Scientists Trip Over Revolutionary CO2-Removing Catalyst

from Green Options by Timothy B. Hurst

In a fortuitous discovery, chemists have stumbled on a catalyst that strips carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into a useful compound.

Published in the most recent issue of the journal Science (sub. req’d.), researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands have discovered a copper-based catalyst that can literally pull carbon dioxide out of thin air.

Researchers say the copper-based compound is not ready for primetime–removing carbon dioxide on a large scale–but they hope that the catalyst could one day remove the ubiquitous greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, turning it into organic chemicals.

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admir jukanovic: kablovi park

from Designboom – Weblog

‘kablovi park’ installation

artist and lighting designer, admir jukanovic was commissioned by canary wharf group‘s
public art team to build a lighting installation for jubilee park, london. the installation is called
‘kablovi park’. ‘kablovi’ translates from croation and bosnian as ‘cable’. the concept of the piece
is to reveal the energies that lie hidden under turf and concrete – carried by thousands,
maybe millions of cables to offices, shops, car parks and the london underground beneath the park.
the result looks like jukanovic has seemingly pulled these cables to the surface of the ground.
groups of three, pairs and single cables, create a network of hot red stitches throughout the park,
pulsating with implied energies. the installation is on view until february 26th, 2010.

the lighting installation creates a warm contrast to the surrounding environment

Solar-Powered Pod House Would Be The Ideal Blogger’s Home Office

from Gizmodo Australia by Kat Hannaford

If I had a backyard big enough for a home office, the MercuryHouseOne is what I’d be saving all my pocket money up for. It’s a mobile solar-powered lounge, hard and space-age on the outside but warm and soft inside. (more…)

Living With Robots paints ‘bots as the good guys

from DVICE by Kevin Hall

Robots have something of a bad rap, what with the The Matrix and Terminator making them out to be murdering, enslaving overlords. Not so, says Joe Berlinger, director of Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster. His film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with a bunch of scientists, philosophers and engineers weighing in on the future the film feels we’re headed toward: one flush with helpful robots.

The film’s stars are surgical robots and Honda’s ASIMO (with a few cameo appearances from some robo-friends of DVICE), with plenty of the staff working on the ASIMO chiming in. Research on the ‘bot significantly boosted Honda’s other R&D efforts — such as improving the brakes on the company cars — and was even helps us all learn more about ourselves. Masato Hirose, the executive chief engineer working on the ASIMO, likened its development to a child’s: “When the robot took its first step, it was the most memorable moment.”

Check out an 8-minute trailer for Living With Robots below, courtesy of Engadget. (Which, unfortunately, turns into something of a commercial for Honda about halfway through, but to be fair the company does have one of the coolest bipedal ‘bots around, so we’ll cut ’em some slack.)

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Via Engadget

Better Place Raises $350 Million To Make This World A Better Place

from TechCrunch by Robin Wauters

I’ve been quite fascinated by electric car firm Better Place since I read up on how the company was founded by former SAP executive Shai Agassi in the excellent book ‘Start-up Nation’, which tells of Israel’s historical entrepreneurial DNA and tech success stories.

Basically, Better Place aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles, relying on renewable energy from solar arrays and wind farms instead of oil. The startup, founded just 2 years ago, is currently building its first electric vehicle network in Israel, and plans to deploy the infrastructure in other nations on a country-by-country basis with initial deployments beginning this year, and commercial sales beginning in 2012.

As of April 2009, it had already raised $400 million, with several countries offering tax breaks in favor of the ambitious venture. This morning, Better Place announced that it has raised a massive $350 million follow-up venture funding round to lay the groundwork for these deployments, valuing the company at a whopping $1.25 billion.

HSBC led the round with a $125 million capital injection (buying them approx. 10% of the company), with eight other investors participating, including Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Lazard Asset Management, Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners, Ofer Hi-Tech Holdings and others.

Better Place says it intends to expand into markets where the business model economics and investor returns are “optimized”, citing Europe and Asia specifically. The company also reaffirmed its original target to begin full commercial operations at the end of next year, when industry partner Renault plans to offer the first car with a replaceable battery.

kyungam architects: jeju world natural heritage center

from Designboom – Weblog

all images courtesty of kyungam architects associates ltd.

the jeju world natural heritage center was built by kyungam architects and sun architects & engineers
to educate and promote the importance of preservation of the jeju’s islands natural sites.
the design concept for the center was ‘heritage loop’ referring to the idea that natural heritages
should be passed on from one generation to the next.

the overall site was designed to harmonize with the surrounding village and maintains a view of the geomunoreum volcano. a key component of the architectural plan was to imbue
as little damage as possible to the existing trees and topology.

the structure consists of zones dedicated to exhibition, education, research and maintenance.
the education area is made with moveable partitions customizable for multi-purpose usage.
the office area was intentionally centered within the building to allow for more effective
management of the center’s various facilities. the research area with its separate outdoor
deck is placed furthest away from the center to provide a quiet atmosphere for researchers.
other amenities such as the cafeteria and observatory were placed on the top floor to allow
for nice view and a place of leisure.

elevation: the motif of the elevation was drawn from the natural topological flow of the jeju’s
volcanic mountains. the outer wall uses a local materuak hyunmuam, a local material and the
interior walls are made of glass to create a more open space.

section: the heritage center uses a 9m height level and has a large open cut roof that provides
natural light and air to the underground levels.

British engineers slam home wind turbines as ‘eco-bling’ – Independent

from zero carbon – Google News

British engineers slam home wind turbines as ‘eco-bling’
Independent
energy use in buildings meant the construction industry would struggle to meet government targets to make all new buildings “zero carbon” by 2020.

Haiti Quake: Stillerstrong and Architecture for Humanity team up for temporary schools

from Architecture for Humanity Updates and Events by Cameron

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After the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, the Stillerstrong project is now changing its efforts to the Haitian School Initiative, in collaboration with Architecture for Humanity. We will develop and build a series of temporary and transitional schools where they are needed most. Not just responding to the vital need to get children back in school but to build facilities that protect them in the months and years it will take to rebuild their country.

Hadid Wins Beijing Skyscraper Competition

from CTBUH Global News

Jan 21, Beijing

Zaha Hadid has won an international competition for the development of a new skyscraper in the Chinese capital of Beijing beating off some heavy competition from two leading finalists. The 200 metre plus Wangjing Business Area Project had solicited a number of entries, most notably from the Massimiliano Fukas Studio…more

Top 8 Skyscrapers That Will Push the Limits of Design

from CTBUH Global News

Jan 21

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai climbed higher than any other previous structure ever built. But architects won’t rest there. Here are eight building plans trying to capture the title as the next tallest tower. Top 8 Skyscrapers that will push the limits of design: Burj Mubarak al Kabir, One Dubai, Miapolis, Nakheel Tower…more

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