Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy

January 23, 2017 by  
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A new flapping wind turbine from Tunisia marks a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of mechanics. Until recently, scientists have been limited in their ability to apply new understandings of animal and human motion to machines, according to Tyer Wind . In the wind energy sector, this limitation has resulted in fairly simple and relatively inefficient turbines. Using 3D Aouinian kinematics that he pioneered, Anis Aouini is disrupting that space with a unique wind turbine modeled on articulations of the only bird capable of sustained hovering– the hummingbird . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r4qnfLns_s Tyer Wind has replicated the mechanism that allows hummingbirds to fly in one place with their flapping wind turbine that moves in a figure 8 configuration. It has two vertical axis wings made from carbon fiber, each 5.25 feet long, that convert kinetic wind energy into emissions-free electricity. Combined, the two wings sweep an area of nearly 12 square feet, with a pre-industrial rated power output of 1kW. Hassine Labaied, partner and co-founder of Tyer Wind, told Inhabitat this is the first time a mechanical device has successfully mimicked the hummingbird’s motion, and that the video above illustrates a pilot machine currently being tested in Tunisia . The group says their initial tests for power efficiency, aerodynamic behavior, and material resistance are encouraging, and they will release the resulting data after a sufficient period of time. (Those interested in more technical details are encouraged to take a look at this PDF .) 3D Aouinian kinematics have applications in other technologies as well, according to Tyer Wind, including external combustion engines, internal combustion engines, pumps, and marine propulsion–among others. The biomimicry revolution may not be televised, but it is definitely underway. + Tyer Wind

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Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy

8 teenage inventions that could save the world

January 23, 2017 by  
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Sometimes the brightest ideas come in young packages. Teenagers from around the world demonstrate you don’t need a high school diploma to come up with a life-changing invention . From $13 germ-killing door handles to Braille printers, check out these eight teenage inventions that revolutionize the way we view energy , food, and, of course, the oceans . 14-year-old designs pedal-powered washing machine When assigned with laundry duty after her mother got sick, Remya Jose, a 14-year-old girl from India , designed an ingenious pedal-powered washing machine to save the time of doing laundry by hand in a nearby river. Jose made her clever washing machine with recycled bicycle components, creating an appliance that could greatly assist families who lack access to electricity. Related: 13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5 16-year-olds discover way to increase crop yields for Combating the Global Food Crisis project Garden-loving teenagers Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow of Ireland won the Google Science Fair 2014 with their Combating the Global Food Crisis project. The 16-year-olds paired a bacteria often found in symbiotic relationships with legumes with crops it doesn’t typically associate with, namely oats and barley. Crops that tested their unique pairing were wildly successful, germinating in about half the time and producing a 74 percent greater drymass yield. Increasing crop yields is vital as the global population grows, and discoveries like this one could greatly impact the way we combat food poverty . 19-year-old invents Ocean Cleanup Array For several years now, Inhabitat has been covering the efforts of The Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat of the Netherlands , who at 19 years old invented an Ocean Cleanup Array , and we’re continually impressed by his persistence. The Ocean Cleanup recently completed their first aerial reconnaissance mission of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The results weren’t pretty – 1,000 large plastic pieces spotted in two hours – but there’s still hope to clean up the mess we’ve made. The Ocean Cleanup won the Katerva Award in 2016 , and feasibility studies indicate one 63-mile array could “remove 42 percent of the Great Pacific garbage patch in only 10 years.” 12-year-old builds inexpensive, working Braille printer 12-year-old Shubham Banerjee of California utilized a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit and about $5 of hardware from Home Depot to design an innovative Braille printer , the Braigo v1.0, that cost way less than similar devices. Around 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, according to World Health Organization data, but as Braille printers cost over $2,000 when Banerjee invented his device, his disruptive technology held the potential to change how the blind communicate. He went on to start a company, Braigo Labs , and about three years later, has released an app and web platform and continues to develop his groundbreaking printer (and he’s still in high school.) 17-year-old creates a device that can purify water and produce clean energy simultaneously Millions of people around the world live without electricity or clean water , and 17-year-old Cynthia Sin Nga Lam of Australia decided to tackle both issues at once with her portable H2Pro device. The H2Pro unit harnesses photocatalysis, or using light to speed up a chemical reaction, to sterilize water. As a side bonus, the process also yields hydrogen , which Lam said could be used to produce electricity. 17-year-old designs human waste bioreactor to turn human poo into clean energy When Kenya ‘s Maseno School opened up new dormitories for over 700 students in 2013, the area around the students’ home often smelled because of pit latrines and a defective sewage system, which also polluted local freshwater. High schooler Leroy Mwasaru and four friends came up with a solution: a human waste bioreactor that could transform waste into a clean cooking fuel for the kitchen, which had been using firewood. Today, Mwasaru is the founder of Greenpact , a group aiming to provide biogas solutions to over six million Kenyans who lack access to adequate sanitation and renewable energy . 17-year-old and 18-year-old design $13 germ-killing door handle 17-year-old Sun Ming (Simon) Wong and 18-year-old King Pong (Michael) Li of Hong Kong knew bacteria spreads via handles on doors or shopping carts touched by hundreds of people daily. So they hunted for a material that could kill that bacteria and found an answer in titanium oxide. Instead of simply coating a handle in titanium oxide, though, they added an LED light into a bracket holding the handle to truly activate the compound, which can then annihilate 99.8 percent of germs . Even better, the device only costs around $13, meaning it could be accessible for more people worldwide. 16-year-old utilizes ingredients found in pencils and sunscreen to create pollution-cleansing coating Sunscreen and pencils might not be the first two items you’d go to for answers to clean up pollution , but 16-year-old Samuel Burrow of England utilized two ingredients found in those common items to create a “paint-like coating” that has the power to break down pollutants with the help of light. He mixed titanium dioxide with graphene oxide for a concoction with not one, but several applications, in addition to a surface paint. As a sponge, Burrow’s mixture can purify water, and when combined with sand, it has the potential to filter heavy metals out of water. Just imagine how clean the world could be if all buildings were painted with Burrow’s marvelous mix. Images via Brit + Co ; Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow on Google+ ; The Ocean Cleanup ; Shubham Banerjee ; Google Science Fair ; Innovate Kenya ; Student Society for Science ; and screenshot

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Scientists turn eggshells into eco-friendly data-storage devices

January 23, 2017 by  
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Walk on eggshells? Not these scientists. A team from Guizhou Institute of Technology is working on a way to turn ground-up bits of the breakfast byproduct into a data-storage device that could pave the way for eco-friendlier computers. The device itself uses something called resistive random-access memory , ReRAM for short, a type of non-volatile, high-density yet energy-sipping memory system that could soon supplant your flash drive as a data silo. Instead of storing a charge, like conventional memory does, ReRAM works by creating electrical resistance across a dielectric solid-state material that transmits voltage without conducting it, essentially serving as an insulator. As it turns out, eggshells have a “large resistive-switching memory,” as the scientists noted in the February 2017 issue of Current Applied Physics , where they published their findings. But don’t start sticking eggs in your USB port just yet. To create the device, they first pulverized the shells for hours into an ultra-fine, nanoscale powder, which they then dissolved in solution. Related: Scientists invent the world’s first microchip powered by biological systems The resulting paste, coated onto a substrate, became the electrolyte portion of a memory chip, that is, the part that carries the electrical charge. Whatever they did worked. The eggshell-based device was able to write 100 bits of binary code into its memory before it broke down. It’ll take some tinkering before the device can stack up against materials that can manage billions of cycles, but the promise is there. “This discovery provides for the possibility of an environmentally friendly, low-cost and sustainable material application in the next-generation nonvolatile date storage device,” the scientists said. Egg -citing. Via New Scientist Photos by Kullez and Bruce Guenter

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World’s first typhoon turbine could power all of Japan for 50 years

September 28, 2016 by  
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An engineer in Japan is looking for a silver lining in the destructive typhoons that regularly drench the island nation. Atsushi Shimizu has invented the world’s first typhoon wind turbine , an egg beater-like contraption designed to harness the immense energy of storms as a unique renewable energy source . Shimizu believes that the energy from just one typhoon could power Japan for half a century. The amount of kinetic energy generated by a typhoon is enormous. The Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory estimates that a mature typhoon produces a level of energy “equivalent to about half the world-wide electrical generating capacity.” The challenging task, for Shimizu and other storm chasers interested in boosting Japan’s green energy, is harnessing that energy efficiently. Related: Typhoon Lionrock drenches Japan, leaving at least 10 dead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e630zg3QEAw To that end, Shimizu devised Challenergy , a vertical-axis Magnus wind power generator robust enough to withstand the high winds of a typhoon and wrangle the energy from a massive storm in order to generate electricity. The technology has already received a fair amount of press coverage in Japan, where many people are eager to find ways to produce sustainable energy and find a way to benefit from the storms that cause immense damage with high winds and tidal waves. Via CNN Images via Challenergy

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Beautiful prefab houseboats let you live on the water with a minimal energy footprint

September 28, 2016 by  
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Though Bluefield Houseboats is based in Ireland, the design/build firm delivers worldwide and handles all aspects of the design process, from initial consultation to the final handover. All houseboats are manufactured in a factory before they’re shipped out for on-site assembly. Since the modular houseboats are custom-built with a free spanning structural system, homebuyers can design their own open-plan layout with a variety of spaces from 500 square feet up to 2,000 square feet across one or two stories. The firm promises a high-quality material palette, each certified to BBA, British Standard, Eurocode, or equivalent standards for a minimum 50-year design life. Related: Floating solar-powered Waternest eco-home is nearly 100% recyclable “We aim to offer the same standard of living on the water as on land,” say the designers. “At Bluefield Houseboats our mission is to create high quality, useable space on the water which is accessible to all and maximizes the use of modern technology to explore sites which have previously been inaccessible.” The bespoke houseboats abide by the classifications for both a land-based building and a water-based vessel. To minimize energy usage, the homes incorporate passive design principles to take advantage of natural heating, cooling, and ventilation . A SMART home automation system gives the owner control over energy usage, from appliances to light switches, using a smartphone or tablet. + Bluefield Houseboats Images via Bluefield Houseboats

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9 of the most impressive Living Building Challenge certified projects

September 28, 2016 by  
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Image: Ethan Drinker Photography 1. Smith College Bechtel Environmental Classroom The Bechtel Environmental Classroom, designed by Coldham and Hartman Architects , is a former pastoral observatory transformed into a green learning space in Whatley, Massachusetts. The 2,500-square-foot, single-story building serves as a part of Smith College and sits on 223 acres of pasture and forest , overlooking an old stone dump site. One of the two enclosed areas provides space for biological and environmental science classes and the other, larger area gives plenty of room for humanities seminars and other classes, such as poetry and dance. A drilled well ensures a sustainable water supply and composting toilets give back to the Earth. LED lighting and two solar panels combined ensure a gentle footprint on this peaceful site. Image: Matthew Millman Photography 2. Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab If you are going to teach the next generation how to move forward with alternative energy, the facilities had better reflect the mission. That is just what the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab ensured with its completely sustainable, net-zero-energy design. Flansburgh Architects are behind the structure, which achieved

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New type of fabric harvests energy from the sun and movement

September 16, 2016 by  
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What if your clothes could harvest energy to power your smartphone? Eight Georgia Tech engineers pioneered a new type of hybrid textile that can harvest energy from two sources: the sun and movement. There could be several applications for the innovative fabric , including in clothing, curtains, or tents. The engineers utilized a ” commercial textile machine ” to weave the “hybrid power textile” or “hybrid energy fabric.” The fabric can harvest solar energy through solar cells made of polymer fibers. Triboelectric nanogenerators generate energy from movement. These materials are interwoven with wool . The resulting fabric is “highly flexible,” lightweight, and breathable, according to researchers. The journal Nature Energy published their research online earlier this week. Related: Never do laundry again: researchers create self-cleaning textiles! Paper co-author and Georgia Tech professor in Materials Science and Engineering Zhong Lin Wang said in a statement, “This hybrid power textile presents a novel solution to charging devices in the field from something as simple as the wind blowing on a sunny day.” To test the fabric, the engineers essentially created a flag with it and then drove around in a car as the flag blew in the wind out the window. Although the day was cloudy, a four by five centimeter piece of the fabric gathered enough energy to charge a “2 mF commerical capacitor” to two volts in just one minute. Next the engineers plan to encapsulate the fabric so it’s not harmed by moisture or rain. Early tests show the fabric can be used over and over, but the researchers want to test it further to see just how durable it might be over long periods of time. They think the fabric could be scaled up, as many of the materials used are inexpensive. The polymer fibers utilized are also “environmentally friendly.” + Georgia Tech Images via Georgia Tech

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Australian wave energy project sets a new world record with 14,000 operating hours

June 9, 2016 by  
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Surfers at Sydney’s Bondi Beach aren’t the only Australians catching waves. The Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy Project just set a world record by completing 14,000 cumulative operating hours. Located off Garden Island, Western Australia, the CETO 5 marine energy system has for the past year been generating clean, renewable electricity and potable desalinated water for Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $13.1 million in funding for the $40 million project — the first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid. “ARENA is proud to help local companies, like [Carnegie Wave Energy Limited], develop new renewable energy solutions that have the potential to change the way the world generates electricity,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “We do this by providing Australian innovators with the support they need during the critical RD&D period, when patient funding is essential.” The CETO 6 is the next generation of wave energy technology. Each unit has a targeted one megawatt capacity, which is four times the output of the CETO 5 unit. The power is transmitted onshore via subsea cable. The CETO 6 design is the product platform that will be used in commercial CETO projects. Related: The world’s first wave energy microgrid project is coming to Australia Wave energy technology has enormous potential to provide zero emissions electricity to Australians because more than 80 percent of the population of 24 million people reside along the coast. + Carnegie Wave Energy + Australian Renewable Energy Agency Via Climate Action News Images via Carnegie Wave Energy Save

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Australian wave energy project sets a new world record with 14,000 operating hours

Subterranean hydropower plant hidden in the Swiss alps to power 1 million homes

June 9, 2016 by  
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDlvjkfpX_o The Linthal hydropower plant is accessible only by cable car, after a scenic jaunt through winding mountain roads. The mouth of the tunnel that descends to the subterranean hydroplant is located at 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) above sea level. At the command of the plant’s operator, Swiss utility Axpo, massive steel valves are opened, allowing water to flow from Lake Mutt to Lake Limmern, which are separated by a 2,000-foot cliff. The pump is twice the height of the Eiffel Tower. Nearly 23 billion gallons of water stop behind a dam in the valley, creating a temporary reservoir that feeds the plant’s four variable speed hydro generators. Related: World’s longest, deepest rail tunnel opens after almost 20 years of construction When demand for power is low, the flow on the valve is simply reversed, pumping water from the lower reservoir back up to Lake Mutt, where it can be stored until it’s time to generate more electricity. In this way, General Electric touts the power plant as a kind of natural battery . “It’s the only grid-scale method of storing energy,” says Maryse François, the hydrotechnology leader at GE Renewable Energy, which developed the technology powering the site. The Linthal plant marks the first place GE has installed its variable-speed technology, which takes the common concept of pumped storage to a whole new level. Having this sort of control over a massive renewable energy power plant can make a world of difference to the local power grid. The valves controlling the water make it possible to change the plant’s net energy output, absorb spikes in demand, as well as help utilities stabilize the grid and reduce brown-outs. The system’s efficiency also makes it a big win, not only for clean energy but for the local economy as well. At its peak, the overall cycle efficiency can reach as high as 80 percent. When all four generators are in operation, the plant will churn out a whopping 1,450 megawatts of renewable electricity. That’s enough to power a million Swiss homes during peak consumption times, which accounts for nearly one-third of the country’s population. + GE Reports Images via General Electric

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How the timber-clad Claude Bernard overpass supports Paris’ climate plan

June 9, 2016 by  
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The 100-meter (328 foot) wooden structure features broad-stepped stairways on the sides and landscaped ramps for easier access. Rest areas and panoramic viewpoints are placed at its middle, providing expansive views of the area. Related: Gateway Villetaneuse footbridge unfurls like a leaf over train tracks outside Paris As the curve of the walkway rises, the profile of the decking varies, creating a seamless transition from the streets. Designed for pedestrians and cyclists, the overpass enhances visual and spatial proximity and functions as a natural extension of both sides of the Boulevard Périphérique. In order to create a structure with a human scale in mind, the architects had to reduce its height, which they achieved by designing arches encased in a protective shell that serves as a safety barrier. This enhances the structural stability of the beams and reduces the weight of the entire structure. Timber cladding is placed over the metal framework, and patterns of double-sided timber fretwork provide visual connection between pedestrians and the drivers bellow. Taller planks are placed at the center with narrower spacing, creating a partially enclosed space that obstructs views of the traffic. + DVVD Via v2com Lead photo by Luc Boegly

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