66 Bottles of Beer on the Roof

Once while traveling through the southern US I saw a DIY solar hot
water heater made from an old Chevy, that was up on blocks, painted
black and the proud owner had run 200 feet of garden hose through the
interior.  It provided enough heat for his family to shower he said.

the "Weird Asia News" blog we get the story of a man who made his
family a solar hot water heater from 66 recycled beer bottles.  He
should have called, I could have helped him empty the bottles.

Weird Asia News:

A Chinese farmer has made his own solar-powered water heater out of beer bottles and hose pipes.


“I invented this for my mother. I wanted her to shower comfortably,” says Ma Yanjun, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi province.

MaÂ’s invention features 66 beer bottles attached to a board. The
bottles are connected to each other so that water flows through them.

Sunlight heats the water as is passes slowly through the bottles
before flowing into the bathroom as hot water, reports China Economy

Ma says it provides enough hot water for all three members of his family to have a shower every day.

And more than 10 families in the village have already followed suit and installed their own versions of MaÂ’s invention.

Via: BoingBoing, Wierd Asia News

Building a Better Brick

Henry Liu, a retired civil engineer, has won the Popular Science 2007 Invention Award for producing a replacement for the more than 9 billion clay bricks manufactured in the US each year. Manufactured from fly ash,
a byproduct of coal combustion with a worldwide surplus production
running in the hundreds of millions of tons each year, these new bricks
are as strong and safe as the bricks we’re all used to seeing, cost 20%
less to make, and are far more environmentally friendly.

‘n’ Busted: clay bricks are fired in a kiln at over 2000°F (1100°C).
New Hotness: Liu’s new building material is cured in a 150°F (66°C)
steam bath after exiting a 4000 psi (28,000 kPa) press, saving massive
amounts of energy and reducing the carbon footprint for builders
considerably. In addition, the new bricks are easier to use which will
save bricklayers time, and homebuilders money. To top it all off, the
bricks may also improve air quality.

Having recently passed federal safety standards in the US, Liu will begin licensing his technology to manufacturers in 2008.

via PopSci.com

Horror: Tulsa’s Burried 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Soaked In Water

We’re pretty sure that most of you will have heard the story:On June 15, 1957, Tulsa Town buried a brand-new Plymouth Belvedere along with along with several other artefacts (a pack of cigarettes, bobby pins, an unpaid parking ticket etc) in a cement vault, as part of a contest in which the person who most closely guessed the city’s 2007 population would win the Belvedere on June 15, 2007.

Today (Wednesday June 13), just two days before the ’57 Plymouth’s scheduled exhumation, Tulsa Town decided to open up the vault’s lid. To everyone’s misfortune, the workers discovered several feet of standing water and indications that the car had been submerged. Tulsa’s Public Works Department was summoned to pump the water out of the vault but since there was a danger that the water could be toxic, the Fire Department’s Hazmat team was also called to the scene. Ironically, the vault had been built to withstand a nuclear attack, but apparently not water.

While the condition of the tailfinned Belvedere remains uncertain because the car was covered in cosmolene, a metal preservative then wrapped in plastic, the equation -’57 Plymouth, half a century and several feet of water, is definitely not promising. We’ll have more on Tulsa’s time-capsule latter on. Until then click “Read More…” below to see more photos along with a video

Via: kotv

Now With More Chrome: ASMA Design Unveils A Slightly Updated CLS Shark II

Just when you thought ASMA’s CLS Shark II couldn’t get more flamboyant, the newest version of the German-tuned CLS-Class has been unveiled, and yes ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed even more eye catching. Updates include added chrome accents (most notably on the grille) and a two-tone black and silver paint job, both of which aim to complement the plethora of venting found throughout the vehicle. ASMA has also introduced a pair of new wheel designs as well, which can be added to the CLS Shark II and a number of other Mercedes models, should you so desire.

Lower price for Volkswagen Jetta

The 2007 Volkswagen Jetta, which will be available in fall, will have a lower price than last year’s version. It wil start at $17,120, including a $630 destination charge. The 2006 Jetta started at $18,530, including destination.

Volkswagen spokesman Tom Wegehaupt said, “We lowered the price to be more competitive in the segment”.

The new Jetta also gets an optional iPod adapter, simplified cruise control, an optional premium sound system and a standard tire-pressure monitoring system.

The German automaker dropped the diesel Jetta and the 1.9 TDI diesel New Beetle for 2007. Wegehaupt said all-new common-rail diesel technology will be forthcoming on the New Beetle for the year 2008. He said the new 2.0-liter diesel engine is estimated to deliver 140 horsepower and more than 200 pound-feet of torque.

Volkswagen also announced a special model of the New Beetle is planned for 2007. It will be a white-on-white model that will go on sale in spring 2007. It will feature a white interior and exterior and a white trunk lid, although the top will be black.

New talks between Volkswagen and Proton

After their initial meeting in New York ended positively, PROTON Holdings Bhd and Germany’s Volkswagen AG are due to hold new talks according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi..

The two car makers could probably meet in Bangkok regarding a long-term strategic partnership, he said yesterday.

The government have been looking for another alliance for Proton since 2004. The Malaysian car company recently posted its maiden annual loss in 15 years will be needing the new parter to come up with new models and to increase their sales.

“The fact that they want to have another discussion means both sides were happy with the first results. Both sides are in positive mood. I don’t have the details yet. I need the details before I can say anything. Otherwise there will be further speculation and this will not be good,” said the Prime Minister after launching the 2007 National Imams Conference in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Bangi, Selangor.

On May 31, Proton reported its first-ever annual loss for fiscal 2007 since its listing in 1992. On the same day, Abdullah said Proton should talk to other firms since Volkswagen was not interested in a proposal from Proton. His comment had jolted the parties into action, which resulted to a meeting in New York last week.

On June 1, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the Government will decide on who will be the partner for Proton in the next three months.

Earlier this month, reports from a local paper came out that Volkswagen is set to buy 51 percent stake in a newly formed unit that will own Proton’s manufacturing, research and development and engineering divisions. After Edge Financial Daily reported this matter, Proton stock supposedly rose as much as 21 percent. The same news report also said that Sime Darby will buy a 43 percent stake in Proton Holdings from a Malaysian state investment company, Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

The Malaysian Government is still open to foreign car makers like Germany’s Volkswagen and US-based General Motors.

Nor Mohamed said that all the parties involved must “move fast” to resolve the problem at Proton, a 43 percent unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Once the car industry’s market leader, Proton’s market share has dwindled due to stiffer competition at home. Analysts have said that it needs a foreign partner to improve sales locally and abroad.

Khazanah managing director Datuk Azman Mokhtar said that talks with Volkswagen are still ongoing. Apart from Volkswagen, General Motors is also interested to partner Proton. “We want resolution soon. The team is working and meetings will be set for this month with the interested parties. For the local parties, the door is open to them. Khazanah is willing and able to sell some equities (in Proton),” he said at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

The Government had earlier missed a March 31 deadline to find a suitable partner for Proton.

Shares of Proton closed 2.4 per cent, or 15 sen lower, at RM6.10 yesterday.

ebay: Roudi’s Ford F350 Based Audi 5000 SUV

For unknown reasons we share the same lust for circus-type creations like Roudi’s Audi SUV as the boyz down at Jalopnik. And why shouldn’t we -its not as if you can find everyday an ‘85 Audi 5000s sitting on top of a Ford F350 4×4 chassis with a 390 c.i. V8 engine and monster truck wheels. Moreover, it’ll only cost you a mere $1.500 if you hurry up and make a bid on ebay. Come to think of it, wouldn’t you agree that it’d make a perfect garage-match with the BMW E21 4×4 found for sale in Dallas, Texas? -Vehicle description and image gallery after the jump

Via: Jalopnik , Link: ebay

Vehicle Description

You are looking at a 4X4 that I built about ten years ago that was a spur of the moment thing. Had the car with a blown engine and a rolled over truck and put them together, very well I might say. I have had it in some mud runs, played alot with it, even got stuck a few times and when this one is stuck you are really stuck.

Down to specs- 1985 Audi 5000S sitting on an F350 4X4 chassis with a 390 engine with not alot of miles on it because it was rebuilt what I built the car. Has 40″ Trailblazer tires that are pretty worn out and needs the gas tank cleaned out and fresh gas. I started it this week with a gas can in the engine compartment and it still runs fine.

It needs some minor repairs depending what you want to do with the car, like the passanger mirror is broken, and some minor rust coming thru. I have two titles for this vehicle, one for the car and one for the truck. Full time 4 wheel drive with lock out hubs and an automatic transmission. I changed the interior to vinyl because of the mud I use to get in it, so now I just hose it out and ready to go again. Got to many toys so I am getting rid of some. Any questions please feel free to ask. Thanks for l@@king.

Bug Based Bio Fuel

The start-up biofuels company LS9, of San Carlos, CA,
is using “synthetic biology” to engineer bacteria that can make hydrocarbons
for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.  Their goal is to create designer bugs that produce and excrete
hydrocarbons. LS9 Renewable Petroleum biofuel will be clean burning, carbon neutral,
and has the potential to provide for a large portion of our long term energy needs.

diverse agricultural feedstocks, these new fuels will be
compatible with current distribution and consumer infrastructure –
unlike ethanol. The production process is also much simpler than
producing conventional ethanol, and requires 65% less
energy: while ethanol needs
to be distilled at high temperatures, Renewable Petroleum gently floats
to the surface of the reaction vats in which it’s produced.

The company has $5 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, the
venture capital firm of Vinod
, founder of Sun Microsystems and passionate biofuel evangelizist.  LS9 CEO Noubar Afeyan cautions that no one can
tell the extent to which any biofuel will displace fossil fuels. "That is
a subject of great debate and great prognostication," he says. "The
opportunity is so large that I don’t have to believe in much more than a few
percentage points of market penetration for it to be worth our investment."

If all goes to plan, LS9 fuels may be available as early as 2011. 

Via: Technology Review

Pope Goes Solar

The Holy See will be adopting solar panels many of its buildings, in accordance with the wishes of Pope Benedict XVI who has "concern about conserving
the Earth’s resources". First in line is the Pope Paul VI auditorium, which seats 6,300 people.

"The roof of the Paul VI auditorium will be redone next year, with its cement panels replaced with photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity," engineer Pier Carlo Cuscianna said.

The integrated PV cells will provide enough electrical power to provide illumination and temperature control for the auditorium. When not in use, excess power will be fed into the Vatican’s grid.

via Discovery.com

Volkswagen award given to Autoliv

Volkswagen Group Award 2007 was given to Autoliv Inc., a worldwide leader in automotive safety. Volkswagen’s CEO, Professor Dr. Martin Winterkorn presented the award to Autoliv and to 25 other suppliers that have “played a decisive role in research & development, product quality, logistics, environment or entrepreneurial performance”.

“Our thanks go to all representatives of the award winner suppliers, but in particular to all the associates in their plants that have made outstanding efforts,” said Professor Winterkorn at the award ceremony.

Autoliv received its award in recognition of entrepreneurial performance in product innovation, cost optimization and process improvement.

“We are honored and delighted to be recognized for our contributions to Volkswagen,” said Franz Xaver Weiss, Vice President and responsible for Autoliv’s global Volkswagen business. “This achievement is possible because of the hard work and dedication of all members of our Volkswagen team, as well as Autoliv’s other 42,000 associates globally who consistently strive to keep Autoliv in the worldwide leading position in automotive safety.”

Autoliv has partnered with the Volkswagen Group (Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini) for more than 15 years, providing airbag and seatbelt products across a variety of platforms. “This award recognizes our commitment to supporting Volkswagen as a partner in quality, cost and development. I’m sure there will be new challenges also in the years to come, but I’m convinced that we will be able to manage them with success,” said Weiss

Autoliv has received a record number of 14 awards from customers for its achievements during 2006. In addition to this award from Volkswagen, the Company has received one award each from Honda and Hyundai-Kia, two awards from General Motors, four awards from Ford and five awards from Toyota.

Volkswagen to improve productivity

Volkswagen executive board member, Horst Neumann said yesterday that the German automaker plans to take further steps in improving productivity.

The company wants to increase car sales and plans to do more development and production itself rather than outsourcing activities to suppliers. Neumann said that Volkswagen plans to produce 27 vehicles per employee in 2007, up from 24 the previous year.

“A closer connection between development, purchasing and production is a major target,” said Neumann in a staff meeting at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg.

Neumann admitted that the utilization of the company’s plants has made a big step forward but there are still some challenges.

As part of a wide-ranging cost-cutting program, another 10,000 employees will go into early retirement by 2012, Neumann said. He also said that Volkswagen “urgently needs to find a connecting arrangement” for the time after the current early retirement program. The “international competitive pressure, especially for industrial workers, will remain extremely high,” Neumann noted.

According to earlier company statements, Volkswagen will cut 5,000 jobs between 2007 and 2009 as part of its overall restructuring effort, which includes cutting a total of 20,000 jobs. The job cuts will be done through early retirement and won’t require any layoffs.

In March, Neumann had said the program to cut 20,000 jobs could be completed in 2012 or 2013, adding that he doesn’t see any need for further cutbacks at the moment.

A labor deal signed in November 2004 rules out compulsory layoffs until the end of 2011.

Volkswagen’s headcount reduction follows similar moves by Western automakers such as General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG. These car companies have announced plans to cut thousands of jobs to reduce costs and regain competitiveness despite high raw-material prices and the growing challenge from Asian rivals.

HP Gets Gold for Going Green

While Dell has received a fair amount of attention for their green work, HP has been taking steps of its own. HP just released the RP5700 desktop PC and achieved the EPEAT’s first Gold rating. EPEAT is a rating system run by the Green Electronics Council that evaluates the environmental impact of computers, notebooks and monitors. Think of it as LEED certification for computers.

So far 12 desktops have achieved Bronze, 70 have Silver and now HP has the only Gold. The Gold standard requires products to meet the minimum requirements and 75% of optional criteria. HP took the biggest initiatives in the areas of "reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials" and "Design for end of life", which includes eliminating use of PVC and other toxic materials and a minimum of 90% recyclability or reusability.

With the government backing the EPEAT, requiring 95% of government electronic purchase to be recognized under this system, hopefully consumers will follow suit and look for computers that are greener. More optimistically, I hope other manufacturers get jealous enough to start making some Gold standard computers themselves.

Via Inhabitat