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A Workspace Powered by Sitting

June 28th, 2012



Swedish Designer Eddi Törnberg has designed the best human-powered work station we've seen yet because unlike other concepts that require you to do things like ride a bike while you're working, it doesn't require a person to do anything more than sit and work. The project, called "Unplugged," powers the various gadgets we use to work -- laptops, lamps, etc --through our small constant movements and body heat.

The desk chair is equipped with a metal seat that gets hot as a person emits body heat, but the underside stays cools through a pattern of metal fins. Electricity is produced through the Seebeck Effect where an electric charge is created when a material is hot or warm on one side, but cool on the other.

The other energy-harvesting part of this set up is a rug that lies under the desk that is outfitted with piezoelectric crystals that generate electricity when pressure is applied to them. Each random shuffle, stomp, and rolling back and forth of the chair is a source of electricity.

The final part of Unplugged is plant-powered rather than human-powered. A potted plant provides electrcity through a process similar to a potato battery.

Unplugged is definitely more of a concept than a working product, but if this set-up were put to use, it could generate a nice chunk, though probably not all, of the energy needed to get through the workday.

via The Atlantic Cities

Images via Eddi Törnberg



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Iceland drops high VAT tax for electric vehicles (well, mostly)

June 26th, 2012

Filed under: EV/Plug-in, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, Legislation and Policy, Europe/EU



Electric vehicle fans the world over can get a kick out of Gísli Gíslason, a leader in Iceland's push to take the bountiful renewable energy that country produces and stuff it into as many EVs as possible. When he was recently pulled over for speeding in his white Tesla Roadster for going 124 kilometers per hour (77 miles per hour) - the first time an EV has been pulled over in Iceland - he told local media that, "I forgot myself in good weather," and encouraged other drivers to be careful. He also recognized the incident as something bigger than one man's lead foot, telling AutoblogGreen it was, "A great marketing stunt."

The charismatic Gislason, CEO of Northern Lights Energy, is even more excited about a bigger piece of news, though - he calls it "the hottest news in Iceland" - which is that the bill to reduce the high "value added tax" (VAT) rate on electric vehicles has passed. He shared the news that at 22:15 on the last day that the Parliament was in session before summer vacation, the bill was accepted. As we reported earlier, this bill does completely remove the VAT (currently set at 25.5 percent for vehicles, which Gislason calls "the highest in the world"), just on the first $45,000 of the price of EVs. Thus, electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and other smaller cars will be VAT free. The NLE staff, which is working to import and sell EVs in Iceland, celebrated with champagne and, as Gislason put it, "Let the games begin."

Iceland drops high VAT tax for electric vehicles (well, mostly) originally appeared on AutoblogGreen on Tue, 26 Jun 2012 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Swine flu outbreak 15 times deadlier than thought, study finds – Vitals

June 25th, 2012
By MyHealthNewsDailyThe number of people who died of swine flu during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic may be about 15 times higher than originally calculated, according to a new study. Researchers now estimate that 284500 ...


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2013 Chevy Volt Adds Miles to Its Range

June 21st, 2012


The new 2013 Chevy Volt, which goes on sale in August, will have added miles to its electric range and greater efficiency overall. GM tinkered with the chemistry of the lithium-ion battery pack as well as its size and composition to get it to an EPA rating of 38 all-electric miles, up from 35 for last year's Volt, getting the car ever closer to its own target of 40 miles of electric range.

The additional range has led to a nice jump in the electric fuel rating to 98 mpg-e from 94 mpg-e. The gas engine will deliver 340 miles of range once the battery has been depleted.

Avoiding specifics, GM's director of Global Battery Systems Engineering Bill Wallace compared the battery to a cake batter, saying, "We’ve done some work at the cell level to modify the ‘ingredients’ to make a better end result."

The downside of this slightly extended range is that the battery will take a smidgen more time to charge. Using a 120-volt outlet, the battery will charge in 10.5 hours up from 10 and if using a 240-volt charger, drivers will be looking at 4.25 hours up from 4 even.

The good news is that even with upgrades the price of the Volt will remain the same at $39,995.

via Gizmag



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Arctic Sea Ice on Track for Record Low Levels This Year

June 20th, 2012

Earlier this year, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the Arctic reached the unhappy milestone of 400 parts-per-million. Now, information coming from the National Snow & Ice Data Center indicates that this year's Arctic sea ice is on pace to shrink to its smallest levels ever.

One of the clearest examples of the effects of global warming and climate change is the receding of the Arctic ice cap. The NSIDC indicates that this year's sea ice is already slightly smaller than it was in 2010, which was the previous record for this time of year. It is also smaller than it was in 2007, which was the year that had the ice cap shrink to its smallest size in September of that year.

Starting the summer with the smallest Arctic cap on record is not an auspicious sign, for the Arctic or for the planet.

image: NSIDC



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All-Electric Sea Plane Takes Flight

June 18th, 2012

A single-seat, all-electric sea plane has successfully taken its first test flight. The FlyNano was originally designed as a hybrid electric/petrol engine "fun flyer" craft, but with advances in batteries and electric motors since its debut over a year ago, the FlyNano has instead gone all-electric.

The FlyNano features a lightweight carbon-fiber body and has a cruising speed of 87 mph. The rudders are controlled by pedals and the throttle and steering are controlled by a stick. The one thing it's lacking? A windshield. But the company is using this as a selling point with the philosophy of "feel the wind" and recommending helmet and goggles when flying.

Sea planes aren't exactly high priority on the list of transportation modes we'd like to see get an all-electric makeover -- it's pretty equal with electric jet skis -- but any transistion away from fossil fuels is welcome and, well, the sea plane is pretty cool.

The Finnish makers of FlyNano hope to get the plane on the market by the end of next year with a price tag of $40,000.

via Phys.org



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Whoops: Coda rep unplugs Ford Focus Electric driven by Forbes reporter

June 18th, 2012

Filed under: Etc., EV/Plug-in, Green Culture, Ford, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, Coda Automotive

ford focus electric plug outlet

And now a tale that could only take place in the 21st Century, complete with electric cars, Tweets and questionable actions.

Forbes staffer Todd Woody recently had a Ford Focus Electric to review and was in Berkeley, CA at a cafe waiting for the car to charge up when his phone buzzed. It was a notification that the charging had been interrupted. When Woody went to investigate, the cord was instead plugged into a Coda Automotive sedan. A Coda that was decked out in manufacturer license plates and very obviously a dealer demo car. Woody Tweeted his displeasure.

Turns out, the car belonged to the store manager for the Coda Silicon Valley dealer, who later emailed Woody to say he had assumed the Focus was finished charging since the light on the charger box itself was not on. The official Coda twitter account Tweeted a sort-of apology, saying "Didn't mean to cause any harm @CODASV must've been in a pinch. #needmorepublicharging."

Now, Woody agrees with the need for more public charging, but he was in a pinch, too, with only 12 miles left in his pack. He writes that there needs to be more than just politeness to stop charging rage from happening more often:

Twice in the past week I've rolled up to parking spots reserved for electric cars in San Rafael in Marin County that were occupied by gas-guzzlers, including a BMW blocking an electric car charger in an otherwise nearly empty parking garage on a Sunday afternoon.

Coda isn't issuing an official statement on the matter, but Larkin Hill, the director of corporate communications for Coda Holdings, sent AutoblogGreen a comment, which you can find below.

Continue reading Whoops: Coda rep unplugs Ford Focus Electric driven by Forbes reporter

Whoops: Coda rep unplugs Ford Focus Electric driven by Forbes reporter originally appeared on AutoblogGreen on Mon, 18 Jun 2012 11:49:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Gas Guzzlers Combat Carnage v1.1 Patch [PC]

June 18th, 2012
This patch fixes issues that occured with some players regarding the playing difficulty.


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Bioplastic Made from Waste Shrimp Shells

June 17th, 2012

Insect cuticle is a pretty versatile material. Layers of chitin, a biopolymer, are built up to make strong, lightweight material that composes the exoskeleton and wings of insects. Now, scientists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed an artificial version of insect cuticle called 'Shrilk' that is as strong as aluminum allow but with only half the weight.

The synthetic insect cuticle is made from chitin which is obtained from waste shrimp shells. By varying the level of moisture during the production process, the stiffness of the material can be varied, allowing flexible or very rigid products to be made with the same material.

Since it is biodegradable, Shrilk is also being investigated for a number of medical uses, including use for sutures that need to be particularly strong and as a scaffold for tissue regeneration. It is also being suggested as a low-cost and biodegradable alternative material for things like trash bags and packaging.

image: Public Domain by Siga/Wikimedia Commons



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Robots Aid in Wind Turbine Maintenance

June 15th, 2012

Inspecting wind turbine blades is a dangerous and expensive part of operating a wind farm. But now it may be possible to have robots do the dangerous climbing work, and allow the inspector to stay safely on the ground.

Turbine blades need to be regularly inspected as part of its regular maintenance. We've seen the (catastrophic) videos of what happens when a turbine blade fails. Inspection helps identify blades that need repair or replacement, before further damage occurs.

The robots for this task have been developed in partnership between International Climbing Machines and GE. The first tests of the robot were successfully carried out at a wind farm in Texas. In addition to the high-definition cameras the robots currently carry, GE is exploring the use of microwave scanners that could give inspectors an ability to "see inside" the blade and gather more information than a conventional visual inspection.

image: GE Newscenter

via: NA Windpower



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