World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

February 21, 2018 by  
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The 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland floating wind farm started operating last fall , and Statoil recently said the farm, a world first, “performed better than expected in its first three full months in production.” The floating farm, a Statoil and Masdar project, has already survived a winter storm, a hurricane , and wave heights of around 27 feet to power around 20,000 households in the United Kingdom . 45 to 60 percent is the “the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm” during the winter, according to Statoil. But Hywind Scotland beat that figure with an average of around 65 percent in November, December, and January, the Norwegian power company said. This means the floating wind farm “was producing 65 percent of max theoretical capacity.” Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online That’s a win for the floating power plant , which has already encountered brutal winter weather. Hurricane Ophelia in October saw wind speeds of 80 miles per hour, and Storm Caroline in December saw gusts of 100 miles per hour and waves of around 27 feet. The wind turbines were switched off for safety during the worst winds, Statoil said, but automatically started operating quickly after. According to the company, “A pitch motion controller is integrated with the Hywind turbine’s control system and will adjust the angle of the turbine blades during heavy winds which mitigates excessive motions of the structure.” Statoil senior vice president of offshore wind operations Beate Myking said in the statement, “We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works. But putting the world’s first floating wind farm into production comes with some excitement. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far. Hywind Scotland’s high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected.” Statoil New Energy Solutions executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff said they are seeking new opportunities for the technology, and see potential in Europe, Asia, and North America’s west coast. Statoil and Masdar aim to cut the costs of energy from Hywind Scotland down to 40 to 60 Euros per megawatt-hour by 2030 to make it “cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.” + Statoil Images via Øyvind Gravås/Woldcam/Statoil ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

How farming with rocks could improve global food security

February 20, 2018 by  
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Scientists at the University of Sheffield have learned that farming with crushed silicate rocks mixed into the soil could improve global food security, increase crop yields, promote soil health, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “Human societies have long known that volcanic plains are fertile, ideal places for growing crops without adverse human health effects,” study lead author David Beerling told Phys.org , “but until now there has been little consideration for how adding further rocks to soils might capture carbon.” As the rocks slowly dissolve in the soil, they release nutrients while absorbing carbon dioxide. Most importantly, crushed silicate rocks can be amended into existing farmland, offering a non-disruptive, less intensive carbon capture service. The research published in the journal Nature Plants  could have a dramatic applied impact on farming throughout the world. “This study has transformed how we think about managing our croplands for climate, food and soil security,” said Beerling. “It helps move the debate forward for an under-researched strategy of CO2 removal from the atmosphere – enhanced rock weathering – and highlights supplementary benefits for food and soils .” Through enhanced rock weathering, carbon absorption can be achieved without competing for additional land and water. The crushed rock method also reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides and decreases the cost of food production. Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food Farming with crushed silicate rocks offers a simple but powerful action to improve environmental health. “The magnitude of future climate change could be moderated by immediately reducing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere as a result of energy generation,” explained Beerling. “Adopting strategies like this new research that actively remove CO2 from it can have a massive impact and be adapted very quickly.” Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1)  

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How farming with rocks could improve global food security

New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

February 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Forget lithium – this Barcelona-based company is creating batteries with paper. Fuelium is developing paper -based batteries designed for disposable diagnostic devices, OZY reported . Unlike regular batteries, Fuelim batteries don’t create toxic waste that requires complicated recycling processes. What’s not to love? Paper, carbon, and non-toxic metals: those are the ingredients for Fuelium’s batteries. These won’t be powering cars right now; the company says their paper-based batteries are suited for powering in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) applications, or tests that can detect diseases with blood or tissue samples . Fuelium says their batteries are geared for “single-use electronic devices which can be disposed of without recycling.” Regular single-use diagnostic tests are thrown out after utilizing under one percent of their batteries’ charge, according to OZY. But Fuelium’s paper batteries, according to the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Research Park , “only generate the amount of energy needed for each application and do not contain heavy metals or are harmful to health .” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria Fuelium’s batteries can be customized for different applications with voltages between one and six volts, and power between one and 100 milliwatts. They’re cost-effective and can be easily integrated as the battery materials are compatible with manufacturing processes for rapid diagnostic tests. Any liquid sample can activate the paper-based batteries, according to the company, which suggests their product could be used in the areas of infectious disease, veterinary medicine, and women’s health, to name a few. Scientists Juan Pablo Esquivel, Neus Sabaté, and Sergi Gassó of the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona started Fuelium in 2015, and according to OZY, they have signed their first contract. Esquivel told OZY their paper-based batteries are small and inexpensive, and don’t require recycling; instead, they can be tossed out with zero ecological impact. + Fuelium Via OZY Images via Self-Powered Engineered Devices and Dan Taylr on Flickr

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New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

Efficient Superlofts adapt to homeowners needs over the course of a lifetime

February 20, 2018 by  
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Marc Koehler Architects has created a series of lofts that put the design decision-making process in residents’ hands. Their Superloft design is comprised of a flexible and efficient structural system that adapts to residents’ changing needs over a lifetime. The innovative framework, integrated with a number of sustainability features , allows homeowners design “hybrid spaces” from scratch, and co-create the community’s shared spaces with their neighbors. Five Superlofts have already been completed in Amsterdam. Superloft Houthaven Amsterdam, which is located in an redeveloping industrial area in the north of the city, is comprised of 19 residences ranging from affordable mini lofts to luxury penthouses. The design was co-created by a cooperative of buyers who installed a panoramic rooftop terrace, garden space, and cooking studio. The star of the program, however, is the building’s sustainability profile. The homeowners decided to create a climate-neutral building by installing solar panels and other sustainable features , such as water-based cooling systems, CO2 sensors, wireless light switches and electric charging stations. Related: This wooden loft house has a seamless layout that continuously flows from floor to floor Using the open building movement as inspiration, the studio gives Superlofts the utmost in flexibility for home design: not only can the living spaces be personalized at move in, they can also be adapted to the future lifestyles of its inhabitants. The design uses a prefabricated concrete base that frames a series of wide modules that can be combined into a variety of configurations from housing blocks and high-rises to townhouses and more. Homeowners can build out their living or working spaces within the raw volumes, enjoying a blank canvas to customize the space to fit their individual needs, which can change greatly over a lifetime. Centrally-placed utility shafts allow the kitchens and bathrooms to be placed almost anywhere in the lofts. Suspended cross-laminated timber mezzanine floors allow for extra spaces to be added without the need for supporting walls to be built or removed. The buildings come integrated with a number of sustainability features such as an aluminum smart facade that incorporates C02 sensors for ventilation, sun shading, drainage, and more. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls flood the interiors with natural light, reducing heating and artificial lighting use. The shared living scheme creates an “urban village” feel, fostering a sense of connection within the buildings, versus the isolation that stems from the anonymous atmospheres of most city buildings. The Superloft design focuses on creating vibrant, self-organized communities through installing a series of collective community spaces such as workshops, rooftop gardens , playgrounds, co-working spaces, physical fitness centers and lounge spaces. The Superloft design not only offers optimal flexibility for homeowners, but also for cities. The adaptable design is especially beneficial to urban areas because it facilitates a circular way of building, resulting in less obsolete constructions. It can also be used to revive neglected areas and provide affordable housing solutions . + Marc Koehler Architects Via v2com

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Efficient Superlofts adapt to homeowners needs over the course of a lifetime

Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

February 19, 2018 by  
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Nova Scotia Power has established a pilot project that utilizes Tesla’s Powerpack 2 home batteries and their utility-grade Powerpack batteries to form an improved energy storage system for local wind power. Based in Elmsdale, the Intelligent Feed Project aims to bridge any gaps found in the electrical grid by installing Powerpacks where wind turbines are generating surplus energy. These batteries would allow power to be stored for later use, perhaps when there is a power outage or a windless day. While the Powerpack’s expansion into Nova Scotia isn’t quite as massive as its application in places like South Australia , this latest move demonstrates its potential to improve energy storage in power grids. The Elmsdale battery station will serve 300 homes, 10 of which will have Tesla Powerpack 2 batteries. Partially funded by the Canadian government, the trial program will begin at the end of February and will continue until 2019. The physical infrastructure of Powerpacks will remain even after the trial has ended. If the trial is successful, Nova Scotia Power may decide to offer additional programs to local communities. Related: Nantucket to be powered by a 48 MWh Tesla Powerpack system Simply bringing the Powerpacks into the homes and neighborhoods of Elmsdale seems to be having a positive impact on engagement in clean energy infrastructure. “The Powerwall, that was something I hadn’t heard about,” said homeowner Mark Candow . “I was definitely intrigued.” The ease-of-installation and the interactive app provided by Tesla are certainly selling points for consumers. “The ability to monitor their home usage is really making them think more about how they’re using electricity in their home,” said smart grid engineer Rob Boone , “and I think it’s going to make them more energy efficient .” Via Engadget Images via Nova Scotia Power

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Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

Crescent moon-shaped home on Chilean coast inspired by traditional boat-making techniques

February 19, 2018 by  
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Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen has created an incredibly sophisticated cylindrical home that blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Located on the Chilean coast overlooking the sea, the Rode House is a wooden structure shaped in a unique curved form that not only provides stunning views from any angle, but also protects the home from the area’s notoriously strong winds. Located on Chiloe island, the building site has dramatic views of the ocean, inspiring the architects to create a nature-inspired home design with a strong connection to the surroundings. Accordingly, the home’s dynamic shape is threefold: aesthetically vernacular, the low-lying structure blends into its environment, nestled into the rising prairie grass. Secondly, the cylindrical structure, which includes several angular forms, is a protective strategy that blocks the strong winds that blow in from the shore. Thirdly, the home’s materials and construction, along with its form, were all inspired by traditional woodworking techniques found in the region, especially prevalent in boats and churches still found in the area. Related: Chilean Folding House allows owners to control the temperature to adapt to the season The architects explain that their inspiration for the home’s curved shape came from the region’s long tradition of carpentry: “Knowing that the island is not only well known for the exuberant myths and legends but for a refined artisanal carpentry knowledge expressed both in churches and boats, accepting that something of that local knowledge would inform our project,” they said, “we preferred to have in mind that delicate artlessness of a totally forgotten wooden padlock.” The curved roof, covered in traditional thin wood shingles , was strategically angled to allow optimal natural light into the living space. This slanting volume continues through to the interior where double height ceilings add a sense of airiness to the interior. Inside, the walls are clad in light wooden panels, also adding to the serene cabin-like atmosphere. + Pezo von Ellrichshausen Via Ignant Photos via Pezo von Ellrichshausen

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Crescent moon-shaped home on Chilean coast inspired by traditional boat-making techniques

Tesla Roadster in space could collide with Venus or Earth

February 19, 2018 by  
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Elon Musk isn’t the only person amused by a Tesla in space — scientists at the University of Toronto and Charles University have devoted their attention to figuring out just what might happen to the Roadster officially classified by NASA as a celestial object . Researchers think the space-traveling car could ultimately crash into Venus or Earth — but don’t panic yet. University of Toronto Scarborough assistant professor Hanno Rein and his team think the red Tesla Roadster could collide with our planet or Venus, but probably not for millions of years. They ran several simulations with “sophisticated software that can track the motion of objects in space,” according to the University of Toronto . Related: Elon Musk releases historic video of Starman cruising through space in a Tesla Roadster The probability that Musk’s Tesla will collide with Earth during the next one million years is six percent, and 2.5 percent for Venus. The scientists ran simulations for the first three million years of the Tesla’s journey in outer space , although Rein said the most likely outcome is that the car will crash into either Earth or Venus in the next 10 million years. If the car does crash into Earth, any future people probably won’t need to be too concerned because most or all of the Tesla will probably burn up in our planet’s atmosphere . The vehicle is on “a Mars and Earth crossing orbit, meaning it will travel on an elliptical path that repeatedly carries it beyond Mars and then back to Earth’s orbital distance from the sun,” according to the press release. If you happen to be alive in 2091, the scientists think that year will mark the first close encounter of the Tesla with Earth, when the car will pass within a few hundred thousand kilometers. Those Earth encounters will likely impact the Tesla’s journey. University of Toronto Scarborough postdoctoral fellow Daniel Tamayo said in a statement, “Each time it passes the Earth, the car will get a gravitational kick. Depending on the details of these encounters, the Tesla can be kicked onto a wider or smaller orbit , so it’s random. Over time the orbit will undergo what’s called a random walk, similar to the fluctuations we see in the stock market, that will allow it to wander the inner solar system .” The scientists submitted their research for publication to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ; a preprint is available here . Rein and Tamayo were joined by David Vokrouhlicky of Charles University. The university’s press release did not say what might happen to the Roadster’s passenger, Starman . + University of Toronto Images via Elon Musk on Instagram and Ken Jones

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Tesla Roadster in space could collide with Venus or Earth

Eco-hotel cabins float on a lake in the south of France

February 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Paris-based Atelier Lavit recently won our hearts with their stunning treehouse guestroom , but the forest retreat isn’t the only dreamy hotel they’ve created. The architecture firm is also behind Cabanes des Grands Cepages , an eco-hotel comprising ten timber suites—some of which are built to float on water. Set in the south of France in an idyllic fishing reserve near Avignon, these ten units on the shore of a la Lionne lake embrace elegance through simplicity with minimal embellishments and carefully placed reveals that provide privacy and views. Commissioned by Cabanes Nature et Spa, the Cabanes des Grands Cepages eco-hotel offers unique retreats with some hidden on land behind reeds while others are more visibly placed on the water. The cabins are carefully oriented to preserve guest privacy. Timber cladding—particularly the vertical timber slatted screens that are a nod to the lake reeds—visually unites the various dwellings. Related: This gorgeous modern treehouse hides a surprising interior “The 10 suites evoke primitive buildings on the shore of the lake; floating on the water like rafts or on pilots like palafittes,” wrote the architects. “The architectural work perfectly matches with the lacustrine tubes from which it resumes and rationalizes the elegant vertical thrust.” The project was mostly prefabricated offsite and then reassembled on site over the course of three months to minimize landscape impact. + Atelier Lavit Images via Atelier Lavit , © Francis Pelletier

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Eco-hotel cabins float on a lake in the south of France

This company makes leggings with biodegradable, compostable fabric

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Have you ever heard the words ‘ biodegradable ‘ and ‘ compostable ‘ associated with activewear? Philadelphia-based fitness company Aqua Vida offers leggings and shorts made with Amni Soul Eco fabric that is 100 percent recyclable and reusable – and in an anaerobic landfill or compost heap, will decompose in under three years. Aqua Vida offers biodegradable leggings – created with Amni Soul Eco intelligent yarn from chemistry company Solvay . The polyamide yarn provides antibacterial benefits and UV protection, according to the company . Some other benefits: the clothing is lightweight, will far outlive cheaper fabrics, and includes intelligent moisture absorption, per Aqua Vida. The apparel is intended for yoga , surfing, working out in the gym, or other exercise activities. Related: Satva’s organic yoga-inspired clothing supports education for young girls in India Don’t worry about sweat – these biodegradable leggings won’t decompose while you’re moving in them. Instead, the fabric only begins to break down when it’s surrounded by bacteria in an anaerobic landfill or compost bin. Otherwise, its shelf life is as lengthy as that of traditional polyamides, according to Aqua Vida. The process to create the yarn is also sustainable – per Aqua Vida, the fabric “is produced in a closed cycle manufacturing system, a production process which collects and recycles scrap, wastewater, raw materials found in the water, and heat that is generated in some of the production phases.” Aqua Vida, which sells clothes and offers standup paddleboard yoga classes, highlights sustainability as one of their values on their website; they host ocean cleanups with the goal of removing 10,000 pounds of trash from waterways by 2020. With 16 cleanups behind them, they’ve removed 3,341 pounds of garbage so far. The company says for every dollar customers spend, they allocate one percent to local water conservation efforts, which includes their cleanups. Their Biodegradable Flow Legging costs $68; the Biodegradable Flow Shorts are $48. + Aqua Vida + Aqua Vida Eco-Friendly Fabrics Via Philadelphia Magazine Images via Aqua Vida and Aqua Vida Facebook

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This company makes leggings with biodegradable, compostable fabric

Breast cancer spread connected to amino acid in asparagus

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Scientists have linked the spread of the disease breast cancer in mice to a compound that’s in asparagus and several other foods, The Guardian reported . Studies with mice revealed asparagine drives the advance of the cancer , and when researchers reduced asparagine, the amount of “secondary tumors in other tissues” dropped. Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute director Greg Hannon told The Guardian, “This is a very promising lead and one of the very few instances where there is a scientific rationale for a dietary modification influencing cancer.” Research with mice showed the amino acid asparagine is important for breast cancer to spread, and scientists think the process could be similar in humans. Researchers found that blocking the amino acid hampered the spread of the cancer. Hannon said in a statement , “It could be that manipulating levels of asparagine in the body might be used as a way to boost a patients’ cancer treatment.” Related: Many anti-aging products contain ingredients that can cause breast cancer The researchers blocked asparagine in mice tested, which had an aggressive type of breast cancer, to reduce the cancer’s ability to spread with the drug L-asparaginase. Giving the mice a low-asparagine diet worked to a lesser extent, according to The Guardian. There’s still a lot work to be done. The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute cautioned research is in the early stages and “doesn’t form the basis for DIY diets at home.” This work also doesn’t seem to offer a cure for cancer; per the press release, “So far the story suggests that lowering asparagine levels blunts the ability of cancer cells to spread in mice, but doesn’t affect the original tumor.” Lowering asparagine didn’t prevent breast tumors from forming, the researchers found. Hannon said, “The difficulty is finding ways to study this in the lab that are relevant to patients. It’s a challenge, but I think it’s worth pursuing.” The journal Nature published the research online this week . 21 scientists at institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States contributed. + Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Stephanie Studer on Unsplash and Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

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