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A day without coal-generated power in Britain

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April 21 was the first full day of coal-free power in Britain in 135 years. About half of the energy used that day came from natural gas, while the rest of the power was provided by nuclear, imported, and renewable energy sources. In fact, half of the power in the U.K. on a day-to-day basis now comes from renewables and nuclear. https://futurism.com/britain-goes-24-hours-without-coal-generated-power-for-the-first-time-in-135-years/

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Folding bicycle helmet

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You know that bicycle helmets save lives and prevent brain injuries. Unfortunately, they are inconvenient to carry around with you after rides and are easily stolen if left with your bike. Maybe you’re one of the millions of riders who doesn’t wear a helmet for this reason, even knowing the risks. The Morpher Helmet may be a practical solution. Due to an imaginative concept and design, the helmet folds flat so it can be stored easily in a backpack or briefcase. See https://www.morpherhelmet.com

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Getting the ideas people in the room

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IdeaSpies was very fortunate this week to have highly regarded director Naseema Sparks AM facilitate a Creative Workshop to generate ideas for its future development. The workshop was hosted by the innovative law firm Ashurst and the 26 attendees were carefully selected based on their ability to come up with ideas.

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Robot to help nonprofiteers apply for jobs

Robot to help nonprofiteers apply for jobs

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A digital tombstone to remember you

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This tombstone at first glance looks like any other, but after a few seconds it senses the presence of a person viewing the grave and displays an interactive screen. This screen can contain any kind of digital content, such as a film of your life, text, or still pictures. When there is nobody to interact with the gravestone it will then simply display your name, birth and death date the same as any other traditional gravestone, therefore saving energy.. https://www.springwise.com/cemetery-visits-interactive-twist/

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An “encore” career

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Neither young nor old, the vast population moving into midlife offers an extraordinary resource. Millions are determined to apply their experience to make a difference for others. And they are looking for a new model combining elements of work, service, and social impact – an “encore” or “encore career.” www.encore.org

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Clean drinking water from saltwater and sunlight

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Salt water is poured into the top container, which then gets heated by the sun and converted to steam by solar energy. The increase in pressure forces the steam to travel through a tube to the lower container where it re-condenses. The clean drinking water gathers at the bottom of the lower container. https://borgenproject.org/eliodomestico-water-purifier/

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A ban on alcohol supported by women

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Village women are enforcing a new prohibition law in Bihar, one of India’s poorest, most agrarian states. Since the law was introduced the crime rate has fallen sharply, brick houses are starting to be built instead of the usual mud huts and spending on things like motorbikes and appliances has risen significantly. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/15/world/asia/india-bihar-alcohol-ban-women.html?

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A hotel room that floats on water

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You’ll soon be able to sleep on a bed in a floating capsule and look into the stars while it drifts to an island overnight. That’s the experience a major theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture plans to offer you by the end of this year. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/06/business/huis-ten-bosch-inn-boast-spheric-sleeping-capsules-drift-isle-attactions/

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Making your environment interactive

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Lightform is a new technology that’s able to project different patterns and content onto individual surfaces. It turns any surface into a video screen-augmented reality without the headset. You could wrap a movie around your living room wall. Or cast one pattern on a vase and another on a chair. In one demo, Lightform technology projects glowing menu items onto a blank blackboard. https://lightform.com

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A 3D printed robot that medical students can use for practice

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A medical venture firm based in Japan, has teamed up with a University Hospital to create what could very well be the future of medical simulations: a 3D printed robot. This life-like robot is equipped with special sensors that allow it to give real-time feedback to trainees—as well as score their practice. http://www.3ders.org//articles/20170412-realistic-mikoto-3d-printed-medical-training-robot-developed-in-tottori-japan.html

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Creating water out of thin air

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Using only the power of the sun via solar energy and a metal-organic framework this new device is capable of producing 2.8 litres of water in 12 hours. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/science/science/150417/scientists-build-solar-powered-device-to-harvest-water-from-dry-air.html

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A water capsule you can drink

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Plastic bottles make it easy to transport water, but it takes energy to make the bottles. When you’re done with your drink, it takes more energy to unmake the bottle, as plastics won’t fully degrade on their own. Now a startup called Skipping Rock Labs thinks we can just skip plastic bottles entirely. It has developed a capsule called “Ooho!” for transporting water that is not only biodegradable, it’s edible. https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/247672-seaweed-based-water-pouch-aims-end-need-plastic-bottles

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Inside The Race To Build A Battery That Can Power The 21st Century – Greg Satell

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The garage startup has become as much of an American icon in the twenty first century as the automobile and the drive-in were to earlier generations. The idea that anyone with an idea can change the world is as romantic as democracy itself, but it’s not altogether true. A garage startup only works if there is existing technology to build on top of. The problem is that every technology eventually runs out of steam. When that happens, progress will grind to a halt without a significant breakthrough. As technology becomes more complex, that type of advancement becomes so hard to achieve that it becomes out of reach for any single organization, much less a few guys in a garage. That is essentially where we are with energy storage. Lithium-ion, the 40 year-old technology that powers everything from smartphones to electric cars is nearing its theoretical limits just as the renewable energy revolution is demanding cheaper batteries that can store more energy at lower cost. Solving problems like these requires a massively collaborative approach. A Brief History Of Energy Storage The lithium-ion battery was originally discovered by the American scientist John Goodenough, in 1979, with funding from the National Science Foundation. Over the next decade, the technology steadily improved and by the early 1990s, it became commercially available in Sony Camcorders. Since then, lithium-ion batteries have increased in energy density by a factor of six, while costs have dropped by a factor of 10. That’s made them good enough to power our phones and laptops, but they’re still not powerful enough — or cheap enough — to power electric cars or the electric grid. Experts believe that to create a true transformation, battery costs need be below $100/ Kw/hour and the current technology is unlikely to get us there. So getting where we need to be is not a matter of simply improving efficiency, we have to come up with completely new materials with greater energy density and lower cost. When the Department of Energy began thinking about how to solve such an enormous and seemingly intractable problem, it realized that it needed to take a very different approach. The result is the Joint Center For Energy Storage Research (JCESR), which is currently in the fourth year of its five year mandate to develop next generation batteries. Pooling Scientific Knowledge The basic idea behind JCESR is that the knowledge required to create a breakthrough solution is spread out among a diverse number of scientists working at a wide variety of institutions, such as the national labs and academic institutions. So the first step was to combine their talents and coordinate research through a single hub focused on the energy storage problem. Venkat Srinivasan, Deputy Director, Research and Development at JCESR explains, “National labs tend to have bigger teams of people working on bigger problems, while academic researchers are more specialized in their expertise. Our structure allows us to access stars in the academic world and apply their specific expertise to the problem of next generation storage.” “For example,” he continues, “Matthew Sigman and Shelley Minteer at the University of Utah have done pathbreaking work in chemical stability in the pharmaceutical field, but we recognized that the same technology can help us make better batteries. Their work has really propelled our mission forward, while working on batteries has taken their research into new areas.” So combining the expertise of five national labs along with a number of the country’s top universities gives JCESR an incredible amount of scientific talent. Yet the battery problem is about more than science. The aim is to come up with a solution that not only works, but can win in the marketplace, which is why getting input from private companies is crucial. Bringing In Private Industry Scientists are focused on discovering new phenomena, but have little insight into the practicalities of the marketplace. For example, a researcher that discovers a new material with vastly more energy density than current batteries will have no idea whether it is feasible to procure, manufacture and distribute. That’s a big problem, because by the time a scientist verifies his results, prepares them for publication and goes through peer review, it can take years before he realizes that he wasted his time. So getting input from partners and affiliates in the private sector has been invaluable for focusing research at JCESR on the most promising paths to a better battery. It has also greatly benefitted the companies that have participated. As Brian Cooke, a Group Vice President at Johnson Controls told me, “We saw our involvement as an opportunity to shape the future, so the science coming out of JCESR would have the greatest benefit for our customers, our company and our industry. It has also enabled us to interact with top notch researchers from some of the country’s best labs.” Yet it isn’t just big companies that are benefitting. Through JCESR’s affiliate program even small companies can participate, which gives them a better idea of how to focus their efforts. That’s especially important for firms that can’t afford to go off in the wrong direction and waste limited resources. Mike Wixom of Navitas, a four year old company that focuses on military and industrial applications, told me, “As a small company, we’re fighting for our survival on a daily basis. Becoming JCESR affiliate gives us an early peek at technology and you get to give feedback about what kinds manufacturing issues are likely to come up with any particular chemistry.” Innovating The Discovery Process Historically, the process of making a new battery has been mostly trial and error. Building a battery for use in a car has vastly different requirements than, say, for the grid or a power tool. So, for the most part, battery developers experimented with different combinations until they get the right specifications for the product they were trying to make. One of the major achievements at JCESR has been to build tools to make this process more rational and efficient. The first is a computer model that analyzes the complex interplay between technical and economic factors that a battery will need to achieve. The second is materials and electrolytes “genomes” that known properties of the various possibilities. “Moving to the materials genome is like moving from your local library to the Internet,” says Mike Andrew, a […]

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Ice cream as art… deliciously visual

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Jared Goodman serves as the “Culinary Artist in Residence” at the Portland Art Museum (Oregon). That’s where he serves not-your-typical-ice-cream-shop sundaes for special events. His custom formulated ice creams and creations are inspired by works of art in the museum. http://www.opb.org/television/programs/artbeat/segment/jared-goodman-makes-ice-cream-sundaes-inspired-by-art

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A laundromat for the homeless provided by the Pope

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Pope Francis has opened a new laundromat for the homeless to wash and dry their clothing. The laundromat, near the Vatican, has six washing machines and dryers donated by Whirlpool. It will remain open four days a week and services are free. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1f6c5814a3df4dc29534fd85ca83e6e5/pope-francis-opens-free-laundromat-homeless

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Origami inspired kayak

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How do you design a kayak that can fold into a convenient, transportable package and still offer the performance kayakers demand? Face the challenge like an artist to break visual barriers and then break physical ones. The result is the Oru Kayak. https://www.orukayak.com

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A meal plan that helps you and disadvantaged children

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For around the same cost as your groceries FivePointFour say you can have healthy meals delivered to your home or workplace. For every meal you buy they give a meal to a child in need through The Hunger Project. www.fivepointfour.com.au

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Eye-tracking tech alerts sleepy drivers

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Australian company Seeing Machines is dramatically reducing fatal vehicle accidents with its eye tracking technology that can detect, in real time, when a driver is drowsy or distracted. http://www.australiaunlimited.com/technology/seeingmachines

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School desks from recycled cardboard boxes

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Aarambh is using discarded cardboard waste to create school bags which unpack into small desks — designed to improve the posture of children who are used to sitting and writing on the floor. https://www.springwise.com/india-cardboard-boxes-create-school-bags-transform-desks/

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