Amsterdam is Enjoying Quieter Canals as Boats Go Electric Years Ahead of Diesel Ban

The buzz and rumble of boats passing through Amsterdam’s famous canal system is one of the most iconic traits of the Dutch city.

However, a newly-elected Green Party mayor is pushing to transform the second-most popular form of transportation in the city into an all-electric powered force for a cleaner Amsterdam.

Soon, the sound of diesel-powered boat engines could be consigned to history since the city is now planning to ban the diesel engine before 2025.

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The city’s commercial fleet is already close to achieving that goal since 75% of the city’s 550 commercial vessels are already meeting the planned emissions-free regulation, according to Reuters.

The news outlet goes on to say that contractors are expected to install 100 more boat charging stations by the end of 2021. Furthermore, startup Skoon Energy will be launching a floating charging station this week to help with grid balancing.

Although there are still several thousand recreational vessels that are still in need of emission-free upgrades, the canal’s new infrastructure is expected to quicken the city’s transition to cleaner waterways.

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Designer Works to Erect First Modern Village to Generate its Own Electricity–and Food–in 100% Sustainable Loop

An American architect has put his own money and years of struggle on the line to begin building a modern neighborhood that would generate its own power using a closed loop system that would also recycle all the waste and generate all the food.

Officials in the Netherlands have given James Ehrlich an initial green light to construct at least one eco-village 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam, and he hopes to break ground on the project sometime this year.

Ehrlich founded ReGen Villages in 2016 as a startup company intending to disrupt the way the world thinks about housing, development and transportation, and how these CO2-heavy sectors can be overhauled to create a green, self-sustaining lifestyle.

The master plan is for 200-300 homes in the town of Almere where infrastructure permits were approved in 2018.

The vision is a grand one: While incorporating entirely self-sustainable systems for waste management, water treatment, and food production, electricity would be generated through solar, biogas from food and animal waste, and geothermal sources.

Special aquaponic gardens would combine fish farming with aquatic agriculture that allow residents to cultivate a sustainable micro-ecosystem to produce fish and produce.

Rendering by ReGen Villages

Human waste would be composted to feed the ecosystems, with the fish waste providing a critical source of fertilizer for the gardens.

But there are two bigger issues for ReGen Villages: “The two greatest challenges we face are financial support and political will,” the founder told the New York Times.

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Design rendering by ReGen Villages

The company is trying to wrap up a funding round of €16 million in private equity investment for operating expenses needed for the first village and for “master planning the next couple of concurrent developments.”

The homes, to be situated on at least 61 acres of land in the Oosterwold District, would cost according to DutchReview magazine between €200,000 to €850,000 ($216,000–$918,000) depending on the size and luxury of the house.

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Continuing the closed-loop ecosystem model, each family home will have a greenhouse attached to it for growing personal crops, and rainwater catch-and-filter systems. The energy and food systems would be managed by ReGen’s staff, but residents could also work in the communal farming systems to reduce the monthly cost of their food and energy fees, which would be charged along with their mortgages.

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Apple and Pear Cores Turned Into Chemical-Free Sweetener as an Alternative to Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar

A Dutch company aptly-called Fooditive, is turning pear and apple cores, as well as bruised and discarded fruit from producers and suppliers into a chemical-free, calorie-free, sugar substitute.

Artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame, though legal for use in food and beverages for decades in the United States and elsewhere, are now not only emerging as a potential genotoxin (a poisonous substance which damages DNA), but also as an environmental pollutant since it is not entirely absorbed by our bodies and can travel all the way through our water treatment systems and back into groundwater sources.

Refined cane sugar has its own problems, playing a role in the global skyrocketing rates of diabetes and obesity since the 1950s. Sweeteners and syrups made from corn have much the same effect on our bodies, while also contributing massively to keeping afloat the problematic, uncompetitive American system of agriculture, farm subsidies, and lobbying.

Dutch food scientist Moayad Abushokhedim uses a natural fermentation process to extract fructose from third-rate fruits collected from suppliers and turns it into a calorie-free sweetener that contributes to Rotterdam’s goal of a circular economy by 2030.

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According to the company’s website where you can see a detailed ingredients list, he plans to make Fooditive Sweetners available in powder, liquid, and syrup forms. There is no information yet on how to purchase.

Apart from their sweetener, Fooditive also has a solution for artificial preservatives, creating natural ones from carrot waste, and he counters harmful emulsifiers with potato extracts.

Right now, the company is in the process of expanding their operations to try and get Fooditive products like their sweeteners and preservatives into commercial Dutch foodstuffs.

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“Our products really provide the food and beverage producers with the ability to have a clean label, a green label, and show people what’s in their food,” said Gijs Gieles, Fooditive spokesperson to Fast Company.

These kinds of recycling applications are becoming more and more common in Europe, especially since France passed a law in 2016 forcing supermarkets to recycle, compost, or donate as much of their outgoing or expired stock as possible. Other countries like Germany began to create similar legislation, and a German supermarket SirPlus Rescue Market specializes in discarded, expired, or unwanted packaged foods and produce.

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Denmark Researchers Use Seaweed to Power a Car

Each year, 25 million tons of seaweed is harvested, most of which is in Asia and used for human consumption and cosmetics. But what about using it to power our vehicles?

Danish scientists recently announced they have used a seaweed fuel to power an automobile, achieving speeds of 50 mph (80 kph), using a biofuel created by a Dutch company.

“We’ve looked to see if seaweed fuel works in the same way as ordinary fuel and what its effect is on the motor,” Jaap van Hal, who led the research team, told Noordhollands Dagblad.

One of the largest sources of clean renewable energy used today is biofuels. Produced from garbage or the agricultural byproducts from growing crops like sugar, corn, and soya, it contributes to energy security while also reducing carbon emissions.

Within Europe’s transportation sector the vast majority of renewable energy-powered solutions utilize these land-based sources of biofuel. However it requires land, fertilizer, and irrigation resources to produce these biofuels, so Europe is looking largely towards ocean-based sources of biofuel—namely algae and seaweed, which need nothing more than saltwater and sun to grow incredibly fast.

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Dr. van Hal says learning to manage a 10-acre seaweed farm is similar to managing a 1,000-acre farm. To turn seaweed fuel into a reality, though, requires a supply on a “huge scale”. Even though one farm is currently a “dot on the horizon”, van Hal is nevertheless excited to move forward.

Van Hal is the scientific coordinator for EU-funded MacroFuels, aiming to create an entire industry around seaweed biofuels that includes cultivation and production and testing—specifically for heavy machinery like trucks and ships with diesel engines.

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Several other European firms are looking into increasing the proliferation of seaweed or algae biofuels for the EU energy sector.

Norway, for instance, is plotting a similar course, with a startup called Alginor planning the creation of a bio-refinery for seaweed and algae growing in the North Sea.

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