Inhabitat's Week in Green: GO pop-up camper, coconut carbon water filter and all-electric superbikes
It's difficult to think about winter in the middle of a very hot summer, but if you live in Norway, winter never seems too far off. There, engineers have come up with a creative solution for the lack of winter sunlight by setting up a cluster of large mirrors to direct natural light toward the town of Rjukan, which sits in a valley. In the US, scientists are developing new techniques to harvest the power of the sun, as a team of researchers from the University of Maryland has developed a long-lasting battery that's made from wood. 3D printers are capable of amazing feats, but a new study finds they release a high amount of ultrafine particles into the air, which can be harmful if inhaled. Star Wars fans will be saddened to learn that migrating dunes in Tunisia are threatening to destroy one of the most famous filming locations captured in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. And in the week's most inexplicable example of environmental destruction, the US military dropped four bombs on the Great Barrier Reef as part of a training exercise.
On the transportation front, the numbers are in for the first half of 2013 -- and 100 percent electric cars are outselling plug-in hybrids by a wide margin in the US. For cyclists who want to take a break from pedaling on occasion, Rubbee unveiled a small electric motor that attaches right above the rear wheel of any bike. Mission Motorcycles announced this week that it will be rolling out a new pair of all-electric superbikes that can accelerate from zero to 60 in just three seconds. And the first hydrogen-powered fuel cell production vehicles will soon be arriving in the UK with the launch of the Hyundai ix35, which will be part of the larger London Hydrogen Network Expansion project.
The architecture world was buzzing this past week when reports announced the groundbreaking of Sky City, a prefab skyscraper that aims to be the world's tallest building. But by mid-week construction came to a halt due to safety concerns. In the UK, architect Laura Clark transformed an absolutely decrepit public restroom into a gorgeous single-family home. For Solar Decathlon China, Team Israel built an impressive solar-powered home that's inspired by ancient building traditions. And just in time for summer road trip season, SylvanSport unveiled its new lightweight GO pop-up camper, which comes equipped its own solar generator.
In other green tech news, this week the Israeli company Sol Chip revealed that researchers are working on developing the world's first everlasting solar battery. Engineers at Rice University invented a solar steam sterilization unit that uses the sun to sanitize human waste. As water becomes more scarce, water filters will become more valuable, so we were excited to learn about the WaterBean, a portable coconut carbon water filter that can fit inside any water bottle. British company Hospitality Umbrellas designed a new type of helmet-shaped umbrella called the Rainshader that is capable of withstanding 40 mph winds. In 3D printing news, artist Aki Inomata created a series of crystalline 3D-printed hermit crab shells that each feature mini skylines on them. MIT is set to launch OpenFab, a new type of software that is designed to make 3D printing easier and cheaper. And in a welcome bit of news for LEGO fans, the toy company is considering expanding its line of "minifigs" with female scientists -- including an astronomer, a paleontologist and a chemist.