Tedx SantaCruz; Solar Energy

Watch this video on the abundance of solar energy called "The Solar Window of Opportunity" on Tedx, by Joe Jordan.

British Airways Goes Green with Biofuel

Earlier this month British Airways announced that under the GreenSky project in London, it has signed an exclusive agreement to build a state of the art biofuel site on an undetermined site.  Once in fully operation, the facility could turn 500,000 tons of garbage into 50,000 tons of green airplane fuel.  The technology responsible for this is Solena's synthesis gas technology that turns garbage into a liquid hydrocarbon.  After the waste is turned into a gas, it will then be treated through Fischer- Trospsch reactors, which are patented by Oxford Catalyst.

The new plant is all a part of the goals for the airline to have "Carbon Neutral" growth from 2020.  British Airways, who is just one in a growing list of airlines who are looking to make their air transportation industry more sustainable, is already committed  to investing $500 million over ten years to buy the fuel.  Other well-known companies are KLM, United Airlines, and Lufthansa.

California Peaks in Solar Production

California continues to take the lead in reducing carbon emissions with one of the nation's most ambitious renewable energy programs.  By 2020, California intends to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources.  The state recently set a record for winter solar power generation, almost reaching the previous record set this summer of just over 1 gigawatt of solar energy.

Record was set on Dec. 19th when California power companies reported peak solar power generation of just under 1 gigawatt of power from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm, just under the previous record set this year back in August.  This is significant because the peak of solar output was nearly reached during the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.

the underlying point is that California's solar energy generation capacity has grown significantly since the August record was set.  Compared to last years maximum output of 200MW of solar production, this year was extremely impressive.  That growth is expected to continue or even increase in 2013, which is a positive outcome because a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels is necessary to avoid the worst effects of future climate change according to the vast majority of climate scientists.

Source: Clean Technica

CorkScrew In The Sky; Phoenix

BIG Architects and developer Novawest, came together to create a destination event to provide tourists and citizens of Phoenix alike the chance to enjoy the unique features of the Valley of the Sun.  Some may say honey wand, others corkscrew, or pine cone, either way you look at it the structure will certainly be a sight to behold.  The development team praises BIG for delivering an exceptional product, blending form and function in a way that will change the local skyline forever and will give visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The future observation tower is conceived as a tall core of reinforced concrete with an open-air spiral sphere at its top, resembling a metaphorical pin.  The spiraling sphere contains flexible exhibition, retail and recreational spaces which are accessed via three glass elevators that connect the base with the summit and offer panoramic views of the city and the tower' programs as visitors ascend or descend.


A Musical Instrument Powered By Vegetables

'BeetBox' an invention by Scott Garner, is an instrument that allows users to play drum beats by interacting with vegetables.  It is powered by raspberry Pi with a capacitive touch sensor and an audio amplifier in a handmade wooden enclosure.  To Scott Garner, BeetBox is primarily an exploration of perspective and expectations.  He is particularly interested in creating complex technical interactions in which the technology is invisible – both in the sense that the interaction is extremely simple and in the literal sense that no electronic components can be seen.

The tactile engagement communicates with a script that watches for new movements and triggers drum samples.  Audio from the line out is then run through a small amplifier connected to a salvaged speaker mounted under the holes in the lid.

Helsinki Central Library Competition Entry

WEAVA Architects in collaboration with SWAN Architects proposed an iconic gesture for the new Helsinki Central Library.  The facility will represent a modern and dynamic image of an urban public facility for the citizens of the city.  Their ONYX concept forms seamlessly into the planned draft proposal of the Toolonlahti area, responding to the surrounding buildings, infrastructure and urban fabric.  It is an iconic cultural landmark in its own right, but also respectful of its place as part of a greater master plan.

The Library, located in the center of Helsinki, will form a cohesive totality with the Finnish Parliament building, Helsinki Music Center, Finlandia Hall, Sanoma House and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.  Their design is directly linked to the park, connecting the library to the planned pedestrian and bicycle paths.  This allows easy accessibility without disrupting the existing flow of traffic.  The design also utilizes the existing roads and parking facilities so the master plan remains intact.


14 Year-Old Invents Solar Powered Water Purification System for the Developing World

While most middle school teenagers are consumed in everyday life of social media, reality TV or teenage drama, 14-year-old Deepika Kurup from Nasha, New Hampshire spent her free time Inventing a Solar-powered water purification System for the developing world.  Inspired while on a trip to India and witnessing children drinking from a stagnant pool of water, Deepika felt compelled to find a solution to the global water crisis.  After much research she developed a solar-powered purification system in her backyard that eventually earned her a $25,000 award from The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

After spending three months reviewing PhD papers during her vacation, speaking with her 3M mentor, and testing her inventions with contaminated water from Nashua wastewater treatment facility, Deepika developed a system that could cheaply and easily purify water containing harmful bacteria.  Her process involves exposing titanium oxide and zinc oxide to sunlight, which initiates a chemical reaction that forms hydroxyl radicals and super oxides.  These compounds are able to oxide organic substances into water and carbon dioxide.

After counting the levels of coliform bacteria before and after applying her system with 3M Petrifilms, she found that her system had significantly reduced the amount of coliforms from 8,000 down to 50 and E.coli from more than 1,000 down to none in less than 8 hours.  In one hour she was also able to degrade methane blue, oxidizing it faster than most current processes.

Kurup's composite which incorporates cement and 3M Glass Bubbles, costs half a cent per gram.  Applied through both a photocatalytic rod and reflector film, she was able to achieve astonishing results with an amazing amount of efficiency and consistency.  Kurupt, now a high school freshman plans to apply for a patent for her system and start a nonprofit to help deploy her innovation.

Source: Inhabitat

Festina Lente Bridge; Hurry Slowly!

The Festina Lente bridge (translated to hurry slowly) in Cantone Di Sarajevo, Bosnia is quite simple in nature, offering a very contemporary sculptoric beauty in a traditional and historic landscape.  The sleek lightweight and agile structure presents an adaptable casual contact among all objects and human beings.  The basic idea of the bridge is the union of the secular and spiritual and to establish a balance between left and right side.  Crossing the bridge is a unique experience because of its specific layout and views that one encounters when going through the gate, preparing the user to enter into another dimension, awakening spirituality.

Technological solutions and modern design of the bridge became the brand of Sarajevo.  The bridge's construction is faced with aluminum trim and glass fence.  Spanning 38 meters, the bridge creates a point of approach, appropriate for the area in front of the temple currently occupied by the Academy of Fine Arts.

The loop on the bridge is a symbolic gate, representing a tradition of city entry gates in Bosnia.  The two banks of the bridge are completely different, one is covered with grass and the other built from stone, for visual contrast.  There are two benches placed under covered sections to encourage meeting and interaction, lit at night by white LED lights.

Hasselet Court of Justice

The new Hasselet courthouse in Hasselet Belgium is an open, transparent building with direct public access.  It sits within a master-plan created by West 8, which redeveloped a former rail yard and station.  The former railway station will be restructured with a park, public buildings, offices and hotels, as well as urban residential blocks.  J.Mayer H. Architects, along with LensAss Architecten and a20-architecten have designed and completed construction of the two high-rise buildings, "including the new Hasselt courthouse.  Throughout the design process, designers referenced both the image of a tree symbolizing the hazelnut trees in the City of Hasselt's coat of arms, and steel structures in the once industrial- and Art Nouveau-influenced area.  The tree-like structure also refers to courts held under large, old trees, a common tradition in the Middle Ages.

In keeping with the building's logistical requirements and safety provisions, the structure is divided into three separate units: courtrooms, a university library and office tower with a 64-meter-high panorama restaurant showcasing a dynamic view over the city of Hasselt and its surroundings.


Ghana Builds the Largest Solar Array in Africa

Blue Energy, a UK-based renewable energy firm unveiled plans to build a 155 MW solar power plant in Ghana, said to be the largest in the continent.  The $400 million Nzema project will have the capacity to generate sufficient energy for 100,000 homes.  Unlike many other solar power plants, the Ghana facility will run on 630,000 photovoltaic panels deemed most suitable to Ghana's particular climatic constraints.  The 155 megawatt plant will increase Ghana's generating capacity by 6%.

Industry Analyst Ash Sharma at IMS Research says that the key element in helping the project go ahead has been Ghana's renewable energy law under which the plant has been awarded a deed-in tariff for 20 years, premium guarantees for the working life of the site.

A facility of this scale is possible now because the price of PV modules has dropped by 40% over the last couple of years, according to the BBC.  Construction is scheduled to begin late 2013, with the plant switching online by the beginning of 2014.

Source: The BBC


Starbucks Omotesando; A Sticky Situation!

Im not one to praise large corporations but this time Starbucks stepped out of its generic vanilla box and produced a cool design thats definitely worth reporting.  Located in the popular fashion and cultural district of Omotesando, Tokyo, the cafe stands on the main approach to the Dazaifu Tenmangu, one of the major shrines in Japan.  Established in 919 A.D., the shrine has been worshiped as "the God for examination." and receives about 2 million visitors a year who wish their success.

Designers at Kengo Kuma and Associates aimed to build a structure that resonates a harmony with the surrounding street-scape and nearby shrine.  They used a unique system of weaving the pieces of wood diagonally to usher in a sense of direction and fuidity.  The building is made of 2,000 sticks 1.3-4m in length and 6cm thick.  The structure was achieved by dividing four stick combinations into two groups to avoid concentration on a single point. The groupings are piled in small parts from the ground up, a technique adapted from traditional architecture of Japan and China.

Singapore's First Commercial Vertical Farm Is a Big Hit With Locals

Singapore recently a few months ago opened its first commercial vertical farm, making local options for fresh produce more abundant and accessible to its millions of citizens.  Sky Green Farms is the developer who opened the 9 acre farm in Lim Chu Kang.  The center produces three types of vegetables currently available at FairPrice Finest supermarkets.  Although produce cost 10 to 20 cents more than vegetables from other sources, shoppers have been snatching up whatever they can get selling out produce by the truckload.

The farm is comprised of 29.5 foot tall aluminum towers, with vegetables stacked in troughs at multiple levels.  Currently there are 120 vertical towers.  The farm hopes to increase the number to 300 by next year, increasing its current daily supply from 0.5 tons to 2 tons, which could lower cost of the produce. Investors are currently being sought out to help build the additional towers costing a hefty $21 million.  Currently 7 percent of Singapore's vegetables are grown locally;, but with more innovative farming methods, it could reached the targeted 10 percent in the near future.

Source: channelnewsasia