On par with the dizzying pace of innovation, entrepreneurs have been rapidly trying to address the problems of energy efficiency and waste reduction with new cutting edge products. But this year's West Coast Green expo featured a number of items that were actually new iterations on existing ideas — and there's nothing wrong with that, because why reinvent the wheel? With a bounty of cool, green goods on display, and spotted by out intrepid reporters, read ahead for our highlights, which include everything from sleek, envy-inducing four-wheelers to eco-concrete made from post-consumer glass.
We saw several green vehicle models, including Saba Motors‘ carbon-neutral X-Prize finalist. This sporty beast can hit 105 mph and goes 120 on a charge!
We were excited to meet Tom Kent, a mere undergraduate at Covenant University in the UK, whose Cell Car — which aims to reduce both petroleum consumption and traffic congestion — caught the conference organizers’ eyes in May 2010. The modest Kent told us he didn’t know he’d been written about until he Googled himself! He says he’s gotten a lot of interest in developing the shape-shifting mini-car, but he thinks he’ll work on a different project this year to round out his resume. A+ for effort, for this talented young man!
Green Lite Motors displayed its GO car – a vehicle similar to the motorcycle, but without the rain or the danger. The shell uses race car technology to offer improved safety, and the mini-car features two front wheels to prevent wipe outs. But because the vehicle falls within the motorcycle category, it can cruise in carpool lanes even when there’s no passenger in its tiny back seat.
Speaking of motorcycles, were were excited to see the Brammo Empulse electric bike up close and personal. This beauty can go up to 100 miles on a charge with 59 pound-feet of torque!
Innovation doesn’t always mean bells and whistles. Indeed, the biggest challenge isn’t building greener technologies, but getting people to use them. In that vein, we gave a big thumbs up to the GreenCycler, a counter-top mechanical device whose sole purpose is to make composting into an offer you can’t refuse. To wit: the hand-cranked grinder chops food waste into small enough bits that a family of four only has to make one trip a week to the green bin or compost pile. The GreenCycler also features a small charcoal filter to reduce odor, and a sachet of garlic and cinnamon to keep those pesky fruit flies away. And it’s dishwasher safe, to boot!
The main course at the trade show was home building materials. In particular, Evolution Surface Solutions’ nanotech-based sealers won our nano-ambivalent blogger’s tiny, tiny heart. The particles are pure salt, so they avoid imposing any problems on the water supply. In nano-form, the salt seals, protects, and can even get graffiti to wash right off with a sponge and household cleanser! The City of San Francisco is already looking to Evolution’s products for its beleaguered mass transit systems.
Finally, Presto Geosystems‘ Filterpave offers a dramatic improvement over energy-hogging, rainwater-wasting concrete. For just 20 percent more per square foot, Filterpave offers a 100 percent porous pavement that’s made from post-consumer glass! Its pores are tight enough that it even filters out some of the oil that typical asphalt sends directly to storm gutters. We’re hoping this stuff (or something like it) becomes ubiquitous fast!