Cobalt-free batteries will make EVs more affordable

January 18, 2021 by  
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If the high price tag is all that stands between you and your dream Tesla , you might be able to afford one in a few years. Panasonic is working on making new, cobalt-free batteries that will bring down costs and make Tesla vehicles more environmentally friendly. “Two or three years from now, we will be able to introduce a cobalt-free, high energy-density cell,” said Shawn Watanabe, head of energy technology and manufacturing at Panasonic of Japan, during a session at CES 2021 , the world’s largest tech and consumer electronics expo. CES went virtual this year because of the pandemic. Related: Tesla: the real environmental impact Cobalt is used in the cathode — “negatively charged electrode by which electrons enter an electrical device,” according to Dictionary.com — of lithium -ion batteries. While cobalt now accounts for only 5% of the cathode, the material still has a high cost, both in dollars and human suffering. Much of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sometimes via child slavery. Tesla and other companies have found more ethical sources of cobalt elsewhere, but Tesla has been accused of tolerating maiming and deaths of kids in the DRC. Whether or not these claims are substantiated, the less cobalt, the better. “Reducing cobalt makes it harder for us to manufacture, but ultimately does reduce the negative environmental impacts of batteries and reduce the cost,” said Celina Mikolajczak, vice president of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America, as reported by Nikkei Asia . Because batteries usually account for 30-40% of an electric vehicle’s cost, and much of that is for cobalt, consumers can expect less expensive cars once the cobalt-free battery becomes the norm. Currently, Teslas range from just under $40,000 for the least expensive Tesla Model 3 to nearly $80,000 for the Model X. Tesla founder Elon Musk announced plans last September to introduce a $25,000 electric vehicle in three years. Via Nikkei Asia and Clean Technica Image via Dylan Scarsone

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Cobalt-free batteries will make EVs more affordable

This green-roofed cabin is made from local cedar and glass

January 18, 2021 by  
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A year-round retreat for a young family in British Columbia, this contemporary cabin is found nestled along the north shore of stunning Bowen Island. Made from sustainable building materials such as cedar and glass, the Bowen Island House maintains deep connections to nature while minimizing environmental impact with a design that touches lightly on the ground. The Bowen Island House is set on a rugged, 8-acre site on a secluded side of the island, characterized by a lush, lichen-covered rainforest and some of the best views in the Canadian province. While the island itself is somewhat isolated and requires a ferry ride to access it from the closest city, the landscape here has become increasingly vulnerable to development over the years. In a place where over-scaled homes have become the norm, the Bowen Island House by the Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers (OMB) presents a sustainable alternative with a small environmental footprint. Related: Cedar Haven is a forest retreat made with reclaimed logs A simple, two-level volume is clad in locally sourced cedar and insulated glass , with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan kitchen, a dining room and a living area. This modest scale, along with off-grid functionality and independent sources for heat and electricity, helps minimize the home’s footprint. Additionally, the project prioritized simple details in its design to ensure minimal disruption to the natural surroundings during construction. The home’s position perpendicular to the rocky coastline hides it within the landscape and captures the sun from east to west, while the cedar cladding is stained black to help it visually recede into the forest. There is also a green roof to reinstate the absorptive qualities of the forest floor below. Mediation between architecture and nature is achieved through cast-in-place concrete walls that connect the constructed elements to the natural elements as well as large areas of outdoor decks that look out over the water. + Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers Via Dwell Photography by Ema Peter via OMB

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This green-roofed cabin is made from local cedar and glass

Futuristic air-purifying masks combat air pollution with innovative fan system

February 26, 2020 by  
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In a world where air pollution causes an estimated 7 million deaths annually , the fashion and health worlds are colliding to bring us products that not only make us look good, but also keep us safe. A? Air has recently unveiled its Atm?s face mask — a high-tech, futuristic mask that wraps comfortably around the face while purifying the air you breathe. Recently unveiled at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, the Atm?s face mask has been proven to provide up to 50 times better air quality than the top anti-pollution masks on the market. In fact, although most air pollution masks can help reduce the amount of particulate matter that enters your airways, they typically don’t seal properly around the mouth and nose areas, which greatly reduces their effectiveness. Related: This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater The Atm?s mask was designed with a special proprietary design technology called PositivAir that eliminated the need for an uncomfortable seal. Instead, multiple tiny fans within the device, which wraps comfortably around the lower half of the face, guide pure, filtered air directly into the nose and mouth. This system provides as much as 240 liters of clean air per minute. The state-of-the-art system channels the air you exhale directly out of the mask, which avoids fogging up the front window. Additionally, Atm?s has embedded Bluetooth technology that constantly tracks your respiratory activity in order to adapt the mask’s performance to ensure optimal air filtration under any circumstances. According to the company, although Atm?s, which retails for $350, has already been used as a futuristic accessory on more than a few fashion runways, the face mask is an innovative device specifically designed for medical professionals, first responders and firefighters. With the current outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, people around the world are investing in masks to reduce their exposure not only to air pollutants but also airborne pathogens that threaten health . The demand for masks will likely become greater overtime, making this design more important than ever. + A? Air Images via A? Air

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Futuristic air-purifying masks combat air pollution with innovative fan system

Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

January 27, 2020 by  
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Developed with the tagline “Grow whatever your heart desires, wherever you are,” Sherpa Light is a tunable artificial light source with the potential to replicate the exact sunlight conditions needed to grow any plant from around the world. Using tunable, full-spectrum LEDs , the device was created to emit different lighting intensities depending on the plant’s cellular structure to optimize growth. Korea-based design studio  Sherpa Space  developed the Sherpa Light and recently showcased their prototype product at CES 2020, where it was named an honoree of the event’s Innovation Award. Sherpa Space was founded to enhance plant growth through technology. The designers say that sunlight falls short of producing the optimal light settings that different plants need at different growth stages. They believe that their artificial lights, which use an adjustable combination of narrow-band LEDs, are best suited to generating the right light conditions — such as intensity, photoperiod, and quality — needed to optimize plant health, from growth and flowering to the enhancement of leaf quality and the concentration of desired chemicals in plants. “Much like how a baby first needs breastfeeding and later switches to solid foods, plants also need different lights and nutrition at different growth stages for maximum growth,” the designers said in a project statement. “For instance, flowering can be promoted in many crops by changing the wavelength given to a plant. Sherpa Space’s unique competitive advantage lies in our ability to convert light wavelengths with minimal energy loss. Using the quantum dot technology, we can provide lights of specific wavelengths optimized not only for each plant but also for each growth stage. As a result, we maximize crops’ nutrient compositions and productivity.” Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive The designers also say that Sherpa Light could be the key to recreating the desired flavor components of certain fruits and vegetables that are typically only enjoyed in the region where they’re grown. For instance, they claim that mangos grown with Sherpa Light in Canada could taste just as good as those in India. There is no word yet of when this product will be made available for sale or testing.  + Sherpa Space Images via Sherpa Space and Inhabitat

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Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

NAWA reveals hybrid electric motorcycle at CES 2020

January 20, 2020 by  
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It’s not the first electric motorcycle on the market, but the NAWA Racer is currently the most talked about after a big reveal at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The new tech kid on the block, a French firm called NAWA, has developed a prototype with a body style based on London’s speedy cafe motorcycles from the 1960s. While the sleek design is eye-catching, the innovation hidden within the outer appearance is what makes this motorcycle so unique. Where most electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion for power, NAWA has developed an ultracapacitor that improves performance on nearly every level. For starters, the ultracapacitor can charge and discharge quickly, endless times over. This propels the bike from 0 mph to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. While the ultracapacitor provides stellar power, it works in conjunction with conventional lithium-ion batteries and allows a 93-mile ride per charge. Related: Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle debuts at CES The hybrid ultracapacitor system can reduce the size of the lithium-ion battery by up to half or extend the range by up to double. This is exciting for city riding, which is where the NAWA Racer really excels in efficiency. With the ability to recharge in seconds by recycling energy from the stop-and-go braking of driving in traffic, the energy can last up to 186 miles without recharging. Regenerative braking produces a lot of energy, up to 80% of which is reused for power. The ultracapacitor also provides a fast recharge, allowing the bike to reach 80% of full charge within an hour from a home supply outlet. NAWA fully intends to scale the hybrid technology to other vehicles in the near future. “The NAWA Racer is our vision for the electric motorbike of tomorrow — a retro-inspired machine but one that is thoroughly modern,” said Ulrik Grape, CEO of NAWA Technologies. “It is lightweight, fast and fun, perfect for an emission-free city commute that will put a smile on your face. But it also lays down a blueprint for the future. NAWA Technologies’ next-gen ultracapacitors have unleashed the potential of the hybrid battery system — and this design of powertrain is fully scaleable. There is no reason why this cannot be applied to a larger motorbike or car or other electric vehicle. What is more, this technology could go into production in the very near future.” + NAWA Images via NAWA

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NAWA reveals hybrid electric motorcycle at CES 2020

This on-the-go carafe heats or cools water instantaneously as you pour

February 26, 2019 by  
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Good news for coffee and tea drinkers: No more wasting time and energy waiting for the perfect cup. Thanks to Heatworks, the company responsible for creating an innovative new heating carafe, you won’t have to. Using patented Heatworks ’ Ohmic Array Technology, the DUO Smart Untethered Carafe has the power to heat (or cool!) water to the exact degree while you pour. The DUO Carafe has Frog Design to thank for its modern, sleek exterior, and it is the third in a line of award-winning collaborations between the two companies. When it comes to functionality, convenience and stylish appearance, the DUO looks like quite the game changer. Related: This countertop dishwasher promises to wash your dishes in just 10 minutes So how does it work? The precise temperature control on the side panel lets you pick the water temperature to the plus/minus one degree. Simply set your temperature, pour water into the reservoir (fits four cups) at the top and pour into your cup. The carafe features one spout for filtered cold water and another spout for hot water (hence the “duo”). On the red side, the water appears to heat up instantaneously, or pour from the blue side for crisp, cool water. The entire device is battery operated, making it perfect for taking it to the office or really anywhere else. You’ll also be able to plug it in, so the carafe can stay comfortably on your kitchen table or desk to charge for on-the-go use. The DUO boasts 99 percent energy efficiency and an advanced water filtration system created by Heatworks CEO Jerry Callahan, who wanted to create a heating system without using metal heating elements. Unsustainable and flawed, metal heating parts have been used for heating for the past 100 years and carry the risk of rust and limescale to form, causing elements to fall apart or leak sediment into the water supply. Callahan felt it was time for an upgrade to traditional heating systems, and the Ohmic Array Technology was born. Using electrical currents passed through the water itself rather than separate heated elements to transfer heat into the water, Ohmic Array cuts out a whole step in the process. The DUO is not yet available for purchase, but you can learn more information and sign up for release updates on the Heatworks  website . + Heatworks Images via Heatworks

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This on-the-go carafe heats or cools water instantaneously as you pour

LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

February 26, 2019 by  
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Nestled in the bucolic countryside of Garzón, Uruguay, the boutique winery Bodega Garzón produces estate-grown premium wines while keeping sustainability in mind. Designed by Argentina-based architecture firm Bórmida & Yanzón , the winery optimizes energy efficiency with insulating green roofs that total nearly an acre in size, rainwater harvesting and reuse, as well as a high-efficiency HVAC with heat recovery. Fitted with state-of-the-art technology, the 205,000-square-foot development is currently pursuing LEED certification. Set on property formerly overgrown with invasive species and marked by rocky and steep slopes, the Bodega Garzón winery has reintroduced the landscape to native species and more productive uses. Not only does the state-of-the-art winery encompass 500 acres of vineyards, but it also boasts a production facility, a tasting room for visiting guests, retail space, a wine club, an open-fire 120-seat restaurant, and caves for barrel storage, tours, private dining, and events. Views of the idyllic countryside are optimized in the design and placement of the buildings. As part of the winery’s commitment to sustainability, over 90 percent of the construction materials were locally sourced and include granite, concrete and stone. An earthy and natural material palette of raw steel, honed marble, brass accents, leathers, and rich textiles give the interiors, dressed by California-based Backen Gillam & Kroeger Architects, a luxurious and polished feel. The designers were also careful to select recycled and rapidly renewable materials, such as Forest Stewardship Council-certified timbers. Related: An award-winning winery in British Columbia elegantly steps down a hillside The 19 varieties of grapes grown on site — including the brand’s flagship Tannat and Albariño grapes — are connected to drip irrigation that uses recycled surface runoff harvested in newly dug man-made pond systems. All stormwater runoff is treated before leaving the site and recycled for not only all of the irrigation, but for cleaning the outdoor areas and for the water pond as well. + Bórmida & Yanzón

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LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife

January 14, 2019 by  
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Animal poaching is on the rise as people find interest in ivory,  fur , skins and more for their financial value. Previous technologies have tried to capture poachers in the act, but often failed because the poachers could ping cell towers and find (and avoid) the tracking technology. Now, Intel is debuting a smart system of cameras that relies on radio frequencies and artificial intelligence to catch the criminals and save the wildlife. We gave this technology a go at CES 2019, and here is how it works. Intel’s new TrailGuard uses “ AI for social good.” This technology is powering cameras with artificial intelligence to stop illegal poachers in their tracks. Each camera is hidden in natural areas where wild animal poaching is common. The cameras use motion sensors that, once triggered, turn the cameras on to start recording nearby activity. Related: Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants Because the cameras use artificial intelligence, they can tell the difference between the movement of, say, an animal or wind and specific human activity, such as poacher’s body language or clothing. At CES 2019, these cameras were installed in a dark area designed to mimic nature. Even if you walk carefully, you are no match for these smart cameras. In the low light, it’s nearly impossible to find the cameras, and because they run on radio frequencies, poachers cannot pinpoint and avoid them. But the recordings capture a clear view of poachers, making it easier for authorities to end these activities and save more animals’ lives. Related: This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you In addition to being showcased at CES 2019, the TrailGuard technology is also being deployed in the Congo. + Intel Photography by Inhabitat

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These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife

These wirelessly-powered AA batteries pull energy from thin air

January 12, 2018 by  
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Did you know that more than 3 billion batteries are thrown away every year in the United States ? The Cota Forever Battery is the world’s first wirelessly-powered AA battery – and it offers a more sustainable, convenient alternative to traditional disposable batteries. Designed by Ossia the battery enables any device that requires AA batteries to be recharged from a distance through the air. Ossia’s Cota products are based on a wireless technology that broadcasts a precise, powerful RF signal to any device which contains a Cota RF antenna. The RF receivers then convert that signal into effective power. The Forever Battery takes this a step further, inserting the RF receivers into a AA battery – a familiar household item that could ease the transition towards wirelessly-powered devices. Related: New ‘thermal battery’ soaks up heat energy like a sponge As exciting as the technology sounds, it will likely be years before homes are outfitted with smart AA batteries. The first adopters of Cota’s technology are likely to be large commercial operations, like factories and stores. Even before wide release, Ossia’s Cota products are already making news. Cota was awarded a 2016 CES Innovation Award in the “Tech for a Better World” product category, and Cota Tile, a wireless transmitter designed to mimic a ceiling tile, was the winner of the 2017 CES Best of Innovation Award. Via Gizmodo and PR Newswire Images via Ossia

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These wirelessly-powered AA batteries pull energy from thin air

Tetra is a brilliant see-through dishwasher that fits in even the tiniest apartments

January 11, 2018 by  
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Most people living in tiny apartments are resigned to the fact that their kitchens will never have space for a dishwasher – but that’s no longer the case. Heatworks just unveiled Tetra – a new compact, tankless dishwasher that’s sure to make apartment dwellers jump for joy. According to the Heatworks team, if a two-person household were to switch from handwashing to the Tetra, they could save a whopping 1500 gallons of water every year. The Tetra, which will cost under $300, is the size of a small microwave, and it not only reduces water waste , but in fact, requires no plumbing connection at all. Since there are no faucet connections, water is loaded by hand. This simple design is a big asset, because it lets users know exactly how much water is being used. A typical Tetra load lasts just a few minutes and it uses about half a gallon of water. Detergent use is also reduced with small loads – the internal detergent reservoir will last dozens of cycles. Another cool feature is the machine’s transparency, which lets you keep track of the wash cycle. Related: Hand-powered Circo dishwasher saves time, space, money and water Standard dishwashers are designed to fit up to 13 place settings, which is great for large families. By contrast, the Tetra is designed for small households of two or three people who lack space for a full-size dishwasher and are looking to conserve water . Although compact, the Tetra can fit up to 2 place settings or 10 plates or 10 pint glass. Jerry Callahan, CEO and founder of Heatworks, revealed that the Tetra was inspired by the need to provide more efficient options to smaller households: “Our research indicates that although the average household is comprised of 2.58 people, the modern dishwasher holds place settings for 13 or more. This makes people believe that they either need to handwash their few dirty dishes — which wastes 10 times more water than using a dishwasher — or wait for a fill load to run a cycle. With Tetra, we hope to change people’s mindset.” + Heatworks Images via Heatworks

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Tetra is a brilliant see-through dishwasher that fits in even the tiniest apartments

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