How To Build A Hand Cranked Mobile Phone Charger Out Of A Drill, Wooden Spoon And Mixing Beater.

Hand Cranked and MacGyver'd Emergency Mobile Phone ChargerSimple? Sort of.
MacGyver? Definitely.

If your power is out and you’re not sure when it’s coming back, maybe following the instructions and collecting the required materials (wooden spoon, drill, string, aluminum foil etc.) to “Make an Emergency Phone Charger – MacGyver Style!” isn’t that crazy. [Instructables via Neatorama]


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Solarclave Sterilizes Medical Equipment In Remote Areas Using Sunlight.

Solarclave from MIT's Little Devices groupIn hospitals, an autoclave is an electric-powered device that is used to sterilize medical equipment and supplies. The Solarclave, designed by MIT’s Little Devices group, is an autoclave that is solar-powered and can be used cheaply and repaired easily by remote clinics in developing countries. Here’s a description of the Solarclave from the Little Devices group:

“With a bucket, a pressure cooker, and 140 pocket-sized mirrors, IIH researchers have invented a device that uses sunshine to sterilize surgical tools. Solarclave provides reliable surgical sterilization for rural clinics outside of the grid – enabling healthcare workers to provide basic, life-saving services for patients.”

And here’s how it works (SmartPlanet):

“Under a clear sky, the system takes 45 to 60 minutes to heat up to a sterilizing temperature (250 degrees Fahrenheit) and then 20 minutes to carry out the sterilization cycle.”

The final design of the Solarclave was modified based on feedback from rural users in Nicaragua. [SmartPlanet]

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Republican Mayor Of Lancaster CA Wants To Require Solar Panels On Every New Home.

Solar Lancaster
Mayor of Lancaster California R. Rex ParrisWhat the what – Republican Mayor wants solar panels on every new home? It’s true. R. Rex Parris, the Mayor of Lancaster California, wants to institute a new requirement that all new homes built after January 1, 2014 must include solar panels. From Greentech:

“The purpose of the solar energy system standards is to encourage investment in solar energy on all parcels in the city, while providing guidelines for the installation of those systems that are consistent with the architectural and building standards of the City. It is further intended to provide standards and procedures for builders of new homes to install solar energy systems in an effort to achieve greater usage of alternative energy.”

Those damn treehugging Republicans! Why can’t they stay out of renewable energy and stick to advocating fossil fuels so it’s easier to paint them as the enemy? I think this quote from Mayor Parris answers that question:

“[Mayor Parris noted that Lancaster is] one of the most conservative Republican districts in the country. But Republicans are smart,” he said. “When you show them a solution, they will take it.”

So it’s smart to move to solar; it doesn’t have to be green. [Greentech]

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Power An LED Lamp By Kicking The Energy-Harnessing SOCCKET Soccer Ball.

SOCCKET energy-harnessing soccer ball
SOCCKET in play.The SOCCKET from Uncharted Play, Inc. is a soccer ball that self-charges when people play with it. Thirty minutes of kicking the SOCCKET around will store enough power to run an LED lamp for 3 hours. It’s on Kickstarter looking for funding. According to CNET, if they’re successful on Kickstarter, Uncharted play will introduce a USB version. Who knows, maybe they’ll one day be able to produce SOCCKETs in quantity and follow the “One for One” model developed by Toms Shoes. [CNET]


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Global Solar Capacity Now Exceeds 100 Gigawatts. Wind Farms Break Records And Want Some Lovin Too.

Record breaking solar and wind power capacity.Not too shabby. Since 2011, over 60 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity has been installed worldwide. The last 30 GW installed in 2012 push the total solar capacity to 102 GW total. From Smart Planet:

“The preliminary results of the EPIA report shows that growth isn’t just concentrated in well-known solar regions, such as Germany. This year, there was a shift towards a more global PV market, with 13 GW of PV installations occurring outside of Europe, compared to just under 8 GW in 2011. The top three non-European markets were China with at least 3.5 GW and possibly as much as 4.5 GW, the United States with 3.2 GW and Japan with 2.5 GW.”

And not to be forgotten, wind farms added 44.7 GW of capacity in 2012 – beating the industry’s single year record, set in 2011, by 10%. Great to know 2012 was win win for renewable energy and not the end of the world. [Smart Planet and Smart Planet]

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Growing Solar Power Industry Leads To An Increase In Hazardous Waste.

Solar Panel FarmShould you go solar or not? If you read through the AP story, “Solar power boom fuels increase in hazardous waste sent to dumps,” it’s hard to tell which way to go. Here’s an excerpt:

“While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.”

Translation: renewable solar power is far less polluting than coal and natural gas but thanks to $$$ in government incentives, demand and production are up and so is the associated pollution.

In related news, Scientists in Brazil have determined that “if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass when he’s hopping.” [Grist and Newser]

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