This week at TreeHugger: Ray Bradbury is mad as hell about Los Angeles freeways, and he has one word for us all: monorail. After two years of research, Italian designers build a lamp that shines sunlight into places without windows. In South Africa, researchers have developed a super-thin solar panel that is 5 microns thick; that's pretty skinny when compared to a human hair at 20 microns and silicon photovoltaic cells at 350 microns. Rock, paper, photo printing? That's right, we found an alternative to tree-based paper made from powdered limestone that's great for printing photos, and the accompanying discussion sparked quite a debate. Finally, for all Gizmodo readers in New York, we bring you the latest Green Apple Map, with information about power, energy impacts, conservation, and renewables, NYC-style.
Science fiction icon Ray Bradbury, in a recent editorial for the L.A. Times, extols the virtues of a monorail to solve Los Angeles glutted freeway system, and invokes images of what the city s transportation future holds. The freeways that were once a fast-moving way to get from one part of the city to another will become part of a slow-moving glacier, edging down the hills to nowhere. Sounds about right; surprisingly, L.A. had this info over forty years ago...
After two years of research, Italian designers Diego Rossi and Raffaele Tedesco created the Zeno light for Luceplan, which pipes sunlight into spaces bereft of windows. Optical conduits collect exterior light and convey it in a direct and controlled way to the fittings. It can also integrate other light sources into the design, like compact fluorescent bulbs, HID Metal-Halide and halogen lamps. The team is looking at technologies which will make it possible to distribute direct light from the sun and subdivide the cost of the system amongst the tenants of an apartment block.
It took over 10 years of research, led by Professor Vivian Alberts of the University of Johannesburg, to come up with this light-related technology. He and his team have developed a flexible, thin, metal alloy that is photo-responsive . This alloy results in solar panels that are only 5 microns thick (compared to a human hair at 20 microns, and silicon photovoltaic cells at 350 microns.) New storage devices and converters have been created alongside these new cells to store the collected energy. These new panels can generate electricity even during winter, not requiring direct sunlight to function; a standard family home would need around 30m/sq, about the size of a living room, of these solar panels to meet all its electricity demands.
Remember the Rosetta Stone, made in 196 B.C? It s still legible if you can find a cipher. Twenty two hundred years later, we have "rock paper", a newly-introduced computer photo printing paper made "tree-free" with powdered limestone as the major feedstock. Won't last as long as the Rosetta, but it's an improvement nonetheless. This leads us to ponder: "Do we really need to be printing photos these days?" The answer may surprise you.
Finally, the fifth New York City edition of the Green Apple Map was recently released. Titled The Powerful Green Map of NYC, it introduces you to great ways to get around, dine, recreate, work and live in an eco-efficient, green way. This incarnation of the map is devoted to exploring energy impacts, conservation, and renewables. Says Wendy E. Brawer, Founding Director of Green Map System: "We expect the new Powerful Green Map to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers." Get a printed, PDF or poster version and start using the power of green.
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.