Electric cars could one day be charged in seconds, thanks to the University of Glasgow

electric car charger

The time it takes to charge an electric vehicle could be dropped from hours to just seconds, thanks to a new ‘flow battery system’ developed by the University of Glasgow.

For as long as electric cars have been part of the public conversation, there has always been one major hurdle putting many people off them – the time it takes to charge. Even the most efficient charging systems and batteries can take several hours to fully charge, as opposed to filling a petrol car which only takes a matter of seconds. That however could all be about to change.

‘Nanoscale battery molecules’

Chemistry researchers from the university have developed a hi-tech liquid containing ‘nanoscale battery molecules’. Put simply, the liquid is a sort of removable battery – so you can pump fresh, fully-charged liquid into your car while the old, depleted liquid is removed and taken away to be re-charged. This means you can effectively fill up your car in the same way you would with petrol (and in the same amount of time).

As well as proving electricity, the liquid can also provide hydrogen for hydrogen-powered vehicles, making it an extremely versatile sort of ‘dual fuel’.

hydrogen car
Hydrogen fuel cell cars, such as the Hyundai ix35 (pictured) could also benefit from the technology. Image source.

Environmental benefits

The new technology spells out great news not just for motorists, but for the environment too. Because the liquid stores energy effectively and can be charged away from the car, it can make use of renewable energy as and when it’s available, meaning less reliance on fossil fuels.

Professor Leroy Cronin, who worked on the project, said: “For future renewables to be effective high capacity and flexible energy storage systems are needed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in supply. Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could even have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity. Moreover, the very high energy density of our material could increase the range of electric cars, and also increase the resilience of energy storage systems to keep the lights on at times of peak demand.”

There’s no news on if or when the technology will be available for public use, but the future looks very promising!

Samoa is going 100% renewable – with the help of Tesla

Tesla in Samoa

The island nation of Samoa plans to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025, and the electric car giant Tesla are helping them achieve that goal.

The small country, home to around 200,000 people, previously relied on expensive imported diesel for most of their electricity – in 2012 alone they had to import 95 million litres of the stuff. But cost isn’t the only issue – island nations like Samoa are also at particular risk from the effects of climate change.

In recent years Samoa has invested heavily in renewable energy, with five large solar power plants, a wind farm and hydro-electricity plants. But this presented the country with a new challenge – effectively storing and re-distributing all that energy. That’s where Tesla came in, who have installed 2 of its Powerpack storage systems providing 13.6 MWh of storage. More importantly, they have implemented grid controller software that can react to a spike in demand in a fraction of a second.

“If a big cloud comes over the island and the solar drops very quickly, we can control the battery to make up the difference so we don’t have to start a generator immediately, and we don’t have to keep a generator running even when it might not be needed,” explains JB Straubel, chief technical officer at Tesla.

The software does a job that would be near-impossible for a human. “You have to respond in fractions of a second and you have to be kind of watching a lot of different data sources at the same time and then responding quickly… so it’s sort of the perfect application for a computer to do exactly that.”

solar farm
One of Samoa’s many solar farms. Image Source:Tesla

Since the system was installed earlier this summer power outages have become a thing of the past, and although diesel generators are still needed, usage is way down.
Tesla hope that the technology can be used in other parts of the world as renewable energy use increases.

“We’re going to see a lot more of the problems Samoa was struggling with coming up because they were getting to such high renewable percentages,” says Straubel. “So it’s really an indicator of the future. These are the types of problems and systems that we will definitely see in more parts of the world and in bigger and bigger grids.”

Juventus reveal new kit made from 100% recycled plastic

Juventus recycled kit

Italian football club Juventus have revealed their new third kit for the 2018-19 season, made entirely from recycled plastic recovered from the ocean.

The reigning Serie A champions teamed up with manufacturer Adidas and environmental group Parley for the Ocean to design the innovative new kit, made from 100% recycled polyester. The design features dark grey fabric with bright yellow logos and trim.

The new design was unveiled to the world on Twitter yesterday, accompanied by the slogan ‘From Threat into Thread’:

 

 

Juventus aren’t the only footballing giants taking action against plastic pollution. Manchester United released a similar recycled kit back in May – also designed by Adidas.

Manchester United recycled kit
Manchester United have also designed a kit made from recycled material. All images: Adidas.

“The new Juve third kit has eco-innovation and longevity at its very heart” said Adidas Designer Francesca Venturini on the club’s official website.

“Through our partnership with Parley for the Oceans we’ve been able to create this beautiful jersey made from Ocean Plastic. The dark grey shade with yellow accents makes it the perfect jersey to be worn either on pitch or on the streets.”

Plastic Pollution

According to UNESCO, over 220 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year. Much of this plastic is eroded down into micro-particles, which are extremely harmful to marine life.

Plastic waste can also collect into concentrated areas known as gyres. There are currently 5 gyres in the world’s oceans – the biggest, known as ‘the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is twice the size of Texas!

Our favourite eco-friendly homes from TV’s Grand Designs

Eco-friendly homes from Grand Designs

Grand Designs is a BAFTA-winning architecture show on Channel 4, following the lives of couples or families as they embark on building an elaborate dream home – often running well over schedule and over budget in the process.

Over the show’s 18 series, one recurring theme has been the desire to build a home that is as energy-efficient and eco-friendly as possible. People don’t just want a home that looks great – they’re also keenly aware of their carbon footprint and the impact on the environment. Responsibly-sourced materials, energy efficient insulation and sustainable architecture are all phrases you’ll hear thrown around in most episodes.

We’ve trawled through the show’s archives to find some of the most ambitious eco-projects. You can take a look at some of our favourites below:

 

Hand-built eco-home in Pembrokeshire

Eco house from Grand Designs Eco house from Grand Designs
Eco house from Grand Designs Eco house from Grand Designs
Eco house from Grand Designs Eco house from Grand Designs
Eco house from Grand Designs Eco house from Grand Designs

Built by: Simon and Jasmine Dale
Location: Pembrokeshire, West Wales

Forming part of a larger eco-village deep in the Welsh countryside, this hand built home takes the concept of ‘low-impact’ to the extreme. It was built from trees felled from its own plot, it’s entirely off-grid and creates virtually no waste.

Starting with a budget of just £500, Simon and Jasmine Dale used their experience from building similar (but temporary) dwellings to create a more permanent, long-term home for themselves and their two children. Although the project wasn’t quite completed during filming, it only cost an estimated £27,000 over two years.

In exchange for planning permission, the Welsh Assembly laid down some strict guidelines – all homes in the eco village were given five years to demonstrate that 75% of their everyday basic needs could be met from the land. This included things like producing their own firewood, generating their own energy and managing their own waste – as well as running a small business.

Simon, a former photographer, and Jasmine, who’s background is in environmental education, were the first to build on the plot and used the opportunity to educate others in sustainable building & living.

 

Timber-clad hillside house in Worcestershire

Timber-clad house from Grand Designs Timber-clad house from Grand Designs
Timber-clad house from Grand Designs Timber-clad house from Grand Designs
Timber-clad house from Grand Designs Timber-clad house from Grand Designs
Timber-clad house from Grand Designs Timber-clad house from Grand Designs

Built by: Jon and Gill Flewers
Location: Malvern, Worcestershire

In classic Grand Designs style, this low-energy home was riddled with delays, re-designs and setbacks. Jon and Gill Flewers returned to the UK from living in New Zealand in 2013 with dreams of building their own home. Their original plan was to excavate a large chunk of the sloping site and build a four-storey house that was partially embedded in the hillside. Technical hurdles however forced the architects to re-design the house, bringing it six metres out of the hillside and rearranging the layout onto three storeys instead of four.

The finished home makes use of photovoltaic solar panels, energy-efficient Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) and the natural insulation provided by being built into the hillside.

 

The Farmhouse in Devon

The farmhouse from Grand Designs The farmhouse from Grand Designs
The farmhouse from Grand Designs The farmhouse from Grand Designs
The farmhouse from Grand Designs The farmhouse from Grand Designs
The farmhouse from Grand Designs The farmhouse from Grand Designs

Built by: Mark and Candida Diacono
Location: Honiton, Devon

Mark and Candida Diacono built the Farmhouse on an unused plot of land that came with their end-terrace house in rural Devon. After toying with the idea of building a new home and an adjacent cookery school for several years, they finally took the plunge and started construction in 2015.

The family home features a stunning, curved sedum roof – designed to look almost as if somebody had peeled up a large chunk of turf, revealing a house hidden underneath. The cookery school also has an identical roof. The inspiration for the curved shape came from a farmer’s plough.

The family home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, with open-plan living areas downstairs. Next door, the cookery school features a working kitchen, teaching space, offices and a substantial cellar where the family can store their produce.

Both buildings were designed to make a minimal impact on the local environment – in terms of visuals as much as energy use. Both make use of timber cladding, sedum roofs, shredded paper insulation, triple glazing, rainwater collection systems and thermodynamic heating and water systems.

 

The upside-down cedar clad house in Norfolk

Cedar clad house from Grand Designs Cedar clad house from Grand Designs
Cedar clad house from Grand Designs Cedar clad house from Grand Designs
Cedar clad house from Grand Designs Cedar clad house from Grand Designs
Cedar clad house from Grand Designs Cedar clad house from Grand Designs

Built by: Natasha Cargill
Location: Norfolk

For Natasha Cargill’s newbuild home, eco-credentials weren’t just a nice bonus – they had to be engrained into the very heart and soul of the building. The plot of land she bought was subject to Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework, meaning the house had to meet exacting standards of energy efficiency and architectural innovation. The house would have to satisfy the extremely strict Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6. If it didn’t, Natasha simply wouldn’t be allowed to move in.

It was a big risk to take, but Natasha couldn’t find a house that suited her needs and decided that self-building was the only way to go.

As you can imagine, the house has a long list of eco-friendly materials and features, including:

  • Eco-concrete which can absorb and release heat, reducing the cost of heating & cooling the building
  • Carbon-neutral insulation
  • Large, strategically placed windows to maximise natural light
  • A 6kW solar panel array
  • Sedum roofing
  • Various locally and sustainably sourced materials

The home uses an ‘upside-down’ layout, with the bedrooms downstairs and the kitchen and living areas upstairs, giving Natasha and her son Lucas stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

 

Zero-carbon newbuild in Blackheath, London

Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs
Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs
Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs
Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs Zero-carbon newbuild from Grand Designs

Built by: Caroline and Philip Cooper
Location: Blackheath, London

After their children had all grown up and left the nest, the Coopers were left in a house that was too big for just the two of them and too expensive to run and maintain. It was obvious that they needed to downsize and decided they wanted to build their own home, combining Caroline’s interior design background with Phillip’s experience in the construction industry.

After struggling to find a suitable plot to build their ideal home, they had the brainwave of building at the bottom of their own garden.

With the help of their architect son Sam, they managed to get planning permission and create their ideal eco-home. The low-lying, L-shaped home was designed to meet the exacting standards of Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Eco features include rainwater harvesting systems, A-rated taps & appliances, computer-controlled lighting & windows and highly efficient insulation.

 

All images from Grand Designs Magazine.

5 celebrities with seriously eco-friendly homes

Celebrities

Hollywood stars are known for living it up in lavish mansions or luxury penthouse apartments. But more and more celebrities are using their wealth and influence to push for more sustainable living.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 famous celebrities who’s homes have some serious eco-credentials!

Julia Roberts

Julia Robert's House

Julia Roberts

The star and her husband reportedly spent over $20 million to reduce the carbon footprint of their 6,000 square foot California home, where they live with their three children.

Green features include a rooftop solar array, responsibly-sourced timber, recycled tiles and various other sustainable materials. The sunny location means they’re bound to get plenty of use from those solar panels!

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp Private Islands

Johnny Depp

Appropriately enough, the star of the Pirates of the Caribbean series owns a chain of private islands in the Bahamas. Depp has worked with Mike Strizki, founder of the Hydrogen House Project, to make the 35-acre island fully self-sufficient, getting all of its power from hydrogen solar cells.

Orlando Bloom

Orlando Bloom house

Orlando Bloom

Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean co-star had his London home designed & built from scratch to be as energy-efficient as possible.

He said: “It’s as green as I can make it. It’s got solar panels on the roof, energy efficient light bulbs – newer technology basically that is environmentally friendly. It might not be possible for everyone to live a completely green lifestyle, but we can do little things to help slow global warming.”

Alicia Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone House

Alicia Silverstone

Perhaps best known for her role in 1995’s Clueless, Alicia Silverstone is passionate about animal rights and environmental activism. Her Los Angeles home which she shares with her husband makes use of rooftop solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, recycled materials throughout and a highly efficient heating & cooling system.

As she puts it in an interview with InStyle magazine: “everything we’ve brought into this house is environmentally sound”.

Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams Hhuse

Rachel McAdams

This unassuming (by celebrity standards) Ontario home belongs to Rachel McAdams, know for films including Mean Girls, The Notebook and Doctor Strange. She’s also a strong advocate of environmental issues – the house is powered by 100% renewable energy and McAdams is often spotted driving an electric car or cycling around town on an electrical bicycle.

Ten of the fastest electric cars in the world

ten of the fastest electric cars in the world

With electric vehicles poised to overtake internal combustion engines over the next few decades, manufacturers around the world are clamouring to break speed records and claim the crown of world’s fastest EV.

The UK will ban the sale of new non-electric vehicles by 2040, with other countries like France following suit. The new legislation is forcing manufacturers to get creative and fast-track their plans for getting more electric vehicles on the roads.

We’ve rounded up a list of ten of the fastest electric cars in the world below. Some of the cars on the list can be purchased right now, such as the Tesla Model S, whilst some are still firmly in concept car territory – like the ridiculous Lamborghini Terzo Millennio.

Check out the list and let us know what you think!

NIO EP9

NIO EP9

Top Speed 194 mph
0-124 mph 7.1 seconds
Horsepower 1,360 hp

The “fastest electric car in the world” from Chinese manufacturer NIO smashed the coveted Nürburgring record with a time of 6 minutes 45 seconds – beating such petrol cars as the Porsche 911 GT2 and Lamborghini Huracán.

If you’re planning to buy one, you need to be quick (and rich!) – only six have been sold so far, all to NIO investors at $1.2 million each. The company plan to sell just another 10 to the general public.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S P100D (Ludicrous Mode)

Top Speed 155 mph
0-60 mph 2.5 seconds
Horsepower 762 hp

The flagship P100D version of the Tesla Model S comes with a new ‘Ludicrous’ mode, which has to be unlocked via a menu on the car’s touch-screen interface. Once activated, the car can fly up to 60mph in two and a half seconds – in other words, it’s a five-seat luxury sedan than can accelerate faster than an Audi R8 V10!

The premium P100D model will cost you upwards of £115,000.

Lucid Air

Lucid Air

Top Speed 235 mph
0-60 mph 2.5 seconds
Horsepower 900–1,000 hp

The Lucid Air is another big executive sedan than is faster than it has any right to be. In a recent test, with its electronic speed-limiter disabled, the car reached a top speed of 235mph. It can also accelerate up to 60mph in 2.5 seconds – making it as quick as its main competitor, the Tesla Model S.

There’s no confirmed price for the UK yet, but the US version can be pre-ordered for around $50,000.

Vanda Dendrobium

Vanda Dendrobium

Top Speed 200+ mph
0-60 mph 2.7 seconds
Horsepower 1,000 hp

There’s no solid production date for this all-electric concept hypercar, but its makers claim that it can exceed 200 mph and can fly from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds!

The Dendrobium shares its name with a flower from its native Singapore, which it resembles when all of its doors are opened.

When it does finally hit the showrooms, you can expect to pay in excess of £1 million to get your hands on one.

Rimac Concept_One

Rimac Concept_One

Top Speed 220 mph
0-100 kmph 2.5 seconds
Horsepower 1,224 hp

Described by its Croatian makers as “the world’s first electric sports car” at the time of its release in 2013, the Rimac Concept_One can get to 62mph faster than a McLaren P1 and can reach a top speed of 220 mph!

The car is also notorious for being crashed by Richard Hammond while filming an episode of the Grand Tour.

Only eight cars were built, selling at over £1 million each!

Genovation GXE

Genovation GXE

Top Speed 220 mph
0-60 mph under 3 seconds
Horsepower 800 hp

Building a brand new car from scratch is costly and complicated. So instead Genovation took a Corvette Grand Sport as a starting point, took out the engine and replaced it with twin electric motors capable of 800 horsepower. (Tesla did something similar when it first designed the Roadster, using a Lotus chassis).

The US team that built the GXE claim the record of “the world’s first street legal Electric car to exceed 220mph”. Unusually for an electric car, the GXE has a manual gearbox, allowing drivers to squeeze out as much powers as possible.

Tesla Roadster 2020

Tesla Roadster (2020)

Top Speed 250+ mph
0-60 mph 1.9 seconds
Horsepower 1,000 hp

The new Tesla Roadster will supersede the original 2008 design and promises to be quicker than any production car ever made (electric or otherwise), with an eye-watering 0-60 time of just 1.9 seconds. The estimated top speed of ‘over 250 mph’ would put it in the same league as the Koenigsegg Agera RS, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport or the Aston Martin Valkyrie!

“The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline vehicles,” says Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The car was announced in 2017 and is scheduled for release in 2020, with a starting price of around $200,000.

Faraday Future FF 91

Faraday Future FF 91

Top Speed ???
0-60 mph 2.39 seconds
Horsepower 1,050 hp

It’s not the most exotic vehicle on this list, but nevertheless the Faraday Future FF 91 is a family SUV that can accelerate faster than a Ferrari 488 or a Porsche 911 Turbo S! It’s also marginally quicker than its main competition, the Tesla Model S.

The car is rumoured to cost around $180,000 when it goes on sale.

Aston Martin RapidE

Aston Martin RapidE

Aston Martin only plan to sell 155 of these exclusive cars, which they are pitching as a more up-market alternative to anything Tesla has to offer. Details are thin on the ground, but the company’s first electric vehicle is based on the existing Rapide AMR petrol car and is aiming for 800–1,000 horsepower.

Lamborghini Terzo Millennio

Lamborghini Terzo Millennio

The Terzo Millennio (“third millennium” in English) is a futuristic concept car jointly developed by Lamborghini and MIT with one simple goal in mind – to “rewrite the rules on super sports cars”.

The car ditches the traditional ‘skateboard’ structure used by most electric cars – where the bottom of the car contains a large, flat array of batteries – and proposes storing energy in the body of the car itself using supercapacitors. And that’s not all – Lamborghini and the researchers at MIT are looking for a way to make the car self-heal, automatically detecting and repairing cracks & dents in the bodywork.

There are few technical specs and it’s unlikely to go into production anytime soon, but just look at it!

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Ten of the World’s Greenest Football Stadiums

Green football stadiums

The 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia later this month, so what better time to take a look at some of the most eco-friendly, energy efficient football stadiums in the world.

Stadium owners around the globe have been making big steps to cut the environmental impact of these huge energy-hungry buildings, from covering roofs in solar panels to recovering & recycling rainwater. And it’s not just national stadiums and top-flight clubs that are going green – one non-league English team features on our list, with one of the most eco-friendly football grounds in the world!

You can check out the full list in the infographic below. If you would like to re-publish it on your own website or blog, we have included some easy embed codes at the bottom.

(Click or tap on the image for a better view).

Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy

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10 alternative energy sources we could be using in the future

It has been estimated that fossil fuels will completely run out within the next 50 to 100 years. The world has already started to look to sustainable alternatives such as wind and solar power, but some researchers are looking further ahead to even more efficient and cleaner alternatives.

The team over at Futurism.com have compiled a list of some of the most promising & exciting alternative energy sources.

One day, we could be collecting solar power from space and beaming the energy back down to earth, or digging deep below the ground to harness geothermal energy from magma. Some of these ideas are already being developed, whilst other are still firmly in science fiction territory.

You can check out the full list in the infographic below. (click or tap on the image to view the full-size version).

alternative energy infographic

Rolls Royce to go fully electric by 2040

Rolls Royce

Luxury car maker Rolls Royce has promised to ditch petrol engines and only produce electric cars by 2040.

The move was announced to bring Rolls Royce in line with new legislation in the UK and France. Both countries have promised to ban cars that aren’t at least partly powered by electricity by 2040. The luxury vehicle brand believes that other markets, such as North America and the Middle-East, will soon follow suit.

Alternative Energy

Chief executive of Rolls Royce Torsten Müller-Ӧtvӧs said in an interview “When you see what happens in Saudi, when you see what happens in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, they are all looking into alternative energy. Electrification will also happen in these countries, sooner or later… we will definitely offer 12-cylinder engines as long as we can, as long as it is legally allowed to offer them.”

Rolls Royce 103EX
The Rolls Royce 103EX “vision car” imagines what vehicles could be like over the next 100 years. Image source: Rolls Royce.

Plans for the Future

At present, Rolls Royce offer 12-cylinder petrol engines in most of their cars. They plan to unveil a new electric car within the next 10 years, and gradually phase-out their petrol offerings over the next decades.

“Electrification actually fits extremely well with Rolls-Royce because it’s silent, it’s powerful, it’s torquey, so in that sense it’s a very good fit.”

Although France and the UK are the only countries so far to set solid deadlines, Germany have indicated that they are considering similar legislation, and China want one fifth of all new cars to be powered by electricity by 2025.

New technology can charge an electric car in just 8 minutes

electric car

Swiss company ABB have unveiled the ‘world’s fastest’ electric vehicle charger, which can give an electric car 200km of range in just 8 minutes.

The Terra HP fast charger is said to be the fastest in the world, operating at powers of up to 350 kilowatts – around three times faster than Tesla’s Superchargers which put out 120 kilowatts, and almost 6 times more powerful than the CHAdeMO charging technology used by Volkswagen.

ABB demonstrated the new technology in front of world leaders and VIPs at this week’s Hanover Fair.

Consumer concerns

Long charging times and so-called ‘range anxiety’ are two often-cited reasons for the slow adoption of electric cars by the public, along with the relatively high price of new vehicles. The 8 minute charge-time will hopefully help to ease some of these concerns.

ABB fast charger

Worldwide roll-out

ABB have chargers in around 6,500 locations in 60 countries, including the UK. The brand has also been selected by Electrify America, the biggest electric vehicle infrastructure project in the United States.

The new fast chargers are intended for highway rest stops and petrol stations, where short charge times are essential. It’s hoped that putting charging stations along popular routes will boost consumer confidence and encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Tesla are pushing ahead with their plans to put more chargers in urban areas. The company are busy developing new compact superchargers, which are ideal for cramped, inner-city locations where space is limited.

 

ABB is a “pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally.” The Swiss/Swedish company oprate in more than 100 countries and employ around 135,000 people.

 

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