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01/07/2009

#6 thru #10 - C2C Follow-UP - Terra Preta, Super Battery, Global Warming, Climbing, Honey Bandages

C2cHello...
A week into the New Year and a three days after appearing on Coast to Coast radio show (C2C).  I am wonderfully overwhelmed by the response.  More than 21,000 people have visited the site to see what was there. Hundreds emailed me directly with questions and comments about the radio show. 

Check my previous posts on this blog for information on Buckypaper, Nanopaper, Pollution Eating Concrete, Electricity Improves Mileage, and Algae to Oil. Below I have posted reference points for all the other innovations I talked about on C2C. Lesson Learned: Next time I do a radio show, I'll prepost everything to save you all the time of emailing me.

Scroll down to see good news # 6 through #10...


Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


Joel Barker's GOOD NEWS #6 through #10

Terra-preta MATERIALS 
#6 - Terra Preta--super soil!
On C2C we started by talking about this innovation and it triggered the most emails.  Terra preta, also known as "biochar" is a special kind of "invented" soil found in the Amazon.  It was invented by the indigneous people who lived there and it has profound properties. It is wonderfully black, full of nutrients, and amazingly long-lived.  It seems to regenerate itself so that plots that are known to be over 40 years old, are still growing plants with no added nutrients. To find this soil in the Amazon contradicts what Western scientists thought was true about Amazonian soil.

While we are still trying to figure out exactly how it is made, it is clear that the Amazonians mixed in dead plants, household garbage, human waste and then lit it afire but kept it from full combustion and keeping the temperature low. This created charcoal within the soil mix and that is why the soil is so dark and so resilient.

The next step is to see if modern day farmers in the developing world can make their own terra preta. If they can, it could create a revolution around the world by revitalizing the impoverished soil in Asia and Africa and Australia.  Oh, there is one more huge benefit (as if that weren't enough): Terra Preta captures large amounts of carbon and sequesters it for centuries.  As we create new Terra Preta, we could also be helping with the CO2 problem!

We may need to offer thanks to those inventive Amazonians, who, thousands of years ago, invented Terra Preta.

Google words:  "Terra Preta"  biochar

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/11/081119-lost-cities-amazon.html

Smarterenerg-smller ENERGY
#7 - Australian super battery
Lithium-ion batteries are very good and very expensive. The expense keeps electric cars from being cheaper to buy.  Research done in Australia has married good old lead acid batteries(very cheap) with a thing called a "supercapacitor."  A capacitor is simply a strorage device for electrons. By combining these two ingredients into one, the Aussies have created what they call, "The UltraBattery."  It solves two problems:  lead acid batteries degrade if they are rapidly charged and discharged which happens with hybrid cars as they generate electricity by braking  and when they accelerate.

By having the capacitor act as a short term storage device, you only have to tap the lead-acid battery for cruising. The result is a lifetime equal to lithium-ion batteries but much cheaper. This hybrid battery lasts four times as long as the best lead-acid battery while producing 50% more power. And it costs one-sixth as much as lithium-ion batteries.

One more benefit. (I always love to see two-for's) This kind of battery would allow wind generators to store energy created at night when the electricity is NOT needed and save it to be released during the day when it is needed, thus smoothing out the uneven generation that is typical of wind power.

Next step: more testing in real-life situations and more manufacturing design to simplify the system.

Google words:  UltraBattery,  Lan Trieu Lam (he is the lead researcher)

http://www.abc.net.au/ra/innovations/stories/s2175517.htm

Whiteroof-smaller GLOBAL WARMING
#8 - Painting the rooftops white
Sometimes good ideas are simple ideas.  This one also demonstrates how a lot of little efforts can make a world of difference. Spanish researchers have been studying temperature trends near one of the largest greenhouse expanses in the world. From their research, they have concluded that painting the rooftops white of houses around the world, especially in the temperate zone, could significantly impact global warming by reflecting sunlight back into outer space.

What an interesting approach:  the west would supply the reflective paint for free. Individual home owners would do the work on their own houses. Their houses would be cooler. And they would have helped the world.

Google words: "Pablo Campra" of the University of Almeria, "White Roofs global warming"

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/10/local/me-roofs10

Climbingtogether-sm PEOPLE
#9 - Climbing a Steep Hill Easier
How important is it to have a friend next to you when you climb a steep hill?  Based on research done by Simon Schnall at the University of Plymouth, UK, it makes the climb easier.  The longer you have known your friend and the better the friendship, the less steep seemed the climb. Schnall found that just thinking about your friend made the hill seem up to 20 per cent gentler.

Too often we underestimate the power of friends.

Google words:  "Simon Schnall steep hills"

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19826604.600-friends-turn-mental-mountains-into-molehills.html

Honeybandages MEDICINE
#10 - Honey Bandages
Honey, from the right plant, can kill superpathogens that our best antibiotics can't.  Honey from the Manuka Tree of New Zealand is being infused into bandages to fight infection.  The irony of the "discovery" is that honey as an infection fighter has been known and used for thousands of years. The Eygptans used it.  No matter what, it offers a new pathway for dealing with pathogens that are growing more common every year.

Google words:  manuka honey bandage

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22398921/

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
and
Joel Barker's Innovation at the Verge Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center

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