Environment News – NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News http://nocamels.com NoCamels.com is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle. Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:59:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Israel’s Jaffa Mandarin Oranges Look To Squeeze Into China http://nocamels.com/2017/04/china-israel-jaffa-orri-mandarin-oranges/ Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:41:53 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=54177

The orange may be the the fruit most widely associated with Israel, but it is China that is the number one grower of citrus worldwide, with 20 million tons in 2016. Despite this, China also imported 21,000 tons of mandarin oranges in the last year, many from Israel.

Following the substantial harvest growth of Israel’s easy-to-peel mandarin orange known as the Jaffa Orri, Israel’s Plant Production and Marketing Board identified the China market as the its target for export growth in 2017.

“We expect to dramatically increase sales volumes of delicious Jaffa Orri in the China market in 2017,” Tal Amit, head of the citrus sector at Israel’s Plant Production and Marketing Board, said in a statement. “The Chinese are fond of fresh produce. They seek premium mandarins and are willing to pay for its delicious taste.”

Chinese like purchasing fruit online

According to the PMA (Produce Marketing Association), China is the world’s largest e-commerce market and is growing rapidly. One of the main drivers of this exponential growth was sales of online fresh fruit, which is quickly becoming a preferred purchase channel for Chinese consumers, especially among young professionals in big cities. Sales of online fresh produce in Chins neared the $4 billion in 2014.

SEE ALSO: China To Grow Blue Roses Using Israeli Technology

The Jaffa Orri mandarin is well established in Western Europe, especially in France and Germany,  but the growing demand for Israel’s mandarin in China has encouraged the PMA to focus its attention on the giant Asian country. 

The Jaffa Orri: Easy to peel, few seeds, long self life

The Jaffa Orri is a mandarin orange developed by scientists of the Israeli Volcani Research Center. In addition to being grown in Israel, the Jaffa Orri is grown in some of the best-known citrus-producing countries in the world, including Spain and South Africa. The easy peeling mandarin boasts a fresh, sweet flavor with minimal seed content and a particularly long shelf life. “As a result,” Amit said in the statement, “Jaffa Orri aims to minimize fresh produce waste and can yield better profit.”

This variety of fruit also has an extremely long harvest season of four months, which far exceeds the typical harvest season of around two months for most mandarins.

Jaffa Orri Mandarin oranges

A growing segment of the Chinese population has become more concerned with food safety standards and regulations, according to the PMA. “Our Jaffa Orri brand is well known as a safe, delicious fruit and it is payoff in comparison to other mandarins in the market,” Amit says.

SEE ALSO: Phresh Keeps Your Fruits And Veggies Fresh

China’s struggles spell opportunity for Jaffa Orri

The USDA estimated China’s production forecast of mandarins and tangerines to drop 900,000 tons due to citrus greening and unfavorable weather; consequently, consumption and exports are down. China represents over two-thirds of global production and consumption and one-fourth of global exports. 

Tal Amit of Jaffa Orri

Pictures: Jaffa Orri

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Earth Day 2017: New Recycling Plant Is Turning Tel Aviv’s Garbage Into Fuel http://nocamels.com/2017/04/israel-turns-garbage-into-fuel/ Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:56:49 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=54466 A consortium of Israeli companies has opened a new recycling plant that will turn half a million tons of garbage a year into fuel.

The $110 million plant – Israel’s biggest, and one of the largest of its kind in the world – will treat 1,500 tons of household waste every day, about 50 percent of Greater Tel Aviv’s garbage.

The trash will be converted into fuel, which will be used to power a nearby cement factory, using a technology called “Refuse-Derived Fuel” (RDF).

The plant will provide 20 percent of the energy needed to power Israel’s Nesher cement plant.

“The key to a sustainable future”

At the cutting-edge plant outside of Tel Aviv, RDF is produced from solid waste, and can replace a portion of fossil fuels used by the local cement industry. The waste is separated using different techniques, for example: giant magnets pull metals, and holes in different sizes separate the garbage by size.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Named World’s 7th Greenest City

The end result is a homogeneous material that provides 20 percent of the energy needed to power Israel’s Nesher cement plant – about 500 tons of fuel per day. The companies behind this innovative environmental project are Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises, Veridis Environment and the Hiriya Recycling Park.

According to Doron Saphir, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, “conserving nature’s resources by turning garbage into fuel is the key to a sustainable future.”

One of most innovative environmental projects in the Middle East

The plant is part of Israel’s largest eco-park (Ariel Sharon Park), which was built at the location of the massive trash site Hiriya. What used to be Israel’s largest landfill dump underwent a massive makeover three years ago, which turned a giant mountain of garbage into a 2,000-acre ecological park three times the size of New York City’s Central Park. The Ariel Sharon Park is considered one of the largest, most innovative environmental projects the Middle East.

SEE ALSO: Genetically Modified Bacteria Could Eat Away The World’s Massive Plastic Problem

The park includes recycling stations, walking and cycling trails, ponds and extreme sports activities, and will soon be home to a 50,000-seat amphitheater, one of the largest concert venues in Israel.

Ariel Sharon Park

Ariel Sharon Park

In addition to the RDF plant, the park is home to a recycling center and transfer station. Each day, approximately 800 garbage trucks deposit 3,000 tons of household waste and garden trimmings into the recycling station; and 400 more trucks bring approximately 1,500 tons of construction waste from 18 local municipalities in the area.

But while Hiriya Mountain, previously known as “stinky hill,” has come a long way, it’s still far from being completed. The park will continue to expand through 2020, with more recreational and tourist attractions to come.

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Whiteflies Can Help Us Make Better Drones, Israeli Researchers Say http://nocamels.com/2017/04/whiteflies-takeoff-better-drones/ Sun, 16 Apr 2017 09:29:01 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=54312 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Whiteflies, bugs just 0.3 of an inch long that typically feed on the undersides of plant leaves, may hold the secret to stabilizing the takeoff of small robotic man-made flyers, like miniature drones, researchers at Tel Aviv University say.

When whiteflies take off, they don’t just spread their wings and fly. These tiny insects use a variety of sophisticated techniques that provide them with exceptional stability in the air. These same techniques could be used for drones, the researchers said.

SEE ALSO: Israel Leads The Way In Drone Innovation

drone

The research, presented at a recent Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities conference, explores how whiteflies, which belong to the order of insects called Hemiptera, successfully take off without flapping their wings, which are 28 percent longer than their bodies. They raise their wingtips to provide air resistance and stabilize. The presentation was based on new research following an earlier study published by the Journal of Experimental Biology.

“Whiteflies take a powerful ‘jump’ before they start using their wings in flight,” said TAU’s Dr. Gal Ribak, who led the research. “Then, when the insects are moving through the air, they have to stop the rotation of their bodies to reorient themselves for flapping flight. They are able to do that by extending the tips of their folded wings, causing high air resistance behind the body. This aerodynamic force stabilizes the takeoff and only then do the insects spread their wings and start flying.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Able To Control Insects’ Movements

The response time is what is of note here, Ribak said, as all this happens in less than 12 milliseconds, without feedback from the nervous system. “Nature is providing us with guidance on how to stabilize the takeoff of small robotic man-made flyers,” he said.

Size is a key component of the insects’ successful ascent. Their tiny size allows them to execute swift stabilizing responses using the air resistance of various body parts.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Tel Aviv UniversityJyothish Kumar P.G

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Israeli Researchers: Oceans’ Historic Acidity Levels Key To Understanding Climate Change http://nocamels.com/2017/04/acidic-oceans-life-climate-change/ Sun, 09 Apr 2017 06:30:21 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=53466 The world’s major sources of iron were once dissolved in seawater, which leads researchers to believe our first oceans were acidic. A new Israeli study sheds light on how past ocean acid levels were controlled by CO2 in the atmosphere, an important process for understanding the effects of climate change. The study also gives us a clue as to the conditions under which life emerged in the early oceans.

The scientists suggest that, billions of years ago, the rust that formed in the seawater and sank into the ocean was green, meaning it may have been an iron-based mineral.

Published in the prestigious journal Science, the study by Dr. Itay Halevy of Israel’s Weizmann Institute and Dr. Aviv Bachan of Stanford University, suggests that the early oceans, right around the time that life originated, were somewhat acidic, and that they gradually became alkaline.

coral reef with fish

The two tried to understand how ocean acidity can change, for example, in response to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, and thus studied the history of seawater acidity.

SEE ALSO: Rising CO2 Could Lead To Collapse Of World’s Coral Reefs, Say Hebrew University Scientists

Acidity and alkalinity are measured on the pH scale of 0-14. On this scale, 7 is neutral, higher is alkaline, lower is acidic. At around 8.2, today’s oceans are mildly alkaline, and it’s been shown that rising CO2 levels are increasing the oceans’ acidity (decreasing pH).

Halevy explains that billions of years ago “the early sun was dimmer, even though we don’t have evidence for a much colder climate. We think that this is because the early atmosphere had more of the greenhouse gas COthan at present, and that as the sun got brighter, CO2 levels decreased.”

SEE ALSO: Something Fishy: Organisms From Suez Canal Put Mediterranean Marine Life At Risk

COand water produce carbonic acid, so it stands to reason that the early oceans would have been more acidic. But higher early CO2 levels would also have resulted in acidic rainwater and this, in turn, could have led to higher rates of chemical weathering of Earth’s rocky crust, washing down ions that would partly neutralize the acidity of CO2.

 

About 3 billion years ago, the pH of ocean water was somewhere between 6 and 7.5 – between that of milk and human blood, which “gives us some clues as to the conditions under which life emerged in the early oceans,” Halevy said in a statement.

ocean

“Marine organisms and environments may suffer”

According to the researchers, “we had an early ocean more acidic than today in which primitive life thrived and chemical cycles were balanced; but if we want to apply this insight to today, we have to remember that this balance of acids and bases was maintained over geological timescales – millions of years.”

Halevy warns that “today’s acidification from COis much more rapid… Hundreds of thousands of years from now, the oceans will have found a new balance, but between now and then, marine organisms and environments may suffer.”

Photos: Elise Iovenko

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Noah’s Ark-Shaped Natural History Museum To Curate 5 Million Specimens http://nocamels.com/2017/04/noah-ark-natural-history-museum/ Mon, 03 Apr 2017 07:40:48 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=53753 Visitors to last week’s Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair got a sneak peek of the new Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, which is slated to open this summer at Israel’s Tel Aviv University. Fittingly shaped as Noah’s Ark, this stunning, $48 million building – which serves as a tribute to natural history – will house and preserve a collection of over 5 million specimens.

The 8,000-square-meter building –  which last week hosted the Fresh Paint art exhibition, but will officially open to the public in the summer – is said to be the largest, most comprehensive center in the region for biodiversity research, education and conservation. According to Tel Aviv University, it is “the first and only center for natural history research and outreach in the Middle East.”

http://www.kimmel.co.il/projects/museum-of-natural-history-2/

The museum will house and preserve a collection of over 5 million specimens.

Designed by Israeli firm Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, which won an international competition back in 2009, the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History contains a public section open to visitors, and a section for academic research intended for faculty and staff.

According to architect Michal Kimmel-Eshkolot, “the building is designed to separate these two functions through different areas of activity, as well as different patterns of circulation.” Yet, in designated areas, the two functions meet “in a series of orchestrated vistas, which enrich the experience of the visitor and reveal the work of the scientists.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Architects Build Eco-Home On Mount Carmel

http://www.kimmel.co.il/projects/museum-of-natural-history-2/

The museum visit begins at the large entrance plaza overlooking Tel Aviv University’s botanical gardens. The building hovers over a series of terraces and provides shade for the visitors prior to entry.

Inside the building, ramps lead the visitors along the different types of exhibits. Each ramp presents a different experience and is adapted to the architectural essence of the building. In this way, a visitor passes “from light to darkness, from open to enclosed spaces, and from small exhibits to diorama-type exhibits,” the architect said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Architect Designs Rotating Skyscraper

The museum was made possible by philanthropist, financier and investor Michael Steinhardt, one of the founding patrons of Birthright Israel.

“I believe the five million plus specimens that will be in the museum on opening day are already a dynamic record of Israel’s biodiversity and the history and evolution of humankind in the Middle East,” Steinhardt said in a statement. “Through the museum, we have the opportunity to ensure that scientists, researchers and people of all stripes who are interested in preserving the past to better understand the future will have a place to observe and study that history for themselves.”

“The crossroads at which all plants, animals and humans moved from Africa to Europe and Asia”

According to Stanford University’s Prof. Dr. Marcus Feldman, a member of the Steinhardt Museum International Scientific Advisory Board, “Israel is the crossroads at which all plants, animals and humans moved from Africa to Europe and Asia. It is the only place in the world where you can see this historical depth. In 10 or 20 years, the Steinhardt Museum will become a major world center for the study of biological systematics, evolution, paleo-ecology and paleo-anthropology.”

noah ark by eliav lilti

Photos, renderings and and video: Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, Eliav Lilti, Einat Paz-Frankel

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Sun Power: Israeli Tech Makes Solar Cells 70% More Effective http://nocamels.com/2017/03/sun-power-solar-cells-photovoltaic/ http://nocamels.com/2017/03/sun-power-solar-cells-photovoltaic/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:10:44 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=49152 The sun is a powerful source of renewable energy. In fact, it is currently the only energy source capable of supplying the energy needs of the human race, so it’s no wonder that the use of solar energy is increasing. But there are a number of technological limitations when it comes to photovoltaic cells.

Photovoltaic, a method for generating electric power by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into a flow of electrons, cells utilize a very narrow range of the solar spectrum – the broad light supplied by the sun. Radiation not within this narrow range merely warms these cells but is not utilized. This energy loss limits the efficiency of current solar cells to around 30 percent.

SEE ALSO: Solar Power Breakthrough: Ultra-Thin Panels Increase Energy Used For Fuel Production By 30%

Researchers at the The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a new technology that could improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by nearly 70 percent.

Technion

Left to right: Assaf Manor, Assistant Professor Carmel Rotschild and Nimrod Kruger

The Technion team’s method is based on an intermediate process that occurs between sunlight and the photovoltaic cell. The photoluminescence, light emission from any form of matter after the absorption of photons, material they created absorbs the radiation from the sun, and converts the heat and light from the sun into an “ideal” radiation, which illuminates the photovoltaic cell, enabling higher conversion efficiency. As a result, the device’s efficiency is increased from 30% (the conventional value for photovoltaic devices), to 50%.

The study was conducted at the Technion’s Excitonics Lab, headed by Carmel Rotschild, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, with the assistance of the GTEP Energy Center and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion, and as part of the lab’s ERC project on new thermodynamic tools for solar cells.

An alternative to fossil fuels

But can solar indeed become an affordable alternative to fossil fuels? The scientists at the Technion believe it can.

 “Today costs of photovoltaics are comparable to fossil fuels,” Rotschild tells NoCamels. “The prices of photovoltaics are dropping every year due to collective effort of the scientific and engineering community. This ensures that solar energy will become significant.”

“Taking into account the damage to the environment and health, solar energy is a much better solution,” he adds. “Also, taking into account that we’ll run out of fossil fuels (and uranium for nuclear energy), than only renewable energy can help us.”

Inspired by optical refrigeration

The inspiration for the breakthrough comes from optical refrigeration, where the absorbed light is re-emitted at higher energy, thereby cooling the emitter. The researchers developed a technology that works similarly, but with sunlight.

“Solar radiation, on its way to the photovoltaic cells, hits a dedicated material that we developed for this purpose, the material is heated by the unused part of the spectrum,” graduate student Assaf Manor, who led the study as part of his PhD work, said in a statement. “In addition, the solar radiation in the optimal spectrum is absorbed and re-emitted at a blue-shifted spectrum. This radiation is then harvested by the solar cell. This way both the heat and the light are converted to electricity.”

Just five years away

The group hopes to demonstrate a full operating device with record efficiency within 5 years’ time. If they are successful, they feel could become a disruptive technology in solar energy. “Solar is here already in the large scale instillation, it will take 10 years to become significant in the global energy supply. In 5 years I believe we can introduce a disruptive technology to photovoltaics, ” Rotschild tells NoCamels.

“In our generation we will run out of oil, gas, coal, etc,” Rotschild tells NoCamels. “Solar is here, and it is the only sustainable solution.”

Photos: Technion

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The Secret To Eternal Life? Hydras Know Where To Regrow Lost Body Parts http://nocamels.com/2017/03/hydras-regenerate-body-parts-where-needed/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:25:02 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52767 Hydra, a small freshwater animal, knows exactly where to regenerate lost body parts, and its “trick” could someday be used to regenerate human muscles, a new Israeli study suggests. And, if the hydra can infinitely regenerate itself, perhaps it knows the secret to immortality.

Until recently, it was thought that hydras – small, tentacled animals that can literally be shredded into pieces and regrow into healthy animals – use chemical signals to regenerate body parts, but researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology now suggest that hydras have structural memory that guides the regeneration of cells in the right direction.

Recently published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, the study suggests that pieces of hydras have structural memory that helps them shape their new body plan according to the pattern inherited by the animal’s “skeleton.” Previously, scientists thought that only chemical signals told a hydra where its heads or feet should form.

SEE ALSO: Parasite Genetically Related To Jellyfish Could Defy Everything We Know About Animals

Hydras use a network of tough, stringy protein fibers to align their cells. When pieces are cut or torn from hydras, this pattern (called “cytoskeleton”) survives and becomes part of the new animal. The pattern generates a small but potent amount of mechanical force that shows cells where to line up.

This force can serve as a form of “memory” that stores information about the layout of animal bodies. When pieces of hydra begin the regeneration process, the scraps of hydra fold into little balls, and the cytoskeleton has to find a balance between maintaining its old shape and adapting to the new conditions.

Hydra attached to a substrate

“If you take a strip or a square fragment and turn it into a sphere, the fibers have to change or stretch a lot to do that,” the study’s senior author, biophysicist Kinneret Keren of the Technion, said in a statement.

However, some portions retain their pattern. As the little hydra tissue ball stretches into a tube and grows a tentacle-ringed mouth, the new body parts follow the template set by the cytoskeleton in fragments from the original hydra. The main cytoskeletal structure in adult hydra is an array of aligned fibers that span the entire organism. Tampering with the cytoskeleton is enough to disrupt the formation of new hydras, the researchers found. In many ways, the cytoskeleton is like a system of taut wires that helps the hydra keep its shape and function.

Regenerating human muscles?

In one experiment, the researchers cut the original hydra into rings which folded into balls that contained multiple domains of aligned fibers. Those ring-shaped pieces grew into two-headed hydras. However, anchoring the hydra rings to stiff wires resulted in healthy one-headed hydras, suggesting that mechanical feedbacks promote order in the developing animal.

SEE ALSO: Smart Plant Drugs Birds Into Forgetting Their Bitter Taste

Hydras are much simpler than most of their cousins in the animal kingdom, but the basic pattern of aligned cytoskeletal fibers is common in many organs, including human muscles, heart, and guts. Studying hydra regeneration may lead to a better understanding of how mechanics integrate with biochemical signals to shape tissues and organs in other species.

heart

Photos and video: Technion, Frank Fox

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Urban Jungle: Tel Aviv Named World’s 7th Greenest City http://nocamels.com/2017/03/tel-aviv-seventh-greenest-city/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:53:09 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=53437 Tel Aviv, Israel, is among the greenest cities in the world, ranking No. 7 on a prestigious list compiled recently by MIT researchers in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

No. 1 on the list is Vancouver, Canada, followed by Sacramento, US, and Geneva, Switzerland. Rounding out the top five are Seattle and Toronto.

SEE ALSO: Revolutionary Rooftop Farm Grows Organic Veggies Sans Soil In The Heart of Tel Aviv

Trees and plants in urban environments have been known to improve air quality and provide shade. According to the WEF, making available significant ‘green’ living space is now virtually mandatory for cities around the world. But are they up to scratch?

To answer this question, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) teamed up with the WEF to create Treepedia, a website which measures and compares cities’ green canopies, including that of Tel Aviv.

Rothchild Boulevard, Tel Aviv Israel

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, Israel

Using Google Street View data, Treepedia could become a tool for both city planners and dwellers. Urbanites can inspect the location and size of trees in their neighborhoods, as well as input their own data and request for more trees to be planted where they live. In addition to visualizing cities’ green spaces, a metric called the ‘Green View Index’ helps city planners to evaluate and compare green canopy coverage relative to other cities around the globe.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Revolutionizes City Transportation With New $26M Car-Sharing Service

The initiative is designed to “help shape the cities of the future; teach urbanites a greater appreciation of the green spaces around them, and reinforce the role of the green canopy in responding to climate change,” Alice Charles of the World Economic Forum said in a statement.

260,000 trees cover 52 square kilometers 

Tel Aviv, Israel’s cultural and financial center, has launched several green initiatives in recent years, including city-sponsored bicycle and car-sharing services.

According to city officials, the number of trees in Tel Aviv (excluding trees in parks) has doubled over the past decade, reaching 260,000, averaging 5,000 trees per square kilometer.

“We’ve cleaned up vacant lots to make room for parks and promenades,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement. “Today, our hard work has paid off, and our green city provides a high quality of life.”

Photos and video: Vered Versano/City of Tel Aviv, World Economic ForumInaani333Sambach

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Aiming High: Israeli Architects Build Eco-Home From Cannabis On Mount Carmel http://nocamels.com/2017/03/hemp-eco-house-weed-cannabis-israel/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 08:41:03 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=53176 Cannabis is known for its medical benefits, but houses made out of hemp can also protect the environment.

A newly built house in Ein Hod, Israel, was constructed using an innovative technique called “hempcrete.” By mixing hemp (cannabis) with local limestone to build the walls, the all-natural insulating materials can conserve up to 50 percent of the energy needed for cooling and heating.

“The house is sustainable because it’s made out of natural materials that come from nature and will go back to nature,” Israeli architect Maoz Alon, whose firm Tav Group designed the ecological house, tells NoCamels.

hemp house by Tavgroup;

An eco-home is an environmentally low-impact house designed and built using materials and technologies that reduce its carbon footprint and lower its energy needs. The process of constructing the 270-square-meter Ein Hod house was also environmentally friendly: “We used only local materials; you didn’t see trucks pulling in and out of our construction site, which reduced air pollution,” Alon says.

While the first floor is made of local stone, the upper floor walls are cast of hemp and hydraulic lime on a wooden framing.

hemp house by Tavgroup

“Designed to capture the summer sea breeze”

Located on Mount Carmel, facing the Mediterranean Sea, the house is terraced on the southward hillslope of Ein Hod, Israel’s artists’ village. “Enveloping a south-facing court, it is designed to capture the summer sea breeze and the winter soft sunbeams, and thus allow a moderate climate throughout the year,” according to Tav Group, which worked on the project with Israeli construction company Botzz Group.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Architects Create Tiny Artist Studio That Doubles As Living Space

According to Israel’s Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, hempcrete is good for thermal and acoustic insulation, which, in turn, translates into energy conservation and savings of up to 50 percent.

There are a few other hemp houses in Israel, but Alon claims to be the first to build one (for a client), with the design process starting some eight years ago.

hemp house by Tavgroup;

Capturing sunbeams and sea breeze, this eco-home allows a moderate climate throughout the year.

Founded by in 1987 by the late architect Reuven Cohen Alloro, along with Alon and Yoav Trifon, Haifa-based Tav Group is considered a pioneer in green building. Among the firm’s well-known projects are Kibbutz Hukuk’s ecological neighborhood and the Meyerhoff Art Center in Tel Aviv.

SEE ALSO: A New Kibbutz? WeWork’s Urban Community WeLive Could Revolutionize City Living

In the firm’s Ein Hod project, the goal was “to create an archetype of sustainable building, which would blend with the beauty of its natural surroundings,” the architects say. The design concept was to build a house “as nature would have it, like a bird feathering her nest, treading softly on the earth and leaving the faintest ecological footprint,” Alon says.

hemp house by Tavgroup

This low-impact house was built using materials and technologies that reduce its carbon footprint and lower its energy needs.

The house stands on the southern slopes of the village of Ein Hod, facing the Mediterranean Sea. Historically, this hillside served as quarry, providing the building stone for the village houses. Tav Group returned to this method to construct the house: the studio on the lower ground floor of the house is built with locally sourced stone, carved on site. The same stone was also used for paving throughout the house.

In addition to cannabis walls, cast using the hempcrete technique, the house also features ecological infrastructure systems, including greywater purification and reuse, rooftop solar panels, and more.

Its all-natural finishes, of sand and earthy tones, echo the color palette of the surrounding landscape and blend with it. The house manifests Tav Group’s ethos “to find beauty in simplicity, and create peaceful, modest and cozy spaces as a corollary of a harmonious exchange with the environment,” the architects say.

hemp house Israel

The kitchen features cannabis walls that were cast using the hempcrete technique.

Almost no concrete

The Ein Hod hemp house is unlike most houses and apartment buildings in Israel, and not just because it has a secret ingredient.

“It’s a groundbreaking residential project in Israel because there’s no concrete except in the foundations and the mandatory safety room,” Alon tells NoCamels. “There aren’t many houses like this here.”

While you cannot get high living in a cannabis house, it definitely has a good feel, Maoz says. “The walls are soft, they breathe and they smell good,” he says. “They make you feel wrapped in softness.”

hemp house by yoav_etiel

Photos: Tav Group, Yaeli Gabrieli, Yoav Etiel

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Inna Braverman: The Young Woman With Big Plans To Harness The World’s Oceans For Clean Energy http://nocamels.com/2017/03/eco-wave-power-inna-braverman/ Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:06:34 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52640 She grew up watching the waves breaking on the shores of Acre. With little entertainment going on in the historic walled port city, Inna Braverman studied the ebb and flow with great fascination.

Recently featured in WIRED Magazine and named one of the world’s “100 Makers and Mavericks” by Medium, the girl from Acre – now the co-founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power – is leading one of the most innovative Israeli companies, producing clean energy from sea waves.

The editors of Medium who compiled this year’s list of the 100 brightest people were undoubtedly impressed by Braverman when they wrote: “If surfers can use the energy of waves, so can the rest of the planet. Eco Wave Power has developed proprietary technology for extracting energy from ocean and sea waves and converting it into electricity. Nature has the answers.”

inna braverman, co-founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power. Courtesy.

“As a little girl, I was impressed by the sea waves,” the 31-year-old CEO tells NoCamels. “I wanted to produce energy from the waves. In Israel, it feels like anything is possible – and here I am today.”

Changing the world, one wave at a time 

Water covers about 75 percent of the earth’s surface, but the world has yet to truly capitalize on the power of ocean waves. Founded in 2011 by Braverman and David Leb, Eco Wave Power (EWP) is taking giant steps in the field of renewable energy harvested from the sea, already operating power plants in Gibraltar, China, India, Chile, Mexico and Israel.

SEE ALSO: TaKaDu’s Water-Saving Technology Saves Australia Millions Of Dollars

Eco Wave Power system in Gibraltar

Eco Wave Power’s system in action

“Wave energy can produce twice the amount of electricity that the world produces today, which is a very significant amount,” Braverman said during a recent TedX Talk in Israel.

The company’s latest achievement is launching a commercial-scale plant in Gibraltar, producing 15 percent of the country’s electricity.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Tech HARBO Cuts Down Response Time To Oil Spills To 20 Minutes

EWP turns water into electricity using uniquely shaped floating devices, which rise and fall with the waves’ up-and-down motion and the changes in water levels. The floaters are attached by robust arms to any type of man-made structure, such as jetties or piers. This motion is then transmitted to power stations on land, which convert the energy into fluid pressure used to spin a generator, producing electricity.

According to many scientists, wave energy has greater potential to create electricity than wind or solar power. Braverman says: “Because the density of water is greater than air, you can produce much more electricity with smaller, cheaper devices.”

The company has so far raised $2 million, and a new $5 million round is underway. “We could go public in two years,” Braverman wishfully tells NoCamels.

A man’s world

Born in 1986 in a small Ukrainian town not far from Chernobyl, Braverman moved to Israel in the 1990s. She was only 25 years old when she co-founded EWP. According to Braverman, it wasn’t easy being a young woman in the predominantly male world of engineers.

“We went to a conference and everyone thought I was David’s secretary,” she recalls. “People coming into our office would ask me for a cup of espresso or a glass of water.”

But the young entrepreneur who was mistaken for a secretary recently cut the ribbon with the prime minister of Gibraltar, inaugurating EWP’s innovative power plant.

Gibraltar by https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Luis_lopez_de_ayala&action=edit&redlink=1

Gibraltar

Braverman also joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his official visit to Australia in February. Eco Wave Power was one of only 23 Israeli companies invited to take part in this Israeli delegation. The startup is about to receive $3 million from an Australian investment fund, with a possible initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Braverman is also hoping to build a plant Down Under. “Australia is definitely an amazing market for wave energy. We have been looking at it for quite a long time. You have great waves for that,” she recently told The Sydney Morning Herald.

This is the second time EWP is joining Netanyahu on an official visit, with the first time being a 2014 visit to China.

eco wave power

“Passion is the greatest source of renewable energy”

With air pollution killing one of eight people in the world, EWP’s solution could provide clean energy for many countries that have seas, oceans and even lakes.

“It seems like slowly but surely the world understands the great potential and undeniable resource, which is wave energy,” Braverman says. “There is a huge race in the world among large companies that are spending a lot of money to develop a wave energy solution. I want to be the first with a commercially viable solution.”

What’s her secret? “Believe in yourself; if you have a great idea and passion – go for it,” she says. “Passion is the greatest source of renewable energy.”

Photos and video: Eco Wave Power, TedX Talks, Ayala

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World Wildlife Day: Israeli Navigation App Waze Saves Animals From Becoming Roadkill http://nocamels.com/2017/03/world-wildlife-day-waze-roadkill/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 08:35:09 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52966 Every year, thousands of animals are killed on Israel’s roads by unsuspecting drivers, and sadly, there’s not much the average driver can do about it. But now, thanks to a new initiative utilizing Israeli popular navigation app Waze, motorists can help save innocent animals from becoming roadkill.

Just in time for the United Nations World Wildlife Day, observed annually on March 3, Waze and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) have joined forces to help save road-crossing animals. The program involves maximizing the use of an existing reporting function on the Waze app – the “Roadkill” button. When Israeli Waze users report a dead animal they see on the side of the road, SPNI will gather that data and use it to determine the country’s most dangerous spots for wildlife in order to find solutions for their safe passage.

deer, SPN, waze

A deer watches passing cars at the edge of an Israeli road.

“Putting our wildlife in grave danger”

“Israel’s transportation infrastructure continues to expand rapidly, providing thousands of kilometers of roads that allow humans to travel conveniently from place to place, but these same roads are putting our wildlife in grave danger,” Shmulik Yedvab, Director of SPNI‘s Mammals Center, said in a statement. “For gazelles, porcupines, badgers, turtles, hyenas, otters and many other species, crossing the road often results in death.”

SEE ALSO: GPS App Waze Announces New Alerts On Kidnappings, Hit-And-Runs

A major Israeli roadway fragments the natural habitats of the local wildlife population.

The increasing awareness regarding the risks roads pose to wild animals has led Israeli road planners to build special passages for animals when building new roads or expanding and upgrading existing ones. However, there are still no viable solutions on dozens of existing roads across the country.  It is for this reason that SPNI’s new campaign with Waze is so essential.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Group Saves Endangered Peruvian Ape

SPNI and Waze soft-launched the program in November 2016, and have been testing it ever since. Over the past four months, Waze users have embraced the app’s new function, with hundreds of reports streaming in monthly. In January alone, the Waze community of drivers logged 1,416 roadkill reports.

Just a few simple clicks

The public can ensure the success of this important campaign by being vigilant about reporting roadkill. After clicking the circular orange report icon within the Waze app, users should select the yellow triangular “Hazard” symbol, followed by “On road” and “Roadkill.”

Waze, Roadkill, SPNI

Waze roadkill icon

Using the accumulated data, SPNI experts will create a ‘Wildlife Red Roads Atlas’ and work towards reaching a profound conclusion as to which animal species are run over most and why, and what can be done to reduce the number of animal deaths and human injuries.

Expanding to additional countries 

Founded by Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar in 2007, Waze was acquired by Google in 2013 for $1.3 billion.

The Waze-SPNI program is currently only available in Israel, but if other wildlife organizations follow SPNI’s lead, Israeli environmentalists believe that it could be adopted in other countries as well.

Photos: SPNI/Dov Greenblat, Waze, Government of of Alberta

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Eddy The Robot Helps You Grow Veggies At Home With Hydroponic Farming http://nocamels.com/2017/03/eddy-hydroponic-robot-flux/ Wed, 01 Mar 2017 12:20:38 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52859 With just a tank, pipes and a pump, anyone can now grow their own vegetables at home. Hydroponic farming allows you to grow crops using nutrient-rich water in place of soil. And with some hydroponic farm kits selling for less than $100, you too could become an urban farmer.

However, this agricultural technique requires a certain degree of expertise in order to work. Now, Israeli AgTech startup Flux wants to simplify hydroponics with a unique, compact robotic farming assistant called Eddy.

A child of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) revolution, Eddy is a smart gadget equipped with sensors and Wi-Fi connectivity. As it floats in the water tank of a hydroponic system, it is able to measure key growing conditions, such as the pH levels and nutrient content of the water, as well as the surrounding temperature. It wirelessly communicates this information to the grower through a smartphone app, allowing users to monitor their crops anytime, anywhere.

Fresh food in the city

In addition, Eddy can advise growers on steps they should take to improve the health of their crops, giving them the leafiest lettuce and the most succulent strawberries, according to Flux. This small robot can also tell you which plants are compatible to be grown together, what nutrients should be added to the water, when to turn the lights on in an indoor farm, and other useful instructions.

Eddy’s advice is grounded in the experience of Flux’s hydroponics experts – wittily dubbed “Grow Gurus” – as well as a host of data collected from Eddy’s sensors, photos of the crops (taken by the grower), and even the grower’s nutritional preferences.

eddy hydroponic robot by flux

“People with different dietary restrictions can manipulate the nutritional content of their crops through controlled growing,” Flux Founder Karin Kloosterman tells NoCamels. Eddy also connects you to other growers, forming a community of like-minded farmers who can offer valuable tips based on their experience. “Eddy is always learning, like an organism that evolves,” she says.

“Bathing in a chemical stew” 

A major reason why people turn to organic produce or grow their own fruits and veggies is pesticides. “Pesticides are over-exploited by the conventional agricultural system,” says Kloosterman, who has been interested in food production and environmental issues since she was young. “These nasty chemicals destroy the soil and enter our food. We are bathing in a chemical stew.”

eddy hydroponic robot by flux

Hydroponic farming doesn’t require pesticides, since pests are usually soil-borne. Another advantage of the system is that its water usage is reduced, since water is recycled throughout the hydroponic system. Hydroponic farming is also more space-efficient than conventional farming, which makes urban farming possible. That’s why Kloosterman is so passionate about promoting this form of alternative farming.

Flux joins a growing list of Israeli companies that want to disrupt agriculture, such as GreenWall, which builds vertical gardens, and Phytech, which provides plant monitoring systems for conventional farming, to name a few.

SEE ALSO: Can Vertical Gardens End World Hunger?

With the rise of other companies working towards “smart farms” – such as Grownetics, Agrilyst and CropX – how does Eddy stand out in the field of AgTech? Kloosterman believes that Eddy’s competitive edge lies in its advanced sensor hardware, which is designed by former military experts.

The startup also intends to constantly improve its expertise in hydroponic farming by using Big Data. As Flux aggregates large amounts of data from Eddy units placed in different farms around the world, it will process these data using advanced algorithms to predict and optimize patterns of crop growth. According to Kloosterman, this data will also be made publicly available.

SEE ALSO: Revolutionary Rooftop Farm Grows Organic Veggies Sans Soil In The Heart of Tel Aviv

eddy app

Eliminating food insecurity? 

Founded in 2014, the eight-employee startup has offices in Tel Aviv, Dallas and Boulder, Colorado. Kloosterman declined to discuss the company’s financial standing, but according to media reports, it raised $270,000 in seed funding, and is now securing its Series A funding.

Priced at $179, Eddy is expected to hit the stores in the US in a few months. While the first model of Eddy monitors crops and advises growers, future models will include a control system which will allow Eddy to make changes to the growing environment automatically – almost like a self-driving farm.

Clearly, Eddy has the potential to increase the world’s food supply through urban farming, but it is not a silver-bullet solution to world hunger. “Our solution is a patch-up while the world’s food system is falling apart,” Kloosterman admits. “But Eddy can inspire people to start thinking differently about their food.”

hydroponics

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Something Fishy: Organisms From Suez Canal Put Mediterranean Marine Life At Risk http://nocamels.com/2017/02/suez-canal-marine-life-endanger-mediterranean/ Sun, 26 Feb 2017 07:43:23 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52638 Contrary to the message of a popular song from Disney’s 1989 animated hit film The Little Mermaid, not everything is so wonderful “under the sea”.

According to a new Tel Aviv University study, foreign species crossing the Suez Canal are harming indigenous species and habitats in the Mediterranean Sea, damaging vital marine resources and raising concerns about human health issues.

The influx of non-indigenous species (NIS) from the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important channels of commerce, into the Mediterranean Sea can be traced back to the canal’s 2015 expansion by Egypt. While the expansion of the canal deepens the main waterway and provides ships with a 35 km (22 mile) channel parallel to it, it has had some undesirable effects as well.

SEE ALSO: Research Discovers Why Fish May Be Nearing Extinction

“The most invaded marine basin in the world”

“The Mediterranean Sea is the most invaded marine basin in the world,” Professor Bella Galil of the Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies at Tel Aviv University’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, and the lead author of a study published in December in Management of Biological Invasions, said in a statement. “The number of non-indigenous species greatly increased between 1970 and 2015. 750 multicellular non-indigenous species were recorded in the Mediterranean Sea, far more than in other European seas, because of the ever-increasing number of Red Sea species introduced through the Suez Canal.”

Japanese jellyfish in the Mediterranean

In 2015, during a routine survey by Israeli marine scientists, a green fluorescent jellyfish, usually spotted in Japan, was observed for the first time in the Mediterranean Sea. The creature’s appearance was a clear example of a non-indigenous species popping up in the Mediterranean Sea.

Jellyfish

“Hot spots”

In their new study, the authors present data that marine-protected areas in the eastern Mediterranean, from Turkey to Libya, have been overwhelmed by non-indigenous species and serve as veritable “hot spots” of bioinvasion. Biotic communities are already fragile, suffering from man-made problems such as pollution and overfishing. The colonization of these communities by NIS redistributes nutritional resources, removes important actors and renders them more susceptible to extinction.

For example, eastern mediterranean algae-dominated rocky habitats have been decimated by large populations of herbivorous fish introduced through the Suez Canal. The two hungry grazers, Siganus luridus and S. rivulatus, have transformed lush rocky reefs into barren ones, dramatically reducing the quality of the habitat and altering the community structure and food web. Within 30 years, a small Red Sea mussel has replaced the native mytilid along the entire Mediterranean coast of Israel, forming dense nearly mono-specific species “carpets.”

A slow reaction

Despite a century of scientific documentation of marine bioinvasions in the Mediterranean Sea, the implementation of a management policy has been slow. The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, part of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Regional Seas Program, adopted an “Action Plan concerning species introductions and invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea” in 2003. But the UNEP has “shied away from discussing, let alone managing, the influx of tropical non-indigenous animals and plants introduced through the Suez Canal. So far no prevention and management measures have been implemented,” according to Prof. Galil and her associates.

Bella Galil

Prof. Bella Galil

SEE ALSO: New Fish And Insects Introduced To Jordan River For Rehabilitation Project

A hope for effective intervention

The authors of the study led a discussion on effective management of non-indigenous species introductions into the Mediterranean Sea at a EuroMarine workshop that took place in Ischia, Italy, in 2016. The discussion resulted in the “Ischia Declaration” that laid down principles for an effective, science-based, transboundary management of the problem. The declaration was then approved by the general assembly of EuroMarine, a network of 73 research institutions and universities, funded by the European Union.

“We hope that this new research will be used to construct a science-based effective management of marine bioinvasions, and prevent, or at least minimize, the influx of additional non-indigenous species into the Mediterranean,” Prof. Galil said in a statement. “Time will tell whether these aims are achieved or legislators and management continue to put off confronting this difficult issue and pass the environmental, economic and social burden to future generations.”

In the meantime, the researchers are currently investigating pollution and other NIS-related factors.

fish

Photos: Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, Pixabay

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UN To Host Exhibition Showcasing Gorgeous Israeli Nature Photography http://nocamels.com/2017/02/united-nations-exhibition-israel-nature/ Sun, 12 Feb 2017 12:36:35 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52367 An exhibition of breathtaking Israeli nature photos will be on display at the United Nations headquarters in New York City starting this week. Thirty photographs of Israel’s most stunning wildlife and landscapes, taken by local photographers, will be showcased following the February 15 opening ceremony, through March 2.

A pair of Drimia maritima in the midst of their bloom, as if greeting the sun - by Daniel Winter

A pair of “Drimia maritima” in the midst of their bloom, as if greeting the sun – by Daniel Winter

Titled The Natural Side of Israel, the exhibition that celebrates Israel’s beauty is sponsored by its Nature and Parks Authority and the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon. The Authority’s curators carefully selected 30 unique photographs out of the thousands submitted.

Young mantises on a purple leaf of bougainvillea, by Daniel Danilov

Young mantises on a purple leaf of bougainvillea, by Daniel Danilov

The photos portray endangered species, water sources, biodiversity, pollution, and more. “Thanks to Israel’s unique climate and geography, it’s considered critical to guarding the biodiversity of wildlife and plants,” according to a statement by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority. “Israel has unique endangered species, and wonderful habitats.”

According to Danon, “we’re proud to present Israel’s beauty at the UN. We take part in the global efforts to protect the environment and to preserve our wildlife, and this exhibition is an opportunity to present our striking nature to the world.”

Unforgettable natural phenomena

One of the most imrpessive photos on display at the UN, taken by Ilia Shalamaev, shows the Dead Sea from a small cave, which was formed by the crystallizing salt throughout the receding shoreline (see photo above).

SEE ALSO: Wildlife Photographer Ofer Levy Wins International Acclaim With Awe-Inspiring Images Of Birds

Red fox cubs, by Alex Geifman

Red fox cubs, by Alex Geifman

Another picture, by Alex Geifman, portrays two four-month old red fox cubs climbing up a tree, with one of them hanging on a branch, trying to avoid falling.

A picture showing a “ball” of thousands of Red Sea dwarf sweepers (tiny fish), also called “glass fish” for their transparent body, was taken by professional diver and photographer Noam Kortler.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Diver-Photographer Noam Kortler Wins Prestigious Underwater Picture Award

According to Kortler, during the months of April-May, when the sea is affluent with food, the sweepers come to the area en masse. They gather around a shipwreck in the Red Sea, just off the coast of Eilat, creating an unforgettable natural phenomenon.

Tiny Red Sea fish swarming a shipwreck - by Noam Kortler

Tiny Red Sea fish swarming a shipwreck – by Noam Kortler

“Naturally building bridges for piece”

Israel has been known to protect its wildlife. In 2015, the country hosted an international convention on endangered species trade, on behalf of CITES, an organization named after the international treaty that protects wildlife against exploitation. Israel is now one of four nations representing Europe in CITES.

“We were blessed with rare natural resources and we must protect them for future generations,” Shaul Goldstein, director of Israel’s Parks Authority, said in a statement. “Nature has no boundaries, and we believe that cooperating with our neighbors could naturally build bridges for piece.”

Photos: Ilia Shalamaev, Noam Kortler, Alex Geifman, Daniel Winter, Daniel Danilov – for Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority

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The Giving Tree: Israeli Researcher Discovers Trees Interact, Share Resources http://nocamels.com/2017/02/trees-share-resources-interact/ Thu, 09 Feb 2017 08:59:06 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=51921 Trees are truly amazing. Besides producing nearly half the earth’s oxygen, providing habitat for millions of species, and creating the soil and timber resources we depend on, trees also do one more surprising thing: they share resources, Israeli researchers show.

Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Tamir Klein recently made such a startling discovery that his supervisors at first declared that the finding must have been a mistake. In the forest, trees are known to compete for resources such as light and nutrients, but Klein found that the same trees also engage in sharing.

Klein showed that the carbon molecules taken up by the canopies of mature spruce trees were passed through the soil in surprisingly large quantities to neighboring beech, larch and pine. As Klein recently reported in the prestigious scientific journal Science, the carbon was being transferred via “underground highways” formed by overlapping networks of root fungi.

“Neighboring trees interact with one another in complex ways,” Klein said in a statement. “Of course, there is a great deal of competition among them, but they also form communities, sort of ‘guilds,’ within which individual trees share valuable resources. In fact, trees belonging to a ‘guild’ usually do much better than those that don’t.”

forest trees by stijn-te-strake

In his new lab at the Weizmann Institute, Klein follows these findings to investigate tree ecophysiology: how the tree functions in its ecosystem. “Studies on ‘underground’ tree collaboration may reveal which tree species get along well, and this may help determine which trees should be planted next to one another,” he says. “Our studies have additional relevance to forestry and agriculture because we elaborate on the mechanisms of growth and drought resistance of different tree species.”

Ideal climate for tree research

Only 5 percent of Israel’s land is covered by forest, but the country nonetheless offers unique advantages for forest research: Its warm climate provides an excellent opportunity for investigating how trees adapt to drought and stress. Many trees common to Israel are already resistant to drought; understanding the mechanisms that allow them to live with little rain may help develop varieties of lemons, almonds, olives and other tree crops that can grow in even drier areas.

SEE ALSO: Energy Does Grow On Trees, As Israelis Design First Solar Energy eTree

Klein’s projects aim to clarify how trees manage their water and carbon “budgets” – both separately and as a forest community. In one study the team focuses on emboli – tiny air bubbles that form inside the tree’s water channels during drought. When drought persists, the emboli can kill a tree, much like blood vessel clots that can cause a fatal heart attack in a human being. After injecting fluids into tree branches at different pressures, Klein and his students analyze the emboli in the minutest detail, using micro-computed tomography.

Hugging trees – with measuring tape

In Weizmann’s greenhouses, Klein’s team members experiment with seedlings of pine, cypress, carob and other trees commonly found in Israel. The researchers make use of advanced technologies, including innovative nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, to study hydraulic conductivity in trees; a special lamp-equipped, below-ground camera is used to study the growth of tree roots in the soil.

When conducting field studies on their research plot near Beit Shemesh, Klein and his students hug trees – not to have a spiritual experience, but to follow a tree’s growth by encircling its trunk with a measuring tape. They apply laser isotope analysis and analytical chemistry techniques to trace carbon metabolism in individual trees, and they investigate carbon transfer among trees via different types of fungal “highways.” The scientists also employ thermal imaging, which enables remote temperature measurements, to study the rate of evaporation in the foliage.

In another set of experiments, Klein will double the concentration of CO2 to mimic the atmospheric conditions that may emerge on Earth as a result of pollution. Klein hasn’t owned a car in 10 years, so as not to contribute to CO2 emissions, but he warns against jumping to conclusions when it comes to the impact of increased CO2 on tree biology.

Tree Lab Team

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

“Higher COconcentrations don’t help trees grow faster – contrary to the hopes of industrialists – but surprisingly, recent research suggests they might render the trees more resistant to drought-induced stress. This doesn’t mean it’s OK to carry on with CO2 pollution, but it does mean that we need to deepen our understanding of its effects on trees in general and on agricultural tree crops in particular.”

Overall, Klein’s studies could help predict how future climate changes, including global warming and the rise in greenhouse gases, may affect forests.

Photos and videos: Weizmann Institute, Stijn te Strake

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Mass Migration: 3.5 Trillion Insects Fly Over Europe Every Year, 8 Times More Than Birds http://nocamels.com/2017/02/insect-migration-food-global-warming/ Sun, 05 Feb 2017 11:58:38 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=51952 In J.D. Salinger’s seminal novel The Catcher in the Rye, protagonist Holden Caulfield asks where the ducks go when the lake freezes over.

We know many kinds of birds migrate south in the winter, toward warmer areas of the world. Some ducks do, too. But where do insects go?

Little is known about insect migration. But a new Israeli study done over 15 years has found that their massive exodus has more impact on our planet than that of bird migration.

In fact, this is the largest biomass movement on the planet: Roughly 3.5 trillion insects fly over southern England each year, the researchers say, and stress that this migration is important to study in light of global warming.

“This bug movement constitutes the largest migration found in today’s world, creating a mass that is almost eight times that of birds that migrate from Britain to Africa,” University of Haifa researchers say.

bird migration

Bird migration

The migration of insects – even more than that of the birds that migrate from Britain to Africa – has “significant ecological ramifications,” says Dr. Nir Sapir, who led the study that was published in the prestigious journal ‘Science’. Since insects are highly sensitive to climate change, this could lead to “dramatic changes in the population of migrating insects, causing important environmental changes.”

Although flying insects constitute one of the largest populations on the planet, this is one of the first comprehensive studies that examines the phenomenon of insect migration. Until now, researchers assumed that many insect populations migrate, but according to the Israeli researchers, did not know which insects do so; or when; or what the scope of migration is.

SEE ALSO: Haifa Researchers Able To Control Insects’ Movements

dragonfly, insect

In order to collect data, a team of Israeli and international scientists installed radars 15 years ago in southern England. Data from these radars were used to estimate insect bio-flow over an area of 70,000 square kilometers. The radars measured the weight of the insects, their flight speed and their direction and height. For very small insects that weigh less than 10 mg and are not picked up by the radar, special nets were used to catch samples in the air. Between 2000 and 2009, data were collected for insects flying at a height of over 150 meters above.

The findings clearly showed a southward movement of these insect populations in the fall, and a northward movement in the spring. Some 3.5 trillion insects, creating a biomass of 3,200 tons, migrated in each season.

The study did not examine the starting points and destinations of each insect population, but the researchers believe that this migration takes place over distances of at least several hundred kilometers.

“Since there is evidence that this migration also takes place over the sea, and since Great Britain is an island, these insects must have come to Britain in the spring, and at least some of them must reach continental Europe in the fall,” Sapir explains.

Hitching a ride on the wind

Insects use the wind in order to reach their destination, choosing to “hitch a ride” on specific wind flows. The insects exploited the southerly winds in spring and the northerly winds in the fall. “Insects make conscious use of navigation capabilities in order to reach their destinations using these winds,” Sapir says. The larger insects even combined their natural flight speed with the wind in order to reach a speed of up to 58 kilometers per hour during the migration seasons.

These findings have ramifications for many ecosystems. In most cases, insects’ bodies include 10 percent nitrogen and one percent phosphorus. This makes them excellent fertilizer for plants and crops and nutritious food for insect eaters, such as birds, bats, and other animals.

SEE ALSO: Intel Tech Puts Backpacks On Bees To Track World Bee Collapse

honey-bees

In addition, insects also pollinate, constitute crop pests, as well as kill some other pest insects, transfer diseases and parasites, and play other functions.

“Such a large biomass has tremendous importance for the functioning of diverse ecosystems across large parts of the globe, and for other aspects of our daily lives,” Sapir explains. “Cycles of nitrogen and phosphorus in nature are extremely significant, particularly since these chemicals form a limited component in the food chain. This massive movement of insects transports these vital materials across enormous distances.”

Bug invasion

Since more insects are born in warmer summers, global warming could increase their numbers significantly. Sapir says: “An increase in the number of some insects could be harmful, while in other cases it could actually be beneficial. It’s too soon to tell whether this change should be welcomed. But what is certain is that this is the largest and most influential continental migration in the world, as far as we know to date. We need to start monitoring it carefully.”

grasshopper

The study was conducted by the University of Haifa, Nanjing Agricultural University, the University of Exeter, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Greenwich, and Rothamsted Research.

Photos: WaugsbergMichael Beattie

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Tel Aviv Among 10 First Cities To Incorporate Driverless Cars In Public Transit http://nocamels.com/2017/02/tel-aviv-driverless-cars-public-transit/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 09:26:28 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52100 Israel’s bustling metropolis Tel Aviv is among a handful of cities worldwide to incorporate driverless cars in its public transit system.

Joining Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Paris, Helsinki, London, São Paulo and Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv will become one of 10 cities participating in a new prestigious program run by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute, dubbed “The Global Initiative On Autonomous Vehicles.”

The program, which helps top cities prepare for the advent of autonomous vehicles, is designed for “leading global mayors, who will work together to prepare their cities for the emergence of autonomous vehicles,” according to a Bloomberg statement.

According to the city of Tel Aviv, it was selected to participate in the program “thanks to its many achievements in the field of transportation, and its global leadership in innovations and creative solutions to urban challenges.”

Google_self_driving_car

Google’s self-driving car

Participating in the program is an opportunity “to reduce the use of private vehicles across town. Autonomous cars could have a positive impact on the city if they can be used as part of our car-sharing system,” Tel Aviv’s mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement.

Tel Aviv is the first town in Israel to invest in a city-wide shared vehicle fleet, and one of only a handful in the world. It is also the Israeli municipality that pioneered the highly popular city-wide bicycle-sharing system, called “Tel-O-Fun,” in 2011.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Revolutionizes City Transportation With New $26M Car-Sharing Service

The Blomberg program will provide experts and data to accelerate cities’ planning efforts, and produce a set of principles and tools that participating cities, as well as cities around the world, can use to chart their own paths forward. Over the course of the next year, the selected multi-city cohort of mayors will discuss and implement strategies to capitalize on the new technology of autonomous cars.

Shaping the future of transportation

“The autonomous vehicle revolution is here – and by examining the opportunities and challenges, mayors can lead the way in adopting policies that benefit citizens and communities,” philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement. “Together, we can help shape the future of transportation.”

According to Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, “The development of autonomous vehicles has the potential to have a significant impact on cities in unexpected and dramatic ways.” The new initiative “offers an excellent opportunity for cities and experts to share knowledge and collectively plan, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life in communities throughout the world.”

SEE ALSO: Israel’s Mobileye Teams Up With BMW, Intel To Manufacture A Driverless Car By 2021

In order to solve chronic urban challenges, and to improve the lives of citizens, the program will create a cross-sector public dialogue, with leading experts across a wide range of practice areas to help cities explore the intersections of autonomous vehicles with various policies and issues – from the opportunities that can be created in the areas of inequality and mobility, to the potential challenges autonomous vehicles pose to commuting and public transport.

According to a statement by released by Bloomberg and Aspen, “insights developed during the year-long process will help a broad network of cities proactively and strategically prepare for the integration of autonomous vehicles.”

Photos and video: Bloomberg PhilanthropiesMichael Shick, Shaula Haitner for PikiWiki

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EU Injects €7.7M Into NanoPack To Develop Nanotech Packaging That Prolongs Food Shelf Life http://nocamels.com/2017/01/nanopack-antimicrobial-nanotech-food-packaging/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:21:30 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=52015 The European Union has invested €7.7 million in the Israeli-led project NanoPack, a new initiative to develop antimicrobial food packages for perishable foods, based on nanotechnology. These solutions could reduce the staggering 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year, which cause major economic loss and significant harm to the world’s natural resources.

SEE ALSO: Phresh Keeps Your Fruits And Veggies Fresh, Saves Up To $400 A Year

In order to extend food’s shelf life, the team – led by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology – is using novel antimicrobial surfaces and natural materials.

“NanoPack will demonstrate a solution for extending food shelf life by using novel smart antimicrobial surfaces, applied in active food packaging products,” Dr. Ester Segal of the Technion said in a statement. “NanoPack will enhance food safety for consumers by significant growth inhibition of food-borne microbes, which in turn will prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and early spoilage.”

shopping supermarket produce wraps packaging shelf refrigerator

Applying the power of nanotechnology, the project will employ polymer composites based on natural Halloysite Nanotubes (HNTs) as reliable and safe carriers, capable of tailored release of bio-active payloads. Thanks to their size, HNTs are unable to migrate from the food packaging into the food.

Worldwide, a trillion plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Simon van Dam, Project Manager of NanoPack, tells NoCamels the team will also examine whether these new packages can be recycled.

Natural oils prevent disease

Maximizing safety, HNTs in the NanoPack food packaging slowly release tiny amounts of potent, natural and EU-approved essential oils into the packaging headspace. The oils exhibit both antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and can be tailored to inhibit growth of most food-borne microbes.

The active polymer films developed by NanoPack exhibit broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, without the use of nanomaterials such as silver particles, which have raised health concerns of toxicity and microbial resistance.

NanoPack intends to develop, scale up and run pilot lines in operational industrial environments to manufacture and validate antimicrobial polymer films that are commercially feasible and accepted by retailers and consumers alike.

SEE ALSO: Anti-Bacterial Packaging To Prolong Pepsi’s Shelf-Life

According to Segal, the three-year project, involving 18 research teams from European countries, is excepted to “present better-performing, safer and smarter products that will position Europe as the leader in food nanotechnology and smart antimicrobial packaging while increasing competitiveness and growth.”

refrigerator

NanoPack, which is led by the Technion, is funded as part of HORIZON 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. 

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The Land of Milk, Honey And Whisky? Israel’s First Distillery To Market In Europe http://nocamels.com/2017/01/israel-first-whisky-distillery-milk-honey/ Thu, 26 Jan 2017 10:18:10 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=51491 The Holy Land’s first whisky distillery is ready to cater to the European palate, with the first shipments of the liquor hitting the market later this year.

Located in Tel Aviv, the Milk & Honey Whisky Distillery (M&H) produces spirits that combine Middle Eastern flavors (such as the locally grown spice za’atar) with a faster maturation process that is mainly a result of the warm Mediterranean climate.

SEE ALSO: Drinks On The House?! Israeli Smart Cup Earns You Free Beers

whisky barrels - Milk & Honey Distillery - yifat zohar

Upon entering the distillery, visitors are hit by the scintillating aroma of single-malt liquors hibernating in wooden barrels. Tasting M&H’s ‘New Make’ – an unaged whisky bottled immediately after distillation – one can notice how it glides smoothly across the palate and leaves a bittersweet sensation; while M&H’s ‘Levantine Gin’ has the exotic flavor of za’atar.

But the distillery’s flagship single-malt whisky will only be ready in 2019, in accordance with the Scotch standard of at least three years of maturation in barrels. It seems the founders of the Milk & Honey Whisky Distillery are exceptionally patient in the fast-paced world of Israeli startups. Aiming to produce fine whisky, the company believes that there can be no shortcuts.

Gal Kalkshtein and Eitan Attir by Kirk D'Souza for NoCamels

Gal Kalkshtein (left) and Eitan Attir at the Milk & Honey Whisky Distillery

“Buying a cow when you want milk”

Founded in 2012 by six high-tech entrepreneurs who share a passion for whisky, M&H is led by co-founder Gal Kalkshtein and by CEO Eitan Attir. “Founding the distillery was like buying a cow when you want milk,” Kalkshtein, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of investment firm GKI Group, tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: Living It Up In Downtown Tel Aviv: 5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Beer Mugs Discovered In Israel

The team spent two years studying the intricacies of producing top-notch whisky. They also sought the help of Dr. James Swan, a world-renowned Master Distiller and an expert on producing whisky in warm climates, who recognized the exciting possibilities that Israel has to offer.

Milk & Honey Distillery

Speeding up maturation by up to three times

This pioneering distillery combines time-honored tradition with technology and innovation. For instance, the team creates high-quality water using reverse osmosis, a process that filters impurities from water using a semi-permeable membrane. The subsequent processes of mashing, cooling and distillation are also carefully calibrated and monitored using advanced equipment.

According to Attir, the benefit of distilling whisky in Israel is that the country’s warmer climate speeds up maturation by up to three times. This means that a three-year-old Israeli whisky might taste similar to a nine-year-old Scotch whisky.

But the higher temperature also means that the “angel’s share” (the percentage of alcohol that evaporates from the barrels) is as high as 10 percent a year, compared to the annual 2 percent angel’s share in Scotland and the US. Nonetheless, this can be moderated using climate control technology. “We won’t use climate control in the first year and a half because we want fast-paced maturation from the heat,” says Attir. “But even with climate control, the taste of the whisky will be the same.”

SEE ALSO: Many Seniors Turn To Substance And Alcohol Abuse After Retirement, Study Finds

To ensure the high quality of ingredients, the distillery imports malt from England and handpicks other Israeli grains. The team also meticulously selects its barrels for the aging process, some of which were previously used for maturing Israeli cabernet sauvignons.

“Using ex-red wine casks is common for the last few months of whisky maturation,” Attir explains. “But we put some of our spirit in such casks from day one, so at the end of three years, we will get a very unique taste.”

In order to craft unique flavors, the team will store whisky barrels in different climate zones. These include the North, including the Sea of Galilee, an area with lower temperatures; the coast of Tel Aviv; the mountains of Jerusalem; and the South, especially the Dead Sea, where temperatures are typically high.

whisky barrels

“We have four different climate zones within a small country, each of which will affect the barrels differently,” says Attir. So far, the team has stored barrels in the distillery in Tel Aviv and near the Dead Sea.

“New World Whisky”

The market seems to be ripe for an Israeli whisky. Attir claims that there is strong global demand for “New World Whisky” – made outside the traditional countries of production – Scotland, Ireland, the US and Canada. His claim was evidenced in the success of the company’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo in 2013. M&H founders raised over $77,000, 115 percent of their goal. In addition to the successful campaign, Kalkshtein also invested millions of dollars from his own money.

While M&H is the first whisky distillery in Israel, it is not the only one producing whisky. Pelter, a winery in the Golan Heights, started distilling whisky in November 2013, and the Golan Heights Distillery was established soon after M&H.

“We will be here for hundreds of years”

M&H has already tasted success. Its Levantine Gin won the gold medal at Terravino 2016, the Mediterranean Wine and Spirits Challenge; its New Make won the silver medal. While the company intends to market the New Make as a base for cocktails, Kalkshtein claims that “a master distiller of one of the biggest distilleries in Scotland told us that our New Make is good enough to drink on its own.”

milk & honey whisky distillery

New Make ($40) and Levantine Gin ($47) have so far been been sold only locally, but are expected to hit the European market later this year. The company has also sold two series of six- and eight-month old single malt spirits to give customers an idea of what their whisky will eventually taste like. When the flagship single-malt whisky is finally ready, it will be sold in Israel, Europe and the US.

“I believe that we will be sold out very quickly, and then we will need to build a factory that is 10 times bigger,” Kalkshtein tells NoCamels. “We want to build something that will be here for hundreds of years.”

Photos: Kirk D’Souza, M&HYifat Zohar for Milk & Honey

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Ticket To The Moon: SpaceIL Among Five Google Lunar XPRIZE Finalists To Attempt Moon Landing http://nocamels.com/2017/01/spaceil-google-lunar-xprize-finalist-moon-landing/ Wed, 25 Jan 2017 13:29:47 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=51856 Israeli startup SpaceIL is now one step closer to the Moon. Its “Sparrow” spacecraft is one of the five finalists in the prestigious Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, reaching the final stage of this modern Moon race.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Study Solves Mystery Of The Moon

This achievement positions tiny Israel as a leading candidate to join the small circle of superpowers that have reached the Moon, including the US, the former Soviet Union and China.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition started back in 2007 with 33 contenders; the final stage – the launch of the spacecraft to Moon – is slated for December 2017. If SpaceIL successfully launches its spacecraft – Israel’s first on the Moon – it will win the competition’s grand prize, $20 million.

“Israel is going to be the next nation to reach the Moon,” SpaceIL‘s co-founder Yariv Bash – who sounds confident, yet far from cocky – tells NoCamels.

Spacecraft

The first to sign a launch contract

SpaceIL is competing against four other teams: Moon Express (USA), Synergy Moon (International), TeamIndus (India) and HAKUTO (Japan). “Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the moon, while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” Google said in a statement.

These are the only five teams that currently have verified launch contracts – with Israel’s SpaceIL the first to have reached that milestone. In October 2015, the Israeli startup became the first to announce a signed launch contract. The launch will take place on an American SpaceX rocket.

Yes, one of SpaceX’s rockets recently exploded, Bash acknowledges, but says: “This IS rocket science. Accidents happen. Everyone in this industry has had accidents. It’s a risky business.”

Shooting for the Moon 

Founded in 2011 by Bash, Yonatan Winetraub, and Kfir Damari, and backed by donations from businessmen Sheldon Adelson, Morris Kahn and Sami Sagol, nonprofit organization SpaceIL strives to land its spacecraft on the Moon, despite its being a lean operation, with only 40 full-time employees.

SEE ALSO: SpaceIL’s Mission To The Moon Says Its Chances Of Winning Google Lunar XPRIZE Are High

According to Bash, there are several reasons to reach the Moon: “First of all, it’s there. But also, as a curious human being, I’d like to study our universe.” He adds that the hype around going to the moon helped the US breed a generation of enthusiastic young scientists – a process dubbed “the Apollo Effect” – and SpaceIL hopes to achieve similar results in Israel.

“Israel is at the forefront of global technology,” Dr. Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL, said in a statement. “Emerging as a competition finalist enhances our team’s ability to shoot for the Moon.”

According to Kahn, founder of Israeli giant Amdocs and chairman of SpaceIL, this innovative, “history-making project… showcases what Israel can do, and how Israeli ingenuity is changing the world for the better.”

Human colonies on the Moon? 

Once launched, it will take Sparrow (this is a temporary name; “Golda,” after Israel’s former Prime Minister Golda Meir, is also being mulled) a few weeks to reach the moon. The spacecraft will then take photos and videos of its own landing, and study the moon’s history and its relation to earth.

But nowadays, the question on many people’s minds is whether humanity should have colonies on the Moon in the next few decades. Says Bash: “It makes more sense to live in large skyscrapers or on the ocean. It will still be easier to live on Earth, despite global warning.”

Moonset Viewed From the International Space Station by NASA

Photos and video: SpaceIL, Google Lunar XPRIZE, NASA

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Genetically Modified Bacteria Could Eat Away The World’s Massive Plastic Problem http://nocamels.com/2017/01/genetically-modified-bacteria-eat-plastic/ Sun, 22 Jan 2017 13:04:50 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=50173 According to think-tank Worldwatch Institute, humans produce about 300 million tons of plastic every year, creating one of the world’s biggest environmental problems – plastic pollution.

“If we continue to consume and then dispose of plastic at the same rate, by 2050 the weight of plastic containers in the ocean will equal the weight of the fish in it,” Ben Gurion University scientists explain.

That’s why they have come up with an extraordinary solution: genetically modified bacteria that feed off plastic.

SEE ALSO: Can The Newly Developed ‘Coral On A Chip’ Save The World’s Reefs From Extinction?

plastic waste ocean - photo by Change.Org

Developed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, bacteria called Pseudomonas putida are genetically modified to “eat” polyethylene-terephthalate (PET), a common type of plastic that’s proliferating in the oceans and on the land. Essentially, the BGU team (dubbed “Plasticure-BGU“) spreads these bacteria on plastic particles, so that the plastic eventually breaks down, student Nir Zafrany tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: Wrapped In Nature: New Biodegradable Food Packages

One of plastic’s best features is one of its greatest drawbacks: Its durability makes it virtually non-degradable. An average bottle of mineral water takes roughly half a millennium to decompose, leading to a global accumulation of plastic waste.

According to a study conducted in the Mediterranean Sea, 18 percent of fish sampled had plastic remnants in their stomachs. Some of these fish eventually end up on our plates.

Many ideas have been considered for dealing with plastic waste, such as burning or burying it, but these solutions damage the environment because of plastic’s toxicity. Since the introduction of plastics, some microbial communities or species have evolved to successfully degrade plastics. However, from an evolutionary point of view – and probably as a result of only being exposed to plastic for 100 years – they do not biodegrade plastic efficiently yet.

Enter “Plasticure-BGU.” This invention would degrade the plastic and, as a bi-product of this process, will produce electricity by utilizing the energy released from PET’s bonds.

According to the research team, “we chose to tackle the problem from a biological standpoint, using engineered enzymes and bacteria that could use plastic as a primary carbon source.” This solution “holds great promise in improving our quality of life and stopping the impending threat that plastic waste holds over our heads.”

Using advanced methods in genetic engineering and synthetic biology, the team aims to increase the productivity of enzymes that are part of the degradation mechanism and form an efficient bacterium that could consume plastic rapidly. The BGU team says it continues “to research and develop the idea until we can efficiently break down plastic.”

Although Zafrany is hesitant to predict when this bacteria-based solution will become scalable, he believes that ultimately, “the solution to the world’s massive plastic problem is biological.”

plastic bottles, pollution

In addition to Zafrany, BGU researchers and students taking part in this project include: Tomer Shary, Ben Vaknin, Inbar Segal, Dor Bar-On, Eyal Zajfman, Inbar Bariah, Liran, Guy Farjon, Yotam Itzhaky, and Efrat Jeshurun.

Photos and video: Ben Gurion University, Change.Org

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Tel Aviv Revolutionizes City Transportation With New $26M Car-Sharing Service http://nocamels.com/2017/01/tel-aviv-car-sharing-auto-tel/ Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:32:07 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=51583 The City of Tel Aviv has launched a $26 million car-sharing initiative, which will include 260 cars that can be shared by thousands of people every year, reducing both air pollution and car ownership rates.

The first town in Israel to invest in a city-wide shared vehicle fleet, and one of only a handful in the world, Tel Aviv is also the Israeli municipality that pioneered the highly popular city-wide bicycle-sharing system, called “Tel-O-Fun,” in 2011.

SEE ALSO: Can Israel Lead The Way On Sharing Economy?

Ayalon Highway

Ayalon Highway, Tel Aviv

Called “Auto Tel,” the new car-sharing service will be operated by Israeli company Car2Go starting this summer. An Auto Tel car can be reserved within 15 minutes, making spontaneous trips possible for anyone.

Subscribers to the Auto Tel service are expected to pay about $13 a month in subscriber’s fees, plus a daily or an hourly rate that hasn’t been determined yet. Still, the municipality claims the rates would be about 30 percent cheaper than taxis.

SEE ALSO: Armed With Waze, Google Is About To Take On Uber With Ride-Sharing

With over 500 parking spots reserved specifically for these cars all over the city – Tel Aviv is notorious for its lack of parking space – subscribers will be able to leave their Auto Tel car pretty much anywhere across town.

According to the mayor’s office, similar car-sharing systems in the world have shown that every shared vehicle contributes to eliminating the use of at least four private vehicles. “This is our way of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution, but it also reduces the cost of living in the city,” meaning Tel Aviv residents don’t necessarily have to own a car.

Revolutionizing transportation

According to Tel Aviv’s mayor Ron Huldai, “car owners choosing to switch to Auto Tel could save up to $780 a month on their car expenses.” Huldai, who was joined by Car2Go CEO Gil Laser, spoke at a press conference held yesterday in Tel Aviv.

“We’re in the midst of a transportation revolution,” Laser said. “With 5 million people around the globe already using car-sharing systems, we know that car ownership rates could drop by 20-30 percent.”

auto tel

Tel Aviv’s mayor and his deputy driving an Auto Tel car

Huldai added: “This initiative is the first of its kind in Israel, and it shows that we can all do better. This project should become a national one, and I hope other municipalities will join us in our efforts. This could be the end of the private vehicles era.”

Photos: Kfir Sivan for the City of Tel Aviv

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No Time To Monkey Around: Israeli Group Saves Endangered Peruvian Ape http://nocamels.com/2017/01/israelis-save-endangered-peruvian-monkey/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 11:08:10 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=51102 Two Israeli researchers are behind a global campaign to rescue the last remaining yellow-tailed woolly monkeys of Peru, by allowing donors to purchase plots of land the monkeys inhabit.

Considered one of the world’s 25 most endangered Primates, yellow-tailed woolly monkeys are among the rarest monkeys on earth. As their habitat began to slowly disappear in the forests of South and Central America, their number dropped dramatically and the creatures are now threatened with extinction.

But as one of the Israeli researchers recently wrote, “saving these monkeys would make us more human.” And that’s exactly why TiME, an Israeli-founded organization, is raising money – to preserve their habitat in Peru.

SEE ALSO: Study: Bonobos Use Sophisticated Tools To Get Food, Just Like Humans Did 2 Million Years Ago

Yellow-tailed_woolly_monkey

In recent years, the only place where the population of yellow-tailed woolly monkeys increased has been El Toro, in the Amazonas region of Peru. There, their population increased by 30 percent, thanks to the intensive efforts of wildlife experts with the Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC).

But the El Toro habitat is located on privately owned lands, and pressure is mounting to replace these forests with commercial farms. To avoid this, Israel’s “TiME” (This is My Earth) launched a crowd-funding campaign, allowing donors from all over the world to purchase these lands and protect the monkeys.

“In order to ensure a safe future for this species, it is absolutely critical to create a reserve for the yellow-tailed woolly monkeys, to ensure their survival,” TiME said in a statement.

So far, the crowd-funding campaign – run through Indiegogo’s “generosity” platform – has raised $14,000 of $25,000, with one more week to go. This initial amount would be enough to purchase about 70 hectares of land, and a total of $100,000 could help the group buy more land in the area (donations are also accepted on TiME’s website).

“By saving monkeys, our species shows that we humans can do better”

Founded last year by Israelis Prof. Alon Tal of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Uri Shanas of Haifa University, TiME is a nonprofit organization comprised of environmentalists and scientists from various countries, working together to halt the sharp decline in global biodiversity.

Environmental activist Tal is also the founder of Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and the co-founder of EcoPeace, among other organizations.

SEE ALSO: Wildlife Photographer Ofer Levy Wins International Acclaim

The Peruvian monkey is just one campaign TiME is currently running, with additional campaigns focusing on wildlife in Belize and Kenya. Donors vote on which project they’d like to focus on every year, and the Peruvian monkey was voted the most important for the coming year.

“Humans increasingly realize how much of our DNA we share with the animals on this planet,” Tal recently wrote in a Huffington Post column. “We also must learn to share critical places, like the El Toro forest in Peru, with the only other creatures with which we share creation… By saving monkeys and their home, our species shows that we humans can do better.”

Photos and video: TiME/Uri Shanas, Platyrrhinus,

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Brightest ‘Supernova’ Was Actually A Star Crushed By A Black Hole, Israeli Scientists Reveal http://nocamels.com/2016/12/supernova-flash-cosmos-black-hole/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 08:17:06 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=50829 When astronomers and astrophysicists observe flashes of light in the dark sky, they assume they have seen a supernova. Possibly a star has burnt up its supply of nuclear fuel and collapsed, throwing off its outer layers into space; or maybe a dense white dwarf siphoned off material from a companion star until it exploded from excess weight. But a flash of light observed on June 14, 2015 did not fit any of the usual models.

For one thing, the intensity of the light was double that of the brightest supernova recorded up to that point. So, astrophysicists were already asking what process could have caused it. And there were other anomalies: Rather than gradually cooling – which is what happens in the average supernova – the temperature of the material emitting radiation went down and then up again, remaining at the higher level for quite a while.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Discover Neighboring Galaxy With One Million ‘Young’ Stars

The site of the flash was a puzzle, as well: Supernovae tend to occur in young, “blue” galaxies, but this one took place in an old “red” galaxy, in which the stars were not really candidates for exploding.

In just the right conditions, the destruction of a star in a black hole's gravitational tide should produce an unusual flash of light

In just the right conditions, the destruction of a star in a black hole’s gravitational tide should produce an unusual flash of light

The destruction of a star by the gravitational tides of a black hole

Postdoctoral fellow Giorgos Leloudas and Prof. Avishay Gal-Yam of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have investigated the phenomenon since 2015. Along with colleagues from the Institute, as well as researchers from around the world, they closely observed, measured and recorded the event. This led them to the discovery that the spectrum of the light had changed several times, and the hypothesis they formed based on this finding was that they had observed an extremely rare event: The destruction of a star by the gravitational tides of a black hole at the center of its galaxy.

The flash had, in fact, come from the middle of that distant galaxy, and further analysis suggested that the observations fit what is known about stars being caught in a black hole’s gravitational tide.

The reason such an event, producing such a bright flash, is so rare is that two conditions must be met for it to occur: The star must stray close enough to the black hole to cross its “event horizon” – the point at which it cannot escape the pull of the giant mass – but the light produced in its destruction must somehow escape the black hole’s all-consuming gravity. And for these conditions to occur, the galaxy’s central black hole, which is immense even by black-hole standards, must be rotating at a relativistic speed – close to the speed of light.

SEE ALSO: New Research Maps The Location Of Our Gigantic Galactic Supercluster – Laniakea

Observing the light over several months, the team came to the conclusion that the best explanation for the unusual flash of light was, indeed, the destruction of a star caught in the gravitational tides of an exceptionally massive black hole rotating extremely rapidly. The results of this research were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

Earth - Environment News - Israel

Images: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Weizmann Institute

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Going Beef-Free Can Save The World From Environmental Catastrophe, Researchers Show http://nocamels.com/2016/12/environmental-cost-beef-chicken-vegetarian/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 12:02:28 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=49875 Have you ever wondered how much a steak really costs – beyond its price tag at the deli? Beef’s cost on our environment far outweighs that of other meats, and some are saying that eating less red meat would be a better way to cut carbon emissions than giving up on your car.

In a new study, Weizmann Institute scientists claim that if the entire population of the US was persuaded to change their diet from a beef-heavy plan to one based on chicken, it would be possible to feed 40 percent more people – roughly 120-140 million – with the exact same resources.

SEE ALSO: Eating A Steak Could Cost Us Our Planet, Researchers Find

The researchers looked further than beef and compared the nutritional value of calories and protein derived from various meats, with their environmental cost. The latter included the amount of land needed for fodder or grazing, and the emission of greenhouse gases in both growing the food and in growing the animals themselves.

Poultry yields more protein than beef

Chickens, according to the study, produce much more edible meat per kilogram of feed consumed, and they produce their meat faster than cattle, meaning more can be grown on the same amount of land. For every 100 calories and 100 grams of protein fed to beef cattle, the consumer ends up with around three calories and three grams of protein. For poultry, that figure is about 13 calories and 21 grams of protein.

The researchers, Prof. Gidon Eshel, Prof. Ron Milo and Alon Shepon, also asked what would happen if the entire US population was persuaded to adopt an entirely plant-based diet? That is, instead of using land to grow cow or chicken feed and then eating the animals, to use that land to grow nutritional crops – mainly legumes, including peanuts, soy, garbanzos and lentils. These can supply all of a person’s nutritional requirements (except vitamin B12, which can be obtained from nutritional yeast). A separate study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, suggests that an extra 190 million people could eat off the same environmental resources in this way.

SEE ALSO: Israel’s Novatrans Could Save 7 Billion Male Chicks From Unnecessary Slaughter

“If we changed our diet, we would change the environmental price we pay, with every meal,” Shepon said in a statement. “Eating a plant-based diet can both meet our nutritional requirements and save on land use, as well as the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and excess nitrogen from fertilizers into the water supply. These are real costs that we all bear, especially when people eat beef.”


The research was recently published in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters.

The data for the study came from figures for cattle and poultry breeders, and consumption statistics from the US.

Photos and video: National Geographic, Weizmann Institute

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Rare Clay Figurine Found In Israel Is Bronze Age Ancestor Of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/figurine-bronze-age-rodin-thinker/ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/figurine-bronze-age-rodin-thinker/#respond Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:56:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=49502 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

He sits pensively, his hand on his chin, like a Middle Bronze Age predecessor to Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Thinker.” His eyes stare blankly as he sits atop a pot that was shattered sometime after it was buried some 3,800 years ago.

The unique clay statuette, mounted atop a ceramic vessel, was found in the central Israel town of Yehud by a team of Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists, who paired up with high school students in October. News of the discovery was reported by the IAA on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Living It Up In Downtown Tel Aviv: 5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Beer Mugs Discovered In Israel

clay-figurine-by-israel-antiquities-authority

The clay figurine before restoration

Gilad Itach, the archaeologist heading the dig, said that on the last day of excavations, just before construction of a building commenced on site, they found the 18-centimeter (seven-inch) tall figurine, along with an assortment of other items.

“It seems they first prepared a pot characteristic of the period, and afterwards they added the unique statue, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research,” he said. “The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost 4,000-year-old sculpture is extremely impressive. The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture.”

SEE ALSO: 12,000-Year-Old Village Discovered Near The Sea Of Galilee

Archaeologists also found other vessels, daggers and arrowheads, as well as the bones of sheep and what may be butt bones. Itach suggested the items were funerary objects for a prominent member of the Canaanite community.

“It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individual continued with him into the next world,” he said in a statement. “To the best of my knowledge such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country.”

“One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as if in a state of reflection,” Itach added, “It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman.”

the-thinker-by-rodin

The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Andrew Horne, Israel Antiquities Authority/Clara Amit

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Not Chickening Out: Israel’s Novatrans Could Save 7 Billion Male Chicks From Unnecessary Slaughter http://nocamels.com/2016/11/novatrans-saves-chicks-deaths-culling/ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/novatrans-saves-chicks-deaths-culling/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:39:24 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48678 Every year, the poultry industry kills up to 7 billion male chicks simply because they do not produce enough meat (or eggs) to justify raising them to adulthood.

While the female chicks are spared for egg laying, the male chicks are eliminated and disposed of by hatcheries through suffocation, maceration – a process that involves a conveyor belt and a giant blender – or other methods in a procedure known as male chick culling. The male chicks are generally killed soon after they hatch and shortly after their gender has been determined.

Now, a technology called TeraEgg developed in Israel by Novatrans, can determine whether the egg will hatch into a male or female chick before incubation, preventing the hatching of eggs containing male chicks.

SEE ALSO: Eating A Steak Could Cost Us Our Planet, Researchers Find

chicks

TeraEgg: putting an end to male chick culling

Vital Farms, a leading American brand of pasture-raised eggs, raises healthy egg-laying hens on fresh pastures where they can be outside year-round and conditions are regularly inspected and approved as humane. Vital Farms’ new subsidiary, Ovabrite, in partnership with Israeli company Novatrans, recently introduced TeraEgg, a new non-invasive technology designed to end the culling of male chicks.

Novatrans, the Israeli startup providing the technology behind the initiative, was founded in 2003 by Oren Sadiv and raised $50 million from investors in 2010.

TeraEgg, which recently completed its early testing phase, analyzes organic compounds to identify the gender and fertility of eggs before incubation through a non-invasive process that uses terahertz spectroscopy (electromagnetic waves). This technology is able to determine whether it is male, female, or infertile through the detection of gasses that leak from the pores of the egg within seconds, rather than allowing the chicken to hatch – a process that otherwise takes around three weeks.

In other words, TeraEgg detects gender and fertility in the chicken embryo development process, allowing hatcheries to remove male and infertile eggs before they enter incubation, so they can be re-purposed for human consumption rather than destroyed post-incubation.

SEE ALSO: Vegetarian Meat Eaters: Israeli Startup SuperMeat Grows Chicken Meat In A Lab

By eliminating the egg industry’s practice of chick culling, TeraEgg hopes to reduce energy costs and labor without disrupting hatchery operations, as well as to create new revenue streams for egg hatcheries.

The demand for cage-free eggs is growing

According to the USDA, in order to meet current and future demand for cage-free eggs, farmers will need 175 million cage-free hens in the coming years, but there are currently only 18 million. As the worldwide demand for cage-free eggs continues to grow, so does the demand for hens. Every increase in egg demand means a two-fold increase in hatched chicks, since half those chicks will be male.

Building a product “solely to destroy half of it before it ever ships” makes little sense

“Animal welfare groups have long decried chick culling, but it makes a lot of sense to end the practice from a hatchery’s perspective, too,” Ovabrite’s President, Paul Knepper, said in a statement. “We estimate the value of wasted eggs – male and infertile – to be at least $440 million annually, with an additional $70-plus million in labor and energy to incubate and sex those eggs. I can’t think of another industry where you build out a product solely to destroy half of it before it ever ships. TeraEgg is giving these hatcheries a way to eliminate all that waste and produce additional revenue off of all their eggs, instead of just half.”

Successful completion of the early testing phase represents a major milestone for TeraEgg. Ovabrite is expected to begin commercial product development in late 2017.

According to Matt O’Hayer, Founder and CEO of Vital Farms, “TeraEgg has the potential to be one of the greatest advancements in the recent history of animal welfare.”

chick

Photos and video: Vital Farms

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Shower Power: SmarTap Taps Into Smart Home Market With Voice-Controlled Shower http://nocamels.com/2016/11/smartap-smart-shower-bath-amazon-alexa/ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/smartap-smart-shower-bath-amazon-alexa/#respond Sun, 20 Nov 2016 10:56:19 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=49262 Ancient Greek scientist Archimedes had his famous ‘Eureka!’ moment when he stepped into the bathtub. Israeli entrepreneur Asaf Shaltiel had his own ‘Eureka’ moment when he saw his sister bathing her twin babies and was astonished by how difficult it was to get the water temperature just right for them.

It was then that Shaltiel, the CEO of Israeli startup SmarTap, realized just how old-fashioned the shower is. “This is a zero-tech industry that hasn’t evolved for centuries,” he tells NoCamels. “Take a look at your shower. What you’re buying is actually a beautifully designed sculpture with a label.”

Spurred by the vision of a new generation of showers, the former Intel engineer founded SmarTap in 2009. The eight-employee company has developed a Wi-Fi-equipped smart-shower system that integrates multiple features, which can be tailored to businesses and individual customers. One such feature is the users’ ability to set the maximum shower temperature, flow rate and even time period, thus allowing them to save water and electricity. Businesses with showers, such as hotels and gyms, can monitor and control water usage and temperature for an entire cluster of showers using a web interface.

Individual consumers can easily adjust these settings for their personal showers using a mobile app (a partnership with shower designer Tissino), which is currently available on Google Play and will be available on Apple’s App Store next month. Users can activate their showers remotely, which means that the bathtub can be filled with rejuvenating warm water while you drive home from work.

SmarTap is also integrated with Amazon Echo, the speaker equipped with Amazon’s voice-controlled robot Alexa.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Global Shortage, World Leaders Praise Israel’s Water Technologies At WATEC Conference

In addition to monitoring water usage, the app allows users to program pre-set showers like “My Morning Shower” and “My Fun Shower” with varying temperatures, flow rates and time settings. Users can even receive notifications via the app about leaks in the pipes, which are detected by the SmarTap sensors.

The system is available in the UK (through Tissino) for 1,700 pounds, and in Israel for 5,500 shekels. In the coming months, SmarTap will be available for $1,500-$2,000 in the US. According to the company, these costs can be recuperated within two to three years, thanks to SmarTap’s water-saving technology.

SEE ALSO: Indian Minister Applauds Israeli Water Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

The startup began its journey by installing its system in the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. It then expanded into the smart-home industry by riding on the Internet of Things (IoT) wave. “To think that we can penetrate the market as a standalone device is a mistake,” Shaltiel says. “We have to be a part of the ecosystem.”

In line with this new strategy, SmarTap has integrated its system with Amazon Echo, the voice-controlled speaker equipped with Amazon’s artificially intelligent personal assistant Alexa. Alexa is already able to control smart lights and smart televisions – and now, it can control SmarTap, too.

Weather-based showers 

The company has also applied machine-learning algorithms into the SmarTap system. “Our philosophy is that if you introduce smart devices, those devices need to learn,” Shaltiel says. “They cannot be dumb devices with Wi-Fi.”

For example, the system can now read the weather forecast in order to adjust the shower temperature accordingly. Its pattern-recognition technology also allows it to understand the user’s habits, which means that it can prepare a hot shower five minutes before the phone alarm rings.

It can even identify deviations from those habits, which could be useful in eldercare. “If you have a grandfather who lives alone, you would like to know that he is keeping his hygiene patterns regularly,” Shaltiel explains.

Asaf Shaltiel

Asaf Shaltiel

Turning a knob? Not anymore 

By 2013, SmarTap raised $1.2 million; it recently received an undisclosed amount from Israeli clean-tech venture capital firm Terra Venture Partners. It also won the 2013 Eco Innovations Award and presented at the 2015 Microsoft Think Next Exhibition.

Over the years, competing water technologies, such as EvaDrop and the Hydrao Smart Shower, have emerged. But according to Shaltiel, these products don’t have the same breadth of capabilities as SmarTap, which he claims is the world’s first “connected shower.” Moreover, new capabilities can be embedded wirelessly into the SmarTap system through software updates, just like with smartphones.

“There is a good chance that our grandchildren will consume water in an entirely different way,” Shaltiel says. “One day, our grandchildren will ask us, ‘Did you really have to turn a knob to get water?’ And when that happens, we want to lead that market.”

smart shower, bath, smartap

Photos and video: SmarTap, Tissino, Medialo Consulting

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Swimmers Brave Salty Dead Sea Waters For Seven Hours To Raise Awareness For Its Dire State http://nocamels.com/2016/11/save-dead-sea-swim-environment/ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/save-dead-sea-swim-environment/#respond Thu, 17 Nov 2016 12:04:03 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=49238 In an effort to draw attention to the environmental deterioration of the Dead Sea, on Tuesday a multinational group of 25 swimmers swam seven hours through the thick, salty, soupy waters of  Israel’s legendary lake in the first-ever international Dead Sea Swim Challenge.

SEE ALSO: International Photographer Spencer Tunick Undresses Israel To Save Dead Sea

As the lowest point on earth, 423 meters (1,388 feet) below sea level, and the deepest hyper-saline lake in the world, the Dead Sea is a natural and historical wonder. Tourists flock to the Dead Sea to float on the water thanks to the lake’s high salt concentration. It also attracts people from around the world who believe the water’s high mineral content is beneficial for skin conditions.

Tragically, however, the Dead Sea is disappearing before our very eyes. Over the last 30 years, the Dead Sea’s water level has dropped by more than 25 meters (80 feet). Environmentalists blame this phenomenon on unsustainable water management and over-exploitation of the lake’s minerals. Due to heavy industrialization, the Dead Sea’s southern basin, disconnected from the shrinking northern side, has seen flooding in recent years.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, the 25 swimmers boarded boats and sailed from Israel’s Ein Gedi to Jordan’s Wadi Mujib, which was the swim’s starting point. Then, wearing special protective masks and snorkels to shield them from the briny water, which is painful to the eyes and can be deadly to ingest, the swimmers swam for seven hours through the salty waters in a 17-kilometer (11-mile) swim from Jordan to Israel.

Although floating on the Dead Sea is common, swimming in it is both unusual and potentially dangerous. The swimmers were therefore accompanied by support vessels with medical equipment and food. Despite the very difficult conditions, only three swimmers failed to finish — two who suffered from dehydration and another who complained of chills. Four swimmers took breaks on the medical boat, including Yussuf Matari, a 61 year-old lifeguard, who was treated with an IV on the medical boat before resuming his swim.

The group included local swimmers from Israel and others who came from as far away as New Zealand, South Africa and Denmark. “This is really important because it’s disappearing fast,” British long-distance swimmer Jackie Cobell told the AP, calling the Dead Sea swim “historic and iconic.”

Those who reached the shore first patiently waited, so all the swimmers could finish the race together while loudspeakers blared the iconic hit by British rock band Queen, “We are the Champions.”

Raising awareness for a historic, but shrinking, body of water

“We’re here for the first ever Dead Sea swim challenge with 25 swimmers who come from all over the world to send out a clear message to save the Dead Sea, which is shrinking today at an alarming rate,” Mira Edelstein, a spokesperson for the environmental group EcoPeace, one of the swim’s organizers, told the AP. Jean Craven, the founder of Madswimmer, a South African charity that participates in open-water swims around the world to raise money for children’s causes added: “This was a challenge, not a race.”

dead-sea

Pictures and Video: DeadSeaSwim.com

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Dog Poop? It’s In The Bag! Israeli Invention ‘Piqapoo’ Collects Dog Droppings, With No Mess http://nocamels.com/2016/11/dog-poop-israeli-piqapoo-poo/ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/dog-poop-israeli-piqapoo-poo/#respond Sun, 06 Nov 2016 13:05:20 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48825 Having a dog can be wonderful, except when it comes to cleaning up their poop. Most dog owners just use their hands and a plastic bag to clean up after their dogs when on walks. Sadly, many dog owners don’t clean up after their dogs at all, because it’s simply too disgusting. On top of all that, sometimes the dog’s droppings aren’t as solid as they should be, making cleaning up the mess virtually impossible.

Dog poop isn’t just a harmless nuisance, left alone it can have a significant environmental impact. Studies have shown that 20% of water pollution is caused by pet waste not picked up by the pets’ owners. Additionally, fines for leaving your dog’s poop on the ground can be hundreds of dollars in the US and up to 1000 pounds in the UK.

Eliminating the “ick” factor from your dog walks

Seeking a better, more sanitary, solution, a group of Israeli dog owners developed Piqapoo, a simple hands-free device for collecting dog poop. Piqapoo consists of a soft clip with a durable collection bag beneath it that comfortably attaches to a dog’s tail. When your dog does its business, all the poop falls directly into the bag with no mess or leakage. With just a press of a button, dog owners can release the bag directly into the trash, making cleanup quick, easy, and sanitary.

Designed with the dog’s well-being as the top priority, the team spent three years refining its design and searching for the best materials that are both durable and provide maximum comfort for their pets.

SEE ALSO: New ‘Pooper-Scooper’ Turns Dog Droppings Into Ash

piqapoo, dog, dog poop, piqapoo device

Piqapoo clip and bag

$15,000 raised in two hours

Piqapoo is run by CEO Gideon Hazan and Co-Founders Re’em Hazan, Erez Barr, and Eli Dotan. Piqapoo launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter last week and quickly surpassed their goal of $15,00 in just two hours. For just $29, contributors can purchase one Piqapoo clip with 60 collection bags.

SEE ALSO: The High-Tech Dog-Walking Service That’s Taking Manhattan By Storm

Piqapoo comes in a variety of sizes to fit most dogs. The device itself is made from cushioned lightweight silicone. Piqapoo has already been tested on over 100 dogs and the makers claim it has been proven to be effective (NoCamels wasn’t able to ask the dogs what they thought). According to the company, your dog can walk and run as normal while wearing Piqapoo, and won’t even notice it’s there.

“We love our dogs,” Gideon Hazan, CEO of Piqapoo said in a statement. “The only thing we didn’t like was using our hands to pick up our dogs’ poop. The reason we’re so passionate about Piqapoo is that we all use it! It works, and it has made dog walking a way more enjoyable part of our day.”

piqapoo-dog Also works for dogs of the visually impaired

Additionally, Hazan says Piqapoo is a great solution for individuals with disabilities. “People who are visually impaired can easily feel where to attach the Piqapoo to their dogs. For others who have a hard time bending down to clean up after their dogs, they can now simply detach the device from their dogs tail and throw out the disposable waste bag,” he says.

No more pooper scoopers

Other dog waste collection devices currently on the market are riddled with problems. Scoopers are big and clunky, and don’t work for the runny kind of poop. Fitted devices are often uncomfortable for the dogs, and can be extremely time-consuming for the owners to put on their dogs. Although there are modified bags on the market, they are quite expensive and can leave traces of poop on the ground.

Piqapoo is hoping its solution will be the one that sticks – literally.  In other words, it could cut out the crap of picking up poop.

Photos and video: Piqapoo

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Change Is In The Air: Israeli Startup BreezoMeter Fights Paris Pollution http://nocamels.com/2016/11/air-polluion-breezometer-paris-clean-air/ http://nocamels.com/2016/11/air-polluion-breezometer-paris-clean-air/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:21:49 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48259 Air pollution is a global problem, but in France it is especially troubling. According to a study published in June by France’s health agency Santé Publique France, air pollution kills 48,000 people a year in France and 34,000 of those deaths are avoidable. In fact, air pollution is France’s third biggest killer, after smoking (78,000 deaths) and alcohol consumption (49,000 deaths).

Given these grave statistics, it’s no wonder that Israeli app BreezoMeter, which tracks pollutants and can determine air quality in nearly every corner of the world, has now set its sights on the city of light, Paris.

Air pollution is seen as a key public health issue in Paris and to tackle the problem the city recently launched an ambitious campaign called ‘Reinventons nos places’, ‘Let’s reinvent our squares.’ Its goal is to improve quality of life, enhance public spaces and promote new uses for seven Parisian squares that have strong historic and symbolic value.

Bastille

Bastille

Pilot in Paris

In Place de la Nation square, a large scale pilot, led by Cisco, will collect noise, air pollution and usage data. The results are shared with citizens using touch screens in the square as well as with open data online. BreezoMeter, , which CNBC recently called one of the “world’s hottest apps” and which the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website recommended as a Smart City Air Challenge case study, is implementing the air quality monitoring aspects of the pilot. The Israeli company beat out several French companies for the project, becoming the first non-local company to ever be awarded such a tender.

BreezoMeter defined the number, locations and type of air quality sensors needed, and analyzed the data to provide real-time pollutant concentrations, alerts and insights about what may be affecting pollution levels. Other smart and sustainable cities can use this air quality command and control platform for urban redesign and daily operations. The data can also be used to develop sustainable transport modes.

SEE ALSO: Exposure To Pollution In Womb Raises Risk Of Autism

Air Pollution is a killer

“Air pollution has  killed 8 million people around the world and 2,500 in Israel alone last year,” BreezoMeter’s co-founder and CMO Ziv Lautman recently told NoCamels. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths and in most countries, the mortality rate from heart and lung diseases caused by air pollution is much higher than that from traffic accidents.

BreezoMeter’s big-data analytics platform uses local air-monitoring sensors to gather real-time pollution data. The information is collected by the startup from monitoring stations around the world and is then compiled and packaged to provide up-to-date information about air quality. The startup claims its localized pollution reading is 99 percent accurate.

BreezoMeter

Partnering with Current, powered by GE

BreezoMeter’s technology is also being used by Current, powered by GE, an energy company, where hardware and software technology meet. Combining GE’s LED, Solar, Energy Storage and Electric Vehicle capabilities with Current’s Predix platform, Current provides a 21st-century energy ecosystem to customers. Current’s goal is to make energy sustainable, resilient and reliable by creating a new world of possibilities for intelligent environments.

SEE ALSO: What’s In The Air You Breathe?

BreezoMeter’s software platform has been paired with traffic insights from the LED infrastructure from Current, powered by GE. This ground-level approach to diagnoses and analytics can inform cities on the overlapping traffic trends and patterns affecting the environment most. With sensors in intelligent LEDs, there are now more data points than ever before—creating more opportunities to deliver the most accurate air quality data possible. Thanks to this technology, cities change the way they monitor air quality, and citizens can breathe easy knowing their city has a plan in place. The embedded sensors inside Current, powered by GE, are intelligent fixtures which provide environmental and traffic data to the BreezoMeter Air Quality Management Platform. This enables city officials to receive data to help identify the sources of air pollution, pinpoint the areas of concern and plan a course of action to help mitigate it.

The Waze for air pollution

BreezoMeter was founded in 2014 by Emil Fisher, Ran Korber and Ziv Lautman. To date the startup has raised $1.8 million in private financing rounds. Its app is available for both Android and iPhone users.

Although pollutants are still a fact of life, the app does give consumers better knowledge of their surroundings, in hopes that they can then act on that knowledge. “We empower citizens to better plan their daily activities and to minimize their personal exposure to pollution,” Lautman said in a statement.

“Daniel Elkabetz, BreezoMeter’s Business Development Director, echoed that sentiment when he told NoCamels, “We see ourselves as the Weather Channel, or better yet, the Waze for air pollution.”

BreezoMeter

Photos and video: BreezoMeter

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Trick-or-Treating In The Lab: For TAU Researchers, It’s Halloween Every Day http://nocamels.com/2016/10/halloween-in-the-lab-tau/ http://nocamels.com/2016/10/halloween-in-the-lab-tau/#respond Mon, 31 Oct 2016 11:48:25 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48713 Halloween is upon us, which means it’s time to pick out a costume and make sure the house has candy for when the neighborhood children arrive. In the spirit of of the holiday, researchers at Tel Aviv University explain how they’ve turned trickery and disguise into a science.

Dr. Gal Ribak of the Department of Zoology at the The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, studies the biomechanics of animal movement. He uses models and simulations to try and understand how animals develop their unique style of movement, while referencing physiology, ecology and animal evolution.

Dr. Ribak says trickery is part of the job. “We use trickery all the time. One of the studies in my lab deals with the interception mechanism of damselfies – a type of dragonfly – who chase their prey while airborne. The damselfly detects moving prey visually and can calculate a flight path to intercept the prey at its future position. This allows the damselfly to capture its prey with great efficiency, while it and its prey are moving through the air.

Using artificial prey in his lab, Ribak tricks the damselflies

To understand how damselflies do this, we ‘trick’ them into chasing artificial targets in my lab, which are moved through electro-mechanical means. By controlling the motion of the target and analyzing the movement of the damselfly with special cameras, we can learn about its strategies of attack. This helps us understand the neurobiological mechanisms of controlled movement in animals, and could have implications for how we control movement in robots and drones.”

dragon fly

The lab of Prof. Arnon Lotem of the Department of Zoology also uses trickery and deception in the name of science. Prof. Lotem and his students study the evolution of behavioral mechanisms and social learning in animals, specifically in house sparrows.

“Behavior and leaning in animals are complex processes and understanding of these processes requires experimentation, not just observation. The problem is that in order to perform controlled experiments you have to control the behavior of certain individuals in the group and see how other individuals react to it.

SEE ALSO: No Bat About It: Bats Eavesdrop To Help Friends Find Food

Fake sparrow teaches chicks

In studying the house sparrow, we use stuffed sparrows that are operated like a puppet on a string at a puppet show. My students specializing in this are Edit Katsnelson, Amos Belmaker and Noa Truskanov. For example, by stationing “fake,” stuffed sparrows near sources of food, the researchers managed to gradually turn hardworking sparrows, who look for food on their own, into ones that tended to follow other individuals in the flock.

In a different experiment, sparrow chicks were raised to follow a stuffed sparrow as though it was their biological mother. This allowed us to learn a lot about the way young sparrows learn from their mothers, especially about the relationship between cues in their environment and the presence of food. It turns out that when the mother only hints at the location of sustenance and allows her chicks to find the food on their own, they learn the food-related cues better than if the mother reveals the food for them.”

stuffed-sparrow-arnon-lotem

A young house sparrow tracks an artificial mother (a stuffed sparrow connected to a stick controlled by the researcher) and learns from it how to search for food, at Prof. Arnon Lotem’s lab.

No one hesitates to use trickery to learn about the secret lives of bats in the lab of Tel Aviv University’s “bat man”, Dr. Yossi Yovel of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience.

Hitting a wall

“Bats use sonar – they emit sound pulses and analyze the echoes with their brain to ‘see’ the world. In one of our experiments bats fly in complete darkness through a corridor that’s blocked halfway through by a plastic wall. The bats approach the wall and use sonar to sense it. They get strong echoes from the wall and try to land on it, but sometimes the barrier is only ‘pretending’ to be a wall. When the wall turns from hard plastic into soft sponge, it reflects fewer echoes and bats fly at it as if it there were no barrier there at all.

bat with apple

That’s despite the fact that in nature bats can hunt mosquitoes, which generate even weaker echoes! Our conclusion is that the different aspects of an object have to match up in order for us to perceive the objects correctly. A large wall must generate strong echoes, otherwise it’s not a wall. A mosquito is tiny and must generate very weak echoes, otherwise it’s not a mosquito. For us humans, an apple must be both round and red (or green) to be an apple. Each characteristic separately is not enough.”

An integral part of the work these researchers involves to simulating and imitating conditions in the field in order to study behavior in laboratory conditions. This requires a lot of creativity and imagination. In a sense, in many labs across Tel Aviv University – every day is Halloween.

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Israel’s FieldIn Helps Farmers Track Crops, Cut Costs http://nocamels.com/2016/10/fieldin-helps-farmers-track-crops-cut-costs/ http://nocamels.com/2016/10/fieldin-helps-farmers-track-crops-cut-costs/#respond Tue, 18 Oct 2016 19:43:59 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48397 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Growing trees in Israel, Italy and California has become easier thanks to an innovative solution that takes care of all aspects of pest management for high-value crops, using less pesticide.

“We provide an end-to-end solution to special crop growers that follows our clients in all the process, allowing our customers to use pesticides in a smarter and more efficient way, reducing waste and spray mistakes. They also save money with us,” said Eyal Amit, VP business development at FieldIn.

SEE ALSO: Revolutionary Rooftop Farm Grows Organic Veggies Sans Soil In The Heart of Tel Aviv

orange grove orchard fieldin

The company manages substantial acreage for large enterprise growers who grow citrus, wine grapes, apples, almonds, avocados, and pomegranates, among others. The lead investor is Terra Venture Partners, an Israeli venture capital fund.

SEE ALSO: EdenShield Invents Product That Makes Crops ‘Invisible’ To Pests

FieldIn won the second prize in a startup competition at the International AgriVest Conference held at the Weizmann Institute of Science last week, for technology that increases the efficiency of growing crops.

The conference is an initiative of Trendlines Agtech, an incubator of The Trendlines Group, Invest in Israel, the investment promotion center at the Israeli Ministry of Economy & Industry and GreenSoil Investments, an Israeli VC focused on agro & food tech investments.

“Thanks to our apps and sensors, we can follow the whole process, we can check the weather, which kind of pesticides are used, how they are used, where they are used, their quantity, their pace and if tractors cover every single hectare of the crop,” said Amit. 

pomegranate butterfly orchard fieldin

The company’s “field scout” uses a monitoring app to check the health of the crops and sends feedback to “executives,” the people in charge, using insights based on the big data the FieldIn technology provides.

To read the full article, click here.

Photos: FieldIn

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Fueling The Future: Israeli Researchers Mass-Produce Energy From Algae http://nocamels.com/2016/10/algae-clean-energy-biofuel-study/ http://nocamels.com/2016/10/algae-clean-energy-biofuel-study/#respond Sun, 09 Oct 2016 12:07:45 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48328 In search of environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuel, corn, soybeans and palm oil have been converted into biofuels to power vehicles and factories. Clean sources of energy such as algae are thought to help the world wean itself off polluting fuels, but for years, the big lingering question was whether we could actually mass produce biofuels from these sources.

Now, Israeli researchers are using genetic engineering to mass-produce hydrogen-based fuels from microscopic algae. Tel Aviv University scientists were recently able to produce five times more hydrogen from these microalgae.

Claiming their method could one day meet all of our energy needs, they say the potential of algae as a source of clean energy is therefore much more promising than previously thought.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Use Spinach Leaves To Generate Clean Fuel

seaweed

The appeal of algae is quite simple: The green layer that covers ponds and sea rocks can be converted into biofuel faster than conventional crops, such as corn and soy — without competing with food production. According to the US Department of Energy, the genetic diversity from the many varieties of algae presents researchers with “an incredible number of unique properties that can be harnessed to develop promising algal biofuel technologies.”

SEE ALSO: Researchers In Israel Announce A Revolutionary Alternative To Fuel

The TAU study, which was recently published in the scientific journals Plant Physiology and Biotechnology for Biofuels, reveals that clean energy can be produced from algae throughout the day and not just in a specific time in the morning. It was previously thought that these microalgae emit hydrogen only during sunrise, and thus only a small amount of hydrogen can be generated from them.

The research team used highly sensitive technology to discover that algae produce hydrogen from photosynthesis all day long. Armed with this discovery, the team harnessed genetic engineering to significantly increase algae’s production of this clean energy source.

“A huge underutilized potential”

Laboratory tests revealed that algae create hydrogen with the assistance of the enzyme hydrogenase, which breaks down when oxygen is present. The researchers discovered effective mechanisms to remove the oxygen, so hydrogenase can keep producing hydrogen.

“The discovery of the mechanisms makes it clear that algae have a huge underutilized potential for the production of hydrogen fuel,” said TAU’s Dr. Iftach Yacoby, who led the research. “The next question is how to beef up production for industrial purposes — to get the algae to overproduce the enzyme.”

Yacoby is now researching synthetic enzymes capable of increasing hydrogen production from microalgae to industrial levels.

Dr. Iftach Yacoby in his lab

Dr. Iftach Yacoby in his lab

“Since the beginning of time, we have been using agriculture to make our own food, but when it comes to energy, we are still hunter-gatherers,” Yacoby says. “Cultivating energy from agriculture is the next revolution. There may be other ways to produce hydrogen, but this is the greenest and the only agricultural one.”

Almost all of the hydrogen produced in the US comes from natural gas. But the methods used to draw hydrogen from natural gas are toxic and wasteful, according to the researchers. And, astonishingly enough, the world burns in just one year energy it took the earth over a million years to produce. That’s why Yacoby believes “we must stop being hunters and gatherers of energy. We must start producing clean energy — for our children and for our children’s children.”

Photos: Courtesy

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Israeli Researchers Use Spinach Leaves To Generate Clean Fuel http://nocamels.com/2016/09/clean-fuel-electricity-spinach/ http://nocamels.com/2016/09/clean-fuel-electricity-spinach/#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:49:59 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48219 Popeye, the famous cartoon character, sang “I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man.”

Spinach, which contains iron, is indeed known for its nutritional value; but who knew it can also generate electricity? Well, a group of Israeli researchers has come up with a cell that uses sunlight to generate power from spinach leaves extract.

SEE ALSO: Green Energy: Algae-Based Biofuel Could Power Cars, Airplanes

researchers-at-the-technion-hydrogen-lab-

Researchers at the Technion’s hydrogen lab

Using a simple membrane extract from spinach leaves, researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a bio-photo-electro-chemical (BPEC) cell that produces electricity and hydrogen from water using sunlight.

A source of renewable energy

The raw material of the device is water, and its products are electric current, hydrogen and oxygen. “The unique combination of a man-made BPEC cell and plant membranes, which absorb sunlight and convert it into a flow of electrons highly efficiently, paves the way for the development of new technologies for the creation of clean fuels from renewable sources: water and solar energy,” according to a Technion statement.

SEE ALSO: Eco Wave Power Turns Seawater Into Energy At New Gibraltar Plant

The BPEC cell developed by the researchers is based on the naturally occurring process of photosynthesis in plants, in which light drives electrons that produce storable chemical energetic molecules, which are the fuels of all cells in the animal and plant worlds.

In order to utilize photosynthesis for producing electric current, the researchers added an iron-based compound to the solution. This compound mediates the transfer of electrons from the biological membranes to the electrical circuit, enabling the creation of an electric current in the cell.

“A closed cycle that begins with water and ends with water”

The electrical current can also be channeled to form hydrogen gas through the addition of electric power from a small photovoltaic cell that absorbs the excess light. This makes possible the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy that is stored as hydrogen gas formed inside the BPEC cell. This energy can be converted when necessary into heat and electricity by burning the hydrogen, in the same way hydrocarbon fuels are used.

However, unlike the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels – which emit greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere and pollute the environment – the product of hydrogen combustion is clean water. Therefore, “this is a closed cycle that begins with water and ends with water, allowing the conversion and storage of solar energy in hydrogen gas, which could be a clean and sustainable substitute for hydrocarbon fuel,” according to the researchers.

Popeye-eating-spinach

The study was conducted by doctoral students Roy Pinhassi, Dan Kallmann and Gadiel Saper, under the guidance of Prof. Noam Adir, Prof. Gadi Schuster and Prof. Avner Rothschild. It was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Photos: Technion, jean pierre gallot

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Israel’s BioBee Ships 160 Million Predatory Wasps To South Africa http://nocamels.com/2016/09/biobee-natural-pesticides-wasps-south-africa/ http://nocamels.com/2016/09/biobee-natural-pesticides-wasps-south-africa/#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 09:48:51 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=48024 You’d think that one country unleashing millions of predatory bugs on another country would be akin to an act of war. Not so.

South Africa went so far as to pay Israeli company BioBee $24 million for 160 million killer wasps to help its farmers get rid of pests – the natural way.

The wasps are being deployed in vineyards and orchards across South Africa, significantly reducing the need to use harmful pesticides. The wasps will primarily combat mealybugs, tiny insects that can ravage crops.

A company spokesperson tells NoCamels that the cost of 1,000 wasps is $150, which means South Africa poured $24 million on the critters.

SEE ALSO: EdenShield Invents Product That Makes Crops ‘Invisible’ To Pests

stellenbosch south africa

A vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa

By employing predatory bugs that attack and kill harmful insects, BioBee Biological Systems has developed a technique free of chemicals. Already, the company’s solutions can be found on farms across 50 countries, including Russia and Colombia, where BioBee recently shipped a total of 1.1 billion ‘predatory’ spider mites.

The natural enemies of harmful pests 

Founded in 1984 in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, BioBee’s facility mass-produces the natural enemies of harmful pests by harvesting spiders, flies, wasps and bees for various purposes.

How does the system work? BioBee ships the wasps when they are still at the pupa stage. The larva evolves into a wasp inside the cocoon, which was previously mixed with mealybugs by BioBee. In the process of becoming an adult wasp, the critter eats the insides of the mealybug, whose body protects the maggot.

Simply put, the wasps’ larvae live inside the mealybug as parasites, but they eventually kill their hosts. After the farmer places the cocoons on the plants, and as the wasps emerge, they continue to feed on the mealybugs and their offspring go on to combat these pests as well.

Mealybugs on a flower stem

Mealybugs on a flower stem

“The subsequent established generations of the wasps will effectively control the mealybugs in the longer run,” BioBee said in a statement. “The parasitic wasp is highly valuable as a mealybug control agent in South Africa, reducing infestation levels of both the citrus mealybug and vine mealybug. It also increases the percentage of marketable yields of both citrus fruits and grapes.”

Combating super-bugs 

According to BioBee, its solution is a good investment for farmers, who may otherwise be limited in exporting crops that were sprayed with chemical pesticides, which are restricted by international laws.

Experts have long advocated for a decrease in the use of aggressive chemical pesticides, to benefit public health. In addition, pesticides damage the environment, pollute the water and air in their surroundings, as they are easily carried by the wind.

Another reason to reduce the use of pesticides is that, with time, pests develop resistance to pesticides. This encourages farmers to use more and more pesticides, while generations of powerful super-bugs proliferate.

SEE ALSO: Replacing Chemical Pesticides With Natural Anti-Pest Vegetable Oils

The alternative provided by BioBee is inspired by what is called in the scientific literature “the biological control phenomenon,” which is the natural balance of the “good bugs” eating the “bad bugs.”

The impact of this method has been measured on crops in Israel, yielding impressive results, according to BioBee: On sweet pepper crops, it reduced the use of pesticides by 75 percent; and on strawberry crops, they were reduced by 80 percent.

wasp

Every other tomato is Israeli

The current shipment of wasps is a joint venture with another Israeli company, Hishtil, which has been operating several nurseries in South Africa for nearly a decade. According to the company, 50 percent of the tomatoes sold in South Africa were grown by Israeli enterprises.

With the 160 million Israeli wasps naturally protecting these tomatoes (and other crops), local produce is bound to become much healthier and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Photos: Iryna KuchmaCrisco 1942

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Reports: Scientists From Israel, Iran And Pakistan Develop New Particle Accelerator In The Middle East http://nocamels.com/2016/09/israel-iran-pakistan-middle-east-particle-accelerator/ http://nocamels.com/2016/09/israel-iran-pakistan-middle-east-particle-accelerator/#respond Tue, 06 Sep 2016 08:21:06 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47680 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Israeli scientists are reportedly participating with colleagues from Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and Jordan on a $100 million project to develop the Middle East’s new particle accelerator — the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME.

Construction of the site, which is due to be formally inaugurated next spring in the hillside town of al-Balqa, northwest of Amman, is underway and the first experiments are expected to take place this autumn, The Guardian reported.

SEE ALSO: Israel, Iran, Jordan And Turkey In Joint Science Project

SESAME’s members are Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Bahrain — a group among which diplomatic discomfort is rife: Iran and Pakistan don’t recognize Israel, for example, nor does Turkey recognize Cyprus.

Sesame particle accelerator

SESAME particle accelerator

Iran’s participation continued even after two of its scientists, who were involved in the project, quantum physicist Masoud Alimohammadi and nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, were assassinated in operations blamed on Israel’s Mossad, The Guardian said.

“We’re cooperating very well together,” Giorgio Paolucci, the scientific director of SESAME told The Guardian. “That’s the dream.”

“I don’t know how many places there are where all these governments have representatives who have the opportunity to come and talk to each other,” he added.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Invents Laser Beam To Monitor Tiniest Particles In Water And Oil

Progress on the accelerator is made through government officials meetings, discussing technicalities and coming to agreements, unaffected by the enmity they may feel outside the conference halls, the report said.

The aim of SESAME is to “foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighboring countries” and prevent or reverse regional brain drain “by enabling world-class scientific research in subjects ranging from biology, archaeology and medical sciences through basic properties of materials science, physics, chemistry, and life sciences,” SESAME says on its website.

It also aims to build “scientific and cultural bridges among diverse societies, and contribute to a culture of peace through international cooperation in science.”

Sesame_Members-new

To read the full article, click here

Photos: SESAMEDon Richards

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Will The Explosion Of AMOS-6 Satellite Halt Israel’s Space Program? http://nocamels.com/2016/09/explosion-amos-6-satellite-israel-space-program/ http://nocamels.com/2016/09/explosion-amos-6-satellite-israel-space-program/#respond Sun, 04 Sep 2016 11:37:29 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47614 Following the explosion of Facebook’s Israeli-built satellite AMOS-6 last week during a test launch by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX in Florida, all eyes are on the future of Israel’s space industry.

SEE ALSO: NASA And Israel Ink Deal On Space Cooperation

SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, was set to launch Israeli communication satellite AMOS-6 last Thursday, when an explosion destroyed both.

AMOS-6 was touted as Israel’s most advanced satellite, the latest in a series of six which are mostly operated by Israeli company Spacecom and developed by its partner, Israel Aerospace Industries.

The biggest promise: Free internet access in Africa 

Its goal had been to beam free internet across sub-Saharan Africa for Facebook, which in October 2015 had announced it would launch AMOS-6. Currently, only 17 percent of the population in the region has access to the internet.

AMOS-6 satellite

AMOS-6 satellite

The project was part of Facebook’s Internet.org, a non-profit initiative that brings together technology leaders, nonprofit organizations and local communities to provide Internet access to the most remote regions of the world.

But the deal with Facebook – which aimed to connect millions of Africans to the internet – has now been canceled due to the surprise explosion, Spacecom said on Saturday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his page on Thursday: “I am deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.” However, he stressed that Facebook remains “committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”

The cancellation of the project is a blow to Israel’s Spacecom, since Facebook was expected to pay $100 million for the use of AMOS-6 in the years 2016-2032. Spacecom was in the midst of being acquired by Chinese company Xinwei for $285 million, a deal which now might not come to fruition, since one of the conditions was a successful launch of AMOS-6.

Meanwhile, future customers of AMOS-6 (such as television companies) are being diverted to the already orbiting AMOS-2 and AMOS-3 satellites, according to Spacecom.

Today, the company said in a report to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) that it expects a $173 million insurance refund for AMOS-6, which the company developed for the Israeli Airspace Industries (IAI), a government-controlled corporation. In addition, SpaceX – the launcher – is expected to reimburse Spacecom for $50 million for failing to launch the Israeli satellite.

SEE ALSO: Life on Mars? Israelis Design 3D-Printed Space Home For NASA

In its report to TASE, IAI confirmed today it has insurance funds to cover the loss of the satellite. IAI and Spacecom are waiting to learn more about the explosion from SpaceX, which is investigating the accident and is expected to provide a report.

More opportunities for the Israeli space industry 

Founded 23 years ago in Israel, Spacecom operates an AMOS satellite fleet; it’s traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, with a market cap of $201 million, down sharply from last year’s $253 million.

But beyond the loss of AMOS-6, and the damages to Spacecom and its customers, questions are now being asked about what this means for the Israeli space industry, which has collaborated with NASA on several projects, including a future 3D-printed space home for its astronauts.

SpaceX rocket that carried AMOS-6 exploded Sept. 1

The SpaceX rocket that carried AMOS-6 exploded Sept. 1

The prestigious magazine Defense News estimates that the explosion and the potential cancellation of Spacecom’s sale to China could turn out to be good news for the Israeli space industry.

With the Chinese deal clouded by uncertainty, the magazine posits that “IAI may have greater chances of snagging an Amos-6 replacement order, as well as follow-on contracts, that may have gone to non-Israeli firms once the sale was complete.”

Photos: USLuanchReport, Facebook, Brian Solis

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Out Of Thin Air: Israeli Scientists Harvest Drinking Water From Air http://nocamels.com/2016/09/drinking-water-from-air/ http://nocamels.com/2016/09/drinking-water-from-air/#respond Thu, 01 Sep 2016 08:00:28 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47534 Water shortage is a pressing issue worldwide: According to the UN, 1.2 billion people (almost one-fifth of the world’s population) live in areas where water is scarce, and another 500 million people are nearing this situation. It’s no wonder, then, that the world is seeking to produce and conserve water – both for drinking and for agriculture – especially during droughts.

If only we could only find a way to produce water out of thin air.  Fortunately, Israeli researchers say we can.

Scientists at The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, have proposed an innovative system for harvesting safe drinking water from air.

Energy-saving method, higher quality water

Atmosphere contains water vapor in amounts comparable to all the surface and underground water on the planet. But current machines that collect water from the atmospheric reservoir have major limitations. They use electrical refrigeration to cool the air and condense the vapor and that consumes a lot of energy.

SEE ALSO: TaKaDu’s Water-Saving Technology Saves Australia Millions Of Dollars

Capturing atmospheric moisture is not a new invention in itself because atmospheric water generators for commercial and domestic use already exist. However, the new device designed by Israeli scientists requires less energy to produce high-quality water from air compared to existing systems, according to the report in American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The new Israeli system uses a liquid desiccant, a substance that promotes drying, to first separate the water vapor from air and then cool only the vapor. Their calculations show that this approach would result in 20 to 65 per cent energy savings over the standard system.

“The liquid desiccant separation (LDS) stage that is integrated into atmospheric moisture harvesting (AMH) systems can work under a wide range of environmental conditions using low grade or solar heating as a supplementary energy source, and that the performance of the combined system is superior,” the report says.

Better than desalination

Desalination of seawater, removal of salt (sodium chloride) and other minerals from the sea water to make it suitable for human consumption and/or industrial use, by reverse osmosis, a water purification technology that uses a semipermeable membrane to remove ions, molecules, and larger particles from drinking water, is also a potential source of fresh water, but it is not applicable in countries that do not have access to the sea. Besides, desalination requires large capital investments in piping and pumping infrastructure and in its operation and maintenance. Fortunately for the Israeli system, atmospheric moisture is accessible essentially everywhere.

SEE ALSO: Could Groundwater Desalination Solve California’s Water Crisis?

How it works

The atmosphere contains about 13,000 cubic kilometers of freshwater, 98 percent of it in the form of water vapor, says the report. The vapor must be condensed to liquid water. The existing atmospheric moisture harvesting (AMH) systems, where standard electrical compression-expansion refrigeration unit is used, can save significant energy by first separating the vapor from the air before it enters the condenser, such that only the vapor is cooled rather than the entire air bulk.

In the new design, separation of water vapor from the air is achieved by using a liquid desiccant. The water vapor absorbed by the desiccant can be freed using low-grade or solar heat.

The liquid-desiccant vapor separation (LDS) subsystem was designed to operate continuously in a closed-cycle, says the report. “The product of this subsystem is pure water vapor, which is then condensed by a standard refrigeration system without the burden of cooling the air.”

In general, the combined LDS-AMH system is expected to save up to 65 percent of the energy expenses of water production relative to off-the-shelf direct-cooling AMH systems, the scientists claim. “Scaling up the LDS system to produce larger amounts of freshwater is possible simply by installing additional absorbing units around a single desorber-condenser core.”

Bacteria-free

Another important advantage, according to the report, is that the water coming out of the LDS-AMH system will be free of airborne bacteria since “the coil of the condenser does not come into contact with the ambient air but only with pure vapor that has been liberated from the desiccant solution.”

So, the next time you get thirsty, consider that it really is possible to produce water out of thin air.

drinking-water

Photos: Technion, Pixabay

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Smart Plant Drugs Birds Into Forgetting Their Bitter Taste http://nocamels.com/2016/08/bitter-nectar-attracts-pollinating-birds/ http://nocamels.com/2016/08/bitter-nectar-attracts-pollinating-birds/#respond Sun, 28 Aug 2016 07:59:40 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47111 What can a plant whose nectar is bitter do to make pollinators return to visit its flowers and ensure its continued propagation? It can make them forget the taste of its nectar, according to a new Israeli study.

The nectar of nicotiana glauca – a species of wild tobacco known as ‘tree tobacco’ – is composed of a particularly bitter combination of nicotine and other substances, and yet sunbirds never stop visiting the plant. A study conducted at the University of Haifa points to the reason why: The mixture of chemicals in the nectar impairs the sunbird’s memory!

SEE ALSO: Wildlife Photographer Ofer Levy Wins International Acclaim With Awe-Inspiring Images Of Birds

tree tobaco

Nicotiana glauca, also known as tree tobacco

Conducted by Dr. Shai Markman, the study reveals that even though its nectar’s bitter taste is likely to repel rather than attract pollinators, “in practice, the sunbird – the main pollinator of tree tobacco – never stops visiting the plant,” Markman said.

Does survival depend on sweetness?

The survival of some plants depends on their ability to attract pollinators drawn to the sweet nectar of their flowers. But some plants also need protection from grazing animals, which is achieved by the presence of bitter and toxic substances, like nicotine or caffeine, in their leaves. This mechanism is a double-edged sword, because the same substance that protects the plant’s leaves is also found in the nectar of its flowers, giving it a bitter taste – which may repel some of its pollinators.

sunbird

Sunbird

Tree tobacco suffers from the same problem: its leaves are protected not only by nicotine but by anabasine, a substance more bitter and toxic than nicotine, and the two substances also trickle into the nectar of its flowers.

“An incentive to sample more and more flowers”

Despite the fact that consumption of low concentrations of nicotine for short periods of time is known to help focus attention and improve learning, this study shows that when it’s combined with anabasine, learning ability actually decreases, meaning the sunbirds forget they didn’t like the nectar.

Even better, the researchers estimate that it takes about half an hour for the mixture of nicotine and anabasine to influence the sunbirds. In other words, during the first half hour the birds can still learn that the nectar is bitter and avoid it, which means that they won’t consume enough of the mixture to impair their memory long-term.

“The sunbird is curious by nature, and it samples a large number of flowers in its vicinity,” Markman said. “The tree tobacco plant produces mixtures containing different proportions of anabasine and nicotine in each of the flowers in its clusters, so that in some of them the bitterness is much less pronounced, so much so that in some flowers the nectar may even be very sweet. In this way, the sunbird has an incentive to sample more and more flowers. It is also a mechanism that promotes pollination, not only increased consumption of the nectar mixture.”

red flowers poppies field

According to Markman, the plant might not have undergone “a distinct process of evolutionary selection to produce bitter nectar, but because this ‘mistake’ may be advantageous to its reproduction – it results in the nectar remaining bitter, at least for now.”

SEE ALSO: The Truth About Bees And Their Love For Sweets

His research could have implications for future studies of crops, whose nectar contains substances which may affect the performance of pollinators and thereby affect crop yields.

yellow tulips

Photos: Miwasatoshi, MDFMelissa Askewcorina ardeleanu

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Mini-Amphitheaters Clean Up Noise Pollution, Give Street Bands A Stage http://nocamels.com/2016/08/mini-amphitheatres-noise-pollution/ http://nocamels.com/2016/08/mini-amphitheatres-noise-pollution/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:00:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47319 Life in the city can be wonderfully exciting – unless you happen to have an aversion to noise. Construction, honking cars stuck in traffic and airplanes flying overhead are just some of the contributors to the noise pollution which significantly harms the quality of life in otherwise beautiful urban landscapes.

SEE ALSO: Street Philharmonic Puts Street Musicians On Stage

Added to the mix are the sounds of street performers—musicians, actors, artists—all trying to ply their trade in the midst of the hustle and bustle of major cities worldwide.

To combat this problem, Aviv Even, a student at Israel’s Shenkar School of Engineering and Design , came up with an innovative solution called a “mini-amphitheater”. The structures are aesthetically pleasing, sidewalk-size-appropriate amphitheaters, which can be used not only to block out unpleasant street noises, but also to provide a venue for street musicians to perform, thereby enhancing the cultural landscape of a city.

NoisePollution3

Mini-amphitheater

A Tel Aviv native, Even had enough of the irritating sounds which accompany life in a big city. Seeking to make a positive impact by both reducing noise pollution and improving the quality of life for the city’s residents, she came up with the idea of mini-amphitheaters.

SEE ALSO: Stunning Hanging Garden Will Cover Israel’s Busiest Highway

NoisePollution

Sound map of Ben Gurion Blvd. in Tel Aviv. The blue represents sources of noise pollution.

“I sought to determine which sounds were more pleasant for people and which were more grating—what caused people to want to be in an area, and what caused them to want to leave. Something that I discovered is that noise pollution is just as effective at deterring people from being in an area as is physical pollution,” she told Ynet News.

Mapping city sounds

Aviv stood on the corner of a major downtown intersection in Tel Aviv and used a decibel reader to determine where the loudest sounds on the street were coming from and what was causing them. She mapped those areas out and used her maps to determine the best way to reduce the sounds.

The mini-amphitheater is able to direct the sounds of the people who are performing in it—whether they be street musicians performing musical instruments or street actors giving a performance—to an audience without disturbing the other people living or walking in the surrounding area.

“Sound naturally goes up, so by performing inside of these mini-amphitheaters, the sound is able to be directed towards an audience more fully. This also eliminates the need for speakers, as the sound is naturally amplified,” she explained.

To design the structure, Even spoke to street performers to determine their needs, thereby creating the ideal size and depth of the shell so that it would be not only comfortable for the street musicians to perform in, but also disrupt the surrounding foot traffic as little as possible.

Even has already sold one of her portable mini-amphitheaters, but she hopes that in the near future the city of Tel Aviv and other cities around the world will use her design not only to beautify their cities visually, but also provide a way to mitigate noise pollution and increase their good vibrations.

Tel Aviv: Skyline (night)

Tel Aviv night skyline

Photos: Aviv Even

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Bug Grub: Israeli Startup Flying Spark Breeds Protein-Rich Edible Insects To End World Hunger http://nocamels.com/2016/08/flying-spark-fruit-fly-larvae-protein/ http://nocamels.com/2016/08/flying-spark-fruit-fly-larvae-protein/#respond Sun, 14 Aug 2016 06:20:25 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47320 It’s hard enough to get your kids to eat their vegetables, try convincing them to eat insects. Although it may sound a bit nauseating, fruit fly larvae is about to be consumed by humans.

With the global food shortage on the mind of Israeli startup Flying Spark – whose motto is to “fill 9 billion bowls by 2040” – the company is developing protein powder made of fruit fly larvae, claimed to be more sustainable, nutritious, and eco-friendly.

As the world’s population grows far beyond the 7 billion mark, food is becoming scarce in several parts of the world: 795 million people around the globe do not have enough food to lead a healthy life, according to the World Food Programme. And that’s why Flying Spark is developing new sources of protein for human consumption.

SEE ALSO: These Israeli Companies Fight World Hunger With Innovative Technologies

FlyingSpArk products

Flying Spark products

Founded in 2014 by serial entrepreneur Eran Gronich and insect specialist Dr. Yoram Yerushalmi, the company has so far raised 1$ million, and is on track to mass producing its insect-based powder in about a year.

Gronich decided to produce protein from insects after attending a TED talk, which focused on the upcoming food crisis and the challenges of feeding nine billion people by 2040. The speaker suggested that the world needs to invest in insect consumption, and Gronich was fascinated. “The population of the world is growing, oceans are being over-fished and the prices of meat and chicken are soaring,” he tells NoCamels. “Still, the demand for protein is rising.”

SEE ALSO: Essential Protein May Be Key In Slowing Down Biological Clock

There are many advantages to making the switch from meat to insect protein: The fruit fly larvae are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, and protein. In addition, the company doesn’t use hormones or antibiotics, as opposed to many cattle ranches. The benefits to the environment are that these insects don’t consume as much food, water and land as cows, thus minimizing greenhouse gas pollution.

Overcoming the yuck factor

The process of creating the powder is relatively simple, and is done by a machine with two units – one to farm the larvae and the other to process the larvae into powder. “We take the larvae through a process that includes boiling, grounding and separating the fat and the protein, and then we dry the protein and turn it into powder,” Gronich explains.

Naturally, the company is facing a huge challenge trying to educate people to consume larvae. There’s a huge psychological barrier “because it is not natural for people to eat insects,” he says. However, “our idea is to take the insect and change its form into powder, put the powder in another food that people like, and that way, it will be much easier to overcome the yuck factor.”

The company plans to sell its protein powder directly to manufacturers in order for them to incorporate it in their products, ranging from breads and cereals to tofu. In cereals, for example, the powder can replace up to 40 percent of the flour, and enrich it with potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Hamburger or larvae-burger?

The most shocking product the startup is about to offer is a burger made out of pure fruit fly larvae, achieved by grinding the larvae. “It’s 100 percent meat without killing any cow and without polluting the environment,” Gronich says. “We can control the taste by adding flavor.”

cows

Flying Spark is competing against other companies racing to develop the protein of the future, including Israeli startup Steak TzarTzar, which also grows insects such as grasshoppers for human consumption.

Currently, Flying Spark is still in its research and development phase and plans to go to market sometime in the next eight months. In the future, the company will not only sell the powder to food manufacturers and athletes, but will also produce its own line of powder-enriched food products.

Looking further into the future, Gronich sees an opportunity to work with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and other NGOs in order to help “areas in the world that are suffering from hunger and provide them with high-quality protein.”

fruit flies

Photos: Courtesy

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Vegetarian Meat Eaters: Israeli Startup SuperMeat Grows Chicken Meat In A Lab http://nocamels.com/2016/07/supermeat-breeds-chicken-lab-superfood/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/supermeat-breeds-chicken-lab-superfood/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 11:06:13 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46788 Every day at NoCamels we write about Israeli innovations that can have global impact. But if startup SuperMeat has its way, it could resolve some of the world’s biggest problems; including hunger, pollution and animal cruelty.

SuperMeat is working on a machine that can grow a full chicken breast, using the stem cells of a real chicken. Yes, you got it right: This would be actual chicken meat, but not from an actual chicken.

SEE ALSO: Eating A Steak Could Cost Us Our Planet, Researchers Find

SuperMeat’s breeding method would use up 99 percent less land, release 96 percent less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and use 96 percent less water than the traditional meat industry, which is one of the world’s largest polluters.

Co-founded by Koby Barak, a longtime vegan and animal rights activist, SuperMeat recently launched a crowdfunding campaign and already raised $117,000 for the building of its meat-making machine. Its technology is based on research by Hebrew University Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, who is an expert in chemical engineering, stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

According to Nahmias, SuperMeat is made by isolating cells obtained from a small biopsy that does not hurt the chicken. These cells are then organized and placed in an environment that imitates the animal’s physiology, making them organically develop and grow into muscles just like they normally would inside a chicken’s body tissues.

fried chicken

The company stresses that SuperMeat is “real meat,” and shouldn’t be compared with substitutes such as tempeh (tofu) and other so-called “fake meats.” Not only is it real meat, it’s also enhanced with nutrients and vitamins, making it a superfood, according to the company.

In addition, Koby Barak says his chicken would be Kosher and be much cheaper, as it wouldn’t require pricey antibiotics that are usually given to chickens.

Fighting world hunger

Global food security is an ongoing concern: 795 million people around the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life, according to the World Food Programme. With various Israeli startups trying to produce more food with less resources – such as Israeli startup Steak TzarTzar, which grows crickets for human consumption – SuperMeat is trying to provide more food while saving up on land and water, as well as reducing the use of antibiotics.

SEE ALSO: ‘3D Print’ Your Own Personalized Foods With ‘The Genie’!

Another segment of the population that SuperMeat might please are vegans and vegetarians. While the public has become more aware in recent years of the often disastrous treatment of animals grown for slaughter, giving up meat can prove to be quite challenging for those who rely on it as a source of protein. With SuperMeat, people could enjoy the best of both worlds: eating meat without hurting animals.

Two weeks ago, the SuperMeat team launched a campaign on Indiegogo, which has already raised $117,000, surpassing its initial $100,000 goal. With $500,000, SuperMeat says it would be able to fully fund its cultured-meat machine prototype.

roasted chicken

Rebeca Maia contributed to this report

Photos and video: SuperMeat, Brian Chan

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Feeding The World: Could Israeli AgTech Startups End World Hunger? http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-agtech-startups-agriculture-technology/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-agtech-startups-agriculture-technology/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:00:40 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46453 As the world’s population grows far beyond the 7 billion mark, food and potable water are becoming scarce in several parts of the world. 795 million people around the globe do not have enough food to lead a healthy life, according to the World Food Programme, and 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Water Crisis, Indian Minister Praises Israeli Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

In face of global food and water shortages, several Israeli AgTech startups and companies are working to meet the ever-growing demand of the world’s expanding population, through agricultural technologies that enhance crops, conserve water and soil, and keep produce pest-free. NoCamels highlights nine of the most intriguing Israeli AgTech companies working to maximize the world’s natural resources.

vineyards,

Sensilize: Making the most out of soil

Sensilize strives to make the most out of a soil’s potential. Based in Haifa, the startup gathers information about a plot of land with unique sensors that provide intricate data, allowing farmers to tailor their crops to the soil’s conditions. This method allows farmers to adapt the quantities of seeding, fertilizers and water to the quantities required by the land, thus cutting costs and producing more crops, according to Sensilize.

Founded by Yoav Zur and Dr. Robi Stark in 2013, the company has so far raised $1.5 million.

BioBee: Turning mites into natural pesticides

By unleashing predatory mites onto farmlands all over the world, BioBee has helped farmers get rid of harmful insects without the use of chemicals since 1984. Located in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, BioBee breeds different kinds of spiders, bees and flies that prey on and eat harmful bugs. The technology helps farmers export their produce, since international regulations limit the commerce of crops that were sprayed with chemical pesticides.

The company has already exported its products to Colombia, Russia, South Africa, and India, among others.

spider by alex keda

miRobot: Robots can milk your cows!

miRobot has developed a multi-stall robotic milking system to make the milking of cows more efficient. Essentially, these automatic milking systems perform many of the duties usually executed by trained operators, such as cleaning, stimulating, and performing post-milking routines, among other tasks. By providing an alternative to human labor, miRobots cuts salary costs and increases milk production.

Founded in 2011 by Tal Bareket and David Rubin, the company has not disclosed its financial information.

cows

ROOTS Sustainable Agricultural Technologies: Temperature control that enhances crops

Israeli company ROOTS Sustainable Agricultural Technologies aims to yield more crops by keeping the soil at its ideal temperature. Its technology involves placing water-filled pipes in the soil, regulating its temperature to the optimal condition. In other words, if the soil is too warm, Roots can cool it; and if it’s too cold, Roots will make it warmer. This technology is said to yield better results for crops such as basil, strawberries and lettuce. The pipes can also dispense water, fertilizers and pesticides around the roots.

The company was founded in 2009 by Dr. Sharon Devir and Boaz Wachtel.

Tal-Ya: Capturing dew for agricultural irrigation

Following the trend of growing more food with less water, Tal-Ya manufactures reusable plastic trays that capture dew from the air. These trays, which are made of recycled plastic, reduce the water needed by crops by 50 percent, cost $3-$5 per piece and last for 10 years.

Tal-Ya, which means ‘God’s dew’ in Hebrew, has benefitted farmers in Israel, the US, China, Chile, Georgia, Sri Lanka and Australia ever since its founding in 2005 by Avi Tamir.

Morflora: A “vaccine” for plants

Morflora’s “flu shot for plants” technology called TraitUP, “vaccinates” plants and seeds against a variety of diseases while simultaneously injecting them with new traits. One of the upsides of Morflora is that these traits are not inheritable, so future generations can opt whether to employ TraitUP to other batches of crops.

Even though genetic modification of plants is a controversial issue, Morflora claims that its solution consists of a middle ground that provides a solution to feed the world’s ever-growing population.

The company was founded in 2008 and is supported by private investors; TraitUP is a patent-pending technology developed at Israel’s Hebrew University by Prof. Haim Rabinowitch and Prof. Ilan Sela.

Netafim: Implementing drip irrigation to save water

No AgTech review is complete without Netafim. This veteran Israeli company is a pioneer in the field of drip irrigation. Netafim is now helping numerous countries around the world conserve water and save money by supplying plants with just the right amount of water.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Experts Help California Grow More Rice With Less Water

Its drip irrigation technique was developed back in the 60s by Israeli engineer and inventor Simcha Blass, along with Kibbutz Hazerim, which later started manufacturing the original drip irrigation systems on site.

Today, Netafim is the world’s leading manufacturer of drip irrigation systems, which save 30-70 percent of the water used with overhead sprays, oscillating sprinklers or rotors.

drip irrigation

GreenWall: Vertical gardens save water and soil

By building vertical gardens in high-rise buildings all over the world, GreenWall takes self-sufficiency to a whole new level. With minimal amounts of water and soil, residents of these buildings can now grow their own food in built-in personal greenhouses, including staple foods such as rice, corn and wheat.

Thus, GreenWall saves considerable space when implementing small modular units onto a building’s sidewalls. Furthermore, the technology also helps save water through a drip irrigation system developed by Netafim.

GreenWall, which was founded in 2009 by engineer and gardening pioneer Guy Barness, has developed an advanced technology with which it erects gardens that line the walls, both inside and outside of buildings, taking up less space compared to conventional gardens.

GreenWall

EdenShield: Non-toxic bug repellent

EdenShield combats harmful insects with a natural, toxin-free extract that masks the odors of plants. The extract, based on desert plants that grow in Israel, leads these bugs to believe the crops aren’t where they actually are, so the pests leave them alone.

According to EdenShield, which was founded in 2012 by Yaniv Kitron and has raised $1M, “it’s like putting a ‘nose clip’ on bugs.”

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

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Israeli Company Ayala Purifies Greywater Using Plants http://nocamels.com/2016/06/ayala-purifies-water-using-plants/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/ayala-purifies-water-using-plants/#respond Thu, 30 Jun 2016 07:47:55 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46194 Israel is known for pioneering and perfecting water technologies – from drip irrigation to water recycling and desalination. But using plants to cleanse wastewater? Well, that might top it all.

Israeli company Ayala Water & Ecology provides a solution to water purification which lies within nature itself. Its flagship product, called Natural Biological System (NBS), provides efficient and sustainable purification of water, in what CEO Eli Cohen calls “active landscaping.”

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Global Shortage, World Leaders Praise Israel’s Water Technologies

water lilies

After inserting containers full of plants with remediation powers, sediments and purifying properties into an existing landscape, the plants degrade, accumulate and extract the contaminant particles from the water by way of natural processes, such as runoff and rainfall, acting as a biological filter.

“Modular treatment compartments are sewn into the natural topography to minimize energy requirements,” according to the company. “Inside the treatment compartments is a combination of biotic and abiotic components, plants and aggregates selected for their physical and chemical properties and varying internal hydraulic layouts.”

SEE ALSO: Indian Minister Praises Israeli Water Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

One of Ayala's qater purification sites

One of Ayala’s water purification sites

The system is also designed to function with minimal human and mechanical intervention, reducing maintenance costs. According to Cohen, construction costs of one NBS system are 20 percent less than those of a conventional wastewater treatment plant. This sustainable solution to water purification also uses minimal amounts of fossil-based fuels in order to operate.

However, the system requires twice as much land as mechanical systems in order to function. Still, “Ayala is trying to give a holistic solution to a paradox the world is facing,” Cohen tells NoCamels. “On the one hand, there’s great demand for better water; but recycling sewage water often comes with high energy use.”

And that’s why the company is using mostly plants found in nature to purify greywater. After the water is cleansed, it can be reused by factories and farms, as well as by parks and households. The company’s systems are already installed at hundreds of sites in Israel, Europe, and the US.

Some of Ayala’s clients include large manufacturers such as L’Oreal, and municipalities like Hyderabad, India. Cohen declined to discuss the company’s financial standing.

Founded by an engineer-turned-farmer

Ayala Water & Ecology was officially founded in 2002 by engineer-turned-farmer Cohen, who started developing the unique system some 26 years ago, when he moved to the Galilee, a rural area in northern Israel. “I pledged to live in the Galilee and fell in love with agriculture,” he says. “I was looking to create something new, and set my eyes on water plants.”

As for the future of Ayala, Cohen hopes it will help “change the world for the next generation.”

ayala infographic

Photos: Pamela Nhlengethwa, Ayala

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