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
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.
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
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
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,
“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.
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
and homeowners associations
have rules that effectively block
such endeavors in areas under
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.