[Originally posted on EcoGeek.]


Instructables has a great project to build an inexpensive air quality sensor that can be embedded into a helium balloon that will change color according to the level of pollutants it detects. A three- or four-foot diameter glowing sphere isn’t necessarily a precision scientific instrument, but making information readily available can be useful for raising awareness of a topic.

Operation of the balloon is quite simple. According to the site, “Inside each balloon is a tri-colored LED. This LED reacts to data from an air quality sensor, turning green, yellow or red based on low, average, and high values.” And the materials for this project only cost $30 to $40, depending on the sensor that is used. It is a simple project requiring only a small amount of soldering and assembly.

via: BoingBoing


[Originally posted on EcoGeek]


Ending use of petroleum will mean not only ending its use as a fuel, but also finding alternatives for the numerous materials that use petrochemicals in their production. Plastics are perhaps the most obvious item on the list, but even electronic circuit boards are candidates for production with biomaterials.

University of Delaware materials scientists have developed circuit boards made from chicken feathers and soybean oil, instead of glass and petrochemicals. “The biobased materials are derived from renewable plant and animal feedstock, which use carbon dioxide from the air and help minimize global warming, as compared to petroleum feedstock,” according to Dr. Richard Wool, director of the Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources (ACRES) program at the University of Delaware.

In addition to reducing petroleum use, the circuit boards produced using chicken feather keratin have a lower dielectric potential to prevent “electron rubbernecking” and increase circuit speed. There is no indication of this being commercialized as yet. But feather based circuit boards would also help to deal with the waste disposal problem of nearly 3 billion pounds of chicken feathers annually in the US.

via: Transmaterial