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Inhabitat's Week in Green: blue lava, biodegradable batteries and a self-cleaning t-shirt


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.

China is facing a pollution crisis. In cities like Beijing, the smog has gotten so thick it's often difficult to see the sky - which begs the question: Does China's capital need an artificial sun? The problem isn't confined to China's borders, either: A new study has shown that Chinese pollution is crossing the Pacific Ocean, affecting the western US. Could geoengineering provide a fix? To deal with the problem, scientist Yu Shaocai has proposed using giant sprinklers that spray water into the atmosphere of heavily polluted cities like Beijing to clear toxins out of the air. Air pollution isn't the only way humans are shaping the environment -- people in northern European cities have recently witnessed a mysterious aurora borealis-like glow that is caused by a combination of manmade light pollution and ice crystals trapped in the air. The natural world has plenty mysteries of its own: Photographer Olivier Grunewald recently captured an amazing set of pictures of an Indonesian volcano that erupted with rivers of blue lava.

For all the environmental problems the world is facing, there are people committed to righting the ship. The European Union just reached a landmark climate deal that is the world's toughest and calls for 27 percent of all energy to be produced by renewable sources by 2030. Over in the UK, large-scale solar PV installations grew by an incredible 600 percent during the past 12 months. And in London, workers recently completed the world's largest solar bridge, which stretches over the River Thames and is covered with 4,400 photovoltaic panels. In other solar technology news, researchers recently developed an inexpensive paper solar panel component made from wood fibers that is greener than the materials currently used. NASA Earth Observatory just released beautiful satellite images of the world's largest offshore wind farm, and scientists at Virginia Tech developed a cheap, biodegradable battery that runs on natural sugar and could replace conventional batteries within three years.

It's also an exciting time for innovative green architecture. The modern world runs on artificial lighting, and Belgian company EcoNation has figured out a way to provide natural indoor lighting without using a lick of energy in buildings where skylights would be inefficient. The company's new LightCatcher domes capture incoming daylight that is then reflected and focused before being transmitted inside a building. For those who like to have all the comforts of home when camping, South Korean studio ArchiWorkshop designed a "Glamping for Glampers" tent that is shaped like a donut. A class of students at Green Mountain College is turning heads in the design community for building a 70-square-foot pod-shaped house that includes a sleeping area, rainwater collection and a 120-watt solar power system. And the company Siemens recently opened the greenest office building ever built in Masdar City.

In other tech and innovation news, Aamir Patel recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a "self-cleaning" T-shirt made with nanotechnology that is almost impossible to stain. New York City-based artist Sebastian Errazuriz immortalized his ex-girlfriends by producing a series of 3D-printed replicas of their shoes. And for an even weirder use of 3D printing technology, 3D Babies just raised the bar. The company specializes in producing exact replicas of unborn babies that are priced from $200 to $600.

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