Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Fifth of Global Energy Could Come from Biomass Without Damaging Food Production

A new report suggests that up to one fifth of global energy could be provided by biomass (plants) without damaging food production.

The report reviews more than 90 global studies. It has been produced by the Technology and Policy Assessment function of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), which addresses key controversies in the energy field, and aims to provide authoritative and accessible reports that set very high standards for rigour and transparency.

A debate has been raging about the role biomass could play in the future energy system: some say it could play a major role in fuelling the planet, others argue it risks an environmental disaster. To get to the heart of the controversy, UKERC scientists at Imperial College London have undertaken the first systematic review of the evidence base.

The report finds that the main reason scientists disagree is that they make different assumptions about population, diet, and land use. A particularly important bone of contention is the speed with which productivity improvements in food and energy crop production can be rolled out.

Technical advances could be the least contentious route to increased bio-energy production, but policy will need to encourage innovation and investment. A renewed focus on increasing food and energy crop yields could deliver a win-win opportunity as long as it is done without damaging soil fertility or depleting water resources. The report highlights the potential for policy to promote learning by encouraging development of sustainable biomass now, rather than waiting for the definitive answer on the ultimate potential.

"The main mistake is to think of this as all or nothing. There's plenty of scope for experimentation to make sure we get it right," says Dr Slade.

Energy is an essential input into global agriculture, and the interactions between these two areas need to be better understood. The report stresses the need for scientists working on food and agriculture to work more closely with bio-energy specialists to address challenges such as water availability and environmental protection. If biomass is required to play a major role in the future energy system the linkages between bio-energy and food production will become too important for either to be considered in isolation.

"Bioenergy may need to play a part in a future low carbon energy mix," says Dr Ausilio Bauen, Head of Bioenergy at Imperial College's Centre for Energy Policy and Technology. "Ensuring bio-energy, food and forests don't compete for land won't be straightforward. But, if we use land more productively, and make better use of available plant material, we should be perfectly capable of producing bio-energy, feeding a growing population, and conserving the environment all at the same time."

This article was taken from=> Science Daily Magazine

Friday, November 25, 2011

7 of the Best 2010 Fuel Efficient SUV Crossovers

Ford Escape Hybrid

You’ll pay a $9,000 premium over the base Escape for the $30,000 hybrid version, but you’ll be buying probably the most fuel-efficient SUV there is (32 mpg combined). The Escape (the Mercury Mariner Hybrid is a close cousin) has enjoyed success as a New York taxi, and it’s proven quite durable. U.S. News and World Reports ranked it seventh of 22 affordable compact SUVs. All-wheel drive is available, but you probably don’t need it and fuel economy suffers. There are Base and Limited models, with the latter adding a fair number of creature comforts—and more than $2,000 to the bottom line.

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Believe it or not, Porsche will introduce a hybrid SUV in 2010, a version of its performance-oriented Cayenne with a 150-mph top speed and a rumored 27 mpg. Would Porsche make a minivan?

Volkswagen Touareg

For the rest of us who can’t afford a Porsche, a Volkswagen SUV alternative is soon to arrive. The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg BlueMotion Hybrid uses a supercharged V-6 engine and a hybrid system that will also be shared with Porsche, in this case the four-door luxury Panamera sedan. Like the Cayenne, it’s fast (zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds) and gets around 26 mpg combined (in the European cycle).

Honda CR-V

This is Honda's venerable workhorse small SUV, and it has remained justifiably popular (though it is due for a makeover; this version dates to 2007). The good news, however, is that for 2010 the CR-V (starting at $21,545) was significantly freshened, and Honda achieved the neat trick of both getting 14 more horsepower out of its 2.4-liter four and improving fuel economy to 21/28 mpg (2WD) and 21/27 (4WD). Other choices offer an optional V-6, but Honda likes what the four offers. Road noise has also been reduced in the 2010 model.

Toyota RAV4

Like the CR-V, the midsized crossover $21,675 RAV4 is a survivor, dating from the early 1990s, with little alteration to the basic small-and-utilitarian concept. This is one of the rare instances where it might makes sense to go for the bigger engine, since the available V-6 sacrifices little in terms of fuel economy (but adds nearly 100 horsepower and a 7.2-second zero to 60 time). The four-cylinder 2WD RAV4 clocks in at 24 mpg combined, and its V-6 big brother 22. But you’re fine without the 4WD.

Subaru Forester

Not much changed in 2010, the $20,295 Subaru Forester (a favorite of greens with stuff to move) is, says Consumer Reports, "among the best small SUVs." Stick with the base 2.5-liter four, which offers lively performance and 22 mpg overall. If you feel you need it, the XT model adds turbocharging but declines to 20 mpg. The Forester is perhaps the most carlike of these choices, and like all Subarus it comes with 4WD. The back seat has room to stretch out, and is one of the best things about this small car, which has enjoyed excellent reliability ratings.

BMW X6 ActiveHybrid

This is BMW’s first full hybrid vehicle, and it’s a luxurious but pricey choice at $89,725. This is an SUV for performance-oriented techies, since its big twin-turbo V-8 produces 400 horsepower, and they are supported with a pair of beefy electric motors (480 peak horsepower total). There is no better option for zero to 60 in just 5.4 seconds while carting around a Cub Scout pack. Take it up to 130 mph if you dare, then throttle back and go 1.6 miles on the nickel-metal-hydride batteries alone. Fuel economy is much better than the standard X6, but still no Environmental Defense Fund member’s dream at 17 in the city and 19 on the highway. Carbon emissions are down 20 percent from the standard car, but they’re still double that of a Toyota Prius.

Article Source=>The Daily Green Newsletter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sealants for waterproofing of Joints

1. Silicone Sealants:

It is an acetoxy cure, high modulus and single component solvent free material. When properly cured, it becomes a tough, durable and elastic seal which is flexible in low and high temperature. It has excellent adhesion to glass, ceramics and sanitary ware, etc. without any primer. It has low shrinkage, non-sagging good UV resistance and insulation properties.

It is ideal to seal gap between glass and aluminum, non-oily wood, sealing of aluminum/glass window frame joints, fixing glass into aluminum frames.

It should not be used in food industries and for structural glazing. It should not be used for filling gaps on masonry and cementations surfaces.

2. PU Sealants:

Is one part polyurethane sealant for filling and sealing joints in building construction. It is elastic, weather-resistant, non-sagging and water tight with excellent adhesion practically for all surfaces.

It can be resistant to biodegradation and also can be over coated. It is used for sealing of expansion and construction joints as well as joints between different construction materials.

3. Acrylic Sealants:

It is a single component elastomeric acrylic sealant for filling gaps and cracks between various building materials. It is highly flexible with good movement accommodation. It is suitable for different joints like concrete, wood, PVC and aluminum and suitable for indoor and outdoor applications. It can be recoated unlike other sealants.

Traditional Waterproofing Practice

           1.      Brick Bat Coba:

This involves laying of 80-100 mm thick coba concrete on a prepared surface with graded broken aggregate. This treatment though successful in the damp heat of coastal region; it cracks up completely on contact with the dry heat, besides having the disadvantage of imposing an unnecessary load on the system. Brick being a porous material absorbs more water through the cracks and causing the corrosion of reinforcement which ultimately leads to spalling of concrete of the roof slab.

For more information regarding the disadvantages of BBC go here =>


There are few misconceptions regarding this conventional waterproofing by Brickbat Koba. That china mosaic topping helps to create water barrier is wrong. Some times the joints of china mosaic may develop a deboned joint making a vent to seepage.

That brickbats create water barrier is also wrong as bricks are porous. Brickbats are in fact used to maintain the slope. Weathered bricks are good for system which is again a wrong concept.

Good quality new brickbats should be preferred. This system provides a very good heat insulation to terrace slab.

Also, it absorbs the vibration and allows the concrete and mortar to breathe and vapour pressure is defused. The entire burden of creating water barrier lies on cement mortar.

Major Concrete Deterioration Mechanisms

Let us put sustainability away for some time and talk about the ways in which concrete gets deteriorated. The following will give you an idea about how does the deterioration mechanism take place which will make you cautious.

1.      Carbonation :
Carbonation is eventually inevitable, and is caused by the ingress of atmospheric carbon dioxide reacting with pore water to form carbonic acid. This neutralizes the alkalinity in the concrete. This occurs progressively, and a carbonation front moves through the concrete until it reaches the steel. The passive layer then breaks down as the pH falls from over 12 to around 8. Then it slowly corrodes the steel making it hazardous. The rate of carbonation is also affected by environmental conditions.

2.      Chloride Attack :
The second major cause of reinforcement corrosion is chloride attack. This is usually due to the following reasons:
·         De-icing salt ingress from roads and vehicles.
·         Sea-salt ingress from marine environments
·         Cast-in salt from contaminated mix components
·         Cast-in calcium chloride as a set accelerator.
Once the chloride level at the reinforcement exceeds 0.4% by weight of cement, there is a significant risk of corrosion, especially in presence of moisture.

3.      Design and construction defects:
The performance of reinforcement concrete can be severely reduced by poor design and construction techniques. These may cause reinforcement corrosion or the degradation of concrete itself, which in turn may lead to reinforcement corrosion. Insufficient concrete cover to the reinforcement is a major influence on the durability of reinforced concrete buildings and structures.
Problems which occur are:
·         Older codes do not specify adequate cover, especially in saline environments.
·         Details such as drips, groves of surfaces etc.
Problems arise during constructions:
·         Detailing that makes it difficult to achieve the specified cover
·         Incorrect reinforcement placing
·         Movement of reinforcement within shutters from the specified cover. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some facts about waterproofing membranes

Waterproofing membranes have come a long way in the past few years. That said there always seems to be a huge number of products on the market. So what makes a membrane effective, and how do you know what is the best product for you?
Ideally, a waterproofing membrane should:
- Protect the substrate from moisture
- Have high elongation before breaking point
- Dry quickly (and doesn’t skin)
- Dry without being stressed
- Be able to be bonded (eg. with tiles)
- Have high chemical and abrasion resistance
- Be easy to apply
- Be safe to handle and non-toxic
These days, there are two common classes of waterproofing membrane: acrylic and polyurethane. Polyurethane has a higher tensile strength and stretches more. However, they often have solvent based components that are less safe to use. Bonding to them can also be problematic. Acrylic usually takes longer to dry and is less resistant to abrasion and some key chemicals.
A good waterproofing membrane needs to provide a waterproof barrier but it must also cope with expected movement. This type of movement, such as that at joints and junctions, can easily be accommodated with bond breakers. They allow the membrane to stretch rather than snap, taking advantage of the elastic property of the material. Figure 1 is a representation of what can happen when no bond breaker is used on a wall/floor junction. Figure 2 shows how a bond breaker can accommodate the movement by allowing the membrane to stretch more. The basic idea is much like an elastic band. A long piece of elastic will stretch further before snapping than a short piece of the same material.
The problem lies in how much the membrane needs to stretch to accommodate unexpected cracks (those not treated with bond breakers). As the extension (movement) is more than the elongation (stretch) capacity of the membrane, it will result in a tear in the membrane potentially leading to leaks.
So basically if the movement is more than the membrane can stretch, then it will snap. A bond breaker allows the membrane to stretch a lot more.
Installing the required bond breakers is always important. However the design of the membrane can also help. A membrane that is stronger with more stretching capacity means that it is more forgiving and the bond breakers can be narrower. Essentially the better the elongation, the later it will break and the stronger the membrane’s internal (or tensile) strength, the more likely it will de-bond and stretch rather than snap. Remember that it is always best to install a bond breaker in all areas that are likely to move.

This article was taken from:

Friday, November 18, 2011

How Apple’s Product Design Reduces Carbon Footprint

Apple products come in black, white—and green, says the company's environmental Web page: "Apple reports environmental impact comprehensively. We do this by focusing on our products: what happens when we design them, what happens when we make them, and what happens when you take them home and use them."
The company is paying attention to its total carbon footprint, something Apple estimated for the year 2010 to be approximately 14.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Apple understands that 98 percent of its carbon footprint is directly related to its products, which means adding up the emissions generated from the manufacturing, transportation, use, and recycling of its products, as well as the emissions generated by its facilities.
To improve the products' performance, Steve Jobs led the development of smaller, thinner, and lighter products. But the products also were more eco-friendly. Example: Today's 21.5-inch iMac is more powerful, with a much larger screen than the first-generation, 15-inch iMac, yet it has 50 percent less material and generates half the emissions. Another example: The iPad became 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter in one generation, generating five percent fewer carbon emissions.
The reduction in materials means less packaging, and at the end of the day, it also helps reduce the emissions produced during transportation. Apple gives a clear example for this in the packaging for the iPhone 4: It is 42 percent smaller than for the original iPhone shipped in 2007. That means that 80 percent more iPhone 4 boxes fit on each shipping pallet, more pallets fit on each boat and plane, and fewer boats and planes are used, resulting in fewer carbon emissions. This helps alleviate the greenhouse gas emissions from transporting Apple products, which accounts for six percent of the company's carbon footprint.

-Article from ENN Newsletter

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making chemicals from biogas instead of burning it

Combustible gases generated by organic matter in landfill sites or from biomass are commonly burned to generate electricity. However, Finnish researchers suggest that such biogas might be more usefully used as an alternative feedstock for the chemical industry. They explain that using biogas in this way would reduce our dependency on oil and gas-derived products and is commercially and technically viable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Everything you might want to know about Carbon Offsets

 This article was taken from: R Greenway, ENN :

Companies, and individuals concerned with their impact on climate try a number of measures to reduce their emissions of air pollutants which impact the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is the reality that our atmosphere traps a portion of the heat we get from the sun, and from fires (both natural and man made) and other anthropgenic heat sources. Some of the gasses released by our industrialization, home heating and cooling, and transportation activities contribute to the atmosphere trapping more heat than would occur in the absence of these activities.

There are emissions which CANNOT be eliminated or reduced as much as we would like. For these, companies turn to Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Offsets? When companies or individuals purchase Carbon Offsets they are paying someone else to reduce THEIR carbon emissions (a major contributor to global warming).
There are companies which assist other companies and individuals in purchasing Carbon Offsets. As in any new market, there is a learning curve for participants. Are the offsets real, are the being sold more than once? These and other questions illustrate how much needs to be learned.
To illustrate what a carbon offset might involve, consider a carbon offset to be an investment in a project or activity that reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or sequesters carbon from the atmosphere that is used to offset GHG emissions from your company or household.
Carbon Offsets may be purchased to offset emissions from your business as a whole, from specific activities such as travel, or from lifecycle emissions from a product.

Carbon Offsets can be generated from many activities including:

  • Planting trees
  • Energy efficiency investments
  • Reducing methane emissions
  • Renewable energy investments
A key consideration in Carbon Offsets is that the offsetting emissions be generated from a project or activity that generates real, measurable reductions in GHG emissions that would not have occurred anyway. To meet this goal, the project must go beyond business as usual, go beyond regulatory requirements, and not be counted against another emission reduction commitment.

What are the business benefits of Carbon Offsets?

  • Meeting business goals to reduce your carbon footprint from manufacturing or transportation activities
  • Preparing for an emissions trading regulatory requirement, gaining market experience
  • Brand enhancement, product differentiation
  • Attracting Investors
  • Engaging employees on environmental issues, attracting new employees
  • Being a good environmental citizen
In conclusion, Carbon Offsets offer a number of benefits to the enterprise, and also to the planet. While not a perfect approach, they are in many ways a win-win scenario.


The rise in level of Air Pollution worsens the effect of Drought & Flooding

According to a study led by researchers from University of Maryland,
The increase in air pollution and other particles in the atmosphere has affected cloud development in ways that reduce the amount of precipitation in dry regions, increasing rainfall in wet areas. etc.

Climate Procedures can help solve the challenges of Air Pollution & Energy Security

According to an article published in the latest issue of National Climate Change,
Strategies to safeguard the worldwide climate and limit the global rise in temperature offer the most applicable entrance for gaining Energy Sustainability and reduction in Air Pollution. By adopting these strategies, three of the key objectives for energy sustainability, major synergies and cost benefits can be realized. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Approach to Terrace Waterproofing

Imagine a cool new lavishing house and a damp patch in the corner of the ceiling stealing the whole beauty. Terrace waterproofing forms an important part of construction. Dampness coming from the terrace can be very damaging for any construction.

  • For terrace waterproofing for new construction here are some tips: 
  1. Visually inspect the slab closely from top and bottom throughout the terrace.
  2. Conduct "Hammer Test" around areas that are severely cracked. If there comes a hollow sound, the cracks should be brush applied with cement slurry.
  3. Wider cracks must be cleaned with a wire brush, cut to a U shape of 5mmx8mm and filled with a Mastic Filler. The mastic filler will ensure flexibility to accommodate movement
  4. Make triangle fillet of 50mm x 50mm on all verticle abutments.
  5. Pre-treat critical areas such as verticle joints, outlet areas and pipe protrusions with flexible waterproofing material.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Solar Technology

New Anti Reflective Coating Increases Solar Power

A new anti-reflective coating is being hailed as a "Game Changer" for photovoltaic energy. The nano structured coatings help panels absorb nearly all the light that falls on them, including light at angles that normally bounces off.
This technology could increase solar output by 20 - 30%.
From Rensselaer Polytechnic:
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered and demonstrated a new method for overcoming two major hurdles facing solar energy. By developing a new antireflective coating that boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and allows those panels to absorb the entire solar spectrum from nearly any angle, the research team has moved academia and industry closer to realizing high-efficiency, cost-effective solar power.
"To get maximum efficiency when converting solar power into electricity, you want a solar panel that can absorb nearly every single photon of light, regardless of the sun's position in the sky," said Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics at Rensselaer and a member of the university's Future Chips Constellation, who led the research project. "Our new antireflective coating makes this possible."
Results of the year-long project are explained in the paper "Realization of a Near Perfect Antireflection Coating for Silicon Solar Energy," published this week by the journal Optics Letters.
An untreated silicon solar cell only absorbs 67.4 percent of sunlight shone upon it - meaning that nearly one-third of that sunlight is reflected away and thus unharvestable. From an economic and efficiency perspective, this unharvested light is wasted potential and a major barrier hampering the proliferation and widespread adoption of solar power.
After a silicon surface was treated with Lin's new nanoengineered reflective coating, however, the material absorbed 96.21 percent of sunlight shone upon it - meaning that only 3.79 percent of the sunlight was reflected and unharvested. This huge gain in absorption was consistent across the entire spectrum of sunlight, from UV to visible light and infrared, and moves solar power a significant step forward toward economic viability.
Lin's new coating also successfully tackles the tricky challenge of angles.
Most surfaces and coatings are designed to absorb light - i.e., be antireflective - and transmit light - i.e., allow the light to pass through it - from a specific range of angles. Eyeglass lenses, for example, will absorb and transmit quite a bit of light from a light source directly in front of them, but those same lenses would absorb and transmit considerably less light if the light source were off to the side or on the wearer's periphery

Trees Produce Electricity

this is a post from Green Design Briefs:

Last year, MIT researchers found that plants generate a voltage of up to 200 millivolts when one electrode is placed in a plant and the other in the surrounding soil. A University of Washington team followed up on this research, and has run a custom circuit entirely off tree power.
By hooking nails to trees and connecting a voltmeter, Carlton Himes, a UW undergraduate student, found that bigleaf maples generate a steady voltage of up to a few hundred millivolts.
The UW researchers next built a device that could run on this available power. Brian Otis, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering, led the development of a boost converter - a device that takes a low incoming voltage and stores it to produce a greater output.
The team’s custom boost converter works for input voltages of as little as 20 millivolts, an input voltage lower than any existing such device. It produces an output voltage of 1.1 volts, which is enough to run low-power sensors.
The UW circuit is built from parts measuring 130 nanometers and it consumes on average just 10 nanowatts of power during operation.
Photo: Dustin Schroeder/University of Washington

Five Every Day Ways to Take Advantage of Green Technology

Technology, via bright ideas or weird ones, is a busy world of cool and not-so-cool stuff eagerly claiming to answer every need. In the spirit of competition, it seems only fair that the best green-tech stuff should offer an advantage over mainstream competitors, while serving the customer's ethical leanings. Here are five ways technology can help you stay green and still seize the advantage.
* Using the Internet o The internet is one of the largest gas (and money) saving inventions. Every meeting taken by teleconference, instead of jetting or driving to a gathering place, reduces pollution and improves the bottom line of doing business. Tremendous sums are saved by businesses using E-commerce; and on-line payment options reduce runs to the bank and post office for most customers. Every shopping trip taken in virtual comfort also saves gas and reduces pollution, even when it means delivery vans are out on the town. A truck that sets out on a carefully planned route will easily save over twenty cars zipping to-and-fro.
* Recycled Metal Products o Lawn chairs, mail boxes, shelving units, even watering cans and planters are being made from the colorful scrap-metal of old highway signs and license plates. As the theme for a small-business, or for the trendy homeowner, flamboyant gadgets and furniture made from minimally re-treated metals will establish a unique personality, save cash, or both.
* Portable Gadget Assistance o Nothing is more frustrating than reaching for that beloved electronic gadget only to discover the battery is dead. The definitive green-tech solution for on-the-go charging is a solar powered gadget bag, purse, backpack, satchel, briefcase, carry-all; or even just a roll-up charging mat. There are options to be found for every portable device.
* Crock-pots, Vinegar, and Micro-fiber Cloth o Yes, if you enjoy being fussy, there's always the reams of hints from whoever has the time to figure out strange little money-saving, nitty-gritty tidbits. Crock pots cut your grocery bill by tenderizing cheaper cuts of meat while keeping the oven set to 'off'. Vinegar is a well-lauded laundry aid. Micro-fiber cloth is for scuttling the paper-towel treadmill.
* Household Improvements o Efficiency appliances are a standard cry, but now LED home-lighting is brightening the low-cost list. And for folks who haven't yet begun: remember that starting with a budget-friendly project like energy-saving lights or low-flow showerheads is just as valid a step as choosing efficiency appliances. For the stout-hearted eco-enthusiast, rooftop solar-electric panels, home turbines, and solar water heaters are not so severely high-priced as they once were; and cool-coating the roof in hot climates or improving insulation in any climate is a tried and true money saver.
Green-tech is not always about rocket science and utility companies. Often, it's just about plain common sense, about looking around you and seeing what's already there, waiting to be put to good use. And give being creative a try; there are always advantages to be had from having some fun.

New Plastics from Waste

Every company that sincerely establishes environmentalism as a key component of its vision and core values deserves thanks and appreciation. One such company is NEC. Their stated desire to be "a leading global company leveraging the power of innovation to realize an information society friendly to humans and the earth," was proven to be sincere when they applied true innovation to the plastics industry.
Facts of plastic recycling: * Shoving all your plastic in a recycling bin doesn't guarantee that any of it will be recycled.
o Millions of tons of plastic will be produced worldwide this year, and more than half will not be recycled.
* Putting the wrong type of plastic in your recycling bin can ruin the whole batch.
o Many people don't realize that the chasing arrows emblem doesn't mark a container as recyclable. Every plastic container has that symbol. It encircles a code-number indicating what resin was used. Items numbered 1 & 2 are the only commonly recycled plastics. Number 6 needs special handling. Numbers 4, 5 & 7 will contaminate a load. But even number 1 &2 plastics might not be recycled after you put them in the bin. Sorting plastics is expensive, and mixed loads may simply be shunted to the dump.
* Recycling is not a magic solution.
o The plastics industry has spent millions on advertising to make folks think recycling is solving the whole problem, so everyone will just keep buying and tossing containers, in the belief that it's all been worked out. No. Recycling does not reduce the use of petroleum in the manufacture of new plastic bottles and packaging. Recycled plastics are made into secondary products, not containers. That's not a wholly bad thing - the products very often replace items made of wood. But still….
Reducing the use of Petroleum for Plastics * The real solution is for the plastic-making process to become eco-friendlier. Plastic made from plant cellulous is an option that has been touted over petroleum. But opponents feel growing a crop for plant-based plastic is little better than petroleum-based production. They argue that fuel, water, and other resources are consumed in growing a crop and the plastic will still be only haphazardly recycled.
o A more promising option, now available, is plastics made from wasted plant material that already exists, bringing recycling into the front end of the process. NEC Corporation has developed a new plastic with a plant ratio of 70%, and far fewer petroleum-based additives than other bio-plastics.
o The new product is made with rice-straw and the oil from cashew shells. Both are byproducts discarded by the agricultural industry. NEC also says the plastic "can be produced using manufacturing and molding processes that halve the CO2 emissions of conventional processes used to make petroleum-based flame-retardant plastics."
So, this company made use of sustainable resources; improved the entire process of manufacturing a product; and reduced the percentage of petroleum additives needed to make the product durable. In a nutshell, they kept their promise. That is worthy of praise.

Tidbits for the Green-Tech Ignorant

It should come as little surprise that a lot of people, and quite a few businesses, are trying to disown pollutants and unseat the consumption of finite resources. But green-tech is not some bizarre sub-cult of industry. Somewhere in its phenomenal growth, green-tech has become a selection criterion. The frontiers of green-technology, the services and products on the fringes of the connection, are changing so rapidly most people don't realize how many businesses are tumbling into the green just by hunting around for solutions to their pressing concerns.
Setting standards * Most people know that hydrogen and electric cars reduce petroleum dependency. They know that the solar-arrays and the sleek wind turbines scattered over the countryside are supplementing the power grids with alternative electrical energy. 'Reduce, Reuse & Recycle' is a well-recognized slogan exemplifying the core principles of an eco-friendly life style. It's even fairly common for people to know that hydro-kinetics (water power) is considered the most potent source of eco-friendly energy. But green technology embraces more than just utilities, aluminum hunting, fussy appliances and automotive hybridization.
Service Solutions * Along with the standardization of eco-friendly options for pest control, lawn-care and cleaning supplies, a new breed of eco-friendly services is emerging. All sorts of exotic trades are cropping up; including restaurant grease recycling, re-filtering carwashes, and eco-friendly event planning and pet grooming.
* Thousands of communities are now mandating the use of green technologies to solve their storm-water control problems, by demanding that newly-built developments incorporate grassy swales and artificial ponds.
* Any time your city rehabilitates old pipes or lays new pipes without excavating they are using eco-friendly technologies to keep your roads and businesses in service during construction.
New Frontiers * Green technology is now involved in the medical industry, through the development of sustainable-energy for portable emergency devices and implants, and batteries that can harness sunlight shining on skin.
* The development of wave power has begun to see some serious backing, both as a supplement to the electrical energy grids and for powering desalination plants. Hydro-kinetic turbines are now available in single-family and small community sizes, for powering individual properties or villagers in emerging countries.
Gadgets and Gizmos * High-efficiency isn't just a concept invented for kitchen appliances. LED/LCD televisions are green-tech options, with green-tech standards. Ditto the eco-friendly vacuum cleaners and low-flow showerheads.
* LED light bulbs are the newest darlings among high-efficiency home-improvement products. Using them in every fixture of a home could slash its energy bill as comprehensively as an energy-star appliance.
* There are green tech options for phones and media players. And options for a host of other gadgets such as flashlights, alarm clocks, remote controls, camp stoves, and even automotive air filters.
In short, green technology is now so pervasive it doesn't even raise eyebrows for a solar charger to be disguised as a designer handbag.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Liquid Sealants

Sealants are basically products which are liquid at the time of application and slowly hardens over a period of time. Sealants perform two basic functions while liquid sealants are used mainly for waterproofing purposes, the paste applied sealants are used for waterproofing and weatherproofing joints between adjacent or different materials or surfaces. 

 Liquid Applied Sealants:

Wickes Good Idea Leaflet - Sealants is packed with DIY help & advice on using liquid sealants and mastics including waterproofer for roofs. 

Paste Applied or Caulk Gun Applied:
Wickes Good Idea Leaflet - Sealants is packed with DIY help & advice on using liquid sealants, mastics and applying with cartridge guns 
Selecting the correct sealant for a particular project depends upon the physical and chemical properties, durability, it also depends upon the adhesive and cohesive properties of it under certain conditions.

  • Liquid sealants are normally used over roofs and masonry and are usually brush applied. Some can also be sprayed as long as it does not get over sprayed and spreads thoroughly over the whole area.
  • Surface, where the sealants is to be applied should be clean, dry and free from any loose materials.
Sample Application of a brush applied sealant:


  • Mastic sealants are usually applied as a toothpaste-like bead along a joint between adjacent surfaces. The surfaces should be clean, dry and free from dust and loose material.
  • Cartridge sealants have remarkable gap-filling properties, but cannot do the impossible. Deep gaps may need packing with inert material such as aerosol foam filler or glass fibre loft insulation blanket before the gap is filled with sealant.
  • Silicone sealants can irritate the skin, and care should be taken when using them not to transfer traces of sealant to the eyes.
  • Remember to remove the nozzle and cut off the seal on a new cartridge tube before starting to use the sealant.
  • Decide what size of sealant bead you want, then use a sharp knife to make a 45° cut through the nozzle at the required diameter.
  • Fit the cartridge into the gun and squeeze the trigger to force the piston up inside the tube. To stop the flow of sealant, release the small metal tab through which the piston shaft passes.
  • Store part-used cartridges horizontally in a frost-free environment.
Sample Application of a mastic sealant using Caulk Gun:

Wickes Good Idea Leaflet - Sealants is packed with DIY help & advice on using liquid sealants, mastics and using masking tape to apply.
1. Stick masking tape along both sides of the angle you want to seal   

Wickes Good Idea Leaflet - Sealants is packed with DIY help & advice on using liquid sealants, mastics and using masking tape and cartridge guns to apply.
2. Push the nozzle along the join so its underside forms the sealant bead into a concave shape.
Wickes Good Idea Leaflet - Sealants is packed with DIY help & advice on using liquid sealants, mastics and using masking tape and cartridge guns to apply neat sealant beads.
3. When the sealant has skinned over, peel off the tape to leave a perfectly formed bead.

Save It While You Still Can!!

Save it while you still can
Simple tips for going green

Factors like chaotic change in the climate, air pollution and global warming provide evidence that the resources we use, ineffectively, are slowly depleting.

So here are some ways in which one can save on resources and contribute towards the sustainable future:

v Switch of anything that uses electricity:
·        First off, replace all lights in your house from ordinary lights to CFL lights or LED lights. Ordinary lights consume more electricity (40W) as compared to CFL (11W). CFL are efficient in the longer run as compared to ordinary lights.
·        Make sure to switch all electrical appliances when not in use.
·        Switch of lights, fans, AC units when you are not using them.
·        Use of timers is recommended so that the respective light is switched off in a prescribed time interval.
·        If possible, install a solar panel which can provide the necessary hot water and can even help provide electricity.

v Conserve Water:
·        Consumption of water should be efficient and care should be taken that it does not get wasted.
·        See to it that all the taps and fittings are properly fitted to prevent wastage of water from them.
·        When brushing your teeth, don’t keep the water running. Take a small mug and fill water in that for use.

v Keep your area and surroundings clean:
·        Plant as many trees in your surrounding buildings, societies, complexes as you can. Trees provide us with life giving oxygen and trap all the harmful carbon-dioxide and other harmful substances.
·        Make a common trash area and separate the degradable from the non-degradable. Collect all the degradable ones, it can help for plant compost.

These were some useful points to help conserve the depleting resources and help you contribute towards a cleaner and greener environment. These small steps when taken up and spread onto other people can make a big difference.

So let’s join hands and together make our world a clean and environment friendly place to live in.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Concrete Cancer

Cancer of the concrete is identified by signs such as flaking, rusting stains which leak out from inside of the concrete. People usually mistake these signs for general weathering or climate or seasonal changes in the respective area. But what they don't understand is that these are problems arising due to the rusting of the reinforced steel inside the concrete due to water penetration.
The rusting of the steel reinforcement is caused by the following few reasons:
  1. Poor treatment of the reinforcement bar used in the concrete.
  2. Conflict between two different metals used or placed too close together.
  3. Fractures or cracks in the concrete which causes the water to penetrate inside and cause the rusting.
As this phenomenon happens, it causes the steel to expand and as a result of this expansion it causes the surrounding concrete to break open allowing all impurities and materials responsible for degradation to enter.

One should note that the phenomenon of concrete cancer is an OH&S hazard. Over a period of time this phenomenon can lead to total breaking of the whole structure and that can cause loss of life and property.

So to prevent this, the best solution is:

  • Removal and replacement of wet area membrane to high rise apartment complexes
  • Leak detection and remediation to balconies of Strata Complexes
  • Internal wet area remediation
  • Regrading substrate and joint sealing for underground car park
  • Water diversion solution for Strata complex’s.

Clear Water Repellents

Clear Water Repellents have penetrating and film forming ability which is used to protect a porous substrate by reducing the penetration of water inside them. They have the ability to fill the pores of the porous substrate and prevent water from entering into the pores and spreading. It provides a breathable coating to the substrate i.e it allows the water vapor to evaporate and on the other hand does not allow the liquid water to penetrate inside. 
Clear Water Repellents:  
  • Provides necessary water protection and beading
  • Helps in the steady movement of water vapor 
  • Offers long term resistance to water penetration
Application Tips:
  • Surface Preparation 
  1. ALWAYS perform a "Splash Test" before applying a new coating or a maintenance re-coat. Splash water on several sections of the substrate, and observe if the water is absorbed. If the water beads or is not absorbed within 15 minutes, the surface will not absorb a coating properly.Cleaning or weathering will allow the pores of the substrate to open and better absorb the coating.
  • Features
  1. Any coating that is “clear”, i.e., without pigment, will not provide protection against UV exposure.
  2. When dry, oil-base products will provide a deeper, shinier finish on the deck surface, while water-base products produce a flat, or matte appearance.  
  • Procedures
  1. Do not apply a coating immediately after a rainfall.
  2. Avoid applying finish coatings during the hours of most intense sunlight.
  3. Do not over-apply a finish coating.
  4. Remove any over-spray, drips or splashes before they dry to make clean-up easier.