13 August 2008

NOxious fumes

Nitrogen oxides, or NOx, are highly reactive gases that are emitted from cars and other machinery, contributing to a range of environmental hazards. NOx-attributed detriments include:

  • Smog
  • Acid rain
  • Air particulates (not so great for us lung-breathers)
  • Water pollution
  • Climate change
  • Biological mutations via chemical reactions
[Source: US EPA]

Well in Madrid, Spain, they've figured out a way to help contain NOx emissions right where they occur the most -- on the road. The newly laid asphalt paving Spanish streets includes a mix that includes titanium dioxide called "noxer." Titanium dioxide is a photocatalyst that uses sun to capture NOx and render the oxides harmless, leaving only nitrate ions. These ions are then either washed away by rain or are stored within the pavement.
[Image: Ángel Casaña]

The city claims that up to 90% of NOx can be recaptured on a sunny day.

How noxer works:

[Source: Wikipedia]

1. Ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by the titanium dioxide, which causes the photolysis of water into superoxide ions and hydroxyl radicals.
2. Nitrogen oxides react with the superoxide ions and the hydroxyl radicals to form nitrate ions.
3. The nitrate ions are absorbed into the block and form stable compounds.

[Europa Press via autobloggreen]

urban homesteading: part 2

The second part in a series of city farmers. Read part 1.

The Dervaes Family, Pasadena, California
Jules Dervaes thought his home in Pasadena on 1/5 of an acre was a "stopping-off" point before finding more acreage in order to get back to the land, to live the way our forefathers did. But something changed in Jules when he learned that genetically modified agriculture was making its way onto our dinner plates. He decided his family needed to be self-sufficient, and that they would do it with the little bit of land that they had.

What started as a way to feed themselves through subsistence farming has turned into a way of life for the Dervaes'. Despite its city setting in Pasadena, the Dervaes' family farm is a self-contained feeding operation -- they produce enough to feed themselves as well as supplying local restaurants with fresh produce. And it's all done off the grid.

Solar panels, hand-cranked and pedal-powered appliances, a solar oven, and other energy-conserving methods sustain their cost-saving, low-impact lifestyle.

The family employs livestock, but not for eating, as they are vegetarians. They use and sell eggs from their ducks and chickens. They have pygmy goats for milking, plus rabbits and bees.

This urban homesteading project, Path to Freedom, demonstrates that we can all do more to make our lives more sustainable, and more meaningful.

Read more about how Jules Dervaes achieved self-sufficiency for his family.

Listen to a feature about the Dervaes' farm on NPR.

Watch a 10-minute video about their way of living: