The high energy consumption of the mobile phone network is mainly due to the limited life span of the phones.
This week, more than 50,000 people gather in Barcelona for the ‘Mobile World Congress’, the annual high mass for the mobile telephone. They gape in admiration at the newest generation of gadgets, which is again fitted with new applications and new designs. This almost unanimously praised innovation, however, has a dark side. Around half of the energy use of the mobile phone network is attributed to the production of the phones.
Is an electronic newspaper more ecological than a paper newspaper?
Newspapers and magazines don’t have a green image because lots of trees have to be cut down to produce them; but electronic publishing is not always more ecologically friendly. The Swedish Royal Institute of Technology made a life cycle analysis of both distribution systems (PDF, heavy download) and has come to some remarkable conclusions.
More than 200 years ago it was already possible to send messages throughout Europe and America at the speed of an aeroplane – wireless and without need for electricity.
Email leaves all other communication systems far behind in terms of speed. But the principle of the technology – forwarding coded messages over long distances – is nothing new. It has its origins in the use of plumes of smoke, fire signals and drums, thousands of years before the start of our era. Coded long distance communication also formed the basis of a remarkable but largely forgotten communications network that prepared the arrival of the internet: the optical telegraph.
Hand powered drilling tools and machines The drilling tools that appeared in the late 19th century were not only a vast improvement over earlier tools; they also have many advantages over their present-day successors, the power drills.
Firewood in the fuel tank Wood gas cars are a not-so-elegant but surprisingly efficient and ecological alternative to their petrol (gasoline) cousins, whilst their range is comparable to that of electric cars.
The Citroen 2CV: cleantech from the 1940s In spite of all the high-tech that has been squeezed into cars since then, the 2CV from 1949 is still more energy-efficient than the smallest model of the French car designer today.
The bright future of solar powered factories To power industrial processes like the making of chemicals, the smelting of metals or the production of microchips and solar panels, we need a renewable source of thermal energy.
Trolley canal boats For many centuries, canal boats were propelled by men, horses or mules on the towpath beside the water. Before diesel power took over, engineers developed several interesting methods powered by electricity: trolleyboats, floating funiculars and electric mules.