World’s first zero-emissions fossil-fuel plant expected to go live in 2018

December 5, 2017 by  
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North Carolina-based NET Power is pioneering a novel approach to capturing carbon dioxide in its reportedly zero-emissions natural-gas pilot power plant in Houston, Texas . The company is investing $150 million in its innovative design, which is centered around turbine technology that is mostly unchanged since its invention over 150 years ago. The key difference is that NET Power’s turbine uses carbon dioxide , rather than a mixture of hot gases, to transfer heat, which is then converted into mechanical energy and, ultimately, electricity. NET Power hopes that its plant design will prove efficient enough to be mass marketed and installed at natural gas power plants around the world. The turbine technology used in NET Power’s demonstration plant is based on the Allam cycle , named after its creator Rodney Allam, who developed the system in collaboration with colleagues at 8 Rivers , an investment firm focused on innovative technology . “He did it old-school style—with just pen, paper, and a four-function calculator,” said Walker Dimmig, a principal at 8Rivers, according to Quartz . “We had to hire an engineering firm to redraw Rodney’s drawings on the computer, and verify whether what he claimed would be feasible.” The Allam cycle exploits the unusual qualities of carbon dioxide, which, under high pressure and temperature, becomes a “supercritical fluid,” a state of matter that shares characteristics of a liquid and a solid. In its supercritical fluid form, carbon dioxide has proven to be an efficient extractor of heat energy in a turbine . Related: World’s first ‘negative emissions’ power plant opens in Iceland In collaboration with Toshiba, NET Power modified turbines to be compatible with the Allam cycle. Because of their highly efficient design, NET Power’s turbines are one-tenth the size of normal turbines. After some final tests are conducted and minor problems are fixed, NET Power expects its plant to begin its operation in 2018. At full capacity, it will produce enough electricity to power 40,000 homes. NET Power plans to license its technology, rather than building its own plants, a practical move in response to a challenging market. However, if the natural gas boom is here to stay, NET Power hopes that its carbon capture technology may prove useful and popular as the world shifts towards a cleaner energy economy. Via Quartz Images via Depositphotos , NET Power via NPR , and NET Power

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World’s first zero-emissions fossil-fuel plant expected to go live in 2018

16 green holiday gifts for gardeners and backyard farmers

December 5, 2017 by  
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Gardening, backyard farming, and homesteading have become more popular than ever, and chances are you have at least one green thumb to shop for this holiday season. From monthly seed subscription boxes to eco-friendly gardening tools , terrarium kits , and even backyard beehive s, we’ve rounded up some fabulous gift ideas for plant lovers of all ages and abilities. Check out what we’ve found in this year’s Green Holiday Gift Guide! GIFTS FOR THE GREEN THUMB >

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16 green holiday gifts for gardeners and backyard farmers

Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity

November 27, 2017 by  
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Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have advanced the field of hydrogen power by creating a hybrid device that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity in a cost-effective manner. “People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices,” said Richard Kaner, lead author of the study and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Now you can make both fuel and electricity with a single device.” The new invention is a significant step forward in the quest to harness the power of hydrogen as a fuel source, particularly in transportation. “Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air — just water ,” said Kaner, “and this could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.” In addition to positive and negative electrodes typically found in battery systems, the UCLA device includes an electrode with the ability to either store electrical energy or use it as a catalyst for water electrolysis, the process by which hydrogen and oxygen atoms are split from a water compound. To increase the device’s efficiency, the researcher team maximized the surface area upon which water makes contact. This additional surface area then allows greater production of hydrogen as well as increased energy storage. Related: New nanomaterial pulls hydrogen from seawater to power fuel cells Although commercial production of hydrogen has often proven to be costly and carbon intensive , the usage of ever-cheaper and clean solar power could change the game. The materials used in the UCLA device to create hydrogen, such as nickel, iron, and cobalt, are also significantly cheaper and more abundant than precious metals like platinum typically used in the process. Finally, the device, powered by the sun, is designed to be accessible even in isolated areas, thus increasing the viability of hydrogen as a fuel source for vehicles on long trips. Although the current model can be held in the palm of one’s hand, the principles behind the device may be applied at a greater scale. Via New Atlas / UCLA Images via Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

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Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity

Stunning multi-level bamboo home stands deep in the mountains of Bali

November 27, 2017 by  
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We’ve always loved IBUKU’s beautiful bamboo structures , but their latest project, the Ananda House, is simply stunning. The private home, located in Sibang Gede, Bali, is made up of three multi-level bamboo towers embedded into Bali’s lush green vegetation. The bamboo buildings are designed to exist in harmony with the heavily-forested landscape – and they protect the surrounding vegetation as much as possible. While constructing the homes’ many balconies, IBUKU cut holes into the roofs’ overhangs in order to make way for the surrounding trees to grow. Related: Explore This Incredible Green Village in Bali Made Entirely From Bamboo A winding stone path bordered by terraced gardens leads to the entrance of each structure. The pavilion to the right houses the family room, which is a large space with an open-air terrace. At the heart of the living area is the kitchen, complete with a curving countertop made from slabs of locally-sourced river stone . The bedrooms are perched over the living space and designed to take advantage of natural light and ventilation. Each room has an east-facing private balcony that provides incredible views over the valley. To the back of the main building is a grotto pool whose design mimics the natural landscape, creating a fun, indoor-outdoor space. The master bedroom is located at the highest point of the structure. It’s a stunningly romantic space with a lookout tower at the top. The sleeping area is located on the first level, and an attached outdoor bathroom , complete with a monolithic bathtub, looks out over the valley. + IBUKU Via Archdaily

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Stunning multi-level bamboo home stands deep in the mountains of Bali

More than 20 organizations launch Solar Saves Lives to electrify Puerto Rico

November 14, 2017 by  
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Puerto Rico’s electricity crisis continues – and the solar industry plans to help. More than 20 organizations and companies, including The Solar Foundation , Sunrun , and the Clinton Foundation , launched the Solar Saves Lives initiative to bring solar technology to American citizens in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) after the recent hurricanes . Their priorities are two food markets in San Juan and 62 rural medical clinics. Puerto Rico’s loss of power doesn’t just mean people sit in the dark. It also means it can be harder to obtain fresh water or food. Many rural medical clinics are still closed, meaning it can be difficult for people to receive medical attention they need. Several organizations and companies are responding with over $5 million in solar equipment commitments to work towards restoring power in Puerto Rico and the USVI and helping the islands be more resilient to future storms. Related: Richard Branson is planning to rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy Former president Bill Clinton said in a statement, “Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall in the Caribbean, people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still in urgent need of assistance. The solar equipment donated through this effort will save lives by aiding recovery efforts, providing power for people in remote areas, and solarizing critically needed services like refrigeration and medical care.” Direct Relief, Operation Blessing, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, SunSpec Alliance, BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, Prana Power, CAM Solar, Campervan HQ, Carolina Solar Energy, Renogy, and Solight Design are among the companies and organizations involved. Solar Saves Lives will be bringing equipment like lanterns, cell chargers, solar refrigeration units, solar water purification units, battery packs, solar panels, and inverters to impacted areas. Solar Saves Lives is asking for both product and monetary donations; find out how to help here . + Solar Saves Lives Images via Solar Saves Lives and Wikimedia Commons

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More than 20 organizations launch Solar Saves Lives to electrify Puerto Rico

Plantagon’s crowdfunded plantscraper aims to produce 500 metric tons of food a year

November 3, 2017 by  
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Swedish company Plantagon believes that ‘plantscrapers’ are the way of the future—and part of solution to the global food crisis. Part urban farm, part skyscraper, these vertical greenhouses could provide large-scale organic food production in cities, with a much smaller energy and carbon footprint than industrial agriculture. After years of research and development, Plantagon is now ready to embark on their first landmark plantscraper, called The World Food Building, and is crowdfunding their way to success . A pioneer in the fields of urban agriculture and food technology, Plantagon has set their sights on solving the food crisis as cities grow larger and arable land shrinks. Thus, the company created The World Food Building, a 60-meter-tall vertical farm and 16-story office building proposed for Linköping, Sweden that, if built, would serve as an international model for vertical industrial urban farming. The innovative ‘plantscraper’ would use Plantagon’s patented technology to produce 500 metric tons of organic food annually in a closed, clean, and climate-controlled environment. At least half of the energy used in food production would be recaptured and reused as floor heat in the office building. Plantagon estimates that The World Food Building could save 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 50 million liters of water as compared to traditional industrial farming systems. To turn their first plantscraper into reality, Plantagon has turned to crowdfunding and asked the community to join them as allies. “We are reaching out to people everywhere who feel that commercial organizations should also be the driving force of change,” said Hans Hassle, Plantagon’s Co-founder and Secretary-General. “People are sick and tired of businesses being shortsighted and just-for-profit driven. We believe it’s time for this to change and the time for ‘business as usual’ is over. With potentially 100,000 allies all over the world supporting Plantagon, we will show that the power of the crowd gets the job done.” + Plantagon

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Plantagon’s crowdfunded plantscraper aims to produce 500 metric tons of food a year

Chinas new futuristic library is unlike any weve seen before

November 3, 2017 by  
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MVRDV just completed the Tianjin Binhai Public Library, a spectacular cultural center that’s unlike any library we’ve ever seen. Created in collaboration with local architects TUPDI, the 33,800-square-meter library features floor-to-ceiling bookcases that cascade in curves around a luminous spherical auditorium. The undulating bookshelves and layered ceiling gives the cavernous library a distinctive sci-fi feel accentuated by the giant illusion of an eye visible from the outside. Built in record-breaking time of just three years, the Tianjin Binhai Library was constructed as part of a cluster of five cultural buildings in the Binhai district all connected by a glass-roofed public corridor. The library design is centered on the massive ball-shaped auditorium behind the information desk. Bookshelves are arranged on either side of the auditorium and ripple outwards and double as seating and stairs. These undulating contours continue to the ceiling where they’re embedded with lighting to create “illuminated topography,” and are echoed on the glass facade as curved louvers . “The Tianjin Binhai Library interior is almost cave-like, a continuous bookshelf. Not being able to touch the building’s volume we ‘rolled’ the ball shaped auditorium demanded by the brief into the building and the building simply made space for it, as a ‘hug’ between media and knowledge” says Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “We opened the building by creating a beautiful public space inside; a new urban living room is its centre. The bookshelves are great spaces to sit and at the same time allow for access to the upper floors. The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing. Together they form the ‘eye’ of the building: to see and be seen.” Related: Energy-conscious library that doubles as a “living room” breaks ground in Shanghai The library’s first two floors comprise reading rooms, books, and lounge areas, while the upper floors house meeting rooms, offices, computer and audio rooms, and two rooftop patios . Although MVRDV designed for access to the upper bookshelves, the client decided to go against the original design due to the construction timeline. Instead, perforated aluminum plates printed to represent books were installed on the inaccessible upper shelves. Cleaning is down with ropes and movable scaffolding. While the upper reaches of the library are out of reach, visitors don’t seem to mind; the Tianjin Binhai Library has been a massive hit with the public who have been coming to visit in droves. + MVRDV All photos (c) Ossip van Duivenbode

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Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

October 31, 2017 by  
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The United States could obtain 40 percent of its energy solely from rooftop solar (with sufficient political will). But what if solar panels could also boost architectural aesthetics? Dubai -based Emirates Insolaire hoped to do just that with their Kromatix technology, providing an alternative to the blue or black panels that adorn many roofs. Plus, their solar products aren’t limited to rooftops — they can also be integrated in balconies or facades. Emirates Insolaire, a joint venture of Dubai Investments PJSC and SwissINSO , is changing our vision of solar with their Kromatix technology, developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology . Emirates Insolaire offers Kromatix solar glass in gold, green, or terracotta, with an opaque finish that hides the power-generating technology inside. Solar transmittance varies among colors, but Emirates Insolaire said it is always greater than 85 percent. They also offer Kromatix modules manufactured with their solar glass that have an average efficiency of above 15 percent. Related: Discreet new SolarSkin panels completely blend in with their environment The company doesn’t use pigments to color their solar glass, but rather “a complex nano-scale multilayer deposition by plasma process,” and say the color will remain stable as time passes. According to Emirates Insolaire’s website, “The colored appearance results from the reflection of a narrow spectral band in the visible part of the solar spectrum. The rest of the solar radiation is transmitted to the solar panel to be converted into energy .” The thickness of the solar glass is between 3.2 and eight millimeters. SwissINSO says the Kromatix colored solar panels can be integrated on facades and rooftops of all sorts of structures, from private homes to high-rise buildings. Electrek also reported the Kromatix products are affordable; they estimated a 5.5 kilowatt solar system would cost between $1,300 and $1,500 per home. They said not counting tax credits or incentives, the system would cover the cost of coloring in a little over one and a half years. Emirates Insolaire’s products have been installed across Europe, including at this school in Copenhagen . + Emirates Insolaire Via Electrek Images via Emirates Insolaire

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Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

October 26, 2017 by  
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We hear about the issue of ocean plastic a lot, but new photographs visually demonstrate just how pervasive the pollution is. Roatán-based photographer Caroline Power shared pictures on Facebook taken near the Caribbean island belonging to Honduras, revealing what she calls a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam”. Power said, “This has to stop.” Power shared photographs of waves of plastic garbage floating in seaweed in a part of the world we tend to think of as pristine. Pressure group Blue Planet Society said the trash could have come from the Montagua River in Guatemala. Related: Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation? Power seems to have posted in hopes of prompting people to think about their own consumption of single-use plastic. She wrote in the Facebook post, “Think about your daily lives. How did you take your food to go last time you ate out? How was your last street food served? Chances are it was styrofoam and served with a plastic fork and then put in a plastic bag. Do you still use plastic garbage bags? Plastic soda bottles? Ziplock bags? Plastic wrap on your food? Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and veggies in produce bags at the grocery?” Power challenged people and businesses to keep their garbage, after sorting out organic and recyclable trash, for a week. She said, “You will be disgusted by how many single-use items you use.” Every single year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans . Plastic pollution isn’t just an eyesore; The Independent quoted statistics saying it’s harming over 600 species around the world. Around 100,000 marine animals and more than one million birds perish because of plastic every year. Surely we can do better? Via Caroline Power and The Independent Images via Caroline Power on Facebook

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Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

Zaha Hadid Architects futuristic KAPSARC named Saudi Arabias smartest building

October 26, 2017 by  
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Despite its name, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) is big on renewable energy, as evidenced by its LEED Platinum certification—the first of Zaha Hadid Architects’ projects to receive the title. Located in the Riyadh Plateau, KAPSARC is a non-profit dedicated to studying energy and their environmental impacts. The crystalline and futuristic campus recently opened to the public for Saudi Design Week 2017; the Honeywell Smart Building Awards program named the project Saudi Arabia’s ‘smartest’ building after its many eco-conscious features. Made up of white hexagonal prismatic honeycomb structures, KAPSARC uses its partially modular system to optimize solar orientation, increase connectivity, and maximize daylighting . The building massing and facade optimization helped the structure achieve a 45% reduction in energy performance (compared to the ASHRAE baseline standards), while the solar array that tops a south-facing roof provides renewable energy with a capacity of 5,000MWh per year. “A research centre is by its very nature a forward-looking institution and KAPSARC’s architecture also looks to the future with a formal composition that can be expanded or adapted without compromising the centre’s visual character,” wrote the architects. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects unveils designs for wave-inspired Melbourne apartment tower The 70,000-square-meter campus comprises five buildings: the Energy Knowledge Centre; the Energy Computer Centre; a Conference Centre with exhibition hall and 300-seat auditorium; a Research Library with archives for 100,000 volumes; and the Musalla, an inspirational place for prayer within the campus. Each building differs in size and is flexible enough to adapt to different uses or changes in requirements. The facade features a strong protective shell to shield the interior from the harsh climate. All KAPSARC’s potable water is recycled and reused onsite while all of its irrigation water is used from non-potable sources. Forty percent of the campus’ construction materials were locally sourced and thirty percent of the materials are made with recycled content. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Hufton + Crow

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