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The following links provide some interesting and inspirational information on existing materials and technologies used in the world of design. If you have anything you want to share, send us the link or information at (subject line "Materials & Technologies"). And let us know if we can publish your name or if you want to remain anonymous!

INNOVATIVE BIO-MATERIAL: The EcoCradle Mushroom Packaging material is grown in a process in which a fungal network of threadlike cells digests agricultural wastes, such as plant stalks and seed husks. The process binds the cells into a structural material like a self-assembling glue. No water, light, or fertilizer is required for growth, and the used material can be composted aerobically or anaerobically in consumers' backyards. A blend of agricultural byproducts is cleaned and inoculated, or planted, with mycelium. This process does not involve spores. An automated process fills grow tray forms with the mixture. When the material has reached the desired shape and size, its growth is stopped through dehydration and heat treatment.

SOLAR/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: Repreve Ford Motor Co. recently became the first automaker to use a material made from recycled plastic bottles in a car's seat fabric. The material, called Repreve, is a polyester fiber made from a blend of recycled materials. Manufactured by Unifi, Inc., the fiber derives from used plastic water bottles and other post-consumer waste, as well as post-industrial manufacturing waste, such as nylon. The 2012 Ford Focus Electric runs on battery power alone, so it does not require gasoline and produces no carbon dioxide emissions. Each Focus keeps 22 16-ounce plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) water bottles out of landfills by recycling them into the seat fabric's fibers, according to the Repreve Website.

SOLAR/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: CHIP is a prefab, net-zero solar-powered house designed and built by a student-run team from two Southern California schools: Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The house is the team's entry for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 competition. CHIP (which stands for "Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype") is designed to challenge every architectural and engineering preconception regarding the net-zero-energy home. CHIP is the result of a 2-year research, design, and construction collaboration between both schools and various consultants. CHIP announces a new generation of energy-efficient, affordable housing.

ENERGY & COMFORT: Active Phytoremediation Wall System by Center for Architecture Science and Ecology
The Active Phytoremediation Wall System is a modular wall system of pods housing hydroponic plants. Because the plants' roots are exposed, instead of being buried in soil, the plants' air-cleaning capacity increases by 200 to 300 percent. Air moves through a perforated air intake duct-a series of mini-jets are being developed to encourage airflow-and directly over the root system. This allows the rhizomes on the roots to essentially digest airborne toxins-VOCs, particulate matter, and other biological and chemical pollutants-without the plant itself becoming toxic (which is what happens when the toxins are taken in solely through the leaves). The cleaned air then flows out of each pod through a series of clean air ducts and is reintroduced to the environment.

RECYCLED/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: Algae for fuel tank by Tecnische Universitaet Muenchen
The generation of fuels from biomass as an alternative is on the rise. Johannes A. Lercher and his team at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have now introduced a new catalytic process that allows the effective conversion of biopetroleum from microalgae into diesel fuels.

SOLAR/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: bio solar power from grass clippings by MIT
A team led by MIT researcher Andreas Mershin, has developed a viable means by which agricultural waste, like grass clippings and leaves, can be used to create solar panels. The solar array itself comprises a 'forest' of nanowires, interspersed with titanium dioxide 'sponges.' This system is then coated with 'photosystem I', a solution that contain photosynthetic material (extracted via chemical processes from waste plant material like grass clippings) alongside stabilized peptides. By coating the 'nanoforest' array with the photosynthetic extract, the wires can harvest the energy produced, carrying it away to power sources. The titanium dioxide in the system absorb UV light to protect the mixtures.

INNOVATION: Nanomaterials in Microwave for less polluting Air Conditioners by Rensslear Polytechnic Institute
Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method for creating advanced nanomaterials that could lead to highly efficient refrigerators and cooling systems requiring no refrigerants and no moving parts. The key ingredients for this innovation are a dash of nanoscale sulfur and a normal, everyday microwave oven.

SOLAR/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: High efficiency Silicon Solar Cells by IMEC
Imec together with its silicon photovoltaic industrial affiliation program partners Schott Solar, Total, Photovoltech, GDF-SUEZ, Solland Solar, Kaneka and Dow Corning, have demonstrated an excellent conversion efficiency of 23.3% on interdigitated back-contact (IBC) silicon solar cells. Interdigitated back contacts are introduced to increase the conversion efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells and allow for further reduction of the cell thickness, simplification of module fabrication and improved aesthetics of the final solar cell modules.

ENERGY & COMFORT: Floating Offshore wind turbine
Seattle-based Principle Power has deployed it's first floating offshore wind turbine off the coast of Portugal, the first time a floating turbine has been installed in the Atlantic Ocean. The 2 MW turbine was assembled on land and then towed 217 miles into open water.

ENERGY & COMFORT: Eco whisper
The eco whisper is an innovative wind turbine that generates virtually no noise pollution. The device's automatic slew drive system changes the direction of the turbine to face into the wind, generating electricity even from relatively light breezes. The design reduces the probability of harm to birdlife, as well as offers a lower start-up speed and increased ability to collect wind.

INNOVATION: Contact lenses to project emails directly in eyeballs by Washington University
Washington University recently completed trials on a new generation of contact lenses that could enable people to read their emails and even augment their vision with information obtained from the internet. The circuits are made from layers of metal only a few nanometres thick and feature light-emitting diodes measuring one-third of a millimeter across.

SOLAR/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: The Solio Mag solar powered hybrid portable charger by Solio It is a modern looking charger for use on portable electronics anywhere, made from a magnesium alloy casting which helps make it very durable, helping to protect it from heat and impact. The design allows the three inbuilt solar panels to be positioned to best take advantage of light in an area to charge the devices internal 1800Amh Lithium-Ion battery.

MANUFACTURING: KOR EcoLogic Urbee: First 3D Printed Car
KOR EcoLogic used Autodesk's software solution for Digital Prototyping to design the first prototype car with a body created using a 3D printer. The KOR EcoLogic Urbee car gets up to 200 miles per gallon (MPG) and uses a hybrid electric/gasoline engine.

SOLAR + SOUND: The Disko SU 1 by DeepDesign
A wireless outdoor lighting and sound diffuser with your playlist coming directly from your computer to trace visual and sonorous paths.

LIGHT: Prism technology for directing natural light deep into buildings - Treehugger, by Lloyd Alter.

ENERGY & COMFORT: Bio-based phase-changing material - goes from liquid to solid and vice versa at a given temperature, absorbing and releasing heat, just like water does when it changes state at 32 degrees. It acts like the thermal mass of 12 inches of concrete, increasing the time it takes for the structure of a building to warm up or cool down. The product is designed to help keep a structure at a prescribed temperature. Treehugger, by Lloyd Alter.

LIGHT: Bounce light off of ceilings and diffuse it into rooms - Treehugger, by Lloyd Alter.

RECYCLED MATERIALS, HYGIENE, PERFORMANCE: using materials in new ways to create unlikely forms for interior design. ID-Sphere, by Lizzy Van Lysebeth.

RECYCLED/RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: high performance yarns and materials made from corn?!? Uplifting Green, by Diana.

PERFORMANCE & TRANSPARENCY: glass that not only resists to breakage, but that is so strong that it provides structural support. Innovations Report.

RENEWABLE SOURCED MATERIALS: renewable energy that can be produced from agricultural waste residues. Wikipedia.

RENEWABLE SOURCED: Technology, renewable energy and batteries. Planet

LIGHT: Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED). See how lighting in the future could change, imagine turning windows into lighting instruments and more. Time magazine, by Thomas K. Grose.

PERFORMANCE: Weathering steel. Is bare steel the answer for your green urban project? Find out about this group of steel alloys developed to eliminate the need for painting, and form a stable and attractive rust-like appearance if exposed to the weather for several years.

RENEWABLE SOURCED & RECYCLED MATERIALS: Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are made from a combination of wood fiber/flour and plastic(s). WPCs can also be referred to as natural fiber plastic composites or natural fiber reinforced plastics. Wikipedia.

INNOVATION:...Create furniture using grandma's crochet patterns?!? Not exactly, but see how one design studio has transformed a 2-dimensional embroidered textile into 3D pop-up interior design objects.

RECYCLED MATERIALS: Furniture from coffee grounds? Now we've heard it all! See what one company in London has done. Core77, by hipstomp.

RENEWABLE SOURCED: Liquid wood - it looks like wood, feels like wood, is even made of wood and is biodegradable - but it shifts shape and solidifies like plastic, bringing together the most powerful material assets of two of the most used materials on the planet.

SCIENCE FICTION: This technology gives science fiction fans a run for their money. Nanobots are used to bring static elements into moving forms to respond to your needs. Not a reality today, but since we are dreaming about a sustainable tomorrow, why let today's reality get in the way?

LIGHT: Light Matters - new luminous materials and technologies.

RENEWABLE SOURCED: How to store energy... applications and technologies for transitioning to a fossil-free energy system. EVWind

LIGHT: Translucent lighting systems and architectural illumination... zero-energy home that is completely powered by the sun.

RECYCLED MATERIALS : A laptop you can break down by hand, then recycle.

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Roof vegetation consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Green roofs also provide protection to roof structures and insulation layers against temperature fluctuations and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which significantly improves their lifetime.

RENEWABLE SOURCED: consider cork! Learn more about this natural and renewably sourced material here.

BIO BASED MATERIALS: using microbes to make plastic?

WATER SAVING TECHNOLOGY: Water-conserving showerheads without sacrificing performance.

ENERGY SAVING: taking into account the fact that more than 90% of the ecological footprint of a household unit is caused during the service life of the device... here is a new generation of green appliances.


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