Gobar Times

Cowpats April 2011

Blooming energy out of a box

A box the size of a book that produces enough electricity for you entire home. Sounds something out of a Sci-fi movie? Well it’s a lot closer to reality and it’s called a Bloom Energy Server (more commonly known as the Bloom Box). It is a fuel cell, which converts fuel directly into electricity. Unlike the regular ones, which use only Hydrogen gas, the BB uses all-- from natural gas, bio gas to diesel. According to its creator, an Indian scientist, KR Sridhar, the BB has no transmission related wastage, which makes it more environment friendly than any of the present technologies. Power companies are now testing the BB carefully for wider use.

By the power of the sun!

Covering a distance of over 3000 km across the Australian outback, from Darwin to Adelaide, at a speed of over 120kmph sounds like any other cross-country car rally. What sets it apart is that all these cars are solar powered. Yes, you read correctly, solar powered. World Solar Challenge is an annual event in which teams from universities and corporations around the world participate in a race with motors powered by solar panels. The objective is to promote the usage of solar power for transportation and development of technology to make our existing vehicles more efficient. This year its scheduled from 16 to 23 October.

Want to know how environmentally friendly a company is?


A new mobile phone application allows shoppers to get real-time advice on the ethical status of goods and services. Shoppers can make real-time comparisons using a mobile phone serivce that was launched recently.

The Ethical Company Organisation's best-selling Good Shopping Guide has been turned into an application, using its ethical product research which aims to cut through corporate "greenwash". The shopping advice will initially be available for use on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad at £2.99. Ten per cent of net revenue will be donated to environmental groups. The application as a vast range. It lists over 700 well-known brands, ranked in 72 product-specific league tables under seven main sections, from food and drink to health and beauty to travel and energy. A summary table shows "the good, the bad and the ugly" brands in relation to the environment, human rights and animal welfare. Points scored give an overall "ethical rating" to easily identify the best performing brands and companies. The move follows the launch last year of Barcoo, which allows customers to scan the barcode of products in shops and find out how environmentally friendly a company is, or how it treats its staff. The new service does not use barcode technology, as the developers felt it allowed too many smaller and newer brands to "slip through the net." Despite the Recession more and more people want products and services that don't trash the planet - but don't have much time to investigate the best options themselves. The mobile will help them plug the gap.

To 'FLY' a CAR!

A pair of inventive eco-sportsmen have driven across Australia mostly using wind power. Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer drove – or rather sailed, or possibly even piloted – their unique wind-powered vehicle into Sydney. Eighteen days earlier the two Germans had left Albany in the southwestern corner of Australia with the intention of breezing along the 3,000 mile route using nothing more than the power of the wind. Their purpose-built 200kg convertible is part kite-surfer, part wind turbine and part electric car, and is the first wind-powered vehicle ever to cross the continent.

The basic premise of the Wind Explorer is simple enough. It is a car with a sail. It is a grown-up version of the land yachts that careen along the flat sands of Weston-super-Mare. But hold on – what if there's no wind? Oh, these boys have thought of that. You see, the sail is only one part of the Wind Explorer's armoury. The car is also an electric vehicle. When its sail is reefed, the car is propelled by a super-efficient electric engine which is powered by

a pack of high-performance lithium-ion batteries. When charged, these batteries give a range of about 400km (250 miles). Ah, but what if the batteries are flat and there's no wind? Easy – they simply erect a 20ft bamboo telescopic mast which is fitted to a 9ft wind turbine (this takes about 30 minutes) and charge their batteries overnight. If all that fails, they can still plug the Wind Explorer into the grid like an ordinary electric vehicle. In fact, they did that at the start of their trip and calculate they used about £10 worth of electricity – not bad for 3,000 miles.


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