NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth

August 23, 2017 by  
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A new study from NASA’s Jet Propulsion unit has determined that the threat of a supervolcanic eruption to life on Earth may be more pressing than any interstellar collisions. An eruption of a supervolcano, like that found in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, could trigger a collapse of the global agricultural and economic systems and result in the deaths of potentially millions of people. Although NASA scientists can’t predict when such an event would occur, they have already begun preparing a preventative measure: drilling into the magma chamber of a supervolcano to cool it down. Although the potential consequences of a supervolcano eruption would be devastating, earthlings should rest easy knowing that the chance of such an eruption taking place this year is roughly 1-in-730,000. Even then, there is a chance that it could be nothing more than a little lava flow. Nonetheless, NASA scientists are preparing to deal with the problem before it happens. Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight Magma eruptions occur only when it is thoroughly melted by intense heat; cooling magma down by 35 percent would prevent a supervolcano from erupting. To do this, the scientists envision using a drill to puncture above the chamber, where hydrothermal fluids are pushed to the surface. Adding water in this highly pressurized environment would be sufficient to cool the magma. To avoid fracturing the surrounding rock and potentially setting off an eruption, NASA scientists suggest drilling into the supervolcano from below. It is estimated that such a plan would cost around $3.5 billion, although governments would be encouraged to think of this as an investment : Excess heat could be captured and transformed into clean energy . Via IFLScience Lead image via Pixabay , others via Laineema/Flickr  and Peter Hartree/Flickr

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NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth

True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts

August 23, 2017 by  
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A number of grassroots initiatives and organizations are revitalizing Detroit as a testing ground for urban innovation. Edwin Chan and his Los Angeles–based design practice EC3 recognized the potential of the city’s underutilized community spaces and recently completed True North Detroit , a half-acre live-work community made from lightweight prefabricated Quonset huts. This small complex of nine vaulted buildings offers affordable housing for Detroit’s growing creative population. Located in the Core City neighborhood, about two and a half miles northwest of downtown, the community breathes new life into an area that consists mostly of vacant lots. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free “The majority of Detroit’s housing stock is either out of date or completely dilapidated,” Edwin Chan said. “Rather than being determined by ‘market demands,’ True North’s design is an inclusive and aspirational vision to create a new typology of affordable housing and to promote alternative, creative lifestyles in one of the world’s most iconic cities.” Related: These tiny houses help minimum wage workers become homeowners in Detroit The architects modified the original shape of the Quonset huts to create more elongated, higher spaces ideal for a variety of activities. The center island houses the kitchens, bathrooms, and utilities. This space is built from durable polycarbonate , while the rest of the structure has a more transparent envelope that allows natural light into the interior. Affordable materials and building methods were used in the construction of the apartments, which range from 475 to 1,600 square feet. + Edwin Chan + True North Detroit Via Archpaper

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True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts

People are using recycled laptop batteries to power their homes

August 23, 2017 by  
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Why spend thousands of dollars on a Tesla Powerwall when you could build your own – for a fraction of the cost? This is a question many alternative energy enthusiasts have asked, and it is ultimately what has led hundreds of people to develop their own versions using recycled laptop batteries. Now that plans for DIY Powerwalls are being shared for free online, several people have created rigs capable of storing far more energy than the Tesla version. On Facebook , YouTube and in forums , people are learning how to safely create their own DIY versions that cost much less than a Tesla Powerwall. One of the most popular powerwall builders is Jehu Garcia . He told Vice, “It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful.” Joe Williams , another DIY powerwall enthusiast, added ”The end result is being able to rely on something I not only built myself but understand the ins and outs of to power some or all of my electricity in my home. That is inspiring.” There are several DIY versions capable of storing more energy than Tesla’s Powerwall. On the French forum  Diypowerwalls.com , user Glubux said his powerwall can store 28 kWh of energy. “I run all the house with it, in fact I even bought an electric oven and induction cooking plate to use the extra energy during summer,” they said. Australian YouTuber Peter Matthews claims he has created a gigantic battery that can store 40 kWh of energy. Reportedly, it harvests power from over 40 solar panels on Matthews’ roof and stores nearly enough power for his home’s electricity needs. “The only things I don’t run are the big air conditioners and the water heating system,” he said. The alternative energy aficionado created DIYpowerwalls as well as the most popular powerwall Facebook group . Related: Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings Most of the powerwall hobbyists recommend using 18650 lithium-ion batteries for their projects. The batteries are usually encased in a colorful plastic and can be found inside electronics, such as laptops. If sourced online or from a computer store, the batteries will cost more than $5 a piece. If obtained second-hand, from old Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG laptops, it’s possible to save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars on the project. Of course, one might meet challenges collecting the batteries , as tech companies frown upon their creative repurposing. A positive effect of the DIY powerwall trend is that it reduces waste . According to Carl E. Smith, the CEO and president of  Call2Recycle , approximately 95 percent of consumer batteries which are sold in the US are not recycled and are ultimately thrown away. ”Virtually all batteries can be recycled into valuable secondary products which is the biggest reason why they should not be landfilled and should be recycled instead,” he said. Though it can be time-consuming to source the used batteries, it’s a worthwhile investment according to DIY powerwall enthusiasts. And, if one carefully follows instructions when building their own version (such as those that follow), the risk of burning down one’s house is minimized. Ultimately, there is a risk associated with creating your own energy storage device, but the trend can’t be ignored as it grows in popularity. Via Motherboard Vice Images via  Daniel Römer ,  Jehu Garcia ,  Glubux

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People are using recycled laptop batteries to power their homes

Affordable home geothermal energy systems come to upstate New York

July 17, 2017 by  
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When you think of home renewable power systems, geothermal energy probably isn’t the first source that springs to mind. But new company Dandelion , which starts after time at Google’s moonshot factory X , aims to power houses with the clean , free source “right under our feet.” They’re offering their systems beginning in northeastern America. The Dandelion team launched their company independent of Alphabet this month, offering geothermal heating and cooling for homes. They come in and replace cooling, heating, and hot water equipment with their geothermal systems, including underground pipes and a heat pump, which gather energy from the earth. The company describes geothermal cooling and heating as the most efficient method of such climate control for the home. Related: St. Patrick’s Cathedral unveils state-of-the-art geothermal plant Affordability was one of Dandelion’s main goals. They say many homes haven’t yet adopted geothermal systems due to the hefty cost associated with setup. In contrast, Dandelion’s system costs $20,000. On their website they say they’ve partnered with a leading financing company to install the systems with zero costs upfront followed by low monthly payments. The company also designed a better drill to install the systems. In the past, geothermal systems were installed with a wide drill that was intended for water wells more than 1,000 feet into the ground. The Dandelion team designed a slender drill that can create one or two deep holes a few inches wide – with less waste. Their new drill lets them put in ground loops in under one day. Overall, putting in their geothermal systems takes two to three days. Dandelion’s heat pumps will last around 25 years, while the closed-loop piping can last for a minimum of 50. The system comes with a smart thermostat enabling homeowners to regulate the temperature inside. The team is starting with 11 counties in New York – they say regions with cold winters and hot summers are ideal for home geothermal systems. + Dandelion Via Kathy Hannun on Medium Images via Dandelion Facebook and Dandelion

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Affordable home geothermal energy systems come to upstate New York

Iceland’s "Thor" volcano power plant can generate 10X more energy than oil or gas wells

May 5, 2017 by  
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Tapping into geothermal energy is nothing new, but Iceland is taking things majorly next level by drilling nearly 3 miles into a live volcano to tap liquid hot magma. The well is likely the hottest hole on the planet, reaching oozing magma that averages 800 °F. The hole was completed in January and energy production kicks off today. If successful, the clean energy source will be able to generate ten times more energy than conventional oil or gas wells. The project is nicknamed Thor after the Norse god. The geothermal well will tap into what is called “supercritical” fluid – neither gas nor liquid – to generate clean, renewable energy. It works by using the fluid to generate steam, which then causes turbines to move generating power. Related: Google Street View takes you inside the fiery depths of an active volcano As you’d imagine, volcano power is pretty potent stuff. To supply Iceland’s capitol Reykjavik (with a population of 212,000 people) with power, you’d need 30-35 conventional wells. But if Thor performs as expected, it would only take 3 – 5 wells. Via Phys.org Images via Statoil and Peterhartree Save

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Iceland’s "Thor" volcano power plant can generate 10X more energy than oil or gas wells

This gorgeous brick house is heated and cooled by the earth

March 1, 2017 by  
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Studio Iredale Pedersen Hook wrapped this beautiful family home in Australia with one of mankind’s oldest and most humble building materials: bricks . Located in Perth, the Applecross Residence has a dark glazed skin and a strong fluid body that connects it to the waters of the nearby Swan River . A duo of metallic legs on the side pump up geothermal heating and cooling from deep underground. The Applecross Residence explores the potential of bricks throughout its five levels. The brickwork is interpreted in different ways, with glazed dark bricks placed alongside silver ones that reflect light and color into the house. A couple of thermal chimneys provide the house with free source of heating and cooling. The home is topped by a stunning roof terrace for enjoying al-fresco meals with beautiful views of the river and Perth . Angled brickwork creates elegant window shadings that discretely filter excess sunlight. One level of the house is designed as a separate apartment, allowing friends, family and other people to occupy the site. + Iredale Pedersen Hook Photos by Peter Bennetts for Iredale Pedersen Hook

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This gorgeous brick house is heated and cooled by the earth

Geothermal-powered ferry terminal in Stockholm has a public park on its roof

November 7, 2016 by  
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The new terminal references the shapes of moving marine vessels and the surrounding area’s cranes and warehouses . It functions as a natural extension of the urban fabric. It slowly emerges from the ground to allow city inhabitants to use its roof as a public park . Varied green landscapes with stairs, ramps and niches create a beautiful environment where people can stroll and have relaxing moments while enjoying the view of the ferries, the archipelago, and the city skyline. Related: C.F. Møller’s Solar-Powered Wood Skyscraper Wins HSB Stockholm Architecture Competition The building is powered by solar and geothermal energy , distributed through integrated systems. Self-sufficient and aiming for a LEED Gold certification, the new terminal is expected to become both architecturally and environmentally a new landmark for the Norra Djursgårdsstaden development area. + C.F. Møller Photos by Adam Mørk

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Geothermal-powered ferry terminal in Stockholm has a public park on its roof

Solar-powered Ex of In House in New York features all 3D-printed fixtures inside

November 3, 2016 by  
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The 918-square-foot house sits on a 28 acre forested site in Rhinebeck, New York called T2 reserve. It is an experimental landscape slated to be subdivided into five different plots. By intersecting spheres and tesseract trapezoids, the architects came up with a design that features dynamic spatial relationships. This is first felt at the entry porch, where an orb of wood carved out of the main volume of the house welcomes the entrant. Related: 7 Questions with Architect Steven Holl The house is powered by geothermal and solar energy. Thin film  photovoltaic cells are connected to a battery energy storage system, making the house completely self-sufficient. All the fixtures inside the house were 3D-printed, while the glass and wood were sourced locally , minimizing the home’s embedded carbon miles. + Steven Holl Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Paul Warchol

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Solar-powered Ex of In House in New York features all 3D-printed fixtures inside

Brazilian official murdered as war against environmental activists heats up

November 3, 2016 by  
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In Brazil, the public murder of a government official in Pará state has sparked renewed fear, as the war against stewards of the endangered Amazon rages on. Luiz Alberto Araújo, environment secretary on the city council of Altamira, was killed October 13 after being shot multiple times while sitting in his car in front of his home. His wife and two stepchildren were also in the car, but left unharmed, sending a clear message that Araújo’s death was the only objective of the attack. In his government role, Araújo battled against the growing problem of deforestation in Brazil and the repercussions from the recently built Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. His work earned him numerous death threats, and the official had recently moved from a similar role in another city to avoid danger. Now, in the weeks after his murder, many are calling for the government to step up its protections for environmental activists fighting against illegal logging and mining, as well as a host of humanitarian offenses, which have become common in Pará, one of Brazil’s poorest states. Related: Amazon dam opposed by local tribes halted by Brazilian environmental agency “The killing of Luiz Alberto Araújo marks a new low in the war waged against environmentalists in the Brazilian Amazon,” said Billy Kyte, campaign leader at the NGO Global Witness. “It sends a message that no one is untouchable.” The Guardian reports that over 150 environmental activists have been killed in Brazil since 2012, but most were activists. Araújo’s murder marks the first time a government official has been targeted in the backlash against environmental protections that seeks to put an end to the destruction. Via The Guardian Images via Shutterstock and Eletronotre

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Brazilian official murdered as war against environmental activists heats up

Playful Blauhaus residence in North Carolina powered by geothermal energy

July 27, 2016 by  
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Blauhaus has a gabled roof section and a flat roof section joined together by an elevated roof deck . It is clad in cementitious siding and standing seam metal panels with red elements that accentuate the orthogonal geometry of the building. Its interior, filled with natural light, features bamboo floors and an open plan layout. Related: Apple Set to Build its Third Enormous Solar Farm in North Carolina The most entertaining part of the 3,700-square-foot house is a small “gargoyle” placed on the roof that creates a waterfall leading to the nearby creek. Blauhaus references the owner’s old home in Germany and uses geothermal energy for heating and cooling. The project has won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Matsumoto Prize Awards organized by North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH). + STITCH Design Shop + North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) Via Architect Magazine Photos by Adam Sebastian

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Playful Blauhaus residence in North Carolina powered by geothermal energy

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