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The latest products, services and cleantech applications and how they are tackling some of our most pressing social and environmental issues.

Pee-Powered Toilet Could Help Light Refugee Camps

Sometimes clean technology doesn't need to be sanitary.Students and staff at the University of the West of England in Bristol now have the opportunity to test out a prototype toilet that uses urine to generate electricity, The Guardian reports.Researchers at the university and the charity Oxfam developed the “pee power” toilet to prove that urine can generate electricity, and show its potential for helping to light cubicles in international refugee camps. The technology uses urine-fed microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks to generate electricity that can power indoor lighting.

thinkstep (fka PE International) Launching Comprehensive Platform for Enabling Business Sustainability

Sustainability software and consulting company PE International, creators of the industry-leading GaBi life cycle assessment software and providers of a vast array of tools for sustainability performance management, unveiled its new name – thinkstep - today at its annual customer and partner symposium. The company says the new name reflects its long history of connecting data and knowledge to make sustainability advances, or ‘thinksteps,’ for the world’s leading brands and organizations.

UK Researchers Make Cheap Solar Cells From Shrimp Shells

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have for the first time successfully created electricity-generating solar cells with chemicals found in the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans.The materials chitin and chitosan found in the shells are abundant and significantly cheaper to produce than the metals currently used in making nanostructured solar-cells, the researchers say.The researchers used a process called hydrothermal carbonization to create the carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from the widely and cheaply available chemicals found in crustacean shells. They then coated standard zinc oxide nanorods with the CQDs to make the solar cells.

Tesla Promises New Battery Can Power Your Home, Power the Grid

Tesla founder Elon Musk has announced a new project that could get millions of people off the grid.Musk’s increased interest in the emerging energy storage market has led to plans for a giant lithium-ion battery factory. Home and businesses owners could buy these battery systems for backup power or for managing solar electricity generation and use.

Electronics Giants Partner with CDP on Supply Chain Greenhouse Gas Initiative

This week, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a nonprofit coalition of many of the world’s largest leading electronics companies — including Apple, Cisco, Dell, Eastman Kodak, HP, Microsoft and many more — dedicated to supply chain responsibility, and CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) announced a new partnership to help expand greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting and reductions in the electronics supply chain.

Dell on Mission to Measure Net Positive Impact of IT on Education, Healthcare, Logistics and Beyond

In Fall of 2013, Dell launched what it called its Legacy of Good plan — a set of 21 ambitious sustainability goals covering everything from its packaging and production materials to reducing the energy intensity of its entire product portfolio by 80 percent.

GM Set to Achieve Renewable Energy Goals 4 Years Early

General Motors for the first time is procuring wind to power its manufacturing operations, enabling one of its Mexico facilities’ electricity needs to be run mostly on renewable energy. This addition of 34 megawatts of wind power allows GM to achieve its corporate goal of renewable energy use four years early.GM says construction of the wind farm will begin in the second quarter of this year. When complete, more than 12 percent of the company’s North American energy consumption will come from renewable energy sources, up from 9 percent. GM’s current renewable energy use — comprised of solar, landfill gas and waste to energy — totals 104 megawatts against a goal of 125 megawatts by 2020.

New Biomass Plant Will Supply 60-70% of Power at P&G's Bounty, Charmin Manufacturing Facility

Procter & Gamble and Constellation — a leading retail supplier of power, natural gas and energy products and services — announced Thursday the development of an up to 50-megawatt biomass plant that will help run one of P&G’s largest U.S. facilities. The plant will significantly increase P&G’s use of renewable energy, helping move the company closer to its 2020 goal of obtaining 30 percent of its total energy from renewable sources.

California Utilities to Offer Clean Energy Options to Residents and Businesses

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved the "Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program," a measure that will give millions of California residents and businesses the chance to participate in a utility clean energy program for the first time.The decision, which benefits the majority of the state's businesses and over 38 million residents, directs the three largest investor-owned utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company and San Diego Gas and Electric Company, which together cover nearly 80 percent of the state—to offer a Green-e Energy certified 100 percent renewable energy option to their customers.

Global Thermostat Turning Carbon Pollution Into Cash

Carbon-capture technology holds much promise for helping the world to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of global warming. It works by trapping the carbon dioxide at its emission source, transporting it to a storage location — often deep underground — and isolating it. However, most carbon-capture techniques developed to date are uneconomic because they consume too much energy to sequester the carbon.

AT&T, GE Developing Next-Gen Smart Energy Solutions for ‘Internet of Things”

AT&T and GE have announced a collaboration to create the next generation of smart energy solutions for the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), helping to improve the way the energy industry works.The companies say they are jointly working on proof of concepts at the AT&T IoT Foundry in Plano, Texas.

IBM, Mars Launch New Data-Driven Effort to Advance Global Food Safety

Scientists from IBM Research and Mars have established a new collaborative food safety platform aimed at leveraging advances in genomics to further the understanding of what makes food safe.The Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain will conduct the largest-ever metagenomics study to categorize and understand microorganisms and the factors that influence their activity in a normal, safe factory environment. IBM and Mars say this work could be extended into the larger context of the food supply chain — from farm to fork — and lead to new insights into how microorganisms interact within a factory ecology and be better-controlled by new data and science-driven practices.

UK Tool Shows Long-Term Climate Impacts on Energy, Land and Food Systems

The United Kingdom government has launched a new tool to help businesses and governments understand the environmental impacts of energy and emissions policies.The Global Calculator — produced with input from more than 150 experts worldwide — is a model of the world's energy, land and food systems that allows users to design their own version of the future up to 2050 and see the implications for the climate.Soft launched in 2010, the online tool has previously only been used exclusively by governments such as China and India. China has been using the calculator to support the development of its economic and energy strategy, and to train officials on the energy challenges it faces.

WRI Guide Helps Companies Report Emissions From Low-Carbon Electricity Purchases

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has unveiled new guidance for companies to measure emissions from purchased electricity.The first major update to the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard responds to the rapid growth of renewable energy and other major shifts in the electricity market, WRI says. The GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance provides a consistent, transparent way for companies to show how different types of electricity purchases count toward their emissions targets, and will inform corporate decisions on what kind of energy should power their business.

Dow, TNC Building Tool to Help Companies Better Understand Value of Natural Capital

Dow and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have designed a new tool to help companies estimate the business value from nature on and adjacent to their sites, as well as the public value from lands on-site, according to a new progress report on Dow and TNC's six-year Collaboration.

UK Project Develops New Process to Recycle Fuel Cell Components

Recovery specialist Axion Consulting, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells Limited and Technical Fibre Products (TFP) have developed a new recycling process to recover high-value materials from waste fuel cells.Funded by Innovate UK, the UK government's innovation agency, the Recover project aims to establish the technical and economic feasibility of recovery and reuse of high value materials from fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies and ultimately to establish the potential for a new UK-based global recycling business.

Report: Consumer Products, Manufacturing Sectors Enjoying Best Financial Returns on Solar

Consumer products, manufacturing and heavy industry sectors are getting the best financial returns on solar power—the most popular renewable power technology for corporates—according to a new report by RE100, an initiative of The Climate Group in partnership with CDP.

BASF's Creator Space Tour Engaging Experts, Citizens Worldwide to Solve Global Issues

Chemical giant BASF is on a mission to connect people and ideas in six locations worldwide with the Creator Space™ tour, a yearlong event series aiming to address challenges in the areas of energy, food and water, and urban living. The first stop, in Mumbai, India, will take place from January 16-23 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), with a focus on water sustainability.

White Paper: Growing Number of Companies Using Software Tools to Manage Sustainability Programs

Many companies already use manual systems to collect data on and manage their sustainability programs, but a growing number are using software tools that were professionally-developed for this purpose, according to a new white paper by CSRHub and French software company Tennaxia.