Appropriate Technology Roundup #15 [10/07/07]

  1. Mexico to Fire Up ONIL Stoves in 2008 from Treehugger

    The first plant to manufacture efficient, wood-fired stoves called ONIL, named for Don O’Neal, an engineer with HELPS International, an Christian, U.S.-based NGO, will be located in Mexico, according to the organization.

    To eliminate smoke in the combustion process, the ONIL stove converts energy in the wood to hot gases, including oil vapor, which normally would be emitted as smoke. The fire is contained in an insulated combustion chamber to allow the fire to get hot enough to consume the oil vapor.

    Link to stove assembly video (Quicktime)

  2. Keep solar power on when power goes out from CNET

    This CNET post is more a plug for SMA America’s product line, but it brings up something I didn’t know about solar.

    Savor the irony. When there is a blackout, your solar power system will probably go out too.

    That’s because most systems are tied to the electrical grid. (In Germany, the utilities pay for this electricity, but in most states here, the utilities give you credit against any grid power you might buy.) To ensure that their workers don’t get hurt, utilities shut off all devices that feed power into particular sectors of the grid when doing repairs.

    This only applies if you don’t have your own battery bank.

  3. XO laptop: Better to give, receive or both? from CNET

    I woke up Monday to the announcement that starting September 24, the XO laptop (famous as the little laptop that could) will be made available to buyers in so-called first-world countries, in quantities less than 100,000 units. In fact, for less than $400 you can give one and receive another–an excellent solution to an age-old moral dilemma.

    How often do you have products that are made for developing countries that people in developed countries are clamoring to get. It’s a nice flip (and proof that those little suckers are WELL designed).

    The author also mentioned:

    One cannot look at the computer without becoming conscious of the children it is intended for. How many other gadgets do that?

  4. UNEP Bringing Solar Power Into India’s Rural Mainstream from Treehugger

    For many people living in rural areas in India, clean or renewable energy is something seen as unaffordable and out-of-reach in practical terms – but for the last few years, a project piloted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is attempting to change that perception by bringing solar power into the rural mainstream in India through micro-financing. The project has already reached approximately 100,000 people in the state of Karnataka – saving money in the long-term and transforming the quality of life for many – even if it is just to provide a few extra hours of uninterrupted lighting at night.

  5. For energy, Noble and Greenough goes geothermal from Boston Globe

    The [Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA] is using geothermal energy — a source more often associated with shooting geysers or bubbling sulfur pools out west — to provide heat and air conditioning for its middle school building. The system cost more than a conventional setup, but will save the school $17,000 a year, making up the difference in six years and ringing in savings from then on, the officials say.

    The geothermal system involves a series of three wells drilled 6 inches wide and 1,500 feet deep. At this depth, the earth’s energy warms the well water to a constant temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. The heated water is pumped out of the wells and into a heat exchanger. In the winter, the heat exchanger takes the heat out of the water, pressurizes the heat to raise its temperature even more, and uses it to warm the cold air in the building. In the summer, the heat exchanger absorbs the excess heat from the air, blows the newly cooled air back into the building, and discharges the unwanted heat back into the earth.

    Related: Enhanced geothermal attracting $$$ in North America from Clean Break

  6. Cool Folding Bike from the Sietch
  7. Expanding biodiesel in South America from CNET

    Pure Biofuels has raised $30 million to open a biofuel refinery in South America and raise its own crops.

    The company wants to build a plant capable of processing 52.5 million gallons of fuel a year in Peru. It has already bought a small refinery on the continent, so by mid-2008, it will have the capacity to produce 62.5 million gallons a year out of these two plants.

  8. Google Partnering On Pedal Power Contest from Earth2Tech

    Google’s (GOOG) been getting geared up over greentech like plug-in hybrids, solar, more eco-friendly data centers, and now . . . pedal power? The search engine giant says it’s partnering with bike company Specialized and ad firm Goodby Silverstein & Partners on a contest called the “Innovate or Die Pedal-Powered Machine Challenge.”

  9. The Intrigue of Green Roofs from Jetson Green

Bonus 1: Rube Goldberg does drains from MAKE (cool pic)
Bonus 2: Freedom Flight: Kid’s Homemade Paraglider Leads to Fame from Wired

Now 26, Cyril [Mazibuko] is the only black South African currently registered with the sport’s [paragliding] ruling body. And it all started with a glider he made from plastic bags, purloined rope and baling wire, a glider that flew — sort of — though it both amazed and horrified the professional paragliders who saw it.