Biofuels, Bionic Eyes, and Clean Energy for SA

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Researcher working on Algal biofuel production system. Image Credit: Kathy F.

Biofuels from Microorganisms

Biofuels are supposed to be the next big thing,  but as it stands they are mostly produced from major food crops such as sugar cane or soy. Several new ventures are using algae or other micro-organisms as biomass for biofuel production, which will decrease the environmental costs and limit the use of food crops for biofuels. As an added bonus, the algae can grow on power plant gas emissions (still in the research phase) or just plain old sewage (pilot project in Spain).  What I love about these schemes is that there is no waste. “Waste” products from one industry become raw materials for the next. Elegant and sustainable.

(Extra stuff: two other cool sources for biofuel or precursors – biofuels from E.coli, and from tunicates)

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A futuristic bionic eye.

Bionic Eye Restores Sight, Looks Stupid

The first commercially available bionic eye system, called the Argus II, will soon be available at selected hospitals. The device is essentially a camera which beams electrical signals wirelessly to an electrode implanted onto the retina. While the device does not produce perfect sight, it will provide electrical patterns which the brain can learn to interpret. Very awesome, The only drawback is that currently looks a bit silly. Like you might be in a 70’s sci-fi movie.

Clean Energy Plant in SA

Durban has recently established two waste-to-energy plants at Bisasar Road and Marianhill (Bisasar Road is the busiest landfill in Africa). Each plant is converting methane gas released by the landfill into energy and exporting to the national grid.Together they are producing enough to power 46000 low-cost  houses. Nice to see SA slowly getting its act together on the clean energy front.

via Future Cape Town

One thought on “Biofuels, Bionic Eyes, and Clean Energy for SA

  1. Pingback: Moving Past Silicon, Biometric Passwords, and Molecular Delivery Trucks | Dreaming the Future

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