Converting Cigarette Butts into Batteries

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Trillions of cigarettes are smoked every year, leaving behind discarded filters containing non-biodegradable materials that can be recycled into carbon-based products for electrochemical components. This was discovered by a team of South Korean scientists who presented their unique energy storage solution in IOP Publishing’s journal of Nanotechnology.

The materials inside the cigarette filters offered up better performance than commercially bought carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes at the time. They hoped to coat electrodes of supercapacitors with the material to be inserted into computers, handheld devices, and electric vehicles. A simple one-step burning process called pyrolysis reduced the filters down into a carbon-based byproduct with tiny pores. The leftover porous substance ensured higher power densities for supercapacitors. This was then tested out to see how well the material absorbed electrolyte ions and discharged them. It did better than expected and stored higher amounts of electrical energy than other commercially available options.

The full paper is linked at the bottom of their article but it’s behind a paywall. If you have a subscription and the time to look it over, please let us know if you think there’s potential for this unorthodox material source or if they’re just blowing smoke.

[Thanks for the tip Ryoku!]

Faucet Add-On Attempts to Save Water by Changing Colors

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This augmented water device was rapidly developed during an H2O hackathon in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was built by a software engineer code-named [tamberg]. His creation contained an Arduino Uno, a strip of NeoPixels, a liquid flow sensor, and a tiny lithium-ion battery attached to a cut medical tube that was re-purposed for monitoring water use.

From the looks of it, this project addressed a specific problem and went on to solve it. The initial prototype showed a quick and dirty way to monitor precious water that is literally being flushed down the drain.

To see how the device was made, click the first link posted above for a set of Instructables. Code for the device can be found on [tamberg]‘s bitbucket account. A demo video of the device being tested on a sink can be seen after the break.

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Dampen Workshop Noise with Paper Pulp and Kool-Aid — OH YEAH!

noise dampener

If you’re fortunate enough to have a garage and a workshop, you probably also have neighbors. The truly blessed must work within the confines of an HOA that restricts noise, porch couches, and most types of fun. [Mike] is among the truly blessed, and when he decided to design a cabinet for his CNC equipment, he took noise dampening into consideration.

[Mike]‘s design isn’t a blanket noise dampener; it’s specifically designed for the high-pitch symphony of his router, compressor, and vacuum. He also sought to avoid vibrating the cabinet. To achieve this, the sound-dampening panels are hung on eye hooks with a 1/2″ gap between them and the frame. The backer boards are cut from 3/4″ plywood. [Mike] considered using cement board, but thought it might be overkill since he plants to shell the cabinet in a layer of 3/4″ plywood.

The deadening material is paper pulp made from various shredded papers. After soaking the shreds in water and blending the mixture to an oatmeal consistency, he drained most of the water through a cloth bag. Then he added just enough wood glue to hold the pulpy goo together. The tropical punch Kool-Aid powder isn’t just for looks; it provides visual confirmation of even glue distribution.

[Mike] made some tape walls around the edge of his backer boards to hold the mixture in place and painted on some wood glue to hold the pulp. He spread the tropical concoction to 1/2″ thickness with a tiling trowel to avoid compressing it. The peaks and valleys help scatter any sound that isn’t absorbed. Pudding awaits you after the jump.

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Aquaponic System Uses Arduino For Consistent Performance

Smart Aquaponics

Food is just one of those things that we need to survive. Plants can grow on their own without human intervention but the quantity and quality of the crop will vary from year to year. Even elaborate farms can have good and bad years due to variables such as weather, disease, bugs, pollution and soil condition.

There is a system called Aquaponics that attempts to control those variables. Aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). The Aquaponic system tries to emulate what happens in nature without the variation; water-based animals eat plants and excrete waste and that waste is used as food for plants.

[Kijani Grows] has built an Aquaponic setup and added a smart controller that is made out a bunch of stuff you would not normally associate with a garden. Their are several sensors in the system that measure water flow, tank level, water quality and dissolved oxygen. An Arduino monitors these sensors and reports the information back to a $20 router running OpenWRT. All of the recorded data is also stored for review later. Software on the router determines what needs to be adjusted in the enclosed ecosystem. The router communicates this information back to the Arduino which in turn controls the water pumps, heaters, fish feeder and lighting. And as if that wasn’t enough, the control system can be set up to send out messages via email, SMS or social media.

A Swamp Cooler for Burning Man

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For those who don’t know, Burning Man is a week-long festival in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The event attracts a wide range of creative people from all over the world.

This year, [Jake] is going to bring his homemade evaporative ‘swamp cooler’ to help battle the heat. His design uses a medium-sized shipping container with two large holes cut out of it and two 200mm PC cooling fans embedded into the plastic. The fans blow air from the outside into the bin. Humidifier filters sourced from a local dump are inserted into the middle of the container. The filters acts as an absorbent material to hold melt-water being pumped in from another cooler chest above.

A 30 watt solar panel provides enough power to keep the swamp cooler going while giving enough juice to energize decorative LED interior lights along with some backup batteries for phones and cameras. [Jake]‘s system contains a re-purposed A/C computer load center for the solar system. He plans to take temperature and humidity readings at the Burn, bringing back the data from the desert to share with the world.

[Jake] does warn about mold with this system though, but one of the advantages with the filters he chose is that they are pretreated with biocidal compounds. This should help to reduce the chance of mold growth. High humidity conditions are also a disadvantage with this type of cooler, but this is a non-issue in the extremely dry desert of The Playa.

If you plan to go to Burning Man, tell about your energy/cooling preparations. Will you be bringing a system similar to this? If so, let us know.

A Do-It-Yourself Air Conditioner with Evaporative Cooling 5 Gallon Bucket

image42-300x225The people over at Gray Wolf Survival have this amazing little air conditioning project that is a perfect addition to any household that doesn’t have flowing air wafting through. It was created by [Figjam] for a trip to Burning Man, where all kinds of crazy ideas are bred in the hot dry heat of The Playa sun.

The design uses no ice, which is the cooling agent typical found in other DIY air conditioners. Those generally cut holes in the top of a cooler, put a fan on top to blow the air down across the ice. This is similar, but acts more like an evaporative cooler (not really a traditional air conditioner but it does the job).

397648283-300x225It uses a LOT less energy than an air conditioner unit so there won’t be a need to increase the power capabilities of a simple system to work it, and it can reduce the temperature by up to 30 degrees as well as alleviate the dryness associated with living through a Burn. It runs off 12V DC so it can either use the solar panel or connect to a battery. It has a 12V power plug for this, and draws as little power as absolutely possible. Plus, it has the ability to easily connect to a larger water source so it won’t have to be continually refilled. These considerations make it very portable and perhaps backpackable as well.

[Figjam] took a 5 gallon bucket, wrapped the inside with two layers of swamp cooler matting, made a loop of hose above it connected to a submersible pump and ran a fan out the top with piping. Connecting it to a shelter is done with a vent hose.

Nerds Helping Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring Device

Life as a sea turtle can be rough. Not only are turtles trying to survive predators, destruction of habitat, fishing nets, and pollution, but only about 1% of hatchlings survive to face those challenges in the first place. Enter [Samuel Wantman] and a new volunteer hacker group called Nerds Without Borders, with their first order of business of creating an egg-shaped monitoring device for sea turtle nests.

Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, which goes to great lengths to protect certain species from human activity. The ultimate goal of the project is to help people and sea turtles better coexist under this law by more accurately predicting hatching times. A suite of sensors and a cell network antenna are placed in a plastic “egg” that can be buried in a nest after a sea turtle lays the real eggs. The sensors detect vibrations within the eggs as the embryos grow, which is an indication that the tiny turtles are about to break free of their eggs and head for the open ocean!

Click past the break for more on this project.

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