Tag Archives: Energy

Man powers his home from local stream with DIY micro-hydro plant

Microhydro plant DIY photo

A man named Manfred Mornhinweg found the modern world too “noisy and hectic”, so he decided to build himself a house on a quiet 40 hectare piece of land in Chile. Part of his project involved building a micro-hydro plant to generate electricity for his dream home, and he documented the DIY adventure on his (very old-school) website. I found it interesting, and though that you might enjoy it too.

Unfortunately, there’s no single photo that gives an overview of the whole micro-hydro plant, but this generic drawing gives a good idea of the concept:

United States Department of Energy/Public Domain

Here are a few photos from the project:

© Ludens

© Ludens

© Ludens

© Ludens

This is the outflow from the turbine, where the “poor, tired water” (said tongue-in-cheek, of course — the water’s fine) comes out after doing the hard work of spinning the turbine that generates the electricity.


Eco-Friendly Mobile Floating Architecture – off the grid solar home (PHOTOS)


Taking it one step beyond “houseboat,” UK-based Kingsley Architects has designed its own brand of modern, low-carbon, mobile floating architecture, and dubbed it the SolarHome.


Is there anything this cool home doesn’t do? Located in the Lusatian Lakelands of Germany, this organic-formed floating piece of architecture was designed to blend with the nature that surrounds it.


The 75m2 SolarHome reinvents the concept of a camper van. SolarHome features eco-friendly, off-the-grid solar power, and has been designed to operate in one of two modes – Docked Mode, which requires some infrastructure for power, fresh water and water treatment; while in Self Sufficient Mode,


SolarHome can operate for a period of six to 12 months without any service requirements. How does that float your boat? For more information, visit Kingsley Architects.


Betaray spherical glass solar energy generator by rawlemon

betaray spherical glass solar energy generator by rawlemon

last year, german architect andré broessel of rawlemon presented designboom with his spherical glass solar energy generator concept in its early prototyping stages. developed as a stand-alone power charger station for electro-mobility, the project uses the advantageous strategy of implementing a ball lens and specific geometrical structure to improve energy efficiency by 35% when compared to existing photo-voltaic panels. by combining symmetrical and transparent spherical geometry as a concentrator lens and emitter, the unique dual axis tracking system can be fully incorporated into any building surface, improving existing efficiency and offering up to 99% transparency.

‘in addition to increased and optimum solar performance, the design offers benefits for users, designers and architects,’ explains broessel. ‘unlike any existing solar technology, the design and its dematerialized aesthetic permits high transparency and full building integration with no weather impact, due to its dual axis tracking system. the design allows the possibility to connect both standard and hybrid collectors in order to convert electricity and/or thermal energy, offering a scalable, reversible, self-sufficient system.’

in contrast to its traditional photo-voltaic ‘dual-axis’ counterparts, the generator incorporates a fully rotational weatherproof natural optical tracking device that is adequate for functioning on inclined surfaces and curtain walls, empowering any building surface. the new solar generating concept even has the capability to concentrate diffused daylight or moonlight for a more effective site context application. on a cloudy day, the device produces 4 times more energy than a conventional PV system.betaray prototype

the unit comes with a modular collector system that charges and stores energy both night and day. by reducing the silicon cell area to 25% with a transparent liquid filled sphere point focusing concentrator, the collector module can be expanded with a stirling engine to generate surplus electricity.betaray energy collectordesign studiesrawlemon microtrack systemconcept

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Green Health City Proposal / Peter Ruge Architekten

Designed to support and promote the condition of physical and emotional human health, the Green Health City proposal by Peter Ruge Architekten is an ecologically sustainable development located in China’s Hainan Province, in Boao Lecheng on the Wanquan River. By establishing a cross-disciplinary and inter-cultural approach to design that is routed in China’s long history, a comprehensive and well considered masterplan scheme is achieved. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Five island districts bring together world-class medical facilities, employ new strategies for green energy production and rethink transportation networking to achieve a sustainable urban prototype. Pathways toward a sustainable future are forged through strong ties to local identity and respect for history.

A system of design is guided by concepts related to; 5 Elements – City of Creation; 5 Organs – City of Health; 5 Senses – City of Communication; 5 Islands – City of Relaxation; and 5 Rings – City of Individual Transport.Balance between these cycles and systems are applied to create a harmonious planning arrangement, promoting positive energy flow within each of the island districts and throughout the development as a whole.

Green City

Sustainable urban design that prioritizes natural land use and planning strategies minimises energy consumption and reduces building footprints. 70% renewable energy production facilitated through the use of wind turbines, bio gas, photovoltaic cells, hydraulic systems and smart grid energy saving devices for the storing and distribution of power, will service this 100% Co2 neutral development.

Health City

Environments that promote health include a combination of facilities that treat illness and assist well-being through a five star process involving diagnosis, cure, rehabilitation, rejuvenation, and prevention. Check-up programmes with a special focus on geriatric care management and faculty’s specific to the development and application of stem cell research form the nucleus of the development complex.

Direct access to electro bus, e-car, bicycle hire services and a general circuit elevated magnetic railway network that use zero emission rechargeable battery operated power offers a variety of flexible and sustainable transportation options.All private and fossil fuelled vehicles will remain outside the development complex, and a fully integrated transportation system provided.

In co-operation with Charitè , the knowledge and expertise of more than 100 clinics and institutions worldwide will assure Green Health City a place at the international forefront of health care development. This scheme pioneers new models for sustainable development in China’s healthcare market, sets a benchmark for the design of ecological cities and a standard for a healthy future, offering a gift from China to the World for keeping our blue planet healthy and green.

Architects: Peter Ruge Architekten
Location: Wanquan River, Hainan Province, China
Project Team: Peter Ruge, Kayoko Uchiyama, Matthias Matschewski, Jan Müllender, Alejandra Pérez Siller, Wang Youzhi, Maksym Iurovnikov, Xu Zhenhua, Chung Yu
Project Partners: INFRAWIND EURASIA e.V. Berlin, Charité Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin
Client: China Power International New Energy Holding LTD
Scope of Services: Concept master planning, preliminary design of city districts, integrated transportation network planning, green energy concept development
Total Area: 28 km²
Duration: 2012-2013

OrbSys Saves Water By Letting You Shower in the Same Water, Again and Again

A Swedish company has launched the OrbSys recycling shower — a new kind of shower that saves up to 90% of the water and 80% of the energy consumed by a normal shower. The shower achieves such huge savings by being a closed-loop, recirculating system, much in the same way that astronauts aboard the International Space Station re-use their waste water. In a world that’s rapidly running out of fresh water and consuming more energy than it should, the OrbSys Shower is an innovation that we should pay heed to. Even if you don’t care about the environment, the OrbSys can (apparently) save you more than $1000 per year in water and energy costs.

Orbital Systems recycling shower

The OrbSys shower, devised by Orbital Systems in Sweden, is essentially an advanced real-time water filtration system packaged as a recycling shower. You turn the shower on, start bathing, but instead of the waste water running directly into your house’s drainage pipes it enters the special (patented) OrbSys filtration system. We don’t have a whole lot of details on what actually happens inside the OrbSys black box — instead, all we have is a rather impressive list of specs. The OrbSys shower removes more than 99.9% of contaminants, and actually pumps out cleaner water than the water entering your house from the main water supply. The process is capable of retaining most of the heat in the water, resulting in huge energy savings. The system can operate in real time at up to 24 liters (6.3 gallons) per minute — more than enough to sustain a strong, invigorating flow of water (your shower at home probably uses around 15 liters per minute).

OrbSys shower

Water is a finite resource. At the rate things are going, it’s going to run out sooner rather than later. Then what would become of the human race? Working with this line of thinking are the folks behind the OrbSys shower system, which encourages people to conserve and recycle water as they bathe. Of course, the water is purified before it’s meant to be used again because it would just be gross if it weren’t.

OrbSys offers ten-minute showers that only use five liters of water. Normally people use about 150 liters for a typical shower, so that’s reducing water usage by about 96%. This is made possible by the shower’s closed-loop system that purifies the spent water to drinking water level before it comes out of the shower head for it’s succeeding runs.

OrbSys shower1

Orbital didn’t provide additional information on how their filtering system can purify the water so quickly to such levels, though.

Germany Now Produces Half Of Its Energy Using Solar

Germany has set a new record, with solar power providing 50.6% of its electricity in the middle of the day on Monday June 9th. Solar production peaked that day at 23.1GW. Three days earlier it was 24.2GW between 1 and 2pm, but on the 9th demand was down for a public holiday, allowing the breaking of the psychological 50% barrier.

Reporting of the achievement has been quite inaccurate in some cases. Coverage has often confused electricity demand with total energy consumption, which properly includes heating and industrial uses of natural gas, although these would have been low on a warm public holiday. Headlines have often implied that the 50% threshold was exceeded for over a fortnight, rather than a single hour.

Nevertheless, the scale of the achievement is considerable. Germany is not a sunny place. Indeed more than 90% of the world’s population lives in countries with substantially more sunlight.

Consequently, it is wind, rather than solar, that has been the backbone of Germany’s Energiewende, the transition to renewable, non-polluting sources of power.

The shift to solar energy in Germany has not come cheap, with €16 billion of subsidies in 2013. However, by creating a level of demand that spurred mass manufacturing, Germany has played a large part in bringing the cost of solar panels down by 80% in five years, allowing other countries to follow in its footsteps for a fraction of the price, particularly those with more sunlight.

Moreover, where the initial stages of the move to wind were driven by government subsidies, solar power in Germany can now compete with fossil fuels on price alone, andcontinues to expand, albeit at a slower rate than a few years ago.

German solar production is up 34% compared to the same time last year as a result of both better weather and increased installations. While the first is unpredictable, increasing quantities of panels ensure that the 50% record will be breached again, probably this year.

Villa K, Bergen, Netherlands by ARCHITECTENCSK (PHOTOS)

Modern Villa floats on top of old dunes, surrounded by a natural oak forest . The challenge was to make a luxurious residence which would not undermine the beauty of nature, but would complement it.

Villa K, Bergen, Netherlands by ARCHITECTENCSK

Project Details:
Location: Bergen, Netherlands
Type: Residential – Houses
Plot Area: 7000m2
Total Area: 653m2
Status: Completed
Architects: ARCHITECTENCSK – www.architectencsk.nl
Main Designers: Charles Slot & Sjoerd Kuindersma

Form follows … thousands of years old beach ridges

In the municipality of Bergen there are many historic beach ridges. Similarly, on a 7000 square meter plot on one of the most beautiful avenues of the North Holland town. The approximately 2.5 meters high ridges arose around six thousand years ago. As soon as there are building plans such ridges will be removed most times, in order to get a flat surface. This was not done for Villa K. In fact, ARCHITECTENCSK gave the old beach ridges a central place in the design.

Villa K, Bergen, Netherlands by ARCHITECTENCSK

The villa is 830 square meters and has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, an office with separate entrance, and a garage for three cars. Initially, the client just bought a plot of 35 by 100 meters. The maximum design width was 17.5 meters, the longitudinal direction was 50 meters. Later, the client bought a second, adjacent lot. The length of the lot is emphasized by the length of the villa. Both ends of the mass are cut and extended. This creates a natural separation between the living room and kitchen and between office and bedroom.

Nearly 50 meters long and 19 meters wide Villa K is apparently located in an uncompromising on top of two beach ridges, but at the same time it creates various spaces between these natural curves which firmly anchor the villa in its environment. At both ends the house seems to float above the beach ridges. This is impression is amplified by the different heights in the villa and the overarching, undulating concrete roof that gives a counter movement against the beach ridges. At the forest side the height of the villa is 4.5 meters, so that sufficient light comes into living room and kitchen.

Glass and wood dominate the exterior. The wooden walls are made of vertical oak profiles. The long facades are almost entirely of glass. On the parts with concrete walls behind them a tree print has been applied to the glass, a nod to the oak forest in the area.
The glass itself is a sandwich construction of less than 80 millimeters extra clear float glass. This material has a lower iron dioxide content than standard float glass. That makes the color brighter and therefor the glass has a higher light transmission. The thickness was necessary in order to achieve a higher energy performance. The glass panels are curved and also domed at the top. The heaviest panels weigh over 2200 pounds.

For energetic reasons a concrete base structure was chosen, which gives the villa sufficient mass. All concrete was poured on-site. This allowed the creation of overhangs at the ends of the villa.

Villa K is energy neutral. It is heated and cooled with a heat pump. The municipality ordained that rainwater has to be discharged on-site. Therefore a moss-sedum roof was chosen which enables the removal of rainwater in a very regulated way. Other advantages of this vegetated roof are higher insulation, better sound absorption, more absorption of particulate matter and longer life of the roofing.

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