Tag Archives: energy

The Digital Cloud

Picture 3

I’m way too busy to blog this properly, but you must read about this. There is a new project from an international team of architects and designers to create a giant floating connected and publicly accessible cloud in the London skies. The project will be sponsored on a donation basis, which has some chances of failing, but then again, could inspire some rich pockets if they get sufficiently inspired by it.

The construction would include 120m- (400ft-) tall mesh towers and a series of interconnected plastic bubbles that can be used to display images and data. The Cloud, as it is known, would also be used an observation deck and park.

Its designers plan to raise the funds to build it by asking for micro-donations from millions of people.”It’s really about people coming together to raise the Cloud,” Carlo Ratti, one of the architects behind the design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told BBC News. “We can build our Cloud with £5m or £50m. The flexibility of the structural system will allow us to tune the size of the Cloud to the level of funding that is reached.”

‘Data streams’

The Cloud was shortlisted in a competition set-up by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The structure draws on work by artist Tomas Saraceno, a German-based designer who has previously shown off huge inflatable sculptures.

The Cloud infographic

It is envisaged that the spheres would be made of a plastic known as Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the material used to build the Beijing Aquatic Centre. The different spheres would act as structural elements, habitable spaces, decoration and LCD screens on which data could be projected.

“We could provide a custom feed of…searches made by Londoners during the Olympics to give a real time ‘barometer’ of the city’s interests and mood,” said Google, one of the supporters of the project, which has also offered to provide the information feeds.Ramps, stairs and lifts would carry people to the top of the structure to look out over the city.

‘Zero power’

The inflatable elements of the building would sit on top slender, lightweight towers, stabilised by a net of metal cables. Damping technology, similar to that used in Japanese skyscrapers to resist earthquakes, would prevent the towers being buffeted by the wind.

The structure would also be used to harvest all the energy it produces according to Professor Ratti. “It would be a zero power cloud,” he said. As well as solar cells on the ground and inside some of the spheres, the lifts would use regenerative braking, similar to that in some hybrid cars. That way, the designers say, potential energy from visitors to the top of the tower can be harnessed into useful electricity.

The team have launched a fundraising website called raisethecloud.org and are now looking for a site for the tower.


Smart outlets

John La Grou presents the invention of an intelligent communication system for electricity outlets and appliances plugs. With 350,000 fires and 20,000 dead every year in the US, this simple issue is worth addressing. Beyond the safety advantages, it also offers great energy savings potential, with the possiblity of remote control of unused outlets. With about 10 bln outlets in US alone, the energy savings could be huge.

When Twitter Does Make Sense

Apart from the live news reportage usage of Twitter, I haven’t been seeing it as as much of a world-changing tool as some people around me do. Many digital things including Twitter happen when they become either playful or useful. The former case would be the by now semi-famous Baker Tweet, a tool designed by POKE to let them know when the hot buns are coming out of the ovens from the bakery across from their office. This win-win-win project has given regulars from the area the ability to know when edible bread is available, increased the sales of Albion, the bakery involved in the Twitter project, and given POKE extra publicity.

A case of a useful tool connected to Twitter has been recently created by Energy Circle, a company that sells energy-saving products and has created a new energy-monitoring system that sends home energy usage stats to Twitter. The system uses an energy measuring device called TED to create Google Visualization enabled charts that are then tweeted to everyone involved. Google itself has been working on a similar project, but it’s still in it’s non-practical stages. The designer’s family has been using the device for six months and claim that they’ve since managed to lower their energy use by 15%.

[Via ReadWriteWeb]

Love food, hate waste


Tonnes of food are wasted around the globe every single day. ‘Surplus’ food in our kitchens, shops and restaurants or food that is passing its expiry date on a given day is stuck in dumpsters and then usually just deposited at landfils. According to a new policy brief issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Stockholm International Water Institute and the International Water Management Institute, huge amounts of food — close to half of all food produced worldwide — are wasted after production. To widen the perspective, this also means tonnes of water and other resources that were needed to raise the food – wasted.

There seems to be plenty of positive debate about cutting back on eating meat and junk food for both health and environmental reasons, but neither the media or the society seems to be concerned with just how much of what we buy we end up wasting. According to WRAP, 6.7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year,  or, to put it another way, around a third of all the food we buy end up being thrown away, and most of it could have been eaten. Britons waste an average of £10 bn a year, according to a Guardian study carried out in May 2008:

About £6bn of the wasted annual food budget is food that is bought but never touched – including 13m unopened yoghurt pots, 5,500 chickens and 440,000 ready meals dumped in home rubbish bins each day. The rest is food prepared or cooked for meals but never eaten because people have misjudged how much was needed and don’t eat the leftovers.

The complete £10bn consists of food that could have been eaten, not including peeling and bones, the researchers say. Tackling the waste could mean a huge reduction in CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking one in five cars off the road. The figures have been compiled by Wrap, the waste and resources action programme, which previously made the £8bn estimate and has warned we are throwing away a third of the food we buy, enough to fill Wembley stadium with food waste eight times over in a year.


Love Food Hate Waste provides both information on food wastage and advice on how to be more efficient in our consumption and shopping habits. The huge amounts of food being thrown away have supported freegans and other genres of food skippers. Among the ‘best’ sources of wasted food are supermarkets – surplus foods and those about to go out of date are discarded en masse around the globe. Apart from finding ways of distributing such food to shelters for homeless or food banks, some establishments are seeking to convert their waste into energy. In efforts of becoming more green, Sainsbury’s is set to start turning some of its wasted food into electricity. The program is now starting in Scotland and is set to go UK-wide by summertime. Each tonne of food waste is expected to be able to generate enough power for 500 homes.

Paving the way

energy generating roads, renewable energy, sustainable design, green design, israel technion institute, clean technology, kinetic energy

Engineers at Innowattech in Israel recently created a new type of road that generates electricity as vehicles pass over it! The supercharged surface is embedded with piezoelectric crystals, which transform kinetic energy from passing vehicles into an electrical current. With widespread adoption, the technology could feed energy back into the nation’s burgeoning electric vehicle grid, transforming congested roadways into a clean green source of energy.

energy generating roads, renewable energy, sustainable design, green design, israel technion institute, clean technology, kinetic energy

In the past we’ve featured energy-generating dance floors and tourist attractions, and just last week we brought you news of one in the Tokyo subway station, but we think that this one tops them all.

The energy-generating roadway works thanks to piezoelectric crystals embeded in the asphalt. As vehicles pass over them, the vibrations generate a small amount of electricity that travels to a larger transformer which then distributes the energy. The generators can be as thin as a few centimeters or can cover large expansive surfaces, and can be easily adapted for a variety of different transit systems including roadways, railways and even airplane runways.

Even though the amount of electricity generated is not that much (around 400 kilowatts per kilometer), we’re inspired by the innovative approach and far reaching implications of the technology. The team, led by Haim Abramovich, is getting ready to test the system on a 100 meter road next month in Israel.

+ Innowattech

Via ETA and Motor Authority

energy generating roads, renewable energy, sustainable design, green design, israel technion institute, clean technology, kinetic energy

energy generating roads, renewable energy, sustainable design, green design, israel technion institute, clean technology, kinetic energy

Original text and pictures from Inhabitat.