New Construction Materials… That Self-Repair?

Opening up a new field of design for construction technology, the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is envisioning futuristic materials that repair themselves. After recently launching the Engineered Living Materials (ELM) program, DARPA’s goal is to create a whole new class of construction materials. Imagine engineering living cellular systems into the structural features of traditional construction materials. The results might offer, for example, a driveway that eats oil spills; a chimney that cleans itself or heals…

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Reversible Concrete Allows for Easy Removal

Yes, you read the title correctly – reversible concrete! It seems like an oxymoron – concrete is known for its stability and strength, and its permanence. Well, not anymore! Last October at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Self-Assembly Lab at MIT and Gramazio Kohler Research of ETH Zurich showed off a process that might finally one-up concrete, using only a 3-D printing extruder, rocks, string, and smart design. The short, unscientific version is that the rocks are bound together by the…

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Scientists Developing Paint-On Coating For Energy Efficient Windows

US Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists are developing a new paint-on coating that will help building owners improve the energy efficiency of their windows, without the need for trained installers. “Instead of hiring expensive contractors, a homeowner could go to the local hardware store, buy the coating, and paint it on as a DIY retrofit—that’s the vision,” said Berkeley Lab scientist Raymond Weitekamp. “The coating will selectively reflect the infrared solar energy back to…

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Forests & Civilization – John Perlin Interview Series Part III: Forests Change the World

Thanks for stopping by Part III of this interview series conducted with John Perlin, author of “A Forest Journey: the Story of Wood and Civilization.” I believe this is an important book to read in understanding the history of deforestation and knowing the significant role forests have played in the survival of both our civilization and our environment. Perlin’s work, first published in 1989, was recently republished in a third edition. In the face of global climate change challenges, the…

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Paint Shield kills bacteria

Breakthrough Paint Has Ability To Kill Bacteria

A new paint from Sherwin-Williams boasts the ability to kill bacteria within two hours of contact with the painted surface.  It is the first EPA-registered microbicidal paint that continuously kills bacteria for up to four years after application. Paint Shield offers customers an important new tool to help prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).  Surfaces painted with Paint Shield kill greater than 99.9 percent of Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), E. coli (Escherichia coli),…

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Mushrooms Hold Key to Stormwater Treatment

Mycoremediation, the use of fungi to treat water and soil, could be the stormwater filter of the present and future.  A couple of projects in Portland, Oregon are putting the science to the test. According to Wikipedia, “one of the primary roles of fungi in the ecosystem is decomposition, which is performed by the mycelium. The mycelium secretes extracellular enzymes and acids that break down lignin and cellulose, the two main building blocks of plant fiber… The key to mycoremediation…

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New Tool to Improve Building Energy Efficiency Fits In Backpack

A group of scientists from University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new tool that measures a building’s dimensions, locates HVAC systems and ductwork, and maps out the location of electrical sources, all in an effort to improve building energy efficiency. When a building is slated for improvements, designers usually have to comb files to find old drawings or contact the original architect, if they are still in business.  If neither of these options pan out, they have to physically…

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3-D printing from Lowe's

Lowe’s Offers 3-D Printing Out of Any Material, Including Gold

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is now offering 3-D printing of household hardware items from a Lowe’s-owned Orchard Supply Store in Mountain View, California.  While 3-D printing is becoming more commonplace, it takes a certain knowledge to program a printer to create an item.  With Lowe’s new system, average homeowners are able to design and print their own ideas, no special knowledge required. Lowe’s service is meant to help customers with no knowledge of 3-D printing create something from scratch or from…

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The first power-to-gas plant in the US opened in California

First US Power-to-Gas Plants Open in California and Colorado

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is bringing science fiction to life, launching two demonstration projects to create and test a carbon-free, power-to-gas system for the first time ever in the U.S. The technology converts electricity into gaseous energy and could provide North America with a large-scale, cost-effective solution for storing excess energy produced from renewable sources. Using electrolyzer-based methods, the power-to-gas concept uses electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, to make carbon-free hydrogen gas by breaking…

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Beyond LEDs: Try Brighter Energy Saving Flat Panel Lights Based on Carbon Nanotubes

Moving forward from from incandescence to fluorescence to light-emitting diodes to carbon nanotubes! We are witnessing the inspiring evolution of lighting, all which translates to far greater energy efficiency and better living conditions. Take this news item, for instance, about carbon nanotubes in the quest for better lighting. Beyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubes Washington D.C., October 14, 2014 — Even as the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has enshrined light emitting diodes (LEDs)…

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