certain limit, the device plunges stainless-steel thorns into the wearer’s thigh, a reminder of their complicity in the planet’s demise, and perhaps their own mortality.

Thighmaster aims to balance comfort and discomfort in a meaningful way in order to achieve sustainable change. Packaged in the form of yet another personal electronic device, the system helps people to break out of inefficient consumption patterns. But in addition to decreasing a user’s energy use, Thigh Master can also provide relief for the less easily measured — but no less real — feeling of individual powerlessness in the face of accelerated climate change.

William McDonough: The wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle

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Architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account “All children, all species, for all time.” A tireless proponent of absolute sustainability (with a deadpan sense of humor), he explains his philosophy of “cradle to cradle” design, which bridge the needs of ecology and economics. He also shares some of his most inspiring work, including the world’s largest green roof (at the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan), and the entire sustainable cities he’s designing in China.

Janine Benyus: 12 sustainable design ideas from nature

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With 3.8 billion years of research and development on its side, nature has already solved problems that human designers and engineers still struggle with. In this inspiring talk, Janine Benyus provides fascinating examples of biomimicry — the way humans mimic nature in the products we build and the systems we implement. And because the champion adapters in the natural world are, by definition, those that can survive without destroying the environment that sustains them, biomimicry can contribute to the long-term health of our planet.

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