Advanced Plasma Lamps made from Aluminum Foil?

When Gary Eden needed some raw materials for his new ultra-efficient, ultra-light, millimeter-thin plasma lamp, he went to the grocery store. The lamp is mostly aluminum foil.

Granted the lamp is not 100% aluminum, but part of the project was to try and make it as cheap and simple to create as possible, hence the run to the grocery store.

The aluminum "microcavity plasma lamp" is surprisingly simple to create. By bathing the foil in an acid, hundreds of thousands of micro-cavities (little holes) are created and a small amount of the aluminum is converted to dielectric aluminum oxide (sapphire.) Those holes are filled with a tiny amount of fluorescent gas and the cavities are all wired together. Then the whole package is sandwiched between thin sheets of glass coated with phosphor on the inside and the lamp is complete.

Imagine a flat panel lamp that would hang on the wall, or be inset in the ceiling. The lamps produce about 15 lumens per watt, significantly more efficient than incandescents, but only about half as efficient as current fluorescent bulbs. But the team at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana say they expect efficiencies of about 30 lumens per watt shortly (comparable to CFLs.)


See Also
Curly Lights
1000 Lumen LED
CFLs Could Cut Carbon by 10%

Small is Beautiful: Houses

Our friends over at Inhabitat
took the opposite tack from our recent piece about the top 10 green skyscrapers
and produced an article about the Top 5
Tiny Prefab Houses

These include such standouts as the Microcompact Home (pictured) and the
Tiny Tumbleweed House. In addition to all the other wonderful features
they offer, these are especially green because of their small size.
Fewer materials used and less space to heat and cool means a smaller ecological footprint.

The Loftcube and the Weehouse (and probably the Microcompact Home, as
well) are transportable, and suitable for installation on the roof of an
existing building (think urban loft, not an addition on your neighbor’s
50’s ranch). (For extra geekiness points, they would probably be
installed by cargo helicopter.) The Sustain Mini Home hosts a number of
green features including no vinyl, no formaldehyde, natural ventilation,
and FSC lumber, among others.

None of these is likely to be suitable for a family with children, but
for one or two people, these may offer all the living space that they
really need in a dynamic and attractive form.

Via: Inhabitat

Level 38 Eco-Tricycle of Maiming

It’s not gonna get you anywhere very fast, but if you’re lucky, it could get you out of some tight scrapes in the post-apocalyptic Australian Outback.  In any case this home-made, wind-powered tricycle is ridiculously cool, I’m just not sure why.

It’s not a practical design or anything, but I just feel like it’s necessary to congratulate people when they wade this far into the sea of peculiarity. This particular device was created by  Damon Vander Lind  and it’s come in ranked quite high at the Popular Mechanics DIY fair. Apparently he got the idea while working on a home-made wind turbine (admittedly a more practical persuit) and the entire rig cost him about $500 (and three weeks) to build.
Via Popular Mechanics
(Image and video credit: Popular Mechanics)

Tires to Diesel

Plastic is made from oil, unfortunately, it’s hard to make oil from plastic. Or, at least, it used to be. Global Resources Corporation has created a special kind of microwave that zaps plastic at very specific wavelengths in order to release the hydrocarbons.

As an example, put a tire into the GRC Hawk-10, and the machine slowly dribbles out diesel oil. What’s left inside the microwave is pure carbon black (which can be sold to tire companies for, y’know, making new tires) and the steel that gives the tires strength.

Put a bundle of insulated wires in, you get oil, and copper (with some dyes and carbon left over.) The process works on anything made of petroleum products, including hard plastic, rubber, foam rubber, even your old polyester pants. The microwave units range in size from a the size of a regular microwave oven to the size of a cement mixer.

Running 9.1 kilograms of ground-up tires through the Hawk-10 produces 4.54 liters of diesel oil, 1.42 cubic meters of combustible gas, 1 kg of steel and 3.40 kg of carbon black.

Via NewScientist

“Touareg Adventure” opens up Volkswagen’s travel business

Volkswagen of America is offering a vacation including their very own Volkswagen Touareg. Volkswagen has rolled out new vacation packages to Moab Utah, which they called the “Toureg Adventure.” This three-day adventure package costs $2,000 per person but it does not include airfare. This program will start in July and ends in October 31.

“Participants do not need to be experienced off-road drivers, as experienced guides will coach guests through the challenging Moab terrain,” the company said.

There will be three choices for the engines of the 2007 Touareg SUV – a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder, a 350-hp 4.2-liter V8 or a 310-hp 5.0-liter V10 TDi. All engines are linked to a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic.

Cardboard Ferrari Gets Green

Ferrari is showing off it’s green with a new concept, high performance vehicle, the Ferrari FFX Millechili. Yes, it’s a hybrid, and uses it’s electric drive train not just to boost power but also to increase efficiency. But we’ve seen hybrids. What’s really exciting about the FFX is that its made of lightweight materials including carbon fiber, plastic and cardboard.

Eh? Cardboard?! Well, apparently so. I’m not sure if this is just to make the prototype easier to build, or of Ferrari really is considering its use in vehicles, but, in any case, using light weight materials to increase efficiency is extremely necessary.

Additionally, the FFX incorporates an advanced aerodynamic undercarriage system that uses jets of air to keep whirlpools of drag from forming beneath the car.

Via Channel 4 and Crave

See Also:
-200 MPG Hybrid Velozzi
The Tesla Roadster

Mystery Mercedes AMG Model Set To Debut In July

Going through our inbox this morning, an anonymous reader tipped us off to a new animation appearing on Mercedes’ AMG website – one which depicts the above-shown vehicle along with a message stating ‘In July… the fog lifts.’ As for what model is making its debut, that we cannot say, although the grainy vehicle in question does bear a striking resemblance to the SLK-Class. Anyone up for a 500 horsepower SLK63 AMG?

New Smart ForTwo BRABUS Coming Soon, Priced From EUR 16,490

As you may remember, back in March we brought you the first details of the new BRABUS-tuned variants of the new smart fortwo: the smart fortwo BRABUS and the smart fortwo BRABUS Xclusive. Although at the time, the full list of specifications and performance figures were revealed, the one thing absent from the press release was exactly how much the various BRABUS-tweaked smarts would set you back; today, however, that answer has been revealed. For those of you residing in countries where the smart is sold, pricing for the BRABUS smart range is as follows:

New Volkswagen Mutlivan

The new Multivan, Volkswagen’s seven-seater vehicle, has had some added features on it for a more luxurious look. Volkswagen has always been connected with small cars with their Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, and Passat, with prices not exceeding $57,000(which would be the highest-priced Passat from Europe). But they actually have vehicles over that price range and the newest one would be their Volkswagen Multivan.

The Volkswagen Multivan is a luxury type vehicle which could seat seven passengers and was based on the T5 light commercial vehicle. But this vehicle is well sorted and with a lot of extensive features. If people would be asked to name the first “people-mover” van they remembered, there’s a good chance that they’ll be naming the Volkswagen Kombi. But today, the people-mover van that Volkswagen offers its market is one that has the touch of today’s luxuries.

The Volkswagen Multivan in it’s Highline trims has an electrically-operated sliding doors, a multifunction rear table, satellite navigation(which would cost about $4000 extra on lesser models), leather trim, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors complete with front and rear fog lamps. Extra luxurious features would include a six-stack CD with eight speakers sound system, cruise control, power windows, ‘climatronic’ three-zone climate control and swivel seats in the middle row. All these extras give the passengers an even more comforting ride in the Multivan.

The Highline version of the Multivan is available with a choice of turbo-diesel or petrol engines and with Volkswagen’s 4Motion, which is their term for the all-wheel drive. The engines are placed transversally in the front. The petrol engine has the 3.2L V6, rated at 173kW of power at 6200rpm and 315Nm torque at 2900rpm. But these specs could only be attained if a premium (98RON) unleaded petrol is used.

Its diesel engine is the 2.5L 5-cylinder unit with intercooler, delivering 128kW of power at 3500rpm and 400Nm of torque at 2000rpm. Because it is with the 4Motion AWD either has to drive through a six-speed manual transmission. But in the front-wheel drive, it comes with a six-speed tiptronic automatic.

The Volkswagen Multivan Highline 4Motion is priced at $76,990 for the V6 petrol and $73,990 for the 4Motion diesel. The front-wheel drive diesel automatic is $72,990 and $75,990 for the V6 petrol.

Upgrade Your Rack to a Tube Top

Many Prius and Insight owners feel the need to own a second vehicle
for towing, hauling and other occasional mass-moving tasks. Whether
it’s taking the kayak out on the weekends or just bringing home a
Christmas tree once a year, it seems like there’ always an excuse to
keep that gas guzzler in the garage. No more excuses! With the HandiRack (For customers outside the UK, you can buy one here)
you can transform your gas sipper into a haulin’, guzzlin’, aerodynamic
brick when you need to, and change back to the sleek lines of your
car’s OEM look when you’re done. Going "EE-ah-aw-oh-oo!" and singing
"More than meets the eye…" is optional. (don’t get it?)

HandiRack keeps luggage off the roof with a pair of inflatable double
tubes, held in place by connecting the straps inside and closing your
doors or windows on the flaps. They deflate and roll up to "the size of
your toaster" so you can keep them in the trunk with the included air
pump, and be ready to go at a moment’s notice. The MPG-robbing ugliness
of a permanent luggage rack can now be permanently banished… along
with all evil Decepticons.

via AutoBlogGreen

2007 Green Chemistry Awards

Time to give credit where credit is due: the 2007 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards
are in, recognizing some very hard working EcoGeeks who are doing their
part to make our world a better place. Winners this year have
discovered a nanotechnology-based catalyst capable of producing
hydrogen peroxide from renewable feedstocks, a formaldehyde-free
adhesive for making wood composites, a process for synthesizing an
ingredient for polyurethane foam (used in bedding and furniture)
without petroleum oil, a green technique for prepping donor tissue for
transplant, and a new class of chemical reactions using hydrogen and
metal catalysts which minimize waste in industrial applications.

"The EPA estimates that over the past 12 years, the winners’ work has led to the elimination of over 940 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents, [the use of] over 600 million gallons of water and more than 340 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

Kudos to Professors Michael Krische and Kaichang Li, and the
innovative chemists at NovaSterilis, Columbia Forest Products, Hercules
Inc., Headwaters Technology Innovation, and Cargill Inc.

via GreenBiz News

See also:
Green One Pot Chemistry

Ask the EcoGeek: Recycling CDs

Dear EcoGeek,

Is it possible to recycle old CD’s or DVD’s?

The perpetual scourge of EcoGeekiness is obsolescence. We pay good
money for what we see as a good product, and then five years down the
line we’re surrounded by useless junk!

But I can’t help but answer this seemingly straightforward question with several different answers.

First, I’ll actually answer the question:

Yes, you can, but it’s not as simple as curbside pickup. CDs and DVDs
do contain valuable materials (CDRs even sometimes contain gold) and
there are techniques to harvest that material for reuse, but those same
materials make them too complicated for regular recycling centers.
Unfortunately, the materials aren’t expensive enough that someone will
pay for them. To recycle CDs you’ll have to ship them to a special
recycling center. Several are listed at the bottom of this post.

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