Thursday, May 26, 2011

Plastiki boat is also an off-grid vessel

Watching Rothschild's video about the self-contained off-grid plastic boat, why couldn't we make a little house using all the same principles?


, relying primarily on renewable energy systems including from solar panels, wind and trailing propeller turbines, and bicycle generators, and utilizing a urine-to-water recovery and rain water catchment system for fresh water sources. Finally, it comes complete with a hydroponic rotating cylinder garden."

Body Heat for Powering Medical Devices Helps Off-Grid Hospitals

Patients help power their own life-saving equipment

Jaymi Heimbuch

By Jaymi Heimbuch San Francisco, CA
Mon Aug 9, 2010 13:10

Solar- and body heat-powered medical device
Photo credit Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy


Powering medical devices with energy sources other than batteries has been an area of interest for some years now. Researchers have looked at everything from harvesting kinetic energy from a person's breath to their heartbeat. But what about body heat...and what about medical devices beyond pacemakers and other implants? Scientists are experimenting with using body heat to power medical tools for hospitals with unsteady power supplies.

Providing adequate health care means having access to tools like x-ray machines, yet for hospitals in rural areas or disaster zones, access to power also limits access to these important devices. One of the most reliable sources of energy then becomes sunlight... and perhaps also the body heat of the patients being treated.

The Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy reports that Vladimir Leonov, Senior Research Scientist at the Dutch research center Imec, has created a new class of medical device that are miniaturized to be easily transported and, more importantly, can run off of body heat and sunlight, and the devices prototyped already include an electroencephalograph (EEG) for monitoring brain waves and an electrocardiograph (ECG) for measuring heartbeats. Both machines use energy efficient parts, and can function in even the most remote conditions -- as long as there is enough of both energy sources.

The key to making the devices work is advancement in efficient thermopiles -- arrays of thermocouples that create electricity from heat -- and miniature solar panels. Combining the two energy sources was important for Leonov because with just one or the other, there isn't enough power generated. But when harvesting energy from both, there is enough to run the machines.

The cost of producing the equipment is still a barrier to their production, but the hard work is already done. Now it's just a matter of improving the technology price-wise, delivering it, and developing other medical machines that can run off these two reliable off-grid energy sources.

Follow Jaymi on Twitter for more stories like this

More on Medical Advancements
Powering Medical Devices with Your Organs
Eel-Like Electric Cells Could Power Medical and Nanotech Devices
Solar Powered Medical Clinic Will Save Lives in War Torn Iraq
New Smart Bandage Kills Only Bad Bacteria

A Boat Made of Trash ~ Plastiki


The Harrowing Ocean Crossing of a Boat Made of Trash, as Chronicled in Plastiki

plastiki boat construction
luca babini photo

The boat—a 60-foot catamaran—was designed and built by British environmentalist David de Rothschild.

Recycled PET bottles offered a strong, buoyant, material for the hull. The mast was constructed from a recycled aluminum irrigation pipe. Even the sail—woven from recycled PET—was an example of repurposed trash.

The concept seemed sound, but as the six-person crew boarded the ship in San Fransisco on March 20, 2010, Plastiki remained relatively untested. ...more

And much, much more, with photos and video:

Plastiki from Glenn McElhose on Vimeo.

We've been following the progress of the Plastiki for over a year now. In case you've forgotten, it's the pet project of eco-adventurer David de Rothschild and it's a huge boat made from recycled plastic bottles. The vessel has been under construction and late last week, the crew finally unveiled it in the San Francisco Bay. This is the start point for what will be an 11,000 mile trek to Sydney, highlighting the problem of plastic as both a pollutant and design issue.

Made from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles, the recycled srPET is a strong, bouyant material. The mast is made from reclaimed aluminum irrigation pipe and the sail is hand-made from reycled PET as well. To top it off, the secondary bonding is reinforced using a newly developed organic glue made from cashew nuts and sugar cane. It's a very green boat, and its credentials don't stop with the construction.

plastiki boat photo
Image via Plastiki

The Plastiki is also an off-grid vessel, relying primarily on renewable energy systems including from solar panels, wind and trailing propeller turbines, and bicycle generators, and utilizing a urine-to-water recovery and rain water catchment system for fresh water sources. Finally, it comes complete with a hydroponic rotating cylinder garden.

WATCH VIDEO: Blue August: Plastic is Forever

Right now, the crew is working on final preparations for their sail across the Pacific ocean. The trip will highlight not only all the plastic in our oceans, but also that waste - especially plastic waste - is a fundamental design flaw and we have to rethink waste as a resource.

Here's de Rothschild talking to TreeHugger's Graham Hill about how the ship is made.

Plastiki from Glenn McElhose on Vimeo.

You can buy a flat-pack kit to build a model of the plastic bottle boat!

When I saw this tweet from @Plastiki this afternoon, "We've released the Plastiki toy [so proud!] and @joshspear has put it front page", I thought surely they haven't built a miniature version of the complex boat famously built out of recycled plastic bottles! How the heck have they done that? As we wait for David De Rothschild and his crew to embark on their high seas adventure to the Gyre, otherwise known as the Pacific Garbage Patch, they have created something to keep us from twiddling our thumbs...


Flat packed Kit
Calling all kids, model making enthusiasts, and those jealous of David's imminent adventure! The Plastiki toy comes in a suitably sustainable form, not lots of tiny little bits of plastic, but rather a flat packed cardboard kit that you can assemble yourselves to put pride of place on your mantle piece, on your bookshelf or anywhere that takes your fancy, but probably not in your bath, as Josh Spear suggested!

FSC Approved
The Plastiki team tell us that their new toy is "manufactured and designed by Jamily in Manchester UK. The model is made from FSC approved card and printed locally using sustainable vegetable inks. Every stage of the manufacturing process was designed to produce minimal waste and efficient use of energy."

50% Profits to Sculpt The Future Foundation
You can buy one from the online Plastiki shop. It's being sold at the rather hefty price of £18.00, but we love the fact that 50% of profits will be donated to the Sculpt The Future Foundation which promotes "positive environmental change towards global sustainability by supporting creative, innovative and sustainable action."


More on Plastiki Expedition
David de Rothschild Sets Sail on Plastic Ship
David de Rothschild Shows Graham Hill Ways to Turn Plastic From ...
Sailing For Cause: Marine 'Odd-Ventures'
David de Rothschild and The Real Cost of Living (Video)
The TH Interview: David de Rothschild - Part 1
The TH Interview: David de Rothschild - Part 2



plastic bottles, ocean crossing, Lake Atitlan, PET bottles, boat, trash, recycle,

I want to try this at Lake Atitlan!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tensile Solar Panels

Tensile fabric solar panels offer shade in the day and run electricity at night. Can't wait to try this out for myself!


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Friday, May 20, 2011

Thomas Heatherwick: Building the Seed Cathedral

Uploaded by TEDtalksDirector on May 17, 2011 A future more beautiful? Architect Thomas Heatherwick shows five recent projects featuring ingenious bio-inspired designs. Some are remakes of the ordinary: a bus, a bridge, a power station ... And one is an extraordinary pavilion, the Seed Cathedral, a celebration of growth and light.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the "Sixth Sense" wearable tech, and "Lost" producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at


Science & Technology