Discarded Electronics Are Literal Gold Mines

If you have seen any dystopian film or have read any piece at all of dystopian literature, you would know that a landscape made of metal offers intense horrors that bank on some of the deep-seated fears of today’s society.

Realistically speaking, we have been inventing ways to address the problem of metal such as recycling laptop batteries into a source of alternative energy or something as strangely innovative as making stylish backpacks out of car parts, but there is a need to push further. A trio of researchers recently took a shot at that and conducted a study which tries to answer how profitable it is to recover metals from old electronics.

In 2016 alone, the world discarded 44.7 million metric tons of unusable or simply unwanted electronics, according to the United Nations’ 2017 Global E-Waste Monitor report. That’s 4,500 Eiffel Towers-worth of phones, laptops, microwaves, and TVs. Only 20 percent of this e-waste was properly recycled that year. The rest was likely either incinerated, pumping pollution into the atmosphere, or added to a landfill somewhere, with its toxins now leaking into our soil and water supply.

It turns out, urban mining costs much less than traditional mining. The researchers from Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Sydney’s Macquarie University published their results in a scientific journal after collecting data from recycling companies in China. While the cost of recycling might vary from country to country, China’s status as the world’s biggest producer of e-waste makes light of the truth that the practice of urban mining could have a big impact on both economic and environmental matters.

[W]e already knew electronics contain precious metals in addition to all that glass and plastic. While a single smartphone might not contain all that much, consumers buy about 1.7 billion of the devices each year. In just one million of those, you’ll find roughly 75 pounds of gold, 35,000 pounds of copper, and 772 pounds of silver.

Necessary reminder though: this is no reason at all to justify our technological consumption practices. If anything, it should make us ask more conscientiously, what do I do with my smartphone once I find a new replacement that has great upgrades and loads informative online articles (like this!) much faster?

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Goodyear Rolls Out Moss Tire That Helps Clean Air

Last year’s greatest catalog expansion was not that of your favorite shoes or sunglasses, but wheels. Yes, commercial car tires got the ultimate makeover in 2017, introducing anti-flat and airless masterpieces. But manufacturers haven’t run out of ideas yet, with Goodyear rolling out one of its most genius products yet. The rubber company is engineering a moss-covered tire that absorbs moisture and expels oxygen.

Goodyear says if a Paris-sized city, with around 2.5 million vehicles, used Oxygene tires then it would eliminate 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year while also producing more than 3,000 tons of oxygen.

With 80% of people residing in areas with dangerously high pollution levels, the roads could use a breather. The Oxygene is 3D-printed, shock-absorbent, and immune to perforations. Michelin might have to step its game up.

The tire also “harvests the energy generated during photosynthesis” to power an assortment of onboard sensors and electronics including a sidewall light strip and an artificial intelligence processing unit. The tire also has V2V and V2X technology which allows it to warn other vehicles about lane changes and other maneuvers.

Yep — if my wheels could keep me on time, wash my laundry remotely, and call my sister, I’d throw em on the shopping list.

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Wireless Battery Is Powered By Air

The era of Energizer batteries has climaxed. Nowadays, the electrochemical cells are powered by unusual sources, spit included. Other new devices don’t even need them. At any rate, updated technology can’t phase them out entirely — so inventor group Ossia has paved middle ground. The solution? A battery that only requires air to charge.

[Ossia’s Cota] transmitter broadcasts a directed and concentrated RF signal towards a given device in a room, which is absorbed by the gadget’s own RF antennas inside, and turned into usable power.

Alas, for gadgets such as iPhones and Fitbits, RF antennas will have to be external. But, as tech circles are, Ossia has an alternative up its sleeve: the Cota Forever Battery.

Featuring the exact same size, form factor, and power output of a traditional AA battery, it can be inserted into a battery-powered device to instantly and easily make it compatible with Cota wireless power transmitters.

Ever dream of never having to switch out obnoxious television remote batteries? It may be time to wake up — the future’s just arrived!

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Apple Watch Saves Man From Car Accident

The Apple Watch, good for notifications, counting your steps and telling the time, has also saved a life, enabling student Casey Bennett to call 911 from a car wreck.

Casey Bennett was driving to his home from college when he got involved in a T-bone accident at an intersection. The car flipped multiple times before landing on its side, leaving Casey stuck to the driver’s seat… But he couldn’t reach for his phone as the interiors of his car were all messed up.

He then remembered that his Apple Watch has a special feature that could help him in the situation. So, he pressed and held the crown on his Apple Watch for six seconds and activated the emergency SOS feature.

It’s an unconventional way to sell the product to potential users, but it is effective. The watch also helped Bennett maintain a regime and diet after the accident.

Apart from the Apple Watch, many flagship Android Wear devices like the LG Watch Urbane 2 and ASUS ZenWatch 3/ ZenWatch 2 also sport this feature.

It’s time for me to look at smart watches again, and perhaps buy one this time.

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