Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rethinking Resource Infrastructure

By: Natasha Harper, Katie Adee, and James Baldauf

This project proposes a mobile collection and sequestration system that searches the terrain for methane rich permafrost deposits while leaving behind "off-the-grid" settlements across the Arctic landscape.

In light of the current climate crisis, we began looking at ways in which architecture could serve a more fundamental role in the issue of sustainability. As permafrost (perennially frozen soil) melts, it releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane, is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, hidden within the permafrost is what is known as gas hydrate. Gas hydrates are gasses trapped within the crystalline structure of ice. Methane is a potential clean-burning energy source 2x larger than that of all other fossil fuel reserves. In our thesis project, we chose to capitalize on this naturally occurring phenomenon by collecting the methane for use as a new energy source while using the infrastructure erected as the bones for new communities that would be energy self-sustaining.

lifespan of the collection system

lifespan of the residue system

sectional drawing of the stages of inflation during the collection phase

stills from animation depicting the movement, growth, and residue of the energy collection system

plans at both ground level and platform level of new settlement

physical model of settlement

physical model of the collector

physical model of potential settlement looking at flexibility between spaces

physical model of creeper (earlier study)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Although it would be too late for any of us to reap the benefits, I think Hanrahan should get Nicholas Ronco to install one of his Yelo centers in Higgins.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Biomimetics: Design by Nature

An electron micrograph reveals sharkskin’s secret to speed: tooth-like scales called dermal denticles. Water “races through the microgrooves without tumbling,” says shark researcher George Burgess, reducing friction. “It’s like a fast-moving river current versus the gurgling turbulence of a shallow stream.” The scales also discourage barnacles and algae from glomming on—an inspiration for synthetic coatings that may soon be applied to Navy ship hulls to reduce such biofouling.

What has fins like a whale, skin like a lizard, and eyes like a moth? The future of engineering.

via> National Geographic (April 2008)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Green Gasoline Created From Biomass

‘Green Gasoline’ is a liquid identical to regular gasoline in energy, but made from biomass sources such as poplar trees and switchgrass. Researchers seem to have finally discovered a way to create this sort of fuel, that could be of tremendous help to the U.S. economy, eliminating the need to import expensive oil supplies and the need to grow corn for producing ethanol.

Chemical engineer George Huber from the National Science Foundation and two of his graduate students presented the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components. The study shows the steps can run sequentially without purification or complex separation processes between reactors.

Huber says that future biofuels will be similar to gasoline in the chemical composition and that the challenge is to produce efficient fuels from biomass that would integrate in the existing infrastructure. The understanding of the chemical reactions used in this process is likely to design more efficient ways to commercialize green gasoline.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Redwing Reef

File under unintended consequences of success. The artificial reef off the coast of Delaware made of decommissioned New York subway cars is apparently too successful resulting in great demand for the cars. They are such a productive habitat for sea life that they attract fishing, larger open water species like tuna, and theft of traps from competing fishermen.

NY Times article here. And slideshow.

Local River


Local River is the "home storage unit for fish and greens" as conceived by Mathieu Lehanneur with Anthony van den Bossche. Inspired by the Locavores, a group of culinary adventurers who eat foods produced in a radius of 100 miles around their city, Local River anticipates the growing influence of this group (the word 'locavore' made its first appearance in an American dictionary in 2007) by proposing a home storage unit for live freshwater fish combined with a mini vegetable patch. This DIY (GYO?) fish-farm-cum-kitchen-garden is based on the principle of aquaponics coupled with the exchange and interdependence of two living organisms - plants and fish. The plants extract nutrients from the nitrate-rich dejecta of the fish. In doing so they act as a natural filter that purifies the water and maintains a vital balance for the eco-system in which the fish live. The same technique is used on large-scale pioneer aquaponics/fish-farms, which raise tilapia (a food fish from the Far East) and lettuce planted in trays floating on the surface of ponds. From April 25th to June 21st 2008 at Artists Space.