Researchers discover 14,000-year-old Canadian village, one of North America’s oldest

April 13, 2017 by  
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The discovery of a 14,000-year-old ancient village in Canada could forever alter our understanding of early civilization in North America. Researchers estimate the settlement is way older than the Giza pyramids, and have found artifacts dating all the way back to the Ice Age . The village is one of the oldest human settlements we’ve ever uncovered in North America – and lines up with the oral history of the Heiltsuk Nation. Researchers from the Hakai Institute and University of Victoria , with local First Nations members, unearthed revealing artifacts on Triquet Island, around 310 miles northwest of Victoria, Canada. They’ve found fish hooks, spears, and tools to ignite fires. Thanks to the discovery of the ancient village last year, researchers now think a massive human migration may have happened along British Columbia’s coastline. Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion years old According to IFL Science, archaeologists once thought humans might arrived in North America via a land bridge between Russia and Alaska, and then moved forward on foot. But the recent discovery suggests people moved down the coast possibly in boats instead; the coastal route likely came before the inland route. University of Victoria PhD student Alisha Gauvreau, who was part of the excavation, told CTV News Vancouver Island, “I remember when we get [sic] the dates back and we just kind of sat there going, holy moly, this is old. What this is doing is just changing our idea of the way in which North America was first peopled.” The find fits right in with the oral history of a First Nations government in British Columbia, the Heiltsuk Nation. For generations they’ve told stories of ancient coastal villages. William Housty of Heiltsuk Nation told CTV News Vancouver Island, “To think about how these stories survived all of that, only to be supported by this archaeological evidence is just amazing.” Via CTV News Vancouver Island , The Independent , and IFL Science Images via screenshot and Hakai Institute Twitter

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Researchers discover 14,000-year-old Canadian village, one of North America’s oldest

World’s first full-size IBC bifacial solar module takes in light from both sides

April 13, 2017 by  
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What if both sides of a solar panel could take in light? That’s the idea pursued by researchers at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), National University of Singapore , and Germany’s International Solar Energy Research Center Konstanz . They’ve succeeded in developing and fabricating the first full-size interdigitated back contact (IBC) bifacial solar module in the world. The groundbreaking module could last longer and generate more power than the conventional variety. The team’s new bifacial solar module could offer better, more efficient solar energy in the near future. It can absorb light on both its front and back sides. Their prototype was made with bifacial ZEBRA IBC solar cells, which have an efficiency of up to 22 percent. According to SERIS CEO Armin Aberle, these IBC cells are known for reliability and durability. Related: New bifacial solar module takes advantage of direct and reflected sunlight Double- glass insulation enclosing the module means its warranty could be longer than most solar modules: 30 years or even more. And since the cells are bifacial – the researchers report a bifaciality of 75 percent – the module can produce up to 30 percent more power . SERIS’ PV Module Cluster Director Wang Yan said, “With SERIS’ new module design, panels with 350 watts front-side power can be made with 60 23 percent efficient screen-printed IBC cells. Considering an additional 20 percent of power via the panel’s transparent rear surface, each 60-cell IBC bifacial module will produce a stunning 400 watts of power in the real world.” The revolutionary solar module will be displayed at the upcoming International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference & Exhibition from April 19 to 21 in Shanghai, China. Aberle said, “The module technology offers world-class front side power while providing free extra power from the rear side.” He said the next step is transferring the technology to industrial partners, and the product could be on the market in around two years. Via Phys.org Images via Solar Research Institute of Singapore

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World’s first full-size IBC bifacial solar module takes in light from both sides

Pipeline breach spills 53,000 gallons of oil on First Nations land

January 25, 2017 by  
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This is why millions of people around the world are opposed to the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines just pushed through by Donald Trump. 53,000 gallons or around 1,260 barrels of oil was reported to have spilled on First Nations land in Saskatchewan, Canada last week, though some local residents warn the spill may have occurred earlier. The oil has leaked onto agricultural land, but the government said it has not infiltrated water sources. The leak is Saskatchewan’s largest pipeline breach since a 225,000-liter oil spill last year; some of that oil made its way into the North Saskatchewan river. The recent spill happened on reserve land owned by the Ocean Man First Nation and covered a 66-foot radius. Some 52,834 gallons of oil spilled. Related: Major oil spill 150 miles away from DAPL protest validates Standing Rock concerns With multiple pipelines in the area, the government is uncertain which was responsible for the spill. They think the source could be a pipeline owned by Tundra Energy Marketing Limited (TEML), so the company is leading clean-up efforts. So far 170,000 liters, or around 44,909 gallons, have been recovered, according to the government, which also said wildlife and air quality have not yet been harmed by the spill. TEML released a statement and said, “Clean-up work on the site commenced immediately and involved the removal of surface oil with vacuum trucks. Additional clean-up work and remediation will be conducted to ensure that the affected land is restored appropriately.” The pipeline was reportedly shut down as soon as the breach was found. But some people wonder if the spill was already underway before the government was made aware of it. Ocean Man First Nation chief Connie Big Eagle said one band member, a longtime oil industry employee, smelled a strange odor near the site of the spill. Big Eagle told CBC News the smell was “going on for about a week.” Via CBC News ( 1 , 2 ) Images via ripperda on Flickr and Ingrid Taylar on Flickr

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First Nations community launches the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia

September 9, 2016 by  
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Home to over 1,000 members of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, the Lower Nicola Indian Band is made up of a community of Interior Salish peoples that have lived for thousands of years along the Thompson and Nicola rivers in the Southern Interior of the province. The territory’s location in the heart of British Columbia’s “sun belt” region made it an ideal place for a solar installation. The project is the first phase to make the community more energy self-sufficient and will likely be followed with initiatives to help community members add solar to their private homes. Related: First Nation builds spirited solar project in the heart of Canada’s oil sands The 330-panel rooftop solar array on the Lower Nicola Indian Band School gymnasium generates up to 85.8 kilowatts of electricity. Excess energy will be fed into the local BC Hydro grid. The school will integrate the solar project into the curriculum as an opportunity to teach students about renewable energy . The solar power installation was created in partnership with W Dusk Energy Group, the principal developer that specializes in working with First Nations community in renewable energy projects and other community development initiatives. + Lower Nicola Indian Band + W Dusk Energy Group Images via W Dusk Energy Group

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First Nations community launches the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia

Meet SOLO, an affordable electric three-wheeled commuter vehicle for one

September 9, 2016 by  
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Called the SOLO for short, this little electric car is downright amazing. It has three wheels—two in the front and one in the rear. The body looks a lot like every other car out there, except that its triangular shape makes it appear as though it’s been smooshed in on itself a bit. The body is built largely from carbon fiber for a durable but lightweight ride, which aids in energy efficiency as well. Related: The 10 best electric vehicles for every buyer The SOLO may be small (and a little weird looking), but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It boasts 140 ft-lbs of torque with an engine output up to 82 hp that can rev from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 8 seconds. With a top speed of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), the SOLO is right at home on interstates and city freeways, turning an ordinary commute into an emission-free breeze. The SOLO also features all-wheel disc brakes and sporty 15” aluminum alloy wheels make it easy to stop on a dime. Electra Meccanica recognizes that range anxiety can be a big turn-off for prospective EV buyers, so the SOLO was built with a 16.1 kWh Lithium Ion battery capable of providing up to six hours of run time and maximum range of 100 miles on a single charge. The average American commutes around 26 miles each way, so the SOLO provides more than enough coverage for a daily trek between the home and the office, with a few side trips thrown in for good measure. (That’s right. The SOLO may be tiny and only seat one person, but it still has room for groceries.) Electra Meccanica found that some 80 percent of commuters travel alone, so a single-seater commuter vehicle that happens to be better for the environment is so many “wins” we can’t keep track. Did we mention this cute little commuter is affordable, to boot? With a starting price of just $15,400 ($19,888 CAD), the SOLO fits comfortably into a wide range of car-buying budgets . Electra Meccanica is accepting pre-orders with a small refundable deposit for a very limited time. “The entire team here at Electra Meccanica is excited to unveil the SOLO at the Luxury and Supercar show,” said CEO Jerry Kroll. “Most people had a good idea of what the SOLO would become, but they will be impressed by its clever design and meticulous attention to detail. It far exceeded our expectations.” Same here, Jerry. Same here. + 2017 Electra Meccanica SOLO Images via Electra Meccanica

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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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Earthships heading to Canada will provide First Nation communities with low-income housing

July 20, 2016 by  
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Earthships are a unique kind of low-cost homes that are built primarily with recycled materials and produce and provide as much as possible on site. Created and marketed by New Mexico-based Earthship Biotecture , the earthship alleviates the problems of housing insecurity and environmental waste in one elegant solution. These sustainable housing units have been installed in India, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and other countries as a means to empower local communities. The Earthship team are now bringing their housing model to First Nations communities facing a housing crisis in Canada. Francine Doxtator and her family are among the first members of the First Nations to collaborate with Earthship Biotechture on such a project. “We’re all looking forward to the new home,” says Doxtator, “but I still don’t believe it’s happening.” The new earthship home, powered by solar panels, hydrated by a rainwater collection system, and insulated by recycled tires, will reduce utility bills by hundreds of dollars per month. It will also allow the family to have a more respectful relationship with nature. “We try and respect Mother Earth, says Doxtator. “Right now we’re ruining her. We have to look after her so she can look after us.” Related: First Nation builds spirited solar project in the heart of Canada’s oil sands While earthships may seem an ideal solution, there are obstacles that currently prevent their wider adoption. Earthships often do not qualify for standard mortgages or loans in Canada , which puts its cost of C$60,000 out of reach for many. Strict regulations on new housing on First Nations land also prohibits the spread of earthships. The newest earthship installation at the Doxtator homestead arrives as Prime Minister Trudeau has promised the public investment of C$554 million in First Nations communities. The earthship’s best days may still lie ahead. “I would love to see this happen for more people,” says Doxtator. Still, even the new homeowner is a bit perplexed by the unusual design. “I just hope it doesn’t look like a Flintstones house in the end.” Via the Guardian Images via Wikipedia , Flickr and  Adrienne Harper

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Earthships heading to Canada will provide First Nation communities with low-income housing

Canada just saved one of Earth’s last temperate rainforests

February 9, 2016 by  
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When most people think of rainforests , they think of a tropical jungle — but rainforests can exist in temperate regions that receive heavy rain, too. These forests are rare, found mostly along the Northwestern coast of North America, Southern Chile, and New Zealand, and that makes their unique ecosystems especially vulnerable to commercial logging and development. That’s why the Canadian government just moved to protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, banning logging across 9.1 million acres of land. Read the rest of Canada just saved one of Earth’s last temperate rainforests

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Canadian clay kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria on contact

February 1, 2016 by  
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Aboriginal Canadians used clay from Kisameet Bay, British Columbia to treat their ailments for centuries – from stomach complaints to skin irritation. Now, researchers have found that there might just be something to the clay’s purported healing properties after all. It turns out this 10,000-year-old deposit of clay is highly effective against many serious antibiotic-resistant infections. Read the rest of Canadian clay kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria on contact

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