‘Liquid windows’ inspired by squid skin could help buildings react to changing environments, save on energy costs

By Tyler Irving

Prototypes designed and built at U of T Engineering contain several layers of channels, each of which contain fluids with various optical properties. By pumping the fluids in and out of the channels, the system can optimize the type, quantity and distribution of light passing through. (Artist’s impression courtesy Raphael Kay, Adrian So) 

U of T Engineering researchers have developed a multilayered fluidic system that can reduce the energy costs of heating, cooling and lighting buildings by optimizing the wavelength, intensity and dispersion of light transmitted through windows.

The platform was inspired by the dynamic colour-changing skin of organisms such as squid. Compared with existing technologies, it offers much greater control while keeping costs low due to its use of simple, off-the-shelf components.

“Buildings use a ton of energy to heat, cool and illuminate the spaces inside them,” says recent graduate Raphael Kay (MIE MASc 2T2), lead author on a new paper published in PNAS.

“If we can strategically control the amount, type and direction of solar energy that enters our buildings, we can massively reduce the amount of work that we ask heaters, coolers and lights to do.”

Continue reading… “‘Liquid windows’ inspired by squid skin could help buildings react to changing environments, save on energy costs”

A Swiss company says it has pulled CO2 out of the atmosphere and stored it underground

Collector containers at the “Orca” direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland.


Climeworks says a third-party auditor has verified its carbon removal for Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify.

Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify are officially the first companies in the world to pay to filter their carbon dioxide emissions out of the air, store those emissions underground, and have that service verified by a third party. Climate tech company Climeworks announced yesterday that it had completed the service, and its third-party verification of the carbon removal marks a first for the emerging industry.

In 2021, Climeworks opened up the world’s largest direct air capture (DAC) plant, called Orca, which essentially filters carbon dioxide out of the ambient air. That captured carbon is then supposed to be trapped in basalt rock formations permanently, keeping the greenhouse gas from lingering in our atmosphere and heating up the planet. 

The tech sort of mimics what forests and trees do naturally when they take in and store carbon dioxide, a process companies have attempted to exploit for years as a way to “offset” their carbon dioxide emissions. But forest offsets have a track record of failing to result in any real-world reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. That quality control problem makes verifying carbon removal from new direct air capture facilities crucial. 

That quality control problem makes verifying carbon removal from new direct air capture facilities crucial.

Continue reading… “A Swiss company says it has pulled CO2 out of the atmosphere and stored it underground”

Water-splitting device solves puzzle of producing hydrogen direct from seawater


A combined desalination–electrolysis system that can produce green hydrogen directly from seawater has been developed by a team in China. This integrated process uses a low-energy method to purify seawater, making it one of the first viable approaches to use salt water as a source of hydrogen. The purification step uses phase transitions to remove impurities and could have additional applications in wastewater treatment and resource recovery.

Splitting water with electricity has been experimented with for over 200 years and the reactions involved are well-understood: at the cathode, H+ ions gain electrons to form hydrogen gas whilst OH- loses electrons at the anode to form oxygen. But despite the simplicity of the underlying chemistry, effective electrolysis is a particularly complicated process. Water splitting is thermodynamically unfavourable and requires both specifically designed catalytic electrodes and a significant input of energy to drive the reaction. Even trace impurities can damage the delicate structure of the cell, leading to membrane pores becoming blocked, expensive electrodes corroded and unwanted byproducts formed.

Chloride ions in seawater are a particular problem and undergo competing oxidation at the anode to produce chlorine. Not only does this side reaction reduce the electrochemical efficiency of the cell, but chlorine is an extremely corrosive gas which rapidly degrades the electrodes and inactivates the cell. ‘Approaches to suppress corrosion by coating catalysts have had modest success,’ explains Heping Xie, an energy chemist at Shenzhen University in China. ‘But the composition of seawater changes [with] location, season [and] human behaviour so electrolysers can’t be universally compatible.’ With an average salt concentration of around 3.5%, the chloride content of seawater makes direct electrolysis unfeasible.

Continue reading… “Water-splitting device solves puzzle of producing hydrogen direct from seawater”

This New Hydrogen-Powered Sailing Catamaran Cruises Emissions Free While Generating Its Own Fuel

The 80-footer will also feature Sunreef’s patented “solar skin”— which will see the world’s lightest solar cells fully integrated into the bodywork. 


Sunreef Yachts has been at the forefront of eco-innovation in the marine world for the past two decades. It’s not exactly surprising, then, that the Polish yard announced another groundbreaking project at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show.

Sunreef’s founder and president Francis Lapp took the stage to share that the team was recently commissioned to build an 80-foot sailing catamaran that will combine hydrogen power and electric propulsion to achieve “unrivaled autonomy for a new level of eco-conscious cruising.”

According to Lapp, hydrogen will be used to power both the cat’s appliances and electric motors. The 80-footer will also feature Sunreef’s patented photovoltaic system—sometimes referred to as a “solar skin”— which will see the world’s lightest solar cells fully integrated into the composite bodywork. This allows the cat to generate clean, green energy from the sun and then store it in the built-in batteries. Sunreef’s R&D department is currently developing a system that will use this solar power to produce hydrogen onboard. That means you could eventually sail the high seas silently and sans emissions while generating your own fuel. Not bad.

Continue reading… “This New Hydrogen-Powered Sailing Catamaran Cruises Emissions Free While Generating Its Own Fuel”

A new AI-made enzyme can devour plastics in hours instead of centuries

By  Derya Ozdemir

Here is a truth that you literally cannot run away from: plastic is, simply, everywhere.

From toothbrushes to disposable coffee lids, plastic has made its way into every part of our lives. It’s incredibly useful because it’s durable; however, the flip side is that it’s also really hard to get rid of, which is why it’ll continue to be a part of our lives for hundreds of years to come.

Continue reading… “A new AI-made enzyme can devour plastics in hours instead of centuries”

Anglo American Unveils World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck Prototype

By Charné Hundermark

Global mining company Anglo American has launched a prototype of the world’s largest hydrogen-fueled mining truck at the Mogalakwena Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) mine in South Africa. Representing part of the company’s nuGen Zero Emission Haulage Solution – an end-to-end integrated green hydrogen production, fueling and haulage system for mine sites developed by the company’s FutureSmart Mining program – the truck marks a significant step towards improving sustainable mining operations both in South Africa and globally.

In the presence of H.E. Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa, Anglo American unveiled a 2 MW hydrogen-battery hybrid truck that is designed to operate in everyday mining conditions. Anglo American plans to replace the company’s 40 diesel-powered fleet with green hydrogen systems, reducing emissions and ensuring that eight of the company’s mines reach carbon neutrality by 2030. With a capacity to carry up to 315 tons of ore each, solar power will be utilized by a hydrogen electrolyzer that will split water and provide hydrogen fuel.

Continue reading… “Anglo American Unveils World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck Prototype”

‘Game-changing’ tech can extract 99% of carbon dioxide directly from the air

The fuel cell could be a ‘game changer’, researchers believe.

By Rob Waugh

A new system powered by hydrogen can capture 99% of carbon dioxide (CO2) from air, according to scientists.

Researchers at University of Delaware said the breakthrough, in a device the size of a soft drink can, could be a “significant advance” for CO2 capture.

It could also lead to more efficient fuel cells for use in cars.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the new technologies that scientists hope will play an important role in tackling the climate crisis.

It involves the capture of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels in power generation, which is then stored underground.

The Delaware research team, led by Professor Yushan Yan, reported its method in Nature Energy.

Fuel cells work by converting fuel chemical energy directly into electricity and are used in hybrid or zero-emission vehicles.

Continue reading… “‘Game-changing’ tech can extract 99% of carbon dioxide directly from the air”


Although not a direct replacement for concrete, hempcrete has many benefits as a building material.

By Nate Berg

It has become almost a cliché to discuss the benefits of hemp, the supposed wonder plant with almost endless uses— from woven fibers to edible seeds to bioplastics. “Of course, hemp is that magic crop that does everything,” says Nicholas Carter, an environmental researcher who, along with Tushar Mehta, a Toronto-based doctor, runs the website Plant Based Data. His work involves reading through scientific papers and studies and summarizing the most important work supporting plants as a source of food and other important uses. Given the hype, Carter wondered just how much power hemp really had. “I wanted to see the research out there on it, to see what’s actually real, what’s actually backed by evidence,” he says.

Magic? Not exactly. But Carter came away from his attempted debunking a hemp believer. And one of the most promising of its many uses, he found, is its application as a building material known as hempcrete.

Like its namesake concrete, hempcrete is a material mixed with a binder that hardens it into a solid in the form of blocks and panels. Made from the dried woody core of hemp stalks and a lime-based binder, hempcrete can be cast just like concrete. But unlike concrete and its binding cement, which accounts for about 8% of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions annually, hempcrete actually sequesters CO2. According to a recent study, hempcrete can sequester 307 kilograms of CO2 per cubic meter (19 pounds per cubic foot), roughly the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of three refrigerators.


Israeli Start-Up Creates Robotic Beehives To Support Dwindling Bee Colonies

Bharat Sharma

By Bharat Sharma

An Israeli startup has done the unthinkable by creating an artificial beehive to facilitate stable bee colonies under ideal conditions.

The next-gen hive which constitutes multiple layers of honeycombs can house up to 2 million bees… and that’s not it!

The robotic set-up also scans beehives for diseases, pesticides, and other hazards that may pose a threat to the gentle creatures.

On multiple occasions, scientists have highlighted how dwindling populations of bees threaten existing ecosystems on planet Earth.

In the face of new dangers posed by climate change clubbed with receding natural habitats for organisms, beekeepers are trying out new ways to preserve existing populations of bees. 

Continue reading… “Israeli Start-Up Creates Robotic Beehives To Support Dwindling Bee Colonies”

This Solar-Powered Robot Is Basically a Beach Cleaning Roomba

4ocean partners with Poralu Marine for a more effective way to clear up trash.

The plastic pollution crisis has no doubt devastated ocean ecosystems worldwide. With a continual rise in trash and litter on shorelines, 4ocean has partnered with Poralu Marine to create an effective and sustainable solution for beach cleanups.

The BeBot is essentially a solar-powered, beach cleaning robot specifically designed to recover any coastal plastic debris The electric-powered bot can clean up to 3,000 sqm of beach per hour, making it 20 to 30 times more efficient than cleaning the trash on the beach by hand. Easy to manoeuver and operate, the BeBot can be operated from 950 feet away.

Continue reading… “This Solar-Powered Robot Is Basically a Beach Cleaning Roomba”

Hyundai’s experimental hydrogen-powered trucks are America-bound

The fleet just reached a big milestone

Hyundai’s fleet of hydrogen-powered truck prototypes reached a significant milestone in Europe in June 2021. With a successful testing phase comes a tremendous amount of data, and the information gathered during 11 months of real-world evaluation across the pond will ultimately help the firm design a truck sized for American roads.

Real-world users have collectively put 1 million kilometers (about 621,400 miles) on the 46 trucks that Hyundai built for testing purposes, meaning each rig has covered an average of around 13,500 miles. They’re in the hands of 25 different companies operating in Switzerland, including some in the logistics, distribution, and supermarket sectors. So far, users have been pleased: They praised the Xcient truck’s long driving range and short refueling times, attributes that a comparable electric model wouldn’t be able to offer. Specific figures weren’t released.

Hyundai will continue manufacturing the Xcient for early adopters in Switzerland. It plans to build 140 units of the truck for the Swiss market in 2021, and it hopes that number will grow to 1,600 by 2025. Starting the project in Switzerland was a decision that carried relatively few risks. It’s a country that’s roughly a tenth the size of California, and its road network is relatively well developed. Next, the South Korean company will branch out into other European countries. It hasn’t decided where yet, but it singled out Germany and Holland as likely candidates.

The trucks that Hyundai is letting loose on European roads are all rigid-body models, meaning the box is attached to the frame. Looking ahead, engineers hope to use the data gathered on the Old Continent to develop a semi truck (also called a tractor unit) that will be closer to the Freightliner and Peterbilt models that roam America’s highways. It’s no coincidence that these prototypes will be launched and tested in the United States.

Via Autoblog.com

Hyundai raises hydrogen game with new line of fuel-cell trucks

A new class of the Xcient Hyundai truck, equipped with more efficient fuel cells with longer life-span, is due to arrive in Europe in the fourth quarter, said Mark Freymueller, CEO of Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM).

And it’s not the only one taking steps in that direction.

FRANKFURT — South Korea’s Hyundai Motor plans to ship a new series of fuel-cell trucks to Europe later this year, turning up the heat on rivals in a battle to test the viability of hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport.

Hydrogen lags electric batteries in the green transport stakes because it is more expensive, but proponents say for long-haul transport hydrogen-powered trucks have the advantage because they have a greater range.

HHM, a joint venture between Hyundai and Swiss hydrogen company H2 Energy, has been renting out “green” hydrogen trucks to commercial clients in Switzerland since last October in the world’s most advanced pilot in the field.

HHM plans to go into other European countries next year. “Germany and the Netherlands are the most likely,” Freymueller told Reuters, adding there was also interest for pilots from Austria, Norway, France, Italy, Spain and Denmark.

Hyundai’s latest push will put more pressure on local players, which are developing their own hydrogen plans.

These include Germany’s Daimler with Sweden’s Volvo and Italy’s Iveco, a unit of Italian-American vehicle maker CNH Industrial, which is cooperating with low-emission truckmaker Nikola .

Hydrogen has come into the spotlight in Europe, where EU environment ministers want truck CO2 emissions cut by a third by 2030 from 2019 levels, threatening potential diesel bans and higher taxes but promising up to 75% of lower road tolls for greener vehicles.

Continue reading… “Hyundai raises hydrogen game with new line of fuel-cell trucks”
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