Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

October 31, 2017 by  
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The United States could obtain 40 percent of its energy solely from rooftop solar (with sufficient political will). But what if solar panels could also boost architectural aesthetics? Dubai -based Emirates Insolaire hoped to do just that with their Kromatix technology, providing an alternative to the blue or black panels that adorn many roofs. Plus, their solar products aren’t limited to rooftops — they can also be integrated in balconies or facades. Emirates Insolaire, a joint venture of Dubai Investments PJSC and SwissINSO , is changing our vision of solar with their Kromatix technology, developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology . Emirates Insolaire offers Kromatix solar glass in gold, green, or terracotta, with an opaque finish that hides the power-generating technology inside. Solar transmittance varies among colors, but Emirates Insolaire said it is always greater than 85 percent. They also offer Kromatix modules manufactured with their solar glass that have an average efficiency of above 15 percent. Related: Discreet new SolarSkin panels completely blend in with their environment The company doesn’t use pigments to color their solar glass, but rather “a complex nano-scale multilayer deposition by plasma process,” and say the color will remain stable as time passes. According to Emirates Insolaire’s website, “The colored appearance results from the reflection of a narrow spectral band in the visible part of the solar spectrum. The rest of the solar radiation is transmitted to the solar panel to be converted into energy .” The thickness of the solar glass is between 3.2 and eight millimeters. SwissINSO says the Kromatix colored solar panels can be integrated on facades and rooftops of all sorts of structures, from private homes to high-rise buildings. Electrek also reported the Kromatix products are affordable; they estimated a 5.5 kilowatt solar system would cost between $1,300 and $1,500 per home. They said not counting tax credits or incentives, the system would cover the cost of coloring in a little over one and a half years. Emirates Insolaire’s products have been installed across Europe, including at this school in Copenhagen . + Emirates Insolaire Via Electrek Images via Emirates Insolaire

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Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

October 31, 2017 by  
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Conservation International aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon as part of the largest ever undertaking of its kind. In what is being called the “arc of deforestation” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, and Rondônia, as well as throughout the Xingu watershed, trees will be planted as part of a project that, in the short-term, aims to restore 70,000 acres of tropical forest. “If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, in an interview with Fast Company . “It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees ,” said Sanjayan. “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.” Ceasing deforestation would allow for the absorption of 37 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions yet scientists worry that 20 percent of the Amazon may be deforested in the next two decades, in addition to the 20 percent that was deforested in the past 40 years. To combat this rapid pace of destruction, Conservation International is utilizing new, efficient planting techniques that could be applied worldwide. “This is not a stunt,” said Sanjayan. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.” Related: Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States The planting method used in the project is known as muvuca , which is a Portuguese word to describe many people in a small place. In  muvuca, hundreds of native tree seeds of various species are spread over every inch of deforested land. Natural selection then allows the most suited to survive and thrive. A 2014 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Biodiversity International found that more than 90 percent of native tree species planted using the  muvuca method germinate and are well suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months. “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” said Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and project lead, according to Fast Company . “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.” Via Fast Company Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Scientists just created green solar cells – and they’re working on white, red and additional colors

August 17, 2017 by  
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Do you love solar panels , but hate the color blue? You’re in luck – researchers in the Netherlands have developed a process for making conventional solar panels bright green, and they’re working on developing other colors as well. By making the panels more appealing, they hope to entice more people and businesses to invest in clean energy. Researchers at AMOLF devised a method of imprinting solar panels with silicon nanopatterns that make them appear green. Though the process decreases the efficiency by 10 percent, it’s considered to be an acceptable trade-off if the panels are installed on more buildings. Said Verena Neder, lead author of the paper and researcher at AMOLF, “The black appearance of the [conventional] solar panels is not attractive for many people and a reason to not put solar panels on their rooftop. Making solar cells colored makes it possible to integrate them in an architectural design of houses and full cities, but also to merge them in the landscape.” CleanTechnica reports that to turn the panels green , researchers “use soft imprint lithography to apply a dense array of silicon nanotubes onto the surface of solar cells.” At approximately 100 nanometers wide, each nanotube is carefully shaped to scatter a certain wavelength of light. The cells appear green to observers, and the color is constant regardless of where one is standing. “The structure we made is not very sensitive to the angle of observation, so even if you look at it from a wide angle, it still appears green,” said Neder. Related: Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy Because the color can be adjusted by altering the geometry of the nanotubes , the researchers have started planning imprints that create red and blue solar colors. After the three primary colors of light are developed, they will be able to create any color — including white. “You have to combine different nanoparticles, and if they get very close to each other they can interact and that will affect the color,” said Albert Polman, a scientific group leader at AMOLF. “Going to white is a really big step.” The technology could make it possible to create tandem solar cells which are stacked in layers. Each layer would be fine tuned to absorb certain portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Theoretically, this could result in sunlight conversion efficiencies of 30 percent more. Considering commercially available solar cells are about 20 percent efficient, this could be a game-changer for the renewable energy industry. Affirmed Neder, “The new method to change the color of the panels is not only easy to apply but also attractive as an architectural design element and has the potential to widen their use.” + AIP Applied Physics Letters + AMOLF Via Clean Technica Images via Pixabay and Depositphotos

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Scientists just created green solar cells – and they’re working on white, red and additional colors

Explosion of color takes over an abandoned Puerto Rican factory

April 26, 2017 by  
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An artist’s brilliance breathes new life into a desolate tobacco factory in Caguas, Puerto Rico . Bright sprays and colorful drips have seemingly exploded all over the factory’s formerly lifeless walls in local artist Sofia Maldonado’s eye-popping intervention, Kalaña. Created as part of Cromática: Caguas a Color , the community engagement piece transformed the building into a piece of art and new home to educational workshops, presentations, and other artistic events. Puerto Rican artist Sofia Maldonado and her team of helpers used all parts of the factory interior as canvas. Florescent blues to neon pink and yellows are splashed across the concrete walls punctuated by a few scribbled tags while old graffiti peeks out from behind the latex paint. “My work is mainly inspired by colors and also the Caribbean way of living, and experiencing light and color,” said Maldonado. “The idea of the project is to inspire and open the door to different projects that reuse abandoned spaces. Kalaña is my interpretation of public art . It’s intended for the public to explore to get inside an abandoned building and to experience an explosion of color. But it is also a piece that is activated by different social engagements. That’s one of my main goals: how can I integrate the community in my artwork.” Related: Javier de Riba graffitis gorgeous geometric patterns onto the floors of abandoned buildings Kalaña injects a welcoming energy to the space and the bright colors help set the tone for positive community collaboration. Maldonado was one of seven artists to explore the intersection between art, community, and abandoned architecture in Cromática: Caguas a Color. The piece was completed in 2015. + Sofia Maldonado Via Popup City Images via Sofia Maldonado

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt Trinity Chapel brought to life in vivid renderings

February 9, 2017 by  
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It goes without saying that Frank Lloyd Wright has a large and loyal following, but Spanish architect David Romero has taken his admiration for the famed architect to new, visual levels. Romero became enamored with Wright’s design for the unbuilt Trinity Chapel, and took it upon himself to create detailed color renderings of how the building might have looked today if the project had been realized. Frank Lloyd Wright designed Trinity Chapel in 1958 for the University of Oklahoma, but due to a misunderstanding with his client, the project was never built. Almost 60 years later, Romero used Wright’s original designs as a guide to imagine how the project would have looked if it had been finished. Thanks to modeling programs AutoCad, 3ds Max, and Vray, he was able to create the vivid renderings of the church design , complete with all of its complicated angles and dimensions. Related: Frank Lloyd Wright beach house listed on Airbnb for under $150 per night Romero’s version of the chapel features red zigzag walkways leading up to the building, which has a green shingle spire and a central window of stained-glass panels. Just outside the entrance comprises a soothing water pond with floating greenery. On the interior, Romero’s amazing work captures the color reflected by the stained glass windows. He even went so far as to furnish the chapel with wooden pews and blue cushions around the central wooden pulpit. Romero says he fell in love with this chapel because of its “suggestive design” and tried to stay true Wright’s style as much as possible,”I have had to speculate in some details that were not yet designed by Wright as the design of the stained glass, the pulpit or the large pond, but always thinking of what Wright would have done if he had had the opportunity to continue his assignment.” + David Romero Via Curbed Images via David Romero

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt Trinity Chapel brought to life in vivid renderings

You could win this beautiful organic farm with your best 200-word essay

February 9, 2017 by  
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Have you always dreamed of running a little organic farm , but could never afford land prices? Norma Burns, owner of Bluebird Hill Farm in North Carolina , is planning to give her 12.88 acre farm away for next to nothing. Aspiring homesteaders need only submit a $300 entry fee, fill out a brief entry form with their resumes, and pen a 200-word essay titled “Why We Want to Own and Operate Bluebird Hill Farm.” Burns, an architect and farmer, wants to help out a couple embarking on the farming lifestyle by giving away the land she’s owned for nearly 20 years. She said , “I’m looking for a like-minded couple who have experience and training in organic farming and are willing and able to put in the long days and hard work that farming requires. The only thing they don’t have is an actual farm. I want to make it possible for these new farmers to get started.” She’ll be moving on to urban life in Raleigh, but wants to leave her farm to a couple who will cultivate and love it. Related: How to get off the grid and live rent-free So she started the Bluebird Hill Farm Essay Contest . The winners will receive the title to the farm, which is certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture and worth around $450,000. Those interested can check out pictures of the farm house here . The two-bedroom home features a dining room with antique furniture, kitchen with tons of storage, light-filled day room, what Burns calls an evening room, laundry closet, and front porch. The barn is around 200-years-old , according to Burns, and also houses a garden room and shop. There’s a chicken coop, distiller, greenhouse, and farm cat on the property too. If you have questions, Burns requests you reach out to her through the farm’s Facebook page . Entries must be submitted by mail to Essay Contest, P.O. Box 851, Siler City, NC, 27344, USA. The contest ends June 1, 2017, and winners will be announced around June 30, 2017. + Bluebird Hill Farm Essay Contest + Bluebird Hill Farm Facebook Via The Charlotte Observer Images via Bluebird Hill Farm Facebook

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Sandia solar glitter can fit into and power devices of any size or shape

February 9, 2017 by  
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Small, lightweight, flexible: these attributes when applied to solar cells hint at a far-off clean-powered future to come. But Sandia National Laboratories is now one step closer to seeing the tiny bendy solar cells they’ve developed, which they call solar glitter, on the market. These energy-generating cells could easily be integrated in small gadgets like drones , satellites , or smartphones. Former Sandia scientist Murat Okandan started his own company, mPower Technology, Inc. , and recently signed a licensing agreement with Sandia for microsystems enabled photovoltaics (MEPV), the technology that makes solar glitter possible. Okandan described the moment as a key milestone, saying, “It is an extremely exciting time in the solar industry with the upcoming critical, rapid change in the worldwide energy infrastructure .” Related: Amazing Glitter-Sized Photovoltaic Cells Look Like Golden Snowflakes MEPV draws on microdesign and microfabrication techniques to create the tiny solar cells that are then are released into a solution much like printing ink. The mix is then printed onto an inexpensive material. mPower will commercialize MEPV as Dragon SCALEs, which Sandia says will “fit into and power devices or sensors of any shape or size.” Dragon SCALEs fold like paper for easy transportation, and could be utilized as portable energy generators. They could be installed more rapidly and cheaply than typical solar power systems. Okandan said Dragon SCALEs are more reliable, with lower energy costs, than the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells common today. In a statement he said, “The key limitation to silicon is that if you bend and flex it, it will crack and shatter. Our technology makes it virtually unbreakable while keeping all the benefits of high efficiency, high reliability silicon PV. It allows us to integrate PV in ways that weren’t possible before, such as in flexible materials, and deploy it faster in lighter-weight, larger-area modules.” Via Treehugger Images via Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories and Sandia National Laboratories

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Sandia solar glitter can fit into and power devices of any size or shape

Russian river runs red, locals suspect nearby metal plant

September 8, 2016 by  
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A river near the Siberian town of Norilsk turned bright red on Tuesday , stunning local residents and puzzling authorities. Some locals, though, are saying this isn’t the first time the Daldykan River has changed color suddenly. Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is suspicious that a nearby metal plant may have leaked an “unidentified chemical” that caused the water to change colors, but a full investigation has been ordered to find out why local residents are seeing red. The plant in question is the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant owned by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer. In a statement issued Wednesday , Russia’s Environment Ministry suggested that the plant may have leaked chemicals if a pipeline was broken, fueling the theory about the cause behind the color-changing river water. So far, the company has denied all suggestions that the plant’s operations or pipelines could be involved in the mysterious red water. Related: EPA spills 1M gallons of mustard-colored mine waste into a Colorado river If there can be a silver lining on a story about possible industrial pollution , nearby residents are not under immediate threat, as there is no public water utility connected to the river, the Norlisk city administration told state news agency Sputnik. The town of Norlisk, though, is known for having immense problems with pollution, and until the exact cause for the color-changing river is known, nobody can say with certainty what the extend of the risk might be. Russia’s Environment Ministry will continue its investigation and, in the meantime, locals will continue to post images of the blood-red river on social media. Via CNN Images via Facebook/reposted by Russian media

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Why 1 in 10 people reach the age of 100 in this small Italian village

September 8, 2016 by  
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Back in the 1950’s, American scientist Ancel Keys began to research the Mediterranean diet in Italy ‘s Cilento peninsula. He eventually moved to the peninsula and lived to only two months shy of his 101st birthday. Now researchers from Rome’s La Sapienza University and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) teamed up to zero in on Acciaroli, a town in the Cilento peninsula where one in 10 residents reach the age of 100, and better understand the secrets of a longer life. Not only do people live to 100 and beyond, but many are still independent and active. Antonio Vassalo, 100, and Aminda Fedollo, 93, said they eat healthy food like fish, chicken, rabbit, olive oil, and vegetables and fruit they grow. Fedollo told the AFP, “We consume what we produce.” Residents garden, walk, or go fishing to exercise . Related: Harvard Researchers Successfully Reverse Aging in Mice The two universities launched a six-month study in which they took blood samples from 80 residents. They discovered surprisingly low levels of adrenomedullin, a hormone. High levels of adrenomedullin hinder circulation, while low levels promote circulation. Generally as people age, adrenomedullin builds up in the body, but the levels seen in the Acciaroli elderly are similar to what researchers would expect to see in the blood of a person in their twenties or thirties. The researchers don’t yet know why the residents possess such low levels, but could think it could be a combination of the healthy local diet, genetics, and exercise. Rosemary could be another key component to longevity: widely used by residents, rosemary is said to boost brain function, according to researchers. From UCSD, Alan Maisel said the elderly of Acciaroli don’t suffer from maladies commonly faced by the elderly, like Alzheimer’s, cataracts, or heart disease. He warned there’s no “magic bullet” to prevent such diseases, but that people worldwide could learn from the way people in Acciaroli live. The researchers plan to continue studying the Cilento peninsula. Out of 60,000 people, 2,000 in the region are 100 or older, and the researchers would like to focus on those centenarians. Professor Salvatore di Somma of La Sapienza University said they hope to create a ” tool ” based on the lifestyles of these healthy old people to offer those interested suggestions on how to age well. Via The Telegraph and AFP news agency Images via screenshot

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Why did this Olympic diving pool suddenly turn bright green?

August 10, 2016 by  
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After concerns over the water quality near Rio de Janeiro beaches before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games , now a supposedly clean Olympic pool has inexplicably turned green. At the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, startling pictures showed a blue pool and a green pool next to one another. Officials allowed Olympians to continue diving in the green pool as they seek the cause of the weird color change. The change occurred overnight. One day the pool was blue and the next day it was green. Olympic officials tested the water quality and said there were “no risks for the athletes” in a tweet . They also said they’d be “investigating the cause.” Related: Experts to Rio Olympic athletes: Don’t put your head underwater While some speculated urine produced the color, Jim’s Pool Care national manager Brett Blair told The Guardian the Olympic pool was too large to have turned green from urine. Blair speculated poor filtration could be a cause. He told The Guardian, “…the main reason a pool normally goes green is lack of sanitation…The scary part is how at a world event, a pool could go green. It’s unbelievable.” Another leading theory is that algae caused the change , because the water is so cloudy. Some Olympic divers said they couldn’t see their partners when they dove into the green water. Algae blooms can also happen when chlorine levels in a pool change, and if that’s the case at the Rio pool, it might mean some worker wasn’t doing their job. Chlorine can probably solve the pool problem; Blair said the issue could be resolved in 24 to 48 hours. While the AP reported Rio spokesperson Mario Andrada saying that algae proliferated “because of heat and a lack of wind,” we’re still waiting for the official word from the Olympic committee on why the issue happened. Via The Guardian and Gizmodo Images via Tom Daley on Twitter and screenshot

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