Category Archives: Energy

ReThink: Energy Generation

The old energy paradigm is changing. We used to burn fossil fuels to create steam to turn turbines and then throw out the exhaust. Now, through such technology as cogeneration (which is actually quite old, but coming back into vogue), the potential of traditional energy sources is magnified. Waste heat is captured and put to use until it is completely useless, significantly increasing the efficiency of the energy conversion process and reducing emissions along the way. Cogeneration and its kindred technologies are on their way to becoming a vital component of our future comprehensive energy solution.

ReThink: Sewage

In the developed world, we are accustomed to not thinking about what happens after we flush the toilet. In the developing world, “out of sight, out of mind” is an unheard-of phrase; if a toilet exists to be flushed, the resulting effluent often ends up untreated in the local bodies of water. Simple fix, right? Just install a sewage treatment plant and open sewage disappears.

Not exactly. For one thing, sewage treatment plants are not free; they require large capital investments that governments of developing countries are typically not in a position to make. For another, treatment plants require user fees, which we know in the form of our monthly sanitation bill. Such a system of user support is unfeasible in developing countries, where even the postal service is not a guarantee. Treatment plants have been built through philanthropic efforts, but once funding for ongoing operations dries up, so does the waste. As a result, sewage flows freely, untreated and without boundary.

The people at Waste Enterprisers are revisioning sewage, not only its treatment, but more importantly, its economic potential. Conventional wisdom sees sewage as a cost, not as a revenue-generating opportunity. Waste Enterprisers are capitalizing on the energy potential inherent in human waste, developing industrial fuel solutions from an undesirable and diease-spreading byproduct of human life. These fuels, such as biodiesel and coal substitutes, are clean, carbon-neutral alternatives to fossil fuels that benefit people on every level: removing waste from the environment, offering employment in processing the waste into fuel, selling the fuel for profit, and using clean fuel to power other enterprises. Waste, instead of being a costly problem, becomes an incredible opportunity for economic and health development. Since when has poop done so much for you?

ReThink: Electric Cars

A new spin on the electric car has arrived.  Oil’s clock is ticking; Better Place is making it tick faster by developing not only a new electric car concept, but the infrastructure to make it happen.

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