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