From Japan: Eco Products Exhibition 2009

It’s that time of the year again where the world gets together to see what we can do about solving energy and climate problems. That’s right, I’m reporting from Tokyo! This is bigger than that thing going on in Denmark.

This year’s Eco Products Exhibition (Dec 10 to 12) was well attended by over 180,000 from all over the world and representative from over 1500 companies, NGOs, and other organizations (note: only 40,000 showed up in Copenhagen, so you know where the party really is!). Eco Products is the largest fair of its kind in Asia and features the most energy efficient technologies for homes, offices, and industries. Here are couple of the highlights.

Bringing back the old is the way to go. In pre-industrialized Japan, people were able to live off the resources that were available to them. Instead of the non-stick Teflon pans that are used in the modern kitchen, traditional cast iron (nambu tetsu) was used. Even today, these pans still have numerous advantages over high tech kitchenware. They are extremely durable, conduct heat quickly and evenly, and are completely benign to the environment.

This product and many others are now being marketed by Ecotwaza. I was able to catch up with Reina Otsuka and Nanao Sonobe from this novel company based in Tokyo. They kindly took some time from their busy schedule to talk about their work and their hopes for a sustainable future.

Ms. Otsuka, the president, says the idea of Ecotwaza came while she was studying at the University of California at Berkeley when she realized the number of great environmentally friendly technologies that Japan had to offer but had not been able to market well due to various barriers.

A full version of this interview will be up in a couple weeks.

Can dolphins fly? Apparently Zephyr thinks so. They are developers of the Air Dolphin, a small wind turbine with a tail shaped like that of a dolphin.

In contrast to the big megawatt size turbines that we hear about in the media, these small sized devices are ideal for residences and rural regions that do not have good access to the grid. It has a rated power output of 1 kW with a maximum output of 3.2 kW. Much like the residential solar PV, these generators also require power inverters. In their demonstration, the Sunny Boy was used.

How many times can you reprint paper? According to Ricoh, about a thousand times. They have a developed a plastic sheet that is printed using a thermal printer. With exposure to some heat, the printed sheet becomes blank again. Ideal for applications like ticketing and office documents, this technology is claimed to save paper and energy. It would still be interesting to do a life cycle analysis on the equipment and supplies needed to keep it going.

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