A Shining Light For Millions: The SolarPuff

We’d literally be left in the dark without lighting. Pinning all our hopes on 10-16 hours of sunlight (season depending), flickering candles and campfire illuminations to aid us with clear navigation and visibility. Luckily for the majority of us this isn’t a reality. Over time we’ve been presented with various different lighting systems. Oil lamps and candles reaching back to 4000 BC, the first application of oil street lights in 1000 AD, then there’s no forgetting Alessandro Volta and Thomas Edison’s game changing invention of the lightbulb.

In modern life artificial light is no longer hard to come by nor is it treated as a luxury. Whether it’s stuffy office blocks with glaring light panels or it’s the latest LED lightbulbs to hit enthused consumers; nearly each and every retail store or liveable property has some sort of lighting implemented.

It’s also common place to open up interior design magazines and be confronted with the latest light fixture that ‘you must have’ in your home. And although celebrating the latest aesthetics and technology in the lighting world is good for the development and evolution of contemporary lighting, there’s some lights that warrant separation from the rest of them.

Importance Of Light

There’s a lot of things in this world which are unfair. Hunger, poverty, war, the inability to source clean water, homelessness, murder, exploitation, the list is seemingly endless. However, limited or no access to light is often left out. It’s an elementary ingredient to everyday life; we need light to see people and to communicate, to study work, to play sports, to fix machinery, to read your favourite books.

We would incur a huge hindrance if electricity suddenly disappeared and the lights went off. Yet there are millions of people going through this travesty right now; they have no electricity, therefore they have no light. Official statistics allegedly state that a quarter of humanity are still living without light; with 1.3 billion people having no access to electricity. The IEA (International Energy Agency) has predicted that by 2030 – 635 million people living in Sub Sarahan Africa will still be without electricity.

Just like how food aid is distributed to countries suffering from starvation, light aid is developing into a real demand for humanitarian services. With this, inventors and designers have either been collaborating with charities or working on their own accord to help improve the living standards of those who need it.

SolarPuff

solarpuff classroom

A fantastic illustration of light aid in action is the SolarPuff by Solight Design. The SolarPuff is a featherweight, portable and easily assembled light which runs on solar energy alone. Influenced by origami the SolarPuff uses a ‘fold out’ contraption; by simply opening it up and forming a cube shape the light will fully assemble. Once the SolarPuff has assembled it requires facing direct sunlight for four to five hours, as a result it produces four to five hours of artificial light via its solar panel.

These basic yet ingenious solar lights have all the makings to positively impact millions of lives. Their use is infinite, they can help light up a classroom full of youngsters who are eager to gain an education, they can light up a home for obvious navigational necessities, they can prevent break-ins and will generally make the location a lot safer to live in. In areas without an electricity grid – such as tent camps in Sub Saharan Africa, a power outage will increase the probability of rape by 20%. Another bleak reminder of how limited or no access to light can incite traumatic experiences.

For such a tiny and unorthodox light the SolarPuff is surprisingly bright – providing more brightness than a kerosene lamp. People with no access to electricity regularly look to kerosene lamps to light the way; however the risks connected to these lamps are well documented. The Intermediate Technology Development Group and World Health Organization suggests that indoor air pollution from kerosene and similar indoor lighting fuels result in more than 1.5 million deaths per year, presenting lung disease, respiratory problems and eye-related issues. This is another unnerving fact that the SolarPuff is seeking to improve.

Another superiority of the SolarPuff is its resistant but flexible nature. The material is eco friendly and easily foldable, making it perfect to transport and carry around. Maintenance costs are also a world away from kerosene lamps or battery operated flashlights. The SolarPuff needs no batteries or refills and will work for at least a year after purchase.

Not Just For The Unfortunate

The SolarPuff (as well as other similar products) are already being used in not only disaster zones or off-grid areas but they’re being introduced to households looking to cut back on their energy bills. Night time occupations such as fisherman are also able to harbour the goods of the SolarPuff, this is because the light possesses waterproof and buoyancy qualities too. The SolarPuff is being piloted across Nigeria and Haiti with the view to assign more organisations and areas with the light.

Recent lighting innovations have seen mood changing dimmers, colour changing LEDs and other fabulous fixtures launched into the modern consumer market. Yet while designers tweak styles and characteristics of expensive light fittings, there’s still an overwhelming percentage of humanity without basic light. If governments are not prepared to spend money to help transform off-grid locations into environments with electricity then regrettably it’s over to creations such as the SolarPuff to support people. With inventions such as the SolarPuff being considered as just one of the answers, there is in fact a shed of light at the end of the tunnel. But let’s hope that the light is prolonged and prosperous, and its beam can revolutionise millions of lives that deserve better.


Author: Tom Bray works for a national electrical wholesaler – Direct Trade Supplies, a company which specialises in LED lighting Tom regularly contributes to magazines and websites.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 28, 2015 at 10:40 am

Categories: Eco Friendly, Energy   Tags:

The 5 Fastest Green Cars On The Planet

Nearly all owners of electric and hybrid hypercars have something in common. At one point or another, they’ve been asked the question:

‘So, how fast can that thing go?’

It’s a common misconception that green car technology lacks the muscle and power to achieve speed. This follows years of bad press and the occasional bad design – but the truth is that eco-friendly innovation has come a long way in recent years.

Many green cars, from electric to hybrid, can now fiercely compete with their petrol and diesel counterparts. And as this technology continues to become more widespread, there’s every reason to believe things will only improve.

Here are the world’s fastest green cars – divided into electric and hybrid hypercars, so you can judge for yourself.

Electric

Electric cars continue to take the car industry by storm – with the world’s top manufacturers producing their own take on the eco-friendly innovation.

1. BMW i3

BMW i3

Top speed: 100mph
Performance: 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds
Engine: 130kW electric motor
C02 Emissions: Zero

The first on our list, the BMW i3 is a masterful example of an electric city car. Unlike other green vehicles on this list, which fall into the sports car category, BMW have made a systematic attempt to develop green energy efficient automobiles which are largely accessible for everyday driving.

But not only that, the BMW i3 proves that electric cars can also be extremely fast. This urban mascot of green driving is robust, easy to drive, and surprisingly affordable compared to its competitors.

The only downside, however, is that the BMW i3 takes anywhere between 3-4 hours to charge. This will undoubtedly put off some potential buyers, but the overall performance and design of BMW’s attractive i3 should be enough to compensate.

2. Tesla S Performance

Tesla S Performance

Top speed: 130mph
Performance: 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds
Engine: 310kW electric motor
C02 Emissions: Zero

Perhaps the most pioneering car manufacturer in the world, Tesla have paved the way for future generations in terms of electric motor technology.

The Tesla S Performance is certainly no exception – and is one of the fastest green cars on the planet, with an impressive 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds under its belt. This is due, in part, to the Mercedes-Benz auto-engineering, which promises an unbeatable drive, with eco-awareness built into its very heart.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Tesla have succeeded in selling over 50,000 of these models. They continue to be in extremely high-demand, and the Tesla S Performance is likely to be the first of many electric vehicles from this brand.

3. Detroit Electric SP:01

Detroit Electric SP

Top speed: 155 mph (17km/h)
Performance: 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds
Engine: 210kW electric motor
C02 Emissions: Zero

Titled the fastest electric car on the planet, the Detroit Electric SP:01 is arguably the most impressive vehicle on this list – purely because it is powered entirely by hydroelectricity.

Available in two options, Pure and Performance, both of these models can deliver an unparalleled drive combined with excellent in-car technology. Narrowly beating the Tesla S Performance for speed, the SP:01 is certainly one of the most in-demand vehicles in the world. And with a relaunch due sometime in 2015, there’s every reason to believe Detroit will rule the waves once again.

Hybrid Hypercar

And now for something completely different.

The last three cars included in this blog have all featured electric motors – making each model the pinnacle of zero-emissions driving.

But how do hybrid cars – specifically hybrid hypercars – compare with their electric counterparts?

Here are the three fastest part-petrol, part-electric motor vehicles on the market.

4. Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

Top speed: 210 mph
Performance: 0-60 in 2.5 seconds
Engine: Turbocharged V8 + 2 electric motors
C02 Emissions: 70-72g/km

If you’re a fan of Top Gear, then you’ve probably seen this beauty at least once before.

This phenomenal vehicle is a testament that hybrid technology doesn’t need to compromise on performance – boasting an incredible 210 mph. This is thanks to Porsche’s unique combination of Turbocharged auto-engineering and innovative electric motoring. But moreover, what really makes the 918 Spyder stand out is its speed.

The 918 Spyder can achieve 0-60 in just 2.5 seconds – making it an insanely powerful vehicle, even beyond the world of hybrid hypercars.

And what’s more, Porsche have succeeded where others have failed – by creating a hybrid hypercar that not only performs well, but looks stunning too.

5. McLaren P1
McLaren P1

Top speed: 217mph
Performance: 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds
Engine: Turbocharged V8
C02 Emissions: 149g/km

The cream of the crop, the McLaren P1 is an undisputed triumph in green car technology.

Sleek, dynamic, and exceedingly fast, this exceptional vehicle has outperformed every other competitor in its class. It can reach seriously impressive speeds of 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds – making it one of the most exciting cars of the past decade.

However, this speed and performance does come at a price – both on your wallet and the environment. Producing 149g/km of C02, the McLaren P1 generates double the volume of carbon emissions compared to the Porsche 918 Spyder. Furthermore, this vehicle can come with a pricetag of anywhere between £800,0000 – £900,000.

But hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream.

The Fastest Green Cars

For champions of green car technology, the battle against fossil fuel dependency was never going to be easy. And there’s still a long way to go yet.

However, the car industry is taking small but significant steps to ensure this change.

One of the biggest misconceptions, however, is that the electric motor comes at the expense of speed and performance. Lucky for us, every year the industry pushes electric innovation one step further – with brands like BMW and Tesla leading the way.

And following the release of Tesla’s electric car patent in June 2014, there is no reason why electric motors won’t become more widely available in the coming generation.


This blog was written by Chris Taylor on behalf of The Tilsun Group, the vehicle leasing specialists.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 21, 2015 at 6:55 am

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What Does the Election Mean for Your Energy Bills?

This year’s General Election is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in years, but what effect will the result have on the future of Britain’s energy? With bills at their highest for decades, concerned voters across the country are keen to hear what the political candidates plan to do to reverse this trend.

But with the 7th May just around the corner, it’s almost time to make a decision and take to the polling station. If you’re still undecided about who gets your vote when it comes to energy policies, read on to find out which parties have a focus on energy this year.

Labour

Labour have taken a proactive approach to combating the rising costs of energy bills. Well-publicised and highly-criticised, Labour have pledged to freeze gas and electricity bills until January 2017, which they claim will save UK businesses £1,800 on average.

Whilst Labour’s plans have gained support from the Green Party, others have criticised the proposals by saying the price freeze may cause energy companies to drastically increase their tariffs beforehand to combat the longer-term losses.

Conservative

The Conservatives have been one of the most outspoken parties when it comes to denouncing Labour’s plans. Their focus remains on the long term by developing alternative energy sources such as shale gas. The party also wants to continue with their recently launched campaign encouraging people to switch their energy providers, which they claim could save you up to £200.

Despite their vocal opposition to Labour’s plans, the Conservatives have been reprimanded for failing to confront Ofgem and its effectiveness as a national watchdog. Labour has vowed to dismantle Ofgem, whereas the Tories haven’t offered clear plans to deal with the elephant in the room.

Liberal Democrats

The ENERGY EFFICIENT HOME: A Complete Guide

The Energy Efficient Home: A Complete Guide. Kindle Edition

The Liberal Democrats have placed a strong emphasis on renewable energy in their manifesto, and hope to create 200,000 jobs through investment in alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.

The party acknowledges concerns regarding high energy bills but believe that a blanket price freeze for electricity and gas would result in “friendly fire” on smaller energy providers, which they claim will be counter productive.

However, should they be elected, the Liberal Democrats have proposed a ‘Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill’ which focuses on the creation of a national ‘Green Deal’ program, designed to increase the efficiency standards of buildings in Britain.

Green Party

As mentioned earlier, the Greens confirmed their support for Labour’s price freeze announcement, but only to provide short-term relief. Instead, the Green Party have said they would prefer to focus on improving attitudes towards efficiency as they believe this is the only way to cut energy bills in the long term.

UKIP

The UK Independence Party believe that high electricity and gas prices are due to prices being dictated by the EU, and the import taxes that apply to bringing gas into the country. To combat this, UKIP plan to explore alternative energy options such as shale gas and nuclear power in the UK, which have traditionally been seen as controversial. The party wants to abandon all development of wind and solar power, claiming that Britain’s energy future rests in coal, gas and nuclear power.

There’s plenty of uncertainty when it comes to political parties and their stances on Britain’s future energy, but it’s all about knowing the options that are available to you, particularly when it comes to saving money on business energy bills. Make sure you do your research and learn about all the different ways in which you can lower your bills, whether that’s by voting for a certain party or switching providers.


 Sources:

http://www.labour.org.uk/issues/detail/energy

http://www.libdems.org.uk/five_new_laws_for_a_greener_britain

http://www.ukip.org/policies_for_people

http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ey.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11461278/Environment-Election-2015-party-policies.html

http://www.power-technology.com/features/featureuk-election-2015-all-quiet-on-the-energy-front-4534321/

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 21, 2015 at 6:39 am

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Honduran rainforest reveals mysterious ancient culture

It just goes to show, there’s a lot more to rainforests than living creatures and plants. An expedition to Honduras has discovered a lost city belonging to a mystery culture, never seen before. And it’s the stuff of legends.

The City of the Monkey God

The area they explored is remote and uninhabited, a place where there have always been rumours of a magical White City, also known as the City of the Monkey God.

The archaeologists surveyed and mapped an incredible maze of beautiful squares, stone sculptures (which appeared to have been carefully stashed for safety), earthworks, mounds and a pyramid, all thought to be at least 1000 years old. It’s still a mystery who the people were and why they vanished, abandoning their magnificent city.

The nearby Mayan culture is fairly well documented. But this new culture is virtually unknown and, so far, it doesn’t have a name. Oddly the site was in a pristine condition, not looted or damaged, which is incredibly rare.

Stunning animal-carved artefacts

The tops of 52 stone artefacts, including intricate carved seats and decorated vessels, were spotted poking out of the rainforest floor and it looks like there are plenty more below ground, along with what looks very much like a series of burials. As you’d expect from a rainforest culture, many of the pots and other artefacts found are beautifully carved with representations of animals.

Honduran rainforests are incredibly diverse

Honduras has rain forests and high altitude cloud forests as well as savannah, mountain country and the famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. And it’s one of the least developed countries in South America, where two thirds of the population lives in abject poverty. At the same time the rainforest is an amazing biodiversity hotspot with extensive biological resources, home to more than 6,000 different vascular plants, an impressive 630 of which are orchids.

The dense Honduran jungles also contain at least 250 types of reptile and amphibian, over 700 bird species and 110 mammal species, 50% of which are bats. There’s the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a lowland rainforest in the north east region of La Mosquitia famous for its wildlife and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Let’s hope the discovery of this ancient culture will contribute to the forest’s conservation.


Article by The Rainforest Foundation.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 19, 2015 at 8:04 am

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It’s International Day of Forests! So What!

A new infographic from Crowe Sawmills.

International Day of Forests

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 19, 2015 at 7:47 am

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Every Drop Counts

With World Water Day taking place on March 22nd, this infographic from Nature’s Water explores some interesting facts. For example, did you know that a dripping tap left unfixed for one year can waste up to 393 litres of water? Find out about water footprint per capita and many more interesting facts and figures about water usage around the world.

Every Drop Counts

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 19, 2015 at 7:40 am

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Solar Power Strong Countries

An interesting infographic from Half Price Shutters that ranks the top 10 countries worldwide by their usage of solar power.

Solar-Power-Strong-Countries

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 19, 2015 at 7:33 am

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Environmentally Friendly Cars

There has never been a better time to buy a green car as they are becoming cheaper and can have a range of up to 265 miles. Even if you don’t have a green car though, there are some helpful tips about how you can still help the environment. Infographic by Crossline.

environmentally friendly cars

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 19, 2015 at 7:19 am

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The Afterlife of a Car

This infographic, by ASM Auto Recycling explores the journey of a car after you’ve disposed of it, and includes some interesting facts – these range from which parts get recycled to details of a machine that can shred an entire car in just 10 seconds!

Afterlife of a car

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 19, 2015 at 7:14 am

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Modern gold rush drives deforestation spike in South America

If you enjoy the US TV programme Gold Rush, you might want to think again. If you idly wondered whether one particular team’s antics in South America caused damage to the jungle they ripped apart in a futile search for gold last season, the answer is yes. According to the Institute of Physics, the growing environmental impact of gold mining in some of the most biologically diverse regions in the tropics is having a huge and distressing impact.

Gold mining damage increases – And it’s down to the recession

Researchers from the University of Puerto Rico revealed how, between 2001 and 2013, about 1680 square kilometres of tropical forest was lost in South America because of gold miners, a massive increase compared to pre-recession figures collected in 2007.

The frightening power of gold

The current gold rush is nothing new. Every time the consumer economy takes a nosedive, gold becomes the investment of choice because, unlike everyday financial investments, it’s tangible. As a result the price of gold almost always rises when there’s a slump, and the current worldwide recession has been a monster.

But it gets worse. About 90% of the forest loss took place in just four areas. And a large amount of the loss happened alarmingly close to conservation areas.

While the effects of mining are nowhere near as damaging or extensive as forest loss through land uses like farming, the deforestation caused by mining is taking place in some of the most bio-diverse areas in the tropics. Take the stunning Madre de Dios Region in Peru. It’s incredibly rich, with just a single hectare of forest containing as many as 300 different tree species. But it’s under serious threat from gold miners.

Global gold production has increased to meet recent demand. About 2445 metric tons were hacked out of the earth in the year 2000 but a massive 2770 metric tons or so were grabbed in 2013. At the same time the price of gold has increased from $250/ounce in 2000 to $1300/ounce in 2013.

Greed and conservation just don’t mix

The issue is this: gold mining and conservation don’t mix at all well. Their aims are so very different: one to rip the place apart for money, the other to save it for the future.


Article contributed by The Rainforest Foundation

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Posted by Eco Warrior - March 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

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