Centuries-old apartment in Israel transformed into a remarkable modern "cave"

July 24, 2017 by  
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This ancient apartment in Israel was skillfully renovated to unify its cavernous, centuries-old rooms into a modern residence that offers stunning views of the sea. Pitsou Kedem Architects concealed some parts of the traditional arches while uncovering others to create an elegant combination of the old and the new. The rooms of the apartment, located in Tel Aviv-Yafo – an ancient port city in Israel– have been altered over hundreds of years, giving each room its own unique character. The architects approached the refurbishment of the entire space as an opportunity to bring more natural light into the interior and open it up toward the sea. Related: Decrepit cave transformed into a beautiful modern home in China The integrated interior spaces are sheltered underneath beautiful arches . Some of the decorations added over the years have been covered in plaster, while the dome in the kitchen was uncovered. The team introduced a new raw concrete floor with accentuated filing stones to the floor level. Black sheet covering emphasize the openings connecting the rooms. These dark elements also hide new technical systems in the walls. + Pitsou Kedem Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Amit Geron

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Centuries-old apartment in Israel transformed into a remarkable modern "cave"

New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

July 24, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have assumed that the interior of the Moon is dry. However, a new study of satellite data has located numerous volcanic deposits around the moon – which could indicate large quantities of water trapped beneath its surface. The study, published in Nature Geoscience , explains that the ancient deposits are believed to be glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma from the deep lunar interior. As a result of this discovery, scientists are formulating a new opinion that the lunar mantle is actually water-rich. The study was led by Ralph Milliken, an associate professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences . He said of the findings, “The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise ‘dry’ mantle. By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the Moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions. The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the Moon is wet.” To detect the water content of the lunar volcanic deposits , scientists used orbital spectrometers to measure the light that bounces off a planetary surface. After collecting that data, they took into account the wavelengths of light which are absorbed or reflected by the surface to get an idea of which minerals and other compounds may be found in the rock’s interior. One challenge was taking into account the rising surface temperatures over the course of a day. Using the new thermal correction, the scientists were able to find evidence of water in almost all of the pyroclastic deposits that had been previously mapped across the Moon’s surface. Such deposits include the Apollo 15 and 17 landing sites. “The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing,” said Milliken. “They’re spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn’t a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle .” Now that evidence has been obtained suggesting that the interior of the Moon is water-rich, theories about its formation are evolving. Scientists presently believe the moon formed from debris left behind after an object about the size of Mars slammed into the Earth early in the solar system’s history. However, the original theory assumes that the Moon’s interior was dry. “The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified,” said co-author Shuai Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii and a recent Brown Ph.D. graduate. “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question.” The finding has huge implications for future lunar exploration . The volcanic beads don’t contain a lot of water, but the deposits are large, meaning the H2O could be extracted. Said Li, “Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative.” + Nature Geoscience Via Phys Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia , Pixabay

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New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

Lockheed to turn shuttle-era module into a space habitat for NASA

July 24, 2017 by  
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Deep space missions in the future will take humanity farther and farther away from Earth. Last year NASA chose six United States companies to develop deep space habitat prototypes as part of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) study, demonstrating where astronauts might live and work. Aerospace company Lockheed Martin recently won a Phase II contract to develop a cislunar habitat, and they’re repurposing old materials to do so. They’ll be building a full-scale prototype at the Kennedy Space Center, utilizing what Lockheed Martin NextSTEP program manager Bill Pratt described as a historic piece of flight hardware. Lockheed Martin will be constructing the NextSTEP habitat by refurbishing the shuttle-era Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which was once used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station . Pratt said in a statement, “We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware, originally designed for low Earth orbit exploration, to play a role in humanity’s push into deep space. Making use of existing capabilities will be a guiding philosophy for Lockheed Martin to minimize development time and meet NASA ‘s affordability goals.” Related: NASA unveils 6 prototypical deep space human habitats for Mars and beyond Lockheed Martin will also draw on virtual and augmented reality to work on the prototype, giving them the ability to catch issues in the design phase. They’ll work on the project over 18 months, building on their work in Phase I. The NextSTEP habitat could be docked with NASA’s Orion spacecraft in cislunar orbit as part of the Deep Space Gateway. Orion will act as the command deck for the habitat, offering life support, communications, and navigation. But there will be long periods of time when no humans are present at the Deep Space Gateway, and Lockheed Martin had to take that into account in their work – they are also building a Deep Space Avionics Integration Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Pratt said, “Because the Deep Space Gateway would be uninhabited for several months at a time, it has to be rugged, reliable, and have the robotic capabilities to operate autonomously . Essentially it is a robotic spacecraft that is well-suited for humans when Orion is present.” Via Lockheed Martin Images via Lockheed Martin and NASA Orion Spacecraft on Flickr

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Lockheed to turn shuttle-era module into a space habitat for NASA

The sustainable superpower? 5 reasons for China’s clean tech boom

July 18, 2017 by  
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The Asian nation’s ascent coincides with a seismic shift in global climate policy.

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The sustainable superpower? 5 reasons for China’s clean tech boom

Trump may reverse decision on the Paris climate accord, says French President Macron

July 17, 2017 by  
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When President Trump announced plans to exit the Paris Climate Agreement , the decision drew criticism from US states and nations around the world. Now, it seems the president may be having second thoughts – according to French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump may reverse his previous decision. One of President Trump’s complaints against the Paris accord is that it is “soft” on leading polluters, such as China and India. As a result, Trump perceived it to be a threat to U.S. industry, reports Reuters . The weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) says President Macron is now hopeful the U.S. President will change his mind, however. “(Trump) told me that he would try to find a solution in the coming months,” said Macron, referring to the meetings the two leaders had this past week. We spoke in detail about the things that could make him come back to the Paris accord,” he added. Trump has repeatedly stated that is he is “open to a better deal for the United States ,” therefore he isn’t ruling out all options. Related: Stephen Hawking says Trump’s Paris decision could induce irreversible climate change Only a handful of countries around the world have refused to partake in the Paris Climate Agreement. Otherwise, over 200 nations have agreed to limit global warming by 2 degrees by the year 2100, mainly through pledges to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels . Costa Rica is one nation proving it is possible to thrive on renewable energy. In 2015, the tropical country relied on hydropower, geothermal plants, solar and wind to obtain 99 percent of its electricity . Germany, as well, recently generated 85 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Clearly, the future is green. The question now is, will the United States recognize this and re-commit itself to preserving the environment? Via Reuters Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Commons

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Trump may reverse decision on the Paris climate accord, says French President Macron

Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world

July 17, 2017 by  
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The world watched in anticipation as the groundbreaking Solar Impulse 2 plane circumnavigated the globe last year. Now, the “Solar Impulse of the Seas” has set sail, aiming to demonstrate in a fresh way that clean energy can power our world. Dubbed Energy Observer , the solar- , wind- , and hydrogen -powered catamaran will sail to 50 countries over the course of six years. Solar panels line the top of the Energy Observer, and two vertical axis wind turbines harness the power of the wind, but those aren’t the only energy sources that make this vessel self-sufficient . The boat is able to generate hydrogen from seawater thanks to an electrolysis system. That hydrogen, stored in tanks, will help the Energy Observer glide through the waves emissions-free. The project was started by French offshore racer Victorien Erussard, accompanied by French explorer and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse. Related: Energy Observer to sail around the world using only solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel The Energy Observer is equipped with technologies like electric motors, lithium-ion batteries , and a hydrogen fuel cell . It’s around 100 feet long and 42 feet wide, with solar panels covering 1,400 square feet atop the catamaran. Built in 1983, the Energy Observer has already had a long career as a racing boat, but was recently christened earlier this month by France’s environment minister Nicolas Hulot. Energy Observer left Paris this past weekend with mayor Anne Hidalgo aboard. Erussard said on the boat’s website, “There is not one miracle solution to combat climate change : there are solutions which we must learn to operate together. That’s what we are doing with Energy Observer: allowing nature’s energies, as well as those of our society, to collaborate.” And though the boat draws on different technologies than the Solar Impulse 2, it apparently has the approval of pilot Bertrand Piccard , who was present at the christening ceremony. He said, “Energy Observer, just like Solar Impulse, makes exploration work for a better quality of life. We need to lead people towards the future by showing them solutions instead of depressing them.” You can track where the Energy Observer is here and find out more here . + Energy Observer Via ScienceAlert Images via Energy Observer ( 1 , 2 )

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Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world

Abandoned nuclear power plant given new life as a solar farm

July 10, 2017 by  
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Solar farms can pop up in unlikely places – like the site of an old, unfinished nuclear power plant in Tennessee . The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant was abandoned in 1981, but today nearly 3,000 solar panels rest on the site. The new one megawatt (MW) farm provides clean energy for around 100 homes. The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant has scarred the landscape since it was abandoned in 1981. Popular concern over the Three Mile Island incident and increased costs to meet regulations prompted the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors to stop building the nuclear plant, which was once expected to re-energize the local economy. Phipps Bend was never operational, and for decades was utilized only for safety training exercises. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl That was until Birdseye Renewable Energy and United Renewable Energy came along. Birdseye already boasts over 430 MW of clean energy greenfield projects. They installed solar panels on around four acres on the old nuclear plant site. The panels rotate throughout the day to maximize the energy they absorb from the sun. Holston Electric will purchase the electricity to power homes in eastern Tennessee. The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant would have been large if completed, offering more than 2,400 MW and powering around 1.8 million households. The new solar farm at Phipps Bend won’t be able to meet that, but it will generate around 1,100 to 1,400 megawatt-hours per year, and it will be operational for at least 30 years. United Renewable Energy executive vice president Keith Herbs said in a statement, “Due to its location, this project visibly demonstrates how clean, efficient solar energy matches other forms of power generation to meet our country’s growing energy needs.” The United States has around 100 cancelled nuclear power plants – perhaps some of them could receive new life as solar farms as well. Via PRNewswire and Electrek Images via United Renewable Energy and Wikimedia Commons

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China breaks ground on 12-mile treetop walkway in Fuzhou forest

July 7, 2017 by  
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China’s magnificent new walkway is giving people a treetop experience of Fuzhou’s sub-tropical forests unlike any before. Singapore-based LOOK Architects recently completed the first phase of the Fuzhou Forest Walkway, a snaking treetop walkway that will span over 19 kilometers (nearly 12 miles) at completion. The elevated pedestrian pathway looks like a dragon’s back threading down the lush Jinniushan mountain and offers urban dwellers the chance to reconnect with nature and brings attention to one of the city’s quickly diminishing green lungs. Covered in greenery thanks to a sub-tropical climate, Fujian’s capital of Fuzhou is one of China’s greenest cities and is famous for its numerous banyan trees that line the streets. LOOK Architects’ Fuzhou Forest Walkway brings nature closer to the city with an elevated path that covers the full breadth of Jinniushan mountain and offers beautiful views of the canopy , the city, and mountains beyond. The architects described the project as “a signature urban connector network that provides public accessibility to indigenous hinterland stretching north- east of Minjiang. Fudao signifies an awakened consciousness to improve lives of city dwellers by bringing nature within closer reach.” The project also presented the opportunity to open up and redevelop many parts of Jinniushan that had been inaccessible to the general public due to proximity to military camps and burial sites. The new enhancements included a modern columbarium complex constructed to rehouse exhumed graves, the adaptive reuse of an abandoned quarry into a new visitor’s center, and the transformation of an old bus depot Xikezhan into the main entrance that doubles as a food and beverage enclave. The walkway can be accessed via 10 different entrances, each with unique and eye-catching features such as the grand 24-meter-wide spiral ramp at the entrance of the existing Jinniushan indoor sports hall. Built with a gentle gradient, the elevated walkway is punctuated with amenities that include rest shelters, viewing decks, observation towers, and teahouses with bathrooms. The structure is also equipped with WIFI connectivity, touch-screen information boards, and visitor traffic monitors, giving the project the potential to set a new bar for China’s eco-routes. Related: Spiraling treetop walkway gives visitors a bird’s eye view of a Danish forest Environmental conservation is a major priority of the project. The walkway is made up of eight modular components that can be combined in various permutations, each made up of steel grating to allow natural light to pass through. Carefully spaced supporting columns minimize site impact. The Fuzhou Forest Walkway is slated for completion in next year. + LOOK Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Zhou Yue Dong

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China breaks ground on 12-mile treetop walkway in Fuzhou forest

Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

July 7, 2017 by  
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Nuclear power has dominated alternative energy sources in the United States for decades – that is, until this spring. Statistics recently released by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed renewable energy surpassed nuclear energy in power generation in March and April of this year. Wind , solar , and hydroelectric power made that feat possible – the first two set records for generation, while hydroelectric generation surged after heavy rainfall in the country’s West. Utility-scale renewable sources generated more power than nuclear energy in the spring of 2017 in America, and it’s the first time they’ve done so since July 1984. According to the EIA, part of the reason for this fact is nuclear power plants often undergo maintenance when electricity demand is lower, like in the spring or fall. But renewable energy is also generating more and more power in the country. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time In March, hydroelectric power generated 30 billion kilowatt-hours, which is the most amount of power from hydroelectric in almost six years. California’s emergence from their drought had a role to play in that – both record precipitation and the snowpack have made the state wetter than it’s been in years, which is great for hydroelectric generation. And with more wind and solar installations, the two sources have been offering record amounts of clean energy . The EIA said between March 2016 and March 2017, wind generation increased by 16 percent, while solar generation spiked by 65 percent. Net generation from nuclear has stayed largely flat since the late 1990s, according to the EIA. Many plants have also been retired. Even so, the EIA doesn’t expect the trend to continue. They said nuclear will probably overtake renewables during this summer, and looking at 2017 as a whole, nuclear power will likely generate more energy than renewables overall. Via the United States Energy Information Administration Images via Louis Moncouyoux on Unsplash and the United States Energy Information Administration

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World’s cutest solar farm in China is shaped like a panda

July 3, 2017 by  
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Who says solar panel installations can’t be adorable? The Panda Power Plant in Datong, China is shaped like the country’s treasured animal – and the first phase offers 50 megawatts (MW) of clean energy . Panda Green Energy installed the array under an agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to advocate for renewable energy . The first phase of the giant panda solar station was just connected to the grid . There’s a new contender for the cutest solar farm in the world: the Panda Power Plant, which will have an aggregate installed capacity of 100 MW. The black parts of the panda, such as the ears and arms, will be comprised of monocrystalline silicone solar cells, with the grey and white tummy and face composed of thin film solar cells. Related: China is now the largest producer of solar power in the world In addition to providing clean electricity , the panda solar stations are part of an effort to promote sustainable development among China’s young people. A youth activity center at the Panda Power Plant targeted at schoolchildren will detail the benefits of solar power . The 100 MW Panda Power Plants will be able to offer 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of green power in 25 years, according to the company, saving 1.056 million tons of coal and reducing carbon emissions by 2.74 million tons. Panda Green Energy plans to install more panda plants in the upcoming five years as part of their Panda 100 Program in Belt and Road areas, which are part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s economic development strategy also known as the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. As the strategy is targeted at cooperation among Eurasian countries, some of the panda plants could be built outside China. The UNDP also plans to promote renewable energy in China with China Merchants New Energy , the largest shareholder of Panda Green Energy, through summer camps and design competitions. Via pv magazine , Panda Green Energy , and United Nations Development Programme Images via China Merchants New Energy and Panda Green Energy

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