New rooftop solar hydropanels harvest drinking water and energy at the same time

November 29, 2017 by  
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Sunlight + Air = Water . It’s a seemingly befuddling equation, but it’s at the heart of a new solar hydropanel developed by Arizona-based startup Zero Mass Water . Called SOURCE, the panels can be installed atop any building just like a standard photovoltaic, but instead of just harvesting solar energy, it uses the sun’s rays to pull water from the air. Indeed, each panel has the potential to draw up to 10 liters (2.64 gallons) of water per day. So how does it work? Each SOURCE array consists of a standard solar panel flanked by two hydropanels. As explained by The Verge in the video above, the photovoltaic at the center of the array drives a fan and the system’s communication with the hydropanels. The hydropanels themselves consist of two different proprietary materials, one that can generate heat, and another that can absorb moisture from the air. Together they are able to condense water into an onboard, 30-liter reservoir where it is mineralized with calcium and magnesium. From there, the water can be siphoned directly to a drinking tap. As one might guess, the amount of humidity in the atmosphere and solar energy available will affect the payout. However, Zero Mass Water says that even low-humidity and arid regions can effectively benefit. The company’s CEO, Cody Friesen, cited the array atop his headquarters as an example. “Our array on the Zero Mass Water headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona makes water year-long despite low relative humidity. The Phoenix-Metro area can get below 5% relative humidity in the summer, and SOURCE still produces water in these incredibly dry conditions,” he said. Additional panels can also be added to optimize water collection, but there is the matter of cost. Right now, the two-panel array costs $4000, plus installation, which runs $500. The whole system has been engineered to last 10 years, which according to  Treehugger ’s calculations, this averages out to about $1.23 per day, or between $0.12 and $0.30 per liter of H2O. To date, hundreds of panels have been set up in eight countries around the globe. Zero MassWater says the installations represent a combination of early adopters who have paid out of pocket for the technology and developing areas and emergency situations where funding has been provided by donors, NGOs, or other institutions. +  Zero Mass Water Via Treehugger  and  The Verge Images via Zero Mass Water

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New rooftop solar hydropanels harvest drinking water and energy at the same time

NASA confirms asteroid came from another solar system – and it’s incredibly bizarre

November 21, 2017 by  
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The presence of an unidentified object hurtling through our solar system recently prompted a call to action from observatories throughout the world. NASA has confirmed that it’s the first object to arrive from another star – and it may be as long as a quarter mile. While the rocky asteroid, dubbed ‘Oumuamua, is definitely not piloted by aliens, it could give us clues into the formation of other solar systems. In late October, scientists thought they might have observed an object that came from outside the solar system with the aid of the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope. The International Astronomical Union reclassified the object from a comet to an interstellar asteroid, per a November 14 release . NASA’s Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a November 20 press release : “For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist.” Related: Scientists might have spotted the first object from outside our solar system Yesterday the journal Nature published a study on the find , led by scientists at the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii. NASA helped fund the work. The bizarre asteroid could have been “wandering through the Milky Way , unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system,” according to the agency. ‘Oumuamua – Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first” – has a slightly reddish hue, and is around 10 times as long as it is wide, according to NASA, which said the asteroid’s aspect ratio is bigger than any other asteroid or comet we’ve ever observed. And it varies widely in brightness: “by a factor of 10 as it spins on its axis every 7.3 hours.” It’s likely dense, comprised of metals or rock, without ice or water, and could have been reddened by irradiation from cosmic rays . A few of Earth’s big ground-based telescopes are still tracking ‘Oumuamua. It’s around 124 million miles away from our planet and will probably be too faint for detection around mid-December. It will head for the constellation Pegasus after exiting our solar system. Via NASA Images via European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser and the International Astronomical Union

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NASA confirms asteroid came from another solar system – and it’s incredibly bizarre

Brilliantly renovated Rusty House is wrapped in a layer of rusted steel

November 21, 2017 by  
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Exposed raw steel wraps around this small house in the Czech Republic , renovated by OK PLAN ARCHITECTS . Covered with a vibrant layer of pre-rusted sheet metal (CorTen), the Rusty House is a minimalist residence that surprises passersby with its unusual exterior and layout maximizes the potential of its tiny plot. After living in the house for twelve years, the owner decided to renovate the interior of the house and “soften” the appearance of the main living space. OK PLAN ARCHITECTS helmed the renovation process which included landscaping  the surrounding garden. Related: Rusty tin shed transformed into beautiful two-story studio in Sydney Exposed concrete, galvanized steel and corrugated sheet metal dominate the house. The architects added layers to the interior, including oak ceiling panels, in order to improve the organization of the interior and its acoustic performance . Custom-made furniture and fixtures were added to bring an element of modernity to the place. Older kitchen cabinets were replaced, and a new fireplace installed in the living room. The architects blended the old and the new to respond to new functional and aesthetic demands, while preserving the rawness of the original structure. + OK PLAN ARCHITECTS Photos by BoysPlayNice Photography

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Brilliantly renovated Rusty House is wrapped in a layer of rusted steel

World’s cheapest solar power to be generated in Mexico

November 20, 2017 by  
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Solar power set to be generated in Mexico will be the world’s cheapest — with prices as low as 1.77¢/kWh, according to data from Mexico’s  Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (Cenace) . Mexico’s Department of Energy recently announced the companies selected to complete new renewable power projects and the rates for which this electricity will be sold. The lowest price for solar in Mexico has been set just below that of Saudi Arabia at 1.77¢/kWh, and is expected to continue to decrease to 1¢/kWh in 2019 or sooner. In this most recent bidding round, 15 bids from eight solar and wind energy companies, including Canadian Solar, ENEL Green Power, and Mitsui, were approved in a sign that Mexico’s renewable surge is not slowing down. The clean energy projects recently approved by Mexico will be online and selling power by 2020. These projects and others are important steps towards meeting Mexico’s goals under the Paris agreement as well as regional goals established by Mexico, the United States, and Canada . In 2016, all three countries pledged to source 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Canada is on track to meet this goal while Mexico continues to build up its renewable portfolio. As it was when the regional pledge was made, the United States still lags behind in its transition to clean energy. Related: World’s largest solar plant in a refugee camp opens in Jordan Mexico’s achievement of cheap solar energy exceeds the expectations of skeptics who believed that such a price in a country like Mexico, rather than one like wealthy Saudi Arabia , would be highly unlikely. Despite its economic challenges, Mexico is proving that affordable renewable energy is possible around the world, brightening the prospects of the Paris agreement even as the United States refuses to participate. If current trends continue, the world may soon be faced with the prospect of plentiful, clean, affordable energy, the possibilities for which are endless. Via Electrek Images via Presidencia de la República Mexicana/Flickr   (2)   (3)

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World’s cheapest solar power to be generated in Mexico

This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

October 5, 2017 by  
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California’s extreme droughts are so dire that students at UC Davis have designed an impressive solar-powered home built out of drought-felled timber and installed with various state-of-the-art water conservation features geared towards California residents. The design of the team’s Our H2Ouse (pronounced “our house”) not only implements various grey water systems to use 50% less potable water than a typical residence, but smart technology with real-time LED displays enables homeowners to monitor and control water flow at every single water line. According to the students from UC Davis, who are currently exhibiting their solar home in this year’s Solar Decathlon event in Denver, they based the design on three main pillars: drought resilience, education, and inclusiveness. Using California-specific strategies in the prototype, the resulting Our H2Ouse is a highly-efficient, net-zero-energy design that is equipped to drastically reduce potable water use. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun Geared for the state’s inevitable future droughts, the home was installed with various greywater systems , including a cutting-edge sanitization technology developed at the university. All of the home’s water faucets are equipped with light-up feedback displays to help occupants monitor and control water flow rates at every step. For example, the shower has LED lights that change from blue to red, depending on water use. At the front of the house is a wooden water tank with a gauge that rises and falls to display the daily water usage of the home. According to the team, this smart monitoring system was geared towards overcoming the most unpredictable factor in energy and water conservation : human behavior. By installing smart technologies with real-time displays, the team hopes to bridge the gap between potential and realized water and energy savings. Interestingly, a unique feature of the home’s digitized system allows for sharing usage numbers within a network of users, meaning that eco-minded homeowners can actively participate in not only their own water conservation efforts, but that of the surrounding community. While the heart of the home may be geared to address the state’s water issues, the aesthetic is also a nod to California style. The simple, modern-rustic design reflects the two side of Cali life, urban and rural. To efficiently and sufficiently insulate the home, the team chose to use a 12” thick, bamboo-based , panelized exterior wall system and structural insulated panels (SIPs). This system reduces the home’s carbon footprint to a fraction of a standard residence. All of the wood used in the home was sourced from salvaged California trees  that died due to the state’s severe drought. Because this felled wood is dry and prone to burning, using it in the home design actively helps prevent forest fires. On the interior, the home is well-lit with natural light thanks to large glass doors that lead to the open-air deck. As for the interior furnishings, there are plenty of multi-functional items that were handcrafted by the students themselves, including hollow stools that can be used for storage, and that can be combined to be used as beds or tables. Motion-triggered recessed circadian LED lighting was installed into the flooring to create a modern, but efficient ambience throughout the home. + UC Davis Solar Decathlon Photography by Mike Chino

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This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

The world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant just popped up in the middle of London

September 28, 2017 by  
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The mobile recycling factory of the future just landed in the 19th century courtyard of the historic Somerset House in Central London. Trashpresso is a giant solar-powered recycling plant that transforms discarded plastic bottles into architectural tiles. The machine is the brainchild of Pentatonic , a furniture and design company based in Berlin and London committed to using only post-consumer waste in their products – from chairs made from “felted” plastic to glassware made from smartphone screens. Trashpresso is the world’s first off-grid, industrial grade recycling solution designed to be mobile and functional in isolated locations where traditional recycling plants aren’t a feasible option. “Our non-negotiable commitment to the consumer is that we make our products using single materials. That means no toxic additives and no hybridized materials which are prohibitive of recyclability,” explains co-founder Johann Bodecker. Trashpresso made its global debut this week at the Design Frontiers exhibition during the London Design Festival . Visitors to Design Frontiers were invited to contribute their trash and watch the Trashpresso process from start to finish – from the sorting of plastic bottles to the compression of shredded PET into solid hexagonal tiles. Enormous black spheres made of recycled plastic were also installed in the courtyard, lending an imposing presence to the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Throughout the week, the black spheres were gradually covered in the architectural tiles created by Trashpresso, with the public taking part in the installation. Large spheres made of metal mesh contained more plastic bottles, calling attention to the ongoing problem of tons of plastic a year entering our oceans. Starbucks UK recently announced a partnership with Pentatonic to turn their coffee shop waste into furniture, with their Starbucks Bean Chair reinterpreted with upcycled textiles and a frame made from plastic bottles and plastic cups. The Trashpresso machine debuting at Design Frontiers boasts upgraded engineering designed for global transportation. An earlier version of Trashpresso was previewed in Shanghai for World Earth Day by Pentatonic collaborator and investor Miniwiz , which is based in Taiwan and specializes in upcycling. Trashpresso was the featured installation at Design Frontiers, a new exhibition featuring more than 30 designers showcasing projects and products pushing the frontiers of innovation and material use. + Pentatonic + Design Frontiers + London Design Festival Coverage

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The world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant just popped up in the middle of London

Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters

September 22, 2017 by  
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Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has announced plans to sign the Paris Accord, leaving President Trump alone with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as the two remaining national heads refusing to support the international agreement. In December of 2015, the leaders of nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce global greenhouse emissions and prevent climate change from worsening – including former president Barack Obama. But Trump refused has reneged on that commitment, formerly claiming climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese. According to a report by Managua-based television station 100% Noticias, Ortega said on September 18, “We will soon adhere, we will sign the Paris Agreement. We have already had meetings addressing the issue and we have already programmed the accession.” The Central American nation originally opposed signing the Paris Accord because the goals in the text “did not go far enough.” To elaborate, it had been confirmed by scientists that emissions levels from some of the top polluters — including the US, EU, China, and India — were not low enough to prevent sea levels from rising or to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. As a result, Nicaragua abstained. President Trump has said he will withdraw the US from the historic accord. Despite receiving an environmental encyclical from the Pope himself and being informed by a variety of scientists about the dangers of climate change , he said the action for the US by an executive order which Obama signed while in office puts American workers in the steel, coal and other manufacturing industries at an “economic disadvantage.” Related: Hundreds of Dead Sea Turtles Wash Up on Nicaragua’s West Coast Nicaragua has been a haven for renewable energy . More than half of the country’s energy is sourced from geothermic, wind, solar and wave energy. Nicaragua plans to increase that to 90 percent by 2020. The World Bank referred to the country as “a renewable energy paradise” four years ago. Because the agreement will not go into effect until 2020, Nicaragua has until then to draft a required national action plan and to formalize it into law. No date has yet been set for the signing. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters

Soaring timber tower could clean up contaminated water in NYC’s Central Park

September 22, 2017 by  
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New York-based DFA Studio has unveiled plans for a soaring wooden tower in Central Park that could actually purify the heavily contaminated Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The proposed tower measures 712 feet tall with a 112-foot-tall spire – and if it comes to fruition, it will be the world’s tallest timber tower. The tower’s helix structure is wrapped with a lattice of curved timber beams . The building would be anchored securely to a pre-cast concrete base with tensile steel cables. A transparent material covers the tower’s exterior, providing 360-degree views as visitors climb up to the top. Related: LAVA breaks ground on sustainable energy tower in Heidelberg The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir currently contains an estimated one billion gallons of stagnant, contaminated water . The tower’s filtration system could potentially convert the body of water into a clean pond. “Aside from supplying water to the pool and Harlem Meer, the Reservoir sits stagnant and fenced off due to its current state as a health threat to millions of New Yorkers, tourists and animals,” said DFA studio founder Laith Sayigh. “DFA envisions a temporary landmark that is remarkably of its time to creatively transform the reservoir into one of New York’s boldest urban amenities.” The tower’s integrated filtration system (as well as the elevators) would be powered by a wind turbine installed at the top of the tower. Sayigh believes that the NYC project would serve as an example for urban design around the world, “The Central Park Tower has the potential to be a model project for other cities aiming to fix existing infrastructure, build tall to capture views and elevate the urban public realm.” + DFA Via Dezeen

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Soaring timber tower could clean up contaminated water in NYC’s Central Park

Scientists just created green solar cells – and they’re working on white, red and additional colors

August 17, 2017 by  
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Do you love solar panels , but hate the color blue? You’re in luck – researchers in the Netherlands have developed a process for making conventional solar panels bright green, and they’re working on developing other colors as well. By making the panels more appealing, they hope to entice more people and businesses to invest in clean energy. Researchers at AMOLF devised a method of imprinting solar panels with silicon nanopatterns that make them appear green. Though the process decreases the efficiency by 10 percent, it’s considered to be an acceptable trade-off if the panels are installed on more buildings. Said Verena Neder, lead author of the paper and researcher at AMOLF, “The black appearance of the [conventional] solar panels is not attractive for many people and a reason to not put solar panels on their rooftop. Making solar cells colored makes it possible to integrate them in an architectural design of houses and full cities, but also to merge them in the landscape.” CleanTechnica reports that to turn the panels green , researchers “use soft imprint lithography to apply a dense array of silicon nanotubes onto the surface of solar cells.” At approximately 100 nanometers wide, each nanotube is carefully shaped to scatter a certain wavelength of light. The cells appear green to observers, and the color is constant regardless of where one is standing. “The structure we made is not very sensitive to the angle of observation, so even if you look at it from a wide angle, it still appears green,” said Neder. Related: Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy Because the color can be adjusted by altering the geometry of the nanotubes , the researchers have started planning imprints that create red and blue solar colors. After the three primary colors of light are developed, they will be able to create any color — including white. “You have to combine different nanoparticles, and if they get very close to each other they can interact and that will affect the color,” said Albert Polman, a scientific group leader at AMOLF. “Going to white is a really big step.” The technology could make it possible to create tandem solar cells which are stacked in layers. Each layer would be fine tuned to absorb certain portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Theoretically, this could result in sunlight conversion efficiencies of 30 percent more. Considering commercially available solar cells are about 20 percent efficient, this could be a game-changer for the renewable energy industry. Affirmed Neder, “The new method to change the color of the panels is not only easy to apply but also attractive as an architectural design element and has the potential to widen their use.” + AIP Applied Physics Letters + AMOLF Via Clean Technica Images via Pixabay and Depositphotos

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Scientists just created green solar cells – and they’re working on white, red and additional colors

How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

August 14, 2017 by  
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A total solar eclipse will block sunlight from reaching parts of the Earth for an estimated three hours on August 21. As a result, at least 7 million U.S. homes and businesses that rely on solar power will be directly affected. But there’s no reason to be nervous: electric grid and skilled operators are well-prepared. A total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun . Though it will disrupt solar generation during times of peak generation, the event is not one to fear. According to Julia Prochnik , the Director of Western Renewable Grid Planning, people will not notice any change in their electrical service as electric grid operators across the country have made appropriate preparations. The last time citizens in the U.S. glimpsed a solar eclipse was in 1979, when solar energy was in its infancy. In the time that has passed, the energy system has changed significantly. Wind and solar energy are now the fastest-growing sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. Prochnik says that some states will see a larger drop in solar power than others; it all depends on how much the sun is blocked by the moon in their specific location. Fortunately, there are plenty of energy resources available to “fill the gap,” and they include geothermal , wind and hydropower. Related: Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say NASA reports that the solar eclipse will block a 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. The longest period of total darkening will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. Nationwide, the moon will still block at least a portion of the sun. At any one spot, the longest period of partial darkness may last three hours. Arizona can expect to experience a brief interruption in 70 percent of its rooftop solar generation. New York follows with 68 percent, Utah can expect a 39 percent, and Nevada a 24 percent interruption. California and North Carolina may experience the biggest impacts from the eclipse, as they are both major solar producers. The difference can be compensated by reducing energy use and/or by temporarily drawing electricity from the grid. A few things environmentally-conscious individuals can do to prepare for the eclipse is replace all light bulbs with LEDs , turn off lights, unplug chargers and appliances, and turn down their thermostats. All of these steps will help save energy and reduce load grid pressure. All in all, the celestial event is one to celebrate, as it is one few will likely witness again. Via NRDC Images via Pixabay

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