Every six months or so a new city is announced in the city of Dubai, so in keeping with the times this time its another Eco city that is planned in the already popular list of new eco cities springing up. The Xeritown is planned for Dubailand. The 60-acre city is designed in a way that it will accommodate the elements of the desert rather than overcome them. The city follows a north-south axis to take advantage of the cool breeze coming in from the sea. The buildings, rather than artificial and water intense landscaping, provide shading and structure. Flat circles will hang over street walkways and photovoltaics will be placed on the circles to collect solar energy. A major aim of the project will also be to conserve ecological resources such as water, soil, flora, and fauna.
They say that the Parajet Skycar will be the world’s first carbon neutral flying car. But what piques my interest is that a Skycar Expedition team plans to fly/drive/whatever the vehicle from London to Timbouctou in 2009. Using a combination of flight and driving to combat the Saharan terrain will cover the 3000 miles journey. A cross between a dune buggy and a paraglide, the Parajet Skycar is a unique vehicle. A biodiesel-modified Yamaha R1 1000cc motorcycle engine powers it. The motor runs through a Continuously Variable Transmission either to power the rear wheels or to turn a large rear-facing propeller via a belt drive. In the Fly Mode, it takes off from a field or airstrip in less than 200 meters. In this mode the latest ram-air wing suspends it. Since the vehicle has no pitch control it will not stall or dive. It has a take-off speed of 60 kmph, a top speed of 110 kmph and a range of 300 km. Cruising altitude will be 2000 to 3000 ft with a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft. In the event of engine failure, the pilot simply glides to the nearest field or strip of land. The car carries a passenger and a pilot.
The amount of energy it takes to cool buildings citywide is enormous, and such energy is usually obtained by burning up some precious resource. Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning (HSWAC) is set to change that as it is now going to cool down buildings with seawater, rather than using fossil fuel-based air conditioning units. Private investors have put up nearly $11 M, completing the funding effort for the $152 M project, with about half of the final funding coming from investors from Honolulu. The system will pump cool water, about 45° F, from 1,600 feet below the ocean waves. The water will travel through the pump system to an onshore station where it will cool fresh water that circulates in a closed loop through customers’ buildings in downtown Honolulu. Once the cold seawater has done its job, it is pumped back into the ocean at a shallower level, going through a diffuser to ensure proper mixing and dilution to the surrounding sea. Renewable Energy Innovations, LLC, pioneered the system in Sweden and have shown that it works quite well.
The Eco-Home from designers at Diseño Earle is aiming to be the first ‘zero carbon’ footprint home in Andalucia, in Southern Spain. The team put two strict objectives in mind: (1) zero carbon footprint, and (2) reduce operating costs to almost a self-sufficiency level. The home huge covering 6995 Sq feet which will be built with 75% less waste than a traditional design and operate 80% more efficiently than a similar sized home. The most striking feature of the design is the wing shaped roof. Not only does the roof bury and embed the solar panels out of sight, but it’s at the right angle to capture and convert the sun’s rays into energy. In addition, the design calls for space between the roof and home so that less direct heat is absorbed by the home and air can pass over it, cooling the structure in the process.
Well, here is something on the lighter side. Save electricity and be entertained at the same time.
This car looks straight out of the movie Gattaca or a 1960’s retro machine; in fact it could be the answer to all our gas woes. Volkswagen is the latest company to join the 2010 alternate fuel car manufacturers list, with its One-Litre car. The tank holds just 1.4 gallons of diesel (6.5 litres) with the ability to cover 400miles nonstop; it holds two people one behind the other like a cockpit of a fighter jet. SO driving from London to Edinburgh without refueling and still have 70 miles worth of fuel to spare. At the average price of diesel of $11.95 a gallon, it would cost just $16.94 to fill up the One-Litre. The vehicle is shaped like a teardrop; it has tandem seats like a jet fighter with the passenger sitting behind the driver, a gull-wing door and sheathed wheels. Even its side mirrors have been thrown out, for the sake of aerodynamics in favor of on board cameras and LCDs to look behind. The car is offered in the default black shade, has a magnesium steering wheel to further reduce weight.
Will we ever be able to see our energy being generated from the plants and trees that surround us? Photosynthetic organisms use the energy from light to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen then reacts with carbon dioxide to help synthesize carbohydrates, the molecules organisms use to store energy. Photosynthesis falls into a class of reactions known as multiple electron systems. Nobody has succeeded in making artificial multiple electron systems that could provide the necessary energy for artificial photosynthesis. Existing systems can donate and receive only one electron at a time. Chemists have long tried in vain to reproduce the process in vain, but a group of researchers at the Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in Qinhuangdao, China, have found that single-walled carbon nanotubes could act as the chemical heart of a multiple electron system.
There is no greener transport than the humble bicycle, add a motor to that and make it battery powered and you get Zero X. The American-made Zero X weighs 140 pounds, which weighs in about 100 pounds lighter than a typical 250 cc dirt bike. The Zero X is so small and light that it feels more like a big, electric mountain bike; it can hit 30 mph in just two seconds. Speed of the Zero X may not be as important to some as its silence. A casual trail ride on a pair of these bikes where riders can not only hear the sounds of the wilderness around them, but also carry on a conversation as they ride is completely unimaginable on a conventional motorbike. The bike is designed with aluminum rails that are easily removable, 40-pound, lithium-manganese spinal battery pack as the power source, which is claimed as can recharge in 2 hours for 2 hours of driving or a 40-mile range, depending on conditions. The unit is fully recyclable and can be swapped for another one in a mere 30 seconds. The 58-volt, 2.2 kwh pack is a proprietary design with 168 cylindrical cells, each with its own heat sync for cooling. The pack itself costs around $3000 and is built to last about six years, or 600 full-depth charging cycles.
When in school most of us have tried lighting a match stick with a magnifying glass, focusing all its power on one point to get fire. Well, what if you take that principle and develop a device that can provide energy for a generator to work? Canadian energy company Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation (SHEC) Labs has developed the world’s most efficient solar thermal technology. They have developed a concentrator and complementary receiver technology that is able to concentrate sunlight up to 5,000 times the intensity that normally would fall on a surface on earth. This immense solar concentration can create heat at the focal point that approaches the surface temperature of the sun at 6,000 °C (11,000 °F). Metal placed at the focus is instantly melted. In commercial scale systems, SHEC expects that the concentrations could be as high as 11,000 to 16,000 times the intensity of the sun. Applications of this technology are power generation; process heating, district heating, water distillation, synthesis gas (syn gas) production which can be used for the production of alternative fuels including hydrogen and other applications. Using thermal heat to convert methane, such as is collected off landfills, into hydrogen and syngas. The combined H and syngas, also called “hythane” can be used in vehicles that run on natural gas. A landfill in Texas, in process of implementing this technology by SHEC, will be able to fuel 5,000 fleet vehicles per year. Another plant further along in Regina, SK, Canada, will produce enough gas to fuel 800 vehicles per year. SHEC says their technology has been very challenging to develop, taking the span of a decade to work out the details of the process and materials. The materials and method for making this receiver tube are proprietary, but the materials consist of natural, not exotic, elements.
The price of gas has given teenagers one more reason to ditch college. The high costs in tuition and the transit to and fro to the university from the dorm has made online courses much more appealing. Given how spoiled we have become by cheap gasoline, many of those students have never had to consider alternative ways of getting to class. What’s more, now that they are looking for alternatives, often times they are lacking entirely or highly inefficient, since mass transit, bike lanes and cities designed on a human scale don’t just sprout overnight. Colleges around the US have reported a 50% increase in online student enrollment. This however is not good news for the students who live in areas where the internet access is spotty and sometimes non-existent.