97% of plastic bottles recycled

An industry-led scheme in Norway is credited with increasing plastic bottle recycling levels to 97 per cent. Consumers pay a small additional charge on each bottle they buy. When the bottle is returned either to the shop or a recycling machine, the deposit is refunded. Shops are given a small handling fee for taking the returned bottles. Recycling machines – often found in supermarkets – read the barcodes of the bottles and usually offer customers vouchers for the shop, or the option of making a charitable donation. www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-plastic-bottle-recycling-system-norway-adopt-ocean-pollution-latest-news-a8198761.html

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A simpler and more effective way to purify water

A new patented form of graphene, called Graphair, is an effective filter that supercharges water purification; making it simpler and faster. Researchers from the University of Sydney, UTS, QUT and Victoria University tested and analysed Graphair and its water purification qualities.They found that without Graphair, a membrane’s filtration rate halved in 72 hours, as contaminants clogged it. When the Graphair was added, the membrane didn’t clog, plus it filtered more contaminants and water. Graphair is made out of soybean oil, most often found in vegetable oil. So now there is a better, cheaper, water filter using a common cooking ingredient. This could mean proper, effective water filtration is in reach of developing world communities. https://blog.csiro.au/super-material-filters-sydney-harbour-water/

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A 6th sense for blind people

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A wristband called Sunu emits a high-frequency sound wave that bounces off objects as far as 14 feet in front before registering as a gentle, pulsing vibration. The closer the object is — whether it’s a wall, trash can or person — the more frequent the pulses become, allowing blind people to create a mental map of the world around them using echolocation. It’s like the sonar device being used in vehicles to sense nearby objects and avoid crashes. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/10/27/for-decades-the-blind-have-used-canes-to-get-around-now-an-special-wrist-band-helps-them-locate-hazards/?

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World’s first shopping mall for recycled goods

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This mall in Sweden contains both a recycling center and shops. Customers can donate the items that they no longer need, then shop for something else. Dropped off goods are sorted into various workshops where they are refurbished or repaired. Products are then sorted into 14 specialty shops that include furniture, computers, audio equipment, clothes, toys, bikes, and gardening and building materials. https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/makewealthhistory.org/2017/03/22/the-worlds-first-mall-for-recycled-goods/amp/

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Offshore wind farms

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Since the government ruled out new onshore wind farms in England – a promise in its 2015 manifesto – energy companies have been forced offshore, making the UK the world’s offshore leader. Allowed to develop beyond the vision of land-dwellers who see wind farms as a blot on the countryside, the turbines have grown steadily larger, as have the farms to which they belong. Over time, the diameter of the blades have enlarged. A turbine commissioned in 2002 swept 80 metres; in 2011 it was 120 metres. By 2020, it will be 180 metres. Wind energy costs less, and will go on costing less, because the turbines are growing taller and the blades longer. http://www.inkl.com/newsletters/morning-edition/news/wild-is-the-wind-the-resource-that-could-power-the-world?

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Rosie the robot to guide you through insurance

Rosie the robot

Flamingo’s virtual assistant platform called Rosie, is a way for financial institutions to assist and retain customers or potential customers as they consider which complex financial products are right for them. It’s an artificial intelligence engine that guides customers through their financial services product purchase, onboarding or enquiries. http://www.afr.com/technology/amp-trials-fintech-flamingos-virtual-chatbot-rosie-20170123-gtwyi4#ixzz4vMgRwJR3 

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A quicker way to build a quantum computer

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Scientists at UNSW in Australia have discovered a new approach to quantum computing. They predict it will remove a hurdle that threatened to stall progress on scaling up the number of quantum computer bits-known as qubits- on silicon chips needed to make quantum computing viable. Their approach makes more room on a silicon atom to squeeze in more qubits by pulling electrons away from the nucleus. Unlike the discrete zeros and ones now used in so-called “classical” computing, qubits can be either a one, a zero or both at the same time, opening the way for an exponential increase in computing speeds using these “superpositions”. Many problems now limited by computing power, from medicine to climate modelling, would be more easily solved with quantum computing. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/nobody-saw-it-breakthrough-claimed-by-unsws-quantum-computing-team-20170905-gybmph.html

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An internet “walkie talkie” that’s useful in an emergency

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Zello is a free internet “walkie-talkie” app that’s very useful in regional emergencies such as a hurricane, fire or flood. In a few seconds of hearing your voice, an operator can guess what part of the country you’re from, if you’ve been drinking, what mood you’re in and whether you’re afraid or in distress. www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/08/31/the-cajun-navys-secret-weapon-for-saving-lives-the-human-voice/?

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A rental car that’s designed to entertain kids on long trips

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Hertz has introduced the world’s first colouring-in car. It’s fully upholstered with popular colouring-in book designs to keep the kids amused for hours. Travel experts at Hertz designed the car with families in mind, especially for those ‘are we nearly there yet?’ moments. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4747078/Hertz-unveils-world-s-colouring-car.html#ixzz4rJY2wIyB

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Floating power plants

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Imagine a power generation facility that is connected to the local power grid but floating on water. Floating power plants can be designed to be easily transportable and positioned in ports, on rivers, in deep oceans or even in sheltered coastal regions to enable power to remote locations and to regions during natural calamities. It’s something that the Chinese and the Japanese energy experts have pulled off recently. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/floating-power-plants-look-future-energy-harihara-balasubramanian

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More bugs on menus

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In May this year, Switzerland revised its food safety laws to allow for the sale of insect products containing crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms — the first European country to do so. Coop, a supermarket chain in Switzerland, recently started selling edible bugs in the form of insect balls and burgers made by the startup Essento. Noma, recognised for years as the no 1 restaurant in the world, is known for its insect delicacies, including ants. The health benefits of bugs are now being promoted. https://www.essento.ch/

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