Monthly Archives: April 2007

The NYTimes talks Hydrogen

On the Road, Hope for a Zero Pollution Car

So the three hydrogen-fueled vehicles that gathered at the Hindenburg crash site are harbingers of the future, proof that all of hydrogen’s potential in transportation did not go up in flames 70 years ago.

The spot where the Hindenburg met its end is now a historic landmark. A heavy yellow anchor chain surrounds a concrete pad replicating the size, shape, and final resting place of the Hindenburg’s control car. Rick Zitarosa, historian of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, said the Navy intended to preserve the site in its current form.

The vehicles here, and three other experimental cars driven elsewhere, cover a broad spectrum of hydrogen possibilities. Here are highlights…

A Universe of Promise (and a Tankful of Caveats) 

At the moment, hydrogen seems to be the most practical way to power vehicles that do not emit carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas. But despite considerable research, many hurdles remain. Here are some questions and answers….

Proposal to make Highway’s more Green!!


Sometimes it takes a student to teach the sensei. A design competition for students has produced various ways to capture wind power by retrofitting highways and roadways with wind turbines. The simple [and brilliant] design captures the normally lost kinetic energy of vehicular traffic as it cruises along the PCH or GSP going 55-85mph.


I’m sure it will be a few years before we see such infrastructure actually implemented – but its about time designers start to think outside the box when it comes to creating ‘green’ technologies. We need to generate more great ideas like this: where energy is created through a simple and aesthetically pleasing device that that can be fitted within existing structures – like these jersey barrier turbines [shown below], which we covered here and here on MNP.

[original article appeared on architecture.mnp - and was written by Arco]

::via inhabitat::

Proposal to make Highway?s more Green!!


Finally……Sometimes it takes a student to teach the teacher. A design competition for students has developed various ways to capture wind power by retrofitting highways and road ways with wind turbines (something I believe to be one of the most innovative ideas in a long time and it amazes me that no one has developed this into reality yet). It’s rather simple and brilliant to capture the normally lost kinetic energy caused by such non ‘green’ machines (i.e. cars, trucks) as they cruise along the PCH or GSP going 55-85mph.


I’m sure it will be a few years before we see such infrastructure actually implemented – but its about time architects start to think outside the box and be creative with engineering [we all know engineers only work in numbers and lines - no offense]. We need to generate more great ideas like this – and like the jersey barrier turbines [shown below], which we covered here and here on MNP.

::via inhabitat::

GOR Building


Return visitors to the site might recall the work of Pascal Arquitectos [check out our previous posts] as features on architecture.mnp. Today we feature another project by the firm, where they’ve transformed a 25 year old office building’s façade – not only giving it a more contemporary look and feel, but also turning an hermetically sealed building from the ’70’s ‘green’.

Project: Pascal Arquitectos. Carlos Pascal & Gerard Pascal
Construction: Pascal Arquitectos – M.Guindi
Date: 2003
Address: Av. Ejercito Nacional, Mexico City
Photography by: Jaime Navarro

The intervention in this 25 years old building ascribes to the damaged materials and the necessity keep up with the new thermo-acoustic requirements of the area. To accomplish this objective a passive but high effective energy saving façade was adapted. The target was to restore the building with a modern image with the evident utilization of new technologies.

Logistics were very complex because the complete restoration had to be made without emptying the offices. Physical determining factors were sort out building an hermetic façade and placing a double aluminum façade with horizontal melaminized over sized wood louvers that blocks the sunlight, and laminated glass with a polyvinyl film in order to fulfill the thermo-acoustic requirements.



These louvers where set up over the aluminum contours anchored in the structure by steel cantilevers, with 1.22 m distance from the façade.



In the the vertical joints a common node was utilize in order to ease to the displacement of each part and to absorb, at the same time, the movements generated by earthquakes or by the building natural auto compression.



On the main floor, in a section of the ground that was practically given away to the public way, a veranda was built achieving the integration of the level and transforming it into a private and commercial area.


Ed Note : Our thanks to our friends over at Pascal Arquitectos [Amanda Balconi in particular] for sharing their work with architecture.mnp – if your firm would like to publish work through the site, don’t hesitate. Register here to submit your work , or email us at architecture[at]myninjaplease[dot]com.

::all images and text [other than introductory paragraph] courtesy of Pascal Arquitectos::

Hybrid version of LF-A supercar confirmed by Lexus

At the Detroit Auto Show in January, Lexus showed a re-styled version of the LF-A concept that originally appeared on the show circuit in 2005 and has turned up periodically running around the Nurburgring in Germany. Until now, the LF-A has been powered by a 500hp 5.0L V-10 driving the rear wheels. At the same show, Toyota also showed a sports car concept called FT-HS that had a hybrid drivetrain.

Reports are now coming out of England that a new Lexus branded high-end sports car may be on the way that combines elements of both of those concepts. Lexus GB director has reportedly acknowledged that an all new supercar is coming before the end of the decade that doesn’t share a platform with any existing vehicle. According to Settle, it will have new hybrid technology, indicating that it may have plug-in capability which is plausible since Toyota has already said the next generation Prius will have lithium ion batteries. If Toyota does indeed build this car, it could make an interesting counterpoint to Honda’s NSX sucessor which looks like it will have a conventional ICE powerplant.

Photo gallery at the link below:


Surviving the Climate Crisis

The Nation has a new issue out, with much of it dedicated to climate change and energy issues. Most of the articles are all available free of charge on their website (some are subscription only).

Topics include carbon offsets, green utilities, climate change, carbon taxes and trading, air travel, China, and more.

Follow the link below for more:

[The Nation]

Fuel-efficient cars dent states’ road budgets

Cars and trucks are getting more fuel-efficient, and that’s good news for drivers. But it’s a headache for state highway officials, who depend on gasoline taxes to build and maintain roads.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by 2009 the tax receipts that make up most of the federal highway trust fund will be $21 billion shy of what’s needed just to maintain existing roads, much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to compensate for highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are exploring other, potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway money.

“In 10 years, we are going to be in an intolerable financial position, and we need to start fixing it now before the problem starts,” says James Whitty, manager of an alternative funding project in the Oregon transportation department.


ETFE – Miracle Polymer?


ETFE [Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene], a transparent plastic material related to Teflon, is being heralded as THE building material of the future. Why use it instead of glass [or another polymer]? Well apparently ETFE is…

- 1% the weight of glass

- transmits more light than glass

- is a better insulator than glass

- costs 24% to 70% less to install than glass

- able to bear 400 times its own weight

- 50-year life-span

- self-cleaning [nonstick surface - related to Teflon, remember?]

- AND lastly, its recyclable

Some places where you’ve already seen the product being used include the Beijing National Aquatics Center & National Stadium [for the 2008 Olympics], the Khan Shatyry Entertainment Center [Kazakhstan], and the Eden Project in England.

Read more from Elizabeth Woyke at Business Week- Material for an Architectural Revolution

::via BusinessWeek::