Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rabobank launches eco-friendly credit card

Dutch bank Rabobank has reportedly launched a credit card that contributes to environmentally-friendly initiatives when the card is used to pay for energy-guzzling products and services.

The 'climate-conscious' card will reportedly pay a sum proportionate to the type of purchase into environmental projects run by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), with the level of contribution being decided by the impact the purchase would make upon greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, under the card's compensation-like scheme, purchases of petrol or air travel would result in a greater contribution to a WWF project than everyday supermarket purchases.

In other news, The Australian has reported that Rabobank aims to expand its presence in the insurance and wealth management sectors in Australia. However, the company does not plan to do this via traditional high street retail banking methods, Rabobank Australia chief Bruce Dick told the newspaper.


This Is Smart Growth Showcases Development at its Best

The Smart Growth Network (SGN) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) are pleased to announce the availability of This Is Smart Growth. This new publication illustrates how communities can turn their visions, values, and aspirations into reality, using smart growth techniques to improve the quality of development. Thirty-two national organizations, representing the diverse interests of the SGN, have approved This Is Smart Growth.

This Is Smart Growth describes how, when done well, development can help create more economic opportunities, build great places where people want to live and visit, preserve the qualities people love about their communities, and protect environmental resources. Many people want to know what smart growth looks like; This Is Smart Growth illustrates and explains smart growth concepts and outcomes.

The publication features 40 places around the country, from cities to suburbs to small towns to rural communities, where good development has improved residents' quality of life. Photos illustrate how these communities have invested taxpayer money wisely, offered people more choices in housing and transportation, protected natural and working lands, promoted healthy environments, created a lasting legacy for the community, and achieved other accomplishments.

September 2006. 32 pages.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Denmark develops an environment friendly refrigerator

An environment friendly refrigerator, noiseless and using much less energy. This may be the future in all homes. The research centre Risø has started the process of developing a new refrigerator, which may revolutionise the refrigerator market.

The new refrigerator uses magnetic ceramic materials exploiting the rise in temperature when being magnetised and the fall in temperature when being demagnetised.

“I really believe that this is something important. The technology may revolutionise the refrigerator market because it is a good and real alternative to the traditional refrigerator,” says senior researcher Nini Pryds to the news magazine Ingeniøren.

Nini Pryds is drawing the attention to the fact that the new refrigerator has some good environmental advantages, because you may use water or spirits as cooling means in stead of heavy greenhouse gasses. Moreover, the refrigerator uses 2-3 times less energy than refrigerators in energy class A or D as known today.

The technology is already well known in the US. However, here ceramic materials are not used as they do at Risø. And this exactly may be of great importance, because ceramic materials are chemically stable and have long lives.

The Danish industry giant Danfoss has shown great interest in the method and is contemplating whether the technique may be utilised for freezers and air conditions. However, it may take a couple of years before a proto type will be developed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

DOE Seeks Proposals for Expanded Large-Scale Scientific Computing

Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman announced today that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is seeking new proposals to support innovative, large-scale computational science projects. Successful proposals will be given the use of substantial computer time and data storage on some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world that reside in the department’s scientific computing centers in Berkeley, Calif.; Argonne, Ill.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Richland, Wash.

“Since launching INCITE in 2003, both the number of proposals and amount of computing time requested indicate that high-performance computing resources, such as those at our national labs are in high demand,” Secretary Bodman said. “This unique program opens up the world of high-performance computing to a broader research community. So far, INCITE has enabled scientists to make significant progress in such key research areas as combustion, astrophysics, protein structure, chemistry and engineering.”

Each year, the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program seeks computationally intensive, large-scale research projects. The program encourages proposals from universities, other research institutions and industry. Industry is specifically solicited to propose challenging problems that may be solved using high-performance computing systems. The Office of Science expects to make a small number of large awards. In 2005, 15 projects were awarded a total of 18 million processor-hours from the 43 proposals submitted, which requested a total of 95 million process-hours of computing time.

In 2007, the INCITE program will provide an opportunity for researchers to request time on the new Leadership Class Cray supercomputers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Other Office of Science computing resources available for the INCITE program include the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) resources at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Hewlett-Packard massively parallel system at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the IBM Blue Gene/L system at Argonne National Laboratory. In the past, these advanced computers have not been commonly available to academia or the private sector.

“The array of high performance computing systems now available through the INCITE program means that researchers can bring appropriate computational architectures to bear on problems that were previously thought to be unsolvable,” said Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, DOE Under Secretary for Science. “When you combine these resources with the sophisticated technical support available through our computing centers, it’s no wonder that we are receiving more requests than we can accommodate — and seeing results that are groundbreaking.”

INCITE proposals will be peer reviewed both in the area of proposed research and also for general scientific merit, comparing them with proposals in other disciplines. Current Department of Energy sponsorship is not required for this program. DOE plans to announce the awards in December.