All posts by LL

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Nicaragua’s Bottom-Up Rural Electrification

Luís Euxebio Irías Calderón is the operator of a small hydroelectric power plant in the mountainous coffee country of northern Nicaragua, and he’s singing a song he wrote about turbines and transformers, to celebrate the arrival of electricity here in his remote corner of the country.

This radio report first aired on NPR’s Here and Now in partnership with IEEE Spectrum: [html] [mp3]. Continue reading

EVs Move Downmarket at Detroit Auto Show

Carmakers are falling over themselves to announce full-electric, hybrid, and alternative-fuel vehicles at this year’s Detroit auto show. Chevrolet announced a concept for a mid-range fully electric car, the 200-mile-range Bolt, that might cost around $37,500 before tax credits in its 2017 lineup. The Bolt, designed by an Australian subsidiary of GM, will use a battery under development by LG that has a less block-like design than conventional battery packs and could offer carmakers more design flexibility.

The only current widely distributed electric car in that price range, the 84-mile range Nissan Leaf, will see “a lot of enhancements,” in time to compete with the Bolt, says Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. Other companies, such as BMW and Audi, are also commercializing full EVs, but the Chevrolet announcement is a sign that mainstream American carmakers are now stepping into the fray.

Read the rest of this blog post at IEEE Spectrum’s Cars That Think blog: [html].

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Nicaragua defies canal protests

Nicaragua has great expectations for the Grand Canal, a US$50-billion, 5-year project to link its Caribbean and Pacific coasts with a 280-kilometre waterway. President Daniel Ortega and other supporters of the canal, who celebrated the start of construction on 22 December, say that it will generate much-needed income for residents of the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Continue reading

Nahielly Cervantes prepares spools for storing 3D printer filament made from recycled plastic. Credit - Matt Rogge

Building a New Economy on Soda Bottles and a 3D Printer

On a steep road on the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, a low buzz and plastic fumes emanate from a white house. A ribbed white paper tube snakes out of a window on the building, exhaling a light smoke which mixes with fumes from nearby open-air cooks and the sooty exhaust of rumbling, unmuffled bus engines. Inside, the tube is attached to a machine that’s gobbling plastic flakes—which can come from used drink bottles—through a funnel also made from a plastic drink bottle. At the other end of the machine, a spinning wheel draws out the fresh-melted polymer into a black filament just three millimeters wide and value hundreds of times what it was worth in in bottle form.

Read the rest of this feature at PBS NOVA Next: [html] [pdf].