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April 6, 2014

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: WarkaWater Tower, kangaroo-like robot and an energy-generating carousel

by John_A

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

The world is flooded with electronic devices, which add up to a huge e-waste problem — but if a team of MIT researchers has its way, the gadgets of the future could be made from living cells. The team is working on hybrid materials made from bacteria that could grow anything from solar cells to smartphones. The German engineering company Festo is known for its biomimetic creations, producing everything from flying seagulls to wind turbines that flap their wings like birds. Now the company has developed an energy-efficient robot that hops around like a kangaroo. In green lighting news, Torafu Architects has created a series of recycled glass pendant lamps that are inspired by droplets of water. And Philips has developed a new LED bulb that looks and feels like an incandescent. And for those travelers who just can’t seem to fit everything in their carry-on luggage, we present you with the JakToGo, a new jacket that stores up to 10 kg of goods, freeing up space in your suitcase.

Italian designer Arturo Vittori recently unveiled the WarkaWater Tower, a clever structure that could be used to collect water from thin air in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. In other green design news, a Chinese company found a way to build 10 homes in a single day for less than $5,000 a pop, and a former helicopter pilot with a passion for photography and coffee created a coffee shop in South Korea that’s shaped like a Rolleiflex TLR Camera. In Taiwan, the Danish architecture firm BIG has proposed to build a massive senior community featuring a set of undulating green roofs. This week, Inhabitat also featured Atelier SAD’s modular Port X Home, which can pop up on land or on water, and we were amazed by Vienna’s 19th century coal gasometers, which have been transformed into thriving apartment buildings.

It takes a village to transition from fracking to solar power. In England, residents of a tiny town banded together to protest a fracking company planning to drill just five miles away. Now, those same residents have formed a coalition that seeks to finance and build community-owned solar power plants. Meanwhile, Oregon State University researchers found a way to use sunlight to create solar power devices, essentially turning the sun into a “one-stop shop” for green technology. Renewable energy can be fun, too: In the Netherlands, Ecosistema Urbano recently unveiled an amazing energy-generating carousel that produces power while lighting up riders’ lives.

BMW is best known for its high-end passenger cars, but the German company is also dabbling in public transportation. The BMW subsidiary DesignworksUSA recently produced 58 ritzy trains for Kuala Lumpur’s new subway system. After the devastating 2011 tsunami, Japanese company Fomm designed a remarkable electric car that is the world’s smallest four-seat electric vehicle, and it can also float like a boat. Also on the green transportation front, Tesla announced that it will be adding a new underbody shield and aluminum deflector plate to help prevent fires in the Model S. Madrid is preparing to host its first-ever electric bike-sharing program. The program will include 1,500 bikes, which will be spread throughout the city.

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