Cleantech

Putin test-drives, makes fun of radical new hybrid

Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man and owner of the New Jersey Nets, has bankrolled an all-Russian natural gas-electric hybrid car called the ë-mobile (pronounced yo-mobile), but that wasn’t enough to impress Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his tiger blood. Putin: "This yo-mobile of yours, I hope it won't fall into pieces, will it?" Before a test-drive of the ë-mobile, the famously butch-tastic Putin also joked about whether it had the range to make it all the way to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's house. Ha ha, puny hybrid! But the car held it together, so when the rest of the world …

How to prevent climate change: Blot out the sun

As Montgomery Burns reminds us, since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun. That’s lucky for the top brains who attended Sunday’s conference on climate change and geoengineering — deliberately tweaking the Earth, sea, and atmosphere for improved performance. Of the several geoengineering solutions they discussed, only one promised to alter warming on a global scale: "solar radiation management," otherwise known as blocking sunlight. No word on whether they discussed sending the Planet Express ship to drop slabs of ice into the ocean. The likely SRM technique doesn’t look much like Mr. Burns’ sun-blocking machine — …

Americans are crap at recycling mercury-containing CFLs — here’s how to do better

Update: Turns out the original story on which this post is based is bunk. Check out an update direct from the EPA here: CFLs are not a significant source of mercury, says EPA Every year, Americans recycle only 2 percent of the compact fluorescent light bulbs they toss an unknown proportion of the CFLs they toss. The unrecycled portion leads to the release of four tons a negligible amount of mercury into the environment annually. That’s almost 10 percent of the amount of mercury released by coal fired power plants, which are this country's No. 1 source of the fish-and-pregnant-woman-contaminating pollutant. The problem is …

Business & Technology

Powering up: Green tech investment surges

The money’s coming in for green tech.Photo: MoneyblognewzSome good news on the environmental front for a change: Global investment in green technology in the first quarter of the year spiked 52 percent compared to the previous quarter, to $2.57 billion. That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco research and consulting firm. The increase represents a 13 percent jump over the first quarter of 2010, and indicates that investors’ appetite for renewable energy, electric cars, and other green technologies continues to rebound from the recession. But the numbers aren’t exactly good news for entrepreneurs …

By 2015, it will be illegal for New Yorkers to throw electronics in the trash

If you thought forcing restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus was an intrusion by the nanny state, get ready for the Mary F'in Poppins of regulations: To prepare consumers and businesses for the arrival of a 2015 law that will ban the disposal of electronics in the trash, New York state is forcing all electronics manufacturers to take back and recycle your old electronics. It's all  part of a larger effort, happening concurrently in almost two dozen other states, to bring U.S. law in line with the European standard of "cradle to cradle design." In this philosophy, the …

Obama to encourage America’s truck companies to do thing they were already planning to do

A group of truck fleet-owning companies that collectively owns 275,000 vehicles is scheduled to get a gold star from the president today, as part of the administration's Clean Fleets Initiative. FedEx, UPS, AT&T, PepsiCo, and Verizon are the charter members of a group that is pledging to reduce its collective petroleum consumption by more than 7 million gallons a year. Through the magic of hybrid vehicles, mostly, these companies will be given backslaps and encouraging words from the federal government for doing the thing they are already required by law to do — make money and generate shareholder value by, …

Solar power from the moon is fake, but also real

Solar panels that transform light from the moon into usable quantities of energy: Fake! Solar panels covering the moon that would transmit massive quantities of energy back to earth using lasers and microwaves: Real! Or at least: proposed with a straight face. I think we can all agree that the slide labeled "Master Plan" pretty much sums it up. The company's own description of the technology is almost as awesome: A shift from economical use of limited resources to the unlimited use of clean energy is the ultimate dream of all mankind. The LUNA RING, our lunar solar power generation concept, translates …

In five years, you could charge your iPod with a snap of your fingers

Yeah, sure, if nanotechnology gets out of control it could lead to a scenario where the entire world turns into gray goo. But if it DOESN’T get out of control, it could lead to a scenario where you can charge your iPod by snapping your fingers — or even just with your heartbeat. WORTH IT WORTH IT TOTALLY WORTH IT The secret to a iPod powered by finger wiggles — or other body movements, like walking or breathing or heartbeat — is nanogenerators, dinky little microchips powered by wires 1/500th the width of a human hair. Five of them would …

Wind Power

Alexis Madrigal chats about Danish wind power and how to fail well (also, sensors)

This is the fourth in a series from my conversation with Atlantic tech channel editor Alexis Madrigal about themes and stories from his new book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. DR: Something that comes up again and again in your book is this seemingly irreducible mystery of wind and how it moves. The wind industry starts with all these windmills on farms, then up to the big turbines, all in the absence of any sophisticated scientific knowledge about how wind works. AM: There’s this big debate in the history of technology around the role of …

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