Portable electronics and electric cars both need a steady supply of lithium, and while the world has plenty of it (at least for the foreseeable future), hardly any is produced in the U.S. That is about to change, as a California startup aims to produce lithium from the waste product of another 21st century new-energy technology: Geothermal power plants.
With rare earth supplies uncertain and gold and silver prices spiking, a new international project wants to mine a potentially huge untapped source of minerals and metals: that dresser drawer where you’re hoarding all your old cell phones.
You know how much fun it is to break off the opener tab of a soda can and drop it into the can once you're done with the soda? (So much fun!) Well, two Spanish engineers have taken that experience one step further. Their DAlH2Orean remote-controlled car runs on a combination of recycled aluminum soda can tabs and sodium hydroxide, creating a zero-emissions hydrogen vehicle.
A Japanese inventor has figured out a way to convert plastic grocery bags, bottles and caps back into the petroleum from whence they came, providing a ready fuel source for individual homes that also diverts waste from landfills.
Four Loko—that high-octane alcohol- and caffeine-fueled malt beverage that drew the ire of federal authorities late last year—has found a new and appropriate role in the energy cycle: automotive fuel. A Virginia ethanol recycler is taking shipments of the product, which has been pulled from store shelves in several states, and recycling it into ethanol for use in gasoline.
As if it further needed to drive home its eco-friendly, anti-oil message, the Chevy Volt will soon boast a body made partially of recycled equipment originally used in the Gulf oil leak cleanup efforts. Specifically, GM will use recycled plastic from oil booms, which are sort of floating containment walls meant to keep oil in one place.
Could you live in a future without bottled water? In Concord, Mass., 82-year-old Jean Hill hopes so. Her campaign against what many see as an environmental evil has moved the town to vote for an outright ban, as the New York Times covers today.
A message from Chinese scientists: "Stop throwing out your cigarette butts!" Researchers have devised a financially viable process for recycling cigarette leftovers to extract chemicals present in the filters. And doing your part to recycle cigarette butts could help save one of our most precious resources -- oil companies.
Recycling is often too bothersome of a task for the average person. Enter Dustbot, an adorable Segway-powered robot that travels from home to home hauling out people's garbage on request. When notified by mobile phone, Dustbot uses GPS and motion sensors to locate the caller's address. Upon Dustbot's arrival, the caller selects the type of garbage he wants to give the robot. Dustbot then carries the trash or recycling to the appropriate location.
No one loves that trash smell in the morning, and certainly not Beijing residents who have complained about a landfill at the city's edge. Chinese officials will respond to the Asuwei dump crisis by installing 100 deodorant guns that can literally cover up the problem temporarily with the sweeter smell of fragrance, The Guardian reports.
Carbon nanotubes may push future innovations ranging from self-repairing electronic devices to batteries based on nanotube ink and paper. Now NASA scientists may have uncovered a new recipe for making carbon nanotubes based on interstellar processes.
There's an early 2010 contender for an office innovation award, or at least the best name for an office innovation. DigInfo News brings us a very special report on "White Goat," a miracle-working machine by Oriental Co., Ltd that directly recycles office paper into toilet paper. Users need only add water along with any embarrassing e-mail printouts or unwanted TPS reports they need shredded, and out comes TP of dubious softness.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.