Sunday, December 22, 2013

Indonesia Plans To Build A 99 Stories Skyscraper Integrated With Wind Turbines

Indonesian energy company Pertamina plans to build a new headquarters in Jakarta, with 99 stories high. The building will be green and self-sustainable.

The building will integrate a wind turbines at the top of its roof. A funnel captures wind, sucks it inside, and speeds it up to run a series of vertical wind turbines. Pertamina is working with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) to design the building. SOM's design of sun-shading “leaves” on 2 sides of the building helps to cut glare and shade the sunlight while still keeping the inside of the building bright enough. The building also uses water-based radiant cooling systems, instead of conventional air conditioners to reduce power consumption.

Building Facts
Project Completion Year: 2020
Site Area: 57,512 m2
Project Area: 495,000 m2
Number of Stories: 99
Building Height: 530 m

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Comparing Cree & Philips 60-Watt Incandescent Replacement LED Bulbs

Philips is releasing a new type of design for the 60-watt incandescent replacement LED bulb. Philips's SlimStyle LED removes the heatsink found on most LED bulbs. Without heatsink the light should cost significantly less to manufacture, which translates to lower selling price. Philips hasn't disclosed any retail price yet.

CNET compared the SlimStyle to Cree's A19 60-watt incandescent replacement LED bulb. Both bulbs show similar specification, but in actual there are some differences.

(1) SlimStyle is slightly more natural and less yellowy in tone than the Cree.

(2) Even though both claims to be omnidirectional, meaning that they cast light evenly in all directions, distinct dim areas are seen on each side of the SlimStyle's arc. Cree's A19 shows a much even light distribution.

(3) Cree comes with 10-year warranty and Philips only offers 3 years.

In the end, it will all come down to pricing. If the absence of heatsink is enough to keep the cost per bulb way below US$10, then SlimStyle stands a good chance to capture the market share.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Plastic Contaminating Your Seafood?

We have long heard that some fish contain mercury and eating too much of them would harm our body. Besides mercury, what else could fish ingest and digest into their tissue? Recent study published in Nature, Scientific Reports says that sometimes fish get chemicals from the plastic debris they ingest.

"The ocean is basically a toilet bowl for all of our chemical pollutants and waste in general," says Chelsea Rochman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, who authored the study. "Eventually, we start to see those contaminants high up in the food chain, in seafood and wildlife."

In the study, Rochman and her co-authors fed medaka, a fish species often used in experiments, 3 different diets:
(1) regular fish food
(2) diet contains 10% "clean" plastic (with no pollutants)
(3) diet contains 10% plastic that had been soaking in the San Diego Bay for several months

When they tested the fish 2 months later, they found that the ones on the marine plastic diet (group #3) had much higher levels of persistent organic pollutants. Also, fish on the marine plastic diet were more likely to have tumors and liver problems.

When plastics are soaked in the ocean they behave just like a sponge which absorbs chemicals in the seawater. When the plastics got into the fish stomach they will interact with the stomach acid and release the chemicals absorbed, then get transferred into the bloodstream and tissue. Eating too much of such contaminated fish poses health risk.

According to Edward Humes, author of Garbology, there are 5 massive gyres of trash particles swirling around in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans alone. Those gyres contain plastic that has been weathered and broken down by the elements into these little bits, and it's getting into the food chain.

Even so, the consensus in the public health community still seems to be that the benefits of eating fish exceed the potential risks. Many researchers believe that the levels of dioxins, PCBs and other toxic chemicals in fish are generally too low to be of concern.

More studies are needed to really understand the impact of contaminated plastics in the ocean and risk poses to fish and human. As for Rochman, she says her research in marine toxicology has persuaded her to eat seafood no more than twice per week. And she now avoids swordfish altogether.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Android App To Calculate Sabah 2014 Electricity Tariff

I have developed a simple Android app to calculate the new electricity bill for Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) consumers with 2014 new tariffs. The name of the app is "Sabah's 2014 Electric Tariffs" and can be downloaded from Google Play Store.

The app will calculate the new and old bills, and give a percentage increase. It covers all domestic, commercial class 1, 2 & 3, industrial class 1, 2 & 3 consumers. The app intends just to give an idea how the new bill will look like. The actual amount still has to be based on SESB's monthly bill.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 Top Toxic Ingredients From Coal, Oil, Gas Production

Fossil fuel productions (oil, coal, gas) are using tons of chemicals, often not disclosed, which many are highly dangerous to human health. Here, some of the more commonly cited toxic ingredients, which used across all 3 major fossil fuel extraction industries: oil, coal, and natural gas, are listed.

(1) Benzene (Oil, Coal, Natural gas): one of the largest-volume petrochemical solvents used in the fossil fuel industry. It is a well-established carcinogen with specific links to leukemia as well as breast and urinary tract cancers.

(2) & (3) Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides(Oil, Coal, Gas): 2 primary air pollutants from coal power plants. They are known to cause serious health problems, like lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary mortality.

(4) Petroleum Coke or Pet Coke (Oil): by-product of tar sands bitumen oil processing. It is a heavy dust which resembles coal. It contains dozens of dangerous chemicals and heavy metals, including chromium, vanadium, sulfur, and selenium.

(5) Formaldehyde (Natural Gas): commonly used in a new drilling method of natural gas extraction called "fracking". Formaldehyde is known linked to leukemia and rare nasopharyngeall cancers. It also been linked to spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, low birth weights, infertility, and endometriosis while exposed to formaldehyde.

(6) Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons PAH (Oil, Coal): is a group of toxic chemicals which link to childhood asthma, low birth weight, adverse birth outcomes including heart malformations, and DNA damage.

(7) Mercury (Coal): a dangerous neurotoxin. It damages the brain and the nervous system either through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with the skin. Coal-fired power plants are notorious for airborne mercury emissions which can travel thousands of miles from the source.

(8) Silica (Silicon Dust/Fracking Sand) (Natural Gas): is commonly used, in huge amounts, during fracking operations for natural gas drilling. It is a known human carcinogen; breathing silica dust can lead to silicosis, a form of lung disease with no cure.

(9) Radon (Natural Gas): is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas which causes lung cancer. Newly-developed extraction methods “fracking” represents a significant source of radon exposure. Radon is released into local groundwater and air during fracking operations.

(10) Hydrofluoric Acid (Oil, Gas): a common ingredient used in oil and gas extraction. HF can immediately damage lungs, leading to chronic lung disease; contact on skin penetrates to deep tissue, including bone, where it alters cellular structure. HF can be fatal if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through skin.

These are just a quick summary of the dangerous chemicals from oil, coal and gas production. For more detail please visit

Monday, December 9, 2013

New Cute One-Seat Electric-Vehicle To Launch In Germany In 2015

Colibri is a German-built electric car, by Innovative Mobility Automobile GmbH, with a selling-price targets to be around US$12,000. Every month the owner needs to rent the battery at US$74. According to the company, the car is designed with lifespan of 8 years making the total car cost to be about US$19,000 (~ RM61,300). Colibri is strictly a city commuter, with room for a single person and a few bags of groceries.

Peak engine power: 24 kW
Battery: 6 kWh
Range per charge: 110 km
0 to 100 km/h: 9.9 sec
Top speed: 120 km/h
Weight: 1,000 lb

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Are People Allergic To Peanuts?

Majority of Americans who were born before millennium pretty much grew up with think peanut butter on breads as breakfast. But food allergy, especially peanut allergy in children have seen a dramatic increase.

According to U.S.A. Centers For Disease Control there has been a 50% increase in the number of children with food allergies since the last 15 years. About 1 in 20 U.S.A. children have food allergies. Also, children with food allergy are 2 to 4 times more likely to have other related conditions like asthma and other allergies.

No one knows for sure what caused the increase, but Robyn O'Brien explores the toxic agricultural practices behind peanut farming in her article called “The Hidden Truth about Peanuts: From Food Allergies to Farm Practices.”  She discovered that peanut crops are often rotated with cotton, which receives applications of glyphosate (commonly known as weed killer) that severely damages the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. This leads to an increase in the population of bad organisms in the soil which increases the number of diseases affecting peanut crop. Farmers will increase the amount of pesticide used on the peanut crop. USDA found 8 pesticides in peanut butter, and piperonyl butoxide, an organic compound used as a component of pesticide formulations which is carcinogen, was found 26.9% of the time.

Also, peanuts tend to be grown in the warm places which promoting the growth of fungus. The fungus itself isn't a problem but it will release a poison called aflatoxin which causes cancer. Scientists at Cornell University have found a correlation between liver cancer and peanut consumption. The levels of aflatoxin in peanut butter vary greatly, depending on brands. The highest levels are in those freshly ground peanut butter from health food stores.

It makes sense that eating foods bathed in chemicals will have a serious impact on human health, and we’re probably just starting to see the effects (peanut allergy in children) since shifting from small, diversified farms to large-scale mono-crops. While it’s probably too late to undo the plethora of peanut allergies, perhaps we can decrease allergies in the next generation by paying closer attention to how peanuts are produced.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sabah Electricity Tariff Hikes More Than 16.9% For Most City People

Effective Jan 1, 2014, electricity tariff in Sabah and Labuan FT will be increased by 16.9%, or 5 sen/kWh from 29.52 sen/kWh to 34.52sen/kWh in average, as announced by Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili yesterday.

But if you use more than 500 kWh a month than your bill actually increases more than 16.9% for domestic users (households).

Lets make a simple calculation. If a family has 2 1-HP (~ 0.8kW power consumption) air con and use them for 10 hours every day. In a month the 2 air con would use 480 kWh. If you include the TV, hot water heater, lights, etc, then you are easily using more than 500 kWh per month. If you have 3 air con then most likely you will be in the top rank of > 1,000 kWh usage. Below I calculated the electricity bill for household usage. You can see the increment for usage > 1,000 kWh is actually  almost 25%.

Below is the new and old SESB's tariffs for comparison.

Monday, December 2, 2013

3-D Printed Toothbrush Cleans Your Teeth In Just 6 Seconds

Blizzident is a new company that will tailor-make toothbrush for your teeth using 3-D printing technology. Simply biting and grinding, the dense field of bristles will clean all your teeth in 6 seconds.

To get a Blizzident brush, you go to the dentist, get a dental impression of your teeth and then send the data to a dental laboratory, where it will generate a digital 3-D model that can then be turned into a toothbrush.


Of course, this toothbrush doesn't come in cheap! Each will cost US$299 and will only last for 1 year. A replacement costs between US$ 89 (refurbished) and US$ 159 (brand-new).