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Sunpower’s Alex Trantor

For those who worry that fighting climate change means sacrificing comfort, the luxurious Turanor might be a revelation. The world’s biggest solar-powered vessel, run by Planet Solar from Switzerland, returned to the Mediterranean in May, after completing the first-ever round-the-world fueled solely by solar energy.

Captain Eric Dumont: “Its time to realize there is a lot of pollution everywhere, and this boat is a messenger and maybe an alarm to say stop pollution on this planet.”

The name Turanor comes from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga, and means “the power of the sun”. Power is precisely what the 115 footlong ship is intended to showcase. This summer, it’s travelling to cities in the Mediterranean like Valletta, Malta. Each stop attracts a crowd of reporters and government ministers eager to see how it works. The ship’s systems are simple at first glance. Sunshine falls on 5,800 square feet of solar panels, made by the company Sunpower. They are the world’s most efficient panels — converting about 18 per cent of the energy into electricity, which charges two huge 6 ton lithium ion batteries in each of the hulls. [US measurements]

When Captain Dumont pushes the throttle forward, power is transferred to the two electric motors, which turn special low-speed propellers. The 91-ton boat can travel for three days on the batteries without getting any charge from the sun, but there is a surprising problem with the power system.

The surprising thing is that the production on the solars is outperforming what was expected, and in fact there is too much generating capacity on the roof. There is so much of it that the batteries are not even using all of that power being produced. The ship is a travelling experiment. Technicians in Switzerland monitor the boat via satellite around the clock. Data from its round-the-world trip will be used to improve the technology, increasing its speed, for example.

Recycled Pulp Fashioned into MP3 Speakers

Sharing music and videos with friends is really amazing, it would be better if the gadgets could use renewable sources such as solarpowered electric energy or follow the Go Green rules.

At the moment, the market offers us eco-friendly speakers that act more like acoustic docks which boost the audio source and can be charged with renewable energy.

Their experience is not satisfactory, however, and to deal with this problem, Chin Yang and Balance Wu have developed the Pulpop MP3 speaker.

Made from recycled material, the product works on vibration technology. Amplification takes place through the supporting surface and the doughnut design.

Challenging the assumption that sound cannot travel well through paper, these speakers have a surface area large enough to allow the greatest resonance possible to travel through 360 degrees.

The speaker’s hollow ring is made from pulp paper and moulded at the highest-possible temperature 32 OUR PLANET RIO+20 - Where the World Stands and pressure.


How to Detect Apps Leaking Your Data

A service called Mobilescope acts as a watchdog, alerting users when apps copy and transmit sensitive information. One reason that smartphones and smartphone apps are so useful is that they can integrate intimately with our personal lives. But that also puts our personal data at risk.

A new service called Mobilescope hopes to change that by letting a smartphone user examine all the data that apps transfer, and alerting him when sensitive information, such as his name or e-mail address, is transferred.

“It’s a platform-agnostic interception tool that you can use on your Android, iOS, Blackberry, or Windows device,” says Ashkan Soltani, an independent privacy researcher who created Mobilescope with fellow researchers David Campbell and Aldo Cortesi.

Prefab-Garden Greenhouse Housing Complex

Daiwa House, Japan’s largest homebuilder, has introduced a line of prefabricated hydroponic vegetable factories, aimed at housing complexes, hotels, and top-end restaurants.

Called the Agri-Cube, these units are touted by Daiwa as the first step in the industrialization of agriculture, to be located in and amongst the places where people live, work, and play.

More and more people desire sustainable, organic produce for their own use, and are turning to urban farming in an effort to insure the highest degree of freshness. However, some municipalities, neighborhoods, and homeowners associations have rules that effectively block such endeavors in areas under their sway.

Add drought and pest control to the picture, and suddenly urban farming may seem more trouble than it is worth.

There is a growing need for local supplies of freshly grown produce that avoids the difficulties presented by conventional small farms and gardens.