DIY wind turbine kit, available through open-source technology.
While environmental policy and perspective have seen more than its fair share of setbacks in the last year, 2011 was no slouch of a year when it came to green advances and innovations. Here are some of our favorites, as published by the
Wind Technology Advances
- The Honeywell Wind Turbine for homes uses a new gearless system that allows it to generate electricity in winds as low as 2 mph, producing up to 1500 kWh annually. In addition, the
culminated in a vertical-axis wind turbine design utilizing easily attainable parts, can be built by anyone, and yields impressive power output. As a bonus, it's open source. And, if you can believe it, Wal-Mart is now offering a 600 watt, self-installed
that will charge 12 volt or 24 volt battery banks for those who want a little off-grid lifestyle.
Oil Spill Cleanup X Challenge Winners
Elastec/American Marine made impressive strides for oil spill cleanup this year.
for who could develop a system to clean crude oil from the ocean's surface at a rate faster than 2,500 gallons per minute. The team was awarded $1 million for their system that could clean up oil at a rate of 4,670 gallons per minute.
Fuel Cell Advances
- A team of researchers has found a way to release hydrogen from chemical form so it can be stored as a stable solid, making it more usable as a fuel cell.
Green Automobile Advances
At the Geneva Motor Show, VW unveiled the
, a zero-emissions update to the classic Microbus of the 1950s and beyond. In October,
. Between December 2010 and October 2011, Nissan had sold 16,000 of its Leaf electric cars. Meanwhile,
. Ford claimed that the vehicles performance and efficiency figures will be comparable to other electric vehicles on the market.
on research for next-generation car batteries. They hope to produce cleaner, more efficient batteries in the future. Companies like ECOtality are
, and by doing so are hoping to increase electric vehicles' market share of the domestic vehicle market. In August, President
for large vehicles beginning with model year 2014. The Obama administration also introduced a plan, which could take effect in 2017, to
. The Associated Press reported that in 2009, U.S. automakers
In October, the U.S. military announced that it will be
within the next few years. A U.S.-Chinese renewable energy partnership also
. It was successfully tested in a Boeing 747-400 during a two-hour test flight in Beijing in October. Dutch air carrier
to power flights between France and The Netherlands. New research in 2011 found that
. However, HuffPost blogger David Mizejewski wrote, "Whether or not alligator fat becomes a fuel source of the future remains to be seen." And the Navy recently announced they had successfully flown the first unmanned
of a MQ-8B Fire Scout at its base near Patuxent River, Md.
Bike Sharing Programs
While bike sharing programs may be nothing new for some cities, 2011 was a big year for them. Both
announced that they would be rolling out a bike sharing program for the summer of 2012. Chicago also announced that it
to the city by next summer. These cities hope to
, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in September with its one-millionth trip. The D.C. program has 1,100 bikes and 114 docking stations in the District of Columbia and Arlington County, Virginia.
Green Living Advances
- Indow Windows has wowed some in the green industry with its simple energy-efficient home window design that cuts down energy cost and noise.
Advances in Solar
- Costco offers four different ready-to-install solar power generator kits to its members through its website that are from Grape Solar. And a
could one day reduce the need for solar panels. The paint, which looks like normal house paint, has light-activated "semiconducting particles" that produce small amounts of electricity, which "researchers hope they can magnify in great enough amounts to power home appliances."
Know of a great, green innovation you'd like to share? E-mail us at