Saturday, January 7, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Germany Showcases Its Green-Tech Innovations on North American Tour

Posted: 06 Jan 2012 02:16 PM PST


dausHAUS night

dasHAUS (Click to Enlarge)

When it comes to innovations in renewables and energy efficiency, Germany's contributions always seems to land in the headlines. Whether it's the prototype Efficiency House Plus, which generates enough surplus energy to power an electric car, or its pledge to shut down its nuclear reactors and replace them with renewables by 2022, Germany is a worldwide leader in developing and implementing green technologies.

The German Ministry of Economics and Technology is currently sponsoring a public outreach project – dubbed dasHAUS – that intends to share some of these innovations with the world. dasHAUS is a touring exhibition that connects industry professionals in North America with the latest market-ready renewable and energy efficiency solutions from Germany. From October 2011 to November 2012, the dasHAUS pavilion and exhibition will travel throughout the US and Canada, making stops in 12 major cities. The next stop, in Tempe, AZ, is scheduled January 21-30, 2012 at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

"dasHAUS creates a space where industry professionals and the general public can interact with these technologies in a meaningful, hands-on way," said Sabine Mattern of the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc., which is presenting the Tempe exhibition. "By showcasing German innovations in renewables and energy efficiency, we hope to start a dialogue that creates lasting international partnerships. dasHAUS is a starting point for that conversation."

dasHAUS is an integrated, multifaceted structure that demonstrates real-world solutions for meeting ultra-low energy building standards. It draws inspiration from the Technical University of Darmstadt's 2007 and 2009 first-place entries in the Solar Decathlon, an international solar house competition presented by the US Department of Energy.

Visitors of dasHAUS can find out about a multitude of sustainability technologies, including:

  • Thin film photovoltaic roof, facade and louvered panel systems
  • Heat-recovery climate control and ventilation systems, Passive House Standard triple-pane windows
  • Solar-powered LED lighting systems and high-efficiency appliances
  • Vacuum insulated panel systems
  • VRLA battery systems
  • Advanced wall construction materials and methods

During its 10-day stop in each city, dasHAUS is open to the public for free guided tours. Special outreach events, including conferences and expert speaker engagements, are also planned for each location.

For more information on dasHAUS and the most up-to-date schedule of events, including tour dates, visit

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The Nobel Prize for Sustainability?

Posted: 06 Jan 2012 12:32 PM PST

The award for Best Sustainability Idea 2011

In a ceremony last month, Katerva announced the winner of its first annual award for Best Sustainable Idea, a process touted as the "Nobel Prize of Sustainability" by the non-profit organization.

Sanergy, a company providing low-cost sanitation in developing countries, won the award for its work building waste treatment centers in Kenya. Its technology, a $200, locally produced toilet, is designed for 100 uses per day. Toilets are emptied and the human waste taken to a Sanergy processing facility for conversion into biogas for electricity and crop fertilizer for homes and businesses.

The start-up, founded by MIT alumni, will receive $500,000 worth of in-kind consulting and assistance from a group of elite business and sustainability organizations to help bring their technology to the global market.

The Awards Process

Katerva is an international organization focused on identifying the most promising sustainability initiatives across the globe. Its rigorous year-long awards process starts with a global "spotter network" tasked with nominating hundreds of sustainability technologies in 10 categories.

Several panels of experts then evaluate the nominees on their initiative's marketability, scalability, feasibility, originality, and potential impact. Finalists are chosen in each category, and then compete against each other for the grand prize, chosen by an "award council" of eight global sustainability thought leaders.

Other Clean Tech Finalists

Sanergy was the winner in the Materials & Resources category, but category winners were also recognized in the Behavioral Change, Economy, Energy & Power, Food Security, Human Development, Transportation, Urban Design, Protected Areas, and Gender Equality categories. Several category finalists have pioneered innovative new clean tech and environmental initiatives.

In the Energy & Power category, Barefoot Power was recognized for creating an alternative lighting technology that combines polycrystalline solar panels and LED lights to boost rural electrification and replace kerosene lamps used for lighting in developing countries. Its product has been deployed to low-income families in 15 African and Asian countries.

An invention named the Solarclave was the finalist in the Human Development category. The Solarclave, also invented by MIT students, is a solar-powered device that sterilizes surgical instruments in clinics that do not have reliable access to electricity. The low-cost device uses solar energy to generates high-pressure steam at 121 degrees Celsius in an insulated pressure vessel.

The Nissan Leaf won the Transportation category for being the first zero-emission all-electric vehicle to go into mass production at a price level affordable to a large segment of the population. Nissan was also cited for developing and supplying 240kv home-charging stations.

Finally, New York City's Freshkills Park was recognized in the Urban Design category. Formerly one of the largest landfills in the world, Freshkills is being converted into a 2,200 acre park featuring wind and biogas energy generation, new ecosystems for wildlife, and recreational facilities.

Looking Ahead

2011 was the first year for the Katerva Awards, but during the ceremony, CEO Terry Waghorn said he has hopes for an even more impressive future, including more nominees and a cash prize for the 2012 winner.

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Why You Can’t Buy A Solar-Powered Cellphone… For Now

Posted: 06 Jan 2012 12:12 PM PST

Cellphones. We all (well, most of us) have one, and we all charge them frequently. In fact, modern smartphones are so power-greedy many of us charge them every night. All this sucks up domestic (and sometimes, if we’re being cheeky, office) power.

But my calculator doesn’t need external power — it’s solar. Why can’t my cellphone be?

Nobody knows as well as Nokia. The Finnish phone giant has just completed an extensive trial of solar-powered phones to see whether the technology could be brought to consumers. The verdict? Probably not — at least, not yet.

Nokia put together a prototype solar-powered phone, with a panel integrated into the back of the case. It gave the phone to testers all over the world to see how successfully the phone functioned in different environments.

The result? Don’t expect a solar-powered iPhone any time soon. As Nokia explains,

When carefully positioned, the prototype phones were able, at best, to harvest enough energy to keep the phone on standby mode but with a very restricted amount of talk time. This means there's still some way to go before a workable and care-free solution is achieved.

Smaller non-smartphones use the least power, but their small size means they can also generate less.

The most substantial challenge is the limited size of a phone's back cover, which restricts the extent to which the battery can be charged. What's more, to ensure mobility, it is essential that the phone's weather protection doesn't cover the solar charging panel.

Of course, where you are in the world does make a difference. Nokia’s tester in Kenya, a security guard named Amos, got the best amount of solar charge — not just because the sun shines long and hard in Kenya, but because his job meant he didn’t move around much. In the Artic Circle, on the other hand, there’s plenty of sun, but it’s low in the sky and you’re as likely to be in shadow as in sunshine at any moment.

Of course, a phone which didn’t need to be charged quite as often because of a built-in solar panel would be almost as useful as a phone which didn’t need to be charged at all. But from the sounds of Nokia’s fairly downbeat assessment, we’re not going to be relying on the sun for our smartphones any time soon. For now, those of us determined to go solar will have to make do with a bulky solar-charging iPhone case.

Source: Nokia Conversations | Via: The Verge | More: Nokia Solar Charging | Picture: Nokia

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