World’s fastest electric car just shattered its own record

May 24, 2017 by  
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Critics used to say that electric cars would never be as powerful or speedy as gasoline-fueled ones. Well, they were wrong. The Nio EP9, designed by Chinese company NextEV, recently smashed its own speed record at one of Germany’s most difficult tracks. The Nio EP9 just took a historic lap around the Nürburgring car racing track in Germany on May 12, completing the feat in 6:45:9. In 2016 they’d finished the lap in 7:05:12. According to a Business Insider video , the track is notorious for being difficult to drive. Related: Introducing the fastest electric car in the world In a statement, NIO United States CEO Padmasree Warrior said, “As a company, we were born to push limits. Setting and breaking records with our EP9 is for the sole purpose to show the world that we have the automotive and technical expertise to succeed in the global automotive market. Our vision is to be the best of the next generation of car companies by producing the smartest vehicles in the world.” The super speedy car can reach 124 mph from zero in 7.1 seconds. The company says their goal is for people to “feel positive again about owning a car.” Futurism pointed out the Nio EP9, however, isn’t a car for the masses: Nio only plans to produce 10 of the EP9s, and each will cost $1.48 million. The recent record isn’t the only one the Nio EP9 has set. The vehicle became the fastest autonomous car on Earth back in February, setting a record of 2:40:33 at the Circuit of the Americas Race Track in Austin. The car hit a speed of 160 mph, all without a human driver. Via Futurism Images via Nio

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World’s fastest electric car just shattered its own record

Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding

May 24, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is still trying to take a swing at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The White House’s most recent budget proposal, released yesterday, would cut money for environmental cleanup, clean air , and water programs. And thousands of people could lose their jobs as the number of full-time employees drops from 15,416 to 11,611 . The recent Trump budget proposal lowers EPA funding to $5.65 billion. If that still sounds like a hefty sum, consider what the EPA won’t be able to do with this slashed budget: restore areas like the Great Lakes and Puget Sound and run a lead risk-reduction program. They also won’t have as much money for climate change research, environmental justice efforts, or radon detection programs. The White House proposal also just about halves categorical grants which help states and local areas address water and air quality. Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers EPA administrator Scott Pruitt stood behind Trump’s drastic cuts; the agency put out a statement praising the returned “focus to core statutory mission,” which we guess means dirty air and polluted water for all. Pruitt even decided to say Trump’s “budget respects the American taxpayer.” This praise comes even though the proposed budget would reduce funding for Pruitt’s Superfund cleanup program – which he’s listed as a priority – by almost one third. Toxic accidents or industrial activity have polluted these Superfund sites, many of which, according to The Guardian , are close to low-income or minority communities. National Association of Clean Air Agencies executive director S. William Becker said he was astounded the administration didn’t change much from their initial March budget proposal, even after bipartisan opposition from Congress. Lawmakers recently reached a deal for government funding through September that cuts the EPA’s budget by around one percent. In a statement on the recent proposal, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said, “This isn’t a budget – it’s a road map for the President, EPA Administrator Pruitt, and polluters to see that millions of Americans drink dirtier water, breathe more polluted air, and don’t have enough nutritious food to lead healthy lives.” Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency on Flickr

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Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding

New on-demand energy system generates and stores power in one device

May 24, 2017 by  
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Your entire home could be powered, heated , and cooled with one system in the near future – thanks to scientists at the University of Newcastle and Infratech Industries . They’ve designed a Chemical Looping Energy-on-Demand System (CLES) that eliminates the need for a battery to store energy , instead generating and storing power in just one device. The university described the CLES as a Swiss army knife for energy . The CLES could totally change how we power our homes and businesses. The device can either generate electricity with natural gas , or store electricity from the grid or renewables to be utilized later. It centers around a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction in which particles oxidize and create steam that powers an electricity-generating turbine. When the particles reduce they release oxygen. Related: These mini spherical reactors could help scale fusion energy by 2030 The University of Newcastle says it can perform its functions – climate control and energy generation – with a fraction of the resources required by other systems. The system can also produce oxygen or hydrogen, which could be used or sold. The CLES is based on a Chemical Looping Air Separation invention from Behdad Moghtaderi, a professor at the university, and Infratech, which has been involved since the early stages of the project, aims to commercialize the technology. Their industrial-scale reference plant in Australia could power a retirement village or hospital. The reference plant will go through testing before it’s relocated to be used commercially. From there the team hopes to scale down the system to around the size of a refrigerator for use in houses. This should be available in around 18 months according to the University of Newcastle. A home system might generate 24 kilowatt-hours of power each day, and the scientists told New Atlas the system – which could cost around $4,500 for homeowners – would pay for itself in a year and a half. Via New Atlas and the University of Newcastle Images via screenshot and the University of Newcastle

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New on-demand energy system generates and stores power in one device

Dwell on Design 2017: The West Coast’s largest design event is coming to Los Angeles!

May 24, 2017 by  
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Dwell on Design , the West Coast’s largest design event, is back and better than ever for 2017. The highly-anticipated three-day design event to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 23 – 25 will feature 300 exhibitors, continuing education opportunities and onstage programming from design’s foremost leaders. Visitors will be able to tour homes curated by the talented editors at Dwell and attend conversations hosted by notable architect Sir David Adjaye , designer-to-the-stars Martyn Lawrence Bullard and founder of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux. If you don’t want to miss this treasure trove of design-goodness, register here to reserve your spot and you can use the code INHABITAT to get a $5 discount. For it’s 12th year, Dwell on Design will welcome 300 new and returning exhibitors in 100,000 square feet of space. In order to foster a shared experience, all sessions and featured panels will be hosted on the main stage, with more intimate fire-side chats and panels taking place throughout the fair. These conversations will focus on five themes: Technology/Smart Home, Health & Wellness/Aging, Urban Space/Densification, Resiliency, and Business of Design. Every year, the home tours are a real highlight of the show. This year, attendees will be treated to yet another inspiring series of Dwell-worthy home designs, including the minimalist Drexel home, cleverly remodeled Kuehl House and the mnmMOD-constructed Sherbourne Residence. Returning pavilions will include the ever-popular prefabricated Cocoon9 and Method Homes . Other exhibitors will include Benjamin Moore, Ergotron, Build.com, Hansgrohe, Humboldt Redwoods, Koble & Koble, Marvin Windows, Smith & Fong, and Stokke. The fair will also feature the AIA LA Photography awards, book signings by Sir David Adjaye, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and more, Meet the Architects Night, and a silent auction. Architect Sir David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates will be the keynote speaker on Friday, June 23. He’s known for his ground-breaking use of materials and has created such noteworthy designs as the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, the Moscow School of Management, and the stunning, recently-opened Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture . Then there’s Martyn Lawrence Bullard, star of Million Dollar Decorators and designer to Hollywood’s A-list, who has received international acclaim for his impressive mastery of style, and Christiane Lemieux, an acclaimed designer who founded DwellStudio  and Cloth & Company, as well as acting as creative director of Wayfair. Ongoing education partners include such respected names as the American Society of Interior Designers , U.S. Green Building Council , Sustainable Furnishings Council , and the National Kitchen and Bath Association . Attendees will be able to expand their knowledge on emergent topics, including the latest color trends, NetZero building practices, Passive Design principles, psychological effects of color use, sustainable landscapes, modern prefabricated design, living in small spaces, and sustainable housing. Year after year, Dwell on Design showcases groundbreaking and life-changing designs that end up transforming the industry. We can’t wait to see what is turning heads this year, but until then, you can check out all of the best Dwell on Design coverage from past years here . And don’t forget to nab your tickets for this year’s fair before they’re all gone,

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Dwell on Design 2017: The West Coast’s largest design event is coming to Los Angeles!

One of China’s largest car makers just broke ground on a $6.5 billion EV park

May 10, 2017 by  
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Chinese automakers are getting in on the electric car market in a big way. GAC Motor – one of the country’s largest car companies – just began construction on a $6.5 billion electric vehicle park where they’ll produce self-driving and electric cars. Electrek noted this is one of the biggest investments of this nature. The Guangzhou Automobile Intelligent Industrial Park will sprawl across almost two square miles in Guangzhou’s Panyu district in the province of Guangdong . A press release states the employment population of the park will be over 20,000 people. At the park, a new electric car plant, which might be ready to go by the end of the next year, could churn out as many as 200,000 units a year. Related: Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory GAC Motor General Manager Yu Jun said, “The planning and construction of this industrial park is a concrete step to implement the Chinese government’s green development goals for Guangdong and the national ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy. The move will help promote the development of the automobile industry and drive economic growth.” Research , development, and production will take place at the new industrial park. Electrek explained one reason for the huge investment is China’s electric vehicle mandate, which says at least eight percent of car makers’ total sales by 2018 should be electric vehicle sales, and increases to 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020. The publication said China is rapidly becoming the world’s biggest electric vehicle market. GAC just unveiled the GE3, their first entirely electric car, at the North American International Auto Show this year. But they have grand ambitions for the upcoming years: Yu Jun also said in the next five years, they’ll release a minimum of seven new electric car models, saying, “Our goal is for GAC Motor to take the lead in the EV business.” Watch out, Elon Musk ! Via Electrek and GAC Group Images via GAC Motor Facebook and GAC Group

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One of China’s largest car makers just broke ground on a $6.5 billion EV park

90-million-year-old embryo from ‘exceedingly rare’ Gigantoraptor discovered

May 10, 2017 by  
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Twenty-five years ago, a mysterious egg was discovered. For a good portion of that time, the unknown specimen that failed to hatch has been studied by paleontologists of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Finally, the dinosaur embryo has been identified and given a scientific name, and researchers say the discovery is more profound than they once thought. The study, published on May 9 in the journal Nature Communications , was co-led by researcher Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology. She told Live Science in an email, “This is the first embryo known for a giant oviraptorosaur, dinosaurs that are exceedingly rare.” Additionally, it is the second known giant oviraptorosaur (B. sinensis) on record. 15 inches in length (38 centimeters), the embryo would have developed into a gigantic bird-like dinosaur with a toothless beak and a crest on top of its head. Another name for the dinosaur is Gigantoraptor, as it was a beast that stood as tall as 16 ft (5 meters). Reportedly, the two-legged dinosaurs look like modern-day cassowaries – large, flightless birds that live in Australia. Researchers believe B. sinensis measured up to 26 feet long from its snout to the end of its tail and weighed up to 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) by the age of 11. This means it would have been 9 lbs by the time it hatched. The fossilized embryo was discovered by a Chinese farmer in Henan Province in 1992. One year later, it was exported to the U.S. by The Stone Co., a Colorado firm that sells fossils and rocks. After word spread that the embryo had been discovered, National Geographic featured it on a magazine cover in 1996. Related: World’s largest dinosaur footprint found in Australia’s “Jurassic Park” Enthralled by the discovery, people began calling the dinosaur embryo “Baby Louie.” The embryo representing a new species was eventually repatriated to China (2013) and put on display at the Henan Geological Museum. There, researchers flocked to study the intriguing discovery. After years of speculation and research, the 90-million-year-old embryo has finally been identified. + Nature Communications Via Live Science

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90-million-year-old embryo from ‘exceedingly rare’ Gigantoraptor discovered

New battery concept could give electric vehicles a 621-mile range

May 9, 2017 by  
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One of the biggest limits of electric vehicles is range. The cleanly-powered cars can only go so far on today’s batteries without recharging, but German research institute Fraunhofer is testing a new battery design that could afford drivers the peace of mind they have in gasoline-fueled vehicles. The researchers are working towards a range of 1,000 kilometers, or 621 miles. The batteries in electric cars today are comprised of hundreds or thousands of battery cells, and each one requires its own housing and terminals and cables to connect it to the vehicle. Sensors for monitoring take up space too. These added components use up 50 percent of the battery pack space. Fraunhofer’s design, called EMBATT, frees up space. They decided to stack large cells on top of each other, eliminating housing and contacting so more batteries can fit in the vehicle. They’ve run some initial tests in the laboratory, and so far it looks like this new design could offer electric cars almost double the range they have today. Related: Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car The researchers took inspiration from bipolar plates in fuel cells. The plates cover fuel cells on both sides and collect the electricity the cell generates; one plate side acts as a cathode and the other as an anode. Fraunhofer decided to replace battery housings and connectors with plates similar to those in fuel cells. This new design is simpler and makes more electricity accessible faster. It also reduces the resistance caused by electrical connections in today’s car batteries. Fraunhofer’s bipolar plates are comprised of metallic tape coated with ceramic storage materials on both sides. Project manager Mareike Wolter says they are easy to manufacture and have a long life. Fraunhofer is working on the battery with ThyssenKrupp System Engineering and IAV Automotive Engineering . The researchers hope to start testing the batteries in cars by 2020. Via New Atlas and Fraunhofer Images via Wikimedia Commons and © Fraunhofer IKTS

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New battery concept could give electric vehicles a 621-mile range

Google requested to label anti-fracking websites as fake news

May 9, 2017 by  
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Following the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election , search engine website Google rewrote its engine algorithm to bury “fake news.” They were consequently blamed for Hillary Clinton’s loss and the “propaganda” which supposedly defamed President Trump . Since then, the phrase “ fake news ” has been a readily-used one. And, members of the industry-funded Texans for Natural Gas are taking advantage of it by urging Google to include anti- fracking websites in its list of sources that lack integrity and accuracy. In an open letter to Google which was published on Monday, the group wrote , “We believe many of the most prominent anti- fracking websites have content that is misleading, false, or offensive – if not all three. As a result, we urge you to consider purging or demoting these websites from your algorithm, which in turn will encourage a more honest public discussion about hydraulic fracturing , and oil and natural gas development in general.” Bloomberg reported in April that due to immense pressure to eliminate fake news , or what the company calls “low-quality” content, Google raters now “assess search results — to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls ‘low-quality’ content.” The process in question is hydraulic fracturing ( fracking ), which involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and an assortment of chemicals, deep into the ground to unlock reserves of oil and natural gas . The drilling technique is responsible for igniting the energy boom, but many environmentalists view it as a threat to the planet. This is because the process may contaminate groundwater, pollute the air and threaten wildlands. Additionally, some scientists believe fracking causes earthquakes, as Inhabitat previously reported . Related: EPA finally admits fracking contaminates drinking water Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did announce in 2015 that no widespread evidence was found proving that fracking contaminates groundwater, it later reversed its decision. In late 2016, the EPA concluded that there is evidence that fracking has contaminated drinking water in all stages of the process. Because of these findings, many citizens are adamant that they deserve the right to be skeptical of the process, especially considering the country’s reliance on fossil fuels is propelling climate change . Texans for Natural Gas believe otherwise, however. The group wrote to Google, “Claims made by the radical environmentalist campaign against hydraulic fracturing are protected by the First Amendment.” “Groups that wish to peddle misleading information about oil and natural gas are fully within their rights to do so. Many of the groups engaging in anti-fracking advocacy have devoted significant resources to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a result they receive significant web traffic,” they added. “But that is no reason for Google to reward such misinformation with its powerful search engine. We urge you consider adding these groups’ websites to your review of fake news and the kinds of content that you do not wish to promote.” Via The Daily Signal Images via Bloomberg

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Google requested to label anti-fracking websites as fake news

Cadillac unveils their new CT6 Plug-in Hybrid – a large, green luxury sedan

May 3, 2017 by  
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Cadillac is pushing a new green car strategy they hope will make a bigger impact than their ELR plug-in hybrid – a low-performing vehicle in terms of sales success. Rather than produce a standalone plug-in hybrid , like the ELR, Cadillac will release plug-in hybrid versions of its regular lineup, starting with the new 2017 CT6 Plug-in Hybrid. The 2017 CT6 plug-in hybrid is just now reaching showrooms, giving Cadillac a rival to other luxury sedan plug-ins, like the Mercedes-Benz S 550e, BMW 740e and Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid. The CT6 plug-in hybrid can travel up to 31 miles in electric mode, which is better than the embarrassing 12 mile EV range that the S550e manages to squeeze out of its battery. If you open the hood, you won’t see a V6 or large V8 engine, like many Cadillac loyalists are used to. Instead, the CT6 plug-in hybrid is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine and two-motor electric variable transmission. A large lithium-ion battery powers the electric part of the system from behind the backseat and takes up to 4.5 hours to fully recharge on a 240-volt outlet. Related: Honda steps up with new green car strategy In total, the system generates 335 horsepower and 432 lb-ft. of torque, which puts it directly in the middle of the CT6 lineup, with only the twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 beating it. The CT6 plug-in hybrid can reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and has a 62 combined MPGe rating. Plus the 31-mile driving range is longer than almost every other plug-in hybrid on the market, with the exception of the Chevy Volt and BMW i3, but neither of those models are as luxurious or comfortable. On the road the CT6 tries to find the perfect balance between performance and efficiency. You can select between three driving modes: Tour, Sport and Hold. Tour is the standard setting, but if you want a more exciting driving experience, there’s the Sport mode with its more aggressive pedal mapping and steering response. The Hold mode allows the driver to save the EV range for later use, maybe in a city center, for example. There are also four selectable battery regen modes to recuperate as much energy as you want. The strongest setting almost allows for one pedal driving, which is something that makes the i3 so great to drive in traffic. What’s it like to drive the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid? Driving around Los Angeles in the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid, it’s easy to forget you’re driving an electrified Cadillac. The instantaneous torque makes acceleration a breeze and the 31-mile EV range is enough for short errands around town. With a 0-60 mph time of only 5.2 seconds, the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid can speed past many sports cars. Although it is fast, it’s still not a true sports sedan. If you’re looking for a sportier driving experience, you’ll probably want to check out the Panamera instead, but if you’re in the market for a large, luxurious sedan, without the fuel economy penalty, the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid is hard to beat. Pricing for the 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-in hybrid starts at $75,095. It only comes in one trim with standard features like, a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, rear seat infotainment system and the Enhanced Vision package. Images @Inhabitat and Cadillac + Cadillac

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Cadillac unveils their new CT6 Plug-in Hybrid – a large, green luxury sedan

Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV

May 2, 2017 by  
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Volkswagen is on a roll lately with its electric car ambitions. Last fall the automaker unveiled the I.D. hatchback concept and earlier this year it followed it up with the Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz concept. Now Volkswagen has unveiled its third model from the electric I.D. family – the I.D. Crozz. As its name suggests, the I.D. Crozz concept is a sleek electric crossover that previews an all-electric crossover that will be introduced in 2020. The concept is based on the same MEB platform as the original two concepts, which means that it can also travel over 300 miles on the European Cycle. But under the skin, the I.D. Crozz features two electric motors to give it all-wheel drive capability. Related: VW’s new electric car goes further and costs less than the Tesla 3 or Chevy Bolt The system features a 101-hp electric motor at the front and a 201-hp electric motor at the rear. Under normal driving conditions, the rear electric motor is the main power source, but if the conditions worsen and all-wheel drive is needed, the front motor is powered up instantaneously. Drivers also have the ability to lock it into all-wheel drive if needed. With a total 302 horsepower and an estimated driving range of 311 miles, the I.D. Crozz concept will easily be one of the most efficient SUVs you can buy. VW also estimates that it can be recharged using a 150 kW charger up to 80 percent in a mere 30 minutes. By 2020 autonomous driving technology will be available in many models and VW expects to have its own technology ready by 2025. The I.D. Crozz previews VW’s new I.D. Pilot autonomous driving technology , in which the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and fuses with the digital instruments. In both automatic and manual modes the driver also receives speed and navigation information via a new head-up display. “By 2025, we want to have sales of pure electric vehicles up to one million units a year,” stated Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management, Volkswagen Brand. “The I.D. Crozz will play a key role in that. Production will start in 2020.” + Volkswagen Images @Volkswagen

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Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV

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