Robot recycling sorters
We toss our recycling into a single container. Then a truck hauls it to a materials recovery facility (MRF).
Sorting it is monotonous and potentially dangerous work for humans.
Some manufacturers have developed robotic sorting systems.
This infant technology has enormous potential. Robots don’t slow down. They don’t need breaks or vacations (except occasional down-time for routine maintenance). They can work continuously all day and night.
With artificial intelligence (AI), they can learn to separate, say, one plastic from another, as well as human sorters. So far, though, it doesn’t appear that robotic sorting can completely eliminate the need for human eyes.
AI promises to reduce a MRF’s operating costs, speed up their processes, and improve the quality of their output. Can it work economically? Continue reading →
Coquina Beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
After water, sand and gravel are the world’s most abundant resource.
In recent decades, the we have mined—and wasted––so much of it that the we’re actually running out of sand.
People have used sand for construction since prehistoric times. It is the chief component in glass.
Recently discovered processes also depend on sand. These include silicon chips for electronics and fracking.
Demand will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. And demand has begun to exceed supply. Continue reading →
Transmission tower in South Australia after the tornados
A local renewable energy skeptic recently wrote that a blackout in Australia proves wind energy isn’t reliable.
When several wind farms shut down at once in bad weather, it plunged an entire state into darkness. Naturally, I had to investigate.
The massive power outage in South Australia in the wake of tornados last September immediately led to partisan bickering. Did the state’s heavy reliance on wind energy cause the blackout?
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a report on the tornados that swept the state. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) issued four reports that explained the events that led to the outage. Continue reading →
Urban farming in Copenhagen
Our current agricultural system can produce plenty of food. It’s just not very good at distributing it.
Food deserts have appeared in our cities.
People living in poor neighborhoods have no conveniently located stores where they can buy fresh produce.
Continue reading →
Salt does much more than season food. Use in food accounts for only about 6% of all salt manufactured.
The Salt Institute claims it has about 14,000 uses. People have been cleaning with salt at least since the Middle Ages.
It’s only in the past half century or so that advertisers have convinced us to buy products that only clean one thing. Older products like salt, vinegar, lemon juice, baking (or washing) soda, and borax still clean just as well as the newer ones. Continue reading →
Princess Amalia Wind Farm, in the North Sea off the Netherlands coast.
Big oil and the wind industry might seem like an unlikely combination.
But several international oil giants have competed successfully with established players in the wind energy business to win offshore wind leases.
Major international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil (a Norwegian company), and Eni (Italian), have begun to invest heavily in offshore wind farms.
In the North Sea, they have successfully outbid such other international giants as Dong Energy (Danish) and Vattenfall (Swedish), which have invested in North Sea wind farms longer. Continue reading →