สวทน. จับมือ GIZ จัดสัมมนา “Sinnovation” มุ่งพัฒนาระบบนวัตกรรมอาเซียน พร้อมเดินหน้าขับเคลื่อนข้อริเริ่มกระบี่

สวทน. เดินหน้าขับเคลื่อนข้อริเริ่มกระบี่ พร้อมร่วมมือกับหน่วยงาน GIZ จากประเทศเยอรมนี จัดสัมมนาภายใต้หัวข้อ “SInnovation ASEAN-Germany 1st International Conference: Increase Innovativeness / More Value Innovations – From Policy to Practical Implementation / Pursuing the Krabi Initiative” ระหว่างวันที่ 11-13 กรกฎาคม 2555 โดยได้รับเกียรติจากผู้เชี่ยวชาญจากประเทศกลุ่มสหภาพยุโรป และอาเซียนร่วมอภิปรายในประเด็นความร่วมมือเพื่อพัฒนาระบบนวัตกรรมระหว่างภูมิภาค เสริมความพร้อมประเทศอาเซียนด้านวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรม (วทน.) สู่ความเป็นประชาคมเศรษฐกิจอาเซียนในปีพ.ศ. 2558

กรุงเทพ 13 กรกฎาคม 2555—สำนักงานคณะกรรมการนโยบายวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรมแห่งชาติ (สวทน.) ภายใต้กระทรวงวิทยาศาสตร์และเทคโนโลยี และองค์กรความร่วมมือระหว่างประเทศของเยอรมัน (GIZ) โดยการสนับสนุนของกระทรวงเพื่อความร่วมมือทางเศรษฐกิจและการพัฒนาแห่งสหพันธ์สาธารณรัฐเยอรมนี จัดงานสัมมนาในหัวข้อ “SInnovation ASEAN-Germany 1st International Conference: Increase Innovativeness / More Value Innovations – From Policy to Practical Implementation / Pursuing the Krabi Initiative” โดยการประชุมนี้เป็นกิจกรรมหนึ่งของโครงการความร่วมมือระหว่างอาเซียนและประเทศเยอรมนี ของคณะกรรมการอาเซียนด้านวิทยาศาสตร์และเทคโนโลยี (ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology – ASEAN COST) และเป็นส่วนหนึ่งในความพยายามเพื่อดำเนินงานผลักดันสาขาความร่วมมือตามข้อริเริ่มกระบี่ (Krabi Initiative) 8 ด้าน (thematic track) เพื่อพัฒนาขีดความสามารถทางการแข่งขัน และยกระดับคุณภาพชีวิตของชาวอาเซียนด้วย วิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรม ได้แก่ 1) นวัตกรรมอาเซียนสู่ตลาดโลก (ASEAN Innovation for Global Market) 2) สังคมดิจิทัล สื่อใหม่และเครือข่ายสังคม (Digital Economy, New Media and Social Networking) 3) เทคโนโลยีสีเขียว (Green Technology) 4) ความมั่นคงทางอาหาร ( Food Security) 5) ความมั่นคงทางพลังงาน (Energy Security) 6) การบริหารจัดการทรัพยากรน้ำ (Water Management) 7) ความหลากหลายทางชีวภาพเพื่อการพัฒนาคุณภาพชีวิตและเศรษฐกิจ (Biodiversity for Health and Wealth) 8) วิทยาศาสตร์และนวัตกรรมเพื่อการเรียนรู้ตลอดชีวิต (Science and Innovation for Life)

ดร.พิเชฐ ดุรงคเวโรจน์ เลขาธิการ สวทน. เปิดเผยว่า “การก้าวสู่การเป็นประชาคมอาเซียนในปี 2558 นอกจากจะเปิดโอกาสด้านการค้าและการลงทุนสู่ตลาดอาเซียนซึ่งมีประชากรรวมกันกว่า 600 ล้านคนแล้ว ยังเป็นโอกาสสำหรับผู้ประกอบการไทยในการเข้าถึงเทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรม ตลอดจนทรัพยากรธรรมชาติและทรัพยากรมนุษย์ โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งแรงงานฝีมือและผู้เชี่ยวชาญของประเทศต่างๆ ในภูมิภาคอาเซียน”

ข้อริเริ่มกระบี่ (Krabi Initiative) ริเริ่มและจัดทำขึ้นโดยสำนักงานคณะกรรมการนโยบายวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรมแห่งชาติ (สวทน.) เพื่อเป็นกรอบความร่วมมือด้านวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรมเพื่อ

รองรับการก่อตั้งประชาคมอาเซียน ในปี 2558 และได้รับความเห็นชอบจากรัฐมนตรีอาเซียนว่าด้วยวิทยาศาสตร์และเทคโนโลยี เมื่อวันที่ 17 ธันวาคม 2553 เป็นแนวทางการสร้างความร่วมมือด้านวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรม (วทน.) ระหว่างประเทศสมาชิกอาเซียนและประเทศคู่เจรจา

“ขณะนี้ สวทน.กำลังดำเนินการขับเคลื่อนข้อริเริ่มกระบี่ ซึ่งหนึ่งในเป้าหมายสำคัญของการพัฒนาด้าน วทน.ของภูมิภาคอาเซียนคือการพัฒนาขีดความสามารถทางการแข่งขันทางเศรษฐกิจ เพื่อยกระดับคุณภาพชีวิตสู่สังคมดีมีคุณภาพ และต้องมีการบริหารจัดการทรัพยากรที่มีอยู่อย่างสมดุล ด้วยการพัฒนาเทคโนโลยีเพื่อการใช้พลังงานอย่างมีประสิทธิภาพ อย่างไรก็ตามขณะนี้ประเทศอาเซียนยังมีข้อจำกัดในการพัฒนาศักยภาพด้าน วทน.ดังกล่าว ดังนั้นความร่วมมือกับประเทศเยอรมนี ซึ่งเป็นหนึ่งในผู้นำด้าน วทน.ระดับโลก จะเป็นโอกาสให้ประเทศอาเซียนได้เรียนรู้แนวทางปฏิบัติที่ดี (best practices) เพื่อการประยุกต์ใช้องค์ความรู้ที่เหมาะสมกับประเทศของตนต่อไป” เลขาธิการ สวทน. กล่าว

ดร. โยอาคิม ลังบายน์ ผู้จัดการโครงการอาวุโส แผนกพัฒนาศักยภาพมนุษย์ องค์กรความร่วมมือระหว่างประเทศของเยอรมัน ประจำกรุงบอนน์ กล่าวว่า “การจัดการสัมมนาในครั้งนี้นับเป็นจุดเริ่มต้นของความเป็นหุ้นส่วนระหว่างประเทศเยอรมนีและประชาคมอาเซียนเพื่อสร้างความร่วมมือและการพัฒนาขีดความสามารถทางการแข่งขันด้านวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรม (วทน.) ตลอดจนกระชับความร่วมมือระหว่างประเทศในการพัฒนาขีดความสามารถบุคลากรด้าน วทน. โดยได้รับการสนับสนุนจากกระทรวงเพื่อความร่วมมือทางเศรษฐกิจและการพัฒนาแห่งสหพันธ์สาธารณรัฐเยอรมนี คณะกรรมการอาเซียนด้านวิทยาศาสตร์และเทคโนโลยี กระทรวงวิทยาศาสตร์และเทคโนโลยีแห่งราชอาณาจักรไทยและสำนักเลขาธิการอาเซียน”

การสัมมนาในครั้งนี้มีผู้เข้าร่วมงานประมาณ 100 ท่าน จากหน่วยงานภาครัฐ ภาคการศึกษาและภาคเอกชน จากประเทศเยอรมนีและประเทศประชาคมอาเซียน กว่า 10 ประเทศ ซึ่งนับเป็นโอกาสที่ผู้เข้าร่วมประชุมจากทั้งสองภูมิภาคได้มีโอกาสสร้างเครือข่าย และร่วมอภิปรายถึงแนวทางปฏิบัติเพื่อนำไปสู่ความสำเร็จ ตลอดจนกลไกและเครื่องมือที่เหมาะสมในการเสริมความเข้มแข็งให้ระบบนวัตกรรม

“การออกแบบและจัดทำระบบนวัตกรรมเพื่อให้เกิดประสิทธิภาพสูงสุดจำเป็นจะต้องจัดทำทั้งระบบ โดยเริ่มผลักดันตั้งแต่ระดับนโยบายลงมา และจำเป็นที่นักจัดทำนโยบายต้องเรียนรู้จากรูปแบบระบบนวัตกรรมที่มีอยู่หลากหลายรูปแบบในโลกนี้ ดังนั้นการประชุมในครั้งนี้จึงเป็นการกระตุ้นให้ผู้เข้าร่วมประชุมซึ่งมาจากหน่วยงานที่เกี่ยวข้องกับระบบงานนวัตกรรมในประเทศนั้น ๆ ได้แก่หน่วยงานที่เกี่ยวข้องกับงานวิจัยและพัฒนา ผู้เชี่ยวชาญด้านการจัดการวิทยาศาสตร์เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรม นักวิจัยนโยบายได้มีโอกาสแบ่งปันประสบการณ์จากมุมมองของตนได้อย่างเต็มที่” ดร. โยอาคิม กล่าวเสริม

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สอบถามข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม กรุณาติดต่อ

สลิลทิพย์ ทิพยางค์ นักวิจัยนโยบาย สำนักงานคณะกรรมการนโยบายวิทยาศาสตร์ เทคโนโลยีและนวัตกรรมแห่งชาติ (สวทน.) โทรศัพท์ 02 160 5432 ต่อ 904 หรือ 085 364 8840 อีเมล์ salinthip@sti.or.th

ศิริพร ภาวิขัมภ์ ผู้จัดการประสานงานโครงการ องค์กรความร่วมมือระหว่างประเทศของเยอรมัน (GIZ) โทรศัพท์ 02 661 9273 ต่อ 13 อีเมล์ siriporn.parvikam@giz.de

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Accordion-shaped solar tower captures more light

Because the cost of solar panels has dropped so much, designing three-dimensional structures to take in more light intake and boost power output now makes sense, according to researchers at MIT.


Small prototype solar towers were used to measure how 3-D shapes can improve solar output. (Credit: Allegra Boverman/MIT)
To get more light in a tight spot, solar panels should be three dimensional, according to a study detailed today.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science this week which found that building a solar array with panels at different angles can significantly improve performance. The best improvements were in cloudy conditions, in winter months, and in locations far from the equator.

Using simulations and small test structures, the group found power increased between two to 20 times compared to a set of flat panels. In initial tests, though, it found an accordion-like structure made up of multiple cubes stacked so that the sides face different directions appears to get better light without adding dramatically higher costs.


This artist’s drawing shows how a 3-D solar tower could be used in city centers to charge electric bicycles. (Credit: MIT)

Studying the placement of solar panels to optimize light makes more sense now because the cost of solar modules, or panels, has dropped dramatically in the past few years.

“Even 10 years ago, this idea wouldn’t have been economically justified because the modules cost so much,” said MIT researcher Jeffrey Grossman in a statement. “(Now) the cost for silicon cells is a fraction of the total cost, a trend that will continue downward in the near future.”

For utility-scale solar farms, solar panels are equipped with trackers that change panels’ positions over the course of the day. Since they add significantly to the cost and complexity of installation, residential or even commercial solar arrays don’t typically use trackers.

But making solar structures with panels at different angles can work in places where space is at a premium, such as cities, according to MIT.

Last year, a middle school student won a Young Natural Award for an essay and science project that found that placing solar panels like tree branches boosted their performance. Basic flaws in the project, which brought a deluge of media coverage, later came to light.

Grossman said the MIT group is different from previous attempts to optimize light through architecture because it has taken a systematic approach that will let designs predict power increases with 3-D shapes. Its next step is to test several solar structures in a group to measure the effects of shading.

Hydrogen fueling stations–they’re coming

Air Products and Fuel Cell Energy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to market a fuel cell power plant to commercial enterprises, which will pave the way for the tri-generation system to be used to create a network of hydrogen fueling stations for consumers.

The hydrogen refueling station operated by Air Products at the Orange County Sanitation District municipal wastewater treatment facility.
The hydrogen refueling station operated by Air Products at the Orange County Sanitation District municipal wastewater treatment facility.
(Credit: Air Products)

Two key players in the hydrogen manufacturing arena will be working together to make hydrogen fueling stations a reality for the fuel cell vehicles that should be coming to market in the second half of this decade.

Air Products and Fuel Cell Energy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to market stationary Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) power plants. These systems, manufactured by Fuel Cell Energy, are designed to take natural gas or renewable biogas and produce hydrogen, electricity, and heat. The three energy byproducts can be used to power and heat the production facility or nearby homes or businesses while creating hydrogen fuel for industrial fleet or consumer vehicle use.

The companies are already working together to operate a pilot facility near Los Angeles, Calif. Using captured methane generated by sewage waiting for processing at the an Orange County Sanitation District wastewater treatment facility, the DFC power plant produces hydrogen for a nearby fueling station operated by Air Products. The agreement formalizes their effort to develop a market for this clean energy solution with a low carbon footprint.

The DFC power plant is a standalone solution for companies using hydrogen-powered fleet and commercial equipment in warehouses. It offers organizations a steady supply of hydrogen fuel that doesn’t require electricity to produce, and is more energy efficient than powering vehicles and equipment with natural gas. BMW is conducting a similar pilot program that converts methane from a nearby landfill to hydrogen so the auto manufacturer can power equipment and machinery at its Spartanburg, South Carolina manufacturing facility.

Initially, the DFC power plants will be used by similar industrial customers to power commercial fleets, such as hydrogen-fueled forklifts or passenger busses, that have predictable driving routes and return to the same location at night for refueling. Eventually, these systems will be built in areas that have consumer demand, such as hydrogen vehicle testing regions in California and Hawaii.

Fuel Cell Energy is also a key participant in GM’s Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative. The Hawaiian island’s high energy and gasoline costs in addition to its closed geographic area make it an attractive location for DFC power plants, said a Fuel Cell Energy spokesperson. However, specific locations and launch dates for consumer fueling stations were not given. The partnership is also exploring the possibility of creating a network of fueling stations in Japan and Europe.

Originally posted at The Car Tech blog

China, Apple start to mend fences over pollution

Apple isn’t the most popular company among environmental groups in China, but the iPhone maker is willing to extend an olive branch.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Chinese environmental leaders said that Apple is starting to “meet their concerns” over the impact its supply chain is having on the environment. The company has reportedly agreed to audit 15 of its component suppliers that have been accused of pollution, and engage in more oversight to ensure the environment is being preserved around supplier facilities.

“This is a major step forward,” Ma Jun, a top Chinese environmental activist told the Journal in an interview published yesterday. “They asked these companies to take corrective plans and give a timeline, and Apple will verify whether all these issues have been resolved.”

Apple’s environmental troubles have been a thorn in the company’s side for years. However, over the summer, they hit a tipping point in China when the country issued a 46-page report alleging that Apple suppliers had tried to conceal pollution around their facilities.

“The large volume of discharge in Apple’s supply chain greatly endangers the public’s health and safety,” China’s Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs wrote in its report at the time, adding that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company tried to “take advantage of loopholes” in the country to “grab super profits.”

For its part, Apple flatly denied those claims, saying that it expects high social-responsibility standards from its supply partners.

“We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made,” the company told Reuters at the time.

But Apple’s troubles go far beyond just China. Last week, Greenpeace released its “greener electronics” rankings, and said Apple scored a zero out of a possible 10 in clean-energy policy advocacy, paper sourcing, and using recycled plastics. That said, the group said Apple has done a better job of avoiding conflict minerals, selling energy-efficient products, and removing hazardous materials from its devices. But even with those kudos, Apple scored a 4 out of 10 in the organization’s company rankings, placing it behind HP, Dell, and Nokia.

For China, however, components in products are the least of its worries. Now that Apple has agreed to audit its suppliers, the country now expects the company to be more transparent.

“Apple is trailing far behind in terms of transparency and pushing for the polluters to be held publicly accountable for their problems,” Ma told the Journal.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.

Originally posted at The Digital Home

Windows 8 plans to better manage your battery life

(Credit: Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)

Designing Windows 8 for virtually any device from smartphone to PC, Microsoft says it’s had a key goal in mind for all hardware platforms–energy efficiency.

With laptops and mobile devices slurping up battery power and desktops and servers chewing up electricity, Microsoft has wanted to ensure that any device running Windows 8 can tap into better power management.

“Very small changes done well in Windows can result in very large positive environmental impact because of our scale,” Pat Stemen, a program manager on Microsoft’s Kernel team, said in the latest Building Windows 8 blog. “In many markets around the world, increasing electricity consumption is putting more demand on every aspect of the workplace to reduce power consumption. PCs are a significant source of potential savings.”

Software itself can impact power usage, noted Stemen, since the CPU, hard disk, memory, and other components each consume resources. The operating system and drivers also play a role since they manage the hardware.

With energy savings in mind, Stemen says that Windows 8 has been designed with three goals:

• Aim for power efficiency on all types of hardware. Whether someone is using a Windows tablet or a powerful gaming machine, the idea was to standardize on the same power management features to be consistent across all platforms.

• Provide improved battery life. Windows 7 offered a large reduction in energy use, particularly in the battery life of mobile PCs, said Stemen, and the goal with Windows 8 is simply to maintain that same level amid all the feature changes.

• Apply the smartphone power model to PCs. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices can quickly switch in and out of a low-power mode so they’re instantly available when you need them. Microsoft’s intent is to apply that same technique to computers running Windows 8.

Looking at Windows 8 itself, Stemen said that the new OS offers three “key innovations to improve how software influences power consumption.” Those include the Metro style app model, idle activity, and a new device power management framework.

Metro apps can potentially be running all the time, delivering news, e-mail, and other updates. But Microsoft designed the Metro model so that apps retreat into the background when not needed so as to consume less power. To gauge this, the new Task Manager in Windows 8 shows which specific Metro apps are suspended.


(Credit: Microsoft)

Idle activity is a measure of how much power a component is consuming even when it’s idle. In Windows 8, Microsoft has improved the idle activity through what it calls idle hygiene, thereby consuming less power in certain situations.

Finally, Microsoft has created a new device power framework in Windows 8, especially tweaked for mobile devices. The new framework lets devices “advertise” their power management abilities so they can work with a new Windows 8 driver designed to optimize energy usage.

“Battery life and power consumption continue to be some of the most important topics in the computing industry,” Stemed noted. “We wanted to give you a look at how we think about power management for Windows 8, and how we measure power consumption on a daily basis. We consider power management a core OS capability that is critical on any chip architecture and any PC form factor.”

Originally posted at Microsoft

In the Netherlands, a greener way to distribute supplies to inner-city businesses

This month saw the launch of the Cargohopper II, the largest solar van in Europe.

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We’ve recently seen bicycles and even tricycles providing eco-friendly delivery solutions in cities, able to negotiate narrow or winding roads. Now a distribution scheme in the Netherlands — Cargohopper — boasts both these benefits, but with the capacity to distribute on a much larger scale.

Having already imposed time restrictions and allocated specific supply routes for freight vehicles, the local Utrecht authorities wanted to do more to reduce congestion in the city’s streets and improve air quality, without compromising the supplies distribution process. The city council approached transport company Hoek, and after four months Cargohopper I — a solar-powered electric vehicle able to tow three metric tons — was on the road. Instead of being driven to the city center, goods are taken to Hoek’s main distribution center 10km outside the city. Once sorted, supplies are transported to a transhipment point 300m from the city center, and Cargohopper’s three trailers are loaded. At 1.25m wide and 16m long, it can access areas that lorries cannot. Furthermore, it can carry the same load as five vans, removing 100,000 van-kilometers from inner city streets, which equates to 30 tons of CO2 a year. A close collaboration with city councillors means it’s exempt from the usual restrictions put upon delivery vehicles.

This month, a new Cargohopper vehicle debuted. The Cargohopper II is the largest solar van in Europe, with a capacity of 2.5 tonnes, and will increase the overall capacity of the Cargohopper scheme. The video below demonstrates the Cargohopper II in action:

Following on from its success, there are plans to start running three more Cargohopper schemes in cities across the Netherlands. An idea for transport companies and councils in congested cities around the world to take inspiration from?

Website: www.cargohopper.com
Contact: info@cargohopper.com

Source: springwise

Solar industry shakeout leads to more large projects

Falling solar PV panel prices have helped boost the pipeline of non-residential solar projects in the U.S. this year.
Falling solar PV panel prices have helped boost the pipeline of non-residential solar projects in the U.S. this year.(Credit: Martin LaMonica/CNET)

The laws of supply and demand are actively at work in the solar industry with two direct effects: the death of some solar panel providers and a boost in the number of solar panels installed in the U.S.

Research company Solarbuzz today reported that rapidly falling solar panel prices this year contributed to a sharp increase in planned non-residential solar projects. Two months ago, the pipeline of projects was 17 gigawatts’ worth of solar capacity; it now stands at 24 gigawatts.

Commercial-scale solar projects can be solar arrays at businesses or other organizations, such as utilities. Much of the demand for utility-scale solar is in California which requires utilities to get 33 percent of their power from renewable sources.

“Utility expectations for improved installed pricing measured either in per watt peak or kilowatt hour have vastly increased over the past quarter,” Solarbuzz President Craig Stevens said in a statement today. “The result is more RFPs (requests for proposals) and an acceleration of PV (photovoltaic) orders.”

Analysts estimate that the price of solar panels, called “modules” in the industry, have fallen about 25 percent since the beginning of the year, with more price drops expected this year.

The rapid price contraction this year and last year has put the squeeze on solar panel producers who can’t keep pace. Three U.S.-based solar companies–Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, and Solyndra–have declared bankruptcy in the past two months, blaming global market conditions.

The falling price of solar hardware has made buying more attractive, though, for consumers, businesses, and utilities. Solarbuzz said the three top panel suppliers for the existing pipeline of non-residential projects are SunPower, Suntech Power, and First Solar with Yingli, Sharp, and SolarWorld increasing their presence in the non-residential area.

Solar photovoltaic panel prices have affected utility project developers’ choice of solar technology as well. Solar Millennium decided to scrap plans for a concentrating solar thermal system, which uses heat to generate electricity with a steam turbine, in favor of PV panels for the Blythe Solar Power Project in California.

Another factor pushing project developers to act is an expected change in the federal subsidy for renewable energy. Unless the program is extended, project developers next year will need to raise tax equity financing to take advantage of a tax credit for solar projects instead of the cash grant received now.

source: cnet

Apple criticized for China supply chain pollution

Chinese environmental groups have accused Apple of turning a blind eye as its suppliers pollute the country, the latest criticism of the technology company’s environmental record.

Toxic discharges from “suspected Apple suppliers” have been encroaching on local communities and environments, a coalition of environmental organizations said today in a 46-page report alleging efforts to conceal pollution.

Widespread environmental degradation has accompanied China’s breakneck economic growth, and the government has been criticized for failing to take steps to curb pollution.
“The large volume of discharge in Apple’s supply chain greatly endangers the public’s health and safety,” said the report, issued on the Web site of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The report alleges that 27 suspected Apple suppliers had severe pollution problems, from toxic gases to heavy metal sludge. In one case, the report said, a nearby village experienced a “phenomenal rise in cases of cancer.” Apple has decided to “take advantage of loopholes” in developing countries’ environmental management systems to “grab super profits,” it said.  Apple does not disclose who its suppliers are. The environmental groups said public documents and five months of research and field investigation led to the findings in the report.
“A large number of IT supplier violation records have already been publicized; however, Apple chooses not to face such information and continues to use these companies as suppliers. This can only be seen as a deliberate refusal of responsibility,” the report said.

This is not the first time Apple has been targeted for environmental infractions and its secretive supply chain management in Chinese factories, where it assembles most of its products.
In January, several of the same non-governmental organizations issued a report alleging woeful environmental records for the iPad and iPhone maker’s China-based contract manufacturers.

In February, workers at a Taiwanese-owned factory in eastern China making touch screens on contract for Apple aired their grievances over a chemical poisoning after using N-Hexane, a toxic solvent.

Apple says it maintains a rigorous auditing regime and all its suppliers are monitored and investigated regularly. “Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base,” Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told Reuters. “We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made,” she said.

Apple is not alone in drawing criticism from environmental groups. Some of the world’s leading brands rely on Chinese suppliers that pollute the country’s environment with chemicals banned in Europe and elsewhere. Many Western multinationals–including toymaker Mattel, which suffered a toxic lead paint scandal in 2007–have struggled to regulate product quality across scores of suppliers in knotted Chinese supply chains.

Environmental degradation has emerged as one of the most potent fault lines in Chinese society. Beijing has repeatedly promised to clean up its stressed environment. But it often fails to match that rhetoric with the resources and political will to enforce its mandates, as local officials put growth, revenue, and jobs ahead of environmental protection.

 

sourc : Reuters

 

In the Netherlands, kitchen gardens grown on urban roofs

Dakboerin are working with residents, schools, offices and restaurants to build rooftop kitchen gardens in areas where growing space is scarce.

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Only last week we saw New York company BrightFarms offering a service to supermarkets that designs, finances, builds and operates hydroponic greenhouse farms either on the supermarket roof itself or atop distribution centers. Now, on a slightly smaller scale, Dakboerin in the Netherlands are working with residents, schools, offices and restaurants to build rooftop kitchen gardens in areas where growing space is scarce.

Founder Annelies Kuiper was always interested in sustainable living and organic food, but was inspired to start Dakboerin earlier this year after reading an article in Green Amsterdam about the number of food miles being travelled to meet the growing demand for organic produce. Dakboerin designs the vegetable gardens for roofs, generally in urban areas, and works with other experts during the construction — calculating building materials, applying for planning permits, and designing hives and chicken coups. Organic seeds are used to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables which are planted in lightweight natural substrate and can be maintained by Dakboerin if required. Dakboerin believes kitchen roofs will help businesses improve their green credentials, as well as providing employees with an attractive outdoor space and nutritious food. Dakboerin won second prize in the Biodiversity Innovation category at the New Venture Business Plan competition in London last month.

Hardly a week goes by without a new innovation in urban gardening and farming emerging, and with food prices increasing, along with demand for organic produce and concern for air miles, could your company save money and go greener with a kitchen roof garden?

Website: www.dakboerin.nl
Contact: info@dakboerin.nl

Spotted by: Sheila Wigman

 

Is a nuclear-powered car in our future? นี้เป็นรถยนต์พลังงานนิวเคลียร์ในอนาคตของพวกเราหรือเปล่า…

The Cadillac World Thorium Fueled Concept car theoretically powered by an onboard nuclear reactor that uses thorium as its fuel.

The Cadillac World Thorium Fueled Concept car theoretically powered by an onboard nuclear reactor that uses thorium as its fuel. (Credit: Cadillac)
As a design exercise to show what a vehicle capable of lasting 100 years without maintenance could look like, Cadillac debuted at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show its World Thorium Fueled concept car powered by nuclear energy. While the vehicle didn’t contain a working thorium-fueled nuclear reactor, one researcher says that the technology is within our reach.

Charles Stevens, a researcher at the Massachusetts R&D firm Laser Power Systems, is creating a prototype of a thorium-powered laser that can be used to generate enough energy to power a vehicle while producing zero-emissions, according to an article in the Txchnologist. Rather than a small-scale thorium-powered nuclear reactor–as floated by the Cadillac concept–the prototype system Steve is designing uses a proprietary high-intensity “MaxFelaser” laser that is fueled by thorium.

According to the article, the MaxFelaser laser beam turns water into pressurized steam, spinning a turbine and generating electricity. The system can produce a total of 250 kilowatts (equivalent 335 horsepower), weighs about 500 pounds, and can fit under the hood of a car. That sounds great, but how realistic is this?

Thorium has been touted by several nuclear scientists, and some have given lectures at Google and TEDx promoting thorium as a better nuclear fuel source than uranium. Less radioactive and more plentiful than uranium, thorium is being tested by researchers in China as a potential fuel for nuclear reactors. Swapping uranium for thorium in a nuclear reactor is one thing, but putting a radioactive element in moving vehicles is another.

While small-scale thorium-powered nuclear reactors are theoretically possible, none have been designed that could fit in a car. Stevens’ system uses a thorium-powered laser to turn water to steam, which could be used in a car. Although no photos or studies on the feasibility were provided in the article, Stevens told the Txnologist that he built the MaxFelaser in 1985, and is now working on integrating it with a modified Tesla turbine and generator that he fabricated.

Stevens hasn’t set a date on when his prototype will be completed, but whether this technology will ever see the light of day is a valid question. Judging from his past online posts in forums and news sites, he’s been touting this system for years despite his claim that auto manufacturers could have it working in vehicles within two years. And even if Stevens manages to pull off a thorium-powered car, it’s likely to raise safety concerns.

sourc: cnet