Showing posts with label futuristic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label futuristic. Show all posts

Monday, May 31, 2021

“City of the Future” Powered by Solar Panels and Hydrogen Fuel Cells in Japan

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An artist's view of Toyota's smart city. Toyota

The construction of a sustainable “city of the future” called the Woven City, is a piece of interesting news that comes from Japan. The prototype city, announced last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, will be powered by solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells.

In 2020, the world’s largest automaker Toyota has revealed plans to build a prototype “city of the future”, covering 75- acres on the site of a factory that is due for closure, at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. On February 23, 2021, a groundbreaking ceremony took place to mark the start of the project’s construction. “The Woven city project officially starts today,” said Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda.

The former Higashi-Fuji car factory of Toyota Motor East Japan is being transformed into a new smart city. The city (about 60 miles from Tokyo) will become a living laboratory for self-driving vehicles, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes, and artificial intelligence. Woven City would be home to about 2,000 full-time residents, mainly Toyota employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, and researchers who will be able to test and develop technologies. Scientists, engineers, and researchers from around the world are also invited to come work on their projects in a real-world environment.

"We welcome all those inspired to improve the way we live in the future, to take advantage of this unique research ecosystem and join us in our quest to create an ever-better way of life and mobility for all," said Akio Toyoda.

The name Woven City comes from the three different types of streets in the city: one for self-driving vehicles, one will be shared by pedestrians and slower personal mobility devices like e-scooters, bikes, Toyota's i-Walk, and one for pedestrians only. These three types of streets, will “weave together into a woven grid of 3 x 3 city blocks... each framing a local park or courtyard”. There will also be one underground road used to transport goods. In a city with no private cars, the transportation, deliveries, and retail will be sustained via e-Palettes – Toyota self-driving vehicles.

Toyota has a plan to integrate nature throughout the city with native vegetation and hydroponics - a method of growing plants without soil. A large central park for recreation, neighborhood parks, and a central plaza are designed to bring the community together. Toyota believes that encouraging human interaction in natural meeting places will be an equally important part of this project.

The grandson of the carmaker’s founder Akio Toyoda described the utopian vision as his “personal field of dreams”. “With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology... in both the virtual and the physical realms... maximizing its potential," said Akio Toyoda.

According to the company’s plans, residents of Woven City will live in “smart homes”, with in-home robotics to assist with daily life and sensor-based artificial intelligence to monitor their health. These “smart homes” will take advantage of full connectivity using sensor-based AI to automatically restock your fridge or take out your trash.

The community of the futuristic city will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles and buildings and use internet technology in practically every aspect of daily life. Toyota said the city will be “fully sustainable”, with buildings made mostly of wood to minimize the carbon footprint. “The rooftops will be covered in photovoltaic panels to generate solar power in addition to power generated by hydrogen fuel cells.” Below ground will be hydrogen power storage and water filtration systems.

In this smart city project, Toyota is partnering with ENEOS, a leading hydrogen energy company, with 45 commercial hydrogen refueling stations in major cities in Japan.

Japan has ambitious plans to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2050 and the government hopes hydrogen can help to achieve their goals. Toyota unveiled the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car in 2014 and launched its second-generation Mirai (Japanese for “future”) last year.

The smart cities concept is not something new to Japan. Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town was built on the site of an old Panasonic factory and was opened in 2014. The town is home to about 2000 people. Every house has installed solar panels and it is also equipped with smart monitoring systems. Thus, residents can monitor their energy consumption both at home and on a community-wide level. Fujisawa was certified as a “Business for Promoting Town Development in Harmony with the Environment” by Kanagawa Prefecture.

Another example of a Japanese eco-city is Kashiwa-no-ha. The town’s smart grid facility includes one of Japan’s biggest lithium-ion storage cell systems, as well as solar and emergency gas-powered generators. The city, besides environmentally friendly, is also proclaimed as a city ”where people of all ages can enjoy a healthy and secure life”.

The Woven City is one of a few innovative projects for a smart city of the future currently underway in Japan. The Woven City was designed by Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect whose architecture studio BIG designed the 2 World Trade Centre building in New York and Google’s offices in Silicon Valley and London.



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Solar-Powered School in Copenhagen

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This is one more interesting news that represent another effort to be developed colored solar panels.

The International School in Copenhagen is using custom-built colorful solar panels as a featured architectural element. Each panel is individually angled and the result is really cool impression. The materials that were used in the new building are entirely natural. Thus the school made both an aesthetic and sustainable decision.

The campus of the cosy school is covered by 12,000 solar tiles making it the largest solar facade in the world. On sunny days the solar panels generate electricity that is contribute to the grid and to the school itself.

The solar panels are spanning over an area of 65,100ft2 and provide it with 300 MWh of electricity per year, meeting over half of the school's energy needs. One of the key vision of the school is to educate thair students of a sustainable world.

The unique building stands out because the panels are a distinctive sea green, the same of Copenhagen’s symbol - Andersen’ mermaid, which welcomes tourist in the Danish capital. Although no pigments were used to make them, the color comes from a process of light interference developed over more than a decade in the labs of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne (EPFL).

Based on a new technology developed in Switzerland the process that produced color of these panels is a similar to the effect seen in soap bubbles.

The researchers developed special filters, which they applied to the glass panels in nanometric layers. This filter determines which wavelengths of light will be reflected as visible color. The rest of the sunlight is absorbed by the solar panel and converted into energy.

“The iris effect creates a colorful rainbow on a very thin layer. We used the same principle and adapted for glass,  said Jean-Louis Scartezzini, the head of the Solar Energy and Building Physics lab at EPFL.

The school building won the 2017 Iconic Award - an international award program for architecture and urban planning professionals in the architecture category.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Orange Solar Concept Tent for Campers

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Orange Solar Tent

The United Kingdom mobile company Orange recently unveiled their concept for the "tent of the future", called Glastonbury. This tent will allow avid campers to keep in touch and power their essential gadgets such as GPS or mobile phones. 

The Orange Solar Concept Tent was designed with help from the American product design firm Kaleidoscope and it harnesses solar energy to charge the gadgetry through a wireless charging pouch (no plug in!).

The solar-powered futuristic tent captures the rays of the sun via “photovoltaic fabric" - specially coated solar threads woven into conventional fabric. The Solar Concept Tent uses this revolutionary new technology to full effect with three adjustable glides, which can be rotated throughout the day to follow the sun and capture the most sunlight. Not only that, the tent has a wireless control hub to provide WiFi, wireless charging, and a touchscreen LCD display that keeps track of the energy generated and consumed.

Another advancement is a cool feature called "glo-cation technology". This enables campers to find their tent using an SMS message or automatic active RFID tech. So if you’re having trouble finding your tent, sent a text, and the Glastonbury will glow gently for you, guiding you back to your sleeping bag.

There is also a feature known as groundsheet heat. This is an internal heating element controlled by the central hub and it is embedded within the tent’s groundsheet. The underfloor heater will automatically come once the interior temperature drops below a certain level.

Well, let's hope that the Orange Solar Concept Tent could soon become a reality.

Source: Orange Unveils Solar Powered Tent for Staying Connected While Camping in Luxury


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Racing Car Made of Vegetables and Powered by Chocolate

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This news is not related to solar energy but it is an interesting piece of green news and I think it deserves to write a post about it.

The WorldFirst team, a team of UK designers from the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Warwick, Britain, have created aninnovative racing car made entirely of vegetables and powered by chocolate. The car, named the WorldFirst F3, uses plant-oil based lubricants and a bio-diesel engine that can run on a mixture of chocolate and vegetable oil.


The futuristic eco car, with a top speed of 145 mph, has a body made of potatoes, a steering wheel made of carrots, and a seat made of soybeans. Car parts are produced by mixing vegetable fibres with resins and the oils in the chocolate are refined to produce fuel. It has also an emission destroying catalyst that purifies the air as you drive on.

At the moment, the engine fails to meet current regulations because of its unusual fuel. However, the WorldFirst team, hope that official racing rules will be changed so that the car can compete in championship races next season.

The WorldFirst F3 is the first Formula 3 racing car designed and made entirely from sustainable and renewable materials.The team, from World First Racing, hope that environmentally-friendly technology used in their car will be adopted by Formula 1 teams such as McLaren and world champions Ferrari.

A team spokesman said: "We hope the Formula 1 teams will see that an environmentally friendly car is not necessarily a slow car. We expect our new materials to be used by the Formula 1 cars of the future."

Sources: InhabitatGreener Design