Posts tagged innovation

Solar-Powered Robot Lawn Mower

I so need one of these!  Oh, wait, no grass to mow.  But you probably have some, and just look at this beauty!  At $4,000, it’s no yard-sale find, but with built-in sensors that detect yard obstacles, it reduces the amount of work you have to do down to simply setting the thing out and turning it on.  Swimming devotees will recognize this approach as like that of the pool Simon, and it also falls close to the Roomba technology.   And of course, like many products featured here, it’s totally powered by the sun.  With one of these and a few free hours to watch it wander, you might actually be HAPPY when your spouse tells you to mow the lawn!

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First Mixed-Use Energy Positive Building in the World

Wow! That’s all I can think when viewing pictures of the first building planned to grace zero waste, zero carbon emission Masdar City, in the United Arab Emirates. It’s beautiful! And, most importantly, its enormous solar roof will generate more energy than the building uses… enough to power the construction of the rest of the building! The building is designed by Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (AS + GG). Click the link above for more details.

Large-scale projects like this are what it’s going to take to get solar design into the mainstream of architecture.

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Plasma LED lights for 12V systems

So here’s a great idea for all you solar panel owners out there:
These plasma lights use next-to-no energy, and are wired for 12V (aka your solar panel/battery). As you can see, they emit a lot of light for the power used, so you could light up a room with a bulb or two. Nice!

Click on the banner ad below to buy one today! (yeah, I don’t usually advertise like this, but your purchases will help me support this blog.)

Plasma LED

clipped from

5mm & 8mm wired LEDs

  • ALL LEDs Each come with wire & resistor attached for 12V use
  • Wire is at least 1 Feet in length
  • Will also work for 6V-13V DC applications
  • Assembled in the USA! Best Quality!
  • Water Proof! We don’t tell you! We show you!

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2 cents a mile? Now that’s a car.

Trev Two-Seat Lithium ion Electric Travel for 2¢ a Mile (story here)

“Staff and students at the University of South Australia have designed and built an amazing vehicle called the Trev. Its features include:

* two comfortable seats, since more than 90% of urban trips have only one or two people in the car;
* enough luggage space for at least two overnight bags;
* 300 kg mass—because using a 2.5 tonne vehicle for commuting is ridiculous;
* energy-efficient tyres, brakes and suspension;
* a clean, quiet and efficient electric drive system;
* compliance with road safety and worthiness regulations;
* good performance, with a top speed of 120 km/h; and
* 150 km of city driving before the car must be recharged.

Most importantly, it uses less than 1/5 of the energy required by a conventional car, and can be recharged using electricity from clean, renewable sources such as solar and wind.”

I’d love to see this car next to a standard commuter vehicle. It’s like a tofu dog on wheels in a world of burgers. Nice though.

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Inspiration around the globe –

It’s always encouraging, when sitting down to tackle a problem, to have a little advice or inspiration from someone who’s been in your shoes before. For a really nice example of a program that “walks the walk” when it comes to solar living, check out
This program constructs solar community centers, which become a place for local people to meet and create art together. In fact, you’ll find a nice selection of music on their site from around the globe… and all recorded with solar power! Here’s a sample from Jamaica: Like A Dove.mp3

The Greenstar system includes a truly impressive array of functions for user communities. Water purification and storage, satellite internet access, cellular phone services, a solar-powered vaccine cooler, an e-commerce business server, computer-based language translation, and a public-access touchscreen to access the web. Wow! I was especially pleased to discover that these creative philanthropists are based right here in Los Angeles. You can be sure I’ll be taking a field trip to pick their brains as this experiment progresses.

If they can do all of this within a little hut, imagine what you can do with whatever space you control!

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Integrating solar power into products

If going green is ever going to become more than a catch phrase, then it’s going to have to fit neatly within our current lifestyles.  Let’s face it; though most people WANT to feel good about their impact on the planet, they don’t want to work very hard.  That’s why products that integrate alternative energy sense and capability within their design are so exciting.  I like this example:

the SunTable

The table collects power all day, arriving fully charged at meal-time.  And with a DC power outlet right in the table, the only thing left to do is start finding gadgets to power with it!   Outdoor dining may never be the same.  I don’t own one, so I can’t speak on user experience, but it’s certainly on the wish list.  What we really need next is plans for a DIY version!

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Dirt gets a facelift

Click Here for the Full Story!

The Old Stuff

Here’s a new concept: fake soil! This Japanese company has developed a plastic soil that is lighter than traditional dirt. This will make load-design for living roofs that much easier for architects, especially in earthquake-prone areas like California. It might be useful for cantilevering gardens onto apartment terraces, too, for all you renters out there. I’d be interested to see how the nutrient content of this “soil” compares with regular, how much water it requires, and how it might affect grown plants nutritionally. Would you eat a carrot grown in urethane? Hmmm. And what are the carbon costs of producing this? Can’t wait for a user review!

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