French company debuts hydrogen-powered bikes

January 17, 2018 by  
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Pragma Industries is now the first company to begin industrial production of hydrogen-powered bicycles for commercial and municipal purposes. Founded in 2004, Pragma has now turned its fuel-cell expertise to the development of hydrogen fuel-cell powered bikes. Based in Biarritz, France , the company has already secured 60 orders for the hydrogen bikes from French municipalities such as Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery and Bayonne. While the bikes are currently too expensive for the commercial market, costs are expected to eventually drop from 7,500 euros to 5,000 euros; charging stations cost about 30,000 euros. While Pragma is not the only company interested in hydrogen-powered bicycles, they have taken production of such vehicles the farthest — so far. “Many others have made hydrogen bike prototypes, but we are the first to move to series production,” Pragma founder and chief executive Pierre Forte told Reuters . Pragma’s Alpha bike is able to travel a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a two-liter (0.5 gallon) tank of hydrogen . Although the range is similar to that of a typical electric bike , the recharge time is significantly reduced from hours for a traditional e-bike to merely minutes for the Alpha hydrogen-powered bike. Related: Floating solar rig from Columbia University harvests hydrogen fuel from seawater Pragma offers two types of recharging stations: one that uses hydrolysis of water to generate hydrogen fuel on-site, and another, more affordable station that relies on tanks of already prepared hydrogen fuel. Due to the high cost, Pragma is currently marketing its bikes to larger commercial and municipal operations such as bike-rental operators, delivery companies, and municipal or corporate bicycle fleets. After producing 100 such bikes last year, Pragma hopes to sell 150 this year to organizations in places such as Norway , the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany. In addition to developing a bike that is capable of turning water into fuel without the need of a charging station, the company plans to massively expand into the retail market within the next few years. Via Reuters Images via Pragma Industries

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BMW reveals bike ‘Hyperloop’ with elevated climate-controlled tubes

November 27, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever tried to commute via bike, you know it can be fraught with danger: doors opening into the bike lane, pedestrians that jump out of nowhere, smog in your face and rain-slick streets. Now picture an elevated tube that lets cyclists move around the city in a safe, climate-controlled, enclosed bicycle superhighway . BMW wants to make it happen. Called the Vision E3 Way and designed in collaboration with Shanghai’s Tongji University , the idea is to create elevated tubes that connect to traffic hubs, shopping areas and underground stations, accessed by a ramp with barriers to control the amount of traffic in the tubes. Any zero-emissions, two-wheeled vehicle is welcome, and the climate would be controlled so you could comfortably commute all year-round. Related: Berlin plans at least 12 new bike superhighways Lighting and climate control would be powered by a rooftop array of solar panels . To encourage car owners to bike, rental stations would be placed throughout the network. The system could not only improve travel for cyclists, but the reduction in traffic congestion and air pollution could make life better for everyone. ‘It’s our Hyperloop ,’ said Markus Seidel, head of the BMW Technology Office China. Via Digital Trends

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BMW reveals bike ‘Hyperloop’ with elevated climate-controlled tubes

Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

October 2, 2017 by  
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People traversed the roads for several hours in Paris , France yesterday not in cars , but on their own two feet. The government held a Car Free Day , where the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. The goal for the day was to see public spaces less polluted and more peaceful. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey

September 14, 2017 by  
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Houston Bike Share is distributing free bicycles to those who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Harvey . When the powerful storm dumped a record amount of rain on the Houston area, damaging at least 100,000 homes and killing more than 70 people, it also destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars. Many of those who lost their vehicles are still paying for them, which makes purchasing a new car difficult. Through its program Keep Houston Rolling , in partnership with  BikeHouston , Freewheels Houston and Rice Bikes , Houston Bike Share aims to provide access to alternative transportation to those who need it. Houston is a car city, as is clear in its infrastructure and its local culture. “I love driving my car, I’m never going to get rid of it,” admitted Carter Stern, executive director of  Houston Bike Share . “But I ride my bike to work three to four days a week, and that’s great. I [view] the mobility in a city less as a binary decision and more as giving people a healthy ecosystem of options.” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, access to bikes could make a difference for those who currently are immobile without their vehicles. “It’s a way for us to put a dent in some of the issues that are going to be facing Houston in the aftermath of the storm,” said Stern. Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Although Keep Houston Rolling is serving an immediate need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it may have a sustained impact on how the city views and supports biking as a transportation mode going forward.  “When I go to city meetings or talk with the community, there’s a lot of skepticism around using a bike for utilitarian purposes, not just for fun,” said Stern. “But once you start using it to go to the store or go to work, you realize it’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s good, it’s relaxing.” Via Fast Company Lead image via Pixabay , others via Houston Bike Share and Brandon Navarro

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

September 14, 2017 by  
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One major issue a lot of backyard farmers have to contend with is water . All plants need water in order to thrive, and that generally means people have to hose down their gardens twice a day to ensure a healthy, generous harvest. With droughts and water shortages becoming more frequent, we need to be innovative when it comes to harvesting and using this precious resource: read on to find out how you can capture water around your own home, for startlingly less cost than you might have guessed. Trashcan Barrels For about $20, you can make a rainwater collection barrel from a simple trash can. What you’ll need and how to make it: A 20-gallon plastic garbage can—make sure to get one with a domed lid Mosquito netting A drill with a small hole saw bit 1 valve spigot that has a bulkhead fitting Waterproof duct tape or plumbing tape Teflon tape to secure the spigot Step 1 : Use your drill to create several drainage holes in the center of the garbage can’s lid. Then drill an overflow hole into the side of the barrel, about 3 inches down from the top. Step 2 : Cut a piece of mosquito netting large enough to cover those holes, and use the duct or plumber’s tape to secure it on the convex side. You’ll be tipping the lid upside-down to create a bowl, so you want the netting facing downwards, into the barrel. Step 3 : Drill a hole about 3 inches from the barrel’s bottom, get your bulkhead into place, and then insert the spigot. It’s a good idea to use the teflon tape around the spigot first to make sure it’s watertight, and then twist it firmly into place to secure it. Step 4 : Secure that upside-down lid onto the barrel, and seal with duct tape. You’ll need to prop your barrel a foot or two above the ground, so stack up some cement masonry blocks or random bricks as a stand for it. Voila! It’ll catch rainwater when it falls, and the netting will prevent leaf detritus from falling into the water below. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments Earth Mounds Got a shovel? Then you can make these. Basically, this technique just involves moving soil around in your yard to create channels that direct rainwater to where you want it to collect. Pretty much every bit of land has naturally occurring microclimates : these are areas that are either higher or lower than the rest of the soil around them, or get more light (or more shade), or have different clay/sand/loam ratios. You can determine where the wetter microclimates in your own land are by doing a quick, heavy watering with your garden hose, and watching where the water runs. You can use your shovel to dig shallow trenches to divert water to where you want it to go, and use the soil you’ve removed to build up shallow walls on either side of that trench for reinforcement. You’re essentially creating mini streams that will flow towards the plants that require the most moisture, and away from those that prefer drier feet. Ideal areas that will benefit from this kind of diversion system are: Trees, especially those that produce fruit or nuts, as they require a lot of water Brassica beds: dedicated areas where you’ll grow kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on Lettuce beds: those greens are thirsty Corn rows: its shallow roots don’t hold water well, so it needs to drink often Legume patches: peas, snow peas, beans Related: DIY hugelkultur – how to build raised garden beds Mulch Say it out loud, just for fun: “mmmulch”. Satisfying little word, isn’t it? It’s also a tremendously effective way to collect (and keep) moisture in your garden. A lot of people end up watering their food gardens far more often than should be necessary because so much moisture is lost through evaporation, so the best way to combat that is with mulch . Grass clippings, trimmed leaves from plants like squash and comfrey, and bits of bark can all be lain atop your garden’s soil—just make sure to keep it about half an inch away from vegetable stems so that it doesn’t cause root rot. Here’s a tip: lay strips of copper coil around these mulchy mounds to keep slugs away, since they won’t cross the metal barrier. Those slugs may love moist mulch, but the copper will keep them away from your vegetables. As an aside, don’t be too overzealous with your weeding: those inedible plants may be “unsightly” as far as a traditional garden goes, but they help to keep water in the soil and prevent erosion. Additionally, if you let your chickens roam around freely, they can feed on those weeds instead of on your vegetables. Unless the unwanted plants are causing real harm, let them be. Photos via Pixabay, Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

May 15, 2017 by  
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Daan Roosegaarde has been touring China with his Smog Free Project , showcasing the Smog Free Tower and encouraging people to find innovative solutions to address air pollution . He’s not out of ideas yet though; he’ll add to his tour with new smog-sucking bicycles . These bikes could work much like his Smog Free Tower does, absorbing dirty air , cleaning it, and pouring it back out as fresh air. Biking in a city polluted by smog isn’t healthy, so people are less inclined to ditch their cars and opt for a bicycle. Roosegaarde envisions an answer to that problem in a bike that can inhale dirty air, clean it, and pump it out around a cyclist. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working In a statement, Roosegaarde said, “ Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities.” The studio says the concept aligns with growing interest in bike sharing programs in China – like Mobike , which has over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. There’s still a long way to go to slash pollution and traffic in the country’s capital, but the smog-sucking bicycle could offer a creative approach to the problem. The Smog Free Bicycle found its beginnings in a Studio Roosegaarde-hosted workshop at contemporary art museum M Woods in Beijing, featuring Professor Yang of Tsinghua University and artist Matt Hope, who worked on an idea for an air-filtering bike around four years ago . According to Studio Roosegaarde, the new smog-sucking bicycle is “currently in the first stage and is intended to become a medium for smog free cities, generating clean air by pedaling, and creating impact on the larger urban scale.” + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Studio Roosegaarde and Wikimedia Commons

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Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

Japan’s House of 33 Years was once two separate buildings in two different towns

May 15, 2017 by  
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The past and the future coexist in this daylit house in Nara, Japan . Tokyo-based architecture studio ASSISTANT designed the house as a cluster of small buildings for an elderly couple who places great value on preserving memories. The result is a steel-framed structure that was built in several different locations and then assembled on-site to create several overlapping spaces. Local carpenters in Aomori built the main quarters of the house using locally available materials . The project was initially installed as part of the “Kime to Kehai” exhibition at the Aomori Contemporary Art Centre. After the exhibition, the team disassembled the structure and loaded it on a truck to transport it to Nara, where it was reassembled as the House of 33 Years. Related: Renovated Vietnamese home ‘sewn’ together with intricate steel threads Students at the Sendai School of Design built the rooftop pavilion as an homage to Philip Johnson’s Ghost House. Before becoming a permanent part of the house, the pavilion was installed in the courtyard of a university campus and used by the students as a space for growing vegetables. + ASSISTANT Via Archdaily Lead photo by Shinkenchiku-sha

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Japan’s House of 33 Years was once two separate buildings in two different towns

How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet

April 17, 2017 by  
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Earth Day is April 22nd, and to get prepared for the big day, here are a few Earth Day facts that you may not know. Founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, the first ever Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day not only marks the beginnings of moving toward a more sustainable world, it’s a time to come together and contemplate our global environmental situation, as well as participate in community and global “green” activities. Read on to find out all about this important eco-holiday . Earth Day is one of the most widely celebrated environmental events across the globe. The first Earth Day was focused on protesting an oil spill off the coast of California, but today, the focus is on increasing awareness of the planet and all the issues around its health, from fracking and water pollution to rainforest depletion and animal extinctions. More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day of United States that took place on 22 April 1970, and one of the results of that first celebration was the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. It became an international event in 1971, when UN’s Secretary-General U Thant spoke about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. On that first celebration, NYC’s mayor shut down Fifth Avenue for use on Earth Day, and allowed it to be celebrated in Central Park. Today, over 1 billion people celebrate Earth Day around the world. Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries. This day is a time dedicated to increasing awareness about the Earth, its issues and its problems, and people in different countries take action that will benefit their region the most. For example: On Earth Day 2011, the Earth Day Network planted 28 million trees in Afghanistan. On Earth Day 2012, more than 100 thousand people in China rode their bikes to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. In Panama, in honor of Earth Day, they planted 100 species of endangered orchids to prevent their extinction. In 2014, NASA participated in Earth Day with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event , asking people to take a photo of themselves outside and post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. We can all use Earth Day as a time to reflect on our personal impact on the environment. Simply implementing something that promotes sustainability, such as a weekly recycling regimen, can truly make a difference. Let’s use today as a starting point for great change, and make every day an Earth Day. + Vangel The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

April 17, 2017 by  
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For the first time on record, climate change has completely changed the route of a river. In a shift that researchers called “geologically instantaneous,” a river in Canada’s Yukon territory shifted from draining into the Bering Sea to draining into the Pacific Ocean below Alaska. What makes this particularly concerning is that while shifting rivers aren’t unheard of in the Earth’s history, never before to our knowledge has a river rerouted so quickly, causing an enormous impact on the surrounding environment. The Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada has been rapidly melting. That influx of meltwater choked out the Slims River, depriving the downstream Kluane Lake of water and causing it to drop rapidly. The water shifted to the Alsek River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, where the ocean water will now see a rapid influx of freshwater. The shift began in 2016 when the melting water burst through an ice dam, depriving Slims River of its glacial water source. Now, the Kluane Lake level is dropping rapidly, which will put stress on the environment around the lake and could completely alter the geology of the area. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc Scientists determined that this shift was driven by human-caused climate change after they looked at the Kaskawulsh glacier and calculated that there was only a minuscule chance of it retreating in a stable climate. They also believe that it is unlikely that the Slims River will return to its previous water levels. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience . Via The Washington Post images via Nature Geoscience, Murray Foubister and Nat Wilson

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For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

These ageless retro bikes fight against planned obsolescence

October 25, 2016 by  
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Looking for an electric bike with a timeless, retro look? Vintage Electric Bikes has you covered. The company is dedicated to handcrafting gorgeous and distinctive bikes that stand the test of time and fight back against planned obsolescence. Lead designer and founder Andrew Davidge writes , “I am determined to only manufacture products that can be passed down through generations to come.” Vintage Electric’s e-bikes come in three distinct models , retailing between $4995 and $6995. They can reach a racing speed of 36 MPH and have a range of 35 miles when used at legal street speeds (20 MPH). When plugged in, the battery takes only two hours to fully recharge, making them perfect for running errands or commuting to work. While the Cruz and Tracker models are clearly designed with city travel in mind, the limited edition Scrambler will appeal to those with a desire to go offroad. Related: Tempus launches stylish e-bikes modeled after vintage café racers While the specs of each model differ, it just takes a quick glance to see that these frames are made of highly durable materials like chromoly steel and hydroformed aluminum. Even the tires are made to stand the test of time with a Kevlar lining woven inside – yes, the same material used in bullet-proof vests can be used to prevent an ill-timed flat. The bikes can be ordered online at Vintage Electric’s website, or purchased from a local dealer if you just can’t wait or would like to take one for a test drive. + Vintage Electric Bikes

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