Liquidity Nanotech is trying to change the world. But for once, the cliché could actually be applicable. The company is launching today onstage at Disrupt NY 2015 with the Naked Filter, a consumer water bottle with its proprietary water-filtration membrane built-in.
Liquidity doesn’t look like an average startup. Built on over 15 years of patented university research, the team is a… Read More
Instead of water wings and inner tubes, Dennis and Danielle McClung’s backyard pool in Mesa, Arizona, is filled with tomato plants, grape vines and wheat. There’s a chicken coop and a fish pond, and the food that comes out of the pool, from tilapia to tomatoes, feeds the McClung family of five. It’s a system that took a few frustrating failures to perfect, but now the McClungs hope to take swimming-pool farming international.
When the McClungs bought the foreclosed home in 2009, the backyard was a suburban wasteland with a cracked, concrete, in-ground pool. “The real estate agent told us we had to do something about the pool, but he didn’t give us a good option,” Dennis says. “So we figured we could turn it in to a greenhouse.”
garden pool 1The McClungs has some farming and building experience — Dennis worked on a dairy farm and at Home Depot, and Danielle grew up on small farm in Ohio — and they’d been trying to become as self-sufficient as possible. But they’d never started their own growing operation. Unintimidated, and with no interest in swimming, Dennis drew up a model and two days after they moved in they started framing up a greenhouse in the pool.
It’s hard enough to grow grass in the desert, much less greens, but the McClungs have made it work, using a tenth of the water traditional agriculture uses. They’ve turned the pool into a closed-loop aquaponic farm that they call Garden Pool. All the parts are linked — it’s almost Rube Goldberg-esque in its connections — to create an ecosystem that’s almost entirely self-sustaining and thrives in Mesa’s harsh climate.
The McClungs get most of their food out of the pool (they’ll take their kids out for pizza occasionally) and they’re trying to share the wealth. They’ve started a non-profit and become authorities on closed-loop farming in arid areas. They’ve built pools in Haiti, as well as in their community, and they’ve turned their house and yard into a permaculture lab.
swimming pool garden 2It starts with a pond — in their case, the deep end of the pool — which is full of tilapia and duckweed. Chickens roost over the pond, dropping excrement for fertilizer and eating the duckweed. Water from the fishpond is pumped into hydroponic beds where they grow everything from wheat to sweet potatoes in low-moisture coconut coir (A growing medium made from the fibers of the coconut husk, which holds water well in dry climates). Then the water is recycled back into the pond.
Solar panels on the roof of the house power the pump and collect rainwater for the pond. “There are outside inputs; people will say, ‘you’re getting solar energy from the sun, Dennis!’ but it’s pretty much closed loop,” Dennis says.
It’s taken them a while to dial in the system. They started with container gardens in the pool, which scorched almost immediately in the Arizona heat. From there, they experimented with different kind of hydroponic setups and soil mixtures. At one point, they were keeping things cool with a giant swamp cooler. “We spent a lot of time falling on our faces,” Dennis says. “We’d put one fire out with another.” Through trial and error they’ve found that chicken excrement creates an ideal algae bloom for fish food, and that duckweed oxygenates the pond and keeps the chickens fed. They’ve learned that sweet potatoes grow well without soil, but that they have to plant fruit trees outside of the pool.
pool garden 3They’ve turned their pool from a suburban water-suck into a densely fertile mini-farm. It’s easily replicable and is ideal in arid places such as Arizona because it uses such a small amount of water.
People in the neighborhood were curious and began coming by to check out the pool. To spread the word, the McClungs started a MeetUp group. It now has more than a thousand members. They’ve developed a big volunteer network to help build new Garden Pools. Dennis says that about a third of them are installed in actual pools, and that they dig ponds for the rest. With a volunteer team they can build one in about a day.
McClung is a perpetual tinkerer, and the Garden Pool has become something of a science experiment. He’s testing soil in the front yard and growing fruit on the roof. In addition to the circular aquaponic system, which he’s continually tweaking, he has designed a UV water sterilizer that’s housed in a five-gallon bucket.
As the Formula One season ends, a new series takes its place — but instead of internal combustion engines, these new cars pack lithium-ion batteries and motors that sound like TIE Fighters.
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — The first thing you notice at the second race of the inaugural Formula E season is not the searing tropical heat. If you’ve ever attended a Formula 1 race or seen it on TV, you’d be familiar with the blistering jet-engine roar that comes from the internal combustion engines of its superfast racing cars.
That noise, however, is conspicuously absent from the track here. “Star Wars” fans might find the sound of the powerful McLaren electric motors resembles the hum of a TIE Fighter’s engines, or the loud whine of podracers from “Phantom Menace.”
But as futuristic as it sounds, it’s not very loud. Based on specs provided by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which governs the Formula E and Formula 1 races, each Spark-Renault SRT_01 E has an output of just 80 decibels. A normal petrol-powered car rolling down the street checks out at a slightly softer 70dbs.
To make up for the lack of noise most people expect from a Formula-type race, Formula E has an EJ, a helmeted mascot DJ who mixes up music tracks to complement the experience. There didn’t seem to be any speakers placed around placed around the short 2.5km track — so it was relatively quiet, apart from the hum of the Formula E cars as they zoomed around the track
Unlike the Formula 1 races, the Formula E event doesn’t take place across a whole weekend, and the concerts and many thousands of spectators that help drive the Formula 1 buzz are missing. Clearly the newness of the event is a factor, but also it seems rather disadvantaged by the location, Putrajaya, which is 25km (15 miles) away from Malaysia’s bustling capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
Putrajaya, a planned city with a population of a mere 68,000 residents, was designed to house the country’s civil servants and plays host to the nation’s ministries. Given the travel distance and shortness of the event, it looked like turnout was less than ideal on race day, but for those watching the race on TV, it was an exciting one with crashes and filled with drama — the safety car was deployed almost right from the get-go due to an accident on the opening lap.
Qualifying and the race happen on the same day, with the main event being only a little over an hour and spanning 31 laps. There are a total of 10 teams and 20 drivers, with two cars per team. Nine races have been scheduled so far, with the last taking place in London in June next year. Instead of fuel, the cars are powered by a 200kg 28kW/h lithium-ion battery, and drivers have to hop into a new, fully charged car midway through the race.
While the race cars are capable of hitting 225kmh (140mph), in race mode, power gets throttled from 200kw to 150kw to ensure that the cars have sufficient energy for around 15 to 16 laps. Each 888kg (around 2,000 pounds) Spark-Renault SRT_01 E car takes about 50 minutes to charge to full.
To keep things interesting, Formula E has introduced a FanBoost button that allows a 5-second increase of power during the race from 150kW to 180kW. Fans get to vote on the driver who gets to use this Mario Kart-style powerup via social media.
The FanBoost toggle can be quite an important part of the race, as all the cars for the first season of the Formula E share the same components, thus the extra increase in power can help increase the lead or with overtaking. Here in Malaysia, Bruno Senna used it to take fourth place, before unfortunately ending up in a wall on his last lap.
The race was won by Britain’s Sam Bird, driving for Virgin Racing, who managed to eke 19 laps out of his first car’s battery, the longest of any driver.
Formula E prides itself on the its minimal eco footprint — the energy powering the car batteries comes from glycerin generators. Glycerin is a sweet non-toxic sugar alcohol compound made as a byproduct of biodiesel. According to Formula E, a single generator is capable of powering all 40 cars in the event.
Furthermore, instead of multiple tire changes, all Formula E cars are restricted to one set of tires per race, and Michelin, the tire supplier, will recycle the used tires for use in childrens’ playgrounds in each city the ePrix takes place.
And because the cars are all electric-powered, there are no lingering fumes after the race, keeping the air clean — apart from the smell of burnt rubber.
Besides the electric racing cars, Formula E also uses the electric-powered BMW i3 and i8 as safety vehicles, but instead of leaving them plugged into the power point for charging, both automobiles have been modified to use Qualcomm’s Halo, a wireless charging technology designed for domestic cars.
Halo isn’t new — back in 2012, Qualcomm had already shown off its inductive system, which works by simply parking a car equipped with a receiver plate over the charging pad. The Halo system at the Formula E event utilizes the same technology, but is significantly more refined and handles up to 20kW of power.
Of course, most homes won’t exactly be able to charge a car at 20kW, so Halo supports a more standard 3.3kW. If your power grid can handle it, there’s also a 6.6kW option. To some some sense of these numbers, the BMW i3 requires 6 hours for a full charge on the 3.3kW system, while only needing 3 hours or so when charged at 6.6kW.
If you’re worried about loss of power through wireless charging, Qualcomm says Halo is as efficient or even better than using a power cable. Halo comes with ancillary systems that detects heartbeats in the vicinity and shuts down the charging, in the event that the family pet decides to take a nap on the charging pad.
In the future, Qualcomm hopes to put charging pads on the roads to charge the car on the go, but it may be a few years before you even see this used in a Formula E race.
The future of electric car racing
Besides being something for motorsports fans to watch while the Formula 1 season takes a break, Formula E hopes the technology from its race cars will trickle down into commercial vehicles. It’s a logical step, but there’s more to that — Formula E is hoping its advanced tech will attract a different crowd.
At a press conference held a day before the race, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag told reporters the race series was designed to attract a younger audience — hence the social-media friendly FanBoost gimmick. There were also plans to distribute free tickets to school children to get them to watch the race.
“We want the kids to be fans of Formula E — when they turn 18 and buy a car, it will be electric,” he said.
Graeme Davison, Qualcomm’s vice president of technologies and someone who has been working closely with Formula E, mentioned air pollution as the one of the factors he hopes electric vehicles will solve. Citing research done by the World Health Organization, Davison pointed out that total global number of vehicles will increase from 1.1 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050.
“All that congestion and pollution we’re living with today in the major cities, if we don’t do anything it’s just going to get worse and worse,” he said. “Health costs are an enormous amount of drain on major cities. If you think about respiratory and pollution related problems — asthma in young children continues to grow at a terrible rate, and that’s all triggered by pollution in the cities.
“If we as a population on this planet don’t do something, we’re going to continue to create these meltdown scenarios in the cities.”
Meet Derby, a shelter dog born with deformed front legs who recently did something he was never expected to do: run.
Tara Anderson came across Derby’s story on animal rescue website Peace And Paws and says she knew she had to do something.
“I kept looking at his photo and reading his story, and I cried literally every time,” Anderson, said in a viral video that’s been viewed more than 4 million times. “I had to try to help this dog.”
Anderson agreed to foster Derby, and she got him a cart so he could move around.
However, the bulky cart still limited his mobility, so Anderson, an employee of 3D Systems in Rock Hill, South Carolina, presented the problem to her team at work and they decided to build the dog a set of prosthetic legs.
They wanted Derby to be able to run, so they designed loop-shaped legs to prevent the dog from sinking into the ground, and they set the legs low, so wearing the prosthetics wouldn’t be too drastic of a change for Derby.
Once the legs were designed, Anderson’s team used a 3-D printer to make the legs.
While office printers apply ink to paper, 3-D printers “print” with plastic, creating thin layers that meld together into a complete, three-dimensional object.
The devices have been used to create everything from guns to homes, and there are even 3-D food printers that create entire meals.
Recently, 3-D printing has been explored as a potential way to cheaply manufacture prosthetic limbs. Scans of a patient’s limb can be saved in a computer, preventing them from having to get a new mold as they grow.
Derby took to his new legs quickly, which amazed Anderson and Derby’s new adoptive parents, Sherry and Dom Portanova.
“I don’t become impressed very quickly, but when I saw him sprinting like that, it was amazing,” Dom said.
Today, Derby is running 2 to 3 miles with his owners every day, and Dom says he’s even faster than they are.
Imagine that the huge amount of old printed office paper we waste every day, that can be turned into educational eco books for children. For this reason we created Permie the Puma an eco friendly coloring book for children, for them to learn how to care of the Planet wile having fun!
This is one of João Tomaz a senior graduated designer dream and his passion for the environment in turning valuable resources into innovative design products.
He passed the last month planing and working on this inspiring project.
Hands to work! Tomaz took this idea into a reality, created a passionate character illustrated by the talented Rita Balixa. He put all his skills into this campaign from motion graphics editing to his passion for good ecological design!
You can be the first one on this giveaway follow this link – bit.ly/EcoPuma
Recycling paper helps reduce carbon emissions and it’s very abundant material, but the mostly important contributes directly to saving the forests!
Did you know that 50% of office waste going to landfills is paper? We have a better way to transform old printed paper into great eco books for kids!
This can be a breakthrough in future printing and get the younger generations used to this material for their own well being!
When humans decimated wolf populations, the idea was that farmers would no longer lose sheep and other livestock to the dog-like predators. But that horribly backfired, a new study has recently found.
Looking at 25 years of data, a group of researchers from Washington State University found that more livestock died when wolves were getting culled. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it turns out that for each wolf killed, the chances of a sheep getting killed rises by 4 percent and the chances of cattle getting killed increases by 5 to 6 percent.
“Livestock lobbyists are pretty much vehemently opposed to my research,” Rob Wielgus, one of the lead researchers, told the New York Times. “But in terms of hard science, it stood the test.”
Back in the 70’s the gray wolf was listed as endangered. It took more than 30 years for the wolves to recover, and lethal population control continues to be the primary method for protecting livestock. Killing wolves breaks up wolf packs, which disrupts the general trend of more mature breeding pairs stopping younger wolves from breeding. With all the killings, researchers suspect there are more young breeding pairs with less disciplined wolves. Put simply, killing wolves inadvertently increases their populations.
The reality is, wolves don’t account for most livestock deaths. In fact, they only account for 0.1 to 0.6 percent of deaths. Other predators, disease and birthing are all greater threats. It might be time to look for different solutions, like guard dogs, better livestock security and more people watching over herds.
Intricacies is a forthcoming book of collaborative illustrations between artists Christina Mrozik and Zoe Keller. The black and white drawings of birds, intertwined anatomical studies, and other bits of wildlife stitched with hints of narrative were inspired in part by the rural landscape surrounding their small art studio in Michigan. Each illustration represents 30-50 hours of combined drawing time, with some pieces passed back and forth multiple times between Keller and Mrozik before the piece was finished. The 64-page hardcover book is currently funding over on Kickstarter with just 3 days left.
The city of Toronto has its share of food deserts, mostly in the inner suburbs designed in the 50s around the idea that people could drive to the big supermarket. Now those areas have the highest levels of poverty and the poorest access to fresh food. That’s where this mobile food market comes in; it now brings fresh produce at good prices to the people most in need. Everybody pitched in; the Toronto Transit Commission donated a wheel-trans bus designed to carry people in wheelchairs, so it is accessible to everyone.
“This is what we love and motivates us about architecture,” offers Mr. Goodman, who also worked on the converted shipping containers that now make up Market 707 at Scadding Court Community Centre. “It’s not what the particular design is, but more about the critical issue: Can we use our skill to make our city and community a better place to live in.” …. “Good food is beautiful when displayed well, so when we decided we wanted this to be a feature we worked out the mechanism so one person could fold out the shelves, restock as necessary and display the food so it was attractive.”
The kind of planning that puts towers in a park and a supermarket a couple of miles away makes it difficult for anyone to get by without a car. It’s a shame that these food deserts exist and this this bus is needed, that we have to bus food around like this. But it’s nicely done. Dave Leblanc notes:
When parked and fully merchandized, you hardly see the bus. Instead, it’s a visual feast of cascading bins of leafy lettuce, onions and berries, and more exotic fare such as okra or yuca (cassava) to reflect the wide range of ethnicities the bus serves.
British photographer Russell Savory captured this amazing shot earlier this summer of an owl flying directly toward his camera. With its wings pulled back, it looks like a hovering two-eyed spaceship. Though don’t let the perspective fool you, Savory was shooting from a distance with a 600mm telephoto lens.