Inhabitat's Week in Green: DIY velomobile, Lego braille printer and a supercharged anode battery


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February 23, 2014 3:00 PM
Inhabitat's Week in Green: DIY velomobile, Lego braille printer and a supercharged anode 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.

Sure, 3D printers can create everything from jewelry to entire houses, so why not sweaters? Gerard Rubio just debuted the OpenKnit Printer, a 3D printer that can knit anything from a hat to a sweater in less than an hour. In other 3D printing news, the toy company Hasbro is partnering with 3D Systems to create low-cost 3D printers that kids could use to create their own toys. Meanwhile a seventh grader from California created a working braille printer using a Lego Mindstorms kit. In green transportation news, a pair of car companies has announced plans to create the world's largest electric vehicle-charging network in China. And in northern Wisconsin, architect Kelly Davis designed an amazing tiny home that functions like a cabin, but is technically considered an RV.

The world's largest solar power plant opened for business last week, but it's already drawing the ire of environmentalists. It seems that the massive solar plant is frying birds that fly above it. Taking inspiration from pomegranates, researchers at Stanford University have designed a supercharged anode battery that can store 10 times more energy than a standard rechargeable lithium-ion battery. And in Ohio, the wind energy company Iberdrola Renewables gave $2.7 million to communities in the state, some of which will go directly to area schools.

Valencia's stunning Opera House, designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava, is in rough shape. The theater has been closed since strong winds damaged the building's ceramic outer skin. Now, an Alicante-based company claims that they can save it with a novel graphene-based paint. In other design news, a team of graduate architecture students from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts has built a "reverse camouflage" bird blind, which is meant to conceal birdwatchers from birds passing overhead. And in New York, an architecture committee has launched a new competition to envision how a High Line-style QueensWay park could look. Looking forward to the architecture of tomorrow, architect Michael Pawlyn has come up with a plan for growing the buildings of the future underwater.

We've been told that autonomous cars will soon be a reality, but what will that actually look like? The automotive think tank Rinspeed has created a prototype electric car that doubles as a mobile office, which will make its debut next month at the Geneva Motor Show. In other green transportation news, electric motorcycle maker Brammo is releasing a new Empulse model that is lighter, faster and even more eco-friendly than its previous bikes. Industrial designer Mark Richardson has created an awesome DIY velomobile from a bunch of salvaged materials, including old bikes and walkers. And artist Barry Howard built a homemade pedal-powered micro wagon, which is also made from mostly repurposed materials.

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