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April 30, 2015

Salt water crops farmed on Texel island

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 1:44 pm

A team of farmers on the island of Texel are successfully farming salt water potatoes and other crops, as a sustainable solution for the increasing lack of viable farming land around the world.

Project ‘Salty Potato Farm’ was started some 10 years ago by team leader and farmer Mark van Rijsselberghe. Supported by the University of Amsterdam, the team has apparently planted 30 types of potatoes. Van Rijsselberghe says that, “anything that dies in the saline environment is abandoned, and anything that lives we try to follow up on.”

Experimental crops of carrots, strawberries, onions and lettuce are also being planted. Neither genetically modified organisms (GMOs), nor laboratories have been used for growing their crops in salt water environments. However, the price of the potatoes is still too high, with one kilo selling for five euro, compared to less than a euro for the same amount of regular potatoes, but one thing at a time.

(Link phys.org, Photo of Texel island by Searocket, some rights reserved)

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March 27, 2015

Dutch spies thwarted by German windmills

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:58 pm

don-quixote-gustave-dore-pdGerman windmills are disrupting the proper spying on Dutch citizens by the Dutch military secret service MIVD, or so the latter complains.

The Ministry of Defence has complained to the municipality of Vreden (Germany) about the fact that it allows the placement of wind turbines so near to its spying antennas (14 kilometres), Ravage reports. Vreden has already limited the height of its turbines and is currently amending its rules for the placement of new turbines.

According to Webwereld, 25 Dutch citizens lost their jobs in 2009 and 2010 when the Ministry of Defence destroyed their employer’s business model of providing medium distance, high speed wireless internet (wimax). After the ministry had told Worldmax that it was forbidden to roll out its services in the entire north of the Netherlands, the wimax provider had to close its doors, losing dozens of millions of euro in the process.

Vreden is planning a farm of 24 wind turbines in or near the Crosewicker Feld nature reserve and is getting some resistance from its citizens, according to Münsterland Zeitung. The locals don’t share the concerns of the Dutch military, but are unwilling to have to look at the turbines all day. They want the distance from the turbines to their house increased from the proposed 400 metres to at least 500 metres. (This has led to an interesting legal paradox where the council members who live too close to the proposed wind farm are not allowed to vote on what constitutes ‘too close’. The Germans call this conflict of interest Befangenheit.)

Illustration: renowned windmill fighter Don Quixote by Gustave Doré, 1863.

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January 5, 2015

Design graduate creates long-lasting bioluminescent lamp

Filed under: Design,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 12:50 pm

bioluminescent

In the video below, recent graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, Teresa van Dongen presents her graduation project called ‘Ambio’, an ambient lamp using a glass tube filled with bioluminescent bacteria, usually found on octopuses, in a saltwater solution. Once pushed the Ambio will swing for 20 minutes and emit light as long as it moves. The bacteria can survive for about two days, but Van Dongen has managed to push that to three weeks so far. The goal is to develop a way for the bacteria to survive for longer and find actual practical applications for such ambient lighting.

Before turning to design Van Dongen studied biology, which explains her interest in using bioluminescent substances. She’ll also explain why waves such as the one in the picture above emits light the way it does.

(Link: www.dezeen.com, Photo of Bioluminescent wave by slworking2, some rights reserved)

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December 28, 2014

Much-hailed solar bike path is cracking

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

Solaroad

We’ve been posting about this solar cell bike path since 2011 and now the truth is, when this year’s first frost hit the ground, the solar panels cracked.

In November, De Orkaan website had said that the solar cell bike path was possibly a bad idea (Dutch), quoting an article from Renewables International that had dissed the project altogether.

A 70 metre bike path in Krommenie, North Holland was fitted with solar cells, protected by a glass surface ‘strong enough to drive a truck over it’, but apparently not strong enough to deal with a bit of frost. Granted, it was a pilot project, but it is important to show people what failure looks like before the Dutch government spends tons of tax payers’ money on something that doesn’t work.

(Link and photo: deorkaan.nl)

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December 23, 2014

Dutch weed burger made from local seaweed

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 1:17 pm

Weed burger

Founded in 2012 the Dutch Weed Burger company makes seaweed burgers, demonstrating an innovative and sustainable use of food without using animal products.

The company explains that the patty is made from kombu seaweed and chunks of roasted soy shreds. Their buns contain the microalgae chlorella, which is packed with proteins and other essential nutrients. The weed sauce is a vegan cream sauce enriched with Dutch sea lettuce from Zeeland.

The Japanese and other cultures have been eating seaweed for ages, so why not the Dutch? If we ever have one of these burgers, we will report back. I’m already thinking the burger will have enough salt in it for my taste.

For anyone thinking of yet another boring pot joke: a ‘weed’ burger would be the worst thing you could eat to calm the munchies.

(Link: www.fastcoexist.com, via www.dutchnews.nl)

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December 19, 2014

Unilever pulls case against vegan mayo maker

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 11:55 am

chickpeas

Dutch-British food giant Unilever has decided to stop its attack on American company Hampton Creek for its eggless mayonnaise Just Mayo this week. Unilever claimed that Just Mayo was not actually mayonnaise as the real deal has eggs in it and that their logo with an egg on it was misleading.

Hampton Creek retorted that its product is called ‘mayo’ and not mayonnaise, while fans of vegan food and healthier eating responded badly to the food giant’s attack on an alternative quality product. Just Mayo uses yellow chick peas as a replacement and also makes eggless cookies that have not upset any big company so far. Hampton Creek was financially back by BIll Gates to the tune of 30 million USD, a man who probably knows a thing or two about rubbish lawsuits.

Unilever’s world brand mayonnaise Hellman’s has just started being sold in the Netherlands this year and ironically, it doesn’t meet the requirements to be called mayonnaise in this country, as it has less oil than the definition formulated by the Dutch Food Authorities.

(Links: www.z24.nl, www.ft.com, Photo of Chick peas by abrunvoll, some rights reserved)

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December 12, 2014

Boris Johnson insults the Dutch hand that helps him

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 2:28 pm

Drooder

A bit of a buffoon at home if we believe the media and quick to call Amsterdam ‘sleazy’ as the Mayor of Amsterdam and King Willem-Alexander were visiting London (which was nice), the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has no qualms about calling upon Dutch business expertise from Amersfoort to build proper bike paths so that cycling in London becomes safe for all road users.

London’s bike paths are found on busy roads and are dangerous, as London Cyclist points out and has filmed during a ride. The goal is to build bike paths in London along quieter roads, parks and the likes, a bit like we do in the Netherlands.

Cycling in major Dutch cities feels quite safe to me, but the zooming scooters, mobile using morons and inattentive tourists make it a bit stressful. However, it’s nothing compared to this video that I find difficult to watch.

And Johnson, the biggest tourist nuisance as of late in Amsterdam are British stag and hen parties. Mayor Eberhard van der Laan invited you to check out how your fellow Brits behave in his ‘sleazy’ city, so what’s the hold up?

(Link: www.z24.nl, Photo of Kruiskerk, Amstelveen by Drooder Fiets)

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May 18, 2014

Dutch spaceman Wubbo Ockels dies

Filed under: History,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:16 pm

wubbo-ockels-jens-nielsen-pdFormer Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels died earlier today in Amsterdam as the result of cancer, NRC writes.

Ockels was born in 1946 in Almelo. In 1985 he spent 7 days in space on board the US space shuttle Challenger which made him the first Dutch astronaut.

In the late 1980s Ockels’ reputation took a dive when he caused havoc with private air planes. On 5 December 1989 his plane taxied to a runway in Lille, France, when an Airbus came in a for a landing. The Airbus totalled Ockels’ plane, but curiously everybody got out alive.

Back on the ground Ockels became a professor of air and space technology at Delft University in 1992. He used this position for a great number of sustainable inventions. Together with his students he worked on projects that often involved converting wind energy into electricity, such as a laddermill and an energy-neutral sailboat. He also worked on the Superbus, bringing the speed and aesthetics of Formula One to the world of public transport.

Ockels’ daughter Gean published the book De Zeven Levens van Wubbo Ockels in 2010 (The Seven Lives of Wubbo Ockels). By then he had escaped death five times. And although he had allegedly tweeted he would cheat the grim reaper for a sixth time in combating cancer (“I am Wubbo Ockels, the strange geezer who always finds a way out”), he succumbed to his illness this morning.

(Photo by Jens Nielsen who released it into the public domain)

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March 27, 2014

Government buys into harnessing electricity from plants

Filed under: Nature,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:58 am

Chargers

Plant-e , founded by David Strik and Marjolein Helder in 2009, is a spin-off company of the Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. After obtaining her PhD in November 2012 Helder became the CEO of Plant-e, while Strik works as an assistant professor at the university, supporting Plant-e’s research and development one day a week.

On March 12, coinciding with Dutch Arbour Day (‘Nationale Boomfeestdag’), Plant-e signed a deal with the Dutch government to build a plant-driven power plant. The plants will be grown on the Hembrug military terrain in Zaandam, North Holland and will be used for outdoor lighting and charging mobile phones.

Thanks to photosynthesis, a bioenergetic process used by plants to convert light into energy, plants create organic material. The roots of these plants contain bacteria that breaks down organic material, giving off electrons. Plant-e has created technology that captures these electrons as carbon electrons, which can be used directly as electricity.

Just this month we told you about a table that uses plant energy to charge mobile phones.

Watch the promo video (in English):

(Link: www.plant-e.com, Photo of Charging station by Katja Linders, some rights reserved)

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January 10, 2014

Amsterdam district bans disposable plastic bags

Filed under: Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 2:17 pm

plastic-bag-kate-ter-haarThe vendors of the market on Plein ’40-’45 in Amsterdam (district of Nieuw-West) have stopped handing out free plastic bags in an effort to stem litter.

Shoppers are requested to bring their own bag. The district says on its website:

Thousands of bags a day were handed out at the market. Most of these bags ended up in the garbage having been used only once and many bags blew away and littered the neighbourhood.

In 2011 the market in Dordrecht started an awareness campaign with the same goal. Vendors were asked to display signs asking shoppers to bring their own bags. According to the campaign website, one vendor, a baker called Kanters, has seen the amount of plastic bags he handed out for free drop by as much as 90%. He has since started charging 10 cent a bag from the remaining die-hards among his customers.

(Photo by Kate ter Haar, some rights reserved)

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