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Green Building Blog

Twenty-Three Reasons Why I Love GreenITers.com

Flavio Sauza, the Tokyo resident behind the GreenITers website, is like the dreamy excited guy at the party who is all over the next big thing

3 Months Have Passed Since The EarthQuake in Japan. The great East Japan earthquake was the most powerful earthquake ever measured in Japan, unleashing far more devastation than many had thought possible.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
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3 Months Have Passed Since The EarthQuake in Japan. The great East Japan earthquake was the most powerful earthquake ever measured in Japan, unleashing far more devastation than many had thought possible.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com China's National Energy Bureau is planning government spending of 5 trillion yuan, or roughly 65 trillion yen, over the 2011-2020 period to promote clean-energy technologies. The investment will focus on five areas: wind, solar and biomass power generation, as well as electric vehicles and smart grids.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Solar Energy: One second is all we need. Panasonic will provide its solar cells and lithium-ion batteries to a solar-powered car developed by a Tokai University team which will compete in the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia, one of the largest solar-powered car races in the world. The Japanese university's team won the last race in 2009 using Sharp Corp. solar cells to cover the 3,021-kilometer distance between Darwin and Adelaide.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
NTN's motor is attached to the wheel and comprises a drive unit that directly moves the tire with embedded motors and a device that electronically controls tire angle in line with steering wheel movements. The system and the battery cover the key functions of running, turning and stopping. Vehicles installed with the system have fewer components than current EVs, which feature motors in the center of the car instead of using an engine.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. has developed a rechargeable battery that promises to cost only about 10% as much as lithium ion batteries, The Nikkei learned Wednesday. The company aims to commercialize the molten-salt battery around 2015 and market it as an alternative to lithium ion batteries used in automobiles and homes.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
DIC Corp. has developed a coating agent that can weatherproof resin films so they withstand heat and rain as well as glass. By using this coating agent, resin films can substitute for glass as the protective layer on solar cells. The result is solar cells that are not only 50-60% lighter but also bendable. The process works on regular PET films
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
A team of researchers said Thursday that it succeeded in making a magnetic material without rare-earth metals — made from iron and nitrogen — measuring tens to hundreds of nanometers in diameter which will be "60% more powerful than existing magnets," says professor Migaku Takahashi, making it possible to reduce the size of EV motors by 40% without compromising power.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
The Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed technology that allows silicon solar cells to be manufactured at about one-third the cost of existing methods and reduces production costs for solar cells by two-thirds. Silicon hydride polymers are mixed with an organic solvent to create an ink-like substance, which is used to coat a glass substrate surface. The solar cell is created by heating the substrate to 400 C.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
JFE Engineering Corp. has developed a charging system that can power up an electric car's batteries halfway in three minutes. As big as as a gas pump, it uses special lithium ion batteries to store power at night, when electricity costs less and can deliver more than five times the current as existing products. Typical high-speed chargers require more power than most convenience stores can receive. Out later this year, it's about 5 X as fast as & will cost 40% less to install. Enex Co. said Tuesday the motorcycles, which will sell for between 198,000 yen and 266,000 yen, are fitted with lithium ion batteries and can be charged at home using a 100-volt electric socket. Depending on battery capacity, it can take two to three hours to charge, for a range of 35-53km (22-33 miles). Anticipating the popularity of electric vehicles, Itochu Enex aims to accumulate know-how on maintenance and battery charging, as well as expand its earnings beyond fuel sales.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
The AeroAstro team from MIT has designed two commercial planes with 70 percent less fuel consumption and 75 percent less NOx emissions. The 180-passenger D “double bubble” series and the 350 passenger H “hybrid wing body” series, aim to replace the Boeing 737 and 777 class aircraft respectively. The D series (above) touts a tube and wing structure, two partial cylinders, a rear engine, and uses a Boundary Layer Ingestion technique to meet fuel, emissions and runway length objectives.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Wander through MIT’s Killian Court and you’ll spot something distinctly modern nestled amongst its classical buildings — a set of solar-powered lounge chairs called SOFT Rockers. These curved, solar-panel-covered seats rotate on an axis to keep them facing the sun, generating additional energy from the rocking motion created when people climb inside to recharge gadgets plugged into the three USB ports and to illuminate a light strip on the inside of the loop.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Made from a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds, "seedbombs" are becoming an increasingly popular means of combating the many forgotten gray spaces we encounter everyday, to temporarily reclaim and transform them into places worth looking at and caring for. The Greenaid dispensary makes guerrilla gardening more accessible by recycling existing quarter-operated candy machines.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
The Merry-Go-Round Water Pump system is bringing clean water into the hardest hit regions of sub-Saharan Africa. There’s only one catch — users have to take a spin on the merry-go-round! The PlayPump has been installed in rural villages and primary schools where kids can easily access the fun, all the while pumping clean, potable water from underground up into a 660-gallon water tower above.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Ushio Lighting Inc. is preparing to enter the U.S. market with its Let Series of LED filament light bulbs, which are shaped to closely resemble and substitute for regular incandescent filament candelabra and globe-type bulbs in existing light fixtures.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Nokia has patented a piezoelectric kinetic motion harvester that’s designed to provide little sips of additional power to portable electronics. In something like a cellphone, the battery would be mounted on a set of little rails, enabling it to move up and down as you walk, generating electricity. And in an emergency, you could just give the phone a shake for some extra juice.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
"If you can bike to a river, pond, pool or other sources of water, all you need is your leg power to produce clean drinking water," Yuichi Katsuura, president of Nippon Basic Co. said on Thursday as he introduced the system. Cycloclean needs only human power to turn a bike chain driving a motor to pump water through a series of filters, unlike other systems requiring gasoline or electricity. It can purify five litres (1.3 gallons) of water in a minute.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulfur pollution as all the world’s cars. In today’s world, ships are used to transfer everything from oil to electronics. There are about 100,000 commercial ships at sea. Many of them burn marine heavy fuel, or "bunker fuel", that is high in sulfur content.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
A new energy-efficient car carrier design will reduce wind resistance by up to 50% compared with a conventionally designed ship, and can decrease CO2 emissions by around 2,500 tons a year, translating into saving about 800 tons of fuel in the windy North Atlantic.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Inspired by the earthquake and tsunami, a Japanese company, TES NewEnergy, has invented a way to charge mobile phones while boiling water over a campfire outdoors. The Y24,150 ($330) thermo-electric cookpot turns heat from boiling water into electricity that feeds via a USB port in the handle to smartphones, I-pods and GPSs. CEO, Kazuhiro Fujita, said it was inspired by Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left 23,000 people dead or missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
The "Solar Power Bra," designed to raise awareness of global warming and the need to conserve energy, features a solar panel that can generate enough power to charge a cell phone or an iPod. The energy powers an electrical bulletin board on top of the bra for displays of messages such as "save the earth." Model Yuko Ishida said. "It is very comfortable and I can really feel involved in eco-friendly efforts as well."
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com
Spanish designer Martin Azua has combined the romantic notion of life after death with an eco solution to the dirty business of the actual, you know, transition. His Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose, and inside it contains the seed of a tree. You can pick the type of plant you would like to become, depending on what kind of planting space you prefer.
Image Credit: www.GreenITers.com

When I want to get an inside look at the amazing innovation happening around the world in service of a more sustainable future, I look to Flavio Souza in Tokyo. Souza curates a glorious collection of innovation news and images at his website, GreenITers.com.

Sauza has created an exuberant riot of inspiration. You won’t get a handle on it in a few visits, and interesting things do get deleted, so if you find something you’ll want to refer back to, save it on your hard drive or you may never find it again. While GreenBuildingAdvisor is practical and pragmatic, GreenITers is like the dreamy excited guy at the party who is all over the next big thing — except here they really do know what they’re talking about.

Innovative gadgets and electric vehicles

Here is the place to watch the huge explosion of innovation in Japan in the months following the tsunami. It’s a great place to find info-graphics that help make sense of complex changes in technology and global demographics. This is where I first became aware of the pollution impact of the global shipping industry and what was already being done to address that.

It’s the place to watch electric vehicle innovation, motor bikes, hybrid cars that can feed power to a house during a power outage, zillions of electric scooters, bikes, trikes, vans, trucks, and trains.

It’s the place to watch battery innovation as it spins chaotically on multiple intertwining streams of innovation and experimentation. It’s where I heard about growing solid lithium crystal anodes for improved battery performance rather than using a carbon-lithium amalgam. This is where I first heard of new sheet super-capacitors and their controller technology that could take the place of batteries in cars that would store energy in their body panels and embed the motors and regenerative brakes in the wheel hubs.

New applications for PV modules

It’s the place to watch solar generation components coming up that will even further reduce the embodied resource content of photovoltaic modules and reduce the cost accordingly.

It’s the place to discover what is being done to make lives better for people who lack access to clean water and affordable transportation.

It’s a place that recognizes the inherent potential of even the craziest ideas, like little piezo-electric generators embedded in clothing, shoes, wrist bands. A camping stove with a USB plug in the end of the handle that generates electricity when you boil water to charge your cell phone or GPS over a camp fire after a natural disaster or even on a trek in the wilderness. Arboform wood-based moldable plastic. Photovoltaic lawn chairs. Carved wood cell phone cases (yummy). Bluetooth sunglasses with bone conduction technology (I tried to buy one — Flavio offered to help me out, but it just got too complicated).

Innovations in waste disposal

It is a place that looks at the waste in disposable beverage containers and reports on all the myriad ways innovators are making headway in improving that situation.

It’s the place that reports non-judgmentally on goofy marketing schemes like window-mounted wind turbines in taxi cabs that can charge the customers cell phones as the taxi speeds them from the airport. And it calls out sexist marketing schemes like the solar bra and RenewableGirls.com.

And when you’ve had enough, it’s the place to find out about an urn for your ashes that will turn you into a tree after you die.

Thank you, Flavio, for all the inspiration over the years. Check it out: be inspired, innovate.

And, in a tip of my hat to the cool dudes over at the Architects Lounge, I’d like to offer a sound track for these 23 images, “The Beauty of 23” by Glory Fountain.

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