Friday, March 07, 2008

Negative footprint?

I thought this was amazing...from Inhabitat:

The building’s aggressive approach to sustainability enables it to offer the lowest energy consumption per square meter for its class, one of the world’s largest integrated photovoltaic systems and the world’s largest solar thermal driven cooling and dehumidification system. The complex will utilize sustainable materials and feature integrated wind turbines, outdoor air quality monitors. Compared with typical mixed-use buildings of the same size, the Headquarters will consume 70 percent less water.

The kicker? "The Masdar Headquarters building outside of Abu Dhabi is also the first building in history to generate power for its own assembly, using a solar roof pier that will be built first to power the rest of the construction."


In a mostly unrelated vein... I've been reading about this for a while and I just noticed it's now open, the Svalbard Seed Bank. What an interesting idea.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in the permafrost in the mountains of Svalbard, is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections from around the globe. Many of these collections from developing countries are in developing countries. If seeds are lost, e.g. as a result of natural disasters, war or simply a lack of resources, the seed collections may be reestablished using seeds from Svalbard.

Within hours of the conclusion of the official opening ceremony of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the Vault was already in business. Some 268,000 seed samples containing more than 100 million individual seeds that represent the agriculture of 220 countries have already been catalogued, coded and moved into the Vault.. These seeds were sent to Svalbard from 20 different research institutes and national gene collections.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Morgan Life Car = Sex

What a gorgeous design for this concept:

Morgan Life Car on
First, summary from Ecogeek (first place I read it):

"Morgan, a luxury car company, has teamed up with the UK government and several leading universities to produce the Life Car, a high-performance, luxury, fuel cell vehicle with a zero-to-sixty time of 7 seconds and a top speed of 90 mph. Think "Tesla Roadster," but nicer and more expensive...and hydrogen-powered."

And a word from Inhabitat, of course (all the pictures came from there, FYI):
Instead of simply locating a large fuel cell to drive the engine, the team installed smaller, more compact fuel cells that can provide enough power for cruising. For accelerating purposes, the vehicle draws upon a row of ultracapacitors which are recharged by the braking system, at the very efficient rate of 50%

The power system sounds positively genius! But time for another pic...
Morgan Life Car from
From the manufacturers themselves:
Going far beyond the incremental adaptation of traditional car designs as seen in current hybrid vehicles, it will demonstrate that a new step in vehicle architecture is enabled by the use of a fuel cell hybrid power train. The approach is one of whole system design in which the architecture is generated from the characteristics of the fuel cell, in a light-weight vehicle coupled with a high hybridization level.

Quite an undertaking, for sure. Did you pay attention to the power plant inside of this thing? Small, multiple fuel cells and capacitors to store electricity... a likely combination in the coming years.

The design is amazing... but, in some ways, polarizing. Is everyone going to want a 2-seater? Is a 2-seater environmentally viable? Does everyone like the retro styling that's going on?

Morgan, possibly inadvertently, has made a sexy car that just is not going to work for a lot of people. Is that ok? It's REALLY OK, in fact, it's probably a great move. Appealing to a niche market like this lets them reach the kind of people that will not only feel honored to drive something like this but will likely put up with any shortcomings that it has. The technology they're talking about is not really up to mass production right now (or, said another way, commercially viable) but neither is the F1 racing technology that makes it into our cars after several years.

And, my favorite thing about it, the Life Car puts it out there that innovative, no/zero emission technology can prove to be BETTER than what it replaces. So many people seem to have this antiquated idea that there is no replacing the automobile as it stands... petroleum is too energy dense and cheap! Hydrogen is too expensive! The infrastructure! All of these are problems, there's no doubt about it, but the idea that we're all going to be driving egg-shaped, 1000 lb death pods at 35mph down the freeway in the future is just ridiculous... and short-sighted.

Bravo, chaps!