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Jan 14, 2021

SONDORS Metacycle unveiled as low-cost 80 MPH electric motorcycle

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

SONDORS has just pulled up the curtain on its first-ever electric motorcycle, the SONDORS Metacycle. The new commuter electric motorcycle may just be the first truly low-cost electric motorcycle capable of both city and highway riding.

Of course terms like “affordable” and “low-cost” will always be relative.

But to put things in perspective, we live in a world where the $29799 Harley-Davidson LiveWire is considered largely a commuter electric motorcycle, though with enough power for some impressive drag races as well.

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Jan 14, 2021

Inspired by kombucha tea, engineers create ‘living materials’

Posted by in categories: biological, sustainability

Engineers at MIT and Imperial College London have developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mixture of bacteria and yeast similar to the “kombucha mother” used to ferment tea.

Using this mixture, also called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), the researchers were able to produce cellulose embedded with enzymes that can perform a variety of functions, such as sensing environmental pollutants. They also showed that they could incorporate yeast directly into the material, creating “living materials” that could be used to purify water or to make “smart” packaging materials that can detect damage.

“We foresee a future where diverse materials could be grown at home or in local production facilities, using biology rather than resource-intensive centralized manufacturing,” says Timothy Lu, an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of .

Jan 14, 2021

Fiat Chrysler plans to mass produce flying cars by 2023

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

One of electric aviation’s greatest challenges (beyond safety certification) is mass production. Designing a working prototype is now table stakes in this industry. As Tesla found out, heavy manufacturing at scale can easily bankrupt even the most well-funded companies.

To solve this problem, Archer turned to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which produces about 4 million cars per year at its 100 manufacturing facilities and 40 R&D centers. FCA described it as a mutually beneficial arrangement: It gains experience electrifying vehicles (where it lags behind), and Archer gains access to low-cost manufacturing expertise. FCA already helped design the aircraft’s cockpit and will allow the production of “thousands of aircraft” per year, according to a company spokesperson. The first aircraft is scheduled to be revealed in early 2021 with the first public flights in 2024.

Delays are likely given the complexity of launching, literally, a new vehicle. But the announcement fulfills the initial prediction made last year by John Hansman, director of MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation: “You’ve seen some shakeup in electric aviation, but also see it get closer to reality” in 2020, he said. “It’s clear there will be the emergence of a new class of electric airplanes. In 2021, you’ll see hybrid and battery aircraft in service or close to being in service.”

Jan 13, 2021

The compound that makes chili peppers spicy also boosts perovskite solar cell performance

Posted by in categories: chemistry, solar power, sustainability

Scientists in China and Sweden have determined that a pinch of capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives chili peppers their spicy sting, may be a secret ingredient for more stable and efficient perovskite solar cells. The research, published January 13 in the journal Joule, determined that sprinkling capsaicin into the precursor of methylammonium lead triiodide (MAPbI3) perovskite during the manufacturing process led to a greater abundance of electrons (instead of empty placeholders) to conduct current at the semiconductor’s surface. The addition resulted in polycrystalline MAPbI3 solar cells with the most efficient charge transport to date.

“In the future, green and sustainable forest-based biomaterial additive technology will be a clear trend in non-toxic lead-free materials,” says Qinye Bao, a senior author of the study from East China Normal University. “We hope this will eventually yield a fully green perovskite solar cell for a clean energy source.”

While metal halide perovskite semiconductors represent a promising component for state-of-the-art solar cell technologies, they are plagued by nonradiative recombination, an undesirable electron-level process that reduces efficiency and exacerbates heat losses. Bao and colleagues sought out a natural, forest-based, inexpensive additive to overcome this limitation and enhance solar cell performance.

Jan 13, 2021

China Builds The World’s Largest Electric Cruise Ship

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

Meet the “Yangtze River Three Gorges 1”, an electric cruise ship, announced in December, that is poised to become the world’s largest of its kind (among EVs).

According to the brief info, it will be launched in July and enter service in November of 2021, on popular tourist routes: the Two Dams and One Gorge, the Yichang Yangtze River Night Cruise, and the Three Gorges Shiplift.

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Jan 13, 2021

Artificial Flesh

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, ethics, food, futurism, health, innovation, science, sustainability

Review: Meat Planet (2019) by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft

In the words of the book’s author, Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft, Meat Planet: Artificial Flesh and the Future of Food (2019) is “not an attempt at prediction but rather a study of cultured meat as a special case of speculation on the future of food, and as a lens through which to view the predictions we make about how technology changes the world.” While not serving as some crystal ball to tell us the future of food, Wurgaft’s book certainly does serve as a kind of lens.

Our very appetites are questioned quite a bit in the book. Wondering about the ever-changing history of food, the author asks, “Will it be an effort to reproduce the industrial meat forms we know, albeit on a novel, and more ethical and sustainable, foundation?” Questioning why hamburgers are automatically the default goal, he points out cultured meat advocates should carefully consider “the question of which human appetite for meat, in historical terms, they wish to satisfy.”

Wurgaft’s question of “which human appetite” – past, present, or future – is an excellent one. If we use his book as a lens to observe other emerging technologies, the question extends well beyond our choices of food. It could even have direct implications for such endeavours as radical life extension. Will we, if we extend our lifetimes, be satisfactory to future people? We already know the kind of clash that persists between different generations, and the blame we often place on previous generations for current social ills, without there also being a group of people who simply refuse to die. We should be wary of basing our future on the present – of attempting to preserve present tastes as somehow immutable and deserving immortality. This may be a problem such futurists as Ray Kurzweil, author of The Singularity is Near (2005) need to respond to.

If we are to justify the singularity at which we or our appetites are immortalized, we should remember technology changes “morality’s horizon”, as Wurgaft observes. If, for example, a new technology arises that can entirely eliminate suffering, our choice to allow suffering is an immoral one. If further technologies then emerge that can eliminate not just suffering but death, it will become immoral on that day to permit someone’s natural death – at least to the extent it is like the crime of manslaughter. I argued in my own book that it will be immoral to withhold novel biotechnologies from impoverished countries, if we know such direct action will increase their economic independence or improve their health. Put simply, our inaction in a situation can become an immoral deed if we have the necessary tools to stop suffering.

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Jan 12, 2021

Making The Future Better Together

Posted by in categories: employment, food, sustainability

The future is someone else’s problem. Tomorrow is just another day.

This is all well and good to think, but if we want to live a long, healthy life, then we ALL need to work to make tomorrow a better day…

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Jan 12, 2021

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire Electric Motorcycle Test Ride And Review: H-D 2.0

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

The first electric Harley is finally ready – but who is it for?

Jan 12, 2021

GM shares hit record high as automaker reveals electric van and delves into flying cars

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, sustainability, transportation

The potential foray into “personal air mobility” was announced as part of Cadillac’s portfolio of luxury and EV vehicles. It included an autonomous shuttle and an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, or more commonly known as a flying car or air taxi.

Michael Simcoe, vice president of GM global design, said each concept reflected “the needs and wants of the passengers at a particular moment in time and GM’s vision of the future of transportation.”

“This is a special moment for General Motors as we reimagine the future of personal transportation for the next five years and beyond,” Simcoe said.

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Jan 12, 2021

The new ‘gold rush’ for green lithium

Posted by in categories: climatology, computing, mobile phones, solar power, sustainability

All the clean technologies that we need to combat climate change – whether that’s wind turbines, solar panels or batteries, they’re all really, really mineral intensive.


Cornwall, 1864. A hot spring is discovered nearly 450m (1485ft) below ground in the Wheal Clifford, a copper mine just outside the mining town of Redruth. Glass bottles are immersed to their necks in its bubbling waters, carefully sealed and sent off for testing. The result is the discovery of so great a quantity of lithium – eight or 10 times as much per gallon as had been found in any hot spring previously analysed – that scientists suspect “it may prove of great commercial value”.

But 19th-Century England had little need for the element, and this 50C (122F) lithium-rich water continued steaming away in the dark for more than 150 years.

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