New super-thin film acts like "air conditioner" for buildings

February 13, 2017 by  
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Engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a thin, artificially structured “metamaterial” that can cool objects without the use of water or energy. The film works to lower the temperature of the surface beneath it through a process known as “passive cooling,” meaning that it vents the object’s heat through thermal radiation while bouncing off any incoming solar energy that may negate those losses. As described last week in the journal Science , the glass-polymer hybrid material could provide an “eco-friendly means of supplementary cooling” for thermoelectric power plants, which require colossal amounts of water and electricity to keep their machinery chugging along at optimum temperatures. The film measures a lithe 50 micrometers thick, or just slightly more substantial than the aluminum foil you’d find in your kitchen. And, much like foil, researchers say it can be easily and economically manufactured by the roll for large-scale residential and commercial applications. “We feel that this low-cost manufacturing process will be transformative for real-world applications of this radiative cooling technology,” Xiaobo Yin, an assistant professor who co-directed the research, said in a statement. Buildings and power plants aren’t the only structures that could benefit, Yin said. The material could keep solar panels from overheating, allowing them to not only work longer, but harder, as well. Related: 3D-printed “Cool Brick” cools a room using only water “Just by applying this material to the surface of a solar panel, we can cool the panel and recover an additional one to two percent of solar efficiency,” said Yin. “That makes a big difference at scale.” Yin and his cohorts have applied for a patent as a prelude to exploring potential commercial applications. They also plan to create a 200-square-meter “cooling farm” prototype in Boulder sometime this year. “The key advantage of this technology is that it works 24/7 with no electricity or water usage,” said Ronggui Yang, a professor of mechanical engineering and a co-author of the paper. “We’re excited about the opportunity to explore potential uses in the power industry, aerospace, agriculture and more.” + University of Colorado Boulder Photo by Chris Eason

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New super-thin film acts like "air conditioner" for buildings

Green-roofed Corsica home blends right into its spectacular seaside setting

February 13, 2017 by  
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The green-roofed H2 Cape House by architect Vincent Coste looks like an ideal place to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun. The sprawling residence blends into the unique seaside setting of Corsica without disturbing the existing vegetation or nearby granite rocks. Merging the interior and exterior into a single, flowing space, the house offers a variety of ambiances. Its expansive single-story design makes way for several outdoor areas, including a central terrace , two swimming pools and access to a private beach and port for boats. Related: Coastal Solar-Powered Villa F Prefab Soaks Up the Sun in Greece https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOhVBFzZZiM The extensive use of glass maximizes views of the surroundings, while red cedar siding adds warmth to the entire building. A large boulder seems to support one of the many cantilevering surfaces and overhangs of the building, contrasting the skinny facade. + Vincent Coste Via Uncrate Photos by Florent Joliot

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Green-roofed Corsica home blends right into its spectacular seaside setting

7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

December 28, 2016 by  
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These seven rustic cabins designed and built by students at the University of Colorado Denver function as base camp for a non-profit focused on wilderness education. Clad in hot-rolled steel, the COBS Year-Round Micro Cabins blend with the surrounding pine forest and remain comfortable even in extremely cold weather. https://youtu.be/HwwYRDhGRxc The structures were built by 28 students as part of a design-build program called the Colorado Building Workshop . Organized by the architecture school at the University of Colorado Denver, the workshop produced 14 similar structures in 2015. Related: Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape The cabins, each offering around 200 square feet of interior space and 100 square feet of deck, are elevated and supported by metal columns with concrete footings. Sheets of hot-rolled steel, which form low-maintenance rainscreens , envelop structurally insulated panels (SIPs) used for the walls and flat roofs, providing a high degree of thermal insulation . Birch plywood line the interior walls to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. All the electrical appliances, including lighting, heating and refrigerators within each structure are powered by a single electrical circuit. + Colorado Building Workshop + University of Colorado Denver Via Dezeen Photos by Jesse Kuroiwa

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7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

December 28, 2016 by  
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These seven rustic cabins designed and built by students at the University of Colorado Denver function as base camp for a non-profit focused on wilderness education. Clad in hot-rolled steel, the COBS Year-Round Micro Cabins blend with the surrounding pine forest and remain comfortable even in extremely cold weather. https://youtu.be/HwwYRDhGRxc The structures were built by 28 students as part of a design-build program called the Colorado Building Workshop . Organized by the architecture school at the University of Colorado Denver, the workshop produced 14 similar structures in 2015. Related: Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape The cabins, each offering around 200 square feet of interior space and 100 square feet of deck, are elevated and supported by metal columns with concrete footings. Sheets of hot-rolled steel, which form low-maintenance rainscreens , envelop structurally insulated panels (SIPs) used for the walls and flat roofs, providing a high degree of thermal insulation . Birch plywood line the interior walls to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. All the electrical appliances, including lighting, heating and refrigerators within each structure are powered by a single electrical circuit. + Colorado Building Workshop + University of Colorado Denver Via Dezeen Photos by Jesse Kuroiwa

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7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

Researchers want new protections for cheetahs amid race to extinction

December 28, 2016 by  
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Cheetahs are racing towards extinction a lot faster than previously thought, according to the BBC. Because the magnificent cats are far-ranging, often straying outside protected areas, they face dramatic habitat loss and there are only around 7,100 left in the wild. Researchers are now arguing cheetahs should no longer be classified as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List, but as endangered . Around the world, diminishing cheetah populations are raising alarm among researchers. Cheetah populations plummeted from 1,200 to only 170 during 16 years in Zimbabwe. In Iran, it’s thought a group of less than 50 cheetahs survives. Asian cheetahs are nearly gone, according to the BBC. Related: Illegal Wild Cheetah Trade for Luxury Pets is Pushing Species to Extinction, CITES Report Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London, lead author on a study cited by BBC published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the cheetah’s dilemma, said , “Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked. Our findings show that the large space requirements for the cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought.” As 77 percent of the cheetah’s habitat is outside protected reserves and parks, they’ve suffered from habitat loss and prey loss. They clash with humans who are developing the land on which the animals used to live. Illegal cheetah cub trafficking isn’t helping either. The Cheetah Conservation Fund says 1,200 cheetah cubs have been trafficked during the last 10 years from Africa, but a heartbreaking 85 percent perished during the voyage. The study authors called for the IUCN to categorize the cheetah as endangered, instead of vulnerable, and for a “paradigm shift in conservation”. They argued for “incentive-based approaches” to encourage local people to protect cheetahs beyond setting aside protected areas. Another study author, Kim Young-Overton of Panthera, said, “The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough.” Via the BBC Images via Wikimedia Commons and Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr

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Researchers want new protections for cheetahs amid race to extinction

California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

December 28, 2016 by  
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Only a week after Uber launched its fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the state of California has already shut the experiment down. Just hours after Uber launched the service, the state’s Department of Motor vehicles was threatening legal action for not properly licensing the cars as test vehicles. After Uber refused to apply for the permits necessary, the state simply revoked the registration of the cars. The major issue that caused talks to break down was, ironically, whether Uber’s cars are actually self-driving. While they’re marketed as autonomous, the company believes they shouldn’t be subject to the same regulations as other businesses for their test vehicles, claiming the cars must be monitored by a human driver at all times because they’re not as sophisticated as models from Tesla or Google. The state, however, disagreed. Related: California hits the brakes on Uber’s self-driving cars after one runs a red light Uber, for its part, remains defiant, reportedly seeking a new test market where it could redeploy the cars. The company may not have to look far: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is already welcoming the vehicles in his state. While there’s no word on exactly when the self-driving cars would debut within the state, Uber has confirmed it has shipped cars to Arizona and will be expanding its self-driving pilot program in the near future. While California is taking a cautious approach to self-driving technology, Ducey claims the special permits are a form of “over-regulation.” It’s unclear exactly what, if any, restrictions Arizona will place on the cars. While that may be a welcoming market for ridesharing services, other drivers may not be terribly happy with this relatively new technology side-by-side with their vehicles on the road. Via Newsmax Images via Mark Warner and Wikimedia Commons

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California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

Decrepit farm buildings reborn into modern energy-efficient home in Suffolk

December 28, 2016 by  
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David Nossiter Architects breathed new life into a collection of decrepit farm buildings that had been laid to waste after a ruinous fire in the 1950s. The skillful renovation transformed the barn buildings into a contemporary dwelling, one that preserves the existing rural forms but also retrofits them with high-performance systems for energy savings. The project, named the Church Hill Barn, is nestled between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex and makes use of local and salvaged materials.

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Decrepit farm buildings reborn into modern energy-efficient home in Suffolk

New supersonic jet can fly from London to New York in 3.5 hours

November 17, 2016 by  
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Supersonic air travel is one of those things (like flying cars and instant pizza machines) that we thought would be ubiquitous by this point. Yet, there hasn’t been a supersonic passenger jet in consistent operation in more than 10 years. Aviation startup Boom Technology has unveiled what it hopes will change all that: the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator , a speedy passenger jet that is the modern answer to the Concorde. The supersonic jet will cut the duration of long trips in half – NYC to London would take 3.5 hours instead of seven, while the 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney would be slashed down to a mere 6 hours and 45 minutes. Nicknamed “Baby Boom,” the one-third scale prototype is taking the first steps to drum up excitement about the next generation of supersonic air transportation. The plane was revealed at an event Tuesday evening at the startup’s Hangar 14 at Centennial Airport in Denver, Colorado. Despite being one-third the size of an actual passenger jet, the Baby Boom was created as an accurate representation of the style, shape, and proportions of the full-size design. Although the unveiling met with oohs and ahhs from the media and industry experts, there was no incredible demonstration of supersonic speed at the ceremony. Baby Boom will not take to the air currents until sometime in late 2017. Related: Supersonic jet will fly from NY to London in 3 hours at half the price of the Concorde Boom’s full-size XB-1 is designed to carry 44 passengers on long-distance flights, and the company says it plans to be operating by 2020. A ticket on the ultra-fast jet will cost around $5,000, which the company considers affordable given the expense of the airplane and its fuel. The supersonic jet makes use of three General Electric J85-21 non-afterburning engines, Honeywell avionics, and carbon composite materials for a powerful yet lightweight aircraft. Boom says the XB-1 takes inspiration from the Concorde , particularly in regard to its design. In order to create the next-generation of supersonic passenger jets, Boom tapped experts from NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing to contribute to the design process. If Boom’s XB-1 is successful in launching commercial operations, it will be the first supersonic passenger jet to due so since the Concorde was retired in 2003 following 27 years of high-speed flights. Via New Atlas and The Verge Images via Boom Technology

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New supersonic jet can fly from London to New York in 3.5 hours

Green-roofed Colorado home is buried into the earth to save energy

October 7, 2016 by  
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The 2,850-square-foot House in the Mountains comprises two rectilinear steel-framed forms that intersect to form the corner of a swimming pool and an implied courtyard that extends to the existing main house. The primary sloped structure rises from to the south at a 20-degree angle and houses the open-plan living, dining, and kitchen spaces and meets the second east-west wing that contains three bedrooms and the garage. The guesthouse’s placement on the site and grassy roofs renders the building practically invisible from the road. Related: GLUCK+’s Tower House is an Ultra-Modern ‘Treehouse’ for a Family of Architects Continuous clerestory glass wraps around the building for panoramic views and to let in copious amounts of natural light. A thick wall of solar panels on the south elevation of the bedroom wing harvests solar energy that powers the heating for the home and the swimming pool. A white oak rain screen clads the exterior of the bedroom wing, while a sunken courtyard to the west features a fireplace built into the Corten steel retaining walls. Corten steel is also used for the roof fascia and the slanted retaining wall to provide a rich rusty red contrast to the vegetated roof. + Gluck+ Images via Gluck+ , by Steve Mundinger

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Green-roofed Colorado home is buried into the earth to save energy

A glazed container cabin that reflects the Colorado sky

April 13, 2016 by  
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