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— Environment

Scientists develop catalyst that cleans diesel emissions without platinum

Diesel engines are a classic example of good news and bad news. The good news is that diesel engines are much more fuel efficient than petrol engines. The bad news is that they belch out some pretty nasty emissions like nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. The good news is that catalytic converters can scrub those out. The bad news is that last Friday the platinum needed by the converters is selling for US$1,473.10 an ounce. Now the good news is that a team at Nanostellar in Redwood, California, has developed a mineral catalyst that outperforms platinum at a fraction of the cost. Read More

Jet-fuel powered Cessna flies cheaper and greener

The Cessna Aircraft Company is looking to make small planes a little cheaper to fuel and greener to fly with its new Cessna Turbo 182 NXT. Unveiled on Monday, July 23, at the 2012 Airventure airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the aircraft is a single-engine prop plane that is the first to burn Jet A aviation fuel. This change makes the plane cheaper to fuel, get better mileage and performance, as well as operate more environmentally friendly. Read More
— Holiday Destinations

French "Bubble Hotel" lets you sleep with nature

Last year, designer Pierre Stephane Dumas unveiled his line of room-sized, transparent bubbles that allow people to sleep with almost nothing blocking their view of nature. His goal was to create a portable space that was both comfortable while giving the feeling of being out in the middle of any natural environment - and without disturbing the area very much. As enticing as those might be though, not many people are going to be able to afford the €7766 (US$10,987) price tag just to buy one for their weekend camping trip. Luckily for those keen on a see-through sleeping experience, the Attrap’Rêves hotel has recently opened in France to offer visitors a range of fully-furnished bubbles in different scenic locales to use in place of a typical hotel room. Read More
— Architecture

Free-floating catamaran suite provides a unique escape in nature

This tiny cabin is a free-floating catamaran suite designed by Dutch architect, Marijn Beije. The design was conceived with the hope of luring a younger and more city-focused group of people back into nature, and offers a unique new way to sleep under the stars. Guests can enhance their experience of nature by relaxing in this fully furnished floating eco-lodge, complete with bedroom, bathroom and rooftop deck. Read More
— Good Thinking

"Living furniture" could power laptops and desk lamps

Designers and scientists at the University of Cambridge have been collaborating on a project that demonstrates a potential future application of Biophotovoltaic (BPV) technology. Dubbed the Moss Table, the concept furniture piece was exhibited at this year’s Salone Satellite – a parallel exhibition of young designers that took place during the Milan Design Week last month. The idea behind the table is that energy generated from the moss during the day could be stored in a battery and later used to power the adjoining lamp in the evening. Read More
— Good Thinking

OECD calls for policy reform and technology to prevent impending water crisis

Worldwide population growth and the related rapid increase in urbanization is already posing problems in many areas for the management of that most precious of resources, water. With these problems only set to intensify, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has released a report outlining the challenges humanity faces to maintain water resources in the face of demographic growth and climate change. Called Meeting the Water Reform Challenge, the report says that urgent reform of water policies is crucial in order to preserve human and environmental health as well as economic growth. Read More
— Robotics

Researchers aim to build eco-friendly robots from biodegradable materials

While many people are busy working on how to build robots capable of doing everything (and more) humans can do, few are considering the impact that creating a legion of robotic workers will have on the environment. Two university researchers aim to change this, by investigating how to build robots from biodegradable materials that will simply decompose at the end of their lives. Read More