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Good News #103 - #107 - Materials, Energy, Transportation, Resources

 Hello again,

Ready for some more GOOD NEWS? Below you'll find five GOOD NEWS ideas to inform and inspire you, including...

  • Dandelion rubber?  
  • Nuclear waste storage down deep 
  • Car insurance by the mile 
  • Michelin's Active Wheel 
  • Cleaning water cheaply 

Also two LINKS to share...

Iwant to personally invite you to check out two links below --- the latest edition of our newsletter and our next ONLINE professional development class:

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #103 through #107.

-- Joel

Jab-square-sm Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

GOOD NEWS IDEAS #103 - #107


Dandelion #103 - Dandelion Rubber?
Most of us think of dandelions as yellow weeds. But it turns out one Russian variety may be able to produce rubber as part of its growth cycle. If this turns out to be successful, it could be planted twice a year in good climates and be more productive than the rubber trees that presently provide natural rubber. Because it is a weed, it is tough and resilient. The trick will be to adjust its DNA to produce significant amounts of the rubber. Research is going on both in Germany and in America. 

The Economist Magazine, January 2, 2010 p. 60 



Crystalline basement rock #104 - Nuclear Waste Storage
Just as interest is heating up again for nuclear fission power reactors, so is the ongoing question of where to store the waste. Sandia National Laboratory has a new answer that is surprisingly simple--drill very deep boreholes and bury the waste two kilometers deep (about 1.2 miles) in hard, crystalline basement rock which is available in most of the United States. This means no long distance transportation and a wide dispersal of the waste materials. Why didn't we do this 25 years ago?  We didn't have the drilling technology to go this deep. If this solution works out, it lowers the cost of storage as it makes it much safer.

New Scientist, April 6, 2010 Magazine Issue 2754, page 9
Drilling Deep Under the US to Dispose of Nuclear Wasteby Phil McKenna


IllustrationbyPeterArkle-FC4-2010 #105 - Car Insurance By the Mile

A Texas company named MileMeter is proposing a new way to purchase your insurance--based on the miles you drive. In a sense, you get what you need and no more. And, also, low mileage drivers aren't underwriting high mileage drivers. This idea is very interesting to me because it is also a potential model for how road taxes might be raised for electric cars, many of which will never need a single gallon of gas. Brookings Institute did research on this kind of insurance and found that it will probably lower driving miles by about 8% if it were adopted.

Illustration by  Peter Arkle

Cliff Kukang, author, Fast Company, April 2010, page 32


MichelinActiveWheelSystem #106 - French Cars
Electric Motors in Each Wheel
Even as the first electric cars are rolling out (think Nissan's Leaf), new design ideas are flourishing. One area of focus is where to put the electric motor or motors. Michelin tire company is the leader in the concept of an "active wheel" in which both the electric motor and the suspension are located inside the wheel. That would mean four wheel drive and no need for a special place to put the motor which means more room for storage space and batteries. It looks like the French have done it again. By the way, be sure to watch the video at the site. It is very impressive!



NewScientist-PhilCondit-II-Stone-Getty #107 - Cleaning Water Cheaply
The present paradigm for cleaning water is to use a lot of complex expensive equipment to do it. But maybe not in the future. Research done on the cactus plant indicates that these plants have a very efficient way of removing both pollutants and bacteria from dirty water. Norma Alcantar at the University of South Florida and her team looked into the way the prickly pear cactus gets its water. They found that its "mucilage", a kind of gum it uses to store water, causes the impurities to clump together and settle out. The researchers will now look at the best way to apply this technology cheaply.  

New Scientist, April 24, 2010, page 20
Cactus gum could make clean water cheap for millions by Helen Knight 


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