French biotechnology company Glowee is pitching the idea of using bioluminescence—a genetic chemical reaction that enables certain marine micro-organisms to emit light—as a natural alternative to electric lighting. Using synthetic biology, the startup team inserts the genetic coding of bioluminescent squids into common bacteria to provide them with glowing capabilities. Once the bacteria is engineered, it is harvested and encapsulated inside transparent containers that carry necessary nutrients for the bacteria to glow. To date, the team is able to produce bacteria that glows for three consecutive days and according to the company, this light source can be used indoor or outdoor, in various applications such as shop windows, public spaces, and building exteriors. Glowee upholds that the environmentally friendly lighting alternative could help to reduce the global electricity consumption rate by 19 percent and the total greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent. The team hopes to soon be able to create controls for light and manipulate its color. [Glowee]

The Peterhead wind farm, located off the coast of Scotland, is officially the world's first offshore, floating wind farm, which could potentially power 20,000 homes. Manufactured by international energy company Statoil, the massive turbines are an alternative to bottom-standing structures that are not suitable for deep water applications. Each turbine measures 575 feet tall in total, and weighs 12,676.58 tons, while its blades measure 246 feet long. According to Statoil, "the blades harness breakthrough software—which holds the tower upright by twisting the blades to dampen motions from wind, waves, and currents." [BBC]

NextSTEP habitat rendering.
Courtesy Lockheed Martin NextSTEP habitat rendering.

As part of NASA's NextSTEP initiative—a public-private partnership model encouraging and investing in the commercial development of deep space exploration—American aerospace technologies company Lockheed Martin is testing a repurposed shuttle-era cargo container as a deep space habitat, called the Deep Space Gateway. Originally used to transport cargo to the International Space Station, the container is now in Phase II of design conception, which means a full-scale model will be built at the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. "Because the Deep Space Gateway would be uninhabited for several months at a time, it has to be rugged, reliable and have the robotic capabilities to operate autonomously," says Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin NextSTEP program manager, in a press release. The Lockheed Martin team will use both virtual and augmented reality in order to identify issues with the design before it has been completed. [Lockheed Martin]

Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

ICYMI: 2017 R+D awards honorable mention recipient vacuum-insulated glass tubes combine to form a structural wall assembly that admits daylight, generates energy, and insulates like a solid wall. [ARCHITECT]

Google has joined forces with leading U.S. clean energy company Tri Alpha Energy to develop the "Optometrist" algorithm which "enables high-powered computation to be combined with human judgment to find new and better solutions to complex problems," according to a Guardian article. This allows scientists to experiment on plasmas, which are central to clean energy advancement and development, at higher speeds and could lead to significant breakthroughs in the technology. "This research, years in the making, has already allowed us to advance our science, "said Michl Binderbauer, TAE’s president and chief technology officer in a press release. "I am grateful for the longstanding collaboration with Google as it illustrates how, with a lean start-up design, TAE can direct research to outcomes that specifically advance and accelerate our mission to generate clean, safe and abundant energy through fusion technology." Tri Alpha hopes to create clean electricity within ten years. [The Guardian]

Researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory in Nashville, Tenn., have developed an ultrathin energy harvesting device that can generate small amounts of electricity with minimal manipulation, such as bending or pressing. Made from layers of black phosphorous nanosheets, the system is based on battery technology. “Compared to the other approaches designed to harvest energy from human motion, our method has two fundamental advantages,” said assistant professor of mechanical engineering Cary Pint. “The materials are atomically thin and small enough to be impregnated into textiles without affecting the fabric’s look or feel and it can extract energy from movements that are slower than 10 Hertz—10 cycles per second—over the whole low-frequency window of movements corresponding to human motion.” [Vanderbilt University]

Foster + Partners is transforming the landfill site of Bee’ah, the leading sustainable waste management company in the Middle East, located in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The city is expected to reach its goal of zero landfill waste by 2020, and once it does, the current landfill will no longer be of use. Foster + Partners is redeveloping the site with a sustainable masterplan that reflects Bee’ah’s “vision of a world where clean energy is generated sustainability and utilized both sparingly and efficiently,” according to a press release. The site is located next to the yet-to-be-completed Bee'ah headquarters, a sustainable, renewable-energy powered complex designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. [Foster + Partners]

A team from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), lead by professor of mechanical engineering Jian Xie, claim to have solved the longstanding challenge of lithium metal electrodes in batteries. If they can be safely recharged, such electrodes would produce batteries with 10 times the power of typical options. But crystal components called dendrites grow in batteries during use and eventually short-circuit the battery, meaning it cannot be recharged. Xie and his team have successfully manipulated this reaction by forcing the dendrites to grow in a "densely packed layer that doesn't adversely affect the battery." The resulting battery can be safely recharged. [IUPUI]

Two ongoing trials in Helsinki, Finland and Salin, Mich., are focusing on improving safety and functionality of electric, autonomous public transportation vehicles in their respective cities. Although the technology proves to be cost effective and energy efficient, it raises obstacles that must be addressed before adapting our infrastructure to this new technology. French company Navya announced last week that it will be launching 25 automated transportation shuttles that can carry up to 15 passengers and travel up to 25 miles per hour in Salin, Mich., by the end of 2017. However, the technology needs to improve in terms of its safety and functionality before the automated vehicles can drive permanently on the streets. "Manufacturers [need to] refine how the vehicles deal with challenges like weather. [For example], Lidar, a laser system that acts as a sensor, struggles in snow," points out writer Adele Peters. [Fast Company]