Tesla’s all-electric semi truck has a bold new competitor

December 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Just one month ago, Elon Musk made headlines with the debut of his revolutionary Tesla Semi Truck . The super-sized electric marvel is able to get 500 miles on a charge, reach 60 mph in five seconds without a trailer (or 20 seconds with one), and boasts regenerative braking able to recover 98 percent of kinetic energy to the battery. Impressive? Yes. But there’s another kid in town with designs to beat Musk to the market with an electric rig of his own. Dakota Semler, the 25-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Thor Trucks , has developed with his team an all-electric semi that’s been dubbed the ET-One. The ET-One is the first product from the company and Semler hopes it will be the flagship model in a robust, customizable line that will also eventually include delivery vans and work vehicles. The goal, Semler relayed to Bloomberg, is to “work on a one-off basis, customizing clients’ fleets per their specifications.” Related: Revolutionary Tesla Semi Truck arrives with a whopping 500-mile driving range Like Musk’s model, the ET-One boasts a sleek, futuristic aesthetic, an all-electric motor that ditches dirty diesel in whole, and the ability to haul up to 80,000 pounds of cargo—something currently only the industry’s highest class of trucks can tow. The Thor version also uses a 22-inch touchscreen on its dashboard which communicates with the vehicle’s electric motor and battery packs, which can carry the truck 300 miles on a charge. Thor is hoping to bring the ET-One to market in 2019 at an estimated starting price of $150,000; the Tesla Semi is expected to sell for $150,000 with a 300-mile range, and $180,000 with 500 miles of range. The prices are more than that of comparable gas semis which range from $100,000 to $125,000, but wholly competitive over the long term when factoring in the cost of fuel over the life of the truck as well as maintenance.  Electric engines require far less regular maintenance than their diesel counterparts. While Thor has a ways to go before it scales—its team is just 17 employees—it is diligently making plans to make the ET-One more widely available for demos in 2018, and hunting down the capital needed to grow (currently, the project is funded by founder Semler who also has Malibu Wine Safaris and multiple real estate companies in his portfolio). With that said, the inevitability of stricter emission rules in the coming years will surely give Thor the boost it needs. Via Bloomberg Images via Thor Trucks

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Tesla’s all-electric semi truck has a bold new competitor

Denmark just opened the "worlds most humane" maximum security prison

December 14, 2017 by  
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The Danish island of Falster is now home to the world’s most humane maximum security penal institution, Storstrøm Prison. Designed by Danish architects C.F. Møller , the building has been hailed for its strategic features that create a vibrant community for the inmates, in lieu of the severe living conditions typically found in prisons around the world. Storstrøm, which can hold up to 250 people, is designed to be a mini-community where inmates can spend their time in an environment that is as “normal” as possible. Working with the Danish Prison Service, the architects created a vibrant community where the inmates would be reminded of a life they once left behind, therefore encouraging an eagerness to leave the system and return to society. Related: C.F. Møller is building a garden-filled vertical village in Antwerp The prison layout spans the size of 18 football fields and is centered around social activities. There are ample options for the inmates to spend their time exercising, studying, creating art , or praying in the onsite church. Additionally, inmates buy their own food at the grocery store. “We have concentrated all buildings around a center for joint activities. Here we have a square with, for example, an activity house, a grocery store, a school, a church and a devotional room. We have also made an effort to promote communication between inmates and staff,” architect Mads Mandrup of C.F. Møller told the Danish newspaper Berlingske. The cell conditions are also designed to provide a bearable lifestyle while incarcerated. The cells are 13 square meters and come equipped with a refrigerator, closet, and a 22-inch television. The cell’s floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light , but are angled in a way to protect privacy. Although being hailed as a strategic design to help prisoners adjust to prison life, the various amenities have caused some to criticize the design as being too lofty for lawbreakers. However, officials claim that despite the decent living conditions on the inside, the prison is still a high-security fortress with a six-meter high wall and tension steel wires around the perimeter of the complex. + C.F. Møller Photography by Torben Eskerod via C.F. Møller

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Denmark just opened the "worlds most humane" maximum security prison

7 Surefire Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly

December 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech

Eyeing an electric vehicle but can’t quite commit to the … The post 7 Surefire Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly appeared first on Earth911.com.

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7 Surefire Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly

Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees

December 13, 2017 by  
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The real versus artificial Christmas tree debate replays itself year … The post Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees

Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong

December 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Every month the NOAA puts together a climate report , documenting changes in average temperatures across the country. While the agency found in November that much of the U.S. had seen an “above average” or “much above average” climb—it was actually the seventh warmest November on record—nowhere was this upswing more apparent than in Barrow, Alaska, where temperatures jumped so remarkably that the NOAA’s algorithms deemed the collected data to be flawed and omitted it. As shared in the  NOAA’s report , “In early December 2017, due to a sharp, but real, increase in temperature during the 21st century at Barrow (Utqia?vik), NCEI’s quality assurance algorithms retroactively rejected the station’s monthly temperatures dating to late summer 2016.” Related: Video of starving polar bear ‘rips your heart out of your chest’ Indeed, temperatures had jumped so significantly this year that the NOAA’s system believed the data collected was a mistake. As the Denver Post writes, “this kind of quality-control algorithm is only good in ‘average’ situations with no outliers.” Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch, described the flub as “an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic.” As reported by NOAA, Barrow, which is the United States’ northernmost city, experienced its warmest November on record with a temperature of 17.2°F, 16.4°F above the 1981-2010 normal, and 1.9°F warmer than the previous record in 1950. The rise has been a result of melting sea ice, which has historically served to reflect sunlight and kept temperatures stable. “The current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that,” the NOAA report said. Moreover, the region has seen large swaths of permafrost turn to mud (permafrost contains huge amounts of frozen greenhouse gases) and the spread of non-native plants common to warmer climates across the tundra. The Arctic region overall had its second-warmest year, just after 2016. And the above hasn’t caused you to sit up in alarm, the NOAA’s more exhaustive  Arctic Report Card , a peer-reviewed document that includes the work of 85 scientists across 12 countries, was given the title: “ Arctic shows no sign of returning to [the] reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” In other words, say hello to the “new normal.” Via Denver Post Image via Wiki Commons graphs and maps via NOAA

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Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong

San Jose city council approves tiny home village for homeless

December 13, 2017 by  
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San Jose has been struggling with homelessness , and think they have an answer: tiny homes . The City Council recently voted nine to two approving a pilot program to construct a 40-unit tiny house village . Architecture firm Gensler unveiled two design concepts created pro-bono for the city earlier this month, with houses designed to be both aesthetically attractive and efficient. San Jose’s city council just approved a year-long tiny home village program. Elected officials must now determine three potential sites for the pilot. The idea was suggested around a year ago, and would offer 80- to 140-square foot shelters in what are called Bridge Housing Communities. San Jose seems to view the housing as an interim solution, referring to the shelters as emergency sleeping cabins . Around 25 people could dwell in each community, and The Mercury News said the city aims to have a village in each of the 10 city council districts. Related: Dutch studio unveils colorful solar-powered village for area homeless Gensler offered two designs, one called Folding Home and the other Better Together. A small bed, locking door, and windows could be features of the tiny homes. The city also said each site could have community bathrooms and showers, a cooking facility, common areas, and case management onsite to help residents. Some elected leaders have criticized the city’s plan for its cost: $73,125 per tiny house for 40 units. Some people have suggested sanctioned encampments as an alternative, but others argued against legal tent cities in Silicon Valley. Nonprofit Destination: Home executive director Jennifer Loving told The Mercury News, “Sleeping in a tent outside is not the best we can do. We have to start somewhere and a home, even temporary, is better than a tent on the ground.” + Gensler Via The Mercury News ( 1 , 2 ) and the City of San Jose ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Gensler/City of San Jose

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San Jose city council approves tiny home village for homeless

Turns out blood-sucking ticks really did plague the dinosaurs

December 13, 2017 by  
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Scientists have found the first solid evidence that prehistoric ticks consumed dinosaur blood. The discovery of a 99-million year old piece of amber in Myanmar offers a rare glimpse into the lives of Cretaceous animals, large and small. Trapped within the fossilized sap, the tick is seen grasping onto a feather presumed to be from a feathered dinosaur. Though Mezozoic-era blood-sucking insects encased in amber have become part of the public’s imagination thanks to the  Jurassic Park films, the fossil record previously lacked clear evidence that dinosaur blood was on the menu. “Ticks are infamous blood-sucking, parasitic organisms, having a tremendous impact on the health of humans, livestock, pets, and even wildlife,” study lead researcher Enrique Peñalver told EurekaAlert , “but until now clear evidence of their role in deep time has been lacking.” Although the tick in life did indeed drink dinosaur blood, it is not possible to extract DNA from an amber-enclosed insect, a la Jurassic Park , because of the short life of complex DNA molecules. Nonetheless, the fossil adds considerably to our understanding of ecology in the age of the dinosaurs. “The fossil record tells us that feathers like the one we have studied were already present on a wide range of theropod dinosaurs, a group which included ground-running forms without flying ability, as well as bird-like dinosaurs capable of powered flight,” said Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente, researcher at University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. Related: Scientists discover 52-million-year-old tomatillo fossil “So although we can’t be sure what kind of dinosaur the tick was feeding on,” continued Pérez-de la Fuente, “the mid-Cretaceous age of the Burmese amber confirms that the feather certainly did not belong to a modern bird , as these appeared much later in theropod evolution according to current fossil and molecular evidence.” In addition to the dino-centric discovery, researchers also identified a new species of tick, dubbed Deinocroton draculi or “Dracula’s terrible tick,”encased in a separate piece of amber. Via ScienceAlert Images via University of Oxford

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Turns out blood-sucking ticks really did plague the dinosaurs

SunPower shingles solar cells to boost solar panel efficiency by 15%

December 13, 2017 by  
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SunPower has achieved a 15 percent efficiency increase in its panels in part by incorporating a novel design: shingling solar cells. For only $9 in additional costs from adding solar cells, the San Jose -based manufacturer’s P Series solar panels can be structured like shingles, maximizing direct sunlight exposure and raising efficiency. Many of the new designs incorporated into the P Series solar panel were created by Cogenra, a solar panel producer based in Fremont, California, which was acquired by SunPower in 2015. Because of this increase in efficiency through a relatively simple design tweak, SunPower’s stock jumped 12 percent as investors recognized the profit potential for these new panels. Although SunPower has had trouble achieving profitability in recent years, its new designs are promising. Unlike previous designs from the company, the P Series solar panels utilize cheaper, lower efficiency solar cells and make up for the efficiency loss through their shingling design. By shingling the solar cells, the space between cells is reduced, allowing more cells to be included on each panel. As a result, nearly 100 percent of the panel is covered with solar cells. Related: New rooftop solar hydropanels harvest drinking water and energy at the same time The P Series also incorporates a design that relocates ribbons and solder bands to the back of the panel, once again making room for additional solar cells facing the sun. This innovation and others have enabled the P Series to achieve a much more affordable production price. Investors had previously expressed concerns over the high capital investment required to build new SunPower factories and the high cost of its earlier model panels. To prepare for a broader stake in the market, SunPower, in collaboration with Dongfang Electric and silicon giant Zhonghuan Semiconductor, will build what is expected to be the largest solar manufacturing facility on the planet. This joint project has been dubbed DZS Solar. Via Electrek Images via SunPower (1)

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SunPower shingles solar cells to boost solar panel efficiency by 15%

Gorgeous Belize eco-resort will be 100% carbon neutral

December 13, 2017 by  
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A new eco resort in Belize is pulling out all of the stops to be the Caribbean’s first carbon-neutral luxury lodging. Itz’ana Resort & Residences will feature a green building portfolio unprecedented in the area. The complex – designed by Boston-based architect Roberto de Oliveira Castro – will consist of multiple four- and five-bedroom villas, built with locally-sourced materials and completely powered by a combination of solar and hydro-electricity. The complex will offer 50 resort suites and 46 waterfront residences located on a heavenly 16-mile long stretch of Caribbean shoreline. The sustainable design of the resort was created by Boston-based architect Roberto de Oliveira Castro in collaboration with NYC-based interior designer Samuel Amoia . The program is reflective of Itz’ana’s “Mission-Driven Luxury” concept, which envisions a lifestyle that is as sustainable as it is high-end. With luxury beach lodgings in the Caribbean obviously high in demand, the Itz’ana design caters to travelers and homeowners who want to experience the beautiful region, but without leaving a harmful footprint on the environment. Related: Nevis is on track to become the world’s first carbon-neutral island Each of the villas will be equipped with rooftop solar panels , which will cut energy and consumption in half. Although the resort will source the remaining energy from Belize’s national power grid, that energy is generated by eco-friendly hydroelectric dams. The resort will also work through its Belizean forestry partner to offset any additional carbon emissions that the complex produces. Along with its clean energy sources, the complex will also be installed with various sustainable features such as a rainwater collection system, LED-efficient lighting systems, and an organic garden. Additionally, the building materials will consist of locally-sourced wood and designer furnishings throughout the buildings. An eco-friendly system will be used to clean the pools and green cleaning solvents will be used in the laundry service. + Itz’ana Resort & Residences + Roberto de Oliveira Castro

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Gorgeous Belize eco-resort will be 100% carbon neutral

Scientists use banana skins to create new cancer detection technique

December 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Bananas are quite a magical fruit and they’ve been used for everything from  “vegan leather” for wallets to durable  bioplastics and feedstock . Now, scientists have found yet another purpose for this versatile edible: cancer detection. As first reported by the  Huffington Post , researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have been using banana skins in a  new study to develop a technique for locating, mapping, and killing cancer in the body. Their work focused on the black spots of an overripe banana, which they discovered to contain the same biomarkers as skin melanoma. In mainstream practice, when a biopsy is conducted, dyes and fluorescent markers (or contrast agents) are used to color any suspicious areas. By comparison, the new electrochemical microscopy instrument uses eight soft micro-electrodes, lined side by side, that are brushed across potentially-cancerous tissue samples to trigger an electrochemical response in the body. The resulting electric currents from the action are then used by researchers to construct an image that will reveal any areas producing abnormal chemicals. As the Huffington Post writes, “It gives an idea of both the physical structure of the tissue and composition.” Related: Research shows the UK tosses out 1.4 million edible bananas – a day According to Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, the researchers found that the typical biomarkers of melanoma in humans can also be found in the black spots of overripe bananas. In a press statement, they note, “Taking advantage of this similarity, they [the researchers] were able to work on the fruit to develop an imaging technique capable of measuring tyrosinase in human skin and mapping out its distribution. An important step forward has also now been made in applying the imaging technique to thick tissues – like a biopsy of human skin – in addition to thin cross-sections of cells.” In the future, the hope is the technique can be used to kill cancer cells during surgery. As Hubert Girault, head of the Laboratory of Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry at EPFLnotes in the study, they are “perfectly capable of using electrochemistry to kill cancer cells on microscope slides and in petri dishes, but doing so in thick tissue is another story.” He sees a device with interconnected microelectrodes capable of generating an image that will reveal any tumors and then electrochemically destroy the cancerous cells found with a burst of voltage.“Around two volts, that’s not much, but it’s enough to generate oxygen radicals and eliminate cancer cells,” says Girault. Via Huffington Post

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Scientists use banana skins to create new cancer detection technique

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