Category: Solutions

Photo of the week: Google launches Project Sunroof

Technology firm Google is here with another innovative project. Have you been thinking whether installing solar panels on your rooftop is a good idea, what it could cost or save you? Based on the Google Maps data and 3D-models, project Sunroof calculates how well your rooftop is suited for photovoltaic panels. It takes into account shadows cast by nearby buildings and trees, brings in the positions of the sun over the course of the year and takes into account historical cloud and temperature patterns.

When your rooftop is the perfect place to install solar panels, it will be painted golden on the map, the less it is suited the more the colour shifts to deep purple. By providing your energy consumption data, the tool is able to compute your energy bill savings for various financing plans such as leasing, buying or taking a loan. It helps you connect with solar providers in the neighborhood if you’re convinced solar is the way to go.

The Project Rooftop tool colours roofs according to their suitability for photovoltaic panels (photo: captured from Project Sunroof)

The Project Rooftop tool colours roofs according to their suitability for photovoltaic panels (photo: captured from Project Sunroof)

Unfortunately, the tool only operates in a few locations at the moment: Boston, San Fransisco Bay Area and Fresno. The developer team is working on the expansion of the tool, but you probably need to have some patience before it becomes available at your hometown if you’re not living in the US. But after all, the project’s slogan goes Mapping the planet’s solar potential, one roof at a time. But for sure, the project will make the step to solar smaller again for everyone willing to make the shift to renewables.

Sources
Google Sunroof Project
Citylab

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Photo of the week: Rabbit gut microbes to clean up steel production?

If ArcellorMittal's pilot project to turn CO into bio-ethanol turns out economiccaly viable, it will apply the technology in all its steel production plants, such as this one in Bremen (photo: JesterRaiin)

Steel is still the most important engineering material, with a yearly production of around 1,7 billion tonnes. Unfortunately, the process to produce steel starting from iron ore is heavily polluting the atmosphere. Both CO and CO2 are produced, with the first one often burned to produce CO2 as well. When you do the math, you find that for each ton of steel, roughly two tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted. The contribution of the steel industry to the global CO2 emissions is estimated to be around 5%.

Reason enough to investigate the possibilty of reducing the footprint, thought bioengineering company LanzaTech. They developed the Clostridium microbe based on rabbit gut microbes, to capture carbon monoxide and converting it to ethanol.  “What we are talking about is turning an environmental liability into a financial opportunity,” said Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of LanzaTech. The ethanol can be used to fuel cars and airplanes. ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel producer, is about to start a pilot project in their production faciliy in Ghent, Belgium to test out the technology. When completed in 2018, the facility will produce up to 47 000 tonnes of ethanol. It’s estimated that for every ton of ethanol, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 2.3 tonnes. When the conversion process proves to be economiccaly viable, the company will roll out the technology in all her facilities over the world.

If ArcellorMittal's pilot project to turn CO into bio-ethanol turns out economiccaly viable, it will apply the technology in all its steel production plants, such as this one in Bremen (photo: JesterRaiin)

If ArcelorMittal’s pilot project to turn CO into bio-ethanol turns out to be economically viable, the company will apply the technology in all its steel production plants, such as this one in Bremen (photo: JesterRaiin)

Sources
LanzaTech
TheGuardian
MIT

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Photo of the week: first all-electric ferry

The times of smoke spewing ferries could finally come to an end. Earlier this year, the first all-electric ferry was taken into service in Norway. Equipped with a battery pack worth 1600 car batteries, the ferry makes a journey of about twenty minutes crossing the Sognefjord in Norway. It can carry up to 120 cars and 300 passengers. At each pier, a battery pack is installed to recharge the ferry when docked. It takes only ten minutes to charge up for the trip back, which is done during unloading and loading of the ship. The batteries are charged with hydro power, making the operation of the ferry 100% renewable and emission free. Its operation will annually cut down the use of one million litres of diesel and reduce 570 tons of carbon dioxide and 15 tons of NOx emissions in comparison to conventional ferries operating on the same route. The new vessel is a pilot project to test the viability of operating fully electrically-powered ferries in about 50 ferry routes within Norway and beyond.

The Zerocast 120 is a battery powered ferry which crosses the Sognefjord in Norway since the beginning of 2015

The Zerocast 120 is a battery powered ferry which crosses the Sognefjord in Norway since the beginning of 2015

 

Sources

Ship-technology.com
CleanTechnica

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Photo of the week: Impossible is nothing, dixit Adidas

The famous Boyan Slat has bold ideas about collecting all the plastic in the oceans, but he never revealed what he plans to do with this pile of garbage. Adidas and Parley for the Oceans, an organization that aims to end pollution of the world’s oceans, have came up with something that just might be (part of) the solution. On their General Assembly in New York, Adidas presented a shoe made out of plastics and gillnets recovered from the sea. Those were collected by Sea Sheperd Conservation Society during a campaign against illegal poaching at the African West-Coast.

Adidas will not sell the shoes, but rather wanted to show what is possible with recycled materials from the oceans “when we all put our heads together”, as a spokesman told the Huffington post. Which doesn’t mean it stops here. Next year, shoes partially made out of recycled materials can be found in stores. A good step forward, literally.

 

Adidas presented a shoe made of recovered plastic and gillnets from the oceans (photo: Adidas)

Adidas presented a shoe made of recovered plastic and gillnets from the oceans (photo: Adidas)

Sources

TheHuffintonPost

Photo by epSos.de

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Photo of the Week: from soda bottle to road pavement

In Australia they’re thinking about using printer toner residues into more sustainable asphalt (see this earlier post), in the Netherlands they want to take it even further. Much further. On the 15th of July, the city council of Rotterdam announced a pilot project together with VolkerWessels to investigate the feasaility of recycled plastic roads. That plastic soda botlle you just threw away is indeed suited for recycling purposes other than a winter fleece.

Recycled plastic roads would offer modular road construction and roads could be laid out much quicker. In addition, plastics are corrosion prone and the roads are estimated to last at least three times longer than asphalt which deteriorates over time due to cold temperatures and salt in winter and high temperatures in summer. The right mix of plastics on the other hand can easily handle temperatures between -30°C and 80°C. The roads would be suited to build in other elements, such as sensors and photovoltaic cells. Altough it’s still a concept on paper, the city of Rotterdam is eager to work together with VolkerWessels to see whether this idea could become reality.

Recycled soda bottles could soon become a lightweight and durable road pavement (photo: VolkerWessel)

Recycled soda bottles could soon become a lightweight and durable road pavement (photo: VolkerWessel)

Sources

VolkerWessels
ScienceAlert

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Photo of the week: Google’s engines go green

Data centres are the engines of the internet. They are the places where the network of servers and fibre-optic cables are housed to provide the vast online services of Google. But they fret energy and until now this energy is mainly provided by nuclear and coal power. Around 35% of their data centres are powered by renewable sources, but Google aims for a 100% renewable operation in the future. Although the company didn’t give an end-date for this transition, they clearly want to compete with Apple, whose data centres are already 100% running on renewables since 2012 and is the company is now looking to improve the footprint of their production processes.

Google made a big move recently by buying an old coal-fired power plant in Alabama that will be turned it into a 100% renewably powered data centre. Patrick Gammons, a senior manager of Google’s Data Center Energy and Location Strategy, explained the decision on his blog. “Decades of investment shouldn’t go to waste just because a site has closed; we can repurpose existing electric and other infrastructure to make sure our data centers are reliably serving our users around the world.”

Google will turn this coal mine in a fully renewable powered data centre (photo: Google)

Google will turn this coal mine in a fully renewable powered data centre (photo: Google)

Sources

ClimateProgress
Apple
The Guardian

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