Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
As scientists and renewable-energy developers continue to make advances in solar and wind technology, it's becoming more apparent than ever that clean energy doesn't just represent the future -- it's also the present. Spain proved that this week, when the Mediterranean country announced that it produced an impressive 54 percent of its total energy in April from renewable sources. Researchers at Yale University discovered a way to boost the efficiency of solar cells by 38 percent simply by coating them with a fluorescent dye. In another promising development, scientists at the University of Georgia developed a way to harness the photosynthetic process to generate clean energy from plants. And at a conference in California, NRG unveiled a mini prefabricated solar canopy that could soak up rays in any garden or commercial lot.
Inhabitat has been gearing up for New York Design Week, which just kicked off. One of our favorite designs so far is Dog Tag Design's hilarious Darth Vader lamp, which is on display at BKLYN Designs. We also checked out Danielle Trofe's LED hourglass lamps, which are powered by falling sand, and Joe Doucet's black Hadron Lamp, which consists of a translucent membrane filled with thin electroluminescent wire. And as always, we'll be on the lookout for David Trubridge's new designs, including the Manuka lamp, which casts gorgeous overlapping star-shaped shadows on nearby surfaces.
3D-printing technology continues to surge ahead as the world's first 3D-printed gun was successfully fired in Texas last week, and in the days that followed, the blueprints for that gun were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the Pentagon scrubbed them from the internet. Researchers at MIT and Harvard collaborated to produce a 3D-printed inchworm robot that can assemble itself, while scientists at Duke University used 3D-printing technology to fabricate a cheap invisibility cloak that can be created in just a few hours. And Staples became the first major US retailer to sell 3D printers.
In green transportation news, Massachusetts-based startup Terrafugia announced plans to produce the world's first flying hybrid car, and the company says that it could be ready to bring it to market by 2021. After years of delays, NYC officials announced plans to roll out the city's bike-sharing program on Memorial Day. It was a good week for Tesla Motors, as the Model S received a 99 out of 100 rating from Consumer Reports -- tied for the highest rating ever -- and CEO Elon Musk revealed this week that he was in talks with Google to develop an autonomous driving system. Finally, one of our favorite green designs from the past week was this clever one-person trash bag tent for camping, music festivals and other outdoor events. Designed by plastic bag maker Glad, the tents can be used for cleanup once the party's over.