Residential food waste is something that is not usually considered a renewable source of energy, but a new innovation may change that perspective. The new Homebiogas System brings forth this opportunity to individuals and multi-family units. According to CalRecycle; Californians dispose of almost 5.6 million tons of food each year, which represents 16 percent of material going to landfills.
The inspiration for the Homebiogas System design came from rural off-grid areas of India that were able to produce enough gas for their cooking needs with the use of animal manure. Improving upon conventional designs and using cutting edge technology, the Homebiogas System has produced an efficient, modern, off-grid method to not only divert organic waste from landfills but to also produce a decentralized clean source of energy for residential use. The Homebiogas System can produce clean biogas of approximately 65 percent CH4 and 35 percent CO2. From up to six liters of food waste, the system can produce over three hours of cooking time. The system’s only other byproduct is a rich natural fertilizer solution that can also offset the use of chemical fertilizer for residential gardens and plants.
The Homebiogas Company has been around since 2011 and after having launched an Indiegogo campaign that was funded in less than 24 hours; Homebiogas is now shipping early bird units across 35 countries. The Homebiogas System is set to retail for over $1,500.00 USD, but early adopter specials are still available at $995.00 USD per unit–cheaper if purchased in bulk. The Homebiogas System stands to be one of the more innovative solutions to enter the marketplace, producing decentralized, renewable energy from waste.
Biogas and biofuels are renewable and carbon neutral sources of energy. The crops that have ultimately been targeted for biogas production such as corn however, have been shown to displace sources of food and feed for cattle while having some of the same negative effects of commercial crop production such as runoff pollution and soil erosion. Nopal, a type of cactus commonly found in over 52 percent of the Mexican territory, even in the dry desert, has been found to not only provide a cleaner burning alternative to natural gas; but also grown with less than half the required amount of water necessary for a corn field.
The process of making biogas from the nopal plant does not involve complex machinery as it simply involves shredding the leaves and placing them in a bio digester where they start decomposing and generate biogas. The biogas produced contains up to 65 percent methane that is fed into an internal combustion engine generator that produces electric energy.
Yield could be up to 800 tons per acre and produce about 43,300 m3 of biogas or the equivalent, in energy terms, to 25,000 liters of diesel per acre. This nopal yield is significant compared to the yield of corn, which produces the equivalent to 1,600 liters of diesel per acre. It also surpasses other possible renewable options such as the flowering plant, Jatropha, which produces the equivalent to 3,000 liters of diesel per acre.
The nopal helps retain soil in places where the ground has eroded and can grow in some of the driest conditions such as those found in the deserts of the western U.S. The entire list of products generated from the use of the nopal as biomass are: biogas, electricity, water, nitrogen, humus, earthworm flour (animal feed) and carbon credits by participating in the process of carbon dioxide absorption, making them one of the best possible solutions for greener future renewable energy sources.
Lighting is an important component of the built environment at work and at home. Recent scholarly research into the health effects of ergonomic design have established a definitive link between improved lighting design and a 27 percent reduction in the incidence of headaches, which accounts for 0.7 percent of the overall cost of employee health insurance. This equals approximately $70 per employee annually, according to a study conducted by Heschong Mahone Group, Inc. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that lighting a home accounts for roughly five percent of its total energy usage—for the average U.S. family, that equates to around $110 each year.
While indoor lighting is one of the areas that may improve by incorporating best sustainable design practices into new building design through the use of openings, windows, and reflective surfaces; changing indoor lightbulbs is a quick and easy way to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work and at home.
On January 1, 2014, in keeping with a law passed by Congress in 2007, the old familiar tungsten-filament 40 and 60-watt incandescent lightbulbs were no longer manufactured in the U.S. The reasoning for that was because those bulbs did not meet federal energy efficiency standards. The phase out of the traditional incandescent lightbulbs across the U.S. was great news for energy efficiency and the environment. National Geographic states that Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs or CFLs, and Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs, not only offer more efficiency but also more durability. The standard LED tends to last about five times more than CFLs and almost 60 times more than incandescent lightbulbs, according to Design Recycle, Inc.
The newest and latest technology in LEDs has presented consumers with the ability to not only program, but also adjust the individual hue, intensity, and even color some of the light bulbs emit. Most of these programmable LEDs can be linked together and are usually controlled by a mobile device. The LIfx™ LED programmable lightbulbs allow individuals to choose between millions of colors or 1,000 shades of white.
Recycling efforts have skyrocketed and new strategies on what can be recycled and how to best recycle those items have emerged. The conventional idea of recycling is to throw a plastic bottle or an aluminum can into a blue bin that gets hauled away once a week. As the recycling practice grows, we are finding more materials we can recycle by means of more advanced technology
Although efforts have increased, one of the considerably most harmful groups of materials is still not being treated as a priority. Electronics are not often recycled, and these are one of the most detrimental pieces to our environment. When computers are made, pieces and parts that contain plastic and heavy metals that contain toxins are used.
When these pieces and parts are thrown into the trash instead of being recycled, those toxins leak into the ground, which causes a myriad of problems. Toxins contaminate groundwater, which can cause heath issues.
Jerry Do-It-Together (DIT) is a project that was started in Paris to try and avoid the repercussions of throwing electronics away instead of recycling them. A collaboration stemming from Hedera Technology and ENSCI, Jerry DIT strives to promote making internet servers out of easy-to-find parts as well as previously- used parts. The basic Jerry design can accomplish simple tasks like sending an SMS message, storing data and browsing. Options are also available to add a WI-FI component and a hard drive.
The Jerry DIT website includes manuals on how to make Jerry and a how-to video showing the process. Current hotspots include the United States, France and Africa. To find out more on how you can build your own Jerry, visit the website here.
It is reported that in sub-Saharan Africa, roughly 39 percent of the population does not have access to clean water. Moreover, almost 600 million people live without electricity. Can you imagine life without clean water or electricity?
Watly, a Spanish-Italian start-up company, created what is called, “The Watly Machine.” This device can treat water, generate energy and provide internet access. The first prototype of The Watly was tested in Ghana, and the next set of machines will be distributed all over Africa, beginning with Nigeria and Sudan.
The Watly has three major service components: electricity, water treatment and Wi-Fi. Solar panels are what make these processes possible, converting solar energy into electricity. The water treatment component is a two-step process. First, water is passed through a graphene-based filter. According to scientists, graphene is hydrophobic. This means it repels water, but when it is perforated with small holes, it allows water to pass through, filtering contaminants. After it flows through graphene filters, the water is boiled and distilled. As for Wi-Fi, the solar-generated energy allows for anyone to have access within an 800-meter radius. The Watly also includes a charging station.
With rural, sub-Saharan Africa as the pilot region, some believe The Watly might have the ability to affect other countries.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are coming together to work out issues regarding a broad energy efficiency bill put out by the U.S. Senate, according to NRDC blogger, Kit Kennedy. This energy bill seeks to save money and decrease energy waste. While it could be beneficial, the NRDC thinks it could further damage the environment.
Since 1970, the NRDC has been committed to ensuring that all people have equal rights to water, air, and the wild. For now, the NRDC does not oppose the bill but cannot fully support it until improvements are made. The NRDC and NAM will work together to eliminate the anti-environmental practices illustrated in the bill.
Marc Boom, NRDC blogger, notes that one part of the bill continues research that requires a harmful technique in order to extract methane hydrates. Another part completely dismisses a study that compiles data to determine carbon emissions from forest biomass.
With plans to expand clean energy and increase funding for renewable energy, this is the first energy bill passed in nearly a decade. The NRDC and NAM will strategize and come to an agreement on how energy can be saved without further damaging the environment.