Highways basking in the hot sun are wasted energy. Scott Brusaw's solution? Make them out of solar panels
By John Bradley Posted 07.12.2010 at 10:47 am 56 Comments
The road ahead is paved with photovoltaics. That’s how Scott Brusaw sees it, anyway. His company, Solar Roadways, is embedding PV cells and LED lights into panels engineered to withstand the forces of traffic. The lights would allow for “smart” roadways and parking lots with changeable signage, while the cells would generate enough energy to power businesses, cities and, eventually, the entire country.
Willem van Cotthem’s super-soil harnesses the power of Pampers to turn dirt into lush gardens
By Bruce Grierson Posted 07.08.2010 at 11:03 am 14 Comments
When asked to imagine the Earth in 2040, many scientists describe a grim scenario, a landscape so bare and dry, it's almost uninhabitable. But that's not what Willem van Cotthem sees. "It will be a green world," says van Cotthem, a Belgian scientist turned social entrepreneur. "Tropical fruit can grow wherever it's warm." You still need water, but not much. A brief splash of rain every once in a while is enough. And voilà—from sandy soil, lush gardens grow.
The secret is hydrogels, powerfully absorbent polymers that can suck up hundreds of times their weight in water.
David Keith believes strong-arm strategies could soon be our last resort for reversing record levels of carbon in the atmosphere
By John Bradley Posted 07.02.2010 at 10:00 am 22 Comments
In the 1992 film Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood spends most of the movie slowly and methodically avoiding violent confrontation with the bad guys before finally turning things around with a bloody burst of gunslinging. That’s something like the approach of Canadian physicist and environmental scientist David Keith. Except that his villain is climate change, and while he’s still doing everything he can to avoid a fight, Keith is also stockpiling ammo.
For environmentalist Jesse Ausubel, going green means land conservation and energy efficiency—and forgetting “boutique” renewables like windmills and biofuels
By John Bradley Posted 06.22.2010 at 11:18 am 43 Comments
It’s 2070. You’re on a train from New York to Boston. If you could see outside, it would be mostly open landscape. Maybe a nuclear plant or two, but otherwise green space—none of the urban sprawl, wind farms, solar arrays or biomass operations we’ve been taught to expect from an ecologically responsible future. But you can’t see outside, because you’re underground, traveling 300 miles an hour on a maglev train alongside superconducting pipes transporting the energy from those nuclear plants.
Jeffrey Martin’s closed-loop plan for recycling heat-trapping carbon emissions into gasoline
By John Bradley Posted 06.02.2010 at 3:25 pm 4 Comments
Into the category of things that sound too good to be true, add Green Freedom. If the scientists behind this federally funded proposal are correct, we’ll be able to continue driving gas-powered cars and flying in gas-powered aircraft indefinitely, in a closed, net-zero-emissions system that won’t contribute to global warming.
With the Sahara desert rapidly encroaching on livestock-nourishing grassland, architect Magnus Larsson proposes a 3,728-mile-long barrier wall—built by bacteria
By John Bradley Posted 06.02.2010 at 3:00 pm 0 Comments
Could a student architecture project help save millions of Africans from the relentless advance of the Sahara desert, a phenomenon that’s fueling drought, starvation and poverty? There’s one that has people talking. Borrowing from an experimental solution for firming up building foundations in earthquake-prone areas, Swedish architect Magnus Larsson, 34, has proposed solidifying the sand dunes at the leading edge of the Sahara to create a habitable 3,728-mile-long desert-blocking wall.