In José Saramago's novel Blindness, when an epidemic of sightlessness sweeps the city, among the foulest signs of civic breakdown is its inability to handle its own excrement. Human waste piles where it lands, left to the elements and not modern plumbing. To newly minted industrial designer Virginia Gardiner, we might as well be blind to our own waste. Her plumbing-free toilet project, the Gardiner CH4, makes us personally responsible for our intimate product—and makes it useful.
Soldiers may soon get greener rides on-base, after the U.S. Army announced the acquisition of 4,000 neighborhood electric vehicles.
The plug-and-chug vehicles come in both sedan and light truck models, and can charge their batteries at any three-pronged household outlet. Estimates put the savings over a six-year service lifetime at 11 million gallons of fuel, not to mention 115,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Two months ago, it was far from clear whether Detroit's Big 3 carmakers would even exist by the time their hometown auto show rolled around. Thanks to government funds they made it—and as a result, much of the Detroit show seemed to be a performance for Washington; an elaborate sales pitch for the continued relevance and potential solvency of the American auto industry. Hybrids, plug-ins, and pure electric cars, both real and vaporous, were central to that pitch. Meanwhile, Nissan, Infiniti, Porsche and Ferrari skipped town, and boutique electric-car makers Fisker and Tesla and the Chinese automakers BYD and Brilliance staked out sizable plots on the main showroom floor. Here's a selection of highlights.
The source of endless energy for all humankind resides just off Government Street in Burnaby, British Columbia, up the little spit of blacktop on Bonneville Place and across the parking lot from Shade-O-Matic blind manufacturers and wholesalers. The future is there, in that mostly empty office with the vomit-green walls -- and inside the brain of Michel Laberge, 47, bearded and French-Canadian.
These three projects will harness natural resources to powerful effect.
This resort town, population 11,000, plans to moor four 260-foot-tall turbines a mile and a half offshore, at a total cost of $40 million. Along with Hull's two existing onshore turbines, wind power could generate 14 megawatts, enough to supply energy to the entire community.
The builder says his goal was a noiseless plane that would fly as smoothly as a magic carpet.
John B. Carnett
In August, at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Randall Fishman's ElectraFlyer-C made a virtually silent pass over the audience at a mere 200 feet. What they were seeing (but not hearing) might be the world's first fully electric-powered airplane—representing, said one EAA official, "a groundbreaking technology that would be aviation's first true alternative to a fossil-fuel engine."
Trash is a stinky topic. With 130 million tons of it hitting landfills annually, it is the nation's largest human-caused producer of methane gas. And now, residents in Florida's St. Lucie County are turning that stench to gold. Or at least to gas. The county has paired up with Atlanta-based company Geoplasma to implement a plasma gasification plant.
The idea of using compressed air to propel a passenger car has been kicking around tech circles for years. Now, Luxembourg's Motor Development International SA (MDI) may have the first viable angle to launching a first wave of air cars: airport transportation. Behold the AirPod, a four-wheel, multipassenger minicar set to be built in Nice, France. It's one of the brainchildren of Guy Nègre, a former aeronautics and Formula One engineer who's been messing around with compressed-air technology in passenger cars for nearly two decades.