Meet the solar-powered electric motorhome we’ve all been waiting for

August 31, 2017 by  
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Tesla and Cummins are making waves right now with their new electric-powered semi trucks, but one other long-range vehicle has yet to make a significant jump to greener pastures – until now. German camper manufacturer Dethleffs has unveiled the e.home concept – a solar-powered electric motorhome. The idea of an electric motorhome would seem like a great idea, until you realize that many of the remote locations that you’d be traveling to probably don’t have the charging infrastructure you would need. That’s where the e.home concept comes in. Since it’s a solar-powered motorhome, it can use the power of the sun to recharge the motorhome’s battery pack. Related: sCarabane: a self-sufficient expanding caravan powered by the sun and wind The e.home is built on Dethleffs Iveco Daily Electric chassis. The Iveco Daily is powered by a 107-hp electric motor with several different battery options, but the largest gives it a range up to 174 miles on the European Cycle, in non-camper trim. With the extra weight of the camper, the range of the e.home concept drops to just over 100 miles. That short driving range won’t really matter, since the e.home has 334 square feet of thin-film solar panels on its exterior. The solar panels can generate up to 3,000 watts of electricity to power the 228-Ah sodium-nickel-chloride battery. Besides the solar panels and electric motor, there are other efficient tricks to the e.home concept, like a heating system that uses phase change materials to absorb heat when the outside temperature rises above 79°. The heat is then released into the cabin when the temperature drops at night. There are also infrared heating panels in the floor, walls and furniture. There are also some driver assistance technologies in the e.home, like the Mobileye-based front vehicle monitoring system and the CampConnect app. Via New Atlas + Dethleffs Images @Dethleffs

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Meet the solar-powered electric motorhome we’ve all been waiting for

Green-roofed Albion Library in Toronto feels like an extension of your living room

August 31, 2017 by  
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It’s no surprise that the Albion Public Library is one of the busiest libraries in Toronto—its welcoming and light-filled atmosphere makes it feel like an extension of a cozy living room. Perkins+Will completed the new 29,000-square-foot library to serve the city’s Rexdale neighborhood, a diverse community with many immigrant families. The new building also incorporates innovative sustainable principles and includes a sloped green roof, energy-saving technologies, and stormwater management strategies. The Albion District Library is the culmination of numerous community workshops that informed the decision for a new-build, rather than a renovation of the existing building. The new facility was built on the underutilized parking lot so that the existing library could stay operable until construction competition, after which the old site was converted into a lush public plaza with a landscaped parking lot and space for a market square. The architects wrote: “The new parking lot will also be designed as a multi-use space, functioning as a parking lot during the day for normal operating hours and serving as a community event space for special occasions.” Related: World’s largest bookstore opens in Tehran, Iran The new library includes a Children’s Area, a Computer Learning Center, and a Digital Innovation + Maker Space with a 3D printer and Urban Living Room. The contemporary building catches the eye with its colorful polychrome terra-cotta screen and glazing that lets in ample natural light. Greenery is woven into the design, from the sloped green roof atop the building to the interior courtyard gardens and pavilions. The library was completed in 2016. + Perkins+Will Via ArchDaily Images via Perkins+Will

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Green-roofed Albion Library in Toronto feels like an extension of your living room

Solar-powered robotic umbrella tracks the sun to provide shade

August 23, 2017 by  
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What if you could sit outside in the shade all day without ever having to move your umbrella ? That’s the vision ShadeCraft brings to life with Sunflower – what they say is the world’s first autonomous robotic shade that tracks the sun . The umbrella is solar-powered – and can even charge other devices. Photovoltaic panels keep the Sunflower umbrella moving to shade users. But the umbrella also serves as a portable source of solar power, storing excess energy in batteries able to last for over 72 hours. A USB connection allows users to charge mobile devices while sitting in the shade. The 122 by 84 by 84 inch umbrella can rotate 360 degrees with the help of three electric motors, and can tilt 45 degrees. Related: Finally, an umbrella you’ll never lose Wait, there’s more. The Sunflower is equipped with sensors that track air quality , weather, and wind. If wind speeds get too high, the Sunflower will actually close to escape damage. It also comes with cameras that can be utilized as part of a home security system – they’re able to record a 360 panoramic view for either safety or simply capture a picturesque moment. ShadeCraft’s SmartShade app allows users to access the data, even from a distance. Using the app, they can check out air quality or view the area remotely. The umbrella is also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, so users can connect to their other smart home technology or control the Sunflower from afar. And a microphone and speaker system allow for voice command and artificial intelligence integration – or lets users jam to their favorite music while sitting outside under the shade. So how much does the Sunflower cost? Around $2,700, according to Bloomberg , which quoted inventor Armen Gharabegian as saying the company could start shipping the product as soon as early 2018. + ShadeCraft Via Curbed Images via ShadeCraft

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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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New NASA probe will get closer to the sun than any spacecraft in history

June 1, 2017 by  
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Humanity has never before touched the sun , but that’s about to change. NASA is sending the Parker Solar Probe to the sun in 2018, and will get closer to the star’s surface than any other spacecraft in history. They say the landmark mission “will revolutionize our understanding of the sun.” The Parker Solar Probe mission – which NASA describes as humanity’s first visit to a star – will take us closer to the sun than ever before. The probe will need to endure extreme radiation and heat as it ventures into the outer part of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. NASA says the Parker Solar Probe will gather information on the corona and on the evolution and origin of solar wind . Related: Teen creates world’s lightest satellite and NASA is sending it to space A 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield will protect the instruments inside the spacecraft from crazy temperatures of around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The various instruments will be able to image solar wind, and study plasma and energetic particles and magnetic fields. Even though we’re around 93 million miles away from the sun on average, solar wind disturbances can affect us here on Earth. They impact what NASA calls space weather, which can interfere with our satellites . NASA says much like the seafarers of old had to learn about the ocean, now we must learn more about the space environment. The mission holds claim to another first: the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after a living person. Once called the Solar Probe Plus, NASA this week renamed the probe for astrophysicist Eugene Parker, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. His work decades ago provided a foundation for much of our knowledge about stars’ interaction with worlds orbiting them. Parker, who will turn 90 this month, said in a statement, “The solar probe is going to a region of space that has never been explored before. It’s very exciting that we’ll finally get a look. One would like to have some more detailed measurements of what’s going on in the solar wind. I’m sure that there will be some surprises. There always are.” Via NASA ( 1 , 2 ) Images via John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and JHU/APL

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New research suggests an unseen 9th planet may be tilting the solar system

October 24, 2016 by  
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Astrophysicists have long wondered why our sun is tilted at a different angle than the rest of the known solar system . While all eight known planets rotate on a flat plane within only a few degrees of one another, the sun itself appears to be tilted roughly six degrees off of the planets. Now, new research shows that a massive, undiscovered ninth planet at the edge of the solar system might actually be causing the other planets to “wobble” in their orbit around the sun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h72tABvkLAo This isn’t the first time scientists have speculated about the existence of “Planet Nine” – earlier this year researchers from Caltech predicted its existence due to the abnormal bunching of several objects orbiting near Neptune, an effect which could only exist if a large, unknown planet were exerting a gravitational influence. Planet Nine has yet to be observed directly, but more and more evidence is beginning to point to its existence as the answer to some of our solar system’s enduring mysteries. Related: Astronomers may have discovered a ninth planet in our solar system If you’ve never heard about the fact that the planets are slightly off-kilter compared to the sun, you’re not alone. Mike Brown, one of the authors behind the Planet Nine theory, explains, “It’s such a deep-rooted mystery and so difficult to explain that people just don’t talk about it.” The as-yet unseen planet is estimated to be about 10 times the size of Earth, with an orbit 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune . It also appears to orbit about 30 degrees off of the orbital plane of the rest of the solar system – an angle that, along with its massive size, could be slowly pulling objects within the solar system off-balance. That’s not too surprising, considering scientists believe Planet Nine might eventually destabilize the solar system once the sun balloons into a red giant. Related: Mysterious ninth planet could one day tear apart the solar system What is still unknown is exactly how Planet Nine came to occupy its unusual orbit in the first place. It’s possible it may have once sat with the gas giants near Jupiter before being ejected. The gravitation pull of other stellar bodies might have also had an influence at some point in the solar system’s distant past. The new study will be published in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal . Via Phys.org Images via Caltech

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New research suggests an unseen 9th planet may be tilting the solar system

40% of the top sunscreens don’t meet official guidelines for sun protection

July 8, 2016 by  
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When summer arrives, people turn to sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun . But a new study casts major concern over whether the most popular sunscreen brands actually protect users . A team of researchers led by a dermatologist scrutinized highly rated sunscreens on Amazon, and uncovered a shocking statistic: 40 percent of those sunscreens don’t comply with American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) guidelines for sun protection. Dermatologist Shuai Xu worked with colleagues at Northwestern University and the Duke University School of Medicine to publish an original investigation into sunscreen in the journal JAMA Dermatology in early July. Xu’s team found 6,500 sunscreens on Amazon. Based on how many customers reviewed a product and how highly they rated the product, Xu’s team selected the top 1 percent – 65 sunscreens – to study. 26 of the products ” did not adhere to AAD guidelines .” Related: EWG’s 2016 best and worst sunscreen lists are out – is your favorite listed? AAD guidelines say a sunscreen should have a SPF of at least 30 (and it should be noted anything past SPF 50 likely doesn’t offer more protection ), be resistant to water, and protect against UVA and UVB rays (labeled as “broad spectrum”). Some of the sunscreens that failed to meet guidelines are Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+; Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF 35; and Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion, according to Xu’s study . All three of those sunscreens had the required SPF and were labeled broad spectrum but were not water resistant. The researchers found water resistant sunscreens were generally more expensive. They also discovered sunscreen prices aren’t necessarily related to SPF. Xu said , “As doctors, we want to have some input and insight into what consumers are using, because sunscreen is a really important part of skin health . We think of sunscreen as a form of topical medicine . It’s not a luxury product.” Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and Skeyndor Cosmética Científica on Flickr

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40% of the top sunscreens don’t meet official guidelines for sun protection

Groundbreaking new solar cell solves vexing high temperature issue

February 29, 2016 by  
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In our quest to replace fossil fuels with solar power, we have to first fix the solar cell , which typically stops working at temperatures above 100°C. Luckily, researchers at TU Wien may have just discovered a way to solve this issue with a solar cell that can work at 400°C. Read the rest of Groundbreaking new solar cell solves vexing high temperature issue

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What are Microclimates, and Why are They Beneficial?

July 1, 2014 by  
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Are there really places on the earth where the elements magically combine to provide idyllic climates? Although the concept might seem a bit fantastical, microclimates do indeed exist, and are far more common than you might have realized. In fact, there might be one of these hot or cool spots just around the corner from where you are right now! From warm areas in gardens where vegetables can be grown late into the winter , to a neighborhood block that’s cool in summertime because of surrounding buildings, countless microclimates exist all over the world, and people have been harnessing (and enjoying) the benefits of these places for centuries. Read the rest of What are Microclimates, and Why are They Beneficial? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alps , Cote D’Azur , france , french , French Riviera , Health , Leysin , Menton , micro-climate , microclimate , microclimates , passive solar , San Fran , San Francisco , Solar Power , sun , sunshine , Switzerland

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Scientists Attempt to Artificially Recreate Photosynthesis in Order to Develop Efficient Renewable Energy

January 21, 2013 by  
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When it comes to harnessing the power of the sun, nothing can quite compare to leaves. Using chlorophyll to convert light into usable chemical energy, photosynthesis has long been a source of inspiration for those looking to generate efficient renewable energy. With fossil fuels dwindling and polluting our environment, scientists are turning to the biological processes of nature to create clean electricity that can be used on demand. Researchers at the University of East Anglia , University of Leeds , and the University of Cambridge in the UK have been granted £800,000 to develop technology that mimics photosynthesis, with hopes of producing more efficient forms of renewable energy. Read the rest of Scientists Attempt to Artificially Recreate Photosynthesis in Order to Develop Efficient Renewable Energy Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bbsrc , biotechnology and biological sciences research council , chlorophyll , julea butt , microbes , photosynthesis , solar panels , Solar Power , sun , uea , UK , university of cambridge , university of east anglia , university of leeds

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Scientists Attempt to Artificially Recreate Photosynthesis in Order to Develop Efficient Renewable Energy

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