Posts Tagged ‘LED’

algae-powered fuel of the future

CFLs and LEDs not quite green enough for you? Solar panels too rigid and unforgiving? How about illuminating your living space with living creatures? Algae has long been used to produce biofuel and clean water, and now it is finding a brand new application as a light and power source. Far from your average pond scum, these tiny organisms are being harnessed for their ability to bioluminesce and sequester carbon. Welcome to the algae-powered age!

Gyula Bodonyi has created an algae-powered light bulb that looks like the verdant version of a standard Christmas fixture. The tear-shaped bulb works by harnessing the natural biology of algae to power and LED bulb with the aid of a tiny air pump and hydrophobic container. Carbon dioxide and water is taken in near the E27 screw-top, and as the air passes through the bulb, it helps to nourish Chlorella pyrenoidosa microalgae. The oxygen the algae generates in turn operates the LED. When not turned on, the bulb appears green due to the hue of the organisms inside.

The Latro Lamp is another great example of algae’s ability to shed a little light on the subject of indoor illumination. Designed by Mike Thompson, the conical light only needs a little CO2, sunlight, algae, and water to function. The has to be set outside during the day, and a battery stores the energy created by the algae for later in the evening. A light sensor modulates the lamp’s intensity and prevents the algae from becoming malnourished.  Acting as a bio-battery, the technology was made possible through research done by Stanford and Yansei universities.

Scientists at Cambridge University are laboring towards creating biovoltaic panels (BPVs) that use algae to power electronics much in the same manner as photovoltaics. Alex Driver and Carlos Peralta  understand that such a novel concept could be a little difficult for consumers to imagine, and have created several renderings of products that could possibly hit the market once the technology becomes viable. The researchers believe that their innovations could be stiff competition for solar panels in the next 5-10 years.

Are you ready for the algae-powered revolution?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

florescent light bulbs

You would think with a name like “conservative”, those occupying the right wing of the political spectrum would be all about saving money and cutting energy costs. Yet, according a study led by Dena Gromet from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, CFL light bulbs labeled with a “protect the environment” sticker were shunned by conservatives. Their decision comes despite the fact that CFLs last 9,000 hours longer than incandescents and reduce energy costs by 75 percent. In an study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, she and her colleagues from Wharton and the Duke Fuqua School of Business gathered 210 potential buyers. They asked them to choose between incandescent bulbs and CFLs, some which sported a “protect the environment” sticker. Divisions were apparent until they made both bulbs the same price. Then, every subject except one chose the CFL.

“Our results demonstrated that a choice that wasn’t ideologically polarizing without a (“protect the environment”) label became polarizing when we included that environmental labeling,” Gromet noted. “We saw a significant drop-off in conservative people choosing to buy a more expensive, energy-efficient option.”So it makes that choice unattractive to some people even if they recognize that it may be a money-saving choice. When we asked afterward, those consumers identified the CFL bulbs as providing greater monetary savings over time. But they would forgo that option when that product was made to represent a value that was not something they wanted to be identified with.”

Regardless of whether or not they realized that the CFLs would be more practical in the long run, conservatives still opted to go for the less efficient technology. To combat global warming and carbon emissions, the United States is one of many countries trying to persuade consumers to switch to bulbs that use little power. Last year, they took on 100 watt bulbs, and in January they introduced new efficiency requirements that went into effect for 75 watt bulbs. You would think that a bulb with a longer life and overall benefit to the consumers’ pocketbook would be a win-win, but not for those who look to the government’s regulations as just one more step down the road to communism….or fascism…or whatever dystopian future some out there have imagined.

To add insult to injury, there is little evidence that green PR helps boost sales of products amongst liberals. While the research team needs more data to confirm this suspicion, they did not find any support that leftists were swayed by green labeling. In addition to political prejudice, pro-planet goods have to contend with old stereotypes that they are poorly designed, overpriced, and not as high in quality as long-established brands. One small ray of hope may lie in the overall trend for consumers to look towards LEDs in favor of CFLs for their homes and businesses. While the Wharton study did not test opinions over LEDs, it would be interesting to see whether or not politics play a role in their selection and whether the CFL phenomenon is simply a fluke.

Still, with those who are under the belief that the UN’s Agenda 21 is a plot to take control of the world under the guise of a green manifesto negotiated without the input of the American people, it is not hard to see how some are ruffled by being told to do pretty much anything. Sadly, they will maintain this point of view even if what they are being asked to do is for the benefit of the greater good. Unfortunately, the environment does not care whether or not you are Democrat or Republican when it comes to natural disasters brought on by a shifting climate. CO2 doesn’t vote or go to the store. However, humans do, and we are the ones making the ultimate decisions on how we live ont his planet. We can only pray that we do the right thing regardless of the motivation.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Here in San Luis Obispo, we are proud to have a thriving bike culture. From our monthly Bike Happening to the Tall Bike Posse and Little 500, we are lucky to live in a town where there are cyclists committed to fun, safe riding, and fitness. Chances are, if you live here on the Central Coast, you either know or are related to one of these bike nuts. If you are looking for a great gift idea for the wheeled warrior in your life, look no further. Here are some strange and wonderful gadgets for your pedal person.

Trotify- For the Monty Python and equestrian fan in all of us, we present the Trotify, a contraption that takes advantage of the humble coconut shell to make your bike sound like a horse. The wooden device sits on the front wheel of your rig and creates the sounds of hoofbeats as you pedal. Trotify comes flatpacked, and can be easily shipped and assembled at home. Currently, the designers are waiting for a 1,000 minimum order, and your Trotify would not make its way out of the stable until March 2013. However, for only about $20, it might be worth the wait to turn your frame into a fiery steed.

MindRider- I can’t think of many cyclists that at one time or another wished that motorists knew what they were thinking. The thought-controlled MindRider helmet brain waves to control red and green LED lights that signal emotions and levels of concentration. Developed by MIT animator and computer programmer Alrene Ducao, the helmet takes advantage of a EEG sensor and NeuroSky Mindset to control the lighting display. Green denotes a calm and collected demeanor, red means high stress, and flashing red blinks a warning signal to others on the road. The next incarnation of MindRider is slated to include more LEDs, proximity sensors, wearable visualization, and possible wireless technology that can connect with other helmets to monitor traffic and accidents.

Bike Zone- Cycling at night can be dangerous for even the most experienced of riders. The Bike Zone is a an ingenious gadget that creates a laser-projected area that extends a meter away from the bicycle as well as animated right and left turn signals. The Bike Zone easily attaches to the frame with a magnetic coupling, and wirelessly connects to the signal switches on the handlebars.



Here at Bambu Batu, we figure we know bamboo pretty well.  Yet, even we were surprised to see the incredible gadgets out there that are incorporating bamboo into their design.  Able to be as versatile as the minds behind these beautiful and objects, bamboo is the perfect choice for durability, looks, and sustainability.

-With some species growing at a rate of almost 3 feet per day, bamboo is a hard-working plant. With Lexon’s line of renewable office products, you can show the same growth potential as the super-grass! The collection offers a number of stylish choices for the workplace, including pens, solar-powered calculators, crank-powered AM/FM radios, and LCD clocks, all fashioned from bamboo.

-Want to cruise in sustainable style?  Check out Antoine Fritsch’s T20 Bamboo Bike.  The cycle features and electric motor, and can reach speeds of up to 21 miles per hour with a range of 24 miles. Acceleration is provided by the rider, who pushes off the ground to kick-start the bike. After a small initial amount of effort, the T20 is ready to zip you around town!  Despite looking a bit delicate at first glance, anyone familiar with bamboo will recognize that the flexibility and toughness of the frame is not to be underestimated.

-Let bamboo brighten up your day with Green Tuna Design’s bamboo lamp. The style of the piece is reminiscent of craftsman architecture, and has a lovely natural finish that almost glows when lit. Powered by an LED bulb, the light helps save on energy while looking good in the process.

– If you are a fan of bamboo, why not have a fan made out of bamboo?  The Haiku Satori ceiling fan possesses blades from the lightweight grass, and comes equipped with an infrared remote control to modulate speed.  Incredibly efficient, at its lowest setting, the fan uses half the energy of an 8W CFL bulb.  The Electronically Communicated motor with digital inverter allows for amazing savings in energy, consuming 60-80% less energy than a traditional ceiling fan.

– No gadget list is complete without accessories for your computer.  Take a look at Impecca’s hand-carved KBB500 bamboo keyboard and mouse.  Helping to reduce the amount of electronic waste entering our landfill and polluting our environments, the set also adds a natural aesthetic to modern electronics. The mouse is a standard three-button optical model, and the keyboard is your average 104-key layout.



Artist Jeff Dah-Yue Shi of the Dragonfly Design Center has a bright idea for bamboo. Literally.  His modular LED and bamboo veneer lights can be used as a building material that can transform flat walls into geometric mosaics.  Both energy efficient and sustainable, the tessellated patterns take advantage of interlocking pieces to create  a visually stunning, Escheresque composite. The panels are composed of a LED source at the base, tempered glass placed over the base to hold the structure together, and a bamboo veneer to filter the light and create a warm, earthy glow.  Aside from being a creative approach to interior decoration, the panels become substitutes for bulky conventional fixtures.

The innovative execution of flat interior lighting garnered Shi the Taiwan Design Center’s gold pin design award in 2011.  Also a renowned jewelry and product designer, Shi graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and has worked as an in-house designer for Harry Winston.  After leaving the world of high-end jewelry, he began to collaborate with 3D animators, winning the IF Communication Design Award in 2008 for his video work.  Shi was also given the  prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2010 for his sustainable bamboo furniture that helped to save Taiwan’s heritage craft industry.

Here at Bambu Batu, we salute Jeff Dah Yue-Shi for bringing bamboo to the forefront of modern style!

Is it possible to live in harmony with our environment while maintaining the comforts of 21st century living?  Proponents of Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings and communities believe we can.  The concept of living in structures where carbon emissions, construction costs and rates of energy consumption are balanced by efficient design and conscious practice is beginning to gain traction in a world concerned with global climate change.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be converted, shifted and measured.  ZNE buildings attempt to achieve through various technologies and architectural techniques to engineer homes and businesses that produce or save as much energy as they use.  Defining guidelines differ across Europe and North America (where most of this innovative development is taking place) but several key principles outlining the functions of are held in common.

Energy use- The amount of energy produced on site should be at least equal to the amount of energy needed by the building.  This includes the energy required to transport electricity through transmission lines from source to final destination. Many ZNE’s strive to function off the main electrical grid, becoming completely self-sufficient and even sending power back into the system.

Emissions- ZNE’s strive to be carbon neutral, meaning any burning of fossil fuels involved in construction must be offset by the creation of renewable energy from the building.  Some even go as far to count the carbon burned through commuting to and from the ZNE location as well as the “embodied energy”, or amount of fuel used to manufacture, distribute and dispose of the materials used.

Zero off-site energy use-  To achieve a 100% ZNE rating, any purchased carbon offsets must come from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, water or biogas.

How do ZNE’s go low?  First, computer programs and traditional architectural principles are applied in the design phase to incorporate passive solar heating and natural conditioning, wind patterns, and the composition of earth beneath the building to reduce heating and cooling costs.  Every detail is considered, from the overhang of a door to the location of a window in relation to the sun’s journey across the sky.  Not only are the energy profiles of the materials and initial models taken into account, but the entire lifetime of the building.  This means that each element must be durable, recyclable, and able to be neutralized by renewable energy.  As with LEED certified buildings,  ZNE locations have a wide array of energy-saving features.  LED lights replace traditional fluorescent bulbs, high efficiency appliances monitor and save electricity, and natural heating  and cooling, insulation, heat recycling aid in controlling indoor climate with the least amount of power possible.

Once a ZNE structure is up and running, it meets its electricity needs in a number of ways.  Some of these strategies are used exclusively, while others are harnessed in combination.  Solar cells, wind turbines, biofuels, and in some special locations, even microhyro or geothermal strategies are all sources of clean energy.  Through a mix of conservation and renewable energy harvest, it is possible to function autonomously, although some ZNE communities still opt to connect themselves to the grid in order to draw power for those times when their demand exceeds production.

Whole Zero Energy neighborhoods are popping up around the United States and offering an exciting opportunity to live in a more sustainable fashion, creating jobs in the private sector, and aiding the fight to combat climate change and environmental degradation.  Firms that specialize in green building such as Zeta and Zero Energy Design tout the long-term monetary savings of energy-conscious development and state of the art renovations.  Their projects are inspired by the landscape, unique to each client, and ready to meet the demands of an energy-hungry and fuel strapped future.  Just as in basketball, when it comes to winning the game in inspirational green design, it ain’t nothin’ but net.