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Articles in the ‘Eco Resources’ Category

Ultra Suede An Alternative To Suede Leather

By Anny on April 3rd, 2013

Suede leather is a popular choice for boots and shoes and no wardrobe would quite be complete without them. This soft leather is derived from the under skins of animals such as goat, lambs etc,  and does involve skinning animals for their hide. Also leather is processed using a number of chemicals which are often a major cause of soil and water pollution as the effluents are often released into the environment without being treated completely. As the manufacturing of accessories from leather involves many different stages-it’s often difficult to ensure  that a product has been made with a lesser degree of pollution in its manufacturing cycle. Here-we present a perfect alternative to suede leather in the form of synthetic suede which is made from 100% recycled polyester fibers in a unique process which involves lesser energy consumption as well as lesser carbon DI-oxide emissions.

Ultra Suede An Alternative To Suede Leather

The Robin Hide shoes also have a faux fur lining which make them virtuallyindistinguishable from normal suede shoes. They are made in china within an ethically-run factory and are a perfect alternative to conventional suede boots. You can choose between sizes 5 to  10  and its highly recommended to order one side above for a comfortable fit. The material is sourced from Toray in Japan (www.ultrasuede.com)which is a leading manufacturer of Ultrasuede-which is synthetic suede consisting of woven micro-fibers derived from 100% polymers without the use of any animal products. Ultrasuede is soft to touch and is supple so that it can be easily woven into a fabric and used in apparels and clothing. The fabric is widely used in footwear as it endures wear and tear and stay looking new for a long period of time.

Ultra Suede An Alternative To Suede Leather

The Robin Hide boots cost $165.

You can purchase them from the below link.

http://www.neuaurashoes.com/robin-hide/

Alternate Fuel – Biomass Briquettes

By Anny on March 8th, 2013

Biomass briquettes are made from natural waste such as grain husk, bagasse, refined municipal waste, certain variety of weeds and other natural substances which are left out after oil and food grain production. They are made by compressing and molding these substances to create a solid mass or a briquette. This can be used to heat boilers in industries, generate electricity, and can also be used for cooking needs.  The waste is compressed under pressure to increase the energy obtained from the biomass, and also to make them potable and easily combustible. Burning a compressed briquette would give more directed energy than a large quantity of normal biomass.

The primary advantage in using them is recycling waste products productively, to create a source of energy.  Secondly, these briquettes do not pollute the environment as much as wood and coal would do, thereby making them relatively safer to use.  The most important advantage is that they are an alternative to conventional energy sources, thereby reducing our dependence on such natural resources which can near depletion at the current rate of consumption.

An example of such biomass usage is during the creation of biofuel from Jatropha seeds, where the seed mass left after oil extraction is dried and used to power boilers.  Such an innovative usage helps us in optimally use the resources to the fullest extent possible, thereby making it more economically viable. Also, these briquettes can be easily transported and do not pose any inflammable hazards.

Although biomass briquettes constitute a small negligible fraction of our energy needs, they are still useful as they can be used wherever possible, to reduce our dependence on conventional fuels. In a community based approach, the biomass waste generated by industries can be used for cooking needs, thereby in a small way creating efficiency in energy usage. These briquettes have a high energy output, and can be easily manufactured from a wide range of natural raw materials and are also environment friendly as they do emit comparatively less toxic gases.

In another widely used way of manufacturing biomass briquettes, the raw materials are first partially burnt with limited air supply.  This process is called charring, and after that they are compacted and molded into briquettes. The resultant briquettes emit very less smoke when burnt again, and give the same energy output. This variety is very useful for cooking and domestic usage where emitted smoke is a major criterion in choosing a fuel source.

However, manufacturing such briquettes should not take precedence over food cultivation and other uses of grain husk and bagasse.  Alternate energy sources, though very useful should not be given reference over basic human needs such as food and fodder. There is a need for creating awareness amongst cultivators so that such fuel sources can be parallelly synthesized along with regular crop production.

Alternate Energy source -Tidal Energy

By Anny on December 11th, 2012

As science looks forward to explore and identify new sources of alternate energy, there is an increased focus on harnessing the inherent power of nature to create more energy sources. Tidal energy is one form of energy which uses the energy of tides to power turbines to generate electricity. A tide is caused by a periodic variation in the gravitational forces of primarily Earth and moon, and also the sun. This variation causes the water level to fluctuate – a rise is called a high tide and a decrease is called a low tide. This phenomenon occurs daily or sometimes more than once, and is prominent in large water bodies such as seas and oceans.

Tides have been used to power grain mills since ancient times. They were believed to be used during the Roman times- with evidence of usage in 6’ century being found in Ireland. This was done by using a tide mill which is a structure build to store water at the time of a high tide, and then release it during the low tide. The accumulated water is used to move giant wheels which were used to crush grains. The town of Rupelmonde near Antwerp Belgium has one of the historic tide mils which is still working.

This natural phenomenon is now being used to generate electricity by driving turbines. They make use of the energy accumulated by the tide by its motion, and also by its height to drive turbines which generate electricity. An example of tidal generator is the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station in South Korea that was commissioned in the year 2011. This plant produces a peak of 254 MW of electricity, and is the world’s biggest tidal power station.  The second largest plant is the Rance tidal power station, which can generate up to a peak of 240 MW of electricity during both high and low tides.

The cost of setting-up a tidal power generator is expensive, and the quantity of power generated by it would not make it very quickly recover the manufacturing costs.  However, over a period of time, such generating units can actively contribute to the total power generation. Also, it’s a renewable form of energy which does not involve polluting the environment, and can be harnessed as an energy alternative. The biggest challenge of tidal power generation is the less number of places where the tidal energy is strong enough to drive turbines to produce substantial current. Also, the high costs involved in setting-up the plants do not make it an economically viable option.  There is an ongoing research in optimizing the generation by designing new turbine systems, and it remains to be seen as to how they are incorporated.

Jatropha Biodiesel

By Anny on December 5th, 2012

Science and technology has greatly impacted our quality of life in every possible aspect .Since the invention of steam powered locomotives to the first aeroplanes, and to the latest cruise ship, all have revolutionized our living. There is one common factor which binds all our technological advancements, and that is the need for an energy source. Be it petrol, diesel, electricity, coal and other fossil fuels, all need to be taken from nature and are limited, though exhaustive

The increasing need for more fuel resources has made mankind look towards alternate energy sources which give an alternate to conventional fuels. Solar energy is one example where sunlight is used t charge photovoltaic cells which can power gadgets. Today, we see many devices working on solar energy, thereby forming an alternate energy source which can be tapped naturally.

Bio fuels are one such alternate fuel which is made by hydrogenation of vegetable and natural oils into synthetic diesel. It’s very similar to conventional diesel, and gives almost the same efficiency

Jatropha (Scientific name: Jatropha curcas,) is a evergreen  plant which can grow both in tropical regions as well as arid, sandy regions with scanty rainfall up to  250mm per year. It has a life expectancy of 40 years and does not require any pesticides, as the plant itself is resistant to pests and is a fungicide.  What make the plant quite useful are its seeds, which contain about 27-40% natural oil, which can be hydrogenated to produce a highly efficient biodiesel, usable in standard automobile diesel engines.

One Hectare of Jatropha cultivation would yield 100-300 liters of natural oil, which can be processed into standard biodiesel, and can power your automobile engine. However, the plant, and its seeds are highly poisonous as they yield a toxic compound called curcin.

Apart from that, the crushed seeds which are left after extracting the oil can be used a biomass for electricity plants, or as a high quality organic fertile.  During the process of converting the oil into biodiesel, Glycerin is obtained as a byproduct.

Currently, Jatropha biodiesel is being blended with normal diesel and used in automobiles and researches are underway to make it a self sustained fuel. World-over biofuels are used in a 5-20% blend with conventional diesel.

Let’s consider how such cultivation would make a difference to the world as well as the economy. Unlike fossil fuel reserves which can get depleted, Jatropha can always be cultivated easily, as it does sustain in any type of soil and requires very less rainfall. The overall yield is quite profitable, as we can get biodiesel, glycerin, as well as a biomass/natural pesticide as a by-product. It’s quite economical and a very viable alternative energy source which has the potential to be a safe alternative to conventional diesel. Barren and parched lands with les rainfall can be utilized for this cultivation, and would also produce a steady income to farmers in those lands. In developing countries such as India and other regions with a scanty rainfall, such cultivation generates employment, makes use of otherwise barren lands, and contributes to economy as dependency on crude oil decreases. Also, the yield is just not limited to fuel, but also gives glycerin, biomass and an effective natural pesticide.

There is a danger that such cultivation might replace other food grain cultivation, thereby causing a supply shortfall, as being pointed out by some analysts with specific trends. Hence, there is a need for a structured plan of action in Jatropha cultivation, involving a region by region approach. The initial yields and returns though at times might not match with other regions, but would surely work out as a viable energy alternate in the long run, as depletion of fossil fuels is a far more threat the modern world is set to face.

Though the biodiesel might not be as much fuel-efficient as normal diesel, it can suit our energy needs.

Currently, Jatropha biodiesel is being blended with normal diesel and used in automobiles and researches are underway to make it a self sustained fuel. World-over biofuels are used in a 5-20% blend with conventional diesel.

Alternate Energy Source – Hydrogen

By Anny on December 3rd, 2012

Imagine a fuel source that occurs naturally, powers your vehicle in the same way as conventional fuels do, and also doesn’t release any toxic emissions. This isn’t a far-fetched projection of our technological marvels, but is using pure hydrogen as an energy source.

Hydrogen occurs naturally in the atmosphere, is a light element, and a constituent of water. When it combines with oxygen to form water it releases huge energy. This energy can be used to as a fuel to drive vehicles or operate machinery. There are two major ways in which hydrogen can be used as an energy source-one by direct combustion, and other as an energy carrier. Let’s look at these both ways to utilizing hydrogen.

Fuel cells: Fuel cells are used to convert hydrogen into electric energy. They consist of a two electrodes separated by a medium. Oxygen is applied to one end, and hydrogen to the other. The hydrogen gas reacts with the catalyst giving hydrogen ions and electrons. These electrons flow from one end to another, giving an electric current. The hydrogen ions react with oxygen at the other electrode and give water as a by-product.  This arrangement is similar to a battery cell, expect for that fact that its more expensive, and last much longer.  An arrangement of such fuel cells can give a appreciable current source, which can be used to power gadgets or drive an electric motor. Such fuel cells are being used to power automobiles, and other electric appliances. Though hydrogen operated vehicles are still in the pilot stages, and are comparatively costlier then normal vehicles, they are being actively considered for usage as they offer an alternate energy source, and also are non-polluting. Research is being done to minimize manufacturing costs, and make them more productive.

 

Internal Combustion engines: The second categories of hydrogen powered vehicles make use of hydrogen as a combustible fuel in internal combustion engines. The first such model was prepared way back in 1807, and in recent times the Ford F-250 Super Chief concept car has been designed in 2007 to use hydrogen as one of the choice of fuels. The BMW H2R is a race car exclusively designed to be powered by hydrogen gas, and generates a horsepower of 232, and has a top speed of 301 kmph. However, such hydrogen powered automobiles are much costlier than normal variants, and since hydrogen gives a less energy output per unit mass, they need to be more frequently refilled. These production models still need to be refined to optimize manufacturing costs, and develop them for public transport and specialized needs.

Algae- The Next Generation Fuel

By Anny on November 25th, 2012

We have seen how Biofuels made from natural oils are being used an alternative to conventional diesel, largely by blending them with normal fuel. Let’s now look at what algae- the floating slimy green mass you see in seas and other water bodies, can do for us.

During photosynthesis, algae capture carbon dioxide and sunlight and convert them into oxygen and biomass. The Biomass is then processed into biofuel, which can be used as an alternative to conventional fossil fuel.

There has been a lot of research in synthesizing  biofuel from Algae, as a unit of equal  mass  can produce up to 10-100% more oil than other biofuels such as Jatropha, sugarcane etc.  Also, up to 60% of the Algae yield can be converted into fuel, when compared to 2-5% from other plant sources.

A test conducted by Solazyme- a company involved in fuel extraction from Algae, in association with the US navy had powered a container vessel with 100% algae fuel in its voyage from northern Europe to Indonesia, which was a complete success.

Algae can also yield vegetable oil, Methane, and Ethanol apart from the highly viable biofuel

Algae can be cultivated in sea water, as well as normal wastewater ponds, and when it’s harvested, it releases CO₂ into the atmosphere, which again is absorbed by the algae farms, thereby causing no significant increase in co₂ emissions.

 

 
Under controlled conditions, algae can produce up to twice more oil per acre then compared to other fuel crops such as soya bean and Jatropha. It has a very short cultivation period of 1-10 days, which enables much more returns then other fuel crops. It can be grown in marsh waters, seas and also in saline lands, and would not displace other food crop cultivations. However, the yield would decrease while being cultivated in an arid land.

There is an ongoing research to optimize the required resources for such cultivation plants, as they require significant investment. Also, bio researchers are currently looking at isolating certain algae strains which give a comparatively higher yield, and are resistant to common bacteria and harsh climate conditions.

The United States Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require a total cultivation area of just 15,000 square miles which is only 0.42% of the total U.S. land area.

The larger picture which the world now needs to look at is isolating and developing alternate energy sources, and effectively integrating them with energy consumers such as automobiles before the crude oil resources start depleting. Such a research though at an initial stage, has deep rooted practical implications for all of us in the world.

E- Waste solution: New York focuses on old gadgets to make the city greener

By Anny on August 14th, 2012

E- Waste solution

Take a look around your office or home. How much space is being wasted with old, outdated electronics that you no longer use? Not only do those old computers, printers, monitors, phone systems, TVs, and other appliances take up a lot of space, but they’re just sitting there gathering dust and wasting away. They could be safely and ethically recycled or reused. (more…)

Underwater turbines to produce renewable energy

By Anny on August 8th, 2012

turbines

Wind and solar power energy resources can be used effectively with some major resources like nuclear energy or electricity produced form petroleum to fulfill the increasing energy demands of the world.  These can be used as alternative resources, because there is no surety that sun will glow brightly each day to produce optimum amount of energy or wind will blow fast to run the wind energy generation system. (more…)

HWKN designs for MINI’s creative use of Space

By Anny on August 4th, 2012

HWKN designs

Due to constraints of space, people have become more conscious to utilize the land area with beautiful and distinctive designs. The designs which should cover the land and also exhibit the natural art and pleasing to the eyes of people are highly preferred.

Such designs are not limited to small space of land and also can be applied on large areas. A stunning example of such land design we have seen recently is work done on a 1000 sq. foot roof in New York by a creative artist naming HWKN, as a part of BMW MINI’s create use of space project architecture. HWKN has successfully incorporated the popular MINI vehicles parts of BMW, turning the rooftop into a green organic place and looking an organic hill with more pleasing to the visitors. (more…)

EcoReef Antlers for Coral Reef Restoration

By Anny on July 27th, 2012

EcoReef

The coral reefs are suffering degradation from number of human and natural induced processes. Tackling the root causes of degradation through effective coastal management measures is likely to be best way forward for reducing damages and helping reefs to return to their health state back. There are also alternatives available for direct intervention to actively restore degraded coral reefs. (more…)