Recycling in Antarctica

When I recycle, I have to separate out metal, plastic, chipboard, glass, plain paper, glossy paper, and newsprint. That sounds like a lot of separating, until you compare it to the recycling protocol at McMurdo Scientific Research Station, Antarctica.

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Bookshelf made from books


Tom took a pile of books left over from a jumble sale and made a bookshelf out of them:

So many books are thrown away each year, and although recyclable, the emotional bond that is attached to books seem to make them more appropriate for re-use than recycling. The idea for a shelf made from books seems almost obvious, and the process from concept to completion was more of a refinement of function than of aesthetic intricacies. The shelf gained widespread media attention and was published in several magazines.

(via Bookshelf)

Harvesting power-cells from dead laptop batteries for home electronics projects

Geekdad has a bunch of tips for using the round power-cells from a dead laptop battery. These cells, called "18650s," look like AA batteries, but have very different characteristics. Your laptop battery will contain lots of these (I have a mongo long-lived Thinkpad battery that I use while travelling with nine cells), and if any one of them dies, the whole laptop battery is rendered useless.

18650s are incredibly powerful and volatile, so be careful, because it's easy to blow 'em up or start a fire. That said, they're awful handy-dandy for providing a very long charge for very bright LED flashlights, or for powering your RC vehicles.

By the way, a good quality LED flashlight is incredibly bright. I tried to take some pictures and video to demonstrate just how bright, but you really have to see this with your own eyes, in person to appreciate it. And the LED is incredibly power-efficient, so it runs for a very, very long time on a single charge. It’s easy to see that the future of household lighting is not compact fluorescents, but LEDs...

In the video, I’m actually powering the Arduino as well as the motors, and I’m surprised it works. Motors tend to create a lot of electrical noise, and I’ve read about many other people who ran into trouble using a common power source for their Arduino and their motors. I presume I’d start seeing trouble if I was driving a heavier load than those little Lego motors.

18650 Things To Do With An Old Laptop Battery (via Red Ferret)

Well-engineered pizza box keeps grease out of the cardboard for easier recycling

Scott from Scott's Pizza Tours is obsessed with pizza box engineering, and posts YouTube videos about the pizza boxes people send him from all over the world. In this installment, he explores a fantastic box from Eataly that is coated with a recyclable, reflective finish that keeps the food hot and prevents the grease from getting on the cardboard. Pizza boxes with grease on them can't be recycled (and they really screw up the recycling system if they slip through!), so this is a major breakthrough.

Scott Presents: The Greatest Pizza Box On Earth (via JWZ)

Çurface: an industrial surface made from compressed coffee and melted coffee cups


We've been in the market for a new surface for our kitchen's eating area (a wide shelf that's set into a wide space knocked through into the sitting room serviced by four tall stools) for a year now. We've looked at tiles, synthetic stone, real stone, polymers, concrete, and lots of other stuff, but we knew we'd discovered our material when we happened on the Çurface exhibition at a coffee fair in east London. Çurface is the brainchild of two British makers who've figured out how to make a durable, beautiful, malleable material out of melted plastic coffee cups and compressed coffee-grounds.

Our Çurface cost £141 including delivery and installation -- that was the minimum price for a 1m x 2m sheet (bigger than we needed it, but Adam from Çurface was happy to cut it to size and finish the edges). We've had it for two months now, and at this point, I'm prepared to pronounce it delightful. It looks great: the solid material minimizes the occasional small scratch or scuff, and it cleans very easily with normal spray-cleaners (when he installed it, Adam explained that we could treat it as a polymer and use Turtle Wax or similar for a high gloss, or treat it as a compressed fiber and seal it with Danish Oil). The manufacturer makes lots of different shapes to order -- the demo we saw included lots of fancy curved chairs and such, all cast from a single piece. The manufacturer also advertises it as suitable for flooring, though I think it might be a little slippery.

It smelled great when we installed it, a faint, earthy coffee smell that faded over the course of a week or so. Now it's just the kitchen table, and we love it. It was half the price of the synthetic rock we'd looked at, it's made of recycled coffee waste, and it looks great. What more could we ask for (apart from a less orthographically unwieldy name)?

Çurface

Creatures made from recycled tires


Sculptor Yong Ho Ji makes the most astounding sculptures -- animals, people, fanciful mutants -- out of recycled tires. This is great work.

Yong Ho Ji (via This is Colossal)