Ecomodo - The Best of Treehugger

This week at TreeHugger: Water-powered cars. Everytime oil prices are high, we hear about them. The latest one is the Genepax from Japan, but we don't think it's truly powered by water and we explain why here. In 2007 there were 11.8 million servers in the US, up from 2.6 million ten years before, and something must be done about power consumption. Finally, solar-powered LED lamps could replace kerosene lamps in the developing world.

One thing that helps fuel the conspiracy rumors surrounding water cars is that the media run these segments where they show "water cars" actually driving around, and it all seems to work, and then we never hear about them again. People figure that Big Oil (or the Illuminati, whatever) is suppressing the technology. The reality is more mundane: It is actually possible to make a car look like it runs on water without breaking the first law of thermodynamics. The way it's usually done is with metal hydrides. These react with water to produce hydrogen, which is then used to power the car. But since these hydrides will deplete with time, they need to be replaced and so they are actually the fuel, not the water. And you can be sure that more energy will go into producing them than will be taken out, making them an energy carrier, just like a battery.

Did you know most computers in the average data centers run at 15% capacity or less, idling the rest of the time but still consuming electricity. Did you know that by 2011, data center energy use could almost double and require the equivalent of 25 power plants. In the US, they are already (since 2006) using more energy than color televisions.

D.light has begun manufacturing solar-powered portable lanterns which are designed to replace kerosene lanterns in the developing world. The largest of their lanterns, the Nova, is the most robust, providing 12 hours of “high” level illumination suitable for reading or up to 40 hours of light suitable for walking around or “socializing”. Though the lantern comes with an AC adapter (which D.light says will fully charge the unit in 5 hours), the lantern also can be charged with a small included solar panel. This option will allow for 6-8 hours of medium intensity light from a day-long charge, according to product literature.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.