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Inhabitat's Week in Green: Fusion power, Drop-a-Brick and settlements on Mars

Inhabitat
10.19.14
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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.

Why can't Tesla's sales model catch a break? The automaker is paving the way for the future of electric vehicles, however states keep stepping in the way. This week, Michigan passed legislation that essentially bans Tesla from selling cars in the state due to a last-minute addition by a legislator who receives contributions from the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. In other transportation news, Italy has long been the Mecca of souped-up sports cars, but surprisingly the country has never produced a fully electric supercar. That all could change soon, now that the Italian company Tecnicar has unveiled a new electric car with a 789-horsepower electric motor.

Meanwhile, back here in the US, General Motors is working on a slightly less glamorous, but probably far more practical, all-electric vehicle with a range of 200 miles. Details about the new EV are scarce, but it's expected to carry a price tag of about $30,000. What would the roads look like if bikes took up as much space as cars do? Last month, a group of Latvian cycling advocates rigged up car-shaped frames to their bikes for a visual demonstration of how much space cars take up. On the public transit front, Marc Mimram just unveiled plans for a light- and garden-filled train station in Montpellier, France. The gorgeous new TGV station will feature an ultralight roof crafted from a fiber-reinforced, high-performance concrete. Also in France, Barcelona-based architecture firm EMBT and architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc have been selected to design two new train stations in Paris. And Inhabitat recently launched its annual Halloween costume contest -- this year's grand prize is a Vanmoof B6 Bike worth $848.

Wind is all around us. It's powerful, plentiful and, oh yes, cheap: This week, the European Commission found that onshore wind power provides the cheapest source of energy. When hidden costs, like air quality and health impacts are taken into account, wind energy costs $133 per MWh to produce -- while coal costs $295 per MWh. In other clean energy news, researchers have developed a super-efficient battery that can charge to 70 percent capacity in just two minutes, and it lasts 20 times longer than a typical battery. The battery, which could charge a car in just 15 minutes, could reach the market in just two years. Are we on the cusp of a fusion energy revolution? Last week, Lockheed Martin announced a major breakthrough in fusion technology that could provide the world with clean, affordable energy. Buildings are some of the biggest energy consumers, but architect Vincent Callebaut is turning that trend on its head by designing a cluster of skyscrapers that actually produce more energy than they consume. Callebaut's DNA-inspired Citytree towers combine passivhaus principles with renewable energy technology. And Czech architects Atelier 8000 designed a solar-powered cabin in the mountains of northern Slovakia that looks like a huge ice cube.

3D printing appears to have limitless potential -- both on Earth and in space. Last week, news broke that a team of British amateurs is about to launch the world's first 3D-printed rocket. It took 30 team members -- including doctorate aeronautical engineers -- four years to complete the project. Meanwhile, designer Kovács Apor has dreamed up a device that could turn used plastic bottles into brand-new clothes. It's called the Pete, and it's one of six finalists in this year's Electrolux Design Lab competition. Did you know that if you drop a brick in the back of your toilet, it could save your household up to 50 gallons of water per week? But there's a problem: Standard bricks crumble and disintegrate, causing plumbing problems. To solve that, one company created Drop-a-Brick, a rubber, brick-shaped option that's filled with eco-friendly hydro gel that solidifies when water is added to it. In lighting news, PEGA Design & Engineering has created a new lamp that can mimic the color of any object, allowing you to customize your lighting to fit the mood of a room. The world has been rather captivated with news of Mars One, a Dutch plan to develop a permanent settlement on Mars. But researchers at MIT poured some cold water on the plan this week. A new paper identifies several deathtraps within the proposed habitat system, and it suggests that the first astronaut fatality could occur as early as day 68 due to low oxygen levels in the artificial environment. Tech companies are generally pretty progressive, but activists are taking e-commerce giant eBay to task for supporting climate change denial. The group Forecast the Facts is calling for eBay to step down from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) -- a group the supports teaching climate change denial in schools.

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