mfioretti: waste*

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  1. When we launched the first-generation Gigabot for big dreamers back in 2013, our big dream was to ultimately create a 3D printer that could print using plastic trash. Over the last five years we've kept our sights trained on this dream. We've determined that the first step in this direction is to focus on direct pellet extrusion -- melting small chunks of plastic instead of extruded filament for the input material.

    Aside from being a big step in the direction of 3D printing directly from recyclables, there are some major benefits that come from printing with pellets. It eliminates the need for extruded plastic filament, which tends to be about 10x more expensive than pelletized plastic. Direct pellet extrusion also allows for faster printing -- we're currently experimenting with print times up to 17x faster than the filament-fed Gigabot.

    And while pellet printers are currently commercially available, they typically are used in larger manufacturing systems and are cost-prohibitive to many potential users. Our goal, much like with the first-generation Gigabot, is to increase 3D printer accessibility and bridge the gap between cost and scale by creating an affordable, large-scale pellet printer.

    Using the $225,000+ we won last year in global pitch competitions, our engineers in Houston have created Gigabot X: a prototype 3D printer to directly accept pelletized plastic, including recycled pellets.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-03-10)
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  2. Ultimately, the ban could push countries to tackle wasteful, disposable lifestyles at source, by forcing plastics and other disposable goods manufacturers to take responsibility for the environmental damage caused by their products throughout their whole life cycle. For plastic bottles, for example, the life cycle from production to decomposition can be up to 450 years.

    There are fears that the ban will simply lead to these huge quantities of waste being exported to less ­developed, less well-regulated waste industries, especially in Southeast Asia. In fact, UK exports of waste to Vietnam and Malaysia doubled in 2017, compared to 2016. However, there are no new waste markets with equivalent capacity to China’s over the last three decades.

    This globally disruptive event, then, leaves governments little alternative but to face up to the reality of their waste problems.
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  3. How much longer can we sustain the high-consumption lifestyle we are used to?
    Who’s consuming? And what happens to the waste?

    To get the full picture on consumerism we need to understand inter-connected global systems of production and consumption.

    Globally, consumption patterns are unequal and wasteful. It has just 5% of the world’s population, but the US consumes 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste. It is not alone in wastefulness: a small slice of the world’s population consumes most of the resources and produces most of the greenhouse gas emissions.

    Material resources are depleting at such a rate that we are likely to soon face shortages in materials we currently dump in landfill - lead, copper, cadmium, wolfram (tungsten) and zinc, to name a few.

    In this context, plastic waste and toxic e-waste are another ticking time bomb. Why are electronics breaking so fast and why are they cheaper to replace than repair?

    In 1960, cultural critic and consumerism theorist, Vance Packard, published in his pioneering book The Waste Makers, a critique of planned obsolescence.

    He pointed out that consumers who learn that the manufacturer invested money to make the product obsolete faster might turn to a producer (if any exists) that offers a more durable alternative. We need to support a move towards more single-material, recyclable components in all industry sectors.
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  4. This report examines using human waste as feedstock in a small-scale bioreactor to produce methane gas for cooking and heating. While the use of biogas produced from livestock manure is commonplace, I am interested in the feasibility of building a household reactor that instead utilizes human waste as its primary input.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-11-20)
    Voting 0
  5. Biogas from human waste, safely obtained under controlled circumstances using innovative technologies, is a potential fuel source great enough in theory to generate electricity for up to 138 million households – the number of households in Indonesia, Brazil, and Ethiopia combined.

    A report today from UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health estimates that biogas potentially available from human waste worldwide would have a value of up to US$ 9.5 billion in natural gas equivalent.

    And the residue, dried and charred, could produce 2 million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel, curbing the destruction of trees.

    Finally, experts say, the large energy value would prove small relative to that of the global health and environmental benefits that would accrue from the proper universal treatment of human waste.

    “Rather than treating our waste as a major liability, with proper controls in place we can use it in several circumstances to build innovative and sustained financing for development while protecting health and improving our environment in the process,” according to the report, “Valuing Human Waste as an Energy Resource.”

    The report uses average waste volume statistics, high and low assumptions for the percentage of concentrated combustable solids contained (25 – 45%), its conversion into biogas and charcoal-like fuel and their thermal equivalents (natural gas and charcoal), to calculate the potential energy value of human waste.

    Biogas, approximately 60% methane by volume, is generated through the bacterial breakdown of faecal matter, and any other organic matter, in an oxygen free (anaerobic) system.

    Dried and charred faecal sludge, meanwhile, has energy content similar to coal and charcoal.

    UN figures show that 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and almost 1 billion people (about 60% of them in India) don’t use toilets at all, defecating instead in the open.

    If the waste of only those practicing open defecation was targeted, the financial value of biogas potentially generated exceeds US$ 200 million per year and could reach as high as $376 million. The energy value would equal that of the fuel needed to generate electricity for 10 million to 18 million local households. Processing the residual faecal sludge, meanwhile, would yield the equivalent of 4.8 million to 8.5 million tonnes of charcoal to help power industrial furnaces, for example.
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  6. There’s no reason that these machines can’t exist in every maker’s home — and when people have access to these tools, there’s no telling what new businesses and services they’ll create.

    Sure, having a home fabrication lab isn’t going to be for everyone. But for those who put in the time and effort to learn the tools, there are some surprising rewards to be found. Take this story for example:

    Applestone’s neighbor is working on drug research for psoriasis. His experiment used to cost him $3,000. That’s until he teamed up with Applestone to build an aluminum micro-array in her garage (“over beers”) which contains 900 test tubes — each of which is a 125-nanoliter deep well in the metal — in a square centimeter. They then used a CNC machine to deposit RNA strands and individual cells into the micro array — effectively reducing the cost of the experiment by ten thousand fold.

    How’s that for innovation?
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  7. Silicon Valley has just the thing for you. For a fee, more than a dozen well-funded startups will overnight you a box with a simple recipe and all the ingredients, even perishable stuff like meat, precisely measured and ready for the pan.
    These "meal kit" services exist to deliver the thing we miss about cooking—the thrill of transformation with fire—while stripping away much of the drudgery.

    These "meal kit" services, as they're known, exist to deliver the thing we miss about cooking—the thrill of transformation with fire—while stripping away much of the drudgery. "Throw a dart," and you can find a company catering to just about any food preference, says Brita Rosenheim, founder of a consulting firm focused on food-related tech companies. In addition to big names like Blue Apron, there's Sun Basket, catering to paleo and gluten-free tastes, and Purple Carrot, whose vegan kits are fronted by home cooking champion Mark Bittman. Chef'd woos the starry-eyed with recipes by culinary celebrities. Even Bittman's former employer, the New York Times, is getting into the game. As part of a new partnership with Chef'd, fans of the Times food section can order meal kits based on recipes ripped from the pages of the "paper of record."

    Venture capital firms—eager to disrupt the trillion-dollar US food economy—are drenching the space with cash.
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  8. “Caress of the Gaze is obviously speculative,” she says. A shawl equipped with computer vision? It seems so out-there. But then, in a not-so-crazy way, garments seem a perfectly logical place to implement technology. “Clothing is one of the most significant interfaces between our bodies and our environments,” says Farahi. “It defines so much of who we are.”
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  9. In a perfect world, supermarkets would not exist as they do: the model that they operate on necessitates waste on a tremendous scale. But if you’re worried about waste, or just want to save a few dollars, dumpster diving is a great way to start getting involved.
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  10. after a couple of interstate moves in just as many years, I’ve learned the value of owning less.

    Lesson One: Most Things I Owned Were Useless
    Lesson Two: I Only Buy What I’ll Use in the Future
    Lesson Three: Durability Matters, but Not for Everything
    Lesson Four: Almost Everything Is Fixable
    Lesson Five: The Less I Own, the More Time I Spend with What I Like
    Lesson Six: Cleanliness Is Easy When You Don’t Own Junk
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