Monday, September 9, 2013

Inhabitat's Week in Green: underwater Discus Hotel, mold-detecting bowl and a terrarium for edible insects

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Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Inhabitat's Week in Green

By now "reinventing the wheel" has become a tired euphemism -- but that's exactly what skateboarder David Patrick did when he created the SharkWheel, a cube-shaped wheel that's surprisingly smoother and faster than conventional skateboard wheels. Patrick isn't the only inventor to challenge conventions this week, though. In an effort to develop a more sustainable source of protein, designer Mansour Ourasanah developed a terrarium for growing edible insects in your home. That invention might be a tough sell for some people, but this one is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: English telecommunications company Vodafone unveiled a sleeping bag that uses body heat to charge your gadgets as you sleep and a pair of shorts that harness kinetic energy to charge your cellphone. Meanwhile architect Richard Moreta Castillo unveiled plans for a solar-powered, man-made island that will clean up the ocean while generating renewable energy, and Tokyo installed an impressive bicycle elevator that can store as many as 144 bikes underground.

Three years ago, a team of architects, artists and engineers teamed up to create the Exbury Egg, a self-sustaining, floating office in England. The egg-shaped pod was finally completed last month, and it looks pretty amazing. In other architecture news, London-based design firm Baharash Architecture has been selected to design a massive green residential community in Dubai that will be powered by 600,000 square feet of solar cells. Vincent Callebaut just unveiled plans for the Swallow's Nest, a new zero-energy cultural center in Taiwan that will be shaped like a Möbius ring. Dutch architecture firm MVRDV completed an impressive renovation of a Seoul eyesore, transforming it into a modernist icon that glows from within with colorful LED lights. And Deep Ocean Technology received the green light to move ahead with construction on its underwater Discus Hotel in the Maldives.

In what could prove to be a major breakthrough for renewable energy, a team of scientists in Australia has developed a way to turn seawater into hydrogen, effectively generating a virtually unlimited clean energy source. Mongolia's first major wind energy project, which consists of 31 turbines, just switched online for the first time, hopefully marking the start of a new trend in the windswept country. Wind energy company McCamley has developed a new solar / wind turbine that generates energy from both the wind and sun, and in an effort to replace hazardous kerosene wick lamps, the company d.light has created a series of affordable solar LED lamps for people in rural Asia and Africa.

Bad news for coffee drinkers: A disease known as coffee rust fungus is spreading across coffee plantations in Central America, threatening to wipe out coffee crops. Chodha designed a brilliant mold-detecting bowl that can tell you when your fruit is beginning to go rotten. In 3D printing news, the company Bespoke Innovations has developed a line of beautiful 3D-printed custom covers for prosthetic legs that do away with the one-size-fits-all mentality. And NYC officials have introduced a bill that calls for regulating the production of 3D-printed guns. Things are getting desperate as bee populations continue to dwindle. To address the problem, researchers at Washington State University are creating a bee sperm bank to help diversify the bee gene pool. And a reminder: Don't forget to enter Inhabitat's latest giveaway for a chance to win a $400 electric composter from NatureMill.



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