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New cement is carbon negative

novacem

Cement is one of the most significant single sources for carbon emissions, due to the intense energy required for its production and the volumes of it that are produced annually, as well as from material itself, but an alternative is now available. It doesn't just reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted, it actually binds more CO2 than is emitted from its production, which makes its production carbon negative.

Novacem has developed a new cement that uses magnesium silicate instead of calcium compounds. The new material is supposed to have performance and cost comparable to ordinary Portland cement. Furthermore, because the production of magnesium silicate is a lower energy process, it can be manufactured using biofuel, instead of requiring more intensive and polluting energy sources.

The company also notes that "production of our cement is carbon negative; more carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed during the process than is emitted." Manufacturing a tonne of this cement results in the absorption of up to 100 kg (220 lbs) of carbon dioxide more than is emitted in the process.

Magnesium oxide is widely available as well, so there should not be an issue of material scarcity with the use of this as a Portland cement replacement. The company is not producing the material itself, but is instead seeking to license its technology to producers.

via: Jetson Green

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Five best low-tech garden tools

Home improvement warehouse stores are full of gadgets and devices aimed at easing your gardening work. However, many successful home gardens are cultivated with a handful of good hand tools — and the high-tech alternatives often won’t help you grow a tastier tomato or brighter begonias.

A gardener’s toolkit requires little more than a trowel, fork, manual weeder, rake, and shears. Each time-tested tool beats several high-tech alternatives.

1. Shears: A good pair of bypass pruning shears can keep many trees and shrubs neat and tidy, while also helping harvest vegetables and flowers, clear away dead leaves and cut weeds away from the plants you want to keep.

Power pruners such as the Alligator Lopper add chainsaw teeth and electric scissor action. They may seem like a great idea, but sharp hand pruners are plenty powerful for most home gardeners. The Alligator Lopper may be more hazard than help in many homes.

Another overrated alternative is the Garden Groom collecting electric hedge trimmer. It looks like an oversized high-tech iron, and it trims away hedges, then shreds and collects the leaves all in one device. However, users complain it is too heavy and may not do the job. It only cuts a small amount at a time, so it requires several passes on many hedges. It also doesn’t pick up all the debris.

2. Rake: Garden vacuums — either gas- or electric-powered — are popular among people anxious to keep a perfect yard. They suck up leaves and dirt, but that is the problem — dirt belongs in the yard. Instead consider raking the leaves and other debris, or simply leaving many of them where they fall.

This can create healthy mulch or compost and you don’t have to send all those bags of vacuumed leaves to the landfill.

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Japanese inventor creates machine that converts plastic bags into fuel

plastic-bags-to-fuel

Plastic bags have been the enemy of environmentalists for pretty much as long as they have existed.  Not only are they made from oil, but they clog our landfills for hundreds of years.  Many cities, states and countries have banned plastic bags altogether, but for most of the world, they'll be hanging around for a while longer.

In an attempt to deal with the millions and millions of plastic bags used every year, Japanese inventor Akinori Ito has created a machine that can turn plastic bags into fuel in a carbon negative process.  The machine, which is now being sold by the inventor's Blest Corporation, heats the plastic and traps the vapors in a system of pipes, where the vapors are cooled and condensed into crude oil. The crude oil can be used in generators and even some stoves, but with one more refining step, it can be used in gasoline.

The very efficient machine can process two pounds of plastic (including polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene) into a quart of oil using only one kilowatt of electricity.

Obviously, once the fuel is burned, it will release CO2 into the atmosphere, but it's allowing the oil that created the plastic to be used twice instead of just once and then sent to a landfill.  That cuts down on the amount of oil we need to extract and keeps plastic out of landfills.

The machine is meant for households, but it currently costs $10,000, which is pretty steep.  Ito hopes that the cost of the machine will drop as production increases.

via CleanTechnica

Image via Blest Corporation

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