Author Archives: Karen M. Hung

Packaging That’s Good Enough to Eat

Dr. David Edwards of Le Whif fame has turned his genius towards solving one of the greatest problems of our times: consumer packaging. Behold, WikiCells! The bottles you can eat.

Source: Co.EXIST

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A New Addition to the Urban Fleet

MIT’s Media Lab and a consortium of companies in Bilbao, Spain have built a micro-electric car called the Hiriko that looks to be the missing link between Daimler’s Smart car and the one you can drive up the side of a building in Minority Report.

The micro-electric car– a 6.5-ft, 1100-lb little thing that runs on two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and can travel 120 km at full charge– was developed to navigate the tiny roads and parking spaces in congested cities as part of a Zipcar-like sharing program. Its most fetching feature though, is that it can be folded up like a baby stroller; 3-4 Hiriko’s can fit in a standard parking space. Hopefully that will solve the biggest problem about car share programs: never being able to find a car nearby.

You can watch a video demonstration of the Hiriko here.

Cool but slightly less useful: all four wheels of the Hiriko can rotate 360 degrees, which means you’ll be able to move horizontally, like a crab, into pesky parallel parking spaces. That seems like a useful feature ALL cars could adopt.

Sadly, the Hiriko isn’t powered by renewable energy. And there also doesn’t seem to be any space in the car for an enormous load of groceries, or whatever other shopping that may have been done, which is one of the few reasons why I would choose to drive instead of walking or taking public transportation.

Source: Big Think

Coolest Hotel Ever

Have you seen Ukrainian designer Levko Davydyuk designs for Ukraine’s Three Stacks eco-hotel complex? They’re like illustrations for a fantasy novel. Moreover, the energy-efficient eco-hotel will be built from wood, cane, clay, and grass. And hopefully get LEED-certified.

Kimberley Mok over at TreeHugger just posted photos of Davydyuk’s designs, and here’s a glimpse:


Source: Levko Davydyuk

You can see more pictures and details over at TreeHugger.

 

Robot Biofuel Farms on the Open Sea

BEAR Oceanics has designed and tested a self-sustaining robot farm to grow algae for biofuel. The robot farm relies solely on wind and solar power to grow and process algae into nearly 5 gallons of biofuel per day, all the while steering clear of boats and ships (and presumably birds and sea mammals) and towards an onshore unloading point. The robot farm would also be able to grow more algae from the remaining algae sludge after processing.

According to BEAR engineer Rudy Behrens, the robot farm would cost an estimated US$1,200 and 140 man hours and could end up producing biodiesel for between 30 to 60 cents per gallon. Even after adding taxes and the cost of getting the biofuel to your local refueling station, you would probably still pay under a dollar per gallon. The project also has a leg up over other biofuel projects in that there would no toxic waste streams, no GMOs, and no invasive species unleashed into the environment.

BEAR Oceanics is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to start building their first full-size robot farm.

A Big First Step for Geo-Engineering

This doesn’t exactly sound like a good idea, but given the world’s utter lack of progress in actually reducing emissions… and this idea’s potential to drop global temperature by 2 degrees celsius…. it will at least be interesting to see if it works.

The Daily Mail is reporting that scientists at Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Edinburgh have built a prototype helium balloon, affixed to a very long hose, that will be hoisted into the air next month to test whether it will cool the air. Millions of tiny particles (water particles, for now) will be spewed into the air and act as a mirror to reflect the Sun’s rays. These scientists estimate that just ten balloons – pouring ten million tons of material into the stratosphere every year – could achieve a 2 degree (Celsius) drop in global temperature in two years.

Sadly, this balloon will not be sucking any CO2 out of the atmosphere while it’s up there, and I shudder at the thought of what chemical particles they will spray into the atmosphere if they’re allowed to go full-scale, but if it works, the drop in temperature could at least give us a little more time to adapt and finally put in place a global emissions reduction plan before we lose the climate and geography that we know and love.

A Water-Collecting Jacket

This is probably as close as we’re getting to a Fremen stillsuit for now: students Joshua Noble and Hyeona Yang at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design have created a jacket that allows the wearer to store and filter rainwater for drinking. Watch the video here!

No word yet on whether the jacket can be made of bioplastics or whether they will increase the surface area for better collection.