At Inhabitat, we've always got an ear to the ground listening for the latest innovations in the world of green technology, but the world's best designs are often found in Mother Nature. From bullet trains to Velcro, this week we looked at the various ways designers have found design inspiration in nature to solve human problems. We also looked at some of the ways scientists and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness the power of nature. One such example is the Sunportal, a new technology that uses pipes to deliver daylight anywhere in a building. German entrepreneur Gregor Schapers set up a solar oven system in El Sauz, Mexico that is being used to produce tortillas. And after a year sailing the seas, a wave-powered robot completed its journey across the Pacific Ocean this week, setting a new world record in the process.
In one of the week's most exciting renewable energy stories, UK-based renewable energy firm Blue Energy has unveiled plans to build a 155 MW solar power plant in Ghana, which will be the largest solar farm in Africa. A Chicago-based solar company just opened a rooftop solar plant the size of two football fields in Yonkers, NY, and a pair of renewable energy companies announced plans to develop a new urban algae demonstration project near Paris that will include flat-paneled algae harversters mounted on the façade of a building.
Car makers are also doing their part to curb carbon emissions and make cars safer. Mercedes-Benz debuted its latest concept vehicle, the fuel cell-powered Ener-G-Force, at the LA Auto Show this week. Toyota announced that it is looking into new magnesium-ion batteries, which would provide a longer driving range than lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. GM announced that Chevy Volt owners have driven over 100 million miles in electric vehicles in the past two years, and Volvo is developing accident-avoiding, self-driving cars for 2020. In other green transportation news, the fuel-efficient Aeros airship is nearing completion, and designer Mike Lubrano reimagined the DeLorean as a yellow NYC taxi cab.
With December in full swing, we've been getting into the holiday spirit. This week, we checked out six wonders of the world made of gingerbread, but top honors for gingerbread house construction has to go to Melodie Dearden, who produced a perfect pastry replica of Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house. We checked out the swirling LED installations in Madrid produced by Italian designer Teresa Sapey, as well as artist Sébastien Preschoux's light-filled wooden structures in Paris. The White House erected its greenest Christmas tree yet, which is dressed with 450 strands of LED Christmas lights and 120 star-shaped LED ornaments. And if you're looking for a Christmas bonus, don't forget to enter to win a Sprout watch worth $80.