Thursday, February 26, 2009

12-year-old Builds Homeless Shelter Yurt from Trash [Home Dome]

12-year-old Builds Homeless Shelter Yurt from Trash [Home Dome]

12-year-old Max Wallack submitted this amazing "Home Dome"—a homeless shelter made from plastic, wire, and packing peanuts—to a recent "Trash to Treasure" design contest. Based on a Mongolian yurt, it's warm and includes a bed.

The project both helps divert materials from landfills and gives the homeless a place to sleep (though I wonder how they breathe under all that plastic). Max won $10,000, a Dell laptop and a trip to Boston. [Design Blog]



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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Artificial trees could function as solar-wind harvester

Artificial trees could function as solar-wind harvester

SolarBotanic is a company which researches and specializes in an emerging tech dubbed biomimicry -- which seeks to mimic nature, and use nature-inspired methods to solve human problems. SolarBotanic is focusing on energy production, and, to that end, they've developed what they call Energy Harvesting Trees. The trees aren't "real," (they're just modeled on real ones); these are composed of Nanoleafs, which use nanotechnology designed to capture the "sun's energy in photovoltaic and thermovoltaic cells, then convert the radiation into electricity." They also have stems and twigs which house nano-piezovoltaic material which act as generators producing electricity from movement or kinetic energy caused by wind or rain. The company has several patents on the technology already, and are currently seeking partners for funding and development. We don't really have any details about what these fake trees look like -- but Thom Yorke's probably going to write a song about them.

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Artificial trees could function as solar-wind harvester originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 24 Feb 2009 17:24:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NYT: Google's PowerMeter to let users track electricity usage

NYT: Google's PowerMeter to let users track electricity usage

The New York Times is reporting Google will announce a free web service tomorrow called PowerMeter that'll let users track energy consumption in their homes or business, provided there's a means to upload the data. That part of the equation's gonna be up to other companies to create compatible devices, and while no manufacturing partners have been named, we'd suspect strange bedfellow GE will probably jump aboard pretty quickly. The service is expected to roll out in the next few months. Ready to give the boys in Menlo Park even more access to your life?

Update: The official site has launched. According to the FAQ, PowerMeter is currently in closed beta. There's also a video about the program, which you can peep after the break.

Continue reading NYT: Google's PowerMeter to let users track electricity usage

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NYT: Google's PowerMeter to let users track electricity usage originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 22:37:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

CO2 Skyscraper Scrubs Away Smog With 400 Trees [Architecture]

CO2 Skyscraper Scrubs Away Smog With 400 Trees [Architecture]

The idea is actually very simple: construct a tower fitted with 200-400 trees in areas of high pollution. Basically, it works like a gigantic filter—scrubbing smog and converting CO2 into oxygen.

Furthermore, the trees inside the structure would be nourished using a windmill-powered pump system, so it would not significantly contribute to our energy consumption. Would something like this actually work? Maybe—that is until the wind kicks up and we have trees falling all over the streets of L.A. [Core77]



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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Progressive Automotive X-Prize competitors roundup

Progressive Automotive X-Prize competitors roundup

With about three weeks left to go, the Progressive Automotive X-Prize has already got 25 submissions (20 names have been publicly released) with creators ranging from college students to large auto makers already in the game. Here's the deal with the contest: the cars must be production-capable and fall in with federal safety guidelines, and it's got to be possible to produce and sell 10,000 of them annually, with a working business plan in place for this to happen by 2014. The car must deliver at least 100 MPGs, and CO2 emissions can't exceed 200 grams per kilometer. The prize for the competition is ten million dollars. We've seen some of these in the past -- Aptera's 2e, MDI's AirCar, and the Tata Nano are all on offer -- but there are a few new guys, too. Some of the more interesting entries are the totally rad looking diesel Avion which has gotten up to 103.7 miles per gallon, Kinetix Motors' diesel-electric hybrid E4 Sports Hatch, which should cost less than $25,000 with a top speed of 95 miles per hour. The company also claims the sporty ride goes from zero to sixty miles in 6.1 seconds. Finally, there's Physics Lab of Lake Havasu Green Giant, an electric truck that gets 50 miles per gallon on its battery, with plans to bump that figure to 100 miles per gallon using other sources of energy. Check out the gallery of other prospects, and hit the read link for the full, delicious list.

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Progressive Automotive X-Prize competitors roundup originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 04 Feb 2009 23:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Plug-in Prius Averaging 65 mpg in Tests, 15 More Than Standard Model [Cars]

Plug-in Prius Averaging 65 mpg in Tests, 15 More Than Standard Model [Cars]

Toyota claims that their upcoming plug-in model Prius averages 65 mpg in real-world testing. That's about 15 more than the 2010 Prius—the current leader in fuel efficiency.

This bump is attributed to their new lithium ion battery, which can store more power than the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries found in traditional Prius models. The testing is ongoing, and there is no word on when we might actually be able to purchase the plug-in, but this is definitely encouraging news for anyone sick of lining the pockets of big oil companies. [Automotive News-subscription]



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