Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

May 11, 2018 by  
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Another day, another genius marketing idea from Elon Musk . In an Instagram post , Musk announced that he plans to offer free rides in The Boring Company’s first tunnel — which he described as “almost done.” Musk went on to say: “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians and cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 10, 2018 at 6:49pm PDT The Boring Company will offer rides in the tunnel under the Los Angeles , California area “pending final regulatory approvals” in a few months. Elon Musk thanked people who have been involved in the project, and said “Strong support from public, elected officials and regulators is critical to success.” As he often does, Musk answered a few questions about the project on Twitter. He said the company has already started working on a route between New York and Washington, D.C., and that they hope to start work on a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019. Musk explained that one would be a true Hyperloop with “pressurized pods in near vacuum tunnels,” and that passengers on that route would be able to travel faster than if they were on a jetliner. Related: Boring Company confirms plans to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing bricks When one Twitter user requested a stop near Vandenburg, an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County from which SpaceX launches rockets, Musk responded , “A cool thing about the design is that’s easy to incorporate branch loops to serve small to mid-size cities without slowing down the main loop at all.” The Boring Company’s frequently asked questions page says the initial test tunnel is in Hawthorne, California. According to the Los Angeles Times , in April the City Council’s public works committee unanimously approved an environmental review exemption for a 2.7-mile tunnel. The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

April 20, 2018 by  
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The  Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an alarming rate — and it’s already three times the size of France . Fortunately, help is on the way: new images show that The Ocean Cleanup  is building an innovative  plastic -scooping system in Alameda, CA, and they’re planning to launch it as early as this summer. There are around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic junk in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Ocean Cleanup , started by now-23-year-old Boyan Slat , is much closer to deploying its technology to tackle the dilemma. The group’s  Road to the Cleanup timeline reveals that, earlier this month, the crew finished “the first weld of two floater sections” — the official start of the assembly process. Days later, the organization shared another image of what they called great progress. Related: The Ocean Cleanup launches San Francisco base in Pacific trash-busting bid Fast Company reported  that a massive floating tube, around 2,000 feet long, will serve as a U-shaped barrier to help trap plastic. It’s flexible enough to bend with ocean waves and is made of HDPE plastic — the same material that the system aims to collect, according to ABC7 News . A nylon screen attached to the tube will catch plastic beneath the waves — but not fish, as it isn’t a net. Big anchors, a concept unveiled by Slat in a presentation last year , will essentially tether the system not to the seabed, but to a deep water layer. When might we be able to see the system in action? The Road to the Cleanup timeline estimates launch will happen in the middle of this year. The first piece of the system, which is about as long as a football field, will be towed out into the ocean for tests in a few weeks. The piece will be connected to the larger system following the local tow test, and a final test 200 miles offshore will occur after assembly is finished. It will take three weeks for the system to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Ocean Cleanup could get there in August if everything goes as planned. Plastic they gather could be transformed into various  products — clothing, for example — and the Ocean Cleanup could have a shipment of plastic in late fall. + The Ocean Cleanup + Road to the Cleanup Via Fast Company and ABC7 News Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Tips for ensuring governments are truly switched on to the energy transition

March 27, 2018 by  
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Policy decisions today on issues of innovation and access will determine whether the system of the future can deliver.

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Tips for ensuring governments are truly switched on to the energy transition

Intel, Arizona Diamondbacks put water solutions on tap

March 27, 2018 by  
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More businesses are collaborating to tackle drought and other unique challenges.

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Intel, Arizona Diamondbacks put water solutions on tap

Platio unveils next-gen solar sidewalk that can charge electric vehicles

February 14, 2018 by  
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The sidewalks of the future could be paved with solar panels – and the clean energy they generate could power electric cars . Hungarian startup Platio recently installed a 50-square-foot solar sidewalk made of recycled plastic at an EV charging station in Budapest. Platio installed a 720 watt peak capacity (Wp) system on a sidewalk at one of the facilities of the logistics real estate company Prologis . Platio co-founder Miklós Ilyés said a team set up the system in a single day. When the clean energy from the paving system isn’t being utilized to charge cars, it helps power an office building nearby. Related: Recycled plastic paving company Platio installs first 3 solar systems Ilyés said , “As e-mobility rapidly emerges, the demand for more energy will grow soon as well. Local, independent renewable energy sources can supplement or even decentralize the utility grid .” Platio’s Solar Pavers integrate solar cells into paving elements comprised of recycled plastic. People can walk on Platio’s pavers, so the system integrates unobtrusively into the charging station. The company says their product doesn’t need a special foundation, and it can be upgraded with many smart functions. The company manufactures their power-generating systems in addition to installing and monitoring them. In a press statement, the company said: “The developers of Platio wanted to demonstrate that by turning energy-absorbing paved areas into huge walkable solar arrays , energy production can be achieved at large scale without taking up useful space or altering the cityscape.” Inhabitat has covered Platio in the past – when they installed their systems on a sidewalk in Kazakhstan, pontoons in Sweden, and smart benches where people can charge their phones in Budapest. + Platio Images courtesy of Platio

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Platio unveils next-gen solar sidewalk that can charge electric vehicles

Plants appear to lose consciousness when sedated

February 14, 2018 by  
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Are plants conscious? Based on a new study, our anesthetics work on flora – but just what are they working on? University of Bonn plant cell biologist Frantisek Baluska told The New York Times , “Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices. They’re living organisms which have their own problems, maybe something like humans feeling pain or joy. In order to navigate this complex life, they must have some compass.” Plants can be frozen with anesthetics, researchers discovered, including the medicines used on humans during surgery. The researchers’ findings could help us learn more about anesthesia – and plants. A team of scientists from institutions in Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Italy exposed several different plants to substances like ether and lidocaine. They found, for example, that pea plants exposed to diethyl ether vapor stop moving and their tendrils curl. A Venus flytrap didn’t respond to stimulus similar to an insect that moved across it – its cells actually stopped firing, according to The New York Times. Related: German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities The plants seemed to return to life when the anesthesia wore off – almost as if they had regained consciousness. Baluska told The New York Times, “How organisms are perceiving the environment or responding or adapting are based on some very similar principles.” Cell membranes change under anesthesia, growing more flexible. Membranes of some of the plant root cells under anesthesia had difficulty performing tasks they normally would. Membranes are also key for transferring messages from one cell to another via electricity , and some scientists think electrical activity across neurons contributes to consciousness in humans. But when asked if plants are indeed conscious or not, Baluska said, “No one can answer this because you cannot ask them.” The journal Annals of Botany published the research in December. Via The New York Times Images via Sushobhan Badhai on Unsplash and Jeffery Wong on Unsplash

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Plants appear to lose consciousness when sedated

Gravitricity is turning old mine shafts into power generators using giant weights

February 8, 2018 by  
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The coal mining industry is dying (despite what some people would have you think ), and it isn’t coming back. But a new startup is breathing life into mining communities with an ingenious design that uses old mine shafts to generate energy. Gravitricity has devised a giant weight system that drops down into disused mine shafts to create power on demand using gravity. Here’s how it works: “Our patented technology is based on a simple principle: raising and lowering a heavy weight to store energy.” It’s sort of the same principle used to run pendulum clocks, with a weight acting as a power generator to keep the clock running. A weight up to 3,000 tons is suspended in a mine shaft, and energy is generated or expended by lowering and raising the weight. The system is capable of generating up to 20 MW of power in shafts varying from 500 feet to 5,000 feet. It can last 50 years without degradation, and it’s cost-effective because it uses existing infrastructure. In areas where mine shafts don’t exist and solar or wind isn’t effective, a hole could be dug for the system. Related: German coal mine set to become “giant battery” for storing renewable energy Part of what makes Gravitricity’s design so great is that it doesn’t rely on sun or wind, which can be unpredictable. When you need energy, the weight can drop in a second for power on-tap, or be released slowly for sustained energy. And because it doesn’t use a battery for energy storage, you don’t have the problems of disposal and degradation inherent in batteries. Gravitricity is still in the development phase, but the startup just received nearly a million dollars from a grant from Innovate UK. If the system takes off, it could mean jobs and money – along with clean energy – for communities that are struggling as coal mines decline. + Gravitricity Via WAN Images via Gravitricity and Deposit Photos

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Gravitricity is turning old mine shafts into power generators using giant weights

Etsy hacked an app to track waste — one you can use, too

April 13, 2017 by  
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The only publicly tech company to be certified under the Living Building Challenge is open-sourcing the system it uses to measure what’s leaving its offices.

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Etsy hacked an app to track waste — one you can use, too

3 ways to embed sustainability in public-private partnerships

April 13, 2017 by  
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Sustainability considerations should be prominent in the design, development and operational phases of the PPP process.

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3 ways to embed sustainability in public-private partnerships

Bipartisan group of former federal CSOs has some advice for President Trump

April 13, 2017 by  
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With the fate of federal sustainability initiatives up in the air, former advisers to Presidents Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama offer their perspective on why the new administration should build on decades of progress.

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Bipartisan group of former federal CSOs has some advice for President Trump

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