Sandia solar glitter can fit into and power devices of any size or shape

February 9, 2017 by  
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Small, lightweight, flexible: these attributes when applied to solar cells hint at a far-off clean-powered future to come. But Sandia National Laboratories is now one step closer to seeing the tiny bendy solar cells they’ve developed, which they call solar glitter, on the market. These energy-generating cells could easily be integrated in small gadgets like drones , satellites , or smartphones. Former Sandia scientist Murat Okandan started his own company, mPower Technology, Inc. , and recently signed a licensing agreement with Sandia for microsystems enabled photovoltaics (MEPV), the technology that makes solar glitter possible. Okandan described the moment as a key milestone, saying, “It is an extremely exciting time in the solar industry with the upcoming critical, rapid change in the worldwide energy infrastructure .” Related: Amazing Glitter-Sized Photovoltaic Cells Look Like Golden Snowflakes MEPV draws on microdesign and microfabrication techniques to create the tiny solar cells that are then are released into a solution much like printing ink. The mix is then printed onto an inexpensive material. mPower will commercialize MEPV as Dragon SCALEs, which Sandia says will “fit into and power devices or sensors of any shape or size.” Dragon SCALEs fold like paper for easy transportation, and could be utilized as portable energy generators. They could be installed more rapidly and cheaply than typical solar power systems. Okandan said Dragon SCALEs are more reliable, with lower energy costs, than the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells common today. In a statement he said, “The key limitation to silicon is that if you bend and flex it, it will crack and shatter. Our technology makes it virtually unbreakable while keeping all the benefits of high efficiency, high reliability silicon PV. It allows us to integrate PV in ways that weren’t possible before, such as in flexible materials, and deploy it faster in lighter-weight, larger-area modules.” Via Treehugger Images via Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories and Sandia National Laboratories

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Sandia solar glitter can fit into and power devices of any size or shape

Tesla to start test-building the Model 3 this month

February 9, 2017 by  
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Now that the Chevy Bolt has officially arrived, the attention is now on Tesla to see if it can meet its production deadlines for the Model 3. According to Reuters, Elon Musk’s company is now one step closer to the start of the official production as the automaker plans to test-build the Model 3 later this month. Tesla hasn’t confirmed how many Model 3 vehicles will be produced this month, but it will likely be a small number. In part this will allow the automaker test the existing assembly system, and quality test the Model 3 . It’s rumored that the pilot production will kick off on February 20, which will also give Tesla the ability to share the news and potentially reveal pre-production models two days later when it shares its four-quarter 2016 results on February 22. Related: Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car Tesla is expected to shut down production at its California plant for a week later this month to prepare for the high-volume Model 3. The brief shutdown will enable Tesla to make some necessary changes to the paint shop and other maintenance upgrades, both prerequisites for kicking off production of the Model 3 later this year. If all goes as planned, this should happen in July, and Tesla hopes to ramp up production significantly by 2018. + Tesla Via Reuters All images © Tesla

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Tesla to start test-building the Model 3 this month

Green-roofed music center built of natural materials harmonizes with the landscape

January 13, 2017 by  
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Tranquility is at the heart of the handsome Sunbeams Music Center , where music is used as therapy to soothe the souls of the disadvantaged. Designed by Newcastle-based studio Mawson Kerr for the Sunbeams Music Trust charity, the music therapy center visually harmonizes with its bucolic lake landscape in Cumbria, England. The building is sensitively placed on the landscape and incorporates environmentally friendly design including photovoltaics , locally sourced natural materials, and passive design principles. The 600-square-meter Sunbeams Music Center caters to disabled children and adults with a variety of music therapy rooms. The building includes four such rooms as well as recording studios, an exhibition space, concert hall, and administrative offices. To minimize site impact , the architects shaped the building along the landscape’s natural contours, which resulted in a building’s horn-like shape. “The building is designed as a home and advert for the amazing work Sunbeams do working with disadvantaged members of society,” writes Mawson Kerr. “Bringing music into the building was on of the key drivers alongside harmonising the building with the natural surroundings and wider environment.” Related: Green Covered Taipei Music Center by Mario Bellini Architects The building was largely constructed from locally sourced timber and features a glue-laminated timber structure, cedar shingles, and exterior oak slats. Skylights punctuate the building’s green roof . The music center was also built with ground-source heat pumps and sheep wool insulation. + Mawson Kerr Via Dezeen

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Green-roofed music center built of natural materials harmonizes with the landscape

Skylights stream light into tiny cantilevering home in German forest

January 13, 2017 by  
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We could all use more light in our lives, and good design provides. Dusseldorf-based architects Falkenberg Innenarchitektur have transformed a compact 1950s home in Germany into a stunning minimalist retreat . Tucked into an idyllic forest surrounded by the River Nethe, the renovated Haus Rheder II features three main essentials: light, air, and tranquility, lending a subtle sophistication to the arboreal design. From the start, the architects wanted to preserve the original character of the 65-year-old structure. Thankfully, the designers managed to keep the existing floor slab and terrace space that cantilevers over the river. To take advantage of the idyllic location, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors were installed that open up to the timber deck , offering amazing views of the surrounding Rheder country park. Related: Sophisticated minimalist house in Denmark lets you enjoy the outdoors even in the winter The interior space is 90 square meters of open space with scant furniture and virtually zero clutter. The heart of the home is the fireplace that sits in the middle of the living space. A ceiling-height partition separates the living room from the bedrooms and a small bathroom, all of which count on skylights for optimal natural light . Also on the interior is a technical room that acts as a control center for the home’s technology, all controlled by an app. The large windows and wooden deck help bring nature into the manmade space, but is further enhanced by the home’s reflecting pool on the southeastern side of the home. Sunlight streams into the living space during the day, further creating a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. According to the architects, leaving the interior space open was essential to the renovation process, “The new, great task of our time is to leave the unimportant and to give more space to the essential. To feel connected with nature is an integral and essential part of our lives. It gives us peace and structure, space for thought and grounding in the hectic of our age.” + Falkenberg Innenarchitektur Via Archdaily Photographs by Thomas Mayer  

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New photovoltaic solar technology boosts efficiency to 50%

November 23, 2016 by  
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Researchers at Technion Israel Institute of Technology recently made a breakthrough in solar cell technology that could boost efficiency of existing photovoltaics by 70 percent or more. The amount of sunlight solar cells can convert into usable energy is typically limited to around 30 percent, with many existing solar panels falling short of that due to less than optimal conditions. The Technion team developed new thermodynamic tools that work to capture energy currently lost, and convert it to electricity, thereby increasing a solar cell’s efficiency to as much as 50 percent . The university research team , based in Haifa, Israel, has been working to improve solar cell efficiency as a means to increase the benefits of clean, renewable sources of energy. They created a photoluminescence material that absorbs radiation from the sun, and converts the heat and light from the sun into an “ideal” radiation. That illuminates the photovoltaic cell and enables a higher conversion efficiency. The net result is a big boost: a conventional solar cell’s 30 percent efficiency rate is increased to 50 percent. Related: Masdar/MIT solar cell makes a grab for world record with 35% efficiency and lower cost “Solar radiation, on its way to the photovoltaic cells, hits a dedicated material that we developed for this purpose, the material is heated by the unused part of the spectrum,” said graduate student Assaf Manor, who led the study as part of his PhD work. “In addition, the solar radiation in the optimal spectrum is absorbed and re-emitted at a blue-shifted spectrum. This radiation is then harvested by the solar cell. This way both the heat and the light are converted to electricity.” The team continues to work on their innovation, and is targeting a commercial product release within the next five years. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Nature Communications. Via 3tags Images via Technion and Shutterstock

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Studio Fuksas completes the largest project built in Rome in over 50 years

October 24, 2016 by  
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The project is built in Rome’s historic quarter EUR and boasts 55,000 square meters (13 acres) of mixed-use spaces, including a hotel. It is defined by three elements: “Theca”, the “Cloud” and the “blade” of the hotel . The “Theca” is the outer layer that comprises a steel structure and double-glass facade and encases the “Cloud” which acts as the heart of the project. The”Cloud” accommodates a large auditorium with 1760 seats, snack points and support services. It looks like an undulating cloud covered by a 15,000-square-meter transparent curtain and acts as an independent structure within the interior of the building. Related: Studio Fuksas Completes Spectacular Terminal With Honeycomb Skylights at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport The New Congress Center can host various events and has a capacity that can reach a total of nearly 9,000 seats, including the 1,760 seats inside the “Cloud”. The entire complex has a climate control system with variable flow air conditioning and photovoltaics that provide clean energy and mitigate solar radiation. + Studio Fuksas

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Studio Fuksas completes the largest project built in Rome in over 50 years

Solar-powered Floating Tidal House defies climate change with retractable legs

June 20, 2016 by  
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The concept house can flow with the tides and respond to environmental changes. Its legs can be deployed and retracted from the bottom of the San Francisco Bay using a rack and pinion gear system. Independently operable legs allow the structure to stay balanced and positioned closer to the surface of the water. Thanks to its aerodynamic spherical roof, the Tidal House can withstand strong winds and generate clean energy through integrated photovoltaic systems. Related: Two converging wings create a glass-clad fissure in the renovated mid-century Bal House Tidal House can be used as a prototypical floating structure for entire communities connected via a floating dock. The unique environmental conditions of each house, dependent on position around the dock, are addressed through the system of retractable legs and structural design. The solution can also accommodate different lifestyles and programs. + Terry & Terry Architecture Via v2com Photos by Patricia Parinejad

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Energy-plus houses in Berlin are the future of eco-friendly living

June 3, 2016 by  
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The three structures, collectively named “Holistic Living”, are the result of a holistic design approach that combines energy efficiency , mobility and health. Each building was built using natural, recyclable materials -walls, ceilings and roofs are made of wood and clay. Related: Linked Towers Planned for Berlin’s Holzmarkt Area Triple glazing and thermally insulated envelope prevent thermal bridges . Floor heating systems and a heat recovery ventilation system provide stable indoor temperatures throughout the year. Photovoltaic panels installed on the roof generate enough energy to meet total energy requirements of the property. This energy is also used to charge an e-car. Thanks to their outstanding energy performance, the buildings meet the requirements of the German Plus Energy House standard. + GRAFT + BuroHappold Engineering Via Archdaily Photos by Tobias Hein

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World’s first solar-powered hydrogen development takes homes 100% off-grid

February 9, 2016 by  
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6 designs to help refugees live a better life

February 9, 2016 by  
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