Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Odd Yet Effective Green Inventions

Here are nine strange yet useful inventions that are geared towards energy generation, efficiency or diminishing environmental impacts. 

An energy generating soccer ball: Known as the sOccket, this invention is a fully functional soccer ball that uses the kinetic energy generated during a soccer game to build up a charge in its built-in battery. This battery can then by used to power small devices like cell phones.

A bio robot fridge: This new Electrolux concept makes use of “bio robots” suspended in gel to cool food and drink in a unique, door-less fridge system. Four times smaller than a conventional refrigerator, the Bio Robot cools biopolymer gel through luminescence. The non sticky, odourless gel morphs around products to create a separate pod that suspends items. The fridge operates without a motor and comes in different sizes that can be hung vertically, horizontally, and even on the ceiling.

A method of harnessing wind vibration: This small scale wind energy charger harvests the vibration of the wind to power smart building sensors. A company called Humdinger Wind Energy LLC, has invented a device called the microBelt. It is a piezoelectric turbine-based system that is 10 times more effective at gathering energy than other systems of the same size. The system uses aeroelastic flutter and vibration of a membrane rather than a spinning turbine. It is intended to replace the batteries used in wireless sensor networks (WSN). It has a long life span of 20 years and is ideal for HVAC units.

A solar powered DIY washing machine: This project was developed by students at the École Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence in France. They built a solar-powered washing machine using only materials available in the Saharan desert. What makes this project so interesting is the fact that it has been developed from readily available materials for the 2 billion people in the world who do not have access to some of the basic amenities including clean water and electricity.

Using human remains as fertilizer: This technique transforms human corpes into 200 gallons of liquid that can be used as fertilizer. With approximately 150000 people dying each day (62 million people dying each year), human remains are a significant source of toxic chemicals. A company called Resomation Ltd., has developed a process of disposing of human corpses that uses alkaline hydrolysis, however, unlike cremation and traditional burial, alkaline hydrolysis doesn’t lead to toxic chemicals like dioxin and formaldehyde being released into the atmosphere or water supply. It also uses 80 percent less energy than standard cremation.

An Eco-friendly coffin: This coffin lowers the environmental impact of your burial. Created by Ecoffins, these coffins use natural products like bamboo, willow branches, banana leaves and pine planks. They are designed to decompose fairly quickly and are not made with any products that could damage the surrounding soil.

An electric YikeBike ‘mini-farthing,’: This electric vehicle is a cross between an e-bike and a Segway. The YikeBike mini-farthing is the smallest, and at 10kg, the lightest electric folding bike in the world, enabling people to take it on buses, trains, and cars and store it easily under a desk or in a cupboard.

The ONDA Urinal Hand Washing Station: This invention uses uses only half the water needed for conventional urinals. With the growing scarcity of water and millions of urinals in the world, this system could make big difference. When the urinal is flushed, water first passes through a space for hand washing, then the same water is flushed to the urinal portion of the system and is disposed of as waste water.

The waterless urinal: This novel system uses gravity to deliver urine into the waste water system. With water shortages on the increase these urinals are an important way of conserving potable water. Distributors say the break-even point for most facilities who install waterless urinals is achieved within the first 12 to 24 months.

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