Radical Ultra-Hot Plasma Reactor Converts Toxic and Radioactive Waste to Clean Energy

March 25 2008 / by AlFin
Category: Environment   Year: 2008   Rating: 13 Hot

By Al Fin

Garbage and hazardous waste are becoming valuable energy feedstocks, thanks to researchers from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel. Even low level radioactive wastes, medical wastes, and toxic wastes can be converted to useful products and energy, using a new high temperature plasma reactor.

There is no need for the world to drown in a sea of garbage and toxic waste. We do not need to pollute the oceans, groundwater, or air. Being smart about toxic waste is just another way of using our most valuable resource-our brains!

Environmental Energy Resources Ltd. (EER) of Israel, is working with researchers in Russia, the Ukraine, the US, and other nations, to make sure that the future environment of Earth will be as pristine as the pre-industrial Earth.

The new reactor uses a process called “Plasma Gasification Melting Technology” (PGM) which was developed by scientists at two Russian research institutes (Kurchatov and Radon Institutes) and at Israel’s Technion Institute.

PGM Technology is suitable for the treatment of a variety of waste types:

(cont.)

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Who's The Greenest Electronics Company of Them All?

March 19 2008 / by Venessa Posavec
Category: Environment   Year: 2008   Rating: 7

It’s nice to know there’s a watchdog out there trying to correct the growing problem of e-waste. Environmental group Greenpeace just released the latest edition of their Guide to Greener Electronics, which more or less calls out the leading manufacturers that aren’t taking the measures necessary to eliminate harmful chemical manufacturing byproducts.

The Greenpeace guide ranks the top producers of mobile phones, computers, TVs, and game consoles on a 0-10 scale. Scoring is based on the elimination of hazardous substances and the take-back and recycling of products once they become obsolete.

The results proved generally encouraging, though it appears a few companies have yet to see the light. Due to a lack of any type of public policy on toxics elimination or recycling, Nintendo earned last place, registering a pathetic score of 0.3. It seems like quite a black mark to be rated the worst of all the companies on the list. Hopefully all the unflattering attention will spark a bit more environmental concern from the thriving Wii manufacturer when the next report comes out in June. Notably, Microsoft also scored in the unsatisfactory red zone, due to a poor takeback policy and practice.

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Michael E. Arth on the Future of Sustainable Cities

March 17 2008 / by Venessa Posavec
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 7

As the human population grows, people are either forced to live further and further from the workplace, or to pay a handsome price for the luxury of location. The resulting sprawl has had a devastating effect on the landscape and eco-systems. Pollution associated with requisite transportation is destroying the environment. Rising energy costs are driving up the cost of living. Longer commutes lessen the hours in a day we can allocate to productivity or leisure.

How can we create cities and towns that can accommodate a community’s economic needs, while improving the general quality of life? This is a question that urban planners, like Michael E. Arth, must ask and answer to the best of their abilities when designing or retrofitting cities to best suit our changing lifestyles.

We spoke with Arth, founder of the urban planning theory of New Pedestrianism, about what the city of the future might look like. His theory, a spinoff of New Urbanism, addresses the social and environmental problems associated with suburban sprawl by creating an urban design plan that places sustainability, beauty, and functionality at its forefront.

“New Pedestrianism is an urban design movement that is a more ecological and pedestrian-oriented branch of New Urbanism. New Urbanism revives and expands upon the old urbanism that was common before WWII, while New Pedestrianism is a reiteration of experiments with more pedestrian-oriented towns and neighborhoods that have been tried over the years,” explained Arth, “In new and old urbanism you have streets in front and an alley in the rear. With New Pedestrianism the alley is replaced with an attractive tree lined street and the street in front is replaced with a car free pedestrian/bike lane. A mixed-use village or neighborhood center is within walking distance with higher density toward the center. Aesthetics and quality of life are very important.”

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Continued Population Growth Leading To An Uncertain Future

March 17 2008 / by Venessa Posavec
Category: Environment   Year: Beyond   Rating: 6

A trends report on world population growth was recently released by the Worldwatch Institute, indicating that insufficient global demographic information is making even the best guesses for future population unreliable.

The most common projection cited by demographers is that population will peak around 9 billion people by 2050. Unfortunately, we don’t have accurate information about how many people are even alive today, let alone regional fertility rates, to know if our estimates may be too conservative.

The growing number of women entering childbearing age, along with increased lifespans due to access to healthcare could result in a world population that is unsustainable.

One of the most urgent global issues is the availability of clean drinking water. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization stated that two-thirds of the world population could face water shortages as soon as 2025. How quickly will this problem spiral out of control when there are billions more mouths to feed?

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Jamais Cascio Video - Global Issues and Solutions

March 10 2008 / by FutureFly
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 9

Great video of Jamais Cascio via the Ryan is Hungry vlog.

Cascio talks about the interlinked nature of issues stemming from global warming, global poverty and nanotechnology and points out that the solutions to potential problems are, fortunately, also interlinked.

Video: 5 Greenest Cities in the U.S.

March 10 2008 / by Marisa Vitols
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 12

(Feb 8, 2008) Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carleton about which US cities rank the highest in terms of energy efficiency and cutting-edge alternative energy use. Also discussed are the cost and environmental implications thereof.

Check out this short video to see if your city made the “most green” list!

The future is bright

March 10 2008 / by Eriks Brolis
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 18

‘I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.’ Thomas Edison made that strong proclamation to Henry Ford in 1931. Edison’s confidence most likely stemmed from the fact that our sun is responsible for the propagation of life in addition to the vast majority of available energy on earth. (The most notable sub-surface exceptions being the energy potential of nuclear and geothermal which each come with their slew of challenges)

Wind is a “by-product” of the sun, created by the diurnal (day & night) effect of warming and cooling. Fossil fuels are simply what their name suggests – the fossilized remains of living organisms. Coal was the flora that photosynthesized the sun’s power; oil, natural gas, tar sands (collectively petrochemicals) the fauna. In short, the sun is responsible for the life and lifestyles here on earth both directly and indirectly.

If you believe that humans will be most effective by mimicking universal biological patterns and are already “regressing” in that direction (as I strongly do) this begs the question…What is the most direct way to sustainably harness the power of the sun? I assert that the two means that are most effective are (i) passive solar design and (ii) photovoltaic electricity production.

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The Future of Farming: Reaching for the Sky (and down in the basement)

March 05 2008 / by Venessa Posavec
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 5

When you think of a farm your mind may invoke images of rolling fields, tractors and perhaps a cow or two. But in the future – not so! Farms are movin’ from the country and into your nearest metropolis faster than you might think.

Due to unpredictable weather patterns that destroy millions of tons of crops each year and a growing human population set to peak at about 9 billion, some future-focused innovators are looking for better ways to keep food on the table. Two neo-farm prototypes currently evolving on separate continents share a common concept: urban farming as the future of sustainable agriculture.

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Futuristic Middle East?

February 27 2008 / by Jeff Hilford
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 11

The not so fertile delta of the Arabian Desert is becoming home to cities of the future. With an empty canvas and untold billions of dollars to work with, technology is driving radical transformation in cultures that are highly resistant to change.

The epicenter of this movement is the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become leaders in next generation city building. Dubai, with the construction of their man-made Palm Islands and increasingly futuristic cityscape, is intent on competing with “Singapore and Hong Kong as a business hub, and surpassing Las Vegas as a leisure capital,” while Masdar City, to be constructed in Abu Dhabi, is projected to house 50,000 people, run entirely on renewable energy and have zero carbon footprint. This amazing and rapid metamorphosis has not gone unnoticed by UAE’s neighbor to the West, Saudi Arabia. Facing a demographic tidal wave over the next decade or so (close to 40% of Saudis are under the age of 15) they are undertaking a ”$500 billion investment program to build new cities, create millions of jobs and diversify the economy away from petroleum exports over the next two decades.”

All of this makes me wonder if this is the beginning of a wave of transformation that will sweep through the region as other Middle Eastern countries will have a difficult time ignoring these changes. The experience these countries gain in converting harsh environments into more friendly ones should translate into opportunities for other parts of the world facing similar challenges, particularly the ability to harvest the almost constant sunshine many of these inhospitable areas receive…Africa anyone?


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