alternative energy
How Standing Rock Protesters Are Surviving Winter
ABC News photographed Red Cloud’s visit in December to the Standing Rock Reservation where he installed solar air furnaces to help keep protesters warm.
By ABC News

So like, how cool is it that Red Cloud has not only installed solar energy to keep the camps warm and running, but has also TAUGHT them how to install this infrastructure?

All in the face of people who have explicitly shat on Green Energy saying that it was impossible to power, or even survive off such alternatives?

Standing Rock is showing the world that survival and production is still possible with alternate energy resources.

At its core, America and other countries issue is not that Green energy doesn’t work, its that our economy is so stepped is fossil fuels, oil and the like. They have built this complex system that would take money from the fat cats if broken, that would force the corporate gears to dismantle. 

Also, at the end of the day, it would take WORK. And these individuals who refute changes that work to protect our environment, are the laziest of us all.

Props to RedCloud and Standing Rock for setting the example.

New, long-lasting flow battery could run for more than a decade with minimum upkeep

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new flow battery that stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral pH water. This new chemistry allows for a non-toxic, non-corrosive battery with an exceptionally long lifetime and offers the potential to significantly decrease the costs of production.

The research, published in ACS Energy Letters, was led by Michael Aziz, the Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies and Roy Gordon, the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science.

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Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy
The national railway company, NS, said that its renewables target had been met a year earlier than planned

All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said .

“Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

Dutch electricity company Eneco won a tender offered by NS two years ago and the two companies signed a 10-year deal setting January 2018 as the date by which all NS trains should run on wind energy.

“So we in fact reached our goal a year earlier than planned,” said Boon, adding that an increase in the number of wind farms across the country and off the coast of the Netherlands had helped NS achieve its aim.

Eneco and NS said on a joint website that around 600,000 passengers daily are “the first in the world” to travel thanks to wind energy. NS operates about 5,500 train trips a day.

One windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, the companies said. They hope to reduce the energy used per passenger by a further 35% by 2020 compared with 2005.

Nightmare Fuel

Well it’s been 5 years since Shell changed over to supernatural gas, where they pump the souls of extinct species out of otherwise dry petroleum beds.

After converting my car it runs pretty well, and even counteracts global warming a bit with all the cold spots everywhere now. I just wish I could get used to the constant whailing when I drive.

Engineers harness stomach acid to power tiny sensors

Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed and demonstrated a small voltaic cell that is sustained by the acidic fluids in the stomach. The system can generate enough power to run small sensors or drug delivery devices that can reside in the gastrointestinal tract for extended periods of time.

This type of power could offer a safer and lower-cost alternative to the traditional batteries now used to power such devices, the researchers say.

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Creating a better biofuel from poop

When it comes to liquid fuels, the market is dominated by gasoline, diesel and jet fuel—all compounds derived from crude oil. These fuels are highly energy dense, cheap and (for now) abundant.

But for years, scientists have been working toward a secure and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Ethanol, one of the earliest biofuel that’s largely derived from corn, hasn’t been able to compete with liquid fossil fuels. It isn’t particularly energy-dense and you need special modifications on your car to use ethanol or similar biofuels.

But researchers at UCLA are working on the next generation of advanced biofuels like Isobutanol.

“We try to produce branched-chain alcohols, that are a little larger, more energy dense and burn more like real gasoline,” explains UCLA researcher David Wernick.

Unlike ethanol, these biofuels are compatible with current fuel infrastructure, which means that you could use them with your current car.

By engineering bacteria (Bacillus subtilis), Wernick and his UCLA cohorts have enabled these tiny organisms to break down manure and other protein-rich waste like wastewater algae and byproducts from fermenting wine and beer.  

Once the protein is broken down, the bacteria convert it into biofuel and ammonia, which can be used for fertilizer. The next step is scaling up the process and improving the amount of biofuel produced.

Learn more about the lab and their process of transforming poop and protein waste into fuel:

The Department of Defense is the biggest investor in alternate forms of energy because right now a majority of military bases, especially in the middle east, run on fuel-hungry diesel generators. The demand for diesel and other fuels is so high that about 80% of all military convoys are for oil alone. With the risk of attack on these convoys so high they must always have an armed escort, which drives the cost per gallon upwards of 8 dollars. Plus you have the fact that men and women are putting their lives on the line again and again for a truckload of diesel.

Looking at these factors, it is great to see the Department of Defense and the Pentagon investing in technology that is not only objectively better for the environment, but also better for the safety of our troops and cheaper for our military to maintain. Effectively, a very good cartoon.

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Turning Poop into Fuel

UCLA alum David Wernick is essentially trying to solve two problems at once. One is that he’s trying to find a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. The second problem is the 1 billion tons of manure that the U.S. produces each year alone.

That mountain of excrement not only poses a disposal problem, it also creates a potent source of methane emissions and nitrous oxides — greenhouse gases that are more potent than CO2.

But to Wernick and his colleagues at UCLA, it’s not just a big pile of poop: it’s a really big – and renewable – source of biofuel. What’s the big deal about poop? It’s the protein.

Typically, bacteria look for protein in the environment and then use that to grow.

But Wernick engineers the metabolism of bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) so that instead of just growing on the protein, it takes a portion of it and uses it to produce biofuels.

Poop in; fuel out.

Manure isn’t the only material that can be used in this process. Protein-rich byproducts like wastewater algae and fermentation leftovers from wine and beer production could also work.

Learn more about how they’re turning poop into fuel in the video below:


Will a Marine Plastic Harvester Shrink the World’s Giant Floating Garbage Patches?

These gifs show the latest concept from a project called The Ocean Cleanup to retrieve some of the millions of tons of plastic waste choking the world’s oceans. 

The idea is to deploy long floating barriers at mid-ocean gyres that naturally collect garbage shed by land and ships. The booms would be set up so that the motion of ocean currents would do the work to corral plastics in concentrated areas, where a solar-powered collection platform would extract the waste for recycling.

The group, which is led by 20-year-old founder Boyan Slat and includes volunteer oceanography and engineering specialists, estimates it will cost a little less than $5 per kilogram to remove the garbage. They have already completed a proof-of-concept project demonstrating their design and conducted a feasibility study, in which they estimate that each garbage patch that has developed in the world’s five major gyres could be reduced by half within 10 years. The people behind The Ocean Cleanup hope to launch a coastal pilot study sometime in 2016 and to start full-scale operations in late 2019. Learn more and see a video below.

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Minobimaatisiiwin - the good life | Winona LaDuke | TEDxSitka

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Winona LaDuke draws on her experience as a leading Native-American activist in her talk about indigenous economic thinking for the 7th generation.

Winona LaDuke is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations, and is the mother of three children. She is also the Executive Director of Honor the Earth, where she works on a national level to advocate, raise public support, and create funding for frontline native environmental groups.

A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. Author of now six books, including The Militarization of Indian Country (2011), Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005), the non-fiction book All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999, South End Press), and a novel – Last Standing Woman (1997, Voyager Press). She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and serves, as co-chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network, a North American and Pacific indigenous women’s organization. In 1994, Winona was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age, and in 1998, Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her work with Honor the Earth.


Uganda produces Africa’s first solar-powered bus

Kiira Motors of Uganda has launched Africa’s first solar-powered bus. Known as the “Kayoola”, the 35 seater bus can travel up to 50 miles straight and is powered by two batteries. One is connected to solar panels on the roof, while the other is charged electrically for longer distances and journeys at night.

Paul Isaac Musasizi, Kiira Motors’ CEO says it takes just one hour to fully charge each battery, making the vehicle suitable for “all sorts of duties in the cities”, such as school buses or longer-haul journeys across borders.

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POWER TO THE PEOPLE: A solar revolution is transforming lives in the developing world. Clean-energy lights are transforming lives-and creating entrepreneurs - in Africa and India. (full story National Geographic November 2015)

by award-winning photographer Rubén Salgado Escudero: “Solar-powered light was the only source of illumination I used in all of the portraits for this project. I wanted to work with the same type of light that is improving my subject’s quality of life so substantially.”

  • “Ibrahim Kalungi and Godfrey Mteza both 20, worked at night in their motorcycle repair shop in Nbeeda, Uganda. The mechanics credit solar lights with enabling them to work longer hours and earn more money.”
  • “A worker at a logging camp in Myanmar’s Bago region, where elephants have been used by loggers for centuries, sits atop his 11-year-old animals. Laborers in these camps have no electricity, so they use solar lanterns before sunrise.”
  • “At a  brick kiln in India’s rural state of Uttar Pradesh, workers use solar lanterns to illuminate their paths. The developing world struggles to provide power to its people. Worldwide, about 1.1 billion people have no access to electricity.”
  • “In India’s state of Odisha villagers trap fish using cone-shaped baskets and solar light. Fewer that half of Odisha’s 42 million residents use grid electricity.” -
  • “Electricity is a rare luxury in Ugunda. Denis Okiror, 30 began using solar lights at his barbershop in Kayunga two years ago. He says most of his customers prefer to visit him in the evening. – Michael Edison Hayden

See Dr. Sahin’s Wondrous Spore-Driven Evaporation Engine

It sounds like a steampunk fantasy, but it is, in fact, a real thing. 

Columbia University bioengineers have built a number of working engines powered by water evaporation and contracting and expanding bacterial spores. The machines represent the first time the humidity that naturally rises from evaporating water has been used as a fuel source.

Biophysicist Ozgur Sahin and his colleagues built evaporation-driven devices that enabled a miniature car to move, a mill to spin, weight to be lifted and an oscillatory engine to power LEDs.

The work is actually a continuation of research we reported on in 2014 to generate electricity and make robot muscles from the force of hydrating and dehydrating microbial spores. But where that study showed only rudimentary lengths of polymer film coated with the spores flexing when in contact with water vapor, the group has now created working machinery using the phenomenon. Learn more and see a video below.

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Bacteria, Graphene and Nanotech Produce Usable Electricity From Wastewater

Check out the kitchen timer counting down in the gif above. There’s nothing special about it except for how it is being powered. The instrument isn’t equipped with batteries. In fact, its electricity comes from the vial behind it, where bacteria are eating organic matter in wastewater and producing electricity as a result. 

It’s the first time that researchers have produced enough electricity for practical use from what are called microbial fuel cells. Scientists in China reported their breakthrough late last week in the journal Science Advances. Their work could one day help provide the huge amounts of power needed to treat wastewater, a process that currently consumes up to 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the U.S.

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From these seeds, new touchscreens and solar cells may grow. Duke University chemists are working with copper oxide nanoparticles–each in the pic above is less than a micron wide–to grow copper nanowires. The process could one day allow transparent conductive films made of copper nanowires to supplement or replace the more expensive material now used in touchscreens and photovoltaic solar panels. 

“The fact that Cu [copper] is only 6 percent less conductive than the most conductive element, Ag [silver], and yet is 1,000 times more abundant, makes it a particularly attractive element from which to grow nanowires for a diverse range of applications that require high electrical conductivity,” wrote the authors of study published in the journal Small.

When placed in the right solution, the octahedral cuprous oxide (Cu2O) seeds shown above sprout nanowires within minutes. The Duke team’s work is continuing efforts to control the length of nanowire growth to improve their performance in different applications.

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New Safety Switch Built For Genetically Modified Bacteria

by Michael Keller

Engineers making a nip here and a tuck there to the genes of bacteria are domesticating the microbes to do our bidding. Over recent years, genetic modification has tallied successes from making electricity-eating bacteria produce liquid biofuels to altering gut microbes to battle metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity. Researchers are coaxing common species like E. coli and more exotic ones to convert harmful pollutants to benign compounds and to produce next-generation pharmaceuticals and chemical feedstock for industry.

Tangling with the blueprints of life is no simple task, though, and even successes in the lab demand serious considerations about unintended consequences in the field. What happens if a bacterium designed to work in an isolated system, say a drug-producing fermentation tank, gets out into the wild? And what is the impact when you employ bacteria modified to consume a cancer-causing pollutant that has leaked into a wetland?

Bioengineers looking to improve the safety of modified microbes are working on a number of routes. One of these reprograms a bacterial cell to need a certain nutrient to live; without it, the organism dies. Another buries a self-destruct sequence in the genes that stops them from making proteins when exposed to chemical signals.

Now, two papers published recently in the journal Nature take safety mechanisms built into altered bacteria a step further. Harvard and Yale researchers say they have successfully made organisms that can only survive when they have access to synthetic amino acids that don’t exist in nature. Their test bacteria were reprogrammed at multiple points along their genome to need the synthetic food, making them unable to mutate to live on naturally occurring amino acids.

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