Energy & Green Tech Manufacturing

Will the Car of the Future Be Printable?

The Urbee at the EuroMold trade show in Germany (photo via urbeecar.blogspot.com)

We've already seen 3D-printed guitars, motorcycles, and even stem cells. Is 3D printing ready to disrupt the auto industry? It could happen sooner than you think. The Urbee 2, a lightweight three-wheeled, two-passenger vehicle designed to be constructed from 3D-printed materials, is the brainchild of engineer Jim Kor. Using ABS plastic and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)—an automated, additive process that prints all of the car's parts in about 2,500 hours—Kor and his team have created a prototype at the on-demand 3D-printing facility RedEye.   More

Business Energy & Green Tech

Is 2013 the Year of the Car in China?

(Image via Shutterstock)

The auto industry is humming over new data that show China car sales soared 45 percent in January, marking their strongest growth since April 2010, when government incentives during the global economic crisis helped to turbocharge the sector. Industry watchers are acknowledging that seasonal factors played a major role in this latest jump, but point out that they still expect to see a return to strong growth in the upcoming Year of the Snake, as China's economy improves and consumers rediscover their love affair with cars.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Energy & Green Tech

Better Living Through Bacteria

(Image via Shutterstock)

Chances are, when you hear the word “bacteria,” your mind goes straight to the negative interpretations: nasty infections, food poisoning, tainted water. But the vast majority of bacteria on earth are harmless to humans—and some, if scientists have anything to say about it, could become downright friendly.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Can Chinese Investment in Clean Tech Cut Through Record-breaking Smog?

Sunset over Beijing

With Beijing suffering its worst levels of air pollution on record, news that China was the world's biggest investor in clean energy in 2012 may offer a ray of hope—hopefully one that can cut through the thickening smog. As reported at SmartPlanet, a year-end study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that Chinese investment in clean energy reached $67.7 billion in 2012, up 20 percent from 2011.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Canadian Company to Scour Carbon Dioxide from the Skies

iStock_000012328862Small

The Canadian company Carbon Engineering, formed in 2009 with partial funding from Bill Gates, has developed technology to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A pilot plant for capturing the gas will open by the end of 2014, reports The New York Times. While the process is aimed primarily at cleaning up the environment, there may be a profit opportunity as well. The oil industry could purchase captured carbon dioxide to inject into oil fields to help extract additional oil, a widely used procedure that Howard J. Herzog, a senior research engineer at MIT, says poses little environmental risk. As oil becomes scarcer, demand for carbon dioxide will likely increase.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Climate Change Threatens America’s Ski Resorts

Skier with sun and mountains

The next victims of global warming are America’s skiers and snowboarders. Scientists say that climate change means the nation’s ski centers will eventually vanish, the New York Times reported today. After last winter’s record-breaking warmth, the long-term outlook for winter sporting is bleak.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Solar-Powered Plane Flies Through the Night

The Solar Impulse in flight over Switzerland, 2011 (© Solar Implulse - Jean Revillard)

Two Swiss inventors have developed the first solar-powered plane capable of flying at night. The Solar Impulse has already flown multiple overnight flights, including one 72-hour intercontinental journey, and by 2015 they hope to fly around the world in 20 days and 20 nights. The plane’s carbon fiber frame is super lightweight, and 12,000 solar cells make up the surface of its extra-long wings. The engines use almost all of the solar energy captured, with excess energy stored in batteries. One hitch that makes it unlikely that the plane will be used for commercial flights anywhere in the near future: its optimal speed is only 30 mph.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Considering Solar Power, Post-Sandy

Solar panel and sun

In the month since Superstorm Sandy left millions in the dark, solar power has become an essential part of relief efforts, especially in ravaged areas of Brooklyn and Queens, New York. For instance, a coalition of energy companies called “Solar Sandy” has contributed renewable electricity generators to victims in hardest-hit areas. But can we use solar power to prevent similar blackouts in the future?   More

Energy & Green Tech Techonomy Events

Can Geo-Engineering Help Lower the Earth’s Temperature… And Cause War?

Just weeks after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast, climate change was on the forefront of everyone's mind at Techonomy 2012 in Tucson, Ariz. In a session about geo-engineering, Harvard physics professor David Keith and Harvard Kennedy School research fellow Andrew Parker talked about the realistic possibility of reflecting sunlight away from the planet to lower the earth's temperature -- and, more pressing, the complicated political implications of this climate change quick-fix.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Will We Finally Get Serious About Climate Change?

To those of us who believe in science, which includes the rest of the world and apparently no more than half of Americans, it has been painful in recent years to see continued bizarre and destructive weather, even as data clearly suggested climate change is at least partly responsible. Now in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation, experts like Eric Pooley of the Environmental Defense Fund are clearly articulating yet again why we must act. This will be hard politically, because reasonable action will by necessity be global, not just national. We're not too good at that here. Not to mention that many Americans, including powerful politicians, still willfully disregard reality and the likely costs of inaction. This essay by Pooley from The New Republic eloquently underscores the basics. Business Week's cover story entitled It's Global Warming, Stupid! also is a must-read. (Pooley, a great supporter of Techonomy, was my editor at Fortune.)   More

Energy & Green Tech

Tech Companies Pitch in to Provide Storm Support to Startups

Many tech and media businesses have been disrupted by power loss and connectivity issues in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But several companies, like the social media optimization service SocialFlow, are fortunate to have fully operational offices. In addition to being able to offer uninterrupted service to clients, they've been generous with their good fortune by opening their offices to entrepreneurs who need space and resources. The workspace sharing hub PivotDesk has stepped up to create a dedicated page for entrepreneurs affected by the storm. "Entrepreneurial communities thrive when people give before they get," reads the site, which lists available office spaces at tech companies throughout New York and New Jersey.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Chicago Lays Pollution-Fighting Pavement

In an effort to curb pollution one block at a time, the Chicago Department of Transportation is developing what it calls "the greenest street in America." A two-mile stretch of Blue Island Avenue and Cermak Road in the industrial Pilsen neighborhood, which sees heavy truck traffic, is made with pavement that both recycles air and is made from recycled materials. The "photocatalytic cement removes nitrogen oxide gases from the air through a catalytic reaction driven by UV light," as reported on SmartPlanet. The street also incorporates bioswales, rain gardens, and permeable pavements, designed to keep polluted water out of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan and divert rainfall from the sewers. According to the CDOT, 60% of the project's construction waste was recycled.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Energy Data Management Heads to the Cloud

Managing “Big Data” is a big issue these days, especially within the energy industry, SmartPlanet reports. Companies are compiling huge amounts of data about energy supply and consumption, and cloud computing is enabling them to forecast future usage and even create alternative energy models.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Whiskey, Beer, and Wine Producers Clean up Their Act

Could tech make having a stiff drink good for the environment? As reported by David Worthington at Smartplanet, Tulibardine distillery in Scotland has partnered with energy startup Celtic Renewables to turn whiskey byproducts into butanol based biofuel, so booze hounds can feel they're doing their part to save the planet. The project, which repurposes sugary waste produced during the distillation process, represents an eco-friendly—and cost-cutting—trend in the spirits industry.   More

Energy & Green Tech Learning

Augmented Reality Intensifies Nature on Middle School Field Trips

Photo by Nathan Heidt, EcoMOBILE

The annual field trip to the local pond has gone high-tech for some Massachusetts and New York middle-school students. Harvard education researchers are giving the kids smartphones loaded with augmented reality software to see how the technology changes the way they explore of local environments.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Japanese Government Is Strong, Then Weak, On Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is a big deal in Japan. Before the Fukushima power plant emergency in 2011, more than 30 percent of the country’s electricity came from nuclear reactors. Now most Japanese people are adamantly against nuclear power—yet the government seems indecisive. They announced last Friday a plan to completely phase out nuclear power by 2040, but backed off only five days later. In less than a week, the government’s commitment to end its reliance on nuclear power “transformed from bold determination into sheepish second thoughts,” SmartPlanet reports. Nuclear opponents are disappointed, but, as some point out, the country’s nuclear future depends on more than the government taking a firm stance—it is also contingent on the will of electricity users, technological innovation, and the global energy outlook.   More

Energy & Green Tech Manufacturing

Techonomy Detroit in the News: Was Tim Draper Wrong About Detroit’s Electric Car Future?

At Techonomy Detroit last week, venture capitalist Tim Draper had some harsh words for the local crowd. Detroit automakers have lost the electric-car battle to Tesla Motors, he said, and the only hope for the Big Three is to make something as innovative as a flying car. But Todd Woody at Forbes says Draper was wrong: “The electric car battle has only begun and if the objective is to win the war against fossil fuels then Tesla needs Detroit, Tokyo and Munich to join forces and sell as many cars as possible."   More

Energy & Green Tech Startup Culture

GreenLancer Boosts Renewable Energy from Detroit to Afghanistan

In anticipation of the Techonomy Detroit conference on September 12, we're profiling six Detroit tech startups that are driving the city’s re-emergence as a center of innovation. GreenLancer Energy connects freelance renewable energy engineers with companies and contractors looking for green expertise. Since 2011, GreenLancer’s clients have included the U.S. Department of Defense, Occidental Oil, General Motors, and the U.S. Armed Forces. I spoke with co-founder and CTO Patrick McCabe about freelancing renewable energy, the Midwest’s lack of green energy experts, and Detroit’s tech scene.   More

Energy & Green Tech Techonomy Events

Conservation Camps Founder on How Tech Is Changing Life in Nepal

In this short talk from Techonomy 2011 in Tuscon, Ariz., Anil Chitrakar, founder of Conservation Camps for Children, gives four examples of how technology and social incentives are changing the lives of Nepalese.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Energy & Green Tech Techonomy Events

Fred Krupp on Using Data and Tech to Prevent Overfishing

In this 10-minute talk from Techonomy 2011 in Tuscon, Ariz., Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses how new techonoloy is helping to monitor and protect fisheries from over fishing. Data collection using video cameras and powerful software is helping local fisheries in Canada sustain their fish populations by calculating yearly fishing limits for fishermen.   More