Thursday, December 15, 2011

Israel Introduces First National Air Pollution Reduction Program

Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection will be distributing to government offices, its first national air pollution reduction program which is expected to substantially reduce the emission of the most harmful pollutants.

The program will be brought to a vote by the government in the coming weeks. It is expected that illness caused by air pollution will cost NIS 8 billion in the next decade if measures are not taken.

The program includes expansion of the scrappage program which encourages owners of older cars that produce dangerous emissions to remove them from the road in exchange for cash. Additionally, wider use of public transportation will be encouraged, as well as offering reduced toll rates for multi-passenger vehicles. Financial incentives will also be offered to employers who operate programs that encourage carpooling to work.

Read more about it here.

I'm off to breathe in some fresh air, till next time!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Extinct? Not So Fast....

The second Hula frog, a frog species unique to Israel and thought to be extinct fifty years ago was found in Israel's Hula Nature Reserve. An opposite gender Hula frog was found in the very same area just two weeks prior. Hula Nature Reserve warden Yoram Malka spent a great deal of time and effort searching for additional Hula frogs since the discovery of the first one two weeks ago.

The recent frog finding, a female specimen, was found hanging out in a swamp. Both frogs will be re-released into the wild following a bit of study to learn more about these creatures.

The discovery of the first frog came as a shock to conservationists who had deemed the Hula frog to be extinct decades ago. It is believed that the recent discovery of these frogs is linked to environmental improvements in the Hula Nature Reserve, specifically, improving the water quality by pouring water from nearby fish ponds and nearby springs into the reserve.

I sure wish I had a job looking for frogs in nature preserves, don't you?
Until next time....rrrrribbit!

Source: Haaretz

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Israel Considers Ban On Cat Declawing

Israel's parliamentary committee in charge of animal rights voted in favor of banning cat declawing, paving the way for the ban to become Israeli law.

The bill is sponsored by multiple Israeli political parties, including Kadima and Meretz. It is also supported by the Agriculture Ministry, which is responsible for animal rights in Israel.

The bill would render illegal the surgical declawing of cats, which permanently removes their claws, except in rare cases in which the owner's health could be compromised if scratched.

The bill has tremendous support in Israel, making it likely to pass, in which case Israel would join various European nations which have already banned the practice.
Read more about it here.

Off to pet my two cats, hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. Till next time,


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Never thought I would say WOW about anything related to poop

Created by Ramat Gan-based Paulee CleanTec company, AshPoopie earned patents in Europe and the United States. It is coming to US pet shops in 2012. The cost of AshPoopie hasn't yet been determined, but it is expected to be relatively inexpensive. A monthly supply of capsules will cost $10 to $20, depending on the size of the dog.

Paulee CleanTec is already looking to the future of the invention, planning to apply it to cat litter boxes and human waste treatment systems.

The cat problem is even bigger than the dog problem because a litter box smells up the home if it is not cleaned every day. The ashes produced by AshPoopie would not need to be collected more than once a month, and they could be used to fertilize the garden.

The same technology has potential for transforming the unpleasant world of portable chemical johns and airplane, boat and train toilets into an odor-free and environmentally beneficial system. This system would separate feces from urine, sterilize the urine and use it to clean the toilet, and sterilize the feces and turn it into ash.

The flushing process would require no electrical source because the process of turning the waste into ash generates enough heat to convert it into energy to flush the toilet and perhaps provide lighting as well. The inventor envisions a backup energy source, such as a solar panel, to be installed on the system.

Paulee CleanTec is expecting to introduce its final AshPoopie design at the major pet products show in Orlando, Florida, at the end of February.

Source: Israel21c

I only wish they would come up with a better name!

Monday, October 3, 2011

From Greenhouse Gas to Biofuel

Algal fuel growing in open pondsMarine-based algae, which are actually tiny plants, live on a diet of carbon dioxide and sunlight. Theoretically, an algae pond could produce 30 times more feedstock for biofuel than the land-based crop alternatives. However, so far nobody has been successful in figuring out how to do this in a cost-effective manner.

Approaching the challenge from a different direction, Seambiotic, an Israeli clean-tech company, offers a way for its partner power plant owners to see a return on investment for reducing carbon emissions immediately.

By sucking out power plant effluent and feeding it to algae -- filtering out heavy metals first, of course -- Seambiotic and its partners generate a healthy income by producing a valuable nutraceutical based on algae, which is especially popular in Eastern countries such as China.

Seambiotic's venture with Yantai Hairong Electricity Technology and Penglai Weiyuan Science Trading (both associated with China Guodian Corporation) involves a 500-megawatt power plant in eastern China, the fifth-largest such facility in the country.

The first commercial farm of 30 acres is expected to cost $10 million. It will be situated in Penglai utilizing carbon dioxide from the Penglai power station and is planned to become operational in the fall of 2011. The agreement contemplates additional farms to be established based upon a pre-agreed timetable.

For every 25-acre algae pond, Seambiotic can reduce 1% of the carbon dioxide being emitted from the power plant. The company could add as many as 10 pools per power plant, resulting in a 10% reduction of this greenhouse gas.

It is expected that the Penglai plant will be able to produce algae biomass to convert into fuel at prices competitive with traditional fuel by 2012.

Sources: Israel21c, Algae Industry Magazine

Friday, September 16, 2011

Israel Allocates Millions To Renewable Energy Projects

Solar PanelIsrael's National Infrastructure Ministry will allocate NIS 13 million to renewable energy projects, hoping to encourage entrepreneurs to present their ideas for grants that will enable Israel to achieve energy independence.

There is particular interest in financing projects that will decrease international dependence on oil, as well as increasing solar and wind energies.

The success of this project has the potential to make Israel a leader in the renewable energy field, not only benefiting the the world in terms of being green but also providing sources of employment for Israelis with expertise in the field.

Read more about it here

This inspired me to turn off the lights and light a candle, and turn off the air conditioning and open a window.
Till next time!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Ago

It's a somber time for us as we contemplate the ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On the one year anniversary, I wrote this poem. As the ten year anniversary approached, Zoya suggested I write another poem and I found inspiration in Patricia Smith, the now 12 year old girl who ten years ago, at the age of 2, wore a red velvet dress and her mother's Medal of Honor. Her mother, Moira Smith, was a police officer in New York City. In the process of saving hundreds of lives, Moira Smith lost her own life when Tower 2 fell. So here is the poem I wrote for the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001:

Ten years ago
The sky lit up
Two towers burned
Hope spilled from a cup

Ten years ago
The sky rained dust
Blood flowed like water
The Big Apple lost its crust

Ten years ago
Airplanes broke the crown
Ashes, ashes
We all fall down

Ten years ago
The air was a haze
Hysteria replaced Broadway
And left the world in a daze

Ten years ago
One little red velvet dress
Wore the badge of honor
And was left motherless

Ten years ago
The morning was so dark in September
3000 taken in the blink of an eye
Always remember

On this solemn day, please take a moment to reflect and remember.

Till next time,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Israeli-Swedish project: Turn paper waste into foam

Israeli researchers at Hebrew University have discovered a way to turn by-products from the paper industry that have previously been discarded as waste into non-synthetic foam that can replace traditionally used PVC foam (synthetic foam made using oil).

The Melodea Company, a Swedish-Israeli company, licensed the products from Hebrew University and is now seeking to bring the foam to the market.

Foams have many uses, ranging from seat cushions and the car industry to integral parts of aviation, and air and space technology. The team’s goal was to move away from plastics and other raw materials that require oil production and to mimic these large structures for industrial use.

The researchers have developed technology to convert these washed away waste fibers into the small cellulose fibers. From there, the new technology converts the fibers into the non-synthetic foam.
The foams have tremendous market possibilities and most importantly, will turn waste into something usable, replacing similar products made from non-renewable resources.

Read all about it here.

Off to enjoy the foam of a bubble bath, till next time!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Solar Window Revolution

The dream of constructing a net zero-energy building has yet to become a reality, but now an Israeli company has come up with an idea that could make it possible.

The innovative product from Pythagoras Solar can be described as a solar window that combines energy efficiency, power generation and transparency.

The world's first transparent photovoltaic glass unit (PVGU) has been designed to be easily integrated into conventional building design and construction processes. This means that existing office blocks can be retrofitted with the new material instead of energy-seeping glass windows - a process that will pay itself back within five years.

In June, Pythagoras Solar's breakthrough was selected from nearly 5,000 entrants as a winner of the prestigious GE Ecomagination Challenge, which recognizes the most promising innovations for capturing, managing and using energy in buildings.

Buildings are the largest consumers of energy worldwide and among the least efficient. According to the United States Department of Energy, building operations account for up to 39 percent of the country’s total energy consumption and 70 percent of its power plant generated electricity, while 34 percent of this energy is lost through poor building efficiency. Not surprisingly, the American Solar Energy Society estimates that approximately 43 percent of US and 9 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions result from the energy services required to service these buildings.

Solar power is the most promising long-term, clean, renewable energy resource with potential to deliver 120,000 terawatts compared to non-solar renewable energy sources’ capacity to provide 7-10 terawatts (Global electricity demand is expected to reach 30 terawatts by 2030). Yet, solar power remains largely untapped. While the photovoltaic solar power generation has grown at an exponential rate over the last few years including a record 5.95 gigawatts installed in 2008 -- a 110 percent increase vs. 2007, it still represents less than one percent of the overall electricity generated worldwide.

Having developed the product, the company carried out pilot projects last year in several commercial buildings in the US and Israel. As proof of concept, two windows in the Sears Tower in Chicago were replaced with PVGU.

Founded in 2007, Pythagoras is based in Silicon Valley, and much of the production takes place in Los Angeles. The company's R & D center is in Israel.

Source: Israel 21c

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Israel to build 5th desalination plant

After a long delay, the Israeli Finance Ministry has granted a license for the country's fifth desalination plant, to be built in the coastal city of Ashdod.

The Mekorot water utility will build and operate the $423 million plant. It will use reverse osmosis to produce 100 million cubic meters of purified sea water a year by 2013, with possible capacity expansion to 150 million cubic meters a year.

It is planned that Israel's five plants will together supply 75 percent of the country's drinking water by 2013.

Other four desalination plants are:
• Palmachim - On line since 2007, currently produces 50 million cubic meters of water a year.
• Hadera - On line since 2010, currently produces 127 million cubic meters of water a year.
•Ashkelon - On line since 2006, currently produces 118 million cubic meters of water a year.
•Soreq - Expected to come on line in 2013, capacity 150 million cubic meters of water a year (approved expansion to 300 million cubic meters of water a year).

Israel currently gets most of its water from underground reservoirs and the Sea of Galilee. The country has been hit by several years of drought.

Source: Associated Press

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Experts call Israel a ‘laboratory’ for eco-innovation

Strategists from around the world agreed that “Israel is a laboratory” for eco-innovation and can serve as a platform for larger countries looking to harness sustainable technology during a special conference held by the United Nations Economics Commission in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Experts from around the globe came together to strategize about how to generate policies and achieve cooperation to further the spread and efficiency of green technology tools.

Israelis excel at inventing innovative solutions that can be put together quickly and applied by others. In this way, Israel can serve as an eco-model for other nations.

As solar water heaters are just now starting to pique interest here in the US, they were the norm in Israeli households by the 1980s. Israelis are also experts at water desalination, enabling a desert nation to have sufficient water by virtue of bordering a major body of water, albeit salt water.

It all comes down to doing more with more about it here

I'm off to enjoy a sunny day, till next time!

Israel Cabinet Approves Plan to Promote Electricity Production from Renewable Energy

Israel's Cabinet is seeking to further promote the production of electricity from renewable resources! The goal is to use renewable sources of energy to generate 10% of Israel's electricity needs by 2020.

The decision sets a quantitative goal for electricity generation from renewable sources of 2,760 megawatts by the end of 2020, constituting 10% of electricity production in Israel. An interim goal of 1,550 megawatts by the end of 2014 was also set.

In the first stage, between 2011 - 2014, the quotas that have already been allocated for the production of electricity from renewable, non-polluting sources, as well as additional quotas, will be realized: 460 megawatts for large installations, 110 megawatts for installations designated for independent consumption (rooftop photovoltaic facilities), approximately 210 megawatts for electricity generation from biogas, biomass and waste, and 800 megawatts of electricity from wind power..

The decision includes an allocation of at least 210 megawatts for the production of electricity from biogas and biomass, which will further promote the recycling and separation of waste at source revolution and provide a significant economic incentive to local authorities and the private sector for utilizing household waste for the production of clean energy.

Source: Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection

Off to turn off the lights and light a candle, till next time!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

32 Illegal Charcoal Plants Closed Down

Charcoal PreparationIn a first-of-its-kind enforcement operation, the Civil Administration inspectors closed down no fewer than 32 illegal charcoal facilities in northern Shomron-Wadi Ara.

Much of the charcoal sold in Israel is produced primitively and illegally by Arabs in the above region, causing tremendous air pollution.

The Arab backyard charcoal-making industry features a process that begins with large piles of straw and wood covered by dirt. The straw inside is set afire, then kept on “simmer” by alternating between smothering it and allowing it to burn. After some three weeks, throughout which smoke is emitted into the atmosphere, the pile becomes charcoal, which is then packaged and sold throughout Israel.

Findings last August and October showed that poisonous and cancerous substances were present in the air in the Dotan-Shomron areas in unacceptable levels.

Source: Israel National News

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Passover!

Happy and peaceful Passover to our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saving Europe's Birds - Eilat Sanctuary

At least 500 million birds of 200 different species fly across Israel each spring and autumn en route to and from Africa, Europe and Asia.

International Center for the Study of Bird Migration in central Latrun has a range of projects protecting migrating birds during their long trip. It has a radar warning system for military and commercial pilots aimed at preventing bird strikes, a common danger during take-off and landing.

International Birdwatching Center of the Jordan Valley at Kfar Ruppin has developed and shared strategies to protect the hungry travellers from getting entangled in the nets topping the many commercial fish ponds in the area and from ingesting pesticides as they peck in its vast agricultural fields.

In partnership with Israel's Nature Reserve Authority, IBCJV offers fish farms alternative wide-stringed nets less likely to snare birds. When necessary, its staff rescues, rings and sets free fish-eating pelicans, cormorants and herons that do get stuck. Any wounded birds are sent for treatment at a hospital in the Ramat Gan Safari.

To keep farmers and birds happy, the best solution has been setting up barn owl and kestrel nesting boxes as part of a national effort to introduce this natural rodent-control method. Reducing pesticide use benefits everyone from the migratory birds to the end consumer.

In another longstanding cooperative venture, the IBCJV partners with Israel Electric to keep larger migrating birds such as pelicans, herons and white storks from being electrocuted on power lines. IBCJV identifies locations where the electric company needs to install insulation around the high-voltage wires so when the birds sit on the poles and touch the wires with their wings, they do not get electrocuted and do not damage the system.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Making energy out of water

ShowerIt's Israel's turn to chair EUREKA, the EU's pan-European R&D clean-tech grants machine and Israel is eager to find new sources of energy.

Their latest endeavor involves seeking energy from something that already exists--moving water from municipal sources, pipelines, and waterways.
Imagine turning waste water into viable more about it here.

Over here I enjoyed a day on the water, till next time,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sea Turtle Rescue

The turtles face a gamut of manmade dangers: pollution, plastic bags and other seaborne litter; outboard motors and fishing nets; jeeps hurtling along beaches. About 50 injured turtles are brought to the Rescue Center every year, most of them hurt by human activity. The success rate in saving injured reptiles is about 65 percent.

For more than two decades, Israel National Nature and Parks Authority rangers have patrolled the Mediterranean coastline during hatching season, transferring eggs from nests to protected hatcheries. To date, at least 50,000 hatchlings have been released to protected sections of beach. Young turtles' low survival rate -- only one in every 100 hatchlings lives to reach reproductive age -- means that every egg saved can have an impact.

The Knesset has passed a series of laws to protect Israel's beaches. It is now illegal to build any structure within 100 meters of the Mediterranean coastline. Light from restaurants, banquet halls and nightclubs no longer disorients the young hatchlings, sending them in the wrong direction. Legislation has also outlawed driving vehicles on the beaches - a real threat to nesting spots and the hatchlings as they make their way to the water over a period of one to four days.

Israel Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project allows to trace loggerhead & green turtles online.

Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Solar Energy That Floats on Water

Floating Concentrating Photovoltaic SystemGenerating energy from the sun would be more practical if not for two huge drawbacks: The expense of the silicon material that converts light to electricity, and the large tracts of land needed for solar farms.

By solving both problems - and introducing unexpected side benefits, too - Solaris Synergy captured first place in the Israel National Cleantech Open IDEAS Competition at Tel Aviv University's Akirov Institute for Business and Environment in November of 2010.

Each Lego-like module of Solaris' Floating Concentrating Photovoltaic (F-CPV) system is faced with a curved mirrored film that clusters the sunlight into a thin line. Since only 5% of the surface needs a silicon cover, Solaris uses relatively little of the costly material. Plus, since silicon production releases contaminants into the air, using less is an environmental boon.

Sidestepping the need for large solar fields, Solaris is designed to sit on water. Constructed of lightweight plastic and fiberglass, a grid of connected modules can float on any fresh-, salt- or wastewater surface. Aside from sparing valuable real estate, this solar-on-water platform doubles as a breathable reservoir cover that significantly reduces evaporation and eliminates organic and algae growth.

To keep rays focused on the line of silicon material, the grid turns slowly as it follows the movement of the sun throughout the day. One small engine can power this rotation since the water eliminates friction. A sophisticated sun-tracking algorithm guides a remote controller, which also moderates the direction of the movement and the speed of the engine. An antenna sends all data from the controller over a cellular line to a central server and alerts the technical crew to potential problems.

Grids of F-CPV modules, each generating 200 kilowatts, can be configured to fit any reservoir, lake or pond. The system works best in areas of strong sunlight, such as Africa, Asia, Australia, Mediterranean countries and South, Central and southern North America.

Floating Solaris grids atop Israel's more than 400 recycled wastewater reservoirs would enable the country to realize its goal of generating 10 to 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The water placement gives F-CPV another advantage via a patented technology that uses the liquid underneath to keep the silicon at a low temperature. Solaris' system is generating energy more than 20% more efficiently than conventional panels because of this. The cooler the silicon, the more efficiently it converts light into energy.

The two-year-old company has a working prototype on the roof of its headquarters and is due to install a pilot project in 2011 under the auspices of Mekorot, Israel's water authority. A second pilot installation is planned at a reservoir near Marseilles in cooperation with France's electric company, partially funded by the joint Israel-European R&D project Eureka.

Source: Israel21c

Monday, January 3, 2011

Breathing New Life Into Extinct Species

Arabian Oryx
Israeli scientists say they have succeeded in breathing new life into rare species of animals that once were nearly extinct in the region.

Data on the two-decades-long project to reintroduce Israel's ancient wildlife presented last week at a conference held by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority showed rare species indeed are starting to flourish as in times of old.

Scientists have dedicated their efforts towards raising Mesopotamian (Persian) fallow deer, oxen, eagles, onager and Arabian oryx.

Wild oxen now wander the Arava, and some 200 onager now roam the Negev. A like number of fallow deer make their home in the Achziv region of Galilee, and 100 eagles raised in captivity have now been released to the wild as well.

The project, which is ongoing, is based in two protected nature reserves. One is located in the extreme southern end of the Negev desert (Chai Bar South Yotvata).

The other, (Chai Bar Carmel) is located along the northern coastal region, at the top of Mount Carmel just outside Haifa, where a wildfire recently stripped the land of its forest. Volunteers and project workers who worked tirelessly to rescue the animals as the inferno raged miraculously succeeded in saving every single one.

Source: Israel National News