December 28, 2007

Ford installs bean chairs; strengthens renewable R&D

Ford is going to use soybean-based foams for its 2009 Ford Escape, which will come out next year, according to automotive supplier Magna International.

The BioFoam is going to be used in seat cushions, head restraints, arm rests, headliners and occupant protection products.

In my Green Autopia article Ford says it also incorporated soy foam-based seatings in its 2008 Mustang sports car.

Below is my full interview with Ford's Deborah Mielewski, polymer technical leader, research and advanced engineering, regarding the company's goal towards the use of renewable chemicals and products in their automobiles.

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The e-waste of Christmas Past

Electronic gifts boomed this holiday and to help dispose your old cellular phones, game consoles, computer, MP3s and other gizmos in an environment-friendly way, some retailers are helping out by announcing their electronic recycling programs.

Some have their own domestic recycling site but guess where others are being dumped? as reported by the UK newspaper Telegraph.

December 27, 2007

Chicago bottled water tapped by tax

Consumer plastics remain under siege with another so-called "Eco-Sin" tax underway this time in Chicago.

While San Francisco is now fining grocery/shopping stores that use plastic bags Chicago will soon apply a 5-cent tax on each and every plastic bottled-water sold in the city starting January 1.

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Take a bite of green Mac

McDonalds vp of social corporate responsibility, Bob Langert, noted on the company's blog site their top ten global green initiatives in 2007. Among them includes installing dry urinals in their Swiss restaurants to cut water consumption; converting used frying oil into biodiesel in McDonalds UK; green restaurant constructions in France, Brazil and the US; reduced food packaging; and implementing sustainable supply chain for its food ingredients such as coffee, soybeans and fish.

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December 23, 2007

The carbon cost of Christmas

Not only will you worry about how fattening holiday dinners can be but now you have to worry about their carbon emission as well.

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December 21, 2007

Wanted: CO2

More great news for the much maligned carbon dioxide.

Aside from developing CO2 to make ac refrigerants for automobiles, it is now being used to make plastics and biodiesel.

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December 20, 2007

EPA says Merry Green Holidays!

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is giving out tips on how to lessen fuel consumption, CO2 emission and waste during the holidays.

Here are some examples:

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Bioplastics stretching out

The global market for biodegradable polymers is expected to reach 1.2bn pounds by 2012 from the 541m pounds estimated this year, according to BCC Research.

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December 19, 2007

Green Autopia

I am shamelessly self-promoting my article about greener automobiles, which just came on out December 17 and was published on ICIS Chemical Business magazine (Did I mention before that I work for ICIS?).

According to my interviews with several chemical companies, the global automotive industry is really becoming more green not only because of the use of alternative fuels but by changing the entire parts of a vehicle to make it more fuel efficient and environment-friendly.

Cars are now using lighter weight materials such as plastic as alternative to metals; engine catalysts are becoming more efficient in lowering emissions of toxic exhaust and particulates; solvent-free paints and coatings are being designed to reduce thermal buildup in a car's interior; rubber compounds in tires are designed to reduce rolling resistance; and biobased materials such as soybean-based foams and starch-based fibers for car seats, and vegetable oil/animal fat-based motor oils and lubricants are expected to become popular.

PVC gets sweeter but is still sour for environmentalists

Solvay will build an ethylene plant in Santo Andre, Brazil, which will used sugar cane-based ethanol as feedstock. The ethylene produced in the plant will then be used to manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Ethylene and chlorine are the two main feedstock needed to manufacture PVC.

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December 17, 2007

For fuel cells, gold is more precious than platinum

Scientists from the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory found that nanoscale catalysts gold-cerium oxide and gold-titanium oxide are more efficient in producing purer hydrogen in fuel cell reactions than the expensive platinum-based catalysts.

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These next generation catalysts could lead to cheaper fuel cells, which could lead to less expensive hydrogen-based automobiles, which could lead to less reliance in petroleum oil, which maybe could lead to world peace.

December 12, 2007

News bytes - from expansion to reduction

While trying to finish my green car article and working on a story about chemicals made from vegetable oil and animal fats, several news came my way and here are some of them:

1. Cereplast said it will start its 223,000 tonne/year bioplastic plant in Indiana by January. The bioplastic production facility is reportedly the largest in the world.

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December 8, 2007

CO2 is auto makers' new cool friend

While everybody is trying to reduce their carbon footprint, some auto makers are driving the opposite way by embracing carbon dioxide for use as a refrigerant in car air-conditioners.

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December 5, 2007

Green Christmas list...

I've decided to search the world (wide web) and list down the top 10, in no particular order, the most innovative or eye-ball rolling, snort-inducing green products that I could find. I'm the lone judge for now but any suggestions for next month's segment will be greatly appreciated. I'll also look for Simon Cowell's doppelganger to help me judge.

1. Green underwear

Just in time for the holidays, GreenYarn of Boston, MA, now offers its antibacterial Eco-fabric Underwear made from the company's Eco-fabric technology that features nano-sized bamboo charcoal particles embedded into the textiles (and are unwashable - the particles not the underwear). The particles help fight bacteria and deodorize and even help absorb and emit Far Infrared energy - a low energy form of light that help stimulate healthy metabolism and blood circulation, the company said.

In the US, they can be bought (for $20) only at Greenyarn's website although they said that they're in talks with retailers. Now about that infrared thing...

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December 4, 2007

Shades of green on consumer electronics

Studies and analysis on green marketing and investments seem to be proliferating as much as the products themselves.

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December 3, 2007

December 1, 2007

EPA's cool idea

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found another way to cool off earth's warming atmosphere by forming a refrigeration coalition composed of the supermarket, refrigeration equipment and chemical refrigerant industries with an objective to chill ozone-depleting refrigerant leaks and charges into the atmosphere.

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