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the aora solar tulip – coming soon to a desert near you


Here’s an innovative solar power design. An Israeli company, AORA Solar, has developed a modular distributed solar thermal (DST) technology that consists of a series of connectable base units (100kw e each). The company’s “Tulip” hybrid system offers scalable utility-grade power for both on-grid and stand alone applications, with each unit capable of powering up to 50 homes.


The design features an array of mirrors that focus sunlight on the Tulip tower, which contains a series of microturbines. The hot air generated by the focused sunlight is then used to power the Tulip’s microturbines, creating electricity. The hybrid system is capable of generating power around the clock, even at night and in heavy cloud coverage by using alternative fuels to continue powering its microturbines when sunlight is unavailable. Alternative fuels can include natural gas and a variety of biofuels. aorasolartulip4.jpg

The modularity of the system allows for quick, phased construction and placement near the power grid, business, or factory utilizing the electricity produced. Unlike other solar thermal systems that use steam to drive large turbines, the Tulip uses hot air to power microturbines, requiring just 8% of the water that is typically consumed by a steam-powered system.

The company currently has active power generating sites in Samar, Israel and Almeria Spain, with test sites coming to the Arizona desert soon.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

VW Think Blue Beetle: think blue, act green


VW Think Blue Beetle ecofashioned from trash …

On display at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival in Mumbai, Indian artist Haribaabu Naatesan (Hari) applied mukti to embody the Think Blue VW Beetle. The project is part of VW’s new Think Blue eco awareness campaign.

Hari applies the Indian religious concept of ‘mukti’, the liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, as a metaphor for his craft. While at the same time reusing and re-adapting physical materials, Hari notes, ‘what I do is give the material mukti. Whatever material I use, it remains art forever; (on the conceptual level) it is not recycled again.’


Hari transformed over 2805 pieces of scrap metal in the life-size ‘think blue beetle’. The car utilizes 800 spark plugs, 200 bottle caps, 60 mother boards, audio cassettes, speakers, cans, keyboards, typewriters, and hundreds of other materials.

The scrap material was collected by VolksWagen over the course of various cleanup drives. Hari then dismantled each object and segregated it by shape. ‘I see all objects as forms,’ the artist explains in an interview with the Asian Age newspaper. As Hari says, ‘so my mind is always open to thinking I can create this out of this form. In the ‘think blue beetle’ you’ll see that I have used old speakers for the headlights, a mouse for the indicator light. For the wheel caps, we sourced old gramophone records … the function (of the discarded object) isn’t important, I work according to the form.’

photo credit: Rushlane


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monday’s eco news roundup


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coffee grounds may hold the solution to a stinky problem


Waking up in the morning for work or school can be rough without a piping hot, fresh cup of coffee. Coffee’s ability to warm and energize are not its only perks. As you may already know, coffee grounds can act as a great fertilizer for household greenery. But I bet you didn’t know this: One new discovery about the recycling of coffee grounds has led to a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to eliminate the odor of sewage plants – notorious for the awful rotten egg scent they expel.

This scent comes from the hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) that is released when processing human waste. Combinations of multiple chemicals have been generated to try to counter the odor in the past. Each chemical must be carbonized in order to facilitate its reactivity to toxins. This can become expensive very quickly and is not always economically plausible.

However, a solution to this smelly problem may be at hand: scientists at City College of New York recently discovered that coffee grounds are naturally extremely reactive to air-born toxins such as H2S. The caffeine in coffee contains nitrogen. The nitrogen left in the used coffee grounds is extremely efficient for the process of absorption, or the ability to rid the air of sulfur released from the sewage plants.


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