This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel

May 4, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Michigan and McGill University in Montreal have created a device that uses sunlight to efficiently split fresh or salt water into hydrogen that may be used in fuel cells. The new machine, which mimics the process of photosynthesis , is capable of producing hydrogen fuel at twice the efficiency of previous technologies. Producing only water as an emission, hydrogen is the cleanest burning fuel. However, its production has historically not been environmentally friendly or energy efficient. This new device may change all that, paving the way to a cleaner energy future. “If we can directly store solar energy as a chemical fuel, like what nature does with photosynthesis, we could solve a fundamental challenge of renewable energy,” said lead researcher Zetian Mi . Unlike solar panels, which can only store energy if they are attached to a battery, the artificial photosynthesis device uses splits water to store solar energy as hydrogen fuel. Despite this fundamental difference from solar panels , the device is made from the same materials, such as silicon and gallium nitride, which is also found in LEDs. Related: Scientists create world’s first solar fuel reactor that works at night Small towers of gallium nitride generate an electric field to turn photons into free charges, which divide water into its two component elements, oxygen and hydrogen. In contrast with previous solar splitters, which had only reached 1 percent efficiency, Mi’s team managed to achieve a 3 percent solar-to-hydrogen efficiency. “Although the 3 percent efficiency might seem low, when put in the context of the 40 years of research on this process, it’s actually a big breakthrough,” Mi said. “Natural photosynthesis, depending how you calculate it, has an efficiency of about 0.6 percent.” The device, further developed, may even be able to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, potentially alleviating the impact of climate change . Via Futurity Images via Faqrul A. Chowdhury/McGill University

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Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

May 4, 2018 by  
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Tesla’s made headlines with its electric Semi truck — but Anheuser-Busch is betting big on their competitor, the Nikola Motor Company . The beer company placed an order for as many as 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks just days after Nikola sued Tesla for patent infringement. Nikola says their zero emissions trucks boast a 500- to 1,200-mile range – plenty to haul Anheuser-Busch’s beer around the country. Anheuser-Busch’s goal is to convert its dedicated long-haul fleet over to renewably-powered vehicles by 2025. 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks could help them reach that goal. Nikola said their trucks could be integrated into the brewing company’s fleet in 2020. Features of the truck include the ability to refuel in around 20 minutes, and a surround viewing system for improved safety. Nikola could charge around $400,000 on average for their trucks, which are as yet in the prototype phase, according to Reuters . Related: Self-driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run The trucks could help the beer company attain sustainability goals; Nikola said, “Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions gained from these 800 trucks will reduce the brewer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18 percent — equivalent to taking more than 13,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.” Nikola says on their website they plan to create the world’s largest hydrogen network, and CEO Trevor Milton said they’re excited to partner with Anheuser-Busch to bring this network to the United States. He said in the statement, “By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. With nearly nine billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.” Reuters described that last statement as a not-so-veiled jab at Tesla — people have questioned the Tesla Semi’s cost, range, and payload. The expected base prices for Tesla’s Semi are $150,000 for a 300-mile-range truck or $180,000 for a 500-mile-range truck. Anheuser-Busch did place 40 reservations for the Tesla Semi. Although Nikola and Tesla are both named after inventor Nikola Tesla, the companies aren’t exactly on good terms — Nikola recently sued Tesla over design patent infringements. Elon Musk referred to the allegation as a “laughable lawsuit.” + Nikola Motor Company Via Reuters and Mashable Images via Nikola Motor Company

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Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

VIDEO: 60,000-year-old preserved underwater forest discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

September 27, 2017 by  
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When Hurricane Ivan formed in 2004, it did more than devastate regions of the Caribbean and the United States’ coast. According to the new documentary “ The Underwater Forest ,” it also unearthed a fossilized forest of cypress trees which grew more than 50,000 years ago. Located 60 feet below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico , the underwater forest features trees which have intact bark and are still leaking sap. Journalist Ben Raines discovered the underwater forest after conversing with fishermen who reported “unusual” activity in the area. The preserved forest is expected to have been buried by sediment, which protected it from decomposition, as a result of the last ice age which occurred approximately 60,000 years ago. After Hurricane Ivan uncovered the forest, it transformed into a flourishing ecosystem. Said Professor Kristine DeLong, an LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology Associate, “Everything is in place in that ecosystem . It’s just been buried and preserved through time.” The trees were prevented from decomposing due to the presence of thick mud. Without oxygen , decomposition could not occur in the underwater environment. However, the Category 4 hurricane — which had 140-mile per hour winds and 98-foot-tall waves — changed that in 2004. Related: Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico Raines worked with scientists from Louisiana State University and the University of Southern Mississippi for the first samples and subsequent investigations. Using advanced sonar machines, the researchers discovered additional trees which are still buried approximately 10 feet below the sediment. The experts also used radio-carbon dating to discern the forests’ approximate age. Reportedly, the trees show signs of “stress events.” This indicates that the trees experienced a rapid decrease in growth, followed by a quick increase, then a swift, final growth decline. The experts agree that the trees soon after died around the same time. Due to pollution — which includes run-off and oil spills — the Gulf of Mexico is becoming more toxic every year. This newly-discovered ecosystem could provide a glimpse of the future of the Gulf coast, say the researchers. “It’s pretty rapid change, geologically speaking,” said paleontologist Martin Becker of William Paterson University. “We’re looking at 60 feet of seawater where a forest used to be. I’m looking at a lot of development, of people’s shore homes and condominiums, etc. The forest is predicting the future, and maybe a pretty unpleasant one.” + The Underwater Forest Via AL , Daily Mail Images via The Underwater Forest/Ben Raines

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VIDEO: 60,000-year-old preserved underwater forest discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen

September 5, 2017 by  
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Industrial agriculture is blamed as a major cause of greenhouse gas, but what if there was a way to sustainably produce food that could help solve some of the world’s toughest environmental problems? That’s what the folks at SPACE10 , a Copenhagen-based future-living lab, tackled with the futuristic Algae Dome, a four-meter-tall food-producing architecture pavilion that pumps out oxygen in a closed-loop system. Powered by solar energy, the Algae Dome offers a sustainable and hyper-local food system that can pop up almost anywhere with minimal impact on the environment. Architects Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski, Anna Stempniewicz, and bioengineer Keenan Pinto created the Algae Dome, which was presented at the CHART art fair in Copenhagen last week. Although SPACE10 has experimented with growing microgreens before, the team targets an even smaller food with the Algae Dome—micro-algae. Praised as a future “superfood,” micro-algae is said to contain twice as much protein as meat and is packed with vitamins and minerals, with more beta carotene than carrots and more iron than found in spinach, according to SPACE10. Even better? Micro-algae are among the world’s fastest-growing organisms and can be grown with sunshine and water almost anywhere, all while sucking up carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen in the process. Related: SPACE10 creates an open-source Growroom you can build at home During the three-day CHART art fair, the Algae Dome produced 450 liters of micro-algae and provided an interactive architectural experience that was part food system, part furniture, and wholly educational. The large amount of food was produced in a surprisingly small amount of space thanks to the design that featured 320 meters of coiled tubing, showing off the flow of emerald green micro-algae. Visitors were invited to sit inside the pavilion and enjoy a “breath of fresh air” created by the micro-algae as it converted carbon dioxide into oxygen. Packets of delicious spirulina (a type of blue-green algae) chips, created by SPACE10’s chef-in-residence Simon Perez, were placed around the pavilion to give passersby the chance to try the superfood. “In the future, different species of microalgae could be used as a form of nutrient-rich food, as a replacement for soy protein in animal feed, in the development of biofuels, as a way to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and as a method of treating industrial wastewater,” said SPACE10. “In other words, microalgae could help combat malnutrition, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels , help stop the destruction of the rainforest, improve air quality, and reduce pollution. Little wonder that microalgae has been dubbed the future’s sustainable super crop.” SPACE10 sees the Algae Dome as the prototype for food-producing architecture that could pop up virtually anywhere, from bus stops to apartment complexes. + SPACE10 Picture credit: Niklas Adrian Vindelev

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Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen

NASA unveils plan to make oxygen on Mars

August 24, 2017 by  
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Future Mars colonists are going to need oxygen , and NASA has a plan to make it. Their Mars 2020 Rover will be equipped with a Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment device, nicknamed MOXIE, which will attempt to make oxygen via electrolysis . The oxygen could be used not only for breathing, but also for rocket fuel. NASA Acting Chief Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Jr. told Futurism , “The next lander that is going to Mars, Mars 2020, has an experiment where we are going to try and actually generate oxygen out of the atmosphere on Mars, clearly that’s for human capability down the road.” Michael Hecht of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been the principal investigator for MOXIE. Oxygen is only present in trace amounts in the red planet’s atmosphere, but carbon dioxide (CO2) is pretty abundant; 95.32 percent of Mars’ atmosphere is comprised of CO2. A laser could ‘slice off’ the carbon atom in CO2 to leave O2 behind. But NASA’s going with another method: electrolysis, or using a fuel cell to split up the oxygen and carbon atoms. Related: NASA unveils inflatable greenhouse for sustainable farming on Mars It should take MOXIE around two hours to produce oxygen from carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere. It operates at a temperature of 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit, and its production rate is around 0.022 pounds an hour. The device is 9.4 by 9.4 by 12.2 inches big, and will hitch a ride to the fourth planet from the sun aboard the 2020 Rover. If the experiment is successful, NASA might one day send an instrument that is 100 times larger than MOXIE, so astronauts can breathe when they get to Mars. Via IFLScience and Futurism Images via NASA

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Subterranean Oxygen Park is a breath of fresh air in the Qatari desert

August 18, 2017 by  
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A “green lung” in Qatar’s desert landscape is helping people stay healthy and active, and reconnecting them to nature. Erik Behrens and James Haig Streeter of AECOM recently completed Oxygen Park, a unique public space in Doha’s Education City. Built to promote exercise and social gatherings, Oxygen Park is partly buried underground and features undulating, organic forms masses inspired by the desert’s wind-eroded rocks and landscapes. Oxygen Park derives its name from the elemental life-force of oxygen , which the park also produces with its tree-studded green landscape. The designers wrote: “Oxygen Park is a man-made ‘green lung’ with a design inspired by nature. It is an antidote to the generic indoor gym environment and helps people to get back to nature, while fostering social engagement and promoting active healthy lifestyles.” A series of “balloon lights” float above the subterranean landscape to draw attention to Oxygen Park from afar. Related: SOMA Architects’ luxury Shaza Hotel breaks ground in Doha The park’s exercise features include shaded running trails, subterranean pitches for team sports, and equestrian facilities. More passive recreational areas also punctuate the park in the form of water plazas, sensory gardens, shade gardens, play gardens , and a series of soundscape -filled, folly spheres. The use of water and shade are seamlessly integrated into the design to provide relief from the hot climate. At night, a beautiful lighting scheme illuminates the park and water to create a safe and attractive environment for workouts and strolls after sundown. + AECOM Images by Markus Elblaus

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Subterranean Oxygen Park is a breath of fresh air in the Qatari desert

Cozy charred timber box adds a new social heart to Dublin home

August 18, 2017 by  
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A tiny new addition has made a big impact on a terraced home in North Dublin. Stephen Kavanagh Architects designed Copeland Grove, a sun-soaked home refurbishment and extension that connects to an existing garden. Formerly a leaky kitchen extension, the new timber-and-glass structure provides transformative panoramic views and greatly increases thermal comfort. Lighting was key in the design of the 24-square-meter timber extension. Full-height glazing and a skylight increase solar heat gain and let in abundant natural light. At night, concealed LED strips and pendant lighting provide enough illumination without the need for visible lamps, thus reducing visual clutter. Related: Charred timber pavilion slides back and forth to expose rooms to the outdoors Charred timber wraps around the timber-framed building to complement and contrast with the main home’s white facade. The interior also features timber in the exposed wooden beams and choice of furnishings. Light-colored tiled floors and walls reflect light and contribute to the extension’s light and spacious appearance. The project cost £110,000 for construction and took 14 weeks to build. + Stephen Kavanagh Architects

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Ingenious Chlorella Oxygen Pavilion helps city dwellers breathe clean, unpolluted air using algae

October 31, 2016 by  
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Air quality is a serious issue that needs to be addressed as more and more people move to large cities . At the same time, we are losing the forests that help us combat air pollution, which means that pollution promises to be a major health threat in coming decades. The Chlorella Pavilion  addresses that need, taking inspiration from the air purifying process that occurs in nature. The design emphasizes the  symbiotic relationship between animal and plants. Miklosi conceived a system of tubes that run throughout the interior and exterior of the structure, filled with algae soaking up energy from the sun and “exhaling” oxygen into the space by way of a central fountain. The fountain is surrounded by seating so that people can relax enjoy the fresh air. Visitors coming to this futuristic oxygen bar will feed the algae by converting oxygen into CO2 with their breath, creating a continuous cycle. The entire system is run by solar panels, which provide power for artificial lighting that supports photosynthesis. Photobioreactors create a network of transparent plastic tubes, each of which is filled with 5 cubic meters of algae. The algae sucks in dirty air, cleans it, and sends out purified air. Surrounding this central algae “fountain” are a series of chairs in a circle, facing the center. Related: Biodesign Competition winners announced – algae takes center stage Called a “temple of relaxation,” the Chlorella Pavilion could be placed just about anywhere, including metropolitan areas where bustling city dwellers could use a natural boost of oxygen-driven energy – or just some fresh air. The innovative structure is built with molded beech wood and an isolating teflon film on the exterior to help create a space for relaxation and recovery. The project was inspired by Russia’s Controlled ecological life support system , in which a self-supporting life system was created using algae to provide oxygen.  Miklosi’s design recently won Inhabitat’s  Biodesign Competition . +Chlorella Oxygen Pavilion

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Ingenious Chlorella Oxygen Pavilion helps city dwellers breathe clean, unpolluted air using algae

Are algae-powered oxygen bars on the horizon?

October 18, 2016 by  
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While the idea may seem strange at first, these pods could actually be the answer to the increasing problem of urban pollution and carbon emissions . The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in big cities, and a recent study from WHO found that a staggering 92% of the human beings on the planet are already being exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution . That’s a lot of people who could benefit from a quick daily dose of purified air. The design of the structure does more than simply purify the air. It also uses semi-transparent Teflon membranes to reduce noise and visual stimulation – creating a quiet, isolated escape for tired visitors who want to relax and recharge. The algae fountain in the center consists of a series of photobioreactors filled with five cubic meters of water and algae. Surrounding the core photobioreactor would be ten rail-bound relaxation chairs placed in a circle, to allow quiet time for study and reflection – it’s sort of an oxygen bar meets library. The chairs can be shifted individually in order to facilitate social gatherings or to create a more private personal space. This innovative design impressed us so much that it took both the Grand Prize and the Healing Spaces Prize in Inhabitat’s recent Biodesign Competition . Related: Biodesign Competition winners announced – algae takes center stage An urban escape from pollution wouldn’t be the only benefit to this design. We could also harness elements of this design to help reduce overall atmospheric CO2 – a pressing issue at a time when existing carbon sinks worldwide are disappearing. Deforestation could potentially lead to a massive increase in unabsorbed carbon dioxide pollution. Researchers predict that deforestation in the Amazon, has already led to a 12% increase in carbon emissions worldwide since the 1960s, and that will only increase as farming and logging continue in the region. Environmental changes such as drought have severely impacted the ability of trees to store carbon and have even caused them to release it into the atmosphere instead. + Ádám Miklósi

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