Couple converts 16-year-old van into a compact solar home on wheels

February 24, 2017 by  
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An increasing number of digital nomads are replacing their conventional houses with practical, mobile homes powered by renewable energy technologies . Freelancer photographer Norbert Juhász and his fiancée Dora, a writer, have joined the fray with a 16-year-old van they transformed into a solar-powered home on wheels, and they’re driving it from Budapest to Morocco. While the exterior of the van is unremarkable, its interior packs all the amenities the couple needs on their journey. A multifunctional seat turns into a bed for two and includes a storage space and electrical system underneath. Opposite the bed is a small kitchen unit with a gas cooktop, gas cylinder, sink and a large water tank with a pressure-sensing pump. The tank is connected to an extra hook-up that leads to the rear of the van, where the water is used for quick showers. An L-shaped cabinet accommodates a refrigerator and more storage spaces, and features another section that doubles as a seating structure. Related: How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer The vehicle is powered by a 12-volt electrical system charged by either the 250-watt solar panels mounted on the roof, or the engine’s generator. Excess energy can be stored in 200-Ah batteries attached to an inverter. The couple spent around $7,200 for the van’s transformation, including its custom-made furniture. They will travel through Southern Europe all the way to Morocco, and document their journey on the Rundabella website and Facebook page . + Norbert Juhász + Rundabella Via Treehugger Photos by Norbert Juhász

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Couple converts 16-year-old van into a compact solar home on wheels

Hawaii bill calls for 100% green transportation by 2045

January 20, 2017 by  
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Hawaii lawmakers want the state’s ground transportation to run entirely on renewables by 2045. As a majority of their imported fossil fuels go towards transportation, if every car on the road was instead powered by clean electricity , it could make a huge difference for the state’s emissions. But there’s still a long way to go. Not only does the bill need to be passed, but just around 5,000 of the one million cars in Hawaii are currently electric . Hawaii already leads the United States in renewable energy goals, with a target of utilities sourcing 100 percent of electricity from clean sources by 2045. But they want to go a step further, now calling for 100 percent renewable ground transportation. Related: 45-ton Azura generator harvests energy from Hawaii’s waves The 2045 clean ground transportation goal wouldn’t be a mandate, unlike the 2045 electricity goal under which utilities will be fined if they do not source all their electricity from renewable sources by the deadline. If you live in Hawaii, you won’t have to turn in your gas-guzzling car; state representative Chris Lee, who’s the Energy and Environment committee chairman, said, “Nobody wants to step in and force people to get rid of cars that they might love now.” The Hawaii Legislature began Wednesday, and there the bill will be introduced. Lawmakers are unsure if funding will be part of the bill. But it is clear that it will focus only on ground transportation and not air transportation, a sector where it’s more difficult to power crafts renewably. For Hawaii to achieve its goals, other states and countries will have to pitch in. Energy consulting company HD Baker & Co. managing director Hugh Baker said, “Our ability to achieve it is really going to be dependent on what happens throughout the entire automotive industry. We can say we want 100 percent clean transportation technology, but the market in Hawaii is not nearly big enough by itself to move the whole global automotive industry. It will really take more than just Hawaii.” Via Phys.org Images via Good Free Photos and Ken Lund on Flickr

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Tech entrepreneur renovates UK castle into a giant happy office space

January 20, 2017 by  
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When entrepreneur Chris Morling decided to renovate a historic castle into his company’s UK headquarters, he looked for a designer who would think out of the box, and well … that’s exactly what he got. Morling hired famed designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen who teamed up with Interaction to take on the massive task of transforming the “ugly, unfriendly and un-creative” interior into a dizzyingly vibrant office space with plenty of sustainable features for money.co.uk . https://youtu.be/KiSFafxBGpk Located in Cirencester, UK, the 10,000-square-foot Victorian Castle is now filled with a dizzying hodgepodge of colorful paints and quirky design features , from Rolling Stone-inspired toilets and suits of armour to a Star Wars-themed cinema and even an ice cave meeting room. Although certainly flashy, the office space is really geared to the comfort of the employees. There are plenty of distinct areas for team meetings or quiet nooks like the library for a little bit of solitude. Nature lovers can enjoy the large vertical garden wall in the reception area, which is equipped with automatic water release system. Related: Medieval Italian Castle Transformed into Modern Mountain Museum Mr. Morling told the Daily Mail that the inspiration behind the renovation was to make his employees happy, “It is about making this a wonderful place, a productive place to work,” he said. “What we have done is modeled all the design around the needs of the team. Some people want to stand while they work, some people to work alone. Ultimately it boils down to creating a space where you feel comfortable.” Thankfully though, this design isn’t purely in-your-face aesthetics. The castle was installed with a super-efficient high specification energy recovery system that provides fresh air ventilation into every single room in the castle, cutting down on the office’s energy needs. For further energy conservation , each room is equipped with passive infrared sensors that light up when people are in the room and turn off when they aren’t. + Money.co.uk + Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen + Interaction Via The Daily Mail Images courtesy of Interaction

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Hyundai foldable electric Ioniq scooter will make your commute awesome

January 6, 2017 by  
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Hyundai is taking an inventive approach to mobility with a foldable electric Ioniq scooter . The cool “first and last mile mobility” Ioniq vehicle that makes your 2000 Razor scooter jealous can be stored in the Ioniq Electric car’s front door. Unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the shiny scooter is targeted for transportation after parking or en route to a public transit station. Hyundai’s tackling hybrid and electric travel through Project Ioniq , and the new scooter is one of their latest concepts. There’s scant information on the scooter as of now, but Hyundai used the terms ‘lightweight’ and ‘portable’ prominently in their announcement. We don’t know how fast or far it will travel, or how much it will cost. Related: Hyundai’s new hybrid Ioniq is the first car to take on the Toyota Prius Hyundai did dangle a few tantalizing details, such as the digital dashboard on the scooter’s handle. Users can check their battery life, speed, and range on the digital dashboard. Scrolling up or down on a thumb switch lets a rider accelerate or brake, or they can brake via a rear wheel pad. Riders can unfold and fold up the scooter with one hand. Front and rear lights keep a rider safe, and there are even sensors incorporated so the scooter only switches to riding mode when a person is safely on the device. The scooter can be charged while in the electric car’s front door. In a statement, Head of Hyundai Motor Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute Tae Won Lim said, “As we look ahead, our vision is to be a world leader in hyper-connected living and to offer our customers seamless, end-to-end transport solutions.” We don’t yet know when – or if – Hyundai will release the Ioniq scooter. Via The Verge and Hyundai Images via Hyundai

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Hyundai foldable electric Ioniq scooter will make your commute awesome

Massive chunk of Antarctic ice shelf likely to break away soon

January 6, 2017 by  
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The 70-mile-long rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf that had scientists fretting last year is close to breaking away. Nothing but about 12 miles of ice is keeping the iceberg from calving—an event scientists say is “inevitable.” If or when the massive chunk does float away, it will be one of the 10 largest icebergs ever recorded. Scientists of United Kingdom-based Project Midas called attention to the Larsen C rift last year, but in December the rift’s growth drastically sped up. Larsen C is around 1,148 feet thick, and is one of the most major ice shelves in the north of Antarctica. The whole shelf might break up in the future should the iceberg break off soon, which at this point seems highly likely. Project Midas project leader Adrian Luckman told the BBC, “If it doesn’t go in the next few months, I’ll be amazed…it’s so close to calving that I think it’s inevitable.” Related: 70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg The iceberg would be about 5,000 square kilometers, or around 2,000 square miles, large. The probable event follows the 1995 collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf, and the 2002 break-up of the Larsen B shelf. The rift in Larsen C has been around for decades, according to scientists, and is not a climate but a geographical event. But climate change could have hastened the Larsen C rift’s downfall, although the scientists told the BBC they don’t possess direct evidence for that hunch. The iceberg itself probably won’t increase sea levels , but if the remaining ice shelf breaks up in the future, pushing glaciers into the ocean, there’s a high probability sea levels will rise. Project Midas said in an article : “When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10 percent of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” + Project Midas Via the BBC Images via NASA/John Sonntag and © MIDAS Project, A. Luckman, Swansea University

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Massive chunk of Antarctic ice shelf likely to break away soon

Ortega Submersible’s electric submarine lets three divers jet through the seven seas

November 28, 2016 by  
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Co-founders Daan Pol and Filip Jonker dreamed of adventure, so they decided to dive into the personal submersible business. They’ve designed three open-top submarines that seat one, two, or three people. They say their submarines are the safest, fastest, and most versatile of their kind on Earth. Related: This all-electric personal submarine can dive up to 400 feet The company even designed their own battery , called the Hancell 378i . The Mk.1C sub uses four of these batteries to power two electric motors. The Mk.1C has a surface speed of 10.4 miles per hour (mph) and jets around at 12.7 mph underwater. It has a range of 80 nautical miles, and its design ensures divers can spend more time underwater since the vehicle can transport people down to low depths rapidly. A navigation system, an on-board breathing apparatus, and 250 liter (66 gallon) cargo space are included on the submersible. The design is even ergonomic and “of the highest quality in modern Dutch engineering” according to the company. Riders must wear diving gear (including oxygen tanks and breathing apparatuses) while in Ortega’s submersibles. But the open-top design allows them to climb out and explore their surroundings easily. Ortega Submersibles envisions people like underwater archaeologists or marine biologists utilizing their submarines. They describe the Mk.1C as “a luxurious yet accessible maritime commodity.” The company does not say how much their submarines cost on their website, but people serious about buying the product can get in touch via their contact page . + Ortega Submersibles Via Dezeen Images via Ortega Submersibles and Ortega Submersibles Facebook

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Ortega Submersible’s electric submarine lets three divers jet through the seven seas

US Army to evict Dakota Access Pipeline protestors next week

November 28, 2016 by  
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After police brutally attacked hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protestors last week , the US Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans to shut down the Standing Rock encampment on December 5th for “safety reasons.” Tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and freezing water cannons have not deterred the protesters from holding their ground. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are protesting the 1,200-mile oil pipeline because its route encroaches on sacred sites and puts the community’s water supply at risk. On December 5th, the United States Army will remove the protesters from their current site on the north side of the Cannonball River to a “free speech zone” on the other side. In the face of forcible eviction, Standing Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II urges the resistance to remain strong. “It is both unfortunate and ironic that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving – a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe,” said Archambault. “Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the treatment of our people. We have suffered much, but we still have hope that the president will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.” Related: 8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation President Obama has faced increased pressure to take action on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux, particularly in the wake of Donald Trump’s shocking victory. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has spoken out on behalf of the protesters on several occasions and was recently was joined by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), who has called on President Obama to halt the pipeline construction. “No pipeline is worth more than the respect we hold for our Native American neighbors,” said Heinrich . “No pipeline is worth more than the clean water that we all depend on. This pipeline is not worth the life of a single protester.” Via International Business Times Images via Standing Rock Uprising

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China opens former secret nuclear plant as ‘world’s largest man-made cave’

November 1, 2016 by  
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China is now inviting international tourists into a secret underground nuclear plant for the first time ever. Billed as ‘the world’s largest man-made cave,’ the former 816 Nuclear Military Plant in the suburban Chongqing district has been remade into a tourist attraction, where visitors descend far underground to learn about Cold War nuclear weapons. With neon lights and spooky echoes from its nuclear past, the underground bunker offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers in what is most certainly southwest China’s coolest cave. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24JbDu3TDh8 The nuclear plant was originally designed to manufacture plutonium in the 1960s, part of a military megaproject that lasted 17 years and involved some 60,000 soldiers. The site was a massive secret, encompassing one million square feet of underground structure. The plant halted operations in 1984 and was officially declassified in 2002. The government opened it briefly for local tours in 2010 before shuttering it once more. It had not been open to the public again until early October, when the plant’s winding man-made caves were outfitted with elaborate light displays, a move designed to target foreign tourists for the first time. Related: America’s most polluted nuclear site is now a national park Reportedly, the expansive underground plant includes 18 caves and 130 tunnel roads, but only one-third or so of the total square footage is open to public tours. One part of the former nuclear plant now acts as something of a museum to its former purpose, with a 100-foot-tall hall where images of atomic weapons and plutonium processing are projected onto neon movie screens. Each room of the underground bunker highlights nuclear weapons in some way, with the added creep-factor of eerie blue and red lights that would look more at home in a nightclub than a former military site. Still, the public seems eager to sign up for one of the two-hour tours being led through the once top secret project. Could China’s latest tourist attraction spark a new trend in ‘nuclear spelunking ’? Via CNN Images via China Daily

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New bionic eye chip allows blind woman to see lines, colors, and spots of light

November 1, 2016 by  
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Researchers are now one step closer to returning sight to the blind with a bionic eye . A University of California, Los Angeles doctor successfully implanted a bionic eye component in a 30-year-old woman, and she was able to see lines, colors, and flashes of light. The ” wireless visual cortical stimulator ” is part of Second Sight ‘s Orion I bionic eye. Second Sight makes the Argus II retinal implant , which can send information to a patient’s brain from a camera and eyeglass system. But it doesn’t restore sight completely and won’t work for some patients, so the company has been working on another device, the Orion I Visual Cortical Prosthesis. A doctor implanted the new wireless system directly on the woman’s visual cortex, and the patient saw light “with no significant adverse side effects,” according to the company. The technology aims to provide sight by bypassing the optic nerve to stimulate the brain’s visual cortex, according to chairman Robert Greenberg. Related: The World’s First Bionic Eye Implant Hits US Market Next Month Second Sight CEO Will McGuire said in a statement, “While we still have much work ahead, this successful human proof of concept study gives us renewed energy to move our Orion I development efforts forward. We believe this technology will ultimately provide a useful form of vision for the nearly six million people worldwide who are blind but not a candidate for an Argus II retinal prosthesis.” He also said the company would continue to develop the Argus II and work to make the prosthesis accessible for more people. UCLA neurosurgeon Nader Pouratian, who implanted the stimulator, seems hopeful about the technology. In a statement he said, “Based on these results, stimulation of the visual cortex has the potential to restore useful vision to the blind, which is important for independence and improving quality of life.” The next hurdle is U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. Second Sight needs the agency’s permission to conduct trials of the entire Orion I system including glasses and a camera. Second Sight will submit their application for the trials in 2017. + Second Sight Via Second Sight and Daily Mail Images via Wikimedia Commons and Second Sight Facebook

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New bionic eye chip allows blind woman to see lines, colors, and spots of light

Vertical forest Mountain Hotel will clean the air in Guizhou, China

October 23, 2016 by  
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The Milan-based design firm  made headlines with Bosco Verticale, the world’s first vertical forest built right in the company’s hometown. A few years later, the firm’s design for a second green skyscraper won a competition to add an eco-friendly building in Lausanne, Switzerland, which will break ground next year. The Mountain Hotel will be built in Guizhou, China for the Hong Kong-based Cachet Hotel Group, and the design follows the same principles as their previous projects, with a focus on sustainable architecture and a green facade that can improve the quality of the air around it. Related: World’s second vertical forest will rise in Switzerland SBA will design the building as a vertical ‘forest mountain’ in the Wanfenglin region, which is also known as the Forest of Ten Thousands Peaks. Local artist Simon Ma will provide the interior design for the 250-room hotel which will offer amenities including a gym, lounge, VIP area, bar, restaurant, and conference facilities. The New York Times named China’s Guizhou region on its list of “52 Places to Go in 2016,”  predicting an increase in tourist traffic there. The forested area was largely inaccessible until 2014, when the government opened a $20 billion high-speed railway that cut the travel time from the nearest major city from 20 hours down to four. Tour activities and new hotels are sprouting up throughout the area, but certainly none are as likely to improve the local environment as much as the Mountain Hotel. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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