Elon Musk – Not the Cologne in Your Cabinet

Leave a comment

10 Ways Elon Musk Is Making

the World a Better Place

You probably know Elon Musk as either a billionaire who’s as close as we’re likely to get to a real life Tony Stark, or that guy who keeps saying crazy stuff about how robots are taking over the world and we’re all going to live on Mars. However you see him, Musk is spending all of his time and money shaping the future of our world. Here’s how he’s doing it:

10. PayPal

elon1

In 1995, Elon Musk attended a graduate program at Stanford University for a grand total of two days before dropping out to try to change the world through the Internet. Four years later his first company, Zip2, sold for $307 million to Compaq. His next enterprise was a small company called X.com, which dealt in online financial transactions. You’ve probably never heard of X.com, but you have heard of the service that it became: PayPal. Ebay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002.

9. SpaceX

elon2

Elon Musk never intended to compete with NASA. He just wanted to use some of his insane wealth to put a greenhouse on Mars. His hope was that his humble greenhouse on the red planet would spark the public’s imagination and reignite popular interest in space exploration.

Then NASA quoted him $130 million for a rocket capable of getting to Mars,causing Musk to take a good, hard look at our existing space technology. He immediately recognized that much of the technology and manufacturing process was outdated. No one was stepping up to make space flight realistic, so he filled the niche himself. The SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket costs SpaceX’s clients $7 million per launch, and that’s presumably including a very hefty profit margin. That’s $123 million cheaper than NASA can do it for.

8. Tesla Cars

elon3

Elon Musk often talks about how he’s identified a three pronged approach for bringing humanity into the future. The first approach was the Internet. The second was interplanetary flight, and the third was the electric car.

Until now, the electric car has been career suicide for any car manufacturer. They’re notorious for being slow, uncool and taking 20 hours to recharge after every two hours of driving time. Musk got on board with Tesla motors, providing funding and eventually winding up in the CEO role. Tesla cars solve several key problems. They look cool, drive fast and have relatively low charge times, with a range of roughly 22 miles per hour of charge. This makes them much more user friendly than anything we’ve seen before.

7. Tesla Museum

elon4

A 2012 web comic created by The Oatmeal brought Nikola Tesla back into the public spotlight, turning the nearly forgotten genius into an Internet celebrity. When it became apparent that Tesla’s old laboratory was going to be sold to developers and destroyed the Internet rallied, raising a million dollars through a two week crowdfunding campaign. When Elon Musk heard about this, he donated an additional million dollars to the cause, and also pledged to build a Tesla car supercharging station at the site. Tesla’s old lab is now set to become a museum dedicated to the great man and his achievements.

6. Future of Life Institute

elon5

The robot apocalypse has been on people’s minds for some time now. TheTerminator movies made Skynet a household name, and The Matrix took things a step further by showing us what the world might look like after the machines completely take over.

In recent years, some of the smartest people on earth have been warning us that we’re getting close to the point where AI may surpass human intelligence. Sure, Siri can barely take a memo now, but the popular theory is that processing power doubles every two years. The singularity is getting exponentially closer.

Elon Musk is one of the voices taking the threat of AI seriously. In fact, he’s so worried that he made a 10 million dollar donation to the Future of Life Institute, which researches ways that we can peacefully coexist with machines, and also tries to identify and eliminate issues that may cause harm to people should that future become a reality.

5. Nevada Gigafactory

elon6

What do you do when your electric car company’s business plan requires more lithium ion batteries than the entire world produces? If you’re Elon Musk, the answer is to create a giant “Gigafactory” that meets your own demands.

Even for a man as wealthy as Musk, the Gigafactory is no small undertaking. The estimated cost of the factory is five billion dollars. Tesla is only worth just over three billion. That’s a bit of a funding gap. Musk got around this problem by inciting a bidding war between states who want to host the Gigafactory, which is estimated to create 22,000 new jobs and bring 100 billion dollars into the local economy over the next 20 years. The state of Nevada won with its offer of 1.4 billion in incentives, plus free land to build the Gigafactory on.

4. Mars Colony

elon7

You’ve probably heard of the ambitious Mars One project, which aims to put human life on the red planet by 2027. But Musk is planning his own Martian colony program, and he wants to do it three years earlier. While Mars One is hoping to put four astronauts on Mars, Musk’s vision would have an initial team of 10 that expands to a self sustaining colony of 80,000.

Unlike the Mars One project, who hope to fund their ambitions by turning the mission into a reality TV show, Musk isn’t looking for the best and brightest. He’s providing one way tickets to Mars to anyone who can afford the $500,000 price of a seat. Start saving your change.

3. Reusable Rockets

elon8

Not content with offering flights to orbit for one-tenth the cost of his competitors, Elon Musk is already working on the next way to save costs. He claims that if a launch mission costs $60 million, then only 0.3% of that cost ($180,000) is propellant. The rest of the cost is in building the rocket stages, which are discarded and fall into the ocean, meaning that they must be rebuilt for every mission. He compares that with the idea of airlines having to buy a new 747 for every flight.

Obviously, a reusable rocket would save a huge amount of money. You couldn’t just drop a huge rocket into the desert, though — that’s dangerous. So Musk has come up with a strategy to use drone technology to land his rocket segments intact on a sea barge. His first attempt didn’t go well, to put it mildly, but Musk is optimistic about perfecting the technology in the near future.

2. Self-Driving Cars

elon9

Google has been on the road to self-driving cars for several years now, and has said that they’re hoping to bring them to consumers in three to five years. So it should be no surprise that Elon Musk is looking to integrate the technology into his next generation of Tesla cars.

Tesla’s Model S already includes some self-drive features, such as the ability to change lanes automatically if there’s space and adjust the cruise control speed whenever the car passes a new speed limit sign. Musk has stated that the next step is to implement functionality that would allow drivers to summon their cars from the garage via their phones, at least when they’re on private property. Autonomous cars on public roads are still a legal nightmare.

1. Hyperloop

elon10

The Hyperloop is what trains want to be when they grow up. Elon Musk is currently working with UCLA graduates in Texas to build a test track for his public transit system, which he claims will be capable of reaching speeds of 760 mph. For comparison, the current fastest train in the world travels at 360 mph.

The Hyperloop works by enclosing a train in a low friction tube and using air pressure to shoot the train at massive speeds. It’s based off pneumatic tube systems used in offices to send messages between floors. Musk believes that his Hyperloop would allow transit between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just thirty minutes. That’s twice as fast as making the same journey by aircraft. If successful, the Hyperloop could make the world a much smaller place. Travelling across the country could be done in a fraction of the time it takes today.

Elon Musk

– Not the Cologne in Your Cabinet

Come’on Now! – Green Technologies for Our Planet

Leave a comment

Top Tenz from WIF

 

Amazing New Green Technologies in the Works

The world is feeling the effects of climate change. Storms are getting stronger, weather patterns are changing, food is becoming scarce, and animals are going extinct at an alarming rate.

Fortunately, while there are many people that are continuing to hurt our environment, there are also people out there who are working feverishly to help it. From simple ideas to entire Eco-cities, new ideas are being developed everyday to help improve the environment and our lives.


10. Air Purifying Roof Tiles

greentech1

A big problem with green technology is making it as practical as it is useful. With this in mind, a new trend in practical green technology is the coating of roof tiles with titanium dioxide, which is useful in cleaning the air. Titanium dioxide works as a photocatalyst by oxidizing nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds into soluble nitrates and fatty acids when exposed to UV light. Studies have shown that a thick coating of material on roof tiles reduces 97% of target greenhouse gases, while a thinner, cost effective coat still reduces the target gases by 88%. This means that it could cost just five dollars to coat an entire roof with the purifying compound. One home could remove 21g of nitrogen oxide a day, which is the equivalent of what a car releases driving 18,000 km. Widespread application would allow every home in the world to become a mini-air purifier. The idea is still in the testing phase, but early results have been extremely promising. The lighter color of the tiles also has the added benefit of producing a small cooling effect. There’s also a possibility of producing tiles to remove carbon dioxide, but this would decrease the practicality of the tiles by making the roofs harder to install.

9. Eco-Concrete

greentech2

Eco-concrete is a green technology that combines strength, practicality and air-purification. It’s designed to eat smog and pollution by converting nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogenous compounds. It has been shown to reduce these gasses by up to 45% in the right weather. The concrete has already been installed and tested in Holland with promising results. The biggest problem with Eco-concrete comes from its cost — compared to normal concrete, it costs quite a bit more because of its use of titanium dioxide. Researchers are currently working to find a solution to the problem and increase the concrete’s financial feasibility.

8. Fixing the Plastic Problem

greentech3

At age 19 most people are worrying about work or college, but Boyan Slat had his eyes on something bigger when he came up with a method to drastically reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans. Though plastic has been a blessing to us in terms of convenience, it has also become a curse in the way it affects the environment and kills millions of marine animals every year. Slat recognized the severity of the problem and established an organization known as The Ocean Cleanup in response. He went on to develop a method that has been proven to be logistically, technically and financially feasible. It works using natural currents in the ocean and wind to help move the garbage towards collecting platforms, where it would be mechanically removed and recycled.

The price tag of this massive cleanup project is $43 million a year, but that’s 33% cheaper than other methods that promise to remove the same amount of plastic. The Ocean Cleanup is currently in the stages of raising money to implement their plan. It has been tested with computer models that show it should be able to clean up half of the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Furthermore, its proof of concept test was successfully done in the Azores. While this massive undertaking is a great step in the right direction, Slat believes more needs to be done to fix the problem completely.

7. Cool Pavement

greentech4

Dark pavement used for most roads absorbs the sun’s energy and heats up the surrounding area. In the summer, pavement can reach up to 120-150°F, but Cool Pavement has been shown to reduce this by over 40°F. With pavement occupying 35-50% of the space in a city, this could have a huge effect on the overall temperature of the city itself. Researchers at Berkeley are currently trying to figure out what the best color would be for cool pavement to maximize its cooling effects. The two best options are to create reflective coating for existing pavements or create a new type of pavement made from lighter, more reflective material.

Other benefits include a decrease in pollution and smog, slowing global warming, saving energy by decreasing the need for air conditioning, and even decreasing the need for street lamps at night because of the reflective surface. While there is no way to know exactly how much coating an entire city would benefit the environment, Cool Pavement has been helping cities like Chicago that have paved their alleys with it.

6. Smog-Eating Buildings

greentech5

Mexico City’s Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital constructed a 2,500 square meter facade that breaks down air pollutants when exposed to UV light. The honeycomb increases the surface area by 200% and allows the structure to neutralize the same amount of pollutants in one day that’s produced by 8,750 cars.

In addition, the city of Milan is using a smog-filtering concrete facade to purify the air. The architecture firm Nemesi and Partners have revealed their plans to produce an air-purifying structure in front of the Palazzo Italia. The 9,000 square meter structure will take about 2,000 tons of air-purifying concrete to complete. The concrete is made of 80% recycled materials and works  by breaking down harmful pollutants into unreactive salt molecules when exposed to UV light. Nemesi and Partners are looking forward to presenting their designs at the 2015 Milan Expo, and plans are already in the works to make these designs a reality.

5. Real Flower Power

greentech6

Much of today’s green technology is made to mimic what plants already do naturally to produce energy. Plants are able to create energy by breaking down carbon dioxide and water into sugar and starch with oxygen as a byproduct. Scientists have been able harness this energy by actually interrupting the photosynthetic process. This is done when the enzymes of the plant split the water molecules. At this point, oxygen, hydrogen, and electrons are produced and nanotubes are used to siphon the free electrons before they enter the electron transport chain to run the rest of the process.

The process takes place in the thylakoids, which are located within the chloroplasts of the plant cell. The thylakoids were modified to allow the nanotubes to detour the electrons down a wire and generate an electrical current. Usually, plants aren’t very efficient at producing energy from the sun and man-made cells generate up to 10 times the efficiency of a normal plant. But this new technology has proven especially surprising because the plant was able to generate twice the current of a similarly sized solar cell. While this technology is still in its infancy, researchers are hopeful that it will soon have practical uses and could be used to power household items or even entire power grids. Plus, increasing the use of plants could help purify the air in addition to providing power.

4. Energy Harvesting Concrete

greentech7

Laurence Kemball-Cook put a new spin on energy harvesting when he founded Pavegen in 2009. Pavegen is a new type of energy-harvesting tile that converts the energy of a simple footstep into electricity that can be stored or used directly by devices. While the kinetic energy harvested from footsteps isn’t enough to supply energy to entire power grids, it could be very helpful in powering things like street lamps or vending machines. Pavegen is a working product in the process of becoming commercialized. In an attempt to showcase its usefulness, Pavegen was actually installed at the finish line of the Paris Marathon and was able to generate 4.7 kilowatt-hours of energy. Another benefit of installing Pavegen is that it allows the footsteps and movement of crowds to be tracked to optimize space and floor management.

While the tiles themselves are extremely practical, their installation could pose problems. The tiles have to be made and installed in ground that’s durable, weather resistant, and highly fatigue resistant. Furthermore, the tiles could be vandalized or stolen. There are still many kinks that need to be worked out to make Pavegen a fully commercialized product, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

3. Hyperloop

greentech8

Elon Musk, the man behind electric car company Tesla, has a new idea up his sleeve. Known as the Hyperloop, this system would be able to transport passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 35 minutes, traveling at speeds of about 700 mph. The Hyperloop would use an electric compressor fan at the front of each individual passenger pod to surround it with a cushion of air and decrease friction, much like an air hockey table. The capsules would then be accelerated in a low-pressure tube with magnetization.

Furthermore, the Hyperloop would be completely self-sustaining by placing solar panels on the top of the tube and storing energy via compressed air. It wouldn’t disrupt the farmland along the route any more than a telephone pole. Musk estimates the project would cost about six billion dollars, which seems like a massive price tag until you realize that California voters already approved nine billion to be allotted for a speed train between San Diego and San Francisco. Musk feels that his Hyperloop will be more cost-effective and sustainable than any other proposed high-speed trains. It would greatly decrease pollution from cars and commercial airliners, as well as increase the efficiency and speed of travel.

2. Phoenix Towers

greentech9

Currently, the world’s largest tower is the 830 meter tall Burj Khalifa. It may be in danger of losing its title to two proposed towers for the city of Wuhan, China. These towers would stand at 1000 meters and would serve to clean local air and water pollution. The towers would suck the water in from the surrounding lake, send it through a series of filters and then back out into the lake. In addition, the towers will be lined with a pollution absorbing coating and vertical gardens to pull even more pollution from the air. The chimney in the middle of the towers will serve to naturally pull air across the lake and oxygenate it. The towers will be completely self-sustaining thanks to wind turbines, solar panels, and hydrogen fuel cells that would run on the building’s waste. These elements will not only produce all the energy the towers need, but also generate a little extra energy for the surrounding area. The towers are currently awaiting the mayor’s approval, but it’s predicted that construction of this massive undertaking will be finished by 2017 or 2018.

1. Tianjin

greentech10

Most green technologies are simply products to help existing cities become environmentally friendly. China is going a step further by simply constructing an entire eco-friendly city from scratch. Known as Tianjin, this sustainable community for 350,000 residents is expected to be complete by 2020 and will span over 30 square kilometers. The entire complex will be powered by solar and wind technologies as well as feature rainwater recycling, wastewater treatment, and desalination of seawater. Carbon emissions will be basically non-existent with 90% of traffic being public transportation.

The city will be divided into seven districts, each with its own sustainability theme. The Lifescape district will be in the heart of Tianjin and feature soil-topped mounds to contrast the surrounding high-rise buildings. Eco-Valley will serve as a corridor for the new light rail system to operate and connect the districts. Solarscape will act as the administrative and civic center. Urbanscape will function as core of the city and utilize vertical layering to reduce emissions and make efficient use of vertical space. Its buildings will be organized as a honeycomb and interconnect using sky bridges. Windscape will serve as a place for recreation and relaxation.  Earthscape will function as the residential suburbs and be filled with lush greenery. Lastly, Eco-corridors will bisect the city and provide a path for animals to move about the city without human interference. If successful, Tianjin could serve as a stepping stone for more green cities.

Come’on Now! – Green Technologies for Our Planet

kickstarter1