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Inhabitat's Week in Green: algae-powered building, ionic wind thrusters and 3D-textured solar cells


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.

This week, Inhabitat reported that the world's first algae-powered building officially opened its doors in Hamburg. It's called the BIQ House and it features an impressive bio-adaptive algae facade that controls day lighting while generating a steady stream of renewable energy. It makes sense that the self-sufficient building is located in Germany; the European country is leading the way in clean tech. Despite ditching its nuclear power plants, Germany has quadrupled its energy production in the past two years, largely due to its rapidly growing alternative energy portfolio. Not to be outdone, England just flipped the switch on the world's largest wind farm, and in Paris, Schneider Electric set up kinetic energy-harvesting tiles that generate power from runners in the Paris Marathon. Meanwhile at the International Space Station, astronauts are installing a new type of 3D-textured solar cell that will soak up 16 sunrises every day.

Green automakers around the world have been revving their engines this spring. In one of the week's most exciting stories, students from Université Laval in Quebec took first place at the 2013 Shell Eco-marathon by racing a car that can travel 3,587 miles on a single gallon of gasoline. Tesla announced that it will release a new, cheaper electric car in 2016 or 2017, and Renault teamed up with British designer Ross Lovegrove to design the flashy Twin'Z Electric concept car. In other green transportation news, a team from MIT is working on developing ionic wind thrusters that would serve as an energy-efficient, low-emission alternative to jet engines. And the world's first folding wheel won a 2013 Design of the Year Award presented at the Design Museum in London.

Inhabitat recently reported on Boyan Slat, a 19-year-old student who designed an ocean cleanup array that he estimates could remove 7.25 million tons of plastic from the world's oceans. This week, we learned that Slat has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $80,000 for a feasibility study to see if it's even possible. But some are already betting against him; Stiv Wilson, policy director of the ocean conservation nonprofit, argues that "gyre cleanup is a false prophet hailing from La-La land that won't work."

In other news, this week marked the start of the world's largest design event -- the Milan Furniture Fair. One of our favorite finds from this year's show is Bruno Greppi's funky electric Cykno Bike, which has been whizzing around town all week. Also in Milan, Panasonic and Akihisa Hirata teamed up to produce "Energetic Energies," a 30-meter-long cityscape covered in solar panels.

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