Scientists Use Lightning Blasts To Recycle Concrete Debris into New Building Materials

December 13, 2012 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock Waste doesn’t always look like discarded soda bottles or piles of unwanted newspaper. Humans are constantly altering their environments to serve a new purpose or accommodate a new need. We tear down, erect, and renovate buildings constantly, and the result is millions of tons of building rubble. Until recently, the only way to recycle concrete waste was to smash it up and use it as a base layer for roads. Now, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics have developed a better way: use lightning to break separate concrete debris into its most basic, and reuseable, parts. Concrete is extremely versatile, which is why it’s the world’s most popular building material. Created by mixing cement, water and aggregate, and a mixture of stone particles such as gravel or limestone grit in various sizes, concrete is cheap and easy to use. Unfortunately these positive aspects have a big, dirty downside. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, “the production of one ton of burned cement clinker of limestone and clay releases 650 to 700 kilograms of carbon dioxide.” This means that every year 8 to 15 percent of global CO2 production is attributable to concrete manufacturing. The key to recycling concrete, and curbing some of these harmful carbon emissions , is efficiently reducing concrete rubble into ingredients that can then be mixed into new concrete. The process developed by the Fraunhofer researchers uses electrodynamic fragmentation, very short pulses (less than 500 nanoseconds) of induced lightning, to separate gravel from cement materials in concrete. When the lightning strikes the concrete debris, it runs along the path of least resistance which is the boundaries between the components, i.e. between the gravel and the cement stone. The initially generated impulses, the pre-discharges, first weaken the material mechanically. “The pre-discharge which reaches the counter-electrode in our fragmentation plant at first, then causes an electrical breakdown,” explains Volker Thome from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP at the Concrete Technology Group in Holzkirchen. ”At this instant a plasma channel is formed in the concrete which grows within a thousandth of a second, like a pressure wave from the inside outwards.” The force of the explosion quickly and efficiently breaks down concrete in a fraction of the time it would take for traditional methods. The researchers have set a goal of 20 tons per hour which they say could be reached in just two years’ time. +Fraunhofer Institute via Ecogeek

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Scientists Use Lightning Blasts To Recycle Concrete Debris into New Building Materials

SOM’s Shimmering White Cube for the LA Federal Courthouse Wins Award

December 13, 2012 by  
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The new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse will be designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill , and it will feature state-of-the-art sustainable design. Announced just this week, the US General Services Administration awarded the contract for the new project on Broadway street to the SF office of SOM. Although details are skant, the shimmering white cube will provide 550,000 square feet of space with updated security compared to the current Spring Street facility. The GSA , which is in charge of the process, is also looking for proposals to renovate the existing courthouse and use the sale of the building to finance construction. SOM competed against Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps; Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy; and NBBJ with Mortensen to land the award to design and build LA’s new federal courthouse. To be located on a currently empty site at 107 S. Broadway, the project will contain 550,000 square feet of new courtrooms, and provide space for active and senior judges of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and U.S. Marshals Service. The project will be a sustainable, cost-effective, state-of-the-art court facility that includes security upgrades that are not available in the current 312 North Spring Street courthouse. “GSA is committed to reducing the federal government’s real estate footprint by making more efficient use of our current properties and getting rid of outdated facilities that no longer meet our needs,” said GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini. “The agency is taking a new approach to property disposals by working with the private sector to exchange outdated properties for the construction of new sustainable facilities.” Construction is expected to begin in late 2013 and should be completed by 2016. The GSA hopes to revamp the old facilities and sell it to help finance the new project and they are currently accepting proposals for this renovation. + SOM Images Courtesy of GSA

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SOM’s Shimmering White Cube for the LA Federal Courthouse Wins Award

Ateliers O-S Architectes’ New Cultural Center in Nevers Incorporates Public Space into the Roof Design

December 13, 2012 by  
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The building will feature glazed walls, which will flood the ground floor of the center with natural light. Each of the concrete walls are concealed by timber cladding and make the space ambient and warm. The construction also incorporates a first-floor balcony which overlooks the space, and a 220-seat auditorium on the ground floor. Besides the innovative bleacher-filled roof, the center is a building designed to fulfill its purpose for the community, and it includes a creche, event rooms, and a dance hall, alongside meeting rooms that run along the first floor. + Ateliers O-S Architectes Images courtesy of Ateliers O-S Architectes

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Ateliers O-S Architectes’ New Cultural Center in Nevers Incorporates Public Space into the Roof Design

MVRDV Completes the Pixelated DNB NOR Bank Headquarters In Oslo

December 13, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of MVRDV Completes the Pixelated DNB NOR Bank Headquarters In Oslo Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , a-lab , dark arkitekter , Daylighting , dnb headquarters , dnb nor , dnb nor headquarters , eco design , eco office , eco tower , green architecture , Green Building , green design , MVRDV , norway , oslo , pixel building , pixelated building , plxel , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , Urban design

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MVRDV Completes the Pixelated DNB NOR Bank Headquarters In Oslo

German Scientists Double the Efficiency of Black Silicon for Use in Solar Cells

October 8, 2012 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock The future of solar power is about to get a little brighter with new developments in black silicon , a material that can absorb almost the entire spectrum, including infrared light. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have been making advancements in black solar panels, allowing them to double the efficiency of the material. The team is also hoping to combine a conventional panel (which can only capture three quarters of the spectrum), with the black silicon, creating a super-efficient cell that can harness the the full power of the sun. Read the rest of German Scientists Double the Efficiency of Black Silicon for Use in Solar Cells Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: black silicon , dr. stefan kontermann , Fraunhofer Institute , germany , infrared , Laser , photovoltaic panel , Solar cells , solar efficiency , solar panel

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German Scientists Double the Efficiency of Black Silicon for Use in Solar Cells

Dacha’s Origami is an All White Summer Home in Russia With No Windows and No Doors

October 8, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Dacha’s Origami is an All White Summer Home in Russia With No Windows and No Doors Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: all white house , Dacha’s Origami , Dachniy Otvet , eco design , green design , minimalist design , origami , Peter Kostelov , russia , solar battery , summer home , sustainable design , timber

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Dacha’s Origami is an All White Summer Home in Russia With No Windows and No Doors

Metropol Parasol is Like a Giant Waffle Roller Coaster That Soars Over Seville, Spain

October 8, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Metropol Parasol is Like a Giant Waffle Roller Coaster That Soars Over Seville, Spain Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Design , eco design , green design , jurgen mayer , Metropol Parasol , seville , Spain , sustainable design , tafline laylin , Travel , waffle roller coaster , world’s largest timber structure

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Metropol Parasol is Like a Giant Waffle Roller Coaster That Soars Over Seville, Spain

Sensory Wristwatch Detects Medical Emergencies Before They Happen

April 21, 2010 by  
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Imagine knowing you’re getting dehydrated before you collapse. Or receiving an alert that your blood sugar levels are dipping too low

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Sensory Wristwatch Detects Medical Emergencies Before They Happen

The Best Green Designs From Milan Design Week!

April 21, 2010 by  
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Read the rest of The Best Green Designs From Milan Design Week! http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: I Saloni , Milan Design Fair , Milan Design Week , Milan Salone 2010 , Milano , Salone 2010 , Salone del mobile

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The Best Green Designs From Milan Design Week!

NASA’s Gift to Earth: A Climate Change Supercomputer

April 21, 2010 by  
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Just in time for Earth Day , a new NASA data-crunching tool aims to revolutionize global climate change research. NASA Earth Exchange, or NEX , uses a 128-screen supercomputer to combine satellite images, research data and modeling software

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NASA’s Gift to Earth: A Climate Change Supercomputer

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