Archive for September, 2015

Potato power: 2 Sisters starts up ‘world-first’ plant

September 29, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Food & Restaurant trends

Free photoI’m always interested in how the Food and Beverage manufacturing industry comes up with innovative ways to entice consumers to eat healthier. A lot of market studies and crowdsourcing ideas have certainly made this an interesting industry to watch. But here’s some interesting trends going on behind the scenes over in the U.K. that takes manufacturing to a whole, green new level.   Alice Foster over at Food Manufacture UK writes about how 2 Sisters Food Group has started up the ‘world’s first’ potato-powered energy plant to turn mashed potato and other factory waste into energy, it claimed.

Giant fans can suck Co2 from atmosphere and turn it into fuel

September 28, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Green Innovation


A few weeks ago I shared how innovative technology can now suck the smog out of the air in large, polluted cities. Speaking of green technology and air quality, a British Columbia company, Carbon Engineering, built the first air-capture CO2 demo plant. This technology works, and is now ready to be implemented on a larger scale.

Check out this video:

Like trees, air-capture technology traps CO2 from the ambient air. However, as the team at Carbon Engineering points out, “planting enough trees in the numbers needed would require diverting vast amounts of agriculturally productive land. In fact, to absorb enough CO2 as an air-capture facility, trees would require roughly a thousand times more land.” Unlike trees, however, air-capture plants can be built on land that cannot be cultivated, such as deserts.

David Keith, a professor at Harvard University School of Engineering and the executive chairman of Carbon Engineering, together with a team of scientists has been doing CO2 capturing at a Prototype Contactor at the University of Calgary for several years already. The prototype system built at the University can absorb emissions from about 14-15 vehicles or about 100 kilos of carbon dioxide per day.

Read the article here

A priest makes an innovative gesture to visiting Pope

September 20, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Events
Via Time

Via Time

This next week marks an historic visit from Pope Francis to the United States. And while the news headlines will be about the places he visits and the people he talks to, one little known story ought to get some coverage too. Actually it did. Time Magazine featured the story of a priest who is paying tribute to the Pontiff by sharing his artistic skills with Lego blocks:

Father Bob Simon spent about ten months creating this brick version of St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square, the Associated Press reports. He began construction in his rectory at the St. Catherine of Siena church in Moscow, Pennsylvania, (about 100 miles north of Philly), basing the model off of a book cover image and watching YouTube videos to figure out how to make the basilica’s round shape.

While he is not sure how many pieces he used to make this replica, he told CBS Philadelphia that he may have used as much as half a million— including about 44,000 cobblestones in the square, “6,000 round bricks that make up the colonnade” and “12,000 2×2 tiles” under that.

The sculpture is part of an exhibit on the history of the Vatican opening at the Franklin Institute on Saturday.

Scientists build tiny invisibility cloak

September 17, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets
Courtesy of L.A. TImes

Courtesy of L.A. TImes

Lots of us wish we had a way to wrap ourselves in a cloaking device or blanket that would hide us from the world. Whether you were a Star Trek fan in the 1960s or a Harry Potter fan, you’ve probably thought about how handy that would be. Well get ready, because scientists might be a step closer to inventing a type of invisibility cloak, thanks to researchers at Berkeley. They’re in the process of creating an ultra-thin material that can make some objects nearly invisible – if the light is just right:

For now, this cloak is exceedingly small and covers only an object about 1,300 square microns. But the device, described in the journal Science, offers a proof of concept that could potentially be scaled up in the future.

Previous invisibility cloaks tried to gently redirect the light around the object they were hiding – but this required using lots of material, making the cloaks far bulkier than the object they were trying to conceal.

“That is not practical,” said study coauthor Xiang Zhang, a materials scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “You have to carry a huge cloak around you.”

For this new device, however, the scientists instead decided to scatter the incoming light using a very thin metamaterial – a material whose physical structure, rather than its chemical composition, allow it to manipulate light.

Read the article here:



Disguised Nanoparticles Slip Past Body’s Immune Defense

September 16, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Biotechnology

Blood cellsNanotechnology is changing the way scientists look at sub particles, and the medical experts look at the body. Now researchers say that they have found a way to smuggle drug-carrying nanoparticles past the body’s immune system, by cloaking them to resemble real human blood cells. The use of hybrid nanoparticles that combine both man-made and human cells is just starting to get some attention, with opinions ranging from some doubt to huge support:

Man-made nanoparticles — created from plastic or metal — can be designed to deliver a cargo of drugs to specific areas of the body. But they are often attacked and swallowed up by the body’s natural defence system, which sees them as foreign invaders.

The disguised particles are not only able to evade detection, but also exploit the natural properties of platelets to treat bacterial infections and to repair damaged blood vessels more effectively than conventional ways of delivering drugs, report the team. The researchers were led by Liangfang Zhang at the University of California, San Diego, and published their work in Nature on September 16.

Read it here:

World’s largest air purifier takes the smog out of the air

September 10, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Green Innovation, Uncategorized

I’ve blogged in the past about the incredible smog problem faced by many major cities around the world. There have been many innovative ideas over the years to clean up our air, but this one caught my eye for its unique solutions. There are towers being built that act as giant vacuum cleaners by sucking the smog from the air.

Imagine being about to purify millions of smoggy cubic feet of air each hour? I spotted this article that explains how a Dutch designer is working on the world’s largest air purifier:

The Smog Free Tower, as it’s called, is a collaboration between Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde, Delft Technology University researcher Bob Ursem, and European Nano Solutions, a green tech company in the Netherlands. The metal tower, nearly 23 feet tall, can purify up to 1 million cubic feet of air every hour. To put that in perspective, the Smog Free Tower would need just 10 hours to purify enough air to fill Madison Square Garden. “When this baby is up and running for the day you can clean a small neighborhood,” says Roosegaarde.

It does this by ionizing airborne smog particles. Particles smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter (about the width of a cotton fiber) are tiny enough to inhale and can be harmful to the heart and lungs. Ursem, who has been researching ionization since the early 2000s, says a radial ventilation system at the top of the tower (powered by wind energy) draws in dirty air, which enters a chamber where particles smaller than 15 micrometers are given a positive charge. Like iron shavings drawn to a magnet, the the positively charged particles attach themselves to a grounded counter electrode in the chamber. The clean air is then expelled through vents in the lower part of the tower, surrounding the structure in a bubble of clean air. Ursem notes that this process doesn’t produce ozone, like many other ionic air purifiers, because the particles are charged with positive voltage rather than a negative.

Read the entire article here.

Six Ways to Elevate Your Innovation Game

September 8, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.01.36 PMI’m always eager to share the latest innovation insights from colleagues who have been in the trenches with me, and Robert Tucker is one of the best. here is his latest observation on the retail industry:

For retailers, and for a growing number of industries, disruption is no longer a theoretical construct. It’s the reality that confronts each of us with a choice every single day: do I busy myself fighting fires and trying to be efficient? Or do I try to add value, and come up with ideas and initiatives that help my organization fight back and win in the marketplace?

The retailers in Scottsdale chose to elevate their game. Here are six ways to elevate yours:

Embrace the Opportunity Mindset. I once asked interior designer Pamela Armstrong about her innovation process. “First of all,” she explained, “it’s not separate from my life. I don’t set aside an hour to be innovative. [innovation] is at the core of who I am, and wonder is ever present in my mind. I am interested in everything, especially people: who they are, what fascinates them, why they choose their professions, how they view the world, what colors stimulate their thoughts and creativity.”

When I asked how she brings out the creative best in the teams she works with she responded: “On my projects, I want every contributor to be looking at how what [they] do affects what the next person will do, and the overall look/feel/functionality of the project. I don’t want to work with a tile setter who just comes in and sets tile in a pattern I drew. I want the tile setter who sees the pattern and point out that if we center on the grout line rather than the middle of the tile we will have fewer cuts and a more balanced design.”

Read the rest of Robert’s article here.

Tall buildings made of – wood?

September 4, 2015 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

Here’s something you wouldn’t expect to be innovative – or safe. But of course it is both of those things. A new 10-story residential condo, slated for

Photo via Fast Company

Photo via Fast Company

Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and a 12-story retail, office, and apartment building in Portland, Oregon, will be the first two tall wood buildings in America. Wood generally has a lower carbon footprint than other common building materials used in construction.

Says Fast Company’s Jessica Leiber:

Wood is an old building material that has been getting a new life in taller buildings over the last five years. Around the world, 17 wood buildings have been built that are between seven and 15 stories tall—many of them in Europe. A record-high 35-story wood building is in the planning stages in Paris. But the U.S. has been slow to start exploring the recent advancements in wood materials that have made these taller buildings possible. None exist here today.

Last year, in partnership with the lumber industry, the Department of Agriculture announced a $3 million prize intended to spur tall wood building designs in the U.S.. Today, it announced two winners that will split the money: The 10-story residential condo, slated for Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and a 12-story retail, office, and apartment building in Portland, Oregon.

Read the rest here: