Category Archives: Green

New Antarctic farm will grow produce despite temperatures of -100 degrees F

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Imagine having to go months without an adequate supply of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables. Scientists based in Antarctica know this struggle, which is why engineers at the German Aerospace Center (GAC) are building a high-tech, 135 square-foot indoor farm that can grow an abundance of produce — even when temperatures are -100 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

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The only way to transport food to McMurdo, the US station where the majority of researchers stay, is by plane or ship. Most of the food that is received is dry or frozen. During the summer, the scientists may receive one shipment of fresh food once a week, according to Atlas Obscura. Fortunately, that is about to change.

The Eden-ISS is already under construction and will grow food for all who are stationed at the Neumayer III polar station on the Ekstrom Ice Shelf. The greenhouse will be in a climate-controlled shipping and produce will be grown utilizing vertical gardening technology. When the farm is complete, between 30 and 50 different species of plants — including leafy greens, peppers, radishes, strawberries, tomatoes and zesty herbs — will be grown on trays or hanging modules.

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Because of Antarctica’s climate, the plants are fed by LED lights rather than sunlight. This is actually a good thing, as the researchers have tuned the lights to red and blue wavelengths that are optimal for growing produce.

Related: Scientists discover nearly 100 unknown volcanoes – in Antarctica

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Business Insider reports that the Eden-ISS will be completed in October. The infrastructure is ready to go; the engineers are just waiting for the shipment of supplies which will arrive next month. Reportedly, the GAC team grew its first cucumber (which measured 96 grams and was 14 centimeters long) inside Eden-ISS in July. In Bremen, Germany, GAC has already been testing growing produce in a climate-controlled environment. Next month,  GAC scientist Paul Zabel will move to Antarctica and grow produce under 42 LED lamps.

Antarctica, greenhouse, vertical gardening, sustainability, produce, German Aerospace Center, innovation, green technology,

Because sub-Arctic regions have experienced an agricultural boon partly due to climate change, the researchers are pumping in excess carbon dioxide to help the plants thrive. The temperature is always set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

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If the GAC team succeeds at building a greenhouse that can grow crops even when it is -100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, researchers will be able to use the same system to help astronauts grow food in space. Considering Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk — two of the most brilliant minds of our time — are intent on moving humans to the moon or Mars, this technology could come in handy.

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+ DLR German Aerospace Center

Via Business Insider

Images via DLR German Aerospace Center

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Waterproof solar cell generates power even after it gets soaked

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A new solar cell could go through the laundry and emerge still working. The photovoltaic cell, developed by Japanese research institution RIKEN and the University of Tokyo, is ultra thin and coated on both sides with waterproof film. The solar cell can be stretched or compressed or washed and continue to function.

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Researchers in Japan have created a waterproof solar cell able to withstand a wash and keep on generating power. They developed flexible, super thin, organic photovoltaic cells based on PNTz4T, a material they developed in the past. Both sides of the cell were covered with an acrylic-based elastomer that allowed light to reach the cells, but prevented air and water from leaking on to them.

Related: This carbon nanotube yarn generates power when pulled

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The researchers then tested the waterproof solar cells to see if they’d retain efficiency. The initial device had an efficiency of 7.9 percent – per square centimeter it generated a current of 7.86 milliwatts. They soaked the cells in water for two hours and then found the efficiency had decreased by 5.4 percent. They also compressed the device by almost half for 20 cycles, while subjecting it to water, and found it had 80 percent of the initial efficiency.

Photovoltaics integrated in textiles in the past have suffered from a lack of energy efficiency, or they weren’t robust and didn’t resist being deformed well, or they weren’t stable over the long-term in water or air – or some combination of those three. This new waterproof cell, that’s able to be compressed, could open up more options for wearables with solar cells. The photovoltaic cells could power sensors that record body temperature and heartbeats or provide early warnings of health issues, according to research group leader Takao Someya.

The journal Nature Energy published the research online earlier this week.

Via RIKEN

Images via RIKEN

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Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

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Ever wanted to grow your own lamp? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant collaboration between eco-designer Danielle Trofe and Ecovative. Recently launched on Kickstarter, the Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kit lets you grow a beautiful lampshade by combining a mushroom substrate with a small amount of water and flour.

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The Grow-It-Yourself lamp kit includes one bag of mushroom mycelium substrate, a lampshade mold, a UL-certified pendant lamp set, and growing instructions. Using Ecovative’s patented Mushroom Material technology, the  mushroom mycelium – the root of the mushroom – is guaranteed to grow, making this a perfect project for those without any green thumb whatsoever.

Related: Danielle Trofe’s Brilliant Mush-Lume Lamp is Grown From Fungi!

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Once the substrate is placed in the mold, you’ll just have to add tap water and a bit of flour. After a few more simple steps, including baking it in the oven for a bit, your new eco-positive lampshade is ready to go. The kit comes with basic hanging pendant set, but can be updated to include a table lamp stand made from sustainable wood.

Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kickstarter, Ecovative Design, MushLume Lighting Collection, Danielle Trofe, mushroom mycelium, lamp design, mushroom lamps, diy lamps, natural lamps, eco lamps, eco interior design, sustainable lamps, Grow Lamp kit, eco-friendly goods, diy gardening, shroom lamps, mycelium technology, earth-compatible products

+ Grow Kickstarter

+ Ecovative Design

+ Danielle Trofe

Images via Kickstarter

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Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kickstarter, Ecovative Design, MushLume Lighting Collection, Danielle Trofe, mushroom mycelium, lamp design, mushroom lamps, diy lamps, natural lamps, eco lamps, eco interior design, sustainable lamps, Grow Lamp kit, eco-friendly goods, diy gardening, shroom lamps, mycelium technology, earth-compatible products

Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kickstarter, Ecovative Design, MushLume Lighting Collection, Danielle Trofe, mushroom mycelium, lamp design, mushroom lamps, diy lamps, natural lamps, eco lamps, eco interior design, sustainable lamps, Grow Lamp kit, eco-friendly goods, diy gardening, shroom lamps, mycelium technology, earth-compatible products

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Ericsson’s new mixed-reality platform envisions urban design in “real life”

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Ericsson has created a new mixed-reality platform that allows users to envision urban design projects in “real life”. Teaming up with UN-Habitat, Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and WITS University as part of a community project called Building the Public City Through Public Space, the Swedish telecommunications company recently tested their prototype in Braamfontein, South Africa during the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival. Albeit still very much in its early development phase, the technology gave the community a sense of what their own Minecraft public space design proposal would look like if it were actually built.

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Marcus Nyberg, a senior researcher with Ericsson’s Strategic Design unit, says they developed the mixed-reality platform as part of a larger initiative to engage partners outside of Ericsson in participatory planning, sustainable urbanism and future technology. JDA and WITS university chose a public space in need of improvement at the intersection of Stiemens and Bertha Street and invited passersby (and students) to use Minecraft to design a safe, welcoming space that caters to their specific needs. This is part of UN-Habitat’s broader Block by Block initiative that uses this relatively simple design program to engage underserved communities in their own urban planning.

Related: Water-purifying tower could heal landscapes scarred by acid mine drainage in South Africa

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Klaas Tswai, an urban design postgraduate student from WITS, coalesced the results of various proposals into one feasible, cohesive design that Ericsson then plugged into their new platform that uses “special smartphones enabled with sensors and 3D-sensing technology,” writes Joakim Formo. He continues, “For the technically inclined, the devices we used for this test were Tango-enabled smartphones/phablets that has parts of the on-board SLAM functionality disabled, instead using our own pre-loaded 3D mesh based on a Lidar-scanned point cloud which we used for occlusion-masking, ray-tracing shadows etc.”

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In addition to seating areas and other details, the community envisioned building a bridge over a busy street. Once the design was plugged into Ericsson’s new platform, participating community members could walk around with the smartphone and see what that bridge would look like as though it were right there in front of them. Their reactions exceeded Nyberg’s expectations. He said they did not expect people to be “so amazed” by the results.

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Albeit still quite elementary (I personally felt like I was walking around in Legoland), the prototypical technology clearly has immense potential. Imagine: instead of spending a pile of money and resources to design buildings or benches or whatever it is – and then finding it’s not really suitable for that particular space – this mixed-reality platform would give users an opportunity to test drive it for a while. Not only that, but getting the community involved gives them a greater sense of ownership and belonging.

+ Ericsson

+ UN-Habitat

+ Building the Public City Through Public Space

Images via Joakim Formo, Ericsson

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Astronomers discover that exoplanet WASP-12b is “darker than asphalt”

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Astronomers recently discovered an exoplanet they’ve been studying since 2008 is pitch black, reflecting almost no light. The new findings could change what the researchers previously hypothesized about WASP-12b’s atmosphere. Taylor Bell, a master’s student at McGill University, described the exoplanet as darker than fresh asphalt.

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There’s a pitch black planet out there in space. An international group of astronomers utilized the Space Telescope Imaging Spectograph on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to measure the albedo – or how much light a planet reflects – of WASP-12b. The exoplanet’s albedo is incredibly low, which reportedly surprised the researchers. WASP-12b is two times less reflective than Earth’s Moon.

Related: First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets

Why should we care about an exoplanet’s albedo? It can tell us about the planet’s atmosphere: scientists now think WASP-12b’s atmosphere is comprised of helium and atomic hydrogen. Bell said in a statement, “The low albedo shows we still have a lot to learn about WASP-12b and other similar exoplanets.”

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WASP-12b is classified as a hot Jupiter, and has a radius almost double Jupiter’s. Its daylight side has a surface temperature of around 2,600 degrees Celsius – and the high temperature may offer an explanation for the low albedo.

“There are other hot Jupiters that have been found to be remarkably black, but they are much cooler than WASP-12b,” Bell said. “For those planets, it is suggested that things like clouds and alkali metals are the reason for the absorption of light, but those don’t work for WASP-12b because it is so incredibly hot.”

14 researchers were involved in the work, from institutions in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The Astrophysical Journal Letters published the study earlier this month.

Via Hubble Space Telescope

Images via NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI); and NASA & ESA

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Off-grid Lake House escapes the Texan heat with minimal landscape impact

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There’s nothing quite like taking a cool dip in a lake on a hot summer’s day. The lucky owners of the Lake House get to escape the brutal Texan heat with laps in Lake Austin thanks to their off-grid boathouse. American studio Andersson-Wise Architects designed the two-story boathouse that operates off the grid and exerts minimal impact on the environment.

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Created as part of a residential estate, the Lake House in Austin is a boathouse set a half-mile away from the main residence across a deep ravine. The modern building is anchored atop a rock in the lake and elevated on slender steel columns. The steel-framed structure is divided into two sections: a sheltered space for a sculling dock and boat storage below, and living quarters with a grill and operable windows above. “The simple, elegant building rises above the water, resting on the surface like a water skater,” said the architects, according

to http://ift.tt/2xbJe9YDezeen. “And like the surface-skimming insect, this off-the-grid domicile exerts a minimal impact on its surroundings.”

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Lake House by Andersson-Wise, Lake House in Austin, Lake House boathouse, boathouse Andersson-Wise, modern boathouse, minimal landscape impact architecture, off grid boathouse, off grid lake house

Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin

A natural materials palette helps blend the Lake House into its forested surroundings. Dark-stained wood clad the structure inside and out. Operable screen windows on the north and east facades swing open to let in cooling winds, natural light, and views of the lake. The screen windows can also be removed so that visitors can dive directly out of the living room into the lake.

+ Andersson-Wise Architects

Via Dezeen

Images via Andersson-Wise Architects

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Lake House by Andersson-Wise, Lake House in Austin, Lake House boathouse, boathouse Andersson-Wise, modern boathouse, minimal landscape impact architecture, off grid boathouse, off grid lake house

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen breaks ground on LEED Gold-seeking incubator in Shanghai

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A striking new high-tech building in Shanghai is going for gold—LEED Gold, that is. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects just broke ground on the new CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters, an incubator for high-tech firms designed for LEED Gold certification. Engineered for climate control, the boxy green-roofed center will mitigate Shanghai’s muggy summers and bone-chilling winters with its stacked and staggered massing.

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CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, CaoHeJing Hi-Tech Park, CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Shanghai, Shanghai LEED Gold, Shanghai tech incubator

Located east of downtown Shanghai near Hongqiao Airport, the government-backed CaoHeJing Hi-Tech Park is one of Shanghai’s earliest high-tech business parks serviced by its eponymous metro station. The technological development zone covers an area of 14.5 square kilometers and is home to around 1,200 domestic and overseas high-tech companies. The CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters is Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s third project for CaoHeJing, following the firm’s transformation of an old office building into the CaoHeJing Innovation Incubator.

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Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveils competition-winning design for the Shanghai Library

The CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters is made up of three stacked and staggered glass volumes connected with two external landscaped terraces. The divisible incubator studio spaces are located on the upper levels while the ground-floor volume comprises the main lobby, exhibition and event space, and a coffee bar. “The volumes are playfully staggered to create a combination of exposed and shaded external spaces that can be utilised at different times of the year in Shanghai’s variable weather conditions”, said Schmidt Hammer Lassen Partner, Chris Hardie. “By doing this we create a direct connection to exterior green space for the buildings occupants to use throughout the year.” Full-height glazing with operable windows maximizes access to natural light and ventilation to keep energy costs low, while deep overhangs mitigate solar heat gain in the summer.

+ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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