Eco-news in brief 8-14
By CG Editor-in-Chief Kelly Doran
Gates Foundation aims to improve world sanitation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are looking for toilets that can improve world sanitation. The Reinvent the Toilet fair, hosted in Seattle this week, featured 28 designs including a toilet that uses microwave energy to turn poop into electricity. The winning team, led by Professor Michael Hoffman, was a solar-powered toilet that generated hydrogen gas and electricity. The challenge was to create a toilet that worked without running water, electricity or a septic system. It had to operate at no more than 5 cents a day and ideally would capture energy or other resources. The UN estimates that diseases due to bad sanitation are responsible for half of the hospitalizations in the developing world. The Gates Foundation has committed $370 million to the project and hopes to field test within three years.
Test-tube meat becoming an achievable goal
Synthetic or test-tube meat is becoming an achievable goal according to Gabor Forgacs, of the University of Missouri. He also believes that there is a market for lab-grown meat, which would reduce the need to kill animals and the environmental impact of meat production. In 2011, Forgacs became the first U.S. scientist to produce and publicly consume his test-tube meat. Initially the meat will appeal to those wishing to be environmentally conscious or those who do not eat meat for ethical reasons, Forgacs said. He believes that lab-grown meat is becoming necessary due to the world’s unsustainable meat industry.
Growing solar industry
Despite pricing that requires no initial capital outlay from consumers and promises lifetime savings, Americans are not buying into solar power in significant numbers. Two factors, according to the article published by the New York Times, have harmed the industry’s growth. The first is negative ideas about green technologies. The second is the memory of Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer that went bankrupt in 2011. However, the solar power industry is actually becoming a profitable investment and the market is growing. Read more about the industry and about Sungevity, a solar company that has grown rapidly in the past five years.