Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world

July 17, 2017 by  
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The world watched in anticipation as the groundbreaking Solar Impulse 2 plane circumnavigated the globe last year. Now, the “Solar Impulse of the Seas” has set sail, aiming to demonstrate in a fresh way that clean energy can power our world. Dubbed Energy Observer , the solar- , wind- , and hydrogen -powered catamaran will sail to 50 countries over the course of six years. Solar panels line the top of the Energy Observer, and two vertical axis wind turbines harness the power of the wind, but those aren’t the only energy sources that make this vessel self-sufficient . The boat is able to generate hydrogen from seawater thanks to an electrolysis system. That hydrogen, stored in tanks, will help the Energy Observer glide through the waves emissions-free. The project was started by French offshore racer Victorien Erussard, accompanied by French explorer and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse. Related: Energy Observer to sail around the world using only solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel The Energy Observer is equipped with technologies like electric motors, lithium-ion batteries , and a hydrogen fuel cell . It’s around 100 feet long and 42 feet wide, with solar panels covering 1,400 square feet atop the catamaran. Built in 1983, the Energy Observer has already had a long career as a racing boat, but was recently christened earlier this month by France’s environment minister Nicolas Hulot. Energy Observer left Paris this past weekend with mayor Anne Hidalgo aboard. Erussard said on the boat’s website, “There is not one miracle solution to combat climate change : there are solutions which we must learn to operate together. That’s what we are doing with Energy Observer: allowing nature’s energies, as well as those of our society, to collaborate.” And though the boat draws on different technologies than the Solar Impulse 2, it apparently has the approval of pilot Bertrand Piccard , who was present at the christening ceremony. He said, “Energy Observer, just like Solar Impulse, makes exploration work for a better quality of life. We need to lead people towards the future by showing them solutions instead of depressing them.” You can track where the Energy Observer is here and find out more here . + Energy Observer Via ScienceAlert Images via Energy Observer ( 1 , 2 )

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Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world

6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

March 29, 2017 by  
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Da Vinci was definitely on to something when he observed birds and copied their forms to create his own wings for flight. Although biomimicry wasn’t ultimately successful in helping Da Vinci achieve flight , it has a solid track record for getting engineers, thinkers, and inventors to approach problems in design and technology by returning to nature and its processes. Here are six examples of how observing and imitating nature lead to designs that can improve issues in the modern world. Wind turbine with hummingbird wings Wind turbines typically incorporate a pinwheel shape, but a breakthrough design from Tyer Wind has cleverly tapped into the gravity-defying hovering abilities of hummingbirds . While it may look like these feather-light birds are furiously flapping their wings in a linear fashion, they actually use a figure eight configuration. The design for this new turbine uses wings instead of traditional rotating blades to turn energy from wind into green electricity through 3-D Aouinian Kinematics . Cactus water collector After observing certain cacti ’s ability to collect and store water particles from fog, students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago were inspired to create Dewpoint , a design with real-world applications beyond the desert. By recreating a cactus’s prong-like spines and attaching them to a panel that can absorb, collect, and efficiently save water, the team is beginning to explore water security possibilities for a world that is increasingly facing drought, desertification, and disappearing water sources. Stable and durable bridge Anyone who has ever watched a little leaf on a tree take hit after hit from wind or pelting rain (or perhaps a child with a stick) and still persist knows that surprising hidden strength can be found in many of Mother Nature’s designs. Wanda Lewis has been studying that idea for 25 years, looking specifically at how examining the ways that fragile elements in nature respond to external forces and stress can benefit the structure of a modern, man-made bridge . Lewis developed a mathematical model for bridge design that would take into consideration modern stressors such as traffic and extreme weather conditions. Lewis’s “form-finding” would enable the creation of bridges that are safer, more durable, and long-lasting  by using a previously elusive optimal arch. Related: Biomimicry keeps hope alive despite the new regime Light-sensitive robot caterpillar What may look like a tiny piece of wavy plastic (or perhaps a miniaturized piece of bacon) is actually a robot that can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself . With caterpillars as inspiration, physics researchers in Poland created this 15 millimeter long critter which is crafted from light-sensitive Liquid Crystalline Elastomers. Mimicking the wave-like motions of a moving caterpillar, this soft robot can also go up a slope or squeeze into a small space. Watch this little robot move in a surprisingly meditative video. Artificial leaf Artificial photosynthesis has been around for over a century, but Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis has found a way to mimic the natural process and safely, effectively, and affordably produce and store energy using the sun . The group’s artificial leaf consists of two electrodes (one that generates hydrogen gas, the other that generates oxygen gas), as well as a plastic membrane that keeps the collected gases separate. The Caltech crew is working on scaling up the design, but their innovation shows promise for creating a system that uses only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen fuels that can be utilized as needed. Avian-inspired train It’s a bird…it’s a train…it’s kind of both: a bullet train  whose design was partially inspired by features of an owl and a kingfisher . Engineer, general manager of the tech development department for Japan’s bullet trains , and avid bird-watcher Eiji Nakatsu wanted to make his trains both faster and quieter . He first employed his observations about the noise-dampening feather parts of an owl to reduce the sound effects of the trains as they whizzed through neighborhoods and tunnels. Later, he observed that the streamlined shape of the kingfisher’s bill could be used in a new train design to further reduce noise (including a persistent sonic boom effect) and decrease necessary fuel amounts, all while reducing travel time.

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6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

Build your own tiny home or treehouse with these stackable wooden micro-units

March 29, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to build your own tiny home or treehouse , this wild design might give you some ideas. These self-contained wooden living units can be stacked both vertically or horizontally to create the shelter of your dreams. Ofis Arhitekti teamed up with C+C, C28 and AKT and contractor Permiz to develop the basic unit to comfortably hold two people, and they’re presenting a vertical version, which is also available for purchase, at the 2017 Milan Design Week this April. The Living Unit has a timber frame structure reinforced with plywood boards on both sides. As a single unit, it can be fixed to the ground either by steel anchors or removable concrete cubes. Small and versatile, the structure can cater to different programmatic needs for two. They are easy to transport, and pretty much anyone can combine them in a variety of custom configurations. Related: 7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather The basic unit includes a double bed, wardrobe and a dining table, with the possibility of expanding it to include a small bathroom and kitchenette. Users can combine two or more cabins to create larger structures that can easily fit 4 to 6 people. The architects used natural and sustainable materials , offering flexibility in the choice of finishes, making sure to keep the design lightweight in order to facilitate ease of transportation. This allows the cabin to adapt to different locations, functions and climates. + Ofis Arhitekti

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Build your own tiny home or treehouse with these stackable wooden micro-units

Ingenious cardboard and bamboo emergency shelters by Shigeru Ban pop up in Sydney

March 29, 2017 by  
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Pritzker Prize -winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is widely known and respected for his 20 year career in designing groundbreaking buildings from cardboard, paper and other unexpected materials , as well as his humanitarian efforts in designing emergency shelters for natural disasters , such as the Nepal Earthquake and the tsunami which hit Southeast Asia . To celebrate the architect’s long dedication to humanitarian design, two of his signature disaster relief shelters have been erected in the Courtyard Garden of Sydney’s Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF). Although disaster housing design has advanced by leaps and bounds due to the burgeoning refugee crises, Ban has made a long career of building structures out of locally-sourced and recycled materials – including cardboard tubes, bamboo and recycled milk crates. The structures currently on display at the SCAF are two of his signature designs made of cardboard. The first was designed for the 1995 Kobe earthquake and is constructed from vertical rows of cardboard tubes. The second design, which was made after the 2016 Ecuador earthquake , also has a cardboard frame, but is clad in bamboo. Related: Shigeru Ban will reuse earthquake rubble to build Nepal relief shelters In addition to the two shelters on display in the courtyard, visitors can also see scales of the architect’s additional work on the interior. The exhibit includes some of Ban’s most well-known designs including the amazing Cardboard Cathedral built in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2013. Although Ban has a diverse architectural profile, affordable disaster shelters will always be what drives his inspiration: “Architects mostly work for privileged people, people who have money and power,” he explains. “Power and money are invisible, so people hire us to visualize their power and money by making monumental architecture. I love to make monuments, too, but I thought perhaps we can use our experience and knowledge more for the general public, even for those who have lost their houses in natural disasters.’” + Shigeru Ban Architects Photography by Brett Boardman, courtesy of the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

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Ingenious cardboard and bamboo emergency shelters by Shigeru Ban pop up in Sydney

California defies Trump with tough emissions rules

March 29, 2017 by  
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California is shaping up to be the thorn in President Donald Trump’s side that Texas was during former President Barack Obama’s time in the White House — mounting legal challenges to Trump’s attacks on environmental regulations and strengthening the state’s own environmental rules. The latest volley came Friday when the California Air Resources Board finalized its rules for vehicle emissions through the year 2025. The standards for the years 2022-2025 would slash tailpipe emissions a third, from about 36 miles per gallon today to 54 mpg in 2025. The fight with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt over fuel efficiency standards isn’t just about California. Currently, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia have all adopted California’s greenhouse gas regulations. Related: California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill The board also reaffirmed a rule requiring automakers to accelerate the adoption of zero emission and low emission vehicles in California — fully electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid. The rule calls for more than a million zero emissions vehicles on the road by 2025, a significant increase from the about 250,000 clean cars traversing the state today. A Bloomberg editorial backing California over Trump on car emissions, while acknowledging a better way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to impose a carbon tax or at least a higher gas tax, says that tougher fuel-economy standards are the way to go: “Unless he’s willing to fight for a smarter policy, Trump should do the country a favor and leave the existing rules alone.” Via Autoblog Image 1 , 2 via Wikimedia

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California defies Trump with tough emissions rules

Scientists create innovative hydrogen fuel “nano-reactor” that could make hydrogen cars much cheaper

January 20, 2016 by  
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Hydrogen fuel cells may have just taken a giant leap forward. Indiana University scientists just announced they’ve managed to create a highly efficient biomaterial that takes in protons and “spits out” hydrogen gas. Called “P22-Hyd,” this modified enzyme can be grown using a simple room temperature fermentation process — making it much more eco-friendly and considerably cheaper than the materials currently used in fuel cells, like platinum. Read the rest of Scientists create innovative hydrogen fuel “nano-reactor” that could make hydrogen cars much cheaper

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Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle to hit the streets of California next year

November 17, 2015 by  
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Green transportation fans rejoice – the age of the hydrogen car is upon us. Honda just unveiled its Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle for the first time in the United States – and it’s set to hit the streets of California in 2016. The zero-emissions sedan is the world’s first five passenger hydrogen car, it can drive over 400 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, and it can even power your house for seven days in a row. Read the rest of Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle to hit the streets of California next year

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Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle to hit the streets of California next year

Hydrogen-fueled charger keeps smartphones powered for an entire week

August 25, 2015 by  
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Smartphones are life-changing, but their tendency to lose juice so fast is infuriating. Intelligent Energy ’s hydrogen fuel cell charger answers the prayers of frustrated smartphone users everywhere. The new device keeps an iPhone charged for up to seven days . By shrinking technology used to fuel eco-friendly cars, the company has created a pocket-size prototypes that can fit inside an iPhone 6 without making it bulky. Read the rest of Hydrogen-fueled charger keeps smartphones powered for an entire week

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Hydrogen-fueled charger keeps smartphones powered for an entire week

Abandoned brick building is renovated into the beautiful Pinocchio children’s center

August 25, 2015 by  
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Abandoned brick building is renovated into the beautiful Pinocchio children’s center

A new kind of glass could create nex-gen OLEDs and solar cells

August 25, 2015 by  
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Representative solar cell For a long time, one of the key defining factors of glasses has been their molecular randomness; but when a team at the University of Chicago , led by Professor Juan de Pablo, were analyzing a glass that they had grown in their lab they saw unusual peaks in “what should have been featureless optical data.” Initially they thought the peaks the result of an error in their calculations, but instead the team found that the particular technique they had used to make the glass had enabled them to control the organization of the molecules. It might sound like a small thing, but the capacity to tune the orientation of molecules in glass, which improves the density and thermal stability of the material, could be a breakthrough to improving organic electronic devices, such as LEDs and solar cells. Read the rest of A new kind of glass could create nex-gen OLEDs and solar cells

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