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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ethanol chic: biofuel designer fireplaces a hit in Germany

At Biopact we often look at how modern biofuels like biogas, biopropane or ethanol gelfuel combined with efficient stoves can help improve the way in which ruralites in the developing world cook and heat their homes. Most often they use unsustainably harvested wood or dung, which causes indoor smoke pollution, a true 'killer in the kitchen' estimated to claim the lives of around 1.5 million women and children each year (more here).

But heating with biofuels is becoming hip in the highly developed, post-industrialised world as well. The reasons behind these trends are manifold: there is a purely utilitarian and economic logic - e.g. heating with biomass pellets has become considerably cheaper than heating oil (previous post) -, others enjoy the more natural touch of heating with wood, whereas some try to combine a quest for sustainability with a taste for design.

An example of the latter comes from Germany, where this winter's hit is a neatly designed fireplace that runs on ethanol. Key to the object is a patented combustion chamber that burns the alcohol biofuel in a clean way, developed by Radius Design.

For centuries, an open fireplace has been considered the heart of the home, before it became a luxury symbol of today. In recent years, using methylated spirits or pastes (gels), any number of variants of pseudo-fireplaces cropped up in apartments. But the real lovers of open fires simply weren't satisfied, as the flames were reminiscent more of a burning torch than a fire, or simply smoldered away pitifully.

With his team, Michael Rösing, designer and MD of Radius Einrichtungsbedarf GmbH in Brühl, has now developed a collection of outstandingly designed open hearths for indoor use, all with high-grade finishing – and they would seem to be a match for real fireplaces, or so the response at the 'Tendence Lifestyle' trade fair, which recently took place in Frankfurt, would suggest. There, the 'Home Flame Collection' was presented to the trade public for the first time.

The special thing about the Radius Design fireplaces is the patented combustion chamber made of double-skin stainless steel, with a special ceramic sponge in the middle. This ensures even combustion down to the very last drop of ethanol and creates a large and beautifully even set of flames:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The combustion chamber in the 'Pure' version has such an ingenious structure that it can be placed in any fireproof container and can thus, for example, bring a new lease of life to abandoned fireplaces. When integrated into the elegant bodies Michael Rösing has developed for wall, floor or table-top mounting, the units form an attractive focus of attention for any living interior.

The gross sales price for the items in the collection is between €278 (US$412) for the smallest object - 'Pure Flame' - and €799 (US$1185) for the nice 'Wall Flame' made from glass and noble steel. They can be obtained from various dealers under contract to Radius Design or from the company's online shop. Technical details and specifications on the versions and sizes are provided on the second page of this document. For further information and images of the complete 'Home Flame Collection' visit this page.

Biopact: Biomass pellets revolution in Austria: 46% less costly than heating oil; most efficient way for households to reduce carbon footprint - October 06, 2007

Biopact: WHO: indoor air pollution takes heavy toll on health in the developing world - May 01, 2007

Biopact: A new fuel: MIT researchers develop biopropane, to be used in heating and transportation - April 19, 2007

Biopact: Uganda to get gelfuel and ethanol plant - October 22, 2007

Biopact: Bosch and Siemens introduce biofuel cooking stove for developing world - May 20, 2007


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are interested in such an (insert for) ethanol fireplace, please have a look at http://opdecodesign.googlepages.com/. Quite a good choice and fair prices.

4:24 PM  

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