Published: Thursday 15 August 1996

charging ahead: In the race to manufacture user-friendly electric cars, Canada's Vancouver-based Ballard Systems seems to have taken a lead with a silent, non-polluting fuel-celled car. The six-seater car, which can run at a speed of 105 km per hour with more than 240 km between refuelling stops, has been developed with the help of Germany's Daimler-Benz. But the car's cost is too high as platinum is used to build the fuel cell. Ballard's fuel cells will also be used in a car being developed by General Motors. Ballard is now trying to make the fuel cell commercially viable.

quite a gem: A new pollution-curbing technology called gas emission management packet (GEM) has been introduced in India by Clive Stephens, an Australian entrepreneur. GEM has been installed at the Indraprastha power station in New Delhi. The power station has both gas and ash emissions and GEM reduces the pollutants in the latter. After six months of its installation, the concentration of ash pollutants dropped from 1,400 mg per normal metric cube to 138 mg. The technology is also used in cement, glass and paper units.

planting money: Now investors have a chance to put their money in a new scheme which supports not only the growth of their money but also a number of trees. The Wimco group has floated Wimco Greens, a company that is offering 'Smart Units' with 10 poplar trees valued at Rs 4,000 which would be redeemed at Rs 16,000 after maturity of eight years. At the end of eight years the trees would be sold and proceeds from the sale will be paid to the unit holder. The company is selling the units to raise funds for its captive plantation project in tehsil Kichha near Nainital, Uttar Pradesh.

farm to park: The Deras farm on the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, will be transformed into a Rs 1,200 million agro park as per an agreement between the government and WI Services & Estates Ltd (WISE). The land will be provided by the government as equity and WISE will be providing infrastructural facilities in the 142 ha park. To growers, the park will provide common facilities like pre-cooling chambers, cold storage, warehouses, sorting, processing and transportation.

looking skywards: Now, Indian satellites will be powered by solar photovoltaics manufactured by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. The Indian Space Research Organisation has started a Rs 13.5 million project for developing gallium arsenide (GaAs) photovoltaics. The modern facility at IISc would also cater to the requirements of defence research establishments. The GaAs photovoltaics are twice as efficient as silicon systems in converting light into electrical energy. They will be developed in two years and installed in satellites in another two years.

safe homes: The World Wide Fund for Nature and five leading property developers in the Netherlands have come together to create 200 highly energy-efficient homes in that country. The new houses will save half the energy used by an average home at present. An average-sized new home will require less than 200 cu m of gas a year for heating the house and water. Sustainable materials will be used for building these houses and they will be fitted with eco-friendly appliances like solar boilers.

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