Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels

December 19, 2017 by  
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When he’s not putting out fires in Edmonton, Canada, firefighter Steve has managed to find time to build an Earthship-inspired tiny home on wheels. The 140-square-foot home , which can easily go off-grid, has all the comforts of a traditional residence – including a queen size bed, a deck and even a mini vertical herb garden in the kitchen. And of course, it was built to meet building codes for fire safety. Steve built his little shelter after taking a one-year sabbatical, during which time he traveled via campervan , volunteering on many tiny ship builds along the way. Having honed his building skills, he came back to Edmonton to construct his own earthship-inspired tiny home. Located in a the backyard of a home that he rents out, the compact dwelling was recently featured by Living Big in a Tiny House . Related: Architect builds a tiny studio in his backyard to be closer to his child The entrance to Steve’s home is via an open-air wooden deck that’s a perfect space for reading or bbq-ing. The interior living space is bordered with seating and storage cubbies on the wall. This main room doubles as the bedroom when the pull-out queen bed that’s hidden under the kitchen platform is rolled out. The kitchen is definitely designed for someone who has a love of all things culinary. The L-shaped layout makes for an ultra-efficient space and easy movement. A wall of vertical shelving has ample space for basic condiments as well as space to grow herbs , although Steve admit to killing most of them. The floor of the tiny home is brick, which was Steve’s attempt at creating a high thermal mass for passive heating. However, he’s planning to replace the flooring with wooden panels because the brick’s heat isn’t faring well against the cold Canadian winters. However, the home is still well-heated thanks to the three different heating options: woodstove, propane heater or electric patio heater. During the design process, Steve wanted to make the home as off-grid as possible. Now, it sits in the backyard and uses the utilities from the main house, but the idea was to have a roaming independent space. The main structure is built on wheels and hot water is provided by a propane-powered water heater. For extra sustainability, there is an incinerating toilet in the bathroom. When asked about his inspiration to build the tiny home , the firefighter explained it’s all about financial practicality, “For me, it was how the economics of it make sense. I rent the big house out and the tenants pay the mortgage, so by me staying in the small house in the backyard, I’m living a mortgage-free lifestyle right now, immediately, while I’m still collecting equity in the main house. So that makes sense to me and that’s a good situation to be in.” Via Treehugger Video and images via Living Big in a Tiny House

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Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels

Floating solar rig from Columbia University harvests hydrogen fuel from seawater

December 19, 2017 by  
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Engineers at Columbia University have created a “solar fuels rig,” which floats on the ocean, captures solar energy, then uses that energy to extract hydrogen from seawater. Hydrogen is a clean source of energy, though methods to extract it have often proven too costly or energy intensive to be viable. A typical hydrogen extraction system uses water electrolysis, in which H2 and O2 are separated by sending an electric current through water and divided by a membrane, which is usually very delicate. The new floating solar rig does not use a membrane, which makes it resilient enough to deploy on the open ocean . The lack of a membrane is an important design feature that facilitates a more effective extraction system. “Being able to safely demonstrate a device that can perform electrolysis without a membrane brings us another step closer to making seawater electrolysis possible,” said Jack Davis, co-author of a scientific paper on the device published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy . “These solar fuels generators are essentially artificial photosynthesis systems, doing the same thing that plants do with photosynthesis, so our device may open up all kinds of opportunities to generate clean, renewable energy .” Related: Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity Rather than incorporate a membrane, the device uses an asymmetrical mesh structure in which electrodes, coated with a catalyst on one side, collect bubbles of either hydrogen or oxygen. Once the bubbles are large enough, they are pulled into separate collection chambers. Although the team has yet to test its design on actual seawater, they feel confident in the process. “We are especially excited about the potential of solar fuels technologies because of the tremendous amount of solar energy that is available,” said Daniel Esposito, lead researcher on the project. “Our challenge is to find scalable and economical technologies that convert sunlight into a useful form of energy that can also be stored for times when the sun is not shining.” Via New Atlas Images via Jack Davis/Columbia University, Justin Bui/Columbia University and Daniel Esposito/Columbia University

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Floating solar rig from Columbia University harvests hydrogen fuel from seawater

This Iowa home built across a ravine is heated and cooled by the earth

December 19, 2017 by  
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This naturally-ventilated residence spans a ravine in rural Iowa, providing expansive views of the surrounding forest . Architecture studio BNIM designed the Ravine Residence, which is geothermally cooled and heated, to connect its inhabitants to nature and provide optimum privacy using existing topography and vegetation. The house is tucked away in a heavily wooded area in rural Iowa that required a dramatic solution to address the ravine running down the middle of the site. The solution is a raised space the spans across the sloping elevation. The entrance and bedrooms are located on opposite banks, and the primary living areas serve as a bridge between the two sides. Related: Modern Corum Residence Rises Out of the Bucolic Iowa Countryside The clients commissioned BNIM to create a home which would offer privacy, but also offer a strong connection to the surrounding landscape. This requirement determined the articulation of the facades and volumes. Floor-to-ceiling glass on both the north and south sides of the living areas provides expansive views of the surrounding forest, creating a high level of transparency while utilizing the terrain and vegetation to shelter the interior spaces from outside views. The building has optimized solar orientation and shading, geothermal heating and cooling , enhanced natural ventilation , high performance windows, and advanced insulation techniques. + BNIM Via Dwell Photos by Kelly Callewaert | BNIM

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This Iowa home built across a ravine is heated and cooled by the earth

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