August 19th, 2005 | Filed under: Design, Fabrication Tech, Health, Social, Sustainability, Urbanism | 20 Comments »

Lifestraw is a $2 water filtration device contained in a straw currently under development by Torben Vestergaard Frandsen, Rob Fleuren and Moshe Frommer. The straw is composed of two textile filters and iodine impregnated beads. There are several similar devices on the market like the Frontier™ Emergency Water Filter System , but none as efficient or with profoundly world changing potential as the Lifestraw.

Thanks, Pete.

Pyron Solar Electric Generator

July 24th, 2005 | Filed under: Future, Materials, Products, Sustainability, Technology, Urbanism | 3 Comments »

Pyron Solar Inc.‘s (San Diego, CA) new Pyron Solar Electric Generator, runs at less than $3 per Watt with 1/4 to 1/20 the size of other systems. Pyron’s system works by concentrating direct sunlight 400X into its photovoltaic cells. Projections by Pyron estimate possible costs for large power plants at $1.24 per Watt and enough efficiency to power the entire US with a 50 square mile plot of land in the desert southwest.

A similar idea, at a larger scale, is being researched by Materialab (at RPI) as a curtain wall system with embedded Fresnel lenses that track and concentrate sunlight into PV cells. [article]

via PowerPulse

Mississippi Maps Galore

June 27th, 2005 | Filed under: Internet, Mapping, Sustainability | 1 Comment »

The Lower Mississippi Valley – Engineering Geology Mapping Program, hosted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, has nearly 300 high resolution scans of engineering geology maps of the Lower Mississippi Allubial Valley from the past 50 years, freely available for download. Each map contains multiple cross sections of the basin and text describing the mapping process and the geological history of each map folio. Beautiful.

via Pruned

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Urban Underground Farming

June 20th, 2005 | Filed under: Architecture, Biology, Future, Social, Sustainability, Technology, Urbanism | 21 Comments »

Using computer-controlled temperature and LEDs , an underground rice and vegetable farm called Pasona O2 in Tokyo hopes to have its first harvest this summer (2005).

via Pasta and Vinegar | Trends in Japan

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More Green Chemicals Please

June 16th, 2005 | Filed under: Future, Materials, Sustainability, Technology | No Comments »

A proposal for implementing a new interface for purchasing alternative chemicals in institutional and industrial labs by Kendra Bussey ’05 and Jacqueline Tio ’06 from the Department of Chemistry at MIT aim to steer the entire chemical industry towards using green chemicals.

“The project will develop data on the amounts and types of chemicals purchased by research laboratories; survey users to determine the uses for which these materials are employed; use Green Chemistry data bases to identify less toxic and less polluting alternatives; and make this information readily available to users. A key component will be to identify the barriers to implementation and means of encouraging independent researchers to adopt these strategies. The results will be incorporated into MIT’s Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Management System. Evaluation metrics will include ongoing monitoring of the amounts and types of hazardous waste requiring disposal.”

Their project titled “Encouraging Toxic Use Reduction (TUR) in Academic Laboratories” recently won the EPA P3 award.

via MIT News | Treehugger

Mapping Mannahatta : Manhattan circa 1609

May 13th, 2005 | Filed under: Biology, Future, Mapping, Sustainability, Urbanism | 2 Comments »

Landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson, of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at New York’s Bronx Zoo, is recreating a virtual 1609 (Henry Hudson) landscape of Manhattan. The Mannahatta Project is collecting hundreds of years of animal and plant studies which are fed into a computer program for analysis to create layers of information of every species. Upon completion of the data analysis using GIS technology, the WCS plans to show New York’s ‘wild past’ through a coffee-table book with transparent overlays and computer simulations.

via Sciencentral (video clip)

Sprol : Badness via Satellite

May 12th, 2005 | Filed under: Internet, Mapping, Sustainability, Urbanism | 1 Comment »

Sprol takes you on a tour of the ‘worst places in the world via satellite imagery’ with a mission ‘to use the powers of space imaging to show people the visual macroscopic effects of our decisions and behavior’. Urban sprawl, logging, and chemical spills are all devastating, but sometimes beautiful.

Lifeboat Foundation : The New Anti-Doomsday Device

May 8th, 2005 | Filed under: Building Tech, Future, Sustainability, Technology | No Comments »

The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, aiming to launch self-contained space arks by 2020 as an ‘insurance policy’ against accelerating advance technologies such as grey goo and biological weaponry.

Biothing : 2005 Next Generation Prize Winner

May 4th, 2005 | Filed under: Architecture, Future, Mapping, News, Sustainability, Technology | 1 Comment »

Congratulations to Alisa Andrasek (my former professor). Her group, biothing, has been selected as one of the winners of Metropolis magazine’s 2005 Next Generation Prize. Biothing is a ‘trans-disciplinary laboratory which research focuses on genrative potential of physical and artificial computational systems for design.’

via wmmna

Papercrete : Recycling Paper into Concrete

April 26th, 2005 | Filed under: Architecture, Building Tech, Fabrication Tech, Materials, Products, Sustainability, Urbanism | No Comments »

Living in Paper offers an extensive introduction into “papercrete”, an innovative construction material currently going through testing. The construction material’s performance has several advantages over concrete and uses recycled paper from just about any source as the aggregate.

via Treehugger