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Inhabitat's Week in Green: stair-climbing vacuum cleaner, carbon dioxide diapers and a real 3D-printed face


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.

Just a few short years ago, 3D printing seemed like science fiction; we could grasp its value, but we didn't yet have the ability to harness its power and put it to good use. Now, we're seeing the technology advance every day -- and it's opening up new possibilities in medical science and other fields. This week, we shared the story of one British man who received a new 3D-printed face that gave him a second chance at life. In an equally amazing story, scientists at the University of Notre Dame successfully 3D printed the entire skeleton of a living rat. California-based Signal Snowboards unveiled the world's first 3D-printed snowboard this week. And desktop 3D printing and scanning is getting cheaper every day -- Canadian company Matterform is developing a lightweight 3D scanner called the Photon that's cheaper than a tablet.

These are critical times in the fight to combat global warming, and around the world countries are turning to renewable energy sources to provide clean electricity. This year, global wind energy production is set to top 300,000 MW, sparked by new major projects in Europe, the US and China. And Denmark, a country that is already 25 percent powered by offshore wind, is set to double its wind energy production by 2020. It isn't just wind energy that's making the headlines, though; a new study finds that the solar photovoltaic industry is set to pay off its energy debt and become a net energy producer by 2015, And this week, researchers set a new solar record for black silicon cells with an efficiency rate of 18.7 percent.

In green transportation news, Fisker Automotive may be headed for trouble as rumors swirl that the luxury eco automaker may soon file for bankruptcy. There's still a bright future for electric vehicles though -- electric car maker Tesla Motors announced that it turned a profit in the first quarter of 2013 for the first time, as sales of the Model S exceeded expectations. Meanwhile, Detroit Electric unveiled the world's fastest pure electric production vehicle, which is capable of hitting speeds of up to 155 MPH. And Porsche debuted the 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid, the company's first plug-in hybrid vehicle.

In the world of architecture, this week Vietnam unveiled the world's largest dragon-shaped bridge -- and it actually breathes fire! Another of our favorite new projects is this giant open-air geodesic dome in Denmark that was modeled after a C240 molecule. Nomadic Resorts unveiled The Looper, an amazing new prefab pod dwelling that can pop up anywhere, and one of the world's most famous museums, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, will soon be lit up with 750,000 new LED lights. Finally, Lego master Mike Doyle wowed us by constructing an amazing space-age city made from 200,000 Lego bricks.

In other green technology news, Casabella unveiled a stair-climbing vacuum cleaner that is powered by trash. The German company Festo took the wraps off the BionicOpter, a remote-controlled dragonfly robot that can fly in all directions. Three engineering students developed a pair of "anti-rape" undies that fend off would-be attackers with an electric shock, and in a discovery that could be a game-changer for environmentally conscious parents, scientists have figured out a way to make super-absorbent diapers from carbon dioxide.

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