Alternative technology


Alternative technology

Alternative technology is a term used by environmental advocates to refer to technologies which are more environmentally friendly than the functionally equivalent technologies dominant in current practice.

It is technology that, as an alternative to resource-intensive and wasteful industry, aims to utilize resources sparingly, with minimum damage to the environment, at affordable cost and with a possible degree of control over the processes. The term is sometimes confused with appropriate technology, but while there is significant overlap, the terms have different meanings, particularly related to the importance of low cost and ease of maintenance for developing country applications.

Alternative technologies themselves are part of environmentalist politics. Common political issues related to alternative technologies include whether they are practical for widespread use; whether they are cost-effective; whether widespread adoption would produce negative impacts on the economy, lifestyle or environment (production energy costs/pollutants); how to encourage rapid adoption; whether public subsidies for adoption are appropriate; which technologies government regulations should favor, if any, and how environmentally unsound technologies and practices should be regulated; what technological research should be done and how it should be funded; and which of a field of competing alternative technologies should be pursued.

The term was coined by Peter Harper, one of the founders of the Centre for Alternative Technology, North Wales (aka "The Quarry"), in Undercurrents (magazine) in the 1970s.

Some "alternative technologies" have in the past or may in the future become widely adopted, after which they might no longer be considered "alternative." For example the use of wind turbines to produce electricity.

Alternative technologies

Alternative technologies include the following:
* Anaerobic digestion
* Composting
* Fuel cells
* Fuels for automobiles (besides gasoline and diesel)
** Alcohol (either ethanol or methanol)
** Biodiesel
** Natural gas
** Vegetable oil

* Greywater
* Solar panels
** Silicon-based
** Photosynthetic "Gratzel cells" (Titanium dioxide)

* Landfill gas extraction from landfills
* Mechanical biological treatment
* Recycling
* Urban car
* Wind generators
* Robot Bodies

Companies developing alternative technologies

* Kyocera
* Toyota, with the Prius hybrid electric-gas car
* Volvo, with its recyclable cars
* BMW, researching a liquid hydrogen fueled engine
* [http://www.bracsystems.com BRAC Systems] , a Canadian company, manufactures residential greywater recycling systems which use water captured from the bath to flush the home's toilets.
* Motor Development International, designers of the compressed air engine Air car

ee also

* Environmental technology
* List of solid waste treatment technologies
* List of waste water treatment technologies
* Soft energy technology

External links

* [http://www.cat.org.uk/index.tmpl Centre for Alternative Technology, N Wales]
* [http://www.buildinggreen.com/products/recycled_wood.cfm Recycled wood]
* [http://peopleinaction.info/archive/technology.html Technological alternatives]
* [http://www.ata.org.au/ Australia's alternative technology association]
* [http://www.greenprogress.com/ Alternative technology news and resources]
* [http://global1.kyocera.com/company/ecology.html Kyocera]
* [http://www.azom.com/details.asp?ArticleID=2210 Gratzel Cells - Solar Cells Based on Titanium Dioxide]
* [http://www.cat.org.uk/ Centre for Alternative Energy (European)]
* [http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy/intelligent/index_en.html EU Intelligent Energy]
* [http://www.humanecologyreview.org/pastissues/her122/smith.pdf The Alternative Technology Movement]


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