Three mini forests are popping up in the middle of London

September 9, 2016 by  
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Designer Asif Khan partnered with MINI do create a three-part installation that explores urban living. The three, plant-filled rooms named Connect, Create and Relax will be installed across Shoreditch during this year’s London Design Festival. The designs, collectively called Forests, are part of a larger project MINI Living, organized by the car company as an exploration of the future of urban living. The Connect room will act as a space where visitors and passers-bys can socialize, while the Create Space will be a flexible workspace, the interior of which can be designed by visitors themselves. The Relax Space will be dedicated to relaxation. Related: Four fascinating Summer Houses accompany this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Khan used plants to explore the relationship between public and private space in the city and the potentials of informal spaces to encourage city dwellers to socialize the partake in communal activities. The installation will be open to the public between 17 and 25 September, 2016. + Asif Khan Via Dezeen

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Three mini forests are popping up in the middle of London

New Swiss solar cell doubles the efficiency of residential systems

September 9, 2016 by  
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As if to prove the sheer speed at which solar cell technology is evolving, a new startup called Insolight claims to have beaten the efficiency record set just over a week ago by a joint team from MIT and Masdar Institute . The new device was invented by a team while working in the innovation incubator at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and it reportedly has a solar energy conversion rate of 36.4 percent, one percent more than the Masdar/MIT innovation. That efficiency rating is effectively double what is currently available to residential customers, which is precisely the market EPFL’s new startup is trying to help. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLA7IKv7Ehg EPFL ’s Innovation Park helps technology startups with facilities and funding to help translate big ideas into a big impact on the world. The race to innovate more efficient solar cell technology is a mad dash, and there really is no finish line. With each new development building on the discoveries that came before, each new device holds a ton of promise for its potential effect on end users and, essentially, people’s pocketbooks. Insolight’s new technology is currently being tested in a lab environment, vastly different from practical applications, but the staggering energy conversion rate is a good first step. Related: Masdar/MIT solar makes a grab for world record with 35% efficiency and a lower cost Insolight’s invention is already being put through the wringer. A prototype was tested by the Fraunhofer Institute, an independent lab based in Germany, in which the 36.4 percent energy conversion rate was recorded. The device tracks the sun, optimizing its capture of solar energy, and since the team chose to build on existing technology, they were able to keep costs under control. Their aim is to produce a highly efficient, but still affordable option for solar energy, thereby competing with existing residential solar arrays . Insolight’s solar panels were also designed to be easily installed on standard mounting systems, which means homeowners would be able to choose just about any mounting system they desire, as opposed to being forced to buy a manufacturer’s proprietary design. Using a solar concentrator in the setup was the best way to boost efficiency without boosting the price. Thin, transparent plastic concentrators act as a lens to focus solar energy onto relatively tiny but super high performance solar cells , the likes of which are currently used in space applications. In doing so, the team was able to employ the best of both worlds: the high efficiency of expensive solar cells, but with just a small amount of them, due to the concentrators. “It’s like a shower: all the water goes down one small drain, there’s no need for the drain to cover the entire floor of the shower,” said Insolight CEO Laurent Coulot. Here’s hoping the technology passes further scalability tests, and doesn’t wind up going down the drain. Via Phys.org Images via EPFL/Alain Herzog

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New Swiss solar cell doubles the efficiency of residential systems

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