This ultra-sustainable home has moveable walls for endless reconfigurability

October 12, 2017 by  
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Students from Northwestern University have created a sophisticated, energy-efficient home that is strategically designed to address the many challenges that come with aging. The solar-powered Enable House was built with various responsive design features – such as movable interior walls that create adaptable spaces through the years. The home’s deck features a beautiful greenhouse-like structure that opens up to the outdoors with sliding walls. Students from the Northwestern team conducted extensive research within local Chicago communities before creating their responsive home design. In talking with various baby boomers, the team realized that although sustainability is certainly a priority when it comes to living space, people over the age of 55 are increasingly concerned with aging comfortably in their own home. Related:Light-filled Danish home with flexible interiors welcomes the forest indoors Inspired to meet the needs of the aging population, the team worked to create a structure that would be incredibly energy efficient, but also functional and adaptable, all in one beautiful package. Team chose to use renewable building materials such as wood and fiber cement cladding to create a sophisticated, but welcoming home. The glazed sections of the beautiful attached sunroom easily slide open and shut to control air circulation. As an added health benefit, the deck’s glazed walls are treated with a special coating that purifies the air. The Enable House takes advantage of various sustainable features such as rooftop solar panels and thick structural insulated panels (SIPs), which help insulate the home during Chicago’s frigid winter months. Energy-efficient appliances installed throughout the home help reduce energy use and cost. The design also incorporates air filtering technologies, a living wall, and an innovative system that monitors the home’s VOCs, CO2, dust, and humidity to provide an extremely healthy environment year-round. The home’s modular interior walls enable a huge variety of layouts, so the home can be reconfigured based on the occupants’ changing needs through the years. For accessibility, the home is equipped with various universal design aspects such as zero-step entrances, single-floor living, wide hallways and doorways, wheelchair-accessible switches, and lever-style door handles and faucets. + Enable House Northwestern + Solar Decathlon Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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This ultra-sustainable home has moveable walls for endless reconfigurability

First ever video footage of wild sand cat kittens in Morocco

October 12, 2017 by  
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Get ready for cuteness overload. Researchers recently filmed sand cat kittens in the Moroccan Sahara , and they’re crazy adorable. The team thinks this could be the very first time scientists “documented wild sand cat kittens in their African range.” Sand cats can be incredibly elusive. They don’t leave many visible footprints. They’re quiet when they meow. And they don’t leave prey remains around. Their fur offers excellent camouflage in the desert, and they move around during the night, or at dusk or dawn. According to Grégory Breton, Panthera France managing director and one of the team members, “Finding these kittens was astonishing.” Related: At this “cat library,” you can check out a kitten for the day Breton was headed back to camp with Alexander Sliwa, Cologne Zoo curator, and Sahrawi driver Elhaj at 2:00 AM, after seven hours of searching for sand cats that day, when they saw the glimmer of three pairs of eyes: the sand cat kittens. Breton described them as having wider faces and bigger ears than a regular house cat. The researchers think they were between six and eight weeks old. Sand cats haven’t been well studied in their natural range, according to Breton. After the sightings, the team acquired a permit from the authorities in Morocco to catch and collar the cats. Breton said they’ve spotted 29 different sand cats and radio-collared 13. They’ve started gathering information that will help protect the species, and some of their findings have surprised them, like the fact that “sand cats are traveling more than we thought and more than what’s been recovered for any other small cats.” The team makes clear in their video above that sand cats are a wild desert species, and say, “Please don’t try to acquire them as a pet , rather save an abandoned domestic cat!” You can follow the team, which also includes Jardin Zoologique National veterinarian Saâd Azizi and other local guides and drivers, on the Sand Cat Sahara Team Facebook page. Via Panthera Images via screenshot

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Study reveals planets that orbit red dwarf stars could sustain life

February 10, 2015 by  
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The pursuit of actual living organisms on other planets is a common theme in space exploration, but finding locations in space that could sustain life are just as exciting. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University have released a new study about the possibility of finding exoplanets around red dwarf stars, the most common type of star in the universe. The study, which appears in Astrophysical Journal Letters , concluded that cloud behavior on red dwarf planets makes them more likely to sustain life . Read the rest of Study reveals planets that orbit red dwarf stars could sustain life Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: exoplanets , Habitable planets , habitable zone , Northwestern University , phys , red dwarf , red dwarf stars , university of chicago

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UK invests 314 times as much on fossil fuels than clean energy

February 10, 2015 by  
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As nations around the globe look to clean energy to solve environmental and economic problems, the burden is on the wealthiest nations to lead the way. The UK has broken a promise to support green energy projects and invested 314 times as much in ‘dirty’ energy projects than in clean energy. This move creates some skepticism about the UK’s commitment to green technologies.   Read the rest of UK invests 314 times as much on fossil fuels than clean energy Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: global green technology , investing in green energy , uk clean energy , uk energy investments , uk energy spending , uk green pledge , united kingdom clean energy

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UK invests 314 times as much on fossil fuels than clean energy

Ravenous robot vacuum attacks owner, tries to eat her head

February 10, 2015 by  
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Warnings about the possibility of robots turning on their owners have been floating around for years, and it would appear that such fears are justified. A 52-year-old South Korean woman was forced to call the fire department to help free her from the dust-encrusted jaws of her robot vacuum cleaner after it tried to eat her in her sleep. Read the rest of Ravenous robot vacuum attacks owner, tries to eat her head Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: human-eating robot , hungry robot , ravenous robot , robot , Robot Apocalypse , robot overlords , robot vacuum , robot vacuum cleaner , roomba , South Korean woman , woman eaten by robot

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Ravenous robot vacuum attacks owner, tries to eat her head

Recycled Blu-ray Discs Can Help Boost Solar Cell Efficiency

November 27, 2014 by  
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It looks like Blu-ray discs are good for more than just entertainment, as a new study shows they can be recycled to improve the performance of solar cells . Research published by Northwestern University in a recent edition of Nature Communications shows that the information pattern written on the high-density data storage discs can be re-used to improve light absorption across the solar spectrum. Read the rest of Recycled Blu-ray Discs Can Help Boost Solar Cell Efficiency Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: blu-ray , data , Electricity , high density , mccormick , northwestern , patterns , power , solar , solar panel , university

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Five innovative technologies developed to store excess renewable energy

October 5, 2011 by  
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Preeti Dahiya: Excess Renewable Energy Storage Innovative technologies developed to store excess renewable energy Introduction The renewable energy is one of the basic energy sources available to us these days and moreover, it is available in plenty all around us. All we have to do is start capturing and storing this renewable energy which can be used to perform various day to day operations without much hassle. This energy, as it is available free of cost, will save plenty on our pocket and thus is becoming famous among people. The storage of energy is what the deal is and people have made various devices and equipments to store this renewable energy in an efficient way. So, here we are with a list of five innovative technologies developed to store excess renewable energy. 1. Compressed air energy storage system Compressed air energy storage system Latest technology in conserving intermittent energy The compressed air energy storage system is one of the widely used systems to store the excess energy produced by renewable sources. This latest technology is being used on wide scale to harness energy from renewable energy sources. It brings out a situation where large amount of renewable energy can be stored into it and can be used later for efficient purposes. The drawback of this technology is that it cannot store energy in the form of electrical energy and it should be converted to some other form so that it can be stored. This brings out remarkably large efficiency losses and is claimed as a non-economically viable solution. The basic compressed air energy storage works on the principle that excess power present on the grid powers an electric motor which is used to drive the compressor. 2. Beacon Power Beacon Power Beacon Power’s high-energy flywheels energy storage solution Beacon Power has come up with a unique and awesome concept to store and harness the renewable energy at a large scale. They have constructed a few arrays of flywheels which are capable of storing energy. This kind of storing in flywheels is nothing new but the company claims that this new technology is being implemented with carbon fiber as well. These flywheels can store up to 2-3% of generated energy. The company have started building more such flywheels and aims at reaching a number of 200 for its new plant. Each flywheel used here weighs 2000 pounds and spins at 16,000 rpm. 3. Molten salt concentrating solar power plant Molten salt World’s first renewable energy storage plant built by Enel New technologies and new ways of harnessing energy are developed every day and this is one such unique way of storing and harnessing renewable energy. This Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant is the world’s first power plant which makes use of molten salts. Also the plant is the first ever plant which is completely integrated with combined-cycle gas power plant. It uses molten salts for the heat transfer and storage purpose. This power plant is named ‘Archimede’ which is located in Priolo Gargallo (Sicily). These molten salts can be operated at really high temperatures in the range of 500-600°C and can be operated for long hours as they offer much higher durability. It does not require oil or any such component to harness energy. The company says that Italy can host 3-5,000 MW of CSP plants by 2020. This has inspired other nations and people across the globe have started going for this new efficient technology. 4. Hydrogen energy store Hydrogen energy store Edible crystals to store hydrogen efficiently Hydrogen is considered to be a highly useful source of producing renewable energy as it offers energy at very low prices. Nowadays people have started using various techniques to store the hydrogen for fuel-cell cars. This technique was developed by the researchers at the Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. They have come out with ways of storing hydrogen and one of them is to freeze the gas around -250 degrees and them transform it into liquid form and then store it into molecular cages. This method has come out to be the best method until now and researches at the same university are finding more efficient ways of storing hydrogen. Moreover, the materials used to make this cage are easily available and hence are cheap. The material cage occupies space about 1300sqm. 5. Highview Power Storage Highview Power Storage UK based company Highview Power Storage, has developed an innovative way to store renewable energy This new and unique way of storing energy named Cryo-Energy system is developed by a Britain based company Highview Power Storage. As the non-conventional form of energy production is gaining more importance these days, the company has unveiled its latest technology to harness and store energy. The engineers of the company tried to mange liquefied air to store the energy and the results were shocking. The liquefied air worked out and stored some amount of energy on the first run. This process uses cryogenic techniques to bring down the temperature of natural air and the cool it down to use it as a power storage medium. The natural air is liquefied at temperature of 190 degrees and then is cooled down to store energy. The disadvantage here is that the electrical energy cannot be stored for a long period and hence should be used in a given period of time. The system can save up to $3000/kW of power capacity which is substantial.

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5 most efficient plug-in hybrid vehicles helping save fuel

October 5, 2011 by  
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Sneha Nampally: Fuel efficient plug-in hybrid vehicles Plug-in hybrid vehicles with best fuel economy With the growing consciousness to protect the mother earth, the car companies have come forward with the best techniques to save fuel with less emission of greenhouse gases. The uniqueness of these plug-in hybrid cars is that they work on dual power sources, internal combustion engine and an electric motor. While you enjoy your ride, the internal system of your car does its own work of transforming energy from the natural resources. These functions were incorporated with no compromise on luxuries but with a greater advantage to your pockets once you buy them. This technology was first used in designing of Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid by Ferdinand Porsche in 1900. Read on to know about 5 most efficient plug-in hybrid vehicles that help you save fuel. 1. Ford F-series Super Duty plug-in hybrid truck Ford F-Series Super Duty plug-in hybrid truck Fuel efficient Ford F-Series Super Duty plug-in hybrid truck Expected to be released in 2013, Ford F-series Super Duty plug-in hybrid already has a market share that exceeds 50% in North America. The plug-in hybrid technology will be integrated by the Azure Dynamics Corporation. With the collaboration with the Ford, Azure has already paved a way to greater heights and it also agreed to integrate technology for the upcoming Ford models F-350 and F-450. The Super Duty program enabled in this F-550 models and the upcoming models have extended the product lineup for Azure in integrating technology for trucks. It believes that almost two-third of the parallel plug-in hybrid will be used for all Super Duty configurations and the other one-third for the powertrain-specific like the gasoline or diesel. 2. Fuel efficient plug-in hybrid vehicle Kia Ray plug-in hybrid Kia Ray plug-in hybrid fuel efficient vehicle Unveiled first at the Chicago Auto Show was a stunning Kia Ray Plug-in hybrid car which was much above than just being a green car. Designed under Peter Schreyer’s team Kia source says that this is the car designed with the heart. The outward look and the internal technology will certainly make you say ‘WOW’. It is so amazingly designed. Going to the beast side of the car it is featured with aerodynamic design, you can travel 50 miles just by one charge of lithium ion battery. The gasoline-powered range-extender will allow to drive for 746 miles with no need of recharging or refueling. So, the total range of the car is 746 miles. The power that is needed to run especially front wheels and the other parts is provided by the 1.4-liter gasoline direct injection, 153 HP and a 78 kW electric motor. The uniqueness of the car is that it can run particularly on electric mode, gasoline mode and the other propulsion modes. The interesting recharge techniques used are that Ray uses regenerative braking, the solar cells embedded on the glass proof to recharge the battery. The Green car’s Green edge audio system with efficient speakers allows you to listen maximum source with less usage of power. This is something interesting that you should look out for. 3. Hybrid accord plug-in hybrid Honda accord plug in hybrid Fuel-efficient vehicle powered by a hybrid engine. Honda Accord was showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show and is expected to go on sale in 2012. This Japanese model runs on electric mode, the hybrid gasoline-electric mode and an engine direct-drive mode. With the electric mode which uses 6kWh lithium ion battery and a 120 kW electric motor you can drive up to 10-15 miles at a top speed of 62mph. It uses a 2.0-liter engine and has a maximum power of 161 hp. The battery can be charged in 3 to 4 hours using a regular electric socket and approximately 1 to 1.5 hours with a 240-volt outlet. 4. Volvo V60 plug-in Diesel hybrid Volvo V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid Volvo V60 Plug-in Diesel-Electric Hybrid Volvo has released its own design of the plug-in hybrid car ‘The Volvo V60′. As you see it is a medium sized car with big bodies incorporated inside it. With the electric mode you can run up to 30 miles at a maximum speed of 60mph. The engine built is a 2.4-liter D5 turbo diesel with an electric motor of 70 bhp offering a maximum torque of 640 Nm and only requires 49 gm of CO2. It accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds. In case you lack these sources then the power plants give you access to the 272bhp and is quite quick. 5. Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius Plug-in-Hybrid Toyota Prius Plug-in-Hybrid fuel efficient vehicle Toyota Prius was first shown to people in September 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and is expected to be released in the market in the second quarter of 2012. Prius is expected to be the first big leap for Toyota in hybrid vehicles. With the collaboration of Panasonic, Toyota has designed 4.4 kWh lithium ion battery which alone can make you drive up to 14.3 miles. It provides a total range of 475 miles and reaches a top speed of 62 mph. The battery requires 180 minutes at 120 volts and can be charged faster in 90 minutes at 240 volts. It is expected to be released in some of the best marketing centers of the world and have at least 50,000 vehicles sold annually. It would probably cost $32,000 and an extra $760 as delivery fee.

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HAV’s futuristic airships to fly on non-flammable helium, air power

August 31, 2011 by  
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Amit Singh: Futuristic Airships Built for Discovery Air British manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles will produce a fleet of airships for Discovery Air, company based in the Northwest of Canada. These futuristic airships are being specifically designed to supply remote communities and enterprises to the Northwest of Canada. It is in wide knowledge that huge swaths of Northwest Canada are completely in accessible by road during winters. Once these 50 ton giants are ready to fly, the problem will be solved once and for all. As per the initial estimates each Airship is going to cost around $40 million. HAV claims that the Air ships will be able to fly at the maximum speed of 185 km/h; this will significantly reduce the traveling time between the mainland and the Northwest. These airships build to land on all kinds of surface, will run on a mix of non-flammable helium and air power. Though, some may call it a costly venture, men at Discover Air look at it in a different manner. The road network of the Northwestern territories is not adequately developed, which causes hindrances in tapping the oil and gas extraction opportunities in the region. Discover Air have suffered massive losses in the past due to the same. In 2009 the company’s losses were so big that the Northwest Territories government had to bail them out. To build on the goodwill and to avoid any such embarrassment in future, the company has decided to invest heavily in the area by building these airships for better connectivity. Via: Alaska Dispatch

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Candidate for Mass. Governor "Not Smart Enough" to Know Whether or Not Climate Change is Real

February 10, 2010 by  
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Photo via Boston Globe His words. Charles Barker is running for governor of Massachusetts

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