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.
Energy and clean water are two essential resources that we're running critically low on in the 21st century -- fortunately, a 17-year-old girl from Australia has invented a device that could solve both of these challenges. Cynthia Sin Nga Lam, a finalist in this year's Google Science Fair, has created a machine that purifies wastewater and produces electricity from hydrogen. In other green innovation news, workers just finished building a rainwater-harvesting soccer and volleyball stadium at a school in Kenya that can store more than 1.5 million liters of fresh water. The field is part of a larger trend of "waterbanking" structures that harvest and store rainwater.
At this year's Shell-Eco Marathon, a Swedish team developed a car that set a new fuel-efficiency record by traveling 98 miles on just 15 cents worth of electricity. Norwegian artist Markus Moestue created one of the most amazing trikes we've ever seen -- it's shaped like a dinosaur! Germany shattered its own record by producing 31 percent of its electricity from renewables in the first half of 2014. And this week, Inhabitat caught up with Yves Béhar, the designer behind the One Laptop Per Child Project, the NYC Condom, Jawbone Up and the SodaStream Source. In the wide-ranging interview, Béhar discussed everything from his first architecture contract to the notion of data overload.
California dipped its toe in the Tesla Gigafactory sweepstakes this week -- however the state might waive environmental laws to win the project. The proposed Gigafactory would build the long-range lithium-ion batteries needed to construct Tesla's Model III range of vehicles. Elsewhere in the Golden State, researchers at Stanford presented a "roadmap" for powering the entire state with renewable energy by 2050. The plan calls for developing a broad mix of hydro, wind and solar energy. In the quest to charge mobile devices on the fly, scientists from Nokia and Queen Mary University of London have figured out a way to harvest the power of sound, converting sonic vibrations into electricity. But until that technology hits the mainstream, we'll have to settle for more conventional charging methods. In New York City, for example, a new solar-powered charging station called CityCharge recently popped up at Bryant Park, enabling New Yorkers to power up from a small cafe table.
Architect Santiago Calatrava has come under fire in recent years for cost overruns and leaks in some of his sculptural buildings, but the early returns are good on the starchitect's new Innovation, Science and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University. The elegant day-lit building is wrapped with a lightweight aluminum trellis that cuts solar gain by 30 percent (and it makes it look like a futuristic spaceship). In Singapore, construction recently wrapped on Lucasfilms' new headquarters, which looks like a big glassy Sandcrawler. In Kunshan City, China, a restaurant that is staffed by 15 small, humanoid robots recently opened. The robots cook, take orders, serve meals and greet customers as they arrive. Hospital food is usually tough to choke down, but the Eskenazi Health Hospital in Indianapolis decided to flip the script. The hospital features a large vegetable garden on its roof, providing patients, hospital staff and the community with a space to engage with nature and food. Meanwhile, the latest project from Thai architecture firm Onion will bring out the kid in all of us: a home inspired by Tom and Jerry cartoons complete with curved passageways reminiscent of mouseholes.
The realms of 3D printing and fashion continue to overlap: Continuum Fashion founder Mary Huang recently created "Myth," the world's first ready-to-wear 3D-printed shoe collection. In other fashion news, Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht has produced what she calls the "Faraday Cage" dress, which is made from metal plates, chain mail and a spiky grilled helmet. The coolest thing about Wipprecht's suit of armor: Its wearer can get zapped by lighting, and the suit will distribute the charge while keeping you safe. Designer Naomi Kizhner unveiled a line of truly unusual "invasive" jewelry that turns involuntary physical movements like blinking into electricity. And for underwater speed demons, Speedo recently unveiled a new pair of flippers that are modeled after a humpback whale's fins -- and they look pretty neat, too.