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Inhabitat's Week In Green: eco abodes, world's largest solar park and Axeon's new EV battery


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.

It's been an epic week for green building and clean-tech, as the 2011 Solar Decathlon showcased 19 of the world's most stunning sun-powered prefab homes in Washington DC -- and Inhabitat brought you up-to-the-minute coverage on winning home designs. Several of the houses feature remarkably unconventional designs -- see Sci-Arc and Caltech's puffy inside-out prefab and Team Canada's teepee-inspired TRTL home -- while others like Purdue's INHome relied upon tried-and-true building typologies upgraded with state-of-the art solar systems. Ultimately the University of Maryland's innovative WaterShed House won first place in the competition with their greenery infused, water-focused, living home. Purdue University's more traditional INHome took second place, and Team New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) placed third with their beautiful wooden First Light home.

Speaking of major feats of renewable energy, this week Iceland announced plans to construct the first zero-carbon data center and Germany opened the world's largest solar park on top of an abandoned open-pit mine. We also took a look at the innovative new SeaTwirl turbine, which could be the most cost-effective wind energy generator to date, and we watched Pavegen reveal plans to power a shopping center with tiles that harvest energy from pedestrian footsteps. Google also made a major investment to bring solar power systems to 3,000 homes, MIT developed a working "artificial leaf" that generates hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight, and Axeon unveiled a new battery that could extend electric car range by 35 percent.

In other green transportation news, sun-powered vehicles soared towards the stars this week as NASA announced plans to launch the largest solar sail spacecraft ever created, and Japan's TOTO unveiled a crazy talking poop-powered motorcycle topped with a toilet. We also took a spin in the world's strongest electric train (which has over 10,000 horsepower), and we launched a competition to win a one year Zipcar membership. We also spotted a milk truck mobile breastfeeding unit, while scientists discovered a passive virus that can destroy breast cancer cells. Finally, from the realm of high-tech textiles we shared a student's plan to turn textile factory effluent into clean water, we showcased Janet Echelman's massive jellyfish-shaped string sculptures, and we dialed up an online tool capable of measuring your wardrobe's environmental impact.

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