EarthTechling Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:29:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Sun is Setting for EarthTechling Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:00:57 +0000 For more than five years we have been one of the leading clean technology blogs. As of January 27th, 2015 EarthTechling will cease operations and no longer publish or distribute new content. However, we will continue to maintain our current site to serve the thousands of links that republishing our content each and every day.

This decision was not easy. Over the past several months we’ve looked far and wide for possible partners or acquisitions, but we have been unable to secure the funding needed to keep our dream alive. It’s a painful change, but one that we must make. We hope that at some point we (or someone else) will be able to bring EarthTechling back to full operations. And with that said…if you’re interested in acquiring the EarthTechling brand along with more than 10 years of archived content, 30K Facebook followers, and tens of thousands of Twitter followers, please contact Jason Ridge at

We sincerely appreciate the support and following of our loyal readers over the years. Hopefully this is not the end, just a transition to something better. We’ll have to see what happens when the sun rises in the future.


 Jason Ridge, Owner – EarthTechling

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Louisville: All-electric ZeroBus Fleet Launches Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:20:27 +0000 Mayor Greg Fischer joined TARC and other local officials today at the Louisville Slugger Museum to kick off the start of ZeroBus service in downtown Louisville.

ZeroBus, TARC’s all-electric fleet, is now providing fare-free rides for passengers along  Main, Market and Fourth streets. The zero-emissions all-electric buses  replace diesel-powered trolleys, the highest polluting TARC vehicles.

“ZeroBus changes the game for public transportation in downtown and represents the type of progress and forward-thinking focus we are embracing to improve our city,” said Fischer, who joined TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker and others on a maiden ZeroBus trip.

“Louisville is the first city in this part of the country to have a fleet of all-electric buses in operation, putting us at the leading edge of high-technology, cleaner, greener transportation,” Barker said. “We encourage everyone to hop on a ZeroBus and stop along the way for some of the best Louisville has to offer in restaurants, museums and entertainment.”

The vehicles, with free wi-fi onboard, arrive at stops frequently – from every 10-18 minutes depending on the time of day – and offer a quiet ride. With expansive windows, an oval shape and a colorful blue and green design, they’re a distinctive addition to downtown.

”The city’s replica “Toonerville” trolleys have helped downtown’s revitalization over the years and all-electric buses can help take us to the next level,” Fischer said.

The all-electric system – 10 buses and two charging stations – is an $11 million investment, with the bulk of funding from federal and state grants.  Louisville Metro contributed $500,000.

“The Federal Transit Administration congratulates TARC on the launch of its new ZeroBus fleet,” said Therese McMillan, Acting Administrator of the FTA, which contributed $8.7 million in federal funding for the new buses. “Barry Barker and his team continually seek creative opportunities to serve the people of Louisville.  Putting these zero emission buses on the street will connect residents with jobs, education, and other opportunities, while improving air quality and offering 21st century transportation options to the region’s growing population for years to come.”


“This investment in new technologies is not just about improving public transportation in Louisville; it is also a down payment on ensuring healthier, cleaner air, and a more energy independent future,” said Congressman John Yarmuth.

The ZeroBus recharges in just a few minutes along the route while passengers load and unload at a charging stop. Each time a ZeroBus pulls up to a charging stop, it automatically connects to an overhead, high-capacity charger. Charging stops are on the south side of Market Street, between Eighth and Ninth streets, and on the west side of South Third Street, between York and Breckinridge streets.

Since 2010, Proterra Inc., of Greenville, S.C., has produced 38 of these type of vehicles which are operating in eight other states, mostly on the east and west coasts.

“Proterra is honored to partner with Louisville Metro, TARC and the Federal Transit Administration on this innovative project,” said Ryan Popple, president and CEO of Proterra Inc.  “As an American technology company, and the U.S.  market leader in electric buses for public transit, we’re especially proud to see this newest fleet of Proterra vehicles providing high performance, zero-emission service in Louisville.  We are pleased that Proterra could share in your city’s vision to promote a sustainable, cost effective transit solution protecting the environment for generations to come. “

The five oldest trolley buses combined now emit a total of about 1,135 pounds of carbon monoxide in a year, compared to zero emissions from the all-electric buses. TARC will also save thousands of dollars each year in lower operating costs. In fuel costs alone, each electric bus will save TARC an estimated $10,000 per year.

Main-Market ZeroBuses circle between 10th and Campbell streets. On Fourth Street, the buses travel between Breckinridge Street and the Galt House, circling around Fourth Street Live! by taking Fifth Street northbound and Third Street southbound. South of Broadway the buses travel south on Third Street and north on Fourth Street.

ZeroBuses operate on Fourth Street from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. and on Main-Market from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekdays. Buses run on both routes from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturdays. The Main-Market route features red ZeroBus stop signs. Green bus stop signs are on the Fourth Street route.

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New Nissan Clean Diesel Truck Unveiled at Detroit Auto Show Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:00:14 +0000 A major new addition to the diesel pickup truck stable was introduced this morning as Nissan unveiled its new 2016 Nissan Titan powered by a Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel engine during the opening day of this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“Because of their unmatched combination of efficiency, performance and towing capabilities, diesel engines have long dominated the heavy-duty pickup market,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.  “The New 2016 Nissan Titan with the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbo diesel will provide a great new option for those  who want all the performance and fuel economy benefits of a diesel – but who may not need all the capacity of the largest heavy-duty pickup trucks.”

Schaeffer noted that Cummins is a recognized leader in clean diesel technology in a wide range of applications in heavy-duty pickup trucks, commercial trucks, power generation and construction and industrial equipment. The 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel brings together a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block, forged steel crankshaft, high-strength aluminum alloy heads, and composite valve covers to offer maximum durability in a lightweight package. These features, along with dual overhead camshafts, also contribute to the excellent noise, vibration and harshness characteristics achieved by the 5.0L V8 turbo diesel.

Nissan Announcement Increases U.S. Passenger Vehicle Market Growth

“Clean diesel cars, trucks and SUVs are growing in popularity in the US. with 47 diesel cars, pickup trucks and passenger vans currently available and 15 more having been officially announced to be introduced in the next two years,” Schaeffer said.

“With increasingly stringent fuel economy requirements that will be mandated in the near future it’s easy to see why manufacturers like Nissan are introducing more clean diesel choices into their line-ups. This new diesel option comes at a time when consumers are showing renewed interest in investing in pickup trucks and SUVs, and the Cummins Diesel V8 will have a lot of appeal in a truck of this size and caliber.”

And while the U.S. diesel passenger vehicle market is considerably smaller than the European diesel market – 3 percent compared to over 50 percent – Schaeffer said the new federal fuel efficiency standards and increased number of clean diesels in the market will significantly improve diesel sales in the U.S.  Many analysts predict diesels will increase to 7 to 10 percent of the total U.S. vehicle market by 2020.

Clean Diesel Technology Increases Efficiency & Reduces Emissions in New Vehicles

“Consumers evaluating diesel as a personal transportation choice will find they don’t have to sacrifice vehicle size or performance to also have fuel efficiency and very low emissions, not to mention a great driving experience,” Schaeffer said.   “And consumers can consistently count on diesel engines to exceed the posted fuel economy on the window stickers, not fall short of it.

“Clean diesel technology in today’s vehicles emits near zero levels of emissions. That’s why we call it ‘clean diesel’. And because diesels deliver up to 40 percent better real-world fuel economy, national fuel economy standards for cars and light-duty trucks beginning in 2017 are also expected to be met in part by an increasing number of clean diesel passenger vehicle choices,” Schaeffer said.

“International experts predict that diesel is on course to remain the number one global transportation fuel,” Schaeffer added. “The International Energy Agency recently stated that diesel is expected to overtake gasoline as the top transportation fuel used in passenger vehicles and in the freight transportation sector. One of the largest global oil producers, ExxonMobil, recently confirmed diesel’s expected dominance while also stating the much of the anticipated growth in diesel will come from emerging economies.”

Go here to learn more about the North American International Auto Show.

 Go here to see a list of the currently available diesel passenger vehicles in the U.S. and an updated listing of diesel vehicles coming soon to the U.S. market.


The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit

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Revenge of the Bacteria Mon, 12 Jan 2015 17:23:51 +0000 Dear EarthTalk: How is it that antibiotics are being “overused,” as I’ve read, and what are the potential consequences? – Mitchell Chase, Hartford, CT

The development and widespread adoption of so-called “antibiotics”—drugs that kill bacteria and thereby reduce infection—has helped billions of people live longer, healthier lives. But all this tinkering with nature hasn’t come without a cost. The more we rely on antibiotics, the more bacteria develop resistance to them, which makes treating infections that much more challenging.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overuse of antibiotics by humans—such as for the mistreatment of viral infections—means these important drugs are less effective for all of us. Besides the toll on our health, researchers estimate that antibiotic resistance causes Americans upwards of $20 billion in additional healthcare costs every year stemming from the treatment of otherwise preventable infections.

A bigger issue, though, is our growing reliance on feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, weight gain and to treat, control and prevent disease. This increasingly common practice is a significant factor in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledges can get passed onto humans who eat food from treated animals. The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that the majority of the ground beef and ground turkey sold in the typical American grocery store contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Last year, 26 animal pharmaceutical companies voluntarily complied with an FDA request to re-label medically important antibiotics used in food-producing animals to warn against using them for growth promotion and weight gain. FDA also recommended that medically important antibiotics be prescribed by licensed veterinarians and only to treat, control and prevent disease. “We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them,” says William Flynn of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down.”

Still some worry that the FDA’s action doesn’t go far enough, given that farmers will still be able to administer antibiotics to their livestock for disease prevention. The fact that more and more livestock operations are switching over to Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) whereby animals are confined in crowded enclosures (instead of allowed to graze at pasture) means that antibiotics will play an increasingly important role in disease prevention.

For its part, the FDA argues that since veterinarians need to authorize antibiotic use for disease prevention, farmers and ranchers are less likely to overuse antibiotics for their livestock populations. The same can be said about doctors’ limiting the prescription of antibiotics for their human patients, but only time will tell whether such newfound restraint is enough in the fast evolving arms race between bacteria and our antibiotics.

Of course, consumers can do their part by avoiding antibiotic medications unless absolutely necessary and eating less meat (or giving it up entirely) to help reduce demand.

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Watch Bill Gates Drink Water From Human Waste Wed, 07 Jan 2015 18:31:52 +0000 We know that Bill Gates made a lot of money from Microsoft and since he left the company, he’s been very busy spending it.

One of the latest projects he’s funding is the Omniprocessor, which turns human waste intorenewable energy and drinkable water. How drinkable? Gates demonstrated by drinking a glassful himself.

“I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin,” said Gates. “They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water. The occasion was a tour of a facility that burns human waste and produces water and electricity (plus a little ash). I have visited lots of similar sites, like power plants and paper mills, so when I heard about this one—it’s part of the Gates Foundation’s effort to improve sanitation in poor countries—I was eager to check it out. The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.”

The Omniprocessor was created to simultaneously address the issue of poor sanitation indeveloping countries and their frequent lack of adequate drinking water and electrical power. Waste piles up in latrines or in open fields, or it’s trucked away and dumped somewhere, maybe in a nearby body of water, causing the spread of disease. But western-style toilets require sewage lines and treatment plants that aren’t feasible in many places. The Omniprocessor, designed by Seattle-area engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy, reinvents the sewage treatment plant.

In the Omniprocessor, sewer sludge is fed into tubes and boiled, producing water vapor which is purified for drinking. The dry solids are then fed into a fire, which creates steam to fuel a steam engine that drives an electricity-producing generator. That energy in turn fuels the machine, with excess available for other needs. The water burns the waste at temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius, so high that there’s no smell. The next generation of the machine could process waste from 100,000 people and produce about 22,700 gallons of drinkable water and 250 kilowatts of energy a day.

“If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry,” said Gates. “Our foundation is funding Janicki to do the development. It’s really amazing to see how they’ve embraced the work; founder Peter Janicki and his family have traveled to Africa and India multiple times so they can see the scope of the problem. Our goal is to make the processors cheap enough that entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries will want to invest in them and then start profitable waste-treatment businesses.”

The Omniprocessor turns sewage into water and electricity. Photo credit:

Those entrepreneurs would make money from the sludge they remove from the environment, and the water and electricity they create.

Later this year, Janicki will set up the first Omniprocessor in the field in Dakar, Senegal.

“They’ll study everything from how you connect with the local community to how you pick the most convenient location,” said Gates. “They will also test one of the coolest things I saw on my tour: a system of sensors and webcams that will let Janicki’s engineers control the processor remotely and communicate with the team in Dakar so they can diagnose any problems that come up. If things go well in Senegal, we’ll start looking for partners in the developing world.”

“The history of philanthropy is littered with well-intentioned inventions that never deliver on their promise,” he said. “Hopefully, these early steps will help us make sure the Omniprocessor doesn’t join the list.”

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Wind Turbine Trees Generate Renewable Energy for Urban Settings Tue, 06 Jan 2015 22:59:48 +0000 You’ve most likely heard one of the arguments leveled at wind power: turbines are ugly. And while you might not agree, it’s true that the tall turbines that are increasingly appearing all over the landscape stand out among their surroundings.

Power-generating “wind trees” are designed to blend into both urban and rural environments. Photo credit: New Wind

French entrepreneur Jérôme Michaud-Larivière decided to do something about that. His company New Wind has created the “Arbre à Vent” or “wind tree,” to tackle the issue of what they refer to as “an environment marred by machines that are too big, too noisy and quite unsightly.”

The 26 x 36 foot tree features 72 “leaves” that act as miniature silent turbines with integrated generators, each producing a small amount of electrical power. Because the leaves are small and light, they are set in motion by winds as light as 4.4 miles per hour, capturing light winds that large vertical turbines can’t and potentially producing power as many as 280 days a year. And while each tree produces only 3.1 kilowatts of power, a streetscape lined with them could power all the nearby streetlights or a small apartment building.

“Making use of the slightest breeze, the Arbre à Vent is able to exploit all types of wind, in a 360 degree radius—turbulences, vortexes, drays and other wind phenomena found in urban and rural environments,” says the company. “The Arbre à Vent is part of the energy harvesting movement, and powerful enough to ensure the electrical autonomy of a family of four.”

The trees are designed and constructed to be durable, reliable and lasting in a variety of outdoor conditions. The generators connected to the leaves are sealed in protective casing, and the unit is designed so that if one leaf breaks down, the others will still function.

The trees won’t fool anyone into thinking they are real but they could easily pass as a piece of outdoor sculpture.

“The biomorphically inspired Arbre à Vent, your own personal windmill, is a truly eco-friendly solution—no more line drops, no more energy carrying costs, an extremely low carbon footprint, virtually invisible technology and completely silent operation,” the company boasts. “The distinctive yet human-scale design promises to reconcile the consumer with his means of generating electricity.”

Prototypes have been installed on several private properties, with a demonstrator tree to be installed in Paris on the Place de la Concorde this coming May. They’re expected to cost about $36,500 a piece.

Also on the drawing board is “foliage” that can be installed on rooftops and balconies and along roadsides to power variable-message signs. A scaled-down “wind bush” is also in the works.

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NextOne Wristband Pedometer Launches at CES 2015 Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:00:57 +0000 E FUN is launching the first product in its new NextOne line of fitness devices at CES 2015. The new NextOne wristband pedometer tracks steps, distance, calories burned, sleep quality and heart rate so you can track your daily activities, set goals and share accomplishments with friends. It will be on display at the International CES in South Hall meeting room MP25477.


“Practicing healthy habits and fitness is a commitment,” said Jason Liszewski, managing director and VP of sales for E FUN. “The NextOne wristband was created with this in mind to be seamlessly integrated into your everyday life, thus improving your overall quality of living.”

The NextOne wristband pedometer features a removable 1.5-inch long OLED touchscreen display and four IP54 water-resistant silicon swappable wristbands available in black, cobalt, red and grey, making it functional and fashionable.  Additional features include:

  • Continuous Heart Rate Monitoring
  • Activity Tracking
  • Sleep Tracking
  • Goal Setting Capabilities
  • Customizable Profiles
  • Silent Smart Alarm
  • 4GB Onboard Storage
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 50MaH battery
  • Built-in Microphone

With the NextOne wristband pedometer, more people can join in a user’s fitness goals. Wirelessly sync the wristband to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0 to receive notifications, calls and alerts on the pedometer’s OLED display screen, then share your achievements on social media or track your goals using the NextOne companion smartphone apps for Apple and Android devices. Who said fitness had to be boring?

The NextOne also features a Silent Smart Alarm, which uses vibration to gently wake users up without ever bothering their partner.  Additionally, it uses data from the current night of sleep to wake the user up at the optimal time in their sleep cycle, leaving him or her feeling refreshed each morning.

The NextOne wristband pedometer features a 50MaH battery with standby time of up to seven days. Your journey to healthy living will not be hindered by battery life.

The E FUN NextOne wristband pedometer will be available in March 2015 with an MSRP of $69.99.

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