Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity

November 27, 2017 by  
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Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have advanced the field of hydrogen power by creating a hybrid device that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity in a cost-effective manner. “People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices,” said Richard Kaner, lead author of the study and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Now you can make both fuel and electricity with a single device.” The new invention is a significant step forward in the quest to harness the power of hydrogen as a fuel source, particularly in transportation. “Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air — just water ,” said Kaner, “and this could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.” In addition to positive and negative electrodes typically found in battery systems, the UCLA device includes an electrode with the ability to either store electrical energy or use it as a catalyst for water electrolysis, the process by which hydrogen and oxygen atoms are split from a water compound. To increase the device’s efficiency, the researcher team maximized the surface area upon which water makes contact. This additional surface area then allows greater production of hydrogen as well as increased energy storage. Related: New nanomaterial pulls hydrogen from seawater to power fuel cells Although commercial production of hydrogen has often proven to be costly and carbon intensive , the usage of ever-cheaper and clean solar power could change the game. The materials used in the UCLA device to create hydrogen, such as nickel, iron, and cobalt, are also significantly cheaper and more abundant than precious metals like platinum typically used in the process. Finally, the device, powered by the sun, is designed to be accessible even in isolated areas, thus increasing the viability of hydrogen as a fuel source for vehicles on long trips. Although the current model can be held in the palm of one’s hand, the principles behind the device may be applied at a greater scale. Via New Atlas / UCLA Images via Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

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Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity

MIT and Lamborghini designed an electric supercar – and it’s incredible

November 14, 2017 by  
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Looking for the car of your dreams? We’ve found it. Lamborghini recently partnered with MIT to produce a futuristic, semi-autonomous car that’s as sexy as it is eco-friendly. As you might expect, the Terzo Millennio looks like a Lamborghini supercar. But its sleek, sharp angles aren’t its most impressive feature. The vehicle’s carbon fiber body actually stores energy – and it’s able to heal itself. Lamborghini and MIT sought to develop a supercar for the generation after the next that focuses on five distinct areas: energy, materials, storage, propulsion, design, and emotion. The Terzo Millennio has four electric motors — one in each wheel. This allows for more freedom in the design, as all the motor-related parts are hidden in the wheel wells. Rather than relying on standard batteries, the vehicle is powered by supercapacitors. CNET reports that supercapacitors “accept and deliver charge faster than batteries can, while withstanding numerous charge cycles and featuring storage capacities much higher than standard capacitators.” Related: MIT students find a way to make stronger concrete with plastic bottles New technology can monitor the car’s carbon fiber structure. This prevents a small crack (for example) from growing and altering the charge of the vehicle. The MIT researchers refer to this as a “self-repairing” process. The Terzo Millennio is also designed to be semi-autonomous . This means it will work with the driver to help them become more proficient at handling the vehicle and navigating roads. Technically, it could ferry around a passenger, but the vehicle treats autonomy as a means to an end instead of the end itself. + Lamborghini Via CNET Images via Lamborghini

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MIT and Lamborghini designed an electric supercar – and it’s incredible

LGs new smartphone repels mosquitos using sound waves

October 30, 2017 by  
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Forget bug spray — LG recently unveiled a new smartphone that repels mosquitos using sound waves. The India-exclusive K7i smartphone is a fairly ordinary phone with a 5-inch HD display, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Except its unique Mosquito Away feature sets it apart from other devices. By using ultrasonic sound wave technology, pesky mosquitos are supposedly driven away from the vicinity of the phone. The Mosquito Away feature was previously installed in the company’s air conditioners, washing machines, and TVs. According to LG , the ultrasonic waves are “absolutely safe” for humans. Additionally, the technology is silent, odorless and also user-friendly. It is presently selling for 7,990 rupees in India — or $121. Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether or not the technology actually works. The  BBC , for instance, says the tech is a myth. And according to Bart Knols, an entomologist who chairs the advisory board of the Dutch Malaria Foundation, there is “no scientific evidence whatsoever” that mosquitos can be driven away using ultrasonic sound technology. Related: Flesh-eating bacteria might be spread by mosquitoes in Australia If the Mosquito Away feature does work, the technology could have grand implications. Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2015,  212 million malaria cases were reported , which resulted in 429,000 deaths. Through prevention and control measures, there has been a 29 percent reduction in malaria mortality globally since 2010. However, the parasite which is spread by mosquitos still puts populations at risk, particularly in third-world nations. Via Phone Radar , The Verge Images via LG , Pixabay , YouTube

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LGs new smartphone repels mosquitos using sound waves

Supersonic car reaches 210mph in 8 seconds

October 30, 2017 by  
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The Bloodhound supersonic car wowed an audience of around 3,500 people at its first public run at England’s Cornwall Airport Newquay recently. In just eight seconds in its successful test, the car hit 210 miles per hour (mph) from a standing start. The team’s ultimate goal is to reach 1,000 mph and shatter the World Land Speed Record . The Bloodhound SSC created by The Bloodhound Project completed two runs on the airport runway, with an acceleration of 1.5G. The public test took place 20 years after driver Andy Green set the World Land Speed Record that still holds today of 763.035 mph. Green said of the successful public run, “The car is already working faster and better than we expected. I cannot wait to go faster!” He also said this is the longest time they’ve run the vehicle at around 21.5 minutes. Related: A 3D Printed Part Will be at the front of Bloodhound’s 1000 MPH Supersonic Car A Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine powered the Bloodhound SSC for the test, producing the combined output of 360 family cars, according to The Bloodhound Project. Runway wheels from an English Electric Lightning fighter helped the car travel rapidly down the runway. Why build a supersonic car? According to The Bloodhound Project’s website , their primary goal is “to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.” They offer education programs, including free online resources, school visits, activities at their Technical Center, and national rocket car championships. They’ve already motivated at least one student; Rolls-Royce engineer Jess Herbert said in the statement on the public test, “I was inspired to take up a career in engineering by the Bloodhound Project after the team visited my school and I then took up an apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce. I was lucky enough to have been at the unveiling of Bloodhound back in 2015…Being a Bloodhound Ambassador has given me the chance to share the story with the engineers of tomorrow and I hope that seeing the car in action will really help to bring the whole thing to life for them too.” + The Bloodhound Project Via The Bloodhound Project Images via Stefan Marjoram/The Bloodhound Project

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Supersonic car reaches 210mph in 8 seconds

Greenery will engulf this pair of metal prefab offices in Madrid

October 30, 2017 by  
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Nature is encouraged to take over this pair of prefabricated metal buildings in a leafy corner of Madrid . Designed by BETA.ø architecture office for a tennis and padel school, these two small buildings use simple pitched-roof geometry to recede into the landscape, so as not to disrupt the existing tree-lined environment. To further blend the architecture into the landscape, a metal mesh is overlaid atop steel cladding to allow vines to surround the building over time. The pair of weathered steel buildings comprises an office, a customer service area, and storage space for sporting equipment. The buildings, prefabricated in an off-site factory, were discreetly placed atop small concrete slabs as foundation to minimize site impact and pressure on tree roots. A metal mesh wraps around the rusty-brown facade, constructed of insulation sandwiched between phenolic panels and sheets of weathered steel. The interior is lined with varnished pine plywood paneling in the office, while waterproof plasterboard and embossed steel is used in the storage unit. Related: Green roof-ready Backyard Room pops up in six short weeks The void between the two steel structures is turned into a new rest space framed by large deciduous trees. The architects write: “Their outward appearance and formal rotundity, together with leisurely contemplation, carry the user’s imagination to the dream of a simple life, in harmony with nature, to the shelter of a solid structure that protects and caresses its occupants, breathing naturalism, balance and peace.” + BETA.ø architecture office Via ArchDaily Images via BETA.ø architecture office

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Greenery will engulf this pair of metal prefab offices in Madrid

Iridescent Monet-inspired Mtropole building catches the light on the River Seine

October 30, 2017 by  
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Fish scale-like colored glass clads the iridescent headquarters of Métropole Rouen Normandie, a stunning new landmark for a “future eco-district” in France. Designed by Jacques Ferrier Architecture , the eye-catching building takes inspiration from the impressionist works of Claude Monet, who produced many paintings of the nearby Rouen Cathedral. More than just good looks, the multifaceted structure emphasizes smart energy consumption with passive thermal protection and rooftop solar panels . Located on the banks of the River Seine , this 8,300-square-meter headquarters manages its massive size by mirroring the landscape and built environment. Its shimmering facade reflects the changing sky and river, while its silhouette and oblique shapes reference nearby industrial buildings and the bows of passing ships. Its fish scale-like facade of subtly colored glass —inspired by Monet’s impressionist paintings—is treated with a layer of metal oxide that creates the colorful iridescent reflection seen on the outside; this effect is unseen in the interior. Related: Iridescent Dragon-Like Scales Wrap Around Avant Garde Office Campus in Paris Natural light fills the interior, while terraces, open to visitors, offer panoramic views over the city and river. The architects emphasized easy navigation in the building layout organized according to use. A double-skin facade enhances passive thermal insulation. “The transparency and depth of the double façade enhance the variations of light and prevent the building from appearing overbearing,” wrote the architects. “The building’s appearance transforms throughout the day. With the light shining through, it appears to float on the quay.” + Jacques Ferrier Architecture Images by Luc Boegly

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Iridescent Monet-inspired Mtropole building catches the light on the River Seine

This company wants to turn food waste into building materials heres how

October 20, 2017 by  
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What do peanuts, rice, bananas, potatoes, and mushrooms have in common? In addition to being delicious, they could be transformed into building materials. In a report entitled The Urban Bio-Loop , the Arup group proposes to use food waste (something developed nations have an abundance of) to develop low-cost and eco-friendly materials for use in construction. The authors of the report aim to demonstrate ‘that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible.” Because first-world nations, such as the United States , waste up to 40 percent of all food , the goal is to turn the waste into a resource for the creation of “construction, engineering, and architecture products,” reports Archinect . This could be done by modifying the traditional waste management system. Discarded organic materials that could prove useful include peanut shells, which could be used to create low-cost partition boards that are resistant to fire and ice; rice , which could be turned into ash and mixed with cement to eliminate the need for fillers; bananas, a fruit whose leaves can make rugged textiles as a result of high-strength fibers; mushrooms, which can be used to grow buildings ; and potato peels, which can be cleaned, pressed and dried to produce a light, fire-resistant and water-repellent insulating material. The group argues that using food waste for building would contribute to a circular economy where organic waste is put to use, rather than tossed into landfills . Repurposing food waste would also reduce the amount of methane that is produced when fruit and vegetable scraps slowly decompose. The gas contributes to global warming , a phenomenon which results in warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and worsening natural disasters. Related: The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger Arup’s goal is to ameliorate rising levels of waste and a shortage of raw material. Using the low-cost, low-carbon materials would go a long way towards this goal. + “ The Urban Bio-Loop” Via Archinect Images via Wikipedia , Arup Group

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Futuristic solar home hidden inside 18th-century stone ruins

October 20, 2017 by  
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The stone ruins of an 18th-century Scottish farmhouse have been brought back to life as the envelope for a surprisingly modern solar-powered home. Nathanael Dorent Architecture and Lily Jencks Studio crafted Ruin Studio with layers like a palimpsest, from the 200-year-old farmhouse frame to futuristic and tubular interior shell. In addition to the use of photovoltaics, the dwelling was built to near passivhaus standards and boasts a super-insulated envelope. This unusual home located in the remote Scottish countryside retains an outwardly rural appearance with a pitched roof and exterior stone walls. Instead of using timber for the pitched envelope, however, the architects clad the structure in black waterproofing EDPM rubber . Stranger still is the pair of interior curved shells, inserted inside the rubber-clad envelope, made of insulating recycled polystyrene blocks and covered with glass-reinforced plastic. These white futuristic “tubes” serve as hallways connecting the centrally located communal areas with the bedrooms located on either end of the home. “Emphasizing the narrative of time, these three layers also reflect different architectural expressions: the random natural erosion of stone walls, an archetypical minimalist pitched roof, and a free form double curved surface,” wrote the architects. “These three layers are not designed as independent parts, rather, they take on meaning as their relationship evolves through the building’s sections. They separate, come together, and intertwine, creating a series of architectural singularities, revealing simultaneous reading of time and space.” Related: Barn ruins transformed into contemporary home with spa Natural light fills the predominately white interior and large windows frame views of the Scottish countryside. The furnishings are kept minimalist and are mostly built from light-colored wood; gridded timber bookshelves located in the tube adhere to the curved walls. Portions of original stone walls are brought into the home. + Nathanael Dorent Architecture Via ArchDaily

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World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands

October 18, 2017 by  
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The Netherlands just made history by officially opening the world’s first 3D-printed bridge. On Tuesday, Dutch officials celebrated the opening of the innovative bridge, which is 8 meters (26 ft) long and located near the town of Gemert. Thanks to reinforced, pre-stressed concrete and 3D-printing techniques, the bridge (which is primarily intended for cyclists) can safely bear the weight of 40 trucks. In total, the structure took just three months to build. Said Theo Salet, from the Eindhoven University of Technology, “The bridge is not very big, but it was rolled out by a printer which makes it unique.” Using 3D-printing techniques, less concrete is used than would be required to fill a conventional mold. Says the official website, “a printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.” The bridge, which is 8 meters (26 feet) long, spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads. Though the bridge is intended to be used by cyclists , the BAM Infra construction company determined that it can safely bear loads of up to two tonnes — or 40 trucks — through testing. It took the company just 3 months to build the bridge, which has approximately 800 layers. Related: This twisting tower is made out of 2,000 3D-printed terracotta bricks Said the head of BAM, Marinus Schimmel, in a statement , “We are looking to the future. Schimmel added that BAM is ”searching for a newer, smarter approach to addressing infrastructure issues and making a significant contribution to improving the mobility and sustainability of our society.” This project also established the eco-friendly benefits of 3D printing. “Fewer scarce resources were needed, and there was significantly less waste,” said Schimmel. The Netherlands is but one country experimenting with 3D-printed infrastructure. The United States and China, for instance, are using the cutting-edge technology to create structures from scratch without relying on traditional manpower. Elsewhere in The Netherlands, a Dutch start-up called MX3D has started printing a stainless-steel bridge . Reportedly, up to one-third is already completed, and they aim to complete it by March of 2018. Time will reveal what other fascinating, environmentally-friendly structures will be constructed using 3D printing . + Eindhoven University of Technology Via Phys Images via Eindhoven University of Technology

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This testbed in Iceland sucks carbon dioxide out of the air

October 18, 2017 by  
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Swiss company Climeworks pushes the envelope on capture technology.

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