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

Too much antimatter is hitting Earth and scientists aren’t sure why

November 21, 2017 by  
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Among the cosmic rays that normally immerse the Earth, scientists say there are too many high-energy positrons, the antimatter counterparts of electrons. Now a group of researchers from the United States, Mexico, Germany, and Poland are attempting to shed light on the mystery, and if they’re right, according to the Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN), the excess positrons might be “the first particles recorded by humans to be derived from the interaction of dark matter .” In 2008, a probe in our planet’s orbit detected more positrons reaching us than scientists would anticipate. So a large team conducted observations at the recently activated High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory in Mexico to see if pulsars were the source of these baffling extra positrons. They analyzed data from two relatively close pulsars around 800 and 900 light years away. These pulsars, Geminga and PSR B0656+14, are “among the strongest sources of cosmic rays in our region of the galaxy,” according to IFJ PAN. Related: Scientists observe light spectrum of antimatter for the first time ever The pulsars, albeit responsible for some of the positrons, contributed too small an amount to account for all the antimatter hitting Earth. Instead, the researchers’ observations bolstered a competing hypothesis IFJ PAN described as much more exotic: the “annihilation or decay or dark matter” could be the origin of the positrons. If the hypothesis is correct – and we won’t know for sure until future observations back it up or not – these perplexing positrons would be the first particles we’ve ever recorded coming from the interaction of dark matter. The journal Science recently published the research . The University of Utah led the international team. Via the Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences and ScienceAlert Images via John Pretz/IFJ PAN and Jordan A. Goodman/IFJ PAN

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Too much antimatter is hitting Earth and scientists aren’t sure why

This prefab Escape Pod rotates to catch the suns rays

November 21, 2017 by  
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Dreaming of your very own backyard escape? The cozy Escape Pod may be just what you’re looking for. UK-based firm Podmakers designed and crafted the Escape Pod, a cedar shingle-clad prefabricated unit that can be tailored to suit a variety of uses, including garden room and writer’s studio. The spherical unit takes inspiration from nature, from its round organic shape to the extensive use of timber inside and out. Designed to meet local UK planning laws, each 7-square-meter Escape Pod is built offsite in a Gloucestershire workshop and then delivered and installed using a forklift or crane. The pod is elevated half a meter off the ground and can be rotated to optimize natural light and views through European Oak-framed windows. An aircraft-style plug door opens up to a snug adaptable interior outfitted with insulation, electrical wiring, and heating (choice of a wood-burning stove or underfloor heating). “The organic nature of the Escape Pod’s materials contrasts with the engineering employed in its design,” write Podmakers. “To achieve its curved form, the pod’s design exploits innovative CNC milling and making techniques. This enables it to be fabricated with precision in the workshop, entirely from wood. Birch plywood , chosen for its strength and aesthetic qualities, forms the structure. It is exposed internally; from the pod’s framework to the bespoke laminated door hinge.” Related: Archipod’s Spherical Garden Office Pod The base price for the Escape Pod starts at £19,800. Podmakers developed four recommended layouts—garden room, office, snug (bedroom), and work studio—however the pod can be customized to meet different needs. + Podmakers Via ArchDaily Images © Tim Brotherton

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This prefab Escape Pod rotates to catch the suns rays

Suspicious radioactive cloud over Europe may have originated in Russia

November 16, 2017 by  
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A radioactive cloud of pollution sounds like a plot point out of a B movie – but that’s what multiple European monitoring stations recently detected. Official monitors in Germany and France detected ruthenium 106, a nuclide, in late September, and some people suggested it originated in Kazakhstan or southern Russia . Multiple European monitoring stations confirmed the presence of ruthenium 106, according to France’s Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety , in the atmosphere of the majority of countries in Europe. The cause for alarm appears to have drifted away for now: the institute said since October 13, they have not detected ruthenium 106 in France. They said in a recent statement , “The concentration levels of ruthenium 106 in the air that have been recorded in Europe and especially in France are of no consequence for human health and for the environment .” Related: UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers But there is some question over how much ruthenium 106 leaked in the first place. The institute said the amounts at the source would have been significant. If such an accident had occurred in France, authorities would have had to implement measures to protect populations for a few kilometers around the point of release. Where did the ruthenium 106 come from? Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection said on October 11 , “Recent analyses as to the source of the radioactive substance suggest a high probability of a radioactive release in the Southern Ural, although other areas in the South of Russia still cannot be ruled out.” Just a few days earlier, on October 8, they’d said in a statement “Russia must be assumed to be the region of origin” and called on Russian authorities to provide information. The German and French agencies did not think the ruthenium 106 came from a nuclear reactor accident, as other nuclides probably would have been detected in such an event. France’s institute said the source could have been “nuclear fuel-cycle facilities or radioactive source production.” French agency senior official Jean-Christophe Gariel said he talked to counterparts in Russia last week, and “they told us that our results were coherent and correct, but that they were not aware of any event that could have caused that.” Via The New York Times , the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety , and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Depositphotos and Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety

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Suspicious radioactive cloud over Europe may have originated in Russia

Hyundai reportedly working on next-gen solid-state batteries for electric vehicles

April 6, 2017 by  
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Major car companies like Hyundai have toyed with both hydrogen and electricity for clean fuel sources, but now it seems the Seoul, South Korea -based manufacturer may be taking a major step towards improving technology for their electric cars with solid-state batteries . An April 5 report from The Korea Herald says the car company has pilot-scale battery production facilities in which they’re developing the battery technology that could store more energy  and be a game changer for the industry. Hyundai may be working on solid-state batteries in their facilities they own, according to information obtained by The Korea Herald from who they described as sources close to the matter. They quoted this source as saying, “Hyundai is developing solid-state batteries through its Namyang R&D Center’s battery precedence development team and it has secured a certain level of technology.” Related: 2017 Hyundai IONIQ will be offered in EV, plug-in hybrid and hybrid versions Hyundai is apparently developing the technology without help from Korean battery manufacturers like LG Chem or Samsung SDI . The source compared Hyundai’s approach to Toyota’s – they also own production facilities according to the source. Industry sources told The Korea Herald Hyundai might be able to mass produce solid-state batteries around 2025. LG Economic Research Institute analyst Choi Jung-deok told The Korea Herald “…if automakers are able to succeed the mass production of next-generation batteries, the paradigm of batteries in the future may be shifted.” As solid-state batteries carry less risk of explosion they are considered safer than conventional batteries. According to Electrek, no company has yet been able to produce solid-state batteries at a large scale and at a price competitive with lithium-ion batteries. Along with Toyota, Ford has dabbled in the technology as well. Companies like Bosch and Dyson have also invested in the technology; the latter acquired a solid-state battery startup in 2015 for $90 million with plans to construct a $1 billion factory. Via The Korea Herald and Electrek Images via Jakob Härter on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Hyundai reportedly working on next-gen solid-state batteries for electric vehicles

2016: The Recycling Industry Year in Review

December 21, 2016 by  
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Just how is the recycling industry doing? The best place to go for that information is to the source itself: the people actually doing the recycling. During a recent U.S. Senate briefing, the president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling…

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2016: The Recycling Industry Year in Review

New SafariSeat wheelchairs made from bicycle parts help East Africans roam rough terrain

October 20, 2016 by  
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One in 200 people in East Africa need wheelchairs , but don’t yet have them. SafariSeat has developed an all-terrain, open source wheelchair that could allow those people to live their lives with more independence. Currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter , SafariSeat hopes to use money collected to build more wheelchairs and create a manual with the open source designs. SafariSeat wheelchairs are inexpensive and can be made with bicycle parts. They’re designed to be built and repaired in developing countries . A mechanism that imitates car suspension keeps all four wheels on the ground so users can navigate difficult terrain easily. The wheelchair is designed to minimize pressure sores, and rolls via pump levers that a rider can use. Related: Google.org awards $20 million to groups developing tech for people with disabilities Designer Janna Deeble was raised in Kenya , and met a Samburu man named Letu as a child. Polio left Letu disabled and dependent on other people. But the difficulty of Letu’s condition really hit home when Deeble himself was wheelchair-bound after an accident in design school. Deeble went back to Kenya to create SafariSeat, working with a team and with local workshops. The SafariSeat wheelchair has granted Letu independence, and now he’s able to teach his son the Samburu way of life. Deeble and his team want to create a pictograph manual that a person can use no matter what language they speak. Their goal is for local workshops to build the wheelchairs, creating jobs and allowing locals to repair the wheelchairs. They note on their Kickstarter page that while wheelchair donations can help people for a time, when the chairs break there’s often no way to repair them. SafariSeats are designed to be made with locally accessible parts and repaired in basic workshops. SafariSeat is the first project of social enterprise Uji, and they are crowdfunding on Kickstarter so more people can access the innovative wheelchair. With just under a month to go, they’ve raised over $24,000. Their goal is $36,889. You can back the campaign here . + SafariSeat + SafariSeat Kickstarter Campaign Images courtesy of SafariSeat

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New SafariSeat wheelchairs made from bicycle parts help East Africans roam rough terrain

The new solar-powered Wheelys 5 bicycle cafe serves up coffee and much more

September 29, 2016 by  
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https://youtu.be/mJinfBpfoMI The original Wheely’s café was little more than a humble coffee-making box on a bike. But, the company’s dedication to sustainable products and efficient design led to 550 cafés popping up in over 65 countries. The latest Wheelys cafe branches out from selling strictly coffee to act as a full-service, high-tech mobile kitchen. Related: Tiny Human-Powered Wheely’s Cafe Serves Coffee Brewed by the Sun The Wheelys 5 is decked out in cutting-edge technology. A solar panel on top the cart provides clean renewable energy, and built-in LED lights illuminate the cafe at night. The kitchen offers a 3 burner gas stove, running water, a hand sink, and a built-in display, and the cafe can event be outfitted with Wi-Fi. Despite all that tech, Wheelys is still a small organic business based on down-to-earth sustainable values. It’s still your friendly neighborhood cafe, just with more stuff. + Wheely’s 5 Open Source Bike Cafe

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The new solar-powered Wheelys 5 bicycle cafe serves up coffee and much more

Here’s the patent that could crush Monsanto and save the world

September 29, 2016 by  
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Monsanto has a new enemy… fungi . Mycologist Paul Stamets holds a patent for insect-killing fungi – or mycopesticides – that could disrupt the pesticide industry and ” help save the world .” According to Stamets, after insects eat the fungi, they ” become mummified ” and a “mushroom pops out of their head.” Entomopathogenic fungi are a particular type of fungi that kill insects . When Stamets’ family had a problem with carpenter ants, he turned to entomopathogenic fungi for answers. Insects typically avoid the spores of fungi that could result in their demise, so Stamets morphed a fungus culture into a “non-sporulating form.” The spore-less fungi attracted the insects, which ate the mycelium of the fungus. Stamets said the carpenter ants at his house carried the mycelium to their queen, and just a week after laying the fungus traps, there were no more sawdust piles – the telltale sign of carpenter ants. After the mushrooms sporulate, they repel other insects. Stamets described the system as a “near-permanent solution.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY An insect-killing fungus could have huge implications for companies that peddle toxic pesticides. Stamets gave a TED talk on his insect-killing fungi, as well as on five other “ways mushrooms can save the world,” and in his talk said of his patent, “It’s been called an Alexander Graham Bell patent. It covers over 200,000 species. This is the most disruptive technology – I’ve been told by executives of the pesticide industry – that they have ever witnessed. This could totally revamp the pesticide industries throughout the world.” Related: Life Box: Paul Stamets Unveils Brilliant Seed-Sprouting Cardboard Box Stamets is also the founder of Fungi Perfecti, a company that offers mushroom products from all-natural insect repellent to mushroom tea to MycoGrow , a product that reduces the need for fertilizer and helps plants grow faster. + Fungi Perfecti Images via Paul Stamets Facebook and Wikimedia Commons 1 , 2

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Here’s the patent that could crush Monsanto and save the world

Invisible Portal disappears into the Andes Mountains with a mirrored facade

September 29, 2016 by  
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The small 13-square-meter Invisible Portal lives up to its name with its mirrored facade . The studio placed the viewpoint on a highpoint of an Andes mountain trail that stretches between Guaranda and Babahoyo. “The number of people who visit the natural vantage point use this space as a point for meeting and to rest on the grass,” said Natura Futura, according to Dezeen . Related: Prefab timber rest stops overlook gorgeous views of Mexico’s volcanoes Hikers can take a rest at the Invisible Portal, which has a small opening on the rear wall for access to the wood-lined interior. Timber steps that span the width of the interior double as seating at the edge of the structure. + Natura Futura Arquitectura Via Dezeen Images via Natura Futura Arquitectura

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Invisible Portal disappears into the Andes Mountains with a mirrored facade

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