This Brilliant Solar-Powered Cooler Is Your Next Tailgating Must-Have
Oct19

This Brilliant Solar-Powered Cooler Is Your Next Tailgating Must-Have

We’ve heard some people actually like football season for the football, but we’ll be honest—we’re here for the tailgating, the picnics, the burgers, the wings, the nachos, the beers . . . all stuffed into our favorite (and biggest) coolers. Our coolers have it pretty rough. They get beat up, kicked around, left in the sun, used as kicking posts for your angry brother and resting stations for Uncle John’s bigger-than-average behind. Their task of keeping our beers cold for more than a couple hours sometimes seems impossible, and we usually end up bobbing for cans in a pool of lukewarm water that used to be ice. But fear not, thirsty comrades: There is hope in solar-powered coolers. Keeping Your Drinks (and That Klondike Bar You Hid for Later) Ice-Cold The solar-powered coolers invented by nipi can rest on hot pavement, the lawn, or underneath Uncle John on the hottest of days while maintaining a Coors-friendly “Cold as the Rockies” internal temperature. In fact, the nipi can keep ice cold for an astonishing six days. Bring on the overtime. The Brilliant Design and Concept of the Solar-Powered Cooler We’ve gotten used to a high-tech world and demanding high-tech solutions. By utilizing 3D printing, nipi’s solar-powered cooler stands with the best. The cooler’s main body, rigid tires, treads, and handles are all 3D printed using sturdy materials. Additionally, the cooler uses photovoltaic solar panels that can generate six watts of power and store that power in two 14,000-mAh lithium batteries. This technology enables the cooler to keep its contents cold, power its innovative lighting system, and charge electronic devices. Its solar panels are customizable, too, so users can have up to three panels on each cooler. With three panels, it is possible to fully charge a cell phone in about twenty minutes. But Wait . . . There’s More (and You Can Afford It) In addition to its four USB ports, self-draining cup holders, cutting board, and internal and external LED lights, the nipi cooler also features a waterproof storage area perfect for guarding anything you want to keep safe and dry. The initial Kickstarter campaign for nipi made the coolers available for $160. Compare this cost to a YETI Tundra 110 cooler, which holds the same number of beers (about 65), but sells for a staggering $499.99. New Launch Date Unfortunately, nipi announced in September that they’ve decided to cancel their campaign and launch an improved model next year. You can still follow their progress on social media. Do you have any suggestions for the new and improved cooler? Write them in the comments section beneath our...

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3D Printing Brings You Pure Honey on Tap, Straight from the Bee
Sep29

3D Printing Brings You Pure Honey on Tap, Straight from the Bee

Honey adds flavor to our foods and, more importantly, keeps our global ecology strong. As bees move from plant to plant collecting nectar for honey production, they do the important work of cross-pollination, which keeps 90% of the world’s plants and 30% of its crops alive. However, when you go to the grocery store and pull off the cheapest bottle of honey you can find, you probably aren’t taking advantage of all that honey has to offer. Oftentimes, this honey has been heated and pasteurized and therefore does not have the enzymes and compounds that make local, raw honey so nutritious. In fact, the latter can help treat dandruff, provide energy, and even build immunity to some seasonal allergies. Risks of Traditional Honey-Harvesting Methods Unfortunately, harvesting honey from a beehive isn’t the easiest job in the world. The average honeybee hive contains 20,000–30,000 bees that, even after being sedated, will usually do anything they can to protect their honey. Beekeeping suits help, sure, but there’s always the possibility that the bees will find an opening (or just skip that step and sting the keeper through his or her suit). A bigger issue with traditional methods of honey harvesting is that the process inevitably kills bees and is hugely disruptive to the colony. To get to the honey, keepers usually have to leaf-blow bees off of the combs, cut the combs off the bee box, and spin honey off the combs with an extractor. At the end of this messy process, even the most careful keepers inevitably kill more bees than necessary. An Innovative 3D-Printed Beehive Stuart and Cedar Anderson, a father-and-son team in Australia, have been working for more than a decade on methods to harvest local honey more easily and economically. They wanted to develop a way to increase production, decrease colony disruption, and mass-produce pure honey for a wider audience. Enter Flow. Using a 3D printer, the Andersons create frames using plastic that is both BPA-free (BPA is a chemical often used in making plastics. It can have a negative effect on brain function, especially in children and pregnant women). Flow’s plastic is also made of food-grade material, meaning it is free of toxins and not at risk for acquiring toxins. The New Honeybee Hive Design Flow is modeled after traditional bee boxes but with a few brilliant alterations. It has thousands of almost-complete honeycomb cells, which the bees seal with wax and then fill with honey. Much like a regular hive, the end result is a series of columns of honey-filled pockets. However, the columns in Flow are connected to a handle on the outside of the...

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HyperSciences Wants to Capture Geothermal Energy — At Gunpoint
Aug06

HyperSciences Wants to Capture Geothermal Energy — At Gunpoint

For many scientists, green energy is the wave of the future. A wealth of power, in the form of geothermal energy, is locked several thousand feet inside the earth. Unleashing the potential of geothermal energy by converting it into renewable steam power has been prohibitively expensive, as traditional drilling is currently the only way to reach it. Estimates on costs to reach this renewable energy source, that could have the potential to replace fossil fuels, range from $5 million to $20 million depending on how far the drilling would go. This may all change soon, thanks to the Washington-based drilling technology company HyperSciences offering a more efficient and less expensive idea that involves repeatedly firing projectiles into the earth’s crust. HyperSciences CEO Mark Russell claims the method, which would involve constructing a massive gun called a ram accelerator, would be ten times faster than traditional drilling. The company received a patent for this projectile-based system that, theoretically, would have the capability of accelerating projectiles to speeds higher than 18,000 mph. Shell Oil Company’s GameChanger program recently funded further research on the project with a $1 million grant. The ram accelerator serves as the chamber and barrel of this huge gun. A projectile with an abrasive core is loaded into the chamber and gases are pumped into the accelerator. The gases are ignited, pressurizing the chamber as the bullet passes through. This in turn sends the projectile into the ground at nearly 4,500 mph, obliterating sedimentary rock and anything else in its path, while the resulting debris is sucked back out of the hole. Russell, who is an aerospace engineer, has indicated that plastic explosives could be included in the tip to significantly increase the drilling power of the apparatus. Embedded sensors for gauging temperature and exact depth of the geothermal resources are other design options being considered. The US Department of Energy has suggested that geothermal power could provide up to 100 GW of energy in the US alone, however accessing these resources has proven challenging. To reach these reserves, the ram accelerator would fire repeatedly until reaching the desired depth. Multiple accelerators could fire simultaneously or in conjunction with traditional drills. The technique will reportedly save money on equipment wear and breakage along with cutting down the amount of time needed to get to the energy source. There are still questions regarding what the environmental impact would be. Multiple concussive blasts could have a negative effect on the subterranean environment, groundwater and geology. The technology is still in testing phases, but, as HyperSciences prepares to test and demonstrate this innovative technique, the buzz among potential investors suggests a...

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3D-Printed Electronics Are the Future
Jul09

3D-Printed Electronics Are the Future

Imagine printing a solar cell in a matter of minutes. Some business owners may think it sounds like something out of a science fiction story, but 3D printing is developing with ever-expanding capabilities including the possibility for 3D-printed electronics. The technology isn’t perfect yet, but researchers are hard at work developing ways for printers to create nanotech components from synthetics. These so-called organic electronics rely on highly conductive materials that break the production mold. A team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and Technische Universität München (TUM) in Munich have been working to identify and improve upon the electrical properties of synthetic films. The TUM team recently reported that razor-thin polymer electrodes can be created on 3D printers using enhanced synthetic films. Researchers in California can be thanked for these enhanced films. The team at Lawrence Berkeley used X-ray radiation to alter the molecular structure of freshly printed synthetic layers and worked in conjunction with the TUM researchers to determine how different post-printing processes affected the films. The international team plans to publish their results in Advanced Materials, an industry trade journal. These new printing technologies are exciting, but more research is on the horizon. Making organic electronics is incredibly complex. The process will need to be closely observed and understood so that custom applications are possible in the future. Researchers are also working to perfect techniques to create the various layers in electronic components using only one process. This will increase convenience for manufacturers and will allow the large-scale use of 3D printing to create designer electronics. There’s a great deal at stake here for businesses. Projected future markets for these technologies include solar cells, RFID tags, touch screens, glowing films and flexible displays. With future projects in development, such as wallpaper made of OLEDs, it is not surprising that organic electronics are expected to make a big impact on the consumer market thanks to this incredible range of applications. Of course, the ability to print designer electronics on a 3D printer also significantly increases prototyping and bespoke design capabilities for small businesses. Instead of blowing their research and development budgets on electronics manufacturing, businesses will be able to print components in house for immediate testing. It may seem a distant dream now, but the enthusiasm of researchers in California and Munich indicates that printed electronics are closer than many might...

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Freight Farms Is Revolutionizing Urban Gardens
May05

Freight Farms Is Revolutionizing Urban Gardens

Founded in 2010 by Jon Friedman and Brad McNamara, Boston-based Freight Farms is poised to revolutionize the urban garden. Capitalizing on the growing trend toward locally sourced foods, Freight Farms provides a turnkey solution to those who want to grow large amounts of produce in a limited space. This facilitates everyone from the home gardener (albeit one who may be a bit more dedicated than the average backyard hobbyist) to large-scale wholesalers supplying the local restaurant and hospitality industries—and everyone in between. Requiring no more than a plot of level land large enough to accommodate a 40′ x 8′ shipping container, Freight Farms’ “Leafy Green Machine” (LGM) is capable of producing as many as 2,500 seedlings and 4,500 mature plants at a time. This enormous capacity is made possible by their use of a vertical tower growing area. Instead of growing in horizontal rows, plants grow from hanging towers of hydroponic pods, each lit by a patented LED lighting system that, according to the company’s website, “mimics sunlight and delivers the optimal wavelengths for uniform plant growth.” The container is equipped with two hydroponic nutrient delivery systems – one “ebb-and-flow” system for seedlings and a drip setup to support mature vegetative growth –  and environmental sensors that control temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels. Water quality is measured and controlled through temperature, pH, and EC sensors. Users can set parameters and receive notifications about system performance. Naturally, all of this can be monitored and controlled via the included 4G hotspot and your iOS device. (Really, is there anything that CAN’T be controlled by your phone or tablet these days?) Climate tracking, surveillance, and data logging all help make food safety and transparency a breeze. All you have to do is plug it in and start growing! Built by contract engineering and manufacturing firm Columbia Tech, the LGM is a truly scalable solution, perfect for those who want to grow (pun intended) beyond the capacity of a single unit. Because the system is built using stackable shipping containers, each self-contained unit is capable of being placed securely next to or on top of each other, greatly enhancing efficiency and output per square foot. Urban gardens and local restaurants may want to take notice…...

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The New Energy Efficient Ride that Elon Musk Hates
Mar26

The New Energy Efficient Ride that Elon Musk Hates

Toyota has officially rolled out an affordable, eco-friendly car that can drive for 300 miles, takes less than five minutes to refuel, and comes with three years of free gas. It’s everything fans of zero-emission car culture could love, and the biggest name in electric cars hates it. Toyota’s Mirai (“future” in Japanese) will be one of the first mass-market cars to run on hydrogen fuel cells, where compressed hydrogen gas is converted to electricity, leaving water vapor as the only exhaust. As opposed to getting plugged in overnight, the sedan will need only about three minutes to get back to full charge. However the Mirai has found a surprisingly forceful critic in Elon Musk. The electric-car pioneer and founder of Tesla Motors has called hydrogen fuel cells “extremely silly,” with his main critique being that hydrogen is too difficult to produce, store and turn efficiently to fuel, diverting attention from better sources of clean energy. “The best-case hydrogen fuel cell doesn’t win against the current-case batteries. It doesn’t make sense, and that will become apparent in the next few years,” Musk said last month in Detroit. Bob Carter, a Toyota senior vice president, slapped back at Musk by criticizing his focus on battery-powered cars: “If I was in a position where I had all my eggs in one basket, I would perhaps be making those same comments.” Toyota has been adamant in its defense of hydrogen, saying it will give drivers faster refueling times and better range than the typical battery-powered electric car. While they are not the only automaker pushing hard on fuel cells, Toyota has been one of its biggest supporters, opening its more than 5,000 fuel-cell related patents up for free and saying it wants to build and fund new fueling stations, first in California and then stretching to the east coast. Although Mirai production began in December, Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, marked Tuesday as the official roll-out date. “For us, that date marks a new start,” Toyoda said. “This is not to reflect on the past, but rather to celebrate Toyota’s new start, where we take a fresh step towards the future.” At 300 miles, the Mirai offers the longest range of any electric vehicle on the market. However, to sell successfully in America, the cars will need a nationwide infrastructure for refueling. They make little sense anywhere else now but in California, home of the nation’s few existing hydrogen refueling stations and where tens of millions of dollars are being invested to build 28 more. Toyota plans to sell the Mirai for about $45,000 in the U.S., including approximately $13,000 in federal and California incentives. A dozen workers will hand-craft the cars without the use of a conveyor belt, producing only three a day.  The small-batch operation will roll out 700 vehicles...

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