Just one week after opting to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, President Donald Trump reportedly pitched the idea of a solar panel–covered borderwall, reaching 40 to 50 feet in height, in a White House meeting with Congressional Republicans. Trump argued that the electricity generated by the structure would help defray construction costs. However, as noted in a Washington Post article, vertically installed photovoltaic panels are far less efficient than horizontally installed units such as those on a roof. According to an Axios story, "Trump told the lawmakers they could talk about the solar-paneled wall as long as they said it was his idea." Separately, ARCHITECT has located an April 6 Las Vegas Review story profiling local energy provider Tom Gleason, founder of Gleason Partners, who entered a solar borderwall concept to the Department of Homeland Security's Custom and Border Protection's solicitation. (Final contractors have not yet been announced.) [The Washington Post]

Researchers from Sorbonne Université and École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers-ParisTech in Paris have published their findings on wind turbine efficiency relating to blade specification. Inspired by the movement of flexible insect wings, the team found that the installation of semi-flexible blades—rather than standard hard blades—could increase wind turbine efficiency by approximately 35 percent. To test their theory, the researchers compared the performance of hard, floppy, and semi-flexible blades. They also ultimately discovered that the semi-flexible blades perform better than hard blades in variable wind conditions. [TechXplore]

Crrc Zhuzhou Locomotive—China’s largest research and manufacturing company of electric vehicles—has developed the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART), a smart train propelled by electricity. As part of the intelligent rail express system, this 99-foot-long train runs on rubber wheels, has three cars with a maximum capacity of 300 passengers, and can travel up to 25 miles on a fully charged battery. The train uses incorporated sensors that calculate street dimensions and route a path accordingly. These expandable trains can travel at a maximum speed of 43 mph and are intended to provide a solution to the inability of "most medium-sized and small cities [to] afford expensive subway systems, or the systems take too long to build," according to the developer's news page. The government of Zhuzhou—a city in the Huan province of China—is planning to build a 4-mile ART line by 2018. [Crrc Zhuzhou]

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, together with researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, created two supramolecules (man-made molecular systems) that are capable of performing the processes that lead to photosynthesis in nature. However, one supramolecule outperformed the other. In investigating why, they observed that a larger supramolecule is "more receptive to receiving electrons needed for photosynthesis." The team is hoping that this process could lead to the mass lab production of hydrogen suitable for use as fuel. [Engadget]

Hyperloop One, one of the startups working to create a magnetic transportation system promising high-speed travel in pods, has revealed nine potential routes in Europe—determined by the semifinalists of the company's global challenge to decide which areas of the world the technology could benefit most. At up to 700 mph, travelers would make loops around London, to Glasgow, Scotland, or even from Spain to Morocco. "The proposals for Europe connect over 75 million people in 44 cities, spanning 5,000 kilometers," says an article on CNBC. Hyperloop One is currently testing its pods on a 310.6-mile test and safety site in Nevada. [CNBC]

Courtesy 3Form

ICYMI: Sensor-activated LEDs turn the sculptural Mobius bench into an interactive playground. [ARCHITECT]

Funded by the European Union's (EU) seventh framework program, the Digital Creative Tools for Digital Printing of Smart Fabrics (CREATIF) project team has been working on creating an interactive smart fabric. Using software design tools with a digital material printer, the CREATIF team—a consortium of four technical- and research-based partners—Ardeje, Grafixoft, Institut für Textiltechnik Aachen, and University of Southampton—and three creative partners—Base Structures, Diffus Design, and Zaha Hadid Architects—has developed a process in which active electronic inks such as touch sensors and interactive light are printed directly onto regular fabrics. Recently, the team developed a 10-foot-long prototype with interactive light and sound controls by "integrating colored ink and smart ink," according to Zaha Hadid Architects' news page. "This prototype demonstrates the large-format printer’s capability to print proximity sensors which control the intensity of sound and light emitted from an adjacent cube," the firm writes. "The activation sensitivity of the printed sensors is adaptable using the software developed by the CREATIF team." The project is the outcome of a call issued in 2012 within the EU's information and communications technology program to equip creative industries with tools that would facilitate creating interactive experiences. The prototype is on display at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery at the London Festival of Architecture through June 30. [Zaha Hadid Architects]

Climeworks, an ETH Zurich spin-off company focused on carbon dioxide removal and the fight against climate change, has launched its Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant, the world’s first commercial carbon dioxide air capture plant, in Zurich, Switzerland. The patented technology filters 900 tons of the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere annually, and sells it to a nearby greenhouse to aid the growth of vegetables. The carbon dioxide captured by the plant can also be used to produce climate-neutral fuels and even carbonate beverages. [Climeworks]

Ori Systems is a transformable furniture system for tiny living spaces, powered by modular robotics that seamlessly adapt a room. The Ori Control Interface integrates with third-party smart home ecosystems, and also has iOS and Android apps. The system can be installed in new projects and existing buildings, and is powered though an electrical outlet. The technology was designed to create a multifunctional, dynamic environment for small apartments in high-density cities where every square inch counts. [Ori Systems]