domingo, 19 de abril de 2015

Inhabitat's Week in Green: cheaper EVs, synthetic leaves and clay-pot speakers

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Inhabitat's Week in Green

For more than three years, the Western United States -- especially California -- has been gripped by the worst drought on record. With no end in sight, San Diego County announced plans to build a massive $1 billion desalination plant. The plant will produce drinking water for 300,000 people in Southern California, but opponents have raised concerns about its high energy use, and that it will likely harm marine life. Researchers also discovered what may be causing the drought -- a massive "blob" of warm water in the Pacific Ocean measuring a thousand miles wide is wreaking havoc on weather patterns and local marine life.

A couple months ago, IKEA announced plans to roll out a new line of lamps that would wirelessly charge your mobile devices. Now, it looks like the furniture giant is ready to start introducing the new lamps later this spring. In other energy news, Vancouver just became the latest city to switch to 100 percent renewable energy. The Canadian city now joins a list of more than 50 cities around the world that have pledged to abandon fossil fuels. Switching to renewables doesn't just make sense for the environment -- it's good business sense. For example, offshore wind is already cheaper than both gas and nuclear power. In certain parts of the world, the technology is already financially viable and no longer needs government subsidies. New innovations are also finding energy sources in unexpected places. Engineers from Columbia University's Computer Vision Laboratory have created what they claim to be the world's first fully self-powered camera. The video camera converts light captured when creating an image into electrical power. On the green transportation front, Tesla is making headway on selling its vehicles in Maryland, and Chevy announced that it will be slashing the price of the 2015 Chevy Spark EV. After tax credits, the car will cost just $14,995 in some states.

Milan Design Week is like the Olympics for the design world. All the big names are there, and it's also an opportunity for up-and-comers to show their work. This year's event has featured scores of innovative new products that promise to change the way we interact with everyday objects. Japanese designer Kosho Ueshima unveiled a nanotech toothbrush that can clean your teeth without toothpaste. If you ever wanted to reach outer space without suiting up and hopping in a rocket, Nooka has produced a device that enables you to record a private message and send it into outer space. The event is more than just an assortment of quirky one-off designs; it's also a forum for bold ideas. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde proposed building a massive electric vacuum cleaner that could combat air pollution in cities like Beijing. Some of the other highlights from Design Week included the Salone Satellite show -- an opportunity for young, emerging designers to show their wares. Japanese design studio Kappes used a collection of wires placed inside a terrarium to create a dazzling, ethereal work of art. And Mapu Guaquén combined traditional clay pots with modern speakers to create wireless speakers with a soft, raw look. Meanwhile, at the Ventura Lambrate exhibit, Julian Melchiorri created a synthetic biological leaf that can absorb water and carbon dioxide and produce oxygen like a plant. And United Nude teamed up with 3D systems to launch a line of sculptural 3D-printed shoes at Milan Design Week that combine art, design and technology to test the boundaries of fashion.

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