Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees

Until recently, the indigenous Croton megalocarpus tree common to central and east Africa was used mainly for firewood. But now Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) is pioneering sustainable biofuel from croton nuts – without planting a single tree. As opposed to jatropha biofuel, once thought to hold immense promise as an alternative fuel but which required expensive plantations, croton nuts can be sourced from farmers. Managing Director Myles Katz described EFK’s approach as “completely local.” Research revealed croton nut oil could be a “direct replacement for diesel fuel” in some engines, according to EFK, who describe themselves as the first and only croton nut processing company. As the tree is so common, EFK hasn’t yet needed to plant new ones. Instead, as more people found out the nuts once considered useless could bring in extra income, EFK’s harvester network grew to over 3,000 farmers. This year EFK handled 1,000 tons of nuts. Related: Manta moves forward with revolutionary solar-powered algae harvester that makes crude oil Katz told CNN, “We can buy nuts from farmers so they get an income and we have a business model that does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation to get off the ground…Everything we source, process, and sell should be within 100 kilometers of the factory.” On their website, EFK describes croton nut oil as “entirely environmentally friendly.” The tree flourishes without extra fertilizer or irrigation, and the nut oil production process requires little energy compared with traditional fuel production. Farmers don’t have to switch away from other crops to focus solely on croton nuts, and can even store the nuts for a year. The group says, “Croton trees’ newfound economic value promotes reforestation all over East Africa, which improves soil conditions as well as combats climate change . [Croton nut oil] replaces harmful natural fuels and since it’s produced locally and not imported, it saves carbon emissions as well.” The group also produces organic fertilizer from croton nut shells, and makes seedcake from pressed nuts to feed poultry. Croton nut oil is largely sold to local businesses to power generators. EFK ultimately aims to plant 300,000 trees between 2016 and 2022. + Eco Fuels Kenya Via CNN Images via Eco Fuels Kenya Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

Read the original post: 
Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees

Spectacular Congress Hall curves upwards like a sail to bridge a Russian river

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Spectacular Congress Hall curves upwards like a sail to bridge a Russian river

Government meeting halls don’t often inspire awe and wonder—but the Russian city of Chelyabinsk’s planned Congress Hall will be an exception. Russian architecture firm PIARENA recently revealed their competition-winning designs for the Congress Hall of the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS (an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summits. The sculptural building will span the Miass River like a bridge and curve upwards like a sail on two ends, rising to heights of 61 and 150 meters. The new Congress Hall will primarily cater to the BRICS and SCO events, however, its placement across two riverbanks also opens the site up to public use opportunities along the bridge . The bridge, located at one of the river’s narrowest points and arched to allow small boats to pass under, divides the complex into two sail-like parts to create a dramatic urban landmark. Both curved structures are clad in glass and topped with observation decks . Related: Spectacular Lucky Knot bridge in China twists and turns like a Möbius Strip The larger, 150-meter-tall swooping structure will house the congress hall, mixed-use concert hall, hotel, office complex, conference hall , and VIP offices. The 61-meter-tall structure opposite contains the recreational area and exhibition hall. The landscape design, including the plantings, paving, and street furniture, will be based on a parametric grid pattern of parallelograms. + PIARENA Via ArchDaily Images via PIARENA

Continued here:
Spectacular Congress Hall curves upwards like a sail to bridge a Russian river

Tiny ‘prison-like’ apartment in Beijing reborn as a light-filled family home

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Tiny ‘prison-like’ apartment in Beijing reborn as a light-filled family home

OEU-ChaO Architects have worked absolute magic on this tiny 300-square-foot home in Bejing. What was once an incredibly dark and dingy space has been transformed into a welcoming family home that uses an outer courtyard and sloped wooden ceiling to bring optimal natural light and character to the small space. Located on the second ring road of Beijing City’s Xirongxian Hutong, the tiny structure is squeezed in-between five other homes, virtually hidden from the narrow street out front. Taking into account the restrictive spatial limits of the space, the renovation strategy focused on opening up the area to provide natural light and air circulation as well as a comfortable living space. To do so, the architects chose to incorporate a series of independent, easy-to-install units into the original space. Related: Playful renovation in Barcelona squeezes more out of a tiny home The first unit was installed as a hallway that leads to a well-lit courtyard at the back of the home. This outdoor space is strategically blended into the home’s interior living space through two long tables that run the length of the window on both the outside and the inside. The large window not only adds airiness to the interior, but serves as the heart of the home by allowing the family to enjoy a nice sitting area in good or bad weather. The second unit is what gives the home its cabin-like character: a sloped wooden gallery roof . The high wooden beams add personality and a distinct openness to the compact living area and small bedroom space located on the first floor. The high ceilings were also useful to install the children’s room, which sits on the second level and is accessible by ladder. + OEU-ChaO Architects Via Archdaily Images via Zhi Cheng

Here is the original: 
Tiny ‘prison-like’ apartment in Beijing reborn as a light-filled family home

Amazing camper van maximizes space with clever boat design tricks

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Amazing camper van maximizes space with clever boat design tricks

If you thought camper vans couldn’t be elegant and cozy, think again. Jack Richens of This Moving House converted a 2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a roomy camper van that can accommodate a four-person family on week-long holidays to the forest or the beach. Inspired by boat bunk designs, Richens added details like stacked beds to really open up the long wheelbase van and maximize space. Richens and his girlfriend enjoyed traveling in a converted mail delivery van until it died. They then shopped around for an alternative mode of getaway transportation , only to find hideous motor homes and impractical camper vans. So his girlfriend designed their dream camper van, and Richens built it largely by himself, with some advice from his dad. Related: Man quits desk job to transform van into a digital nomad’s dream home At the front of the van, four captain chairs – the original fixtures – provide seating. The front two chairs can swivel around, and a table in-between the chairs allows everyone to grab a bite to eat together. Behind the dining area is a little kitchen, which is equipped with a sink, two burners, some cabinet space, and a small counter for preparing food. Ingenious storage beneath the floor provides an extra place to stash shoes – and lessen the amount of sand and dirt tracked into the camper. The camper’s boat inspiration is most apparent in the bedroom. Stacked beds provide room for all four to sleep rather comfortably, and a porthole at the top bed keeps things open. Richens said , “The clever bit of design is an old boat bunk construction technique…The beds are only full height from the waist up and your legs slide into a space only as high as your hips are wide. Importantly, this enables you to sleep on your side or roll over without getting wedged or tearing your kneecaps off. Using this space-saving technique three tiers of sleeping can be cunningly shoe-horned into the available area.” The cool camper cost about $10,000, with equipment and materials costing $8,500. You can read more about the construction process on This Moving House’s blog , and Richens has also started taking commissions to convert other vehicles into comfortable homes away from home. + This Moving House Via Treehugger Images via This Moving House

Go here to see the original:
Amazing camper van maximizes space with clever boat design tricks

Bad Behavior has blocked 3081 access attempts in the last 7 days.