VNL

 

Where are the charging stations? 2 May, 2008

Anders Perjons - VNL’s own verification & measurement guru - is an electric car advocate. He has three electric cars that he has reconditioned himself. The big challenge is to charge them.

Anders and his fellow electric car promoter Lars Magnusson drive their cars on a daily basis. Fully charged, the batteries last up to 70km. Then they have to be charged, and this is where charging stations are needed.

Anders and Lars most often charge their cars at home. Because in Stockholm, Sweden, there are only three official charging stations. To increase the usefulness of having an electric car, and to encourage others to get one, cities need to increase the number of charging stations.

But isn’t a normal electric socket enough? Anders says;

“We really just need an electric socket. But the fuse has to handle at least 10 ampere. And most fuses don’t, so it can be quite risky to take a chance.”

If Stockholm and other cities build granular charging station networks, both Anders and Lars think that the electric car will have a definite breakthrough.

There are many types of chargeable hybrid cars in the market with much longer action radius than 70km, and petrol or ethanol engines that enable longer trips.

Dual benefits

According to Lars’ calculations, the running cost of his electric car is between 1-2 SEK (0.20 - 0.40 USD) per 10km - less than 1/10th of a regular combustion engine-based car.

And electric cars contribute zero carbon dioxide emissions, if the electricity used to charge the batteries comes from renewable energy sources like wind or water.

We salute Anders for his initiative, and hope to see more electric cars, and charging stations, in the world’s cities . Hopefully sooner than later.

Read an interview with Anders & Lars: “Elbilar saknar kontakter” (in Swedish)

The end of impure water? 24 Apr, 2008

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, is working on the Slingshot – a device which purifies water from any liquid source.

The Slingshort almost sounds too good to be true: a $1500 vapor compression distiller that produces up to 1000 liters of potable water per day from any liquid source – from ocean water to sewage.

There are other interesting devices for water purification that are proven to work. For example solar water distillers, where trapped solar energy both destroys pathogens and evaporates pure water which is collected in a trough. Solar water distillers are available from SolAqua – for example the $499 Rainmaker™ 550 Solar Distiller.

Water, just like oil, is not an infinitely available resource. Clean water is a basic requirement for human survival.

As Dean said in a recent video interview;

50% of all human disease on this planet today is a result of water-born pathogens

Dean is also working on a $3700 power generator, based on a Stirling engine, which will produce around 1 kW — enough to light up a small village.

So, will the Slingshot work? Time will tell. But we surely hope Dean succeeds in his endeavours!

Learn more in this article at redferret.net, at dvice.com or at wired.com.

The human chimney 14 Apr, 2008

China emits 1000 tonnes of CO2 every 9.2 seconds. Russia takes 22 seconds to emit the same amount. And the US is leading with 1000 tonnes every 5.4 seconds.

Every minute, these three countries combined emit approximately 20,360 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 20,360,000 kilograms. Which is the same weight as 290 fully loaded Boeing 737 jetplanes, 34,000 Tata Nano’s, or 254,300 average Finnish men. Every 60 seconds.

All this is calculated from a the carbon dioxide emissions simulation at breathingearth.net.

It’s not until we see visualisations of emission and consumption that we truly understand the scale of human impact on our planet. We’ve written about this before in posts like “Shocking images of unsustainability ” and “The world in numbers “.

Seems like the time is right for increased adoption of clean technology, don’t you think?

Sweet-tooth bacteria = the future of biofuel? 9 Apr, 2008

Biologist at Amyris Biotechnologies are using E. coli bacteria to turn sugar into carbon-neutral gasoline.

By adding enzyme genes to the bacteria, carbon-absorbing crops like sugarcane can be turned into hydrocarbons.

As Amanda Schaffer says in the article “Breeding the Oil Bug” at popsci.com:

Amyris is [...] betting that, with the help of bacteria, the long-term answer to our gasoline woes will actually be… gasoline.

Others, like scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, believe that raw algae used to make biocrude is the best way forward. Biocrude is touted to be “the renewable equivalent of petroleum”. It can be processed at existing oil refineries to make anything from gasoline to chemical feedstocks for plastics.

But our stance remains. The answer to our climate and energy crisis is not to make new things that can be burned in combustion engines. We have to find entirely new approaches by using renewable and natural energy sources like water, wind and sun.

And our belief is that electric cars are the way of the future. Recommended watching: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Learn more about how gasoline is made from sugar: “Breeding the Oil Bug” (popsci.com)

Learn more about algae that makes biocrude: “Algae-Based Fuels Set to Bloom” (technologyreview.com)

The world in numbers 26 Mar, 2008

6.6 billion people. 18 million more every year. 6.4 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, yearly. And over 1 billion internet users.

These are just some of the figures presented in the “World Clock” — an overview the human impact on our planet.

Continuing the theme of our previous post “Shocking images of unsustainability“, the World Clock paints an equally fascinating and terrifying picture of what is going here on our pale blue dot by presenting key figures for everything from population growth to total number of bicycles produced.

All things considered, it’s no surprise that sustainability has climbed high up on many agendas.

Check out the numbers »

(Thanks to Ben at Cartridgeworld for the tip)

Shocking images of unsustainability 20 Mar, 2008

We know we consume. We know others consume. But, it is nearly impossible to visualize what that joint consumption looks like as a whole or what kind of an impact it has on our environment.

An artist in Seattle, Chris Jordan, has found a shocking way to depict the sheer immensity of our consumption. The pictures are somehow pleasing, even beautiful, but the devil is in the details.A closer look reveals horrific sights and what a disaster we are creating. The figures are mind-bending:

  • 1,000,000 plastic cups on airline flights in the US every 6 hours
  • 410,000 paper cups in the US every 15 minutes
  • 2,000,000 plastic beverage bottles in the US every 5 minutes
  • 8,000,000 harvested trees in the US every month to make mail order catalogues
  • 11,000 jet trails for commercial flights in the US every 8 hours
  • 426,000 cell phones retired in the US every day
  • 1,140,000 brown paper supermarket bags the US every hour
  • 3,600,000 new SUVs in the US in 2004
  • 60,000 plastic bags in the US every 5 seconds
  • 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries produced every 15 minutes
  • 15,000,000 million sheets, used in the US every 5 minutes
  • 106,000 aluminum cans in the US every 30 seconds.

Now, see what it looks like. It’s scary.

New initiative puts a sunny smile on Adelaide 14 Mar, 2008

The forward-thinking state government of South Australia released a new solar “feed-in” legislation last year which allows home-owners with solar panels to receive double-credit for the power they feed into the grid.

Essentially, the government will buy back any excess energy that private solar cells produce.

The new legislation has resulted in the Adelaide Solar City initiative, which encourages citizens to go green, or rather, yellow. And make an extra buck while lowering environmental impacts.

We salute this initiative, and hope others will follow!