Inhabitat's Week in Green: NASA's healing device, vertical gardens and a grass-powered robot mower


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February 16th, 2014
Inhabitat's Week in Green: NASA's healing device, vertical gardens and a grass-powered robot mower

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.

Solar power just got a big boost as Ivanpah, the world's biggest solar thermal power plant, was just switched on in the California desert. The massive plant, which is partly owned by Google, will provide enough clean energy to power 140,000 homes. Ivanpah wasn't the only major breakthrough in clean energy this week: For the first time, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it took in. In Oregon, officials gave the green light to the first offshore wind farm on the West Coast of the US. At the intersection of renewable energy and modern design, a giant photovoltaic cube appeared in the streets of Milan, showing that solar power can be beautiful. The sun isn't the only natural source of energy: Swiss designer Fabienne Felder collaborated with a few Cambridge scientists to produce the world's first radio that is completely powered by plants.

Vertical gardens are on the rise! A developer recently announced plans to build the world's tallest vertical garden in Sri Lanka. The 46-story apartment building will be entirely covered in foliage, so that no glass surface will be exposed to direct sunlight. Crowdfunding has helped provide funding for everything from flying bikes to documentary films. So why not a building? This week the Prodigy Network launched the world's first crowdsourcing platform for real estate development with plans to crowdsource an innovative hotel in New York City's financial district. Want to learn more about the crowdfunding platform? Prodigy Network will be participating in a panel at Social Media Week on Thursday, and you can join in on a live webcast! In other green architecture news, Inhabitat took a look at LaMar Alexander's self-sufficient 400-square-foot cabin, which he built himself for under $2,000. In China, an ancient city that was submerged to create a hydroelectric power plant in the 1950s has become a popular tourist attraction for divers.

You've no doubt heard of self-driving cars, but what about fish-driven cars? The folks at Studio diip created a mobile aquarium that changes course depending on which direction the fish inside swims. New technology could completely change the way electric-vehicle charging works: Toyota announced plans last week to begin testing its new wireless battery charging system, which can recharge batteries in just 90 minutes. In other EV news, Croatia-based electric carmaker Rimac produced an all-electric supercar with 1,088 horsepower. Remember that bright red Cozy Coupe toy car you used to scoot around in? An English mechanic created a full-scale replica of the classic toy car that runs on an 800cc engine.

In other green tech and innovation news, NASA developed a couple of hand-held gadgets that can heal injured astronauts -- just like Star Trek. Scientists at Washington University developed high-tech glasses that help surgeons visualize and target cancer cells. In a bid to make the mundane task of mowing the lawn both effortless and greener, a team of engineers and business students from George Mason University developed a robotic lawnmower that is powered by grass. Designer Steve Gates created a clever LED cork light that transforms any wine bottle into a lamp. And at New York Fashion Week, jewelry maker Heart & Noble pushed the boundaries of eco fashion with its new line of laser-cut jewelry.

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