Air Humidity: A New Source Of Electricity?

If all it takes to generate energy nowadays is a walk and a bit of sweat, it should come as no surprise that it’s also possible to create electricity out of thin air. Or, rather, air that is slightly humid.

[Biophysicist professor Ozgur Sahin’s] laboratory has developed one kind of ‘evaporation engine’, which works by using the movement of bacteria in response to changes in humidity.

Shutters either opened or closed to control moisture levels, prompting bacterial spores to expand or contract. This motion is then transferred to a generator and turned into electricity.

With technologies to convert wind, water, and heat into energy, it seems anything has the potential to do the same. As with anything in its early stages, researchers are treading carefully so as not to affect water resources. However, the machines may be a saving grace to drought-prone areas, as they reduce water loss.

“Some… regions suffer from periods of water stress and scarcity, which might favour implementation of these energy harvesting systems due to the reduction of evaporative losses.”

According to recent calculations, the technology could save 25 trillion gallons of water a year. It’s a godsend, considering how many people aren’t willing to give up hot, hourlong showers. It’s also a harsh reminder that we ought to do our part as consumers.

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Indian Startup to Produce Water from Thin Air

These days, the challenge of sustainability elicits many different creative responses: leather out of wine, air purifiers made of algae, even energy from cow and turkey poop. Truly the stranger, the better. A new project from an Indian startup company makes the sun and the wind come together to create water. How does that sentence make sense? Uravu answers our question.

The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India. “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.”

The process of producing water from vapor has already been developed and utilized before, mostly for industrial and agricultural purposes, but the outdated versions of this technology had to consume large amounts of energy and humidity—innovative, yes, but not yet as sustainable as the above-mentioned Aqua Panels. Uravu wants their device to suit domestic use.

“Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity, such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.”

Ultimately, the Indian company aims to make the process more simple to make it more accessible for people who lack resources. Sustainability takes many different forms, but surely it is best when it answers to society’s greatest needs.

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New Pen Technology Can Detect Cancer In Seconds

Each year we are a step closer to finding a cure for cancer. Whether by gene altering cells or hoarding avocado husks, the ultimate goal is to efficiently remedy the disease. However, diagnosing cancer can be equally as difficult. Thanks to science, a new pen technology can detect cancer in mere seconds.

The MasSpec Pen can recognize cancerous cells nearly 150 times faster than existing technology and has a more than 96% accuracy rate.

Um, wow? The pen can also identify exactly which tissues are affected by the cancer during an operation. Patients can now bid their fear of “not removing all the cancer” goodbye. The pen has a straightforward interface.

The pen works by releasing a tiny droplet of water onto the tissue, which soaks up chemicals inside the cells.

The water is then sucked back up and analyzed by an instrument known as a mass spectrometer, which can detect thousands of molecules and identify compounds associated with cancer.

Surgeons are optimistic that the MasSpec Pen will be available to use next year. Hopefully, it isn’t too long of a wait for patients.

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Senior Swimmer Sets Freestyle World Record

World records and the elderly don’t usually ring a bell, unless you’re talking giant casseroles. All the same, some aren’t letting the “old and wretched” stereotype fly, especially not George Corones. The Australian swimmer recently broke the 50-meter long course record by 35 seconds — and he’s 99-years-old!

“It was an exemplary swim for me, well balanced… and I was ready to hit the [wall] at the end very hard with my hand,” he [said].

The superstar senior swam the length in just 56.12 seconds, for the 100 – 104 years men’s category. I didn’t even know people lived that long. Corones’ swimming career was put on hold during World War II and re-commenced at the age of 80.

“I gave it up at the beginning of the war [World War Two], and I don’t think I had a swim of any description until I retired,” he added.

“I started swimming again for exercise.”

Looks like exercise brought this aging man of steel a long, long way! (To the Commonwealth Games trials, to be exact)

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Pepsi Debuts Ingenious Reusable Bottle

There’s a lot you can do with a plastic bottle. Turn it into an electricity-free lamp or, if you have enough of it, a piece of furniture. Now that sea levels are rising at unstoppable rates, Pepsi is taking sustainability to heart. The beverage manufacturer is debuting the Drinkfinity pod system, a 20-ounce reusable water bottle.

The pods themselves, which feature two compartments—one for liquid flavoring and one for dry ingredients like chia seeds—are made with 65 percent less plastic than a standard 20-ounce bottle.

Four varieties of flavorful pods aim to replace caffeine and sweet tea, and boast vitamin and electrolyte benefits. Talk about an all-in-one sports drink. At $20 a bottle and $5 for a pack of pods, Pepsi isn’t hogging all the cash delights.

To round out a drink tailor made for the present day and age, PepsiCo will donate $1 from each purchase made in 2018 to Water.org (mitigating the product’s potential success, the company has capped their contribution at $100,000).

Gatorade for a cause? I’m all in!

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MIT Designs Dome Forest Habitat To Win Mars Contest

Preparing for life on Mars has become increasingly tedious, especially after discoveries of snow on the planet. Nevertheless, places like the UAE are eager to push forward the limits of space study, building a massive Mars metropolis. You know — just in case. But clearly, it’s MIT engineers who are coming out on top after snatching the top prize at the Mars City Design contest for their dome habitats.

MIT’s winning design, which the team calls Redwood Forest, is a collection of “tree habitats” connected through a system of tunnels called “roots.” The roots would provide safe access to other tree habitats, private spaces and “shirt-sleeve transportation,”

If the designs make it to Mars, each dome would house up to 50 inhabitants. Realistically, the ambitious tech team hopes to build 200, which guarantees 10,000 hopefuls a spot on life beyond Earth.

“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life,” MIT postdoctoral researcher Valentina Sumini said.

It’s a daunting prospect, if it does happen. Hopefully MIT’s “forest” will make future residents feel right at home.

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New U.K. Water Fountains To Help Cut Plastic Waste

Each year, an astounding number of plastic products brim over from landfills and into oceans. To reduce this ever-rising amount, companies are dumpster-diving for bottles, up-cycling them into boats and furniture. Although proper disposal remains a primary issue, encouraging a zero-waste lifestyle is just as pressing. To prevent greater damage caused by plastic bottles, Water U.K. is installing refill stations across England.

“This country has some of the best drinking water in the world and we want everyone to benefit from it.” [said Water U.K. chief executive Michael Roberts.]

Users can pinpoint refill stations on a smartphone app. In Bristol alone, the app will ping you to 200 individual fountains. If bottle-users went for a single refill per week for an entire year, the city could shrink waste by 22.3 million bottles.

“This scheme will do that by making it easier for people to refill their bottles wherever they work, rest, shop or play.”

If you’re on a mission to stay healthy, remember that keeping plastic out of oceans is also part of the job.

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Grow The Home Garden Of Your Dreams

With systems such as Ogarden, growing your own produce is now just as user-friendly as an iPhone. However, for a DIY enthusiast slash gardening newbie, starting up a backyard veggie empire is a bit more challenging. Gadgets aside, sowing your own pantry is not for couch potatoes — but it is highly doable! Here’s the low-down on how to get started on a home garden.

First things first, decide what you’re going to plant. Base your produce plan on your regular diet. If you aren’t big on fries or mash, it may not be practical to grow potatoes. (Then again, who isn’t a fan of fries?) Having a massive variety of sprouts in your backyard may look attractive, but may produce unnecessary waste. Keep in mind what grows easiest — usually, those are baby greens.

While some may have the luxury of a yard, apartment tenants aren’t quite as lucky. But, as any minimalist would say, there are always ways. If you live in a confined space, start a container garden. Herbs, as well as crops like cherry tomatoes, grow seamlessly in pots. Of course, you also want to purchase the right materials. One pot doesn’t fit all.

On that note, pick out the right pots for specific foods. Herb pots are often a foot in diameter, while other crops demand a flux of dimensions. Choose your soil thoughtfully. Figure out what will nurture your home garden best — you’ll only have to switch out your potting soil once a year. Still, don’t be afraid to experiment with soils that are denser, more nutritious, absorbent, and what have you.

Know how much sun and water your pots need. Growing a plant (and much less, a crop) isn’t all about maximizing sunlight. Seventh-grade biology may have us believing that growing greens is all about sun. Well, it is (somewhat), but in regulation. No one wants to nibble on dried out lettuce! You don’t want to drown your seedlings either.

Grown sprouts are quite the sight, and achieving a healthy product kind of makes you feel like a proud parent. While the thought of snapping off a pristine strawberry may be a little sickening, it’s best to harvest your fruits and veggies regularly. This promotes new growth. After all, why grow anything delicious if its destiny isn’t to end up in your stomach?

Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, hype your garden up a bit. Experiment with unique varieties. Try growing something you wouldn’t normally find in a makeshift garden, like kale. If anything, you’ll have new ingredients for daring salads and shakes. Master growing vertical. This may take a lot of time and patience, but you’ll learn how to make the most of certain crops. If you’re a go-getter, you can even get creative with your aesthetics.

A home garden may seem unnecessary, especially when you live across a fresh market. But learning the ropes isn’t such a bad thing. Anyway, with climate change on the rise, you never know when it might come in handy!

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St. Louis To Go 100% Renewable By 2035

To salvage deteriorating resources, nations worldwide are setting ambitious eco-goals in a short span of time. By 2012, Costa Rica hopes to phase out single-use plastic products. For the first time in 70 years, Kazakhstan is reintroducing wild tigers into its cat-barren jungles. Not to be left out of the loop, St. Louis is swearing off fossil fuels in an attempt to go fully renewable by 2035.

“It can be a win-win for everyone. We can protect health. We can improve air, we can improve water. We can address climate change. We can save people money on their bills. Why wouldn’t we be moving in that direction?” said [Sara Edgar of Sierra Club.]

St. Louis is among just over 40 cities that have pledged to rely solely on wind and solar energy. For decades, the city has remained a top contributor to health issues caused by smog. It’s now clear that its local government is hoping to make a more positive name for the tourist spot.

“Some of the things that Donald Trump has done since he became commander in chief just goes against everything that I stand [for], that the people of St. Louis stand for,” [said St. Louis President Lewis Reed.]

Yikes. Trump better watch his back — it’s obvious St. Louis isn’t rolling back on its own environmental safeguards!

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Connectable Plastic Bottles Are Completely Reusable

Plastic may be a landfill’s greatest enemy, but an innovator’s best tool. In the Philippines, thousands of bottles have been repurposed into lamps. Now, retired educator Steven Klein is creating connectable plastic bottles that are strong enough to build furniture.

Unlike traditional plastic bottles, Eco Connect bottles have a deeper recess in the base, so that the top of one can be readily connected to the bottom of the next, quite securely.

While a plastic bottle coffee table may not be everyone’s aesthetic, it is a thoughtful concept. Klein’s ultimate goal is to encourage bottling companies to switch to Eco Connect. Production will not require new machinery — just the connector pieces.

“An expanding variety of connector pieces, lights, and motors will become available to continue to grow the system. Also, a percentage of funds from connector purchases will be donated to water conservation programs,”

Eco Connect leaves consumers with no excuse for littering. It may not be stylish, but it sure is sustainable!

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