Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver

January 8, 2018 by  
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Panasonic is just about everywhere you look these days, from car batteries to airplanes, and now the company is building one of their most ambitious projects yet: an entire smart city . Called CityNow, the futuristic city is rising up outside of Denver and will be a living lab experiment for creating towns that can survive a disaster, run on clean, renewable power, and contain sustainable infrastructure that improves people’s lives. The development has been underway for the past two years in a desolate patch of land near the Denver airport. The 400-acre project will be a transit-oriented city, with light rail connecting it to Denver and the airport, smart roadways that are perfect for autonomous vehicles, parking management, and autonomous shuttle routes, which roll out this spring. Related: Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’ The city also has a bevy of sustainable features, like a solar panel microgrid that can power the city for days in the event of a disaster. Streets lights consist of power-saving LEDs and a carbon neutral district. “Since early 2016, when we started on Denver CityNow, we’ve vetted 11 technology suppliers, developed an open API, established a carbon-neutral district, got approval from the public utility and installed the first microgrid, with solar panels on Denver Airport property, in partnership with Xcel Energy, which can power this area for 72 hours in the event of a natural, or manmade, disaster,” Jarrett Wendt, EVP of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions told PC Magazine . Panasonic’s first foray into a sustainable smart town in Fujisawa, Japan, has resulted in a city with 70 percent less carbon dioxide than normal, a return of 30 percent back to the grid, an EV charging grid, and enough renewable energy to power the city for five days off-grid. Denver’s smart city is slated for completion in eight years, and Panasonic hopes to see the same, if not better, results. Via PC Magazine Images via Panasonic

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Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver

London store recycles 60,000 plastic bottles for 3D-printed interior

January 5, 2018 by  
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You can tell that Bottletop , a “sustainable luxury” brand that transforms castoff materials into chic carryalls, takes its zero-waste philosophy to heart. Case in point? Its new flagship store on London’s Regent Street, which boasts a 3D-printed interior derived almost entirely from recycled plastic bottles . Together with Krause Architects and Ai Build , Bottletop conscripted a troop of Kuka robots to print sections of the boutique using a filament made from plastic waste gathered from the streets Delhi in India. There’s a social component to the process, too. ReFlow , the Netherlands-based company that makes the filament, says it reinvests part of its profits into local manufacturing projects. “Our mission is to significantly improve the lives of the nearly 40 million waste collectors worldwide who earn less than $2 a day and to create a global, socially responsible 3D-printing community,” ReFlow says on its website. Related: 3D-printed pod homes for the homeless could hang from NYC buildings Inspired by the work of Paolo Zilli, a senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects , the Bottletop store is a “world-first in retail” that “contributes to a broader positive ecosystem, in line with the values … of sustainable luxury, ethical design, technical innovation, and cross-cultural collaboration,” the company says in a statement. The recycled plastic isn’t the store’s only sustainable element, either. Look down and you’ll find that the flooring is composed of recycled rubber tires; glance up and you’ll discover a canopy made up of thousands of used metal cans suspended within a 3D-printed filigree. Related: World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands The store is a work in progress—literally. The KUKA robots are still hard at work producing whole segments, meaning that the space will evolve over time. You can even take home a piece of the store, in a manner of speaking: For a limited time, customers will be able to employ an on-site robot to print personalized bag charms using the ReFlow filament. “For the first time, visitors to our store will be able to witness the sustainable use of this technology first hand while shopping the Bottletop collection and learning about the mission of the brand,” the company says. “This is so exciting for us as our customers can watch the transformation of the store.” + Bottletop

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London store recycles 60,000 plastic bottles for 3D-printed interior

Israeli bus company to invest $2.2M in wireless charging electric roads

December 15, 2017 by  
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Wireless charging electric roads just took a big step forward, as Tel Aviv transit service Dan Bus Company announced plans to invest $2.2 million in ElectRoad . ElectRoad’s technology buries electric coils beneath roads to wirelessly charge electric vehicles as they drive. Future EV drivers may never have to worry about stopping at a charging station with ElectRoad’s technology. Several months ago, investment management company Biomedix Incubator Limited announced an intention to acquire ElectRoad, and just signed a cooperation agreement with Dan Bus Company. Should the merger be completed, Dan Bus Company will invest as much as 8 million Israeli New Shekels (NIS) (around $2.2 million) in ElectRoad. Related: Israel to test electric roads that wirelessly charge vehicles as they drive According to Globes , “The agreement with Dan includes an initial NIS 3.1 million investment and options for Biomedix shares amounting to NIS 5 million at a company value of NIS 90 million.” ElectRoad’s technology uses conduction coils to power electric cars via magnetic induction. They point to zero emissions , high efficiency, and low costs as benefits of their technology. They also say the system could allow for energy sharing between vehicles and the grid . The startup plans to gradually penetrate the market by focusing on public transportation , such as bus lanes. Globes said in their article, “The investment by Dan and the agreement between the companies indicates that public transportation companies are indeed interested in the technology.” Dan Bus Company has already rolled out some electric buses that could be charged via cable at departure stations in two to three minutes for a range of 30 kilometers , or almost 19 miles, which they said was enough for the longest urban line. Electric road technology could make such charging unnecessary. + ElectRoad Via Globes/ElectRoad Images © ElectRoad

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Israeli bus company to invest $2.2M in wireless charging electric roads

Airbus, Siemens, Rolls-Royce partner to build a hybrid-electric plane

December 5, 2017 by  
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Hybrid-electric commercial planes could be a reality if Airbus , Rolls-Royce , and Siemens are successful. The three companies recently teamed up to work on the E-Fan X technology demonstrator that could hit the skies in around three years. Siemens, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce announced their collaboration recently at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. They’ll come together to create what they call a near-term flight demonstrator that could fly in 2020. Out of four gas turbine engines on the aircraft, one will be replaced with a two-megawatt electric motor , and they’ll work towards switching out a second. Related: Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year Each company has a role to play: Airbus is in charge of overall integration and control architecture for the batteries and hybrid-electric propulsion system. Rolls-Royce is in charge of the two-megawatt generator, power electronics, and turbo-shaft engine. And Siemens will provide the two-megawatt electric motors and a power control unit – and an inverter, power distribution system, and DC/DC converter. According to an Airbus press release on the project, “The E-Fan X demonstrator will explore the challenges of high-power propulsion systems, such as thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems and electromagnetic compatibility issues. The objective is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety, and reliability enabling quick progress on the hybrid-electric technology.” The companies said some of the major challenges facing the aviation sector are lowering dependence on fossil fuels and boosting efficiency. They’re working to meet the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 Vision for Aviation, which entails a 75 percent and 90 percent reduction of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide , respectively, as well as slashing noise by 65 percent. Airbus said existing technologies cannot achieve these targets, so the companies are pursuing alternatives like electrification. The statement said, “Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion are seen today as among the most promising technologies for addressing these challenges.” Via Airbus Images via Airbus

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Airbus, Siemens, Rolls-Royce partner to build a hybrid-electric plane

14 green holiday gifts for gadget geeks

December 4, 2017 by  
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Looking for a great green gift for the gadget lover on your list? We’ve got you covered with the state of the art. From an amazing wheel that gives any bike an electric boost to a keyboard made of sustainably harvested wood and even a watch powered by body heat , we’ve rounded up 14 gadget gifts that are sure to please. Check them out here ! GREEN GIFTS FOR GADGET GEEKS >

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Artists transform gigantic Japanese park into a psychedelic forest of light

November 13, 2017 by  
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Japanese art collective teamLab has transformed a 5-million-square-foot park in Japan into a luminous “Forest Where Gods Live”. The massive art installation features 14 distinct artworks that use lights, projections, sensors, and sound to react as visitors stroll through the grounds. Mifuneyama Rakuen park is located in Japan’s Saga Prefecture in Kyushu. The exhibition spans the landscape of rocks, caves, and ample vegetation that leads to the towering Mount Mifune. The park is home to various Buddhist statues as well as 5,000 cherry blossom trees and 50,000 azaleas, all of which play key roles in the art installation . Related: Singapore Night Festival dazzles crowds with 13 stunning light installations TeamLab believes that digital art can connect people with nature: “We exist as a part of an eternal continuity of life and death, a process which has been continuing for an overwhelmingly long time. It is hard for us, however, to sense this in our everyday lives. When exploring the forest, we come to realize that the shapes of the giant rocks, caves, and the forest that have been formed over the eons, are the shapes of the continuous cycle of life itself. By applying digital art to this unique environment, the exhibition celebrates the continuity of life.” The exhibition, which is part of a Shiseido skincare campaign, uses projectors, motion sensors, and an ambient soundtrack to create a soothing forest of light in constant motion. Visitors can stroll through the park, passing through 14 artworks where the natural landscape lights up in reaction to the crowds. There’s a simulated waterfall that cascades down a sacred rock wall and a giant moss-covered boulder that digitally depicts the entire life cycle of colorful flowers. Walking along, visitors will see an example of artful Japanese calligraphy projected onto a large rock, surrounded by smoke. One of the most popular stops is the WASO Tea House, which displays beautiful flowers blooming inside a teacup, representing the skincare company’s slogan “All things beautiful come from nature”. + teamLab Via CNN Images and video via Team Lab

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Artists transform gigantic Japanese park into a psychedelic forest of light

Bright blue trekking tents are designed to pop up with speed in Iceland

November 13, 2017 by  
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As if Iceland’s gorgeous waterfall-studded landscape wasn’t enough to draw the eye, Stockholm-based Utopia Arkitekter has designed a bright blue cabin for installation along the country’s most famous trekking trails. Created for a competition, the Skýli (“shelter” in Icelandic) is a rugged yet beautiful structure that takes after the classic tent shape. These off-grid shelters are designed for minimal landscape impact and are estimated to take two to three days for on-site assembly. Skýli was designed for high visibility with its four triangular gables and steel cladding painted bright blue, a hue reminiscent of Reykjavik’s colorful urban architecture. Each structure comprises four rooms: two bedrooms; a multipurpose kitchen area and first aid room; and a dining room with storage space. The cabin accommodates 15 people. Four triangular triple-glazed windows let in natural light and frame views, while the inner shell and furnishings are made from light-colored cross-laminated timber . Utopia Arkitekter designed Skýli for quick and easy installation anywhere on the landscape with efficient delivery via helicopter. A system of plinths would serve as stable foundation for the cabin’s weather-resistant steel shell painted with GreenCoat® , the only product on the market using Swedish rapeseed oil instead of fossil fuel-based oils. “Skýli is designed for pristine environments where sustainable development is of the highest importance. Materials need to be eco-conscious, while also resistant to extreme weather, which is one of the reasons we decided to choose GreenCoat steel for the roof,” said Mattias Litström, from Utopia Arkitekter. Related: Compact floating cabin pops up in extreme remote locations Each cabin would be equipped with a solar panel and battery for limited energy storage. Rainwater can be collected from the roof and can be purified for potable use. Liquified petroleum gas powers the kitchen appliances and can be used for heating when necessary. The Skýli trekking cabin was recently nominated for the World Architecture Festival Award 2017 in the category “Leisure-led Development – Future Projects.” + Utopia Arkitekter

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Bright blue trekking tents are designed to pop up with speed in Iceland

Stunning green-roofed office harmonizes with the Washington landscape

November 13, 2017 by  
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Stunning, award-winning architecture can be found in unlikely places, even in neighboring areas to industrial processing yards in Yakima, Washington. That’s where you’ll find the Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters, designed by Graham Baba Architects who describe the project as “an oasis amidst a sea of concrete” that takes cues from the rural landscape. Surrounded by board-formed concrete walls and earthen berms constructed from soil excavated onsite, the light-filled, green-roofed office is filled with natural materials and feels more like a welcoming modern home than a dreary cubicle world. Inspired by the appearance of an aging barn, the 16,500-square-foot Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters design combines the rural vernacular with a contemporary aesthetic. Exposed trusses and soaring ceilings evoke airy barns, while the 18-foot-tall scissored glulam structural columns—located on the outside for a column-free interior—reinforce the building’s agricultural roots. Full-height glazing wraps the facade to let in light and views of the distant hills while large south-facing overhangs mitigate solar gain. Related: Bloomberg’s new London HQ rated world’s most sustainable office The relatively minimalist interior with its palette of natural materials helps keep the focus on the outdoors, from the berm-wrapped courtyard and accessible green roof to Yakima Valley’s basalt formations and hills. A separate structure houses a 30-foot-long table for communal meals. The Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters in Yakima won a 2016 Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. + Graham Baba Architects Images via Graham Baba Architects and Kevin Scott/em>

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Stunning green-roofed office harmonizes with the Washington landscape

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

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