A 52-year-old woman in Dusseldorf, Germany, stunned commuters at the Nordstrasse subway station when she drove her Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet right into the entrance as she accidentally mistook it for an underground car park. In all her stupidity and recklessness, the 52-year-old was extremely lucky not to hurt anyone -at least not this time… Via: BBC
Month: May 2007
I’ve just finished reading The Lazy Environmentalist by Josh Dorfman. While not every chapter was for me (babies and children?!) the book contains a gigantic amount of information on how to make good, informed, green decisions. Without condescension or guilt trips Dorfman lays down easy to digest information on how to live a cleaner greener life that isn’t a big pain in the ass.
We recently had a chance to talk to Josh about his book, which you can get at Amazon.com
EcoGeek: What is a Lazy Environmentalist?
Josh Dorfman: Lazy Environmentalists are people who want to be environmentally
conscious, and will be, provided the choices are convenient and fit the way they
want to live. Deep inside there’s probably a lazy environmentalist in
just about all of us. After all, we live in the culture of convenience. The
expectation of convenience seems like it has become hardwired into our DNA
EG: What do you say to the "America Can’t
Buy Its Way to Sustainability" argument?
JD: I’d say that I agree. But that doesn’t mean
we ought to disregard all the really cool green solutions presently available
to us to get us moving in a significantly greener direction. To really solve
climate change and other serious environmental challenges we’re going
to need a joint and massive effort from business, government, non-profit organizations,
and consumer-citizens. We are all responsible for our situation, and we all
have a role to play in achieving solutions.
EG: What, if anything, scares your pants off?
JD: The mindset that still thinks Hummers and McMansions are
a good idea. That and snakes.
what gives you the energy to do this for a living?
JD: I like operating on the cutting-edge and “green”
is where the action is. “Green” is where the most innovation is
taking place across nearly every industry. “Green” is what’s
going to determine whether the 21st century is peaceful or chaotic. And there’s
no going back. We have to deal with what’s in front of us. That’s
the great challenge for every generation alive. What could be more exciting?
wasn’t listed in the "Electronics Information" resources section…WTF?
JD: A big mistake that’s being rectified immediately
if not sooner.
Well, we’ve got another solar powered bag, this one seems to be aimed at an upscale market. I suppose that’s good, maybe it means that trendsetters are starting to find solar as sexy as I do.
Unfortunately Dunhill’s Avorities Solar Panel Bag doesn’t tell us very much about the panels. The bag is 38 x 27.5 x 12.5cm and has, y’know, lots of pockets, etc. But we have to guess on the power of the panels. From similar models, I’d say you aren’t going to charge a laptop with those panels, just not enough surface area. But there’s a good chance you could keep your phone, or iPod, or even iPhone permanently charged during daylight hours.
If the 6
Watt Linutop is a Honda Insight – small, not much room or power, but efficient
– then the Enano E2, packing Intel
Core Duo technology, a DVD burner, up to 2GB of RAM and 160GB of storage, is the
Wrightspeed X1 of computing
– small, lightweight, quiet, energy efficient, and somewhat impractical. I love
that they are 70-80% more efficient than a regular desktop, weighing in at around
65 watts power consumption (vs. a typical 300 watt system). The only thing that
bugs me is that for the same price (they start at $650) you could get a laptop
similarly equipped, which would probably draw less power than one of these when
combined with a flat panel monitor. It has optional TV tuner and S-video out,
but if you’re looking for a set-top box you’re probably better off with an appleTV
for downloaded iTunes content or a linux box running MythTV
for DVR functionality – Vista is notoriously crippled when it comes to multimedia,
especially HD content. Lack of component or HDMI outputs make this a non-issue,
An Energy Star partner, Enano Computers envisions themselves as pioneers and revolutionaries:"Our vision is to provide viable energy efficient alternatives to traditional computer systems. E2s are the latest energy-efficient computer designed for our evolving planet. Our sole mission is to make a real, honest and lasting difference in how people around the world use computer energy."
All in all this is a sweet little machine. If you’re running Vista and space is your number one concern (vendors, executives, and astronauts: take note) this little PC, highly reminiscent of the Mac Mini, may be the greenest option available. It’s Energy Star compliant, and it’s made from highly recyclable materials.
For their twincharger concept for engine, Volkswagen selected the direct-injection FSI from its EA 111 engine, like that found in the Golf. Then they had to make a new, highly-resilient gray cast-iron cylinder crankcase, which should be able to withstand the higher pressure, a coolant pump with an integrated magnetic clutch and supercharging technology.
From there, they also changed the injection system, with a multiple-hole, high-pressure injection valve with six fuel outlet elements. It was actually the first introduction for this multiple-hole kind. The injector is arranged on the intake side just between the intake port and cylinder head head seal level.
They needed to support the wider variability in the quantity of fuel needed across the range of operation to optimize the twincharging. This may have posed a problem at that time but to remedy this, VW increased the maximum injection pressure to 150 bar.
For the type of compressor to be used in this engine, they selected the Roots-type supercharger. This type of compressor doesn’t actually compress air within the device. It moves a fixed volume of air per rotation with the use of two counter-rotating lobes. Compression then happens in the intake manifold.
The good thing about superchargers is that it can provide a large amount of boost even if at low engine speed. The downside with this is that it generates a lot of heat.
The turbocharger and the compressor is connected like a series. A fresh air required for a given operating state needs to get through either to the exhaust turbocharger or in the compressor. It is the control valve which ensures that the passing of the fresh air happens.
When the exhaust turbocharger operates alone, the control valve is open. During this, the air follows a normal path like those in conventional turbo engines(front charge-air cooler, and the throttle valve into the induction manifold).
The compressor is run by a magnetic clutch incorporated in a module inside the water pump. The clutch disengages the compressor in turbocharging conditions. The twincharger’s maximum boost pressure is at approximately 2.5 bar at 1,500 rpm, with the mechanical supercharger and the exhaust turbocharger operated at about the same pressure ratio. The compressor can deliver a boost pressure of 1.8 bar even just above idling speed.
The traditional exhaust turbocharged engine could only deliver a pressure ratio of about 1.3 bar, and this is also without the assistance of a compressor. The faster response of the turbocharger allows the compressor to be depressurized earlier by the continuous opening of the bypass valve. The compressor activity is limited to a constricting engine map area with a preponderantly low pressure ratios and so there is low power consumption.
This would mean that the compressor is only needed for generating the required boost pressure in the engine speed ranging up to 2,400 rpm. For optimum efficiency in the upper power range, the exhaust turbocharger is used, ad this provides also the adequate boost pressure even in the medium speed range.
For acceleration, an automatic boost pressure control decides if the compressor needs to be switched on to deliver the tractive power required, or if the turbocharger alone can handle the situation. The compressor is switched on again if the speed drops to the lower range and then power is demanded again. The turbocharger alone delivers adequate boost pressure above 3,500 rpm.
And that is how Volkswagen’s TSI engine works, and the very reason it was voted to be the International Engine of the Year award this 2007.
The EPA has changed the way it calculates mileage in vehicles in America. The result? Some pretty drastic changes.
Mileage for the Prius has dropped from 60/51 mpg city/hwy all the way to 48/45 mpg while the Honda Civic hybrid dropped from 49/51 mpg to 40/45. The change reflects the difference in testing environments, of course, but Sam Abuelsamid at AutoBlogGreen reports that there could be another reason there was such a significant drop.
Hybrid cars can be tuned to perform well in specific environments. They are largely computer controlled, and how the hybrid drive train operates is up to the engineers that create the car. Abuelsamid speculates that engineers at Honda and Toyota tweaked the computer control specifically for the EPA test. The result was inflated mileage and decreased real-world efficiency.
Seems more like something American automakers would do? Apparantly not, the Ford Escape Hybrid only dropped from 36/31 to 31/29.
Just wanted to share these charming sentiments from the EcoGeek cupcake at NatalieDee.com
I’m not sure if I can really support this. It seems like there’s something evil about completely removing agriculture from the environment. I mean, agriculture is already extremely unnatural, especially the way industrialized countries do it, but this is just nuts!
The people at Organitech have been creating systems to create leafy vegetables in fairly sterile hydroponic greenhouses for some time. The plants grow extremely quickly, are entirely free from pests (and dirt) and almost all of the harvesting is done by robots, so there are no labor costs.
But now Organitech is looking to remove that last vestiage of nature…the sun. They’re thinking of turning the hundreds of thousands of discarded shipping containers that are too cheap to ship back to China into organic farms. The shipping containers could be filled with racks of hydroponically grown, pesticide-free, disease-free, low-water-using plants all controlled robotically for optimal yield.
The containers could then be stacked creating, in essence, vertical farms that would have a per acre yield of thousands of times more than conventional farms.
The container farms could be distributed throughout the world, and would produce food from Siberia to the Sahara as long as they were plugged in. This would signficantly reduce transportation consts, and make communities much less susceptible to global markets and climate change.
So I think I’m coming down on the side of good, though I will admit that I don’t want my species to be any more separate from the natural environment than we already are.
For more on Organitech, check out this awesome video (turn down the voice track and you could totally rave to it.)
The Corporate Climate Response conference has it’s own informative liveblog for the event. So far, the coverage has been fantastic with video interviews with businesses large and small and some excellent stories on what’s going on.
The Corporate Climate Response conference is basically an gathering of companies who are taking the lead on the climate crisis. I wish I could be there myself, but this constantly updated liveblog is certainly the next best thing.
A while back, EcoGeek’s Matt James asked Dell if they were looking to incorporate ultra-efficient, 80 Plus power supplies in their PCs. Dell said yes, and they weren’t lying.
80 Plus power supplies are at least 80% efficient at any level of drain. Normal power supplies can vary from 90% efficient at low drain to 60% at high drain. This means that up to 40% of poweris being lost before it even gets to your computer’s components!
While these new power supplies are a bit more expensive, they’ll almost certainly pay for themselves over the life of the machine. Dell has opted to include the 80 Plus power supplies in corporate models (the Optifast 740 and 745) but promise that they will be appearing in more models soon. I asked them if they’d be in the low-end models appearing soon on Wal-Mart shelves, but they aren’t commenting on that yet. The PCs will also be loaded with energy-saving software and default settings.
Dell also just announced that they will are pleased they’ll be meeting the EPAs new Energy Star 4.0 efficiency standards signficantly before they go into effect. It makes me wonder if maybe the standards aren’t strict enough.
But it’s good to know Dell is continuing its commitment to being on the forefront of environmental computing.
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