Massachusetts-based manufacturer NanoLab has joined the "blackest black" paint market with their Singularity line of black paints and coatings. This solvent-based, nanotube-filled paint has less than 1 percent reflectance and claims to surpass other commercial products such as Acktar's metal velvet and martin black. “NanoLab’s Singularity black has the lowest visible reflectance of any paint generally available to the public," the company announced in a press release. "Additionally, we are developing new versions of Singularity black that can drive down its cost while further enhancing its properties. This is a very new material, and thus there are still lots of possibilities and opportunities, including our near future aim to introduce a version requiring a much lower processing temperature." [NanoLab]

A team of researchers from the University of Exeter in England have developed a solar power device that fits into glass blocks. The application, called Solar Squared, is particularly significant in helping to design for net-zero energy goals, say the researchers. The product can broadly replace glass blocks used for a building’s façade, and transform the exteriors into energy-generating vertical surfaces. The optical elements incorporated into the Solar Squared blocks direct sunlight onto the solar cells to more efficiently generate electricity. This electricity can then be stored in a battery system, supply energy to the building in real time, or be used to charge electric cars. Unlike existing solar products that generally require a large surface area and have an unpleasant appearance, this product can be integrated into designs that use a non-solar glass-block construction. [Building Solar]

Courtesy Tesla

On Monday, Tesla began a promotional tour to raise awareness of generating, storing, and using renewable energy by driving its newly launched Tesla Tiny House, towed by a fully electric Tesla Model X, around Australia. The tiny house is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and features the company's Powerwall, six 2-kilowatt solar panels, and a configurator to demonstrate how the technology would fit in a residence. The tour's objective is to provide an opportunity for communities to learn about the company's energy products and their capabilities in fully powering an entire house, providing backup power during an electricity outage, and reducing energy bills. [Tesla]

UpCodes, a searchable platform for building codes, is making code compliance easier for architects, designers, and engineers. Accessible via website and mobile application, UpCodes provides resources for 40 states (with additional information for New York City), with specific code amendments, organizing them into a single database. The platform streamlines the code into a library, organizes research around specific projects, helps to clarify requirements, and avoids delays. Launched in 2015, the company says its database, which it calls “the most advanced search engine built for the construction industry,” has more than 45,000 active monthly users as of July and has seen an 11 percent week-over-week growth this year. [UpCodes]

ICYMI: Can computers think creatively? Artists at the Astana Contemporary Art Center in Kazakhstan explore this question in a new collection on display through Sept. 10. [ARCHITECT]

A team of material scientists at Rice University in Houston have created a porous foam out of hexagonal boron nitride and polyvinyl alcohol that can absorb carbon dioxide. Serving as a glue, the polyvinyl alcohol "binds the [hexagonal boron nitride] junctions as the microscopic sheets arrange themselves into a lattice when freeze-dried," according to a press release. Results of various simulation tests found that the foam can absorb 340 percent of its own weight in carbon dioxide, and became even stiffer following compression tests. Though the team hopes to eventually control the size of the pores of the material—which could facilitate the separation of oil from water, and potentially be used to clean up toxic oil and waste spills—as is, the foam has potential applications in air filters and gas absorption materials. [Rice University]

This week, Santa Monica, Calif.–based solar power company SolarReserve signed a Generation Project Agreement with the State Government of South Australia to build a 150-megawatt solar thermal power station near Port Augusta that will utilize the company's solar energy technology in conjunction with molten salt energy storage—a thermal energy storage medium. Dubbed the Aurora Solar Energy Project, the power station will be capable of storing 1,100 megawatt-hours of energy in order to meet the area's electrical consumption needs. "“The Port Augusta story is a stark example of the transition of the South Australian economy, with the closure of a coal fired power station, and now the commissioning of this world leading renewable energy project," said South Australia premier Jay Weatherill in a press release. [BusinessWire]

The University of Sydney has published a three-stage method to make zinc-air batteries more viable for widespread use. The method is published in "Advanced Materials," a paper by chemical engineering researchers at the university, and proposes a high-performance, low-cost solution to the difficult-to-charge batteries. “Up until now, rechargeable zinc-air batteries have been made with expensive precious metal catalysts, such as platinum and iridium oxide," said Yuan Chen, a professor at the university and lead author of the published method, in a news release. "In contrast, our method produces a family of new high-performance and low-cost catalysts.” Tests of this new method proved successful, with fewer than 10 percent of battery efficacy drop over the course of 60 discharging/charging cycles that totaled 120 hours. [The University of Sydney]