This week at TreeHugger: A Toronto architect proposes an infrastructure of elevated cycle tracks called "Velo-city" that creates a totally tubular bicycle network across the city. We drool over a jaw-dropping new three-wheeled hybrid concept car that gets 330 mpg and will cost less than $20,000, and debate the plausibility of such a concept ever becoming reality. Plus, you're very own residential solar power system can be affordable and easy to use, thanks to a New Jersey company whose goal is to make their customers' electricity bills at least 10% lower. Lastly, take a peek at Samsung's SilverCare Washing Machine, which generates silver ions to disinfect washwater and clothes and produces an anti-bacterial coating on your clothing that inhibits the growth of germs for up to one month.
"Velo-city" is a high-design concept, in more ways than one. Architect Chris Hardwicke wants to build bicyclists their own elevated transportation artery that would be "a high speed, all season, pollution free, ultra-quiet transit system that makes people healthier." His proposal would amount to a network of tubes that act as express lanes; they wouldn't separate cyclists from the city but would instead act like subways, moving people efficiently to hubs where they re-enter the city streets. Hardwicke thinks that because of the safety and the weather protection, people afraid of city cycling might do it instead of driving, and because of the increase in efficiency, people not quite as fit as the usual urban cyclist might give it a try. We think we'll just have to wait and see...
This three-wheeler isn't your typical tricycle. The Aptera is a two-seat serial (bio)diesel hybrid that gets 330 mpg. Built almost entirely of lightweight composites, its 0.055-0.06 drag coefficient is miniscule compared to the 0.26 sported by Toyota's Prius, and it sure does look cool. But this futuristic ride, for all of its relative merits, would get squashed like a bug if it ever did battle with today's road-hogging SUVs. So will such mega-efficient cars ever see the light of a showroom? This question inspires us to delve into the details of the American love affair with big rigs, what it would take to level the playing field and the the paradigm change that concepts such as these may just inspire.
In addition to providing the equipment, design, and installation, Sun Farm Network offers financing that eliminates up-front cost, and support programs that make solar power easy. Customers pay for their solar equipment out of the cost savings realized through reduced utility bills. Sun Farm's stated goal is to make their customers' equivalent cost of solar electricity at least 10% less than what they would ordinarily pay in utility bills. This is great news for people who live in New Jersey, where Sun Farm exclusively operates, but kind of a bummer for the rest of us. Our ever-diligent readers are happy to report, though, that there are options for the rest of us which will help bring cheap, renewable power to the masses.
Finally, Samsung's SilverCare Washing Machine uses chemistry to help get funky bacteria and microbes out of your clothes. It generates silver ions to disinfect washwater and clothes and produces an anti-bacterial coating on your clothing that inhibits the growth of germs for up to one month. So how does that work, exactly? Well, through electrolization, 400 billion nano-sized silver ions are emitted, directly penetrating into fabrics during the wash and final rinse cycles, creating an anti-bacterial and sterilization effect on clothes. We aren't sure we need to get our clothes that clean, but it sure is an interesting design feature, helpful for things like babies clothes, extra delicate shirts or even lingerie that can t be washed with hot water. Now if only there were a gadget to prevent the Dryer Monster from stealing socks...
Treehugger s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.