Uber-Eco-Towers: The Top Ten Green Skyscrapers

Green skyscrapers offer so much for the average EcoGeek to drool over. Each one can contain hundreds of innovations that make the world a cleaner place, they build up, rather than out, and many of them are frikkin gorgeous.

Lucky for us, more and more eco-towers are popping up all the time. In fact, a symposium about greenscrapers called Mixed Greens: An International Survey of State-of-the-Art Sustainable Skyscraper Design just wrapped up last month in NYC.

Lucky for us, Jon Schroeder is on the case, and is bringing us the top ten green skyscrapers.

The New Audi Online Shop

Quicker, simpler, more customer-friendly Offering a wide array of innovative functions, the new Audi online shop from quattro GmbH is now available. The relaunched version of the shop pays special attention to user-friendliness, which is a …

RS4 Cabriolet Confirmed for US Market

Since the announcement and eventual arrival of the RS4 sedan in the US it has been a glass half full proposition for Audi aficionados. The positive news was of course that the B7 RS4 was in fact offered at all, since the much revered B5 …

Creating Electricity from Waste Heat

The majority of wasted energy in the world is wasted as heat. In your car engine, in your macbook, your fluorescent light bulbs, your computer’s power supply. Heat leaks from electrical and mechanical devices and there is no way to stop it.

Or is there. We at EcoGeek have already reported on Petier devices, which extract electricity from hot surfaces. Unfortunately they’re currently either too inefficient or too expensive to be practical.

But Oresk Symko, a physicist at the University of Utah has created a heat-to-electricity device that operates on a completely different principle. By converting the heat to sound waves, and then the sound waves to electricity using piezoelectric substances, Symko says that he can convert heat to electricity very efficiently.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell us how efficiently, at least, not anywhere I could find. However, I do know that piezo-electric materials are very expensive, so I worry about the cost-effectiveness of the project.

But, if he can make it work, and cheaply, then his devices will likely be showing up everywhere from solar arrays to electric vehicle batteries.

Hat tip to David.  Via LiveScience

The Age of Windustry

Day one of the Windpower 2007 conference has come to an end, and having just
rubbed elbows with something like 6,000 attendees, 400-plus exhibitors and
national legislators and policymakers from around the country, I thought I’d
try to make sense of it all. The confab
was put on by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and heavily
attended by many of folk who belong to it: wind energy producers,
manufacturers who produce things like wind turbines, poles, and transmission
lines and wind outreach and education organizations. The conference features
tons of panels, discussions and presentations, but much of the talk at this
year’s Windpower focused on just a few issues: 

  • A lot of people -­ and not just wind industry representatives, either ­-
    believe that wind energy is and will remain an increasingly crucial part of
    our national renewable energy portfolio. No one had anything particularly
    negative to say about nuclear or other non-c02-emitting power generation
    technologies, but all agreed that of those other options, none were as ready
    as wind power was to step up to the plate and work. (It takes
    years and years to bring a nuclear power plant online, for instance, and not
    nearly as long to build and permit wind turbines). The wind industry feels
    that its golden moment is now.
  • The AWEA has set a really tough goal for itself and for the wind industry:
    to produce 20% of the U.S.’ power by the year 2020. As good as that sounds,
    no one really knows how it’s going to be accomplished. Panelist Bob
    Lukefahr, of BP¹s alternative fuels division, stressed the challenges: It
    will require "technology we haven’t invented yet," he said, and entails "political and economic complexity this business has never faced before."
    For starters, they’re going to have to figure out how to deliver
    all that energy; even if we had the turbines to do it right now, it would
    cost at least $60 billion to build the transmission lines to get that power
    onto the country’s grid, according to AWEA President Randall Swisher.
  • The future of the wind industry depends on the White House, and if the
    next few presidents we have aren’t wind-friendly, wind will stay small for
    the long haul.

The good news is, there are plenty of states out there interested in having
the wind industry set up shop in their regions. At Monday’s confab alone,
the mayor of Los Angeles and the governors of Montana and Iowa made nice to
the assembled windustryites, and at least one congressman (D.C.’s own Jerry
McNerney) and a senator (Tom Daschle) lent their support to the cause as a
whole. In short, the industry is booming, consumer interest in renewable
energy has never been higher, and the future ­ depending in part on what
happens in the 2008 election ­ looks bright.

Photosynth Makes Print Obsolete

Photosynth is an amazing photo and text software environment that will change the way you look at photos forever.

Blaise Aguera y Arcas
presents a demo of Photosynth at the TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference. He shows how his new software links photos together spatially and hints at the value Photosynth adds to your photo collection. The demo  shows Photosynth creating amazing multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features just by scanning photos from Flickr. It creates a spatial map and places all photos of an object (such as Notre Dame, Paris) into a collage that is easy and intuitive to navigate.

While the spatial 3-D image collage is amazing, the information created when everyoneÂ’s photo tags are linked is even more amazing. Photosynth creates a dense information swarm around the objects it links together.

Photosynth is the brainchild of Blaise Aguera y Arcas, he also created Seadragon (acquired by Microsoft in 2006), the visualization technology that gives Photosynth its amazingly smooth digital rendering and zoom capabilities.

Seadragon and Photosynth create an interface that will make working with text and images on a screen preferable to working with paper. With the exception of reading at the beach, I canÂ’t see any advantage for paper. 

An improved Volkswagen Phaeton

Volkswagen Phaeton
Volkswagen has upgraded the specification of the Phaeton with a new TDI engine and a range of technical innovations. The luxury saloon now features a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel, making it one of the few car engines worldwide to fulfill the Euro 5 emission standards that will take effect from 2009.

It now has an acceleration to 100 km/h or 62 mph in 8.4 seconds, with a top speed of 236 km/h. Production began in May and the car is will be available in the European market this summer.

Other new features Phaeton have are chrome accent strips in the front apron area, LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights. New-style 19 inch alloy wheels are also fitted and the navigation system is equipped with DVD support.

The car’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system has also been upgraded with a front and back scanning system, monitoring the distance between vehicles in front and behind, at the same time warns the driver if needed. This system also prepares the car for possible hard or emergency braking.

Volkswagen Tiguan set for its final test

Volkswagen is set to do its final trial test for the new Tiguan in Namibia. This last test is said to complete the development phase of the vehicle.

Testers would be focusing on the electronic components and chassis of the new SUV during its final acceptance drive through the African continent. They would likely gain some interest in the technical highlight of the Tiguan like the completely new generation radio and navigation system, which were developed in close cooperation with the most important local Volkswagen operations in Europe, Asia and America.

Worldwide development collaboration also made it possible for a wider specialized know-how and the requirements of all markets, to influence the devices. The top system of the new line, with the designation RNS 510, has a 30 GB hard disk and is controlled with a touch screen. Add to that a rear-view camera enables a view behind in this case.

A new electronic system also helped simplify offroad driving in the Tiguan. The SUV uses an innovative network of assistance systems with the name of “Offroad Mode”. With just a touch of a switch activates a whole set of safety features, supporting the driver in a multitude of situations.

The Tiguan will be offered in two body variants which differ in their front ends. The “Trend & Fun” and “Sport & Style” versions are designed for a maximum entry angle of 18 degrees in front. The “Track & Field” Tiguan that is suited for offroad duty can assume entry angles of up to 28 degrees with its front end.

Long before the first prototype was built, Volkswagen had decided that the new Tiguan would be an extremely actively driving and safe SUV. The Tiguan now has to demonstrate in Africa that it achieves neutral to lightly understeering handling and an unusually low roll angle. The terrain of the Namib Desert is a ideal place to test how well the highly dynamic driving characteristics and excellent ride comfort interact under the hardest conditions. The goals set for the chassis development were agile driving behavior, very good vibration behavior and ride comfort, low roll angle with harmonic roll dynamics, high driving dynamic stability and lastly good offroad handling. These demands are achieved by enhancing the chassis layout by equipping the front end with a McPherson axle specially optimized for the SUV. The four-link rear axle has also been adapted to best suit the chassis layout

Tiguan also has a newly constructed steering gear that will be responsible for not transmitting any jolts to the steering wheel even in offroad operation.

To provide a better driving experience the Tiguan will have 16-inch wheels with 215/65 R16 tires. The “Sport & Style” Tiguan also has standard 17-inch alloy wheels and 235/55 R17 tires. While 18-inch wheels with tires in 235/50 R18 format will be available as special equipment.

As to set new standards in the compact SUV class, the Tiguan has anewly designed radio and navigation system generation. The software and hardware of this new system fulfill the highest demands for operation, sound and the multitude of functions offered. The radio navigation system has a RNS 510, that is controlled using fixed menu buttons, two knobs and a touch screen for the numerous information, entertainment and system functions. In this case a rear-view camera eases the view behind, a standard fitting. A very helpful innovation of the RNS 510 is a specially developed offroad navigation system, which makes it possible to record up to 500 route points during a journey, even in non-digitized areas. This allows the driver to find his way back from offroad adventures into any desert or steppe. The system also has an edit mode, where the driver can modify the route as desired.

Another technology incorporated in the Tiguan is park steering assistant called Park Assist, the first in the world to be installed in a SUV.

RS4 Cabriolet Confirmed for US Market

Since the announcement and eventual arrival of the RS4 sedan in the US it has been a glass half full proposition for Audi aficionados. The positive news was of course that the B7 RS4 was in fact offered at all, since the much revered B5 …

Carbonation and Global Warming?

Recently Dave Burdick compared renewable energy to diet soda: You get all the fun without any of the guilt. Well, a randomly-associating commenter suddenly wondered about the effects of soda CO2 off-gassing on global warming.

Far be it from me to make light of a serious issue like global warming, but I really can’t help but figure out the answer for myself.

So I found some quick (and occasionally disturbing) data:

  • There’s an average of 6 grams of CO2 in 1 liter of soda.
  • The majority of CO2 used in the soft drink industry is a byproduct of, get this, petroleum refineries.
  • There are 300 million people in America.
  • And freakiest of all, the average American drinks 56 gallons of soda per year.

First of all, HOLY CRAP! Fifty Six Gallons Per Year! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do…

Anyhow…now for the math:
300 million people x 56 gallons per person x 3.78 gallons per liter x 6 grams of CO2 per liter soda / 1000 g per kg x 1 ton in 978 kg= 389,570 tons of CO2 emitted by soft drinks yearly in America alone.

I’m sure someone will come along to check my math, but I’m fairly sure that’s right.

Now, since most of this CO2 was going to be emitted from petroleum refineries anyway, it’s not actually a CO2 emission. But it’s pretty amazing that we, in effect, manage to sequester almost 400,000 tons of CO2 (the amount emitted by a town of around 45,000 people) in soda pop every year.

Now, if we could just keep buying them, and stop opening them.