Yesterday a Japanese train company apologized for running 20 seconds ahead of schedule. How did Japanese trains get so fast?
The answer for how their famous bullet trains move so quickly is thanks in part to biomimicry, the study of using animals as a source for design. The front of the bullet train was inspired by the beak of a kingfisher which allows for more efficient airflow and thus less of an environmental impact. This is merely one example of the interesting world of using the evolution of animals to design the world around us.
Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.
It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of “tunnel boom,” where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.
Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She’s a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them.
There’s so much talk about taking action around climate change that it can be hard to remember what real action looks like. Climate action can take on many different forms and around the world how places react to climate change is different; meaning that we can see so many ways that cities are changing the world. Over at desmog blog they have compiled 11 cities that are making real efforts to take on climate change and what it looks like in picture.
The city of Yokohama is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Clean Energy Category. The Yokohama Smart City Project uses Smart Grid technology and solar panels to help cut energy consumption in homes and businesses by between 15 and 22 percent (Yokohama aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 perce
Read and see more.
Thanks to Delaney!
Golf courses have a well deserved reputation of being absolutely horrible for the environment. Golf courses are responsible for deforestation and damaging local ecological systems all while consuming an absurd amount of water.
In Japan, where many golf courses have gone out of business, they are converting the massive chunks of land into something useful: solar farms. The open fields are located near where electricity needs to go and thus are in a prime location.
Last week, Kyocera and its partners announced they had started construction on a 23-megawatt solar plant project located on an old golf course in the Kyoto prefecture. Scheduled to go operational in September 2017, it will generate a little over 26,000 megawatt hours per year, or enough electricity to power approximately 8,100 typical local households. The electricity will be sold to a local utility.
As humans flock to cities and the surround them with suburban sprawl we have covered some of the most arable lands in concrete. This has caused problems of food security, access, and sustainability. Urban farming is nothing new and will continue to spread, but what about industrial-scale farming in cities?
A farmer in Japan has taken an old warehouse and modified it into an enamours and efficient farming operation using specialized low-powered LEDs.
The farm is nearly half the size of a football field (25,000 square feet). It opened on July and it is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen,” Shimamura says.
The LED lights are a key part of the farm’s magic. They allow Shimamura to control the night-and-day cycle and accelerate growth. “What we need to do is not just setting up more days and nights,” he says. “We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment.”
Shimamura says that the systems allows him to grow lettuce full of vitamins and minerals two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm. He is also able to cut discarded produce from 50 percent to just 10 percent of the harvest, compared to a conventional farm. As a result, the farms productivity per square foot is up 100-fold, he says.
Texas is an American state best known for its gun-loving, big truck driving, cowboy, remember the Alamo culture. It is the last place I’d expect high speed rail infrastructure to actually get support in the USA. The good news here is that not only are Texans in favour of high speed rail – the private sector is going to fund.
This is a great contrast to other states where governments are even apprehensive to do feasibility studies. The private company will use Japanese technology and pay for building the infrastructure. With luck, this Texas push for rail will spread further than that state’s borders. Getting more people onto trains instead of driving everywhere is good for everyone.
Five years ago, the company started work on bringing Japan’s bullet train to the U.S. It studied 97 potential city pairs.
Which route would pay for construction and operating costs and generate a return for investors? Which would serve as a showcase so the model might be replicated elsewhere?
Weigh all the factors, and Dallas to Houston was the top choice.
“This is a golden market to deploy our system,” said Richard Lawless, CEO of Texas Central Railway and a former CIA employee who served in Asia and Europe.
Dallas and Houston are the ideal distance for high-speed rail, about 230 miles apart. A one-way rail trip is expected to take less than 90 minutes.
Read more here.