The Never-Ending OLED

Well, we’re starting to see OLEDs popping up in strange places. I guess this is how innovation goes. First scientists develop the materials, then crazy designers put the materials into far-out, never-before-imagined applications. And then some corporation buys it and actually makes awesome, efficient and useful products.

So we’re at the crazy-design stage of OLED, and the Archimedes Dream is the proof. Developed by Makoto Tojiki, the Dream is a ribbon of Organig LEDs that literally has no beginning or end. It’s flowing, seemingly random, yet compact form is really pretty cool. It’s just not the kind ofthing I would expect to see on the shelves of Target.

It’s nice to see OLED getting some lighting applications. It doesn’t look like the Dream throws off too much light, but due to the extreme efficiency of OLEDs, that means it hardly consmumes any power.

Via Inhabitat

Chernobyl Shrooms Devour Radiation

The ruined remains of Chernobyl have become a source of several environmental mysteries. Rapid adaptation of rodents, the swift return of nature and now extremely happy fungi that seem to be feeding on waste radiation.

According to the research of some folks at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Cryptococcus neoformans is converting radiation into fuel for the fungus. This could mean hat fungus is the solution to two of our greatest environmental problems, lack of fuel and too much radioactive waste.

All we need to do is surround our nuclear waste with this radiation-eating fungus and then harvest it every once in a while to produce some kind of bio-fuel. I doubt we have enough radioactive waste to feed enough fungus to run America’s automobile fleet, but that’s hardly something to complain about.

It looks like melanin (the same melanin found in human skin) plays the roll of chlorophyl in this ‘radiosynthesis.’ After taking in the radio waves, the melanin starts off a reaction that allows the fungus to grow. The scientists speculate that the fungus could be used for bio-fuel farms in high-altitude areas with low-light and high-radiation. Or they could be food for astronauts on long-haul, nuclear-powered missions.

In any case, now we know that life will continue even if the light of the sun disappeared, because fungi in Chernobyl will continue to eat left-over radiation for centuries. And isn’t that just the beginning of a wonderful sci-fi novel.

Via Technology Review

Josh Dorfman: EcoGeek of the Week

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

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.

EG: What
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?

EG: EcoGeek
wasn’t listed in the "Electronics Information" resources section…WTF?

JD: A big mistake that’s being rectified immediately
if not sooner.

Dunhill Solar Messenger Bag: $1,300, No Specs

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.

Via Engadget

Enano E2: High Performace, High Efficiency Computing

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.


Honda / Toyota: Inflated Mileage

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? Apparently not, the Ford Escape Hybrid only dropped from 36/31 to 31/29.

Via AutoBlogGreen

OrganiTech: Vertical Robotic Farms

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.)

Via Wired

Corporate Climate Response LiveBlog

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.

New Dell PCs 78% More Efficient

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.

Clean Coal: The Myth Ends Today

We publish an astonishing amount of good news here at When I started this all up a year ago, good news was pretty hard to come by. But now it just flows in. The future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear photovoltaic clothing.

But there are some dark spots. One in particular looks like it could undo a lot of the work done in the last few years. It’s a dark spot that I’ve seen jaunting merrily across the screen on Grist and TreeHugger, a smudge supported by Barack Obama and myriad congressional Democrats: Coal.

For the last few years energy independence and the green movement have almost become synonymous. But coal threatens to break down that synergy. While recent forward progress that has been astonishing, coal is providing an opportunity for the United States to stagnate once again.

The technology to convert coal to liquid fuel has existed since the 1920s. If congress were to mandate and fund its implementation America would begin to slowly gain energy independence, Peabody Coal’s net worth would increase tenfold to roughly $3.6 trillion, the Appalachian Mountains would be destroyed and U.S. carbon emissions would double. This is a bad idea.

Unfortunately, there’s a bill working through congress right now that would give coal companies billions of dollars to help them build coal-to-liquid plants. It would guarantee coal companies government contracts, including a $40-billion, 25-year deal with the air force. Peabody coal is literally fighting for trillions of dollars here.

At the same time, there are also bills in congress that would cap CO2 emissions and make coal-to-liquid technologies instantly obsolete. But there’s not a lot of money behind the carbon neutral lobby, while Coal has millions to spend on congress. The unfortunate truth is, this bill has a chance of passing. For more in depth analysis, you can refer to the New York Times, as they’ve just done a marvelous write-up of the situation.

This could be bad news. This could be very bad news. We have been making some marvelous steps forward in the last few years. A large-scale conversion to liquid coal would a reversion, the exact opposite of what we need to be doing.

I invite everyone to check out, and to consider Illinois Senator Obama’s position on "clean coal." Hillary may not be an EcoGeek, but at least she doesn’t go around pretending like Coal can be good for the environment.

Green Technologies from Beijing

CNET has some excellent, brief and enjoyable coverage of the China Beijing International High Tech Expo. CNET has focused on technologies that promise to green Beijing. China seems to be taking this challenge seriously, with one of the major deadlines being next year’s olympic games. Beijing may be one of the dirtiest cities in the world, but they’ve got a lot of brains working to change that.

Featured on CNET are innovations from "grasscrete," an "environmentally sustainable alternative paving system," to a 300 mph maglev train (both pictured above.)

Not pictured include extremely efficient renewable energy heating stoves, and a couple of good looking electric vehicles (a scooter and a bike) both powered by non-toxic lithium ion batteries.

China’s response to the environmental crisis is extremely important and, for the moment anyway, it looks encouraging.