Boring Company confirms Elon Musk’s plan to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing

May 9, 2018 by  
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Will Elon Musk foray into affordable housing next? Earlier this week, he said on Twitter that The Boring Company would transform dirt from tunnel digging into bricks for low-cost housing . A spokesperson confirmed the plans to Bloomberg , and said, “there will be an insane amount of bricks.” The Boring Company will be using dirt from tunnel digging to create bricks for low cost housing — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2018 A Boring Company spokesperson told Bloomberg bricks would come from “excavated muck.” Musk has indicated in the past he could sell excavated materials; in March he tweeted about kits of life-size LEGO -like interlocking bricks to make structures inspired by ancient Egypt. And when asked if the bricks could be used for affordable housing around that time, he said yes, and that “two people could build the outer walls of a small house in a day or so.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth It seems like he’s serious, but there are still plenty of questions around such an endeavor — such as how many housing units Musk could build with Boring Company bricks. Bloomberg spoke with University of California, Los Angeles lecturer Juan Matute who said Musk’s tweet “assumes that housing costs are driven by construction materials , and particularly, construction materials that can be replaced by bricks. That’s not the case.” Labor and land drive prices more, according to Bloomberg, at least in California where The Boring Company is currently tunneling. Another potential issue is that chemicals have contaminated land underneath Los Angeles. If contaminants are present in excavated dirt, it may be difficult for The Boring Company to transform that dirt into bricks. Matute told Bloomberg challenges might not prevent Musk from following through on the plan, saying, “That doesn’t mean The Boring Company can’t buy some land and build a few low-cost houses, with a partner like Habitat for Humanity. And say, ‘Look what we did.’” The Boring Company said future offices could be erected with their bricks, according to Bloomberg. The company’s Frequently Asked Questions page said they’re “investigating technologies that will recycle the earth into useful bricks to be used to build structures,” and that these bricks “can potentially be used as a portion of the tunnel lining itself.” + Elon Musk Twitter Via Bloomberg Image via Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

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Boring Company confirms Elon Musk’s plan to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing

UK government wants to ‘eliminate’ wet wipes in plastic crackdown

May 8, 2018 by  
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It’s not just plastic bottles and plastic bags clogging waterways — wet wipes are a pervasive problem, and the United Kingdom government is planning to banish them in a plastic waste crackdown. A Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson told The Independent , “As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes.” Many wet wipes, which contain plastic, are still flushed down toilets — and according to the BBC , are behind around 93 percent of sewer blockages in the UK. The Defra spokesperson didn’t say whether or not it would be illegal to sell or buy wet wipes. She did say, “We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labeling on packaging is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly — and we support the industry’s efforts to make their customers aware of this important issue.” Related: Wet wipe pollution is clogging up riverbeds across the UK The BBC said manufacturers will either have to design wipes free of plastic, or people will have to live without them. They quoted Defra as saying it is “encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and are working with industry to support the development of alternatives, such as a wet wipe product that does not contain plastic and can therefore be flushed.” Besides congesting rivers, wet wipes are also part of so-called fatbergs , or congealed mounds of trash and fat in sewers — and the BBC said fatbergs are mainly comprised of wet wipes. The Independent said there are thought to be at least 12 fatbergs beneath London . Earlier this month, a UK environmental organization revealed over 5,000 wet wipes in a space as big as half of a tennis court near the River Thames . Tens of thousands of the wipes are sold every year in Britain. Via The Independent and the BBC Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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UK government wants to ‘eliminate’ wet wipes in plastic crackdown

A huge moving wall turns this tiny home into party central

May 8, 2018 by  
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Tiny Heirloom  is known for building exquisite  tiny houses on wheels, but their latest home is geared to raise the roof. While most tiny homes are designed as living or vacation spaces for couples or smaller families, the high-end Breezeway home was strategically designed for socializing. The modern cabin is equipped with a wet bar and a large garage-door wall that opens up completely to make room for guests. The tiny home is built on a 32-foot-long triple-axle trailer, so it can be towed virtually anywhere. Clad in a mix of standing seam recycled steel and tight knot tongue and groove cedar and topped with a cool butterfly roof, the home has a rustic but sophisticated look. This modern cabin feel continues on the inside, which was laid out with socializing in mind. Most tiny homes don’t factor in the need for social space, but the Breezeway’s interior design was left relatively empty to create a flexible area. Related: Tiny Heirloom’s luxury micro homes let you live large in small spaces There is enough room for ample seating and a table. The home has two main doors: a regular wooden door and a large garage-style door, which opens up the interior and creates a fun indoor/outdoor party area. Adjacent to the kitchen, a pop-up TV is perfect for movie nights or game days. On one side of the living room, the spacious kitchen provides full-size appliances to prepare food for large groups. At the heart of the area is a wet bar with a large seating area . The sleeping loft, which is large enough for a double bed, is accessible by ladder. A skylight floods the space with natural light . A TV mounted on a swivel and connected to a Bose sound system can be viewed from the bedroom or kitchen. + Tiny Heirloom Via New Atlas Photography by Shelsi Lindquist via Tiny Heirloom

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A huge moving wall turns this tiny home into party central

A huge moving wall turns this tiny home into party central

May 8, 2018 by  
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Tiny Heirloom  is known for building exquisite  tiny houses on wheels, but their latest home is geared to raise the roof. While most tiny homes are designed as living or vacation spaces for couples or smaller families, the high-end Breezeway home was strategically designed for socializing. The modern cabin is equipped with a wet bar and a large garage-door wall that opens up completely to make room for guests. The tiny home is built on a 32-foot-long triple-axle trailer, so it can be towed virtually anywhere. Clad in a mix of standing seam recycled steel and tight knot tongue and groove cedar and topped with a cool butterfly roof, the home has a rustic but sophisticated look. This modern cabin feel continues on the inside, which was laid out with socializing in mind. Most tiny homes don’t factor in the need for social space, but the Breezeway’s interior design was left relatively empty to create a flexible area. Related: Tiny Heirloom’s luxury micro homes let you live large in small spaces There is enough room for ample seating and a table. The home has two main doors: a regular wooden door and a large garage-style door, which opens up the interior and creates a fun indoor/outdoor party area. Adjacent to the kitchen, a pop-up TV is perfect for movie nights or game days. On one side of the living room, the spacious kitchen provides full-size appliances to prepare food for large groups. At the heart of the area is a wet bar with a large seating area . The sleeping loft, which is large enough for a double bed, is accessible by ladder. A skylight floods the space with natural light . A TV mounted on a swivel and connected to a Bose sound system can be viewed from the bedroom or kitchen. + Tiny Heirloom Via New Atlas Photography by Shelsi Lindquist via Tiny Heirloom

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A huge moving wall turns this tiny home into party central

This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour

May 7, 2018 by  
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It takes hundreds of years for disposable diapers to decompose in landfills – but this new machine can turn 220 pounds of dirty diapers into clean, raw materials in a single hour. Sz-Chwun John Hwang and a team of researchers at Taiwan’s Chung Hua University built the machine as a pilot plant – and they’re planning to build a larger facility that can recycle 10 tons of used diapers in just one day. Disposable diapers are convenient but problematic Have you ever thought about the evolution of the diaper? You might be surprised to learn that the history of diapers goes back thousands of years, but disposable diapers have only been around since the 1960s. Diapers have evolved to be more effective and efficient. The disposable variety makes parents’ lives easier – they’re convenient, absorbent and gentle on babies’ skin. However, there is a huge downside to disposable diapers: the amount of waste generated from their use. In the U.S., it is estimated that 20 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year, and pathogens from solid waste contained in those diapers find their way into the environment. It can take hundreds of years for diapers to degrade in a landfill , and they release methane and other toxic gases into the air. If soiled diapers don’t end up in landfills, some companies choose to incinerate them, leading to an estimated 3428 kg of CO2 emissions per day, based on 10 tons of diapers per day. There is a need to reduce the amount of waste caused by disposable diapers, and companies and researchers are using technology to find innovative ways to recycle and reuse soiled diapers. Recycling disposable diapers Recycling diapers and other absorbent hygiene products might sound like a no-brainer, but the process has its complications — including cost-effectiveness and complex engineering. As technology advances, science can overcome these obstacles and make recycling disposable diapers a viable solution for reducing the amount of waste in landfills and harmful chemicals in the environment. Sz-Chwun John Hwang and his team have developed a diaper recycler that can make it easy for institutions — like long-term care facilities, day cares or hospitals — to give old diapers new life. The plan is simple: a specialized on-site washing machine sanitizes used diapers so they can be processed into reusable raw materials. The staff loads the machine with diapers and washes them with a disinfectant to destroy any pathogens. After the diapers are cleaned, the different materials (plastic, fluff fibers and absorbent material) are separated using stratification. This method uses less water than an average toilet, and the used water can be recycled on-site or easily disposed in the facilities’ existing drainage systems. The estimated carbon emission from this process is 35.1 kg of CO2 per day, based on 10 tons of diapers per day. After they are cleaned and separated on-location, the materials are taken to a central recycling center. The separated layers are transformed into new materials, which can be made into a range of products: plastic bags or trash cans from the plastic; new diapers, cardboard boxes or paper products from the fluff fill; and absorbent pet pads, desiccant or polyacrylate fiber from the absorbent material. In order for the product to be successful, the researchers had to make it user-friendly. If the process is too complicated or time-consuming, most people won’t bother with it. Hwang and his team designed the machines to make it easy for people to lift the diapers and load the machine. Diaper design must become more eco-friendly Hwang and his team are working with facilities to find new and inventive ways to recycle disposable diapers, and some other businesses are following suit. However, Hwang’s method stands out in that it focuses on making it easier for caretakers to collect the used diapers. Moving forward, diaper companies will need to partner with researchers to design the most effective and efficient diapers with a lower environmental impact. By finding innovative ways to reuse products and reducing the impact our waste has on the environment , we can help sustain our world for generations to come. + Chung Hua University Images via Chung Hua University , Hermes Rivera and Flickr

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This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour

Hundred-year-old workers cottage transformed into an eco-conscious home

May 7, 2018 by  
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When Altereco Design was approached to overhaul a hundred-year-old worker’s cottage in Melbourne , the clients asked that the renovation leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. As a result, the home—called Melbourne Vernacular—sports a stylish and sustainable redesign that combines recycled materials and modern aesthetics. Located in the inner-western suburb of Yarraville, Melbourne Vernacular retains much of its original structure. The original red brick paving from the backyard was salvaged as an internal feature wall and an external brick wall—doubling as thermal mass for the building—while the original Bluestone foundations and paving found new life as front paving. Local company Cantilever Interiors designed the kitchen, which features Cosentino’s line of ECO countertops made with 80% recycled content and a low-VOC finish. Related: Gorgeous live/work home in Melbourne is built with recycled materials A new insulating green roof tops the home and is complemented with drought-tolerant and native plant gardens. “This industrious approach to build and design reduces associated wasted energy (often synonymous with demolishing the old and building something shiny, modern and new), all the while successfully preserving and celebrating the certain charm that comes with a house of this era,” explained the architects. + Altereco Design Images by Nikole Ramsay

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Hundred-year-old workers cottage transformed into an eco-conscious home

Twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion

May 2, 2018 by  
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Archi-Union Architects combined traditional Chinese construction techniques with prefabrication technology in ‘In Bamboo,’ a pavilion located in Sichuan’s Daoming Town. Created as a multi-functional rural community cultural center, the project celebrates the town’s renowned bamboo weaving craftsmanship with a material palette mainly comprising bamboo and tile. An eye-catching Mobius-shaped roof tops the building and is finished with traditional ceramic tiles. The nearly 20,000-square-foot In Bamboo building is located on two adjacent plots of land of unequal size. The architects drew two circles—one large, one small—on each parcel and joined them together to form the beginnings of the infinity loop -shaped building. “These two circles came together determining the large contour for our building while still preserving the surrounding bamboo forest and trees,” wrote the architects. “Within this new boundary we sought to maximize the continuity, horizontality and ductility of the space.” Related: Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks An unexpectedly rushed timeline meant that the architecture, landscaping, and interior were completed in just 52 days. Thankfully, the use of a 70% light prefabricated steel frame and other prefabricated timber construction—completed previously in the span of a month—helped increase the speed of installation. Traditional bamboo weaving was used in the facades. The speedy and relatively low-waste project has encouraged Archi-Union Architects to promote prefabrication in more rural construction projects in China . + Archi-Union Architects Images ©??

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Twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion

A massive pollution-fighting green wall engulfs this Dutch city hall

May 1, 2018 by  
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When the Dutch city of Venlo decided to become the world’s first region to fully adopt Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principles, it seemed only fitting that their city hall be a beacon for sustainability. Designed by Kraaijvanger Architects , Venlo’s City Hall features a striking transparent facade engulfed by a massive green wall. Made with more than 100 different plants, the 21,500-square-foot living wall is among the largest in the world and it absorbs 30 percent of airborne sulfur and nitrogen oxides — roughly equivalent to the particulate matter created by 32,300 square feet of motorway. Located on the east bank of the river Meuse, Venlo City Hall comprises offices, a plaza, a public hall, exhibition space, meeting rooms and a garage that includes bicycle parking. The new building, completed in 2016, consolidates services that had been previously spread out across the city. Access to natural light, greenery and a variety of adaptable work spaces aids in creating a healthy working environment. A central light-filled core floods the interior with daylight and allows for natural airflow, replacing the need for mechanical ventilation. Heat trapped by the greenhouse located on the top floor is recycled to provide heating for the building. Water use is minimized, and a wetland roof purifies gray water and rainwater for reuse in irrigating the green wall and flushing toilets. Related: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Green Architect & Cradle to Cradle Founder William McDonough “The construction is future-proof; the interior is built independently of the supporting structure and thus leaves a possible change of function a future option,” the architects wrote. “On a smaller scale, there is room for unforeseen developments in the field of sustainability; all building-related systems can be replaced without major interventions.” + Kraaijvanger Architects Images via C2C Center

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A massive pollution-fighting green wall engulfs this Dutch city hall

You can relax: A man in China did not just discover the world’s largest mosquito

April 27, 2018 by  
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This week, a scientist in China made news across the internet for claiming to have caught the world’s biggest mosquito with a wingspan of over 10 inches . At first the news gave us nightmares about massive mosquitoes snuffing out our citronella candles with their giant wings (or was that just me?) – but it turns out that the insect Zhoa Li caught isn’t the bloodsucking kind, but a massive crane fly instead. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); A giant mosquito with a wing span of 11.15 centimeters is shown at the Insect Museum of West China in Chengdu, capital… Posted by China Xinhua News on  Tuesday, April 24, 2018 Zhoa Li is famous for discovering the longest insect in the world – a two-foot-long megastick insect. Now he has identified a massive insect in China’s Sichuan province and declared it to be the largest mosquito ever. The specimen Li located could possibly the largest of its type on record, but it isn’t a mosquito. The insect’s scientific name is Holorusia mikado , it originated in Japan and it’s known to be the largest crane fly species in the world. The confusion seems to have arisen because some cultures refer to crane flies as “big mosquitoes.” Related: Recycled tire traps are seven times more effective than traditional mosquito traps Both the mosquito and the crane fly belong to the Nematocera suborder of flies, but from there the insects differ. The insect Li discovered belongs to the crane fly family (Tipulidae). “Different countries have different ways to call and define insects, but from a biological perspective, Holorusia mikado are categorized as mosquitoes,” Li told the Daily Mail . We beg to differ – any “mosquito” that doesn’t draw blood to survive isn’t going to keep us up at night. And entomologists agree . Image via Wikimedia

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You can relax: A man in China did not just discover the world’s largest mosquito

Breakthrough polymer could lead to ‘infinitely’ recyclable plastics

April 27, 2018 by  
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Even though we’re aware of the environmentally damaging effects of plastic , many people still use the material because it’s long-lasting, convenient, and inexpensive – but plastic can only be recycled a few times. Four Colorado State University chemists just made a breakthrough that could allow for a plastic-like material that’s completely recyclable . They discovered a new polymer that could be infinitely recycled without intensive procedures in a laboratory or using toxic chemicals. The infinitely recyclable polymer is strong, heat-resistant, durable, and lightweight. Its discovery marks a major step towards materials that are sustainable and waste-free, according to Colorado State University — and could compete with polluting plastic in the future. Related: Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that chomps plastic for lunch Polymers are characterized by chains of chemically bonded molecules called monomers. The university said in this new research, which builds on a chemically recyclable polymer demonstrated by the laboratory of chemistry professor Eugene Chen in 2015, a monomer can be polymerized in environmentally friendly conditions: “solvent-free, at room temperature, with just a few minutes of reaction time and only a trace amount of catalyst.” The material created in this process possesses mechanical properties “that perform very much like a plastic.” The polymer can be recycled to its original state in what the university described as mild laboratory conditions, with a catalyst. With this breakthrough, published this week in the journal Science , the scientists envision a future with green plastics that can be “simply placed in a reactor and, in chemical parlance, de-polymerized to recover their value — not possible for today’s petroleum plastics.” This would bring the material back to its chemical starting point, so it could be utilized again and again and again. Chen said in the statement, “The polymers can be chemically recycled and reused, in principle, infinitely.” What’s next for the team? Chen emphasized this polymer technology has solely been demonstrated at the academic laboratory scale, and more research is necessary to polish the patent-pending processes of monomer and polymer production. The chemists do have a seed grant from CSU Ventures , and Chen said, “It would be our dream to see this chemically recyclable polymer technology materialize in the marketplace.” + Colorado State University + Science Images via Colorado State University and Depositphotos

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Breakthrough polymer could lead to ‘infinitely’ recyclable plastics

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