The Tesla Gigafactory 1 – why is it giga?

The Tesla Gigafactory 1 was supposed to be opened in 2017, but Elon Musk somehow managed to make the factory fully operational in the first quarter of 2016. Why is it so important and “eko-sciting”?


Source: Wikipedia

For starters, the last bits and pieces of the construction works were carried out by over 1,000 workers who had been working for 7 days a week on 2 shifts. And this is not an easy job, because the factory was built in Nevada (not in China), on a desert, on a plot of over 12 square kilometers, out of which roughly 2 square kilometers were meant to be taken by the factory building itself. The remaining space was consumed by solar panels, because the Gigafactory is meant to be self sustainable in terms of electricity (the electrical power required to manufacture batteries will come from solar, wind and geothermal sources).

What’s more, the location and shape of all the buildings were thought through that way, so to minimise changes in the local environment, and shape of the manufacturing facility was optimised to allow fast, effective and balanced production.

The Tesla Gigafactory – giga production, giga ambitions

As the second point, the Gigafactory is meant to achieve the peak of its abilities by 2020, which means that 6,500 of its employees will produce lithium-ion batteries for over half a million electrical models of Tesla, e.g. fairly cheap model 3 (over 400,000 orders were placed a few days after the premiere) and a spectacular because of its futuristic design Tesla X. All of those batteries will have the energy of 35 GWh. Is it a lot? It’s 35 billion Watts of power per hour – yes, definitely a lot. We have, however, some doubts and concerns…

The Nissan factory (recognised, experienced and with a lot of knowledge about motorisation manufacturer of cars) in british Sunderland needed 28 years, so that it could achieve the production output of 500,000 per year, and Elon Musk would like to achieve that in 4 years after opening of his factory, even while producing less than 50,000 of cars per year. Brave. “Eko-sciting”. Unbelievable?

As the third point, if everything goes well, the Gigafactory itself that is worth 5 billion US dollars will have a target to manufacture every year more lithium-ion batteries than it had been produced in the whole world in 2013, thanks to which the price is expected to go down by 30%. Lithium-ion batteries, which are popular, better from year to year and which power laptops, mobile phones and cars, are not the best solution, because they still take a lot of time to recharge and they discharge quite quickly. The better solution are lithium-air batteries (they are still in development), which supposed to have 15 times greater capacity for energy than lithium-ion ones. For now, they are too sensitive for heat (to give out the energy, they require air, but the hot air doesn’t serve them), but the work is in progress.

Last, but not least, the Gigafactory will be open for visitors, because as Elon puts it: “it’ll be worth seeing”.

What else will Elon Musk think to existence?

The second part of Tesla’s plan for the years to come has been announced recently. The first plan was put in place about a decade ago and it’s been carried out – the second model of an electric car (Tesla Roadster) was developed, which allowed the company to fund production of two slightly cheaper models – model X and model S, which in turn caused the company to mass manufacture the model 3. Beyond that, Tesla wanted to strengthen its position on the solar market (by taking over of the manufacturer of photovoltaic cells SolarCity) and taking hold of an accumulator market (you buy a Tesla accumulator and you mount it on a wall, and it collects energy from solar batteries and powers up the whole house, or, well, Tesla which is parked in a garage). And what is the next plan?

On roofs of Tesla’s cars there are supposed to be mounted solar panels (they will give the cars “eco-sciting” look and they will power on many on-board devices), and the cars are supposed to be more autonomic, and thanks to that 10 times more safe than cars driven by a human. Also, those autonomic cars are supposed to be linked to something Uber like, which means that the car owner can rent a car when he/she doesn’t need it, and earn some cash by the way. So, when I go to work with my shiny new Tesla, I leave it on a parking, and when someone needs it, the person calls it by using a smartphone and the Tesla on its own will drive to the place to pick someone up in need, and I have some extra cash because of this – how impressive!

Barcelona is becoming a green city

Barcelona is joining the ranks of green cities? Why, you may ask?

Ecologically centered cities are becoming more and more. For example, Paris turns its back on cars, Copenhagen will open a waste incinerator on which roof citizens will be able to ski, in Berlin you can rent an electric scooter, and other cities are taking advantage of biomimicry, so that buildings look similar to works of nature. And what Barcelona has to say about all of this?

Barcelona doesn’t like cars.

Local authorities banned car traffic. They calculated that because of the car traffic in the city centre about 3,5 thousands of people die every year, and 61% of citizens suffers because of the noise. What is the solution to this challenge?


Source: Wikipedia

Reducing car traffic by 21% or forbid car traffic on 60% of streets, giving them to pedestrians and cyclists and traffic reorganisation this way so that people want to walk and car drivers would want to stop driving. Also, more trees and green areas. But, the changes are going much further. Those who are using Segways (very popular among lazy tourists), won’t be particularly happy, because Barcelona has demanded for people to stop using them.


Source: Wikipedia

Barcelona likes trees.

What’s more, Barcelona will be planting a lot of new trees, despite the fact that it already has more of them than any EU city – on the streets of Barcelona grows roughly 200,000 trees (on average, one tree grows every 10m of a road), in parks about 36,000, and in wooden areas something like 73,500.

In total Barcelona has about 310,000 trees, but there is a plan to have more of them. This is important, because trees are very useful – they give shade, soften the impact of hot weather conditions due to the fact that moisture is vapourised from the surface of leafs, reflect sun rays, making walks more pleasant.

In it also worth mentioning that tress reduce noise, regulate humidity, have a positive impact on water circulation and they help reduce energy wastage in buildings (there is shade, so it’s not necessary to turn on an air conditioning unit), and help preserve biodiversity (in Barcelona there is at least 150 types of trees).


Source: Wikipedia

Green areas and trees invite people to take rest, socialise and spend spare time outdoor. And of course, the trees absorb carbon dioxide – it is estimated that in Barcelona they absorb about 305 tonnes of CO2 every year.

We keep our thumbs up for the spanish local government to success in their green plans. Without cars, but with tress the quality of life in cities is much better. The air is cleaner, and there is less noise, there are more people on the streets, and the desire to live increases!

The usage of renewable sources worldwide in 2015 was on increase

A photo by Gustavo Quepón. Unsplash/Gustavo Quepon

Renewable energy is on the rise. In 2015 some 147 Gigawatts of capacity was added to the world’s electrical grids. This number represents Africa’s entire power generating capacity. For now mostly wind, solar and hydro plants have been installed. However, nature can inspire innovative solutions for future energy systems and technology design. Some renewable energy technologies already imitate processes found in nature; however, more can be learned to help us successfully address our future energy news. One example is the Energy Tree which was esigned by a company called SolarBotanic. It has the ability to convert wind and solar into energy. A single Energy Tree has the ability to completely power a three-bedroom home.

Clean energy investment increased to $286bn, with solar energy accounting for 56% of the total and wind power for 38%. It is interesting to notice that twice as much money was spent on renewables in 2015 than on coal and gas-fired power generation. More information on this is available in the REN21 global status report.

China, the US, Japan, UK and India were the countries adding on the largest share of green power, despite the fact that the fossil fuel prices have fallen significantly. The costs of renewables have also fallen, say the authors.

“The fact that we had 147GW of capacity, mainly of wind and solar is a clear indication that these technologies are cost competitive (with fossil fuels)” said Christine Lins, who is executive secretary of REN21 organisation who produced the report.

“It clearly shows that the costs have come down so much that the emerging economies are now really focussing on renewables”, said Christine Lins.

Top five countries – Annual investment / net capacity additions / biofuel production in 2015

\ 1 2 3 4 5
Investment in renewable power and fuels
(not including hydro > 50MW)
China United States Japan United Kingdom India
Investment in renewable power
and fueals per unit GDP
Mauritania Honduras Uruguay Morocco Jamaica
Geothermal power capacity Turkey United States Mexico Kenya Germany/Japan
Hydropower capacity China Brazil Turkey India Vietnam
Solar PV capacity China Japan United States United Kingdom India
Concentrating solar thermal power
(CSP) capacity
Morocco South Africa United States N/A N/A
Wind power capacity China United States Germany Brazil India
Solar water heating capacity China Turkey Brazil India United States
Biodiesel production United States Brazil Germany Argentina France
Fuel ethanol production United States Brazil China Canada Thailand

Source: REN12 annual report 2015

“They are the ones with the biggest increases in energy demand, and the fact that we had this turning point really shows the business case – and that is really a remarkable development”.

Despite fall of around 21% in renewables investment in Europe, green power is now the leading source of electricity, providing 44% of total EU capacity in 2015.

It’s not only nations that are thinking about relying on green sources more. Some 154 companies in the US, employing 11 million people, have committed to 100% renewable energy.

Everything points that we are really looking at a greener future.

The US government requests a report regarding Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR)


The topic of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) is on the rise again thanks to the House Committee on Armed Services that has asked the Secretary of Defense to “provide a briefing on the military utility of recent U.S. industrial base LENR advancements to the House Committee on Armed Services by September 22, 2016. This briefing should examine the current state of research in the United States, how that compares to work being done internationally, and an assessment of the type of military applications where this technology could potentially be useful.” For those of you who don’t know what LENR is, it “refers to the phenomenon where anomalous amounts of heat are created when certain metals (e.g. nickel, palladium) absorb hydrogen or deuterium and an external stimulus such as heat or an electric current is applied. The reaction takes place at relatively low temperature and sometimes results in transmutation of elements as well as the production of heat. Either no strong radiation is produced or it is absorbed locally. The waste products have been found not to be radioactive. This phenomenon is also referred to as Cold Fusion, LANR (lattice assisted nuclear reaction), as well as other terms”. —

Commercial cold fusion would remove dependence on oil or other fossil fuels. When it comes to military matters, it would enable ships, aircraft, and tanks to continue indefinitely (or at least for months) without refuelling, with abundant power for lasers or other directed-energy weapons.

The Committee also stated that “Japan and Italy are leaders in the field and that Russia, China, Israel, and India are now devoting significant resources to LENR development.”

The Secretary’s report to the House might contain a suggestion that cold fusion is a crazy idea and always has been, and that probably its advocates are probably misinterpreting experimental results or are the victims of fraud. However, a 2015 presentation by Louis DeChiaro of US Naval Sea Systems Command concludes that “Low Energy Nuclear Reactions appear to be real; are probably attributable to something like nuclear fusion.”

One thing is certain, it will be an interesting report.

Cigarette butts and their impact on the environment can be a pain in the b%$#$tt


The disposal and littering of cigarette butts (CBs) is a serious environmental problem. Trillions of cigaretters are produced every year worldwide, something that results in millions of tonnes of toxic waste being dumped into the environment in the form of cigarette butts. Because cigarette butts have poor biodegradability, it can take years for them to break down. Abbas Mohajerani, Aeslina Abdul Kadir and Luke Larobina are proposing to recycle cigarette butts into fired clay bricks. The authors propose bricks with 1% of cigarette butt content throughout the brick-manufacturing industry. It was discovered that if a brick contains 1% of cigarette butts, they would still be a viable option for getting rid of the cigarette butt recycling issue while maintaining properies very similar to a normal brick. The authors estimate that only 2.5% of the world’s annual brick production is necessary to completely offset the worldwide, annual cigarette production.

Another idea is to turn cigarette butts into park benches or pallets. It is said that a CB contains paper, filter and tobacco. Paper and tobacco decompose fairly quickly, while filter, because it contains plastic, takes years to decompose.

Source: Yotube

A recycling company called Terracycle offers a program for recycling used cigarette butts. The steps are as follows:
1. You join the program (free);
2. You collect the CBs;
3. You ship the box containing CBs (free);
4. The company takes care of the recycling process.

Once collected, the cigarettes and packaging are separated by composition and melted into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled industrial products, such as plastic pallets. The ash and tobacco are separated out and composted in a specialised process.

Bioelektra’s high efficiency recycling facility


Bioelektra, a Polish waste recycling company, developed a recyclability process that reaches 95% of efficiency. The good news is that every stage of the process poses no hazard to the environment. The company’s waste recycling facility neutralises waste through sterilisation within a few hours after it is delivered to the facility. Next, they mechanically segregate the whole mass into chunks intended for further reuse, thus they eliminate the need for any storing. It is interesting that the technology is cheaper to implement and use than the standard solutions.

“Currently, the Bioelektra Group is focusing on popularising its technology of recycling and processing municipal waste, which additionally allows the production of fuel in the form of biomass, produced from the organic matter contained in the waste stream. Another application of the biodegradable mass, which is currently being tested by the Bioelektra Group specialists, is its use for fertilisation purposes or biogas production. The technological process we carry out in our facilities also enables to produce sterilised: metals, glass, plastic, and pre-SRF fraction. One of our top priorities is to act to protect the environment by preventing and reducing storage of municipal waste, improving the quality of life in local communities by creating new job opportunities and building state-of-the-art recycling facilities. The next step for the Bioelektra Group is to invest in a small-scale energy plant using alternative fuel”. — excerpt from

This film shows how the technology behind Bioelektra’s recycling facility works.

India and solar zones


India is planning to take advantage of its solar energy richness with solar zones aimed at helping to speed the transition to sustainable energy. India has promised a 20-fold increase in solar power, and bids for giant solar farms have been coming in so low that many analysts are increasingly convinced that the country can pull it off.

Quite recently India has already announced a program to move to 100 percent electric cars by 2030. Now, in an effort to give the transition to sustainable energy a huge kick, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced that it wants to build ten large solar zones on private and government land.

India would like to build 10 solar zones of 10,000 hectares. That translates to 24,100 acres, or approximately 38.6 square miles, each. It’s difficult to estimate the power output of those solar zones, but taking into consideration existing farms in China in California, we can assume that each of India’s solar zones could store more than 2,000MW and possibly more than 3,000MW.

How much households could be powered with 2,000MW of electrical power? It is said that 50MW provides the capacity to power 39,000 households, so with 2,000MW it would be roughly 1,560,000 households.

“The scheme aims to provide a huge impetus to solar energy generation by actins as a flagship demonstration facility to encourage project developers and investors, thereby helping the country in achieving its target of 100,000MW by 2022”, based on a statement by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The Ministry further indicates that India is fortunate that it is: “endowed with huge solar energy potential, with most of the country having about 300 days of sunshine per year…”.

Desalination technology in Israel

Ten miles away from Tel Aviv, Israel, is located the largest seawater desalination plant which is providing around 20 percent of the water consumed daily by households. The plant was built for the Israeli government by a company called IDE Technologies. The total cost associated with the project was $500 million. It uses a conventional desalination technology called reverse osmosis, which works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water is able to get through, but the larger salt molecules and microorganisms are left behind. The system requires ocassional and costly chemical cleaning. However, IDE Technologies developed a chemical free system that is relying on a porous lava stone to capture microorganisms before they reach the membranes.

It is estimated that in the world around 700 million people don’t have access to clean water. This number is expected to increase to 1.8 billion in the next 10 years.

Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into one of the water giants.

Yacouba Sawadogo – The man who stopped the desert

Did you know that Yacouba Sawadogo, a man from Burkina Faso, knows how to stop desertification and drought by using the ancient farming technique called Zai? It’s quite interesting that this low profile character did something that couldn’t be done by scientists and development organisations. The benefits of using the Zai system are as follows:

  • captures rain and surface/run-off water;
  • protects seeds and organic matter against being washed away;
  • concentrates nutrient and water availability at the beginning of the rainy season;
  • increases yields;
  • reactivates biological activities in the soil and eventually leads to an improvement in soil structure.

The application of the Zai technique can reportedly increase production by about 500% if properly executed.

Photo: Andrea Borgarello/TerrAfrica

The main part of the whole Zai system are special holes that catch water. They are dug in soil and they were used in the past to restore barren land in a limited way. Yacouba Sawadogo enhanced the method by filling the holes with manure and other biodegradable waste, so that plants are getting additional nutrients. Zai holes have been used not only to cultivate trees, but also sorghum, and millet.

It’s worth mentioning that Mr Yacouba, in just 20 years, converted a barren area into a thriving 30-acre forest with over 60 species of trees.

What’s important is that he doesn’t keep all the knowledge to himself. He is keen to organise workshops on his farm, teaching visitors his ancient techniques. He says: “If you stay in your own little corner, all your knowledge is of no use to humanity”.

In 2010 an award winning director, Mark Dodd, created a documentary titled “The man who stopped the desert”. It received a very good overall rating on IMDb of 8,2 out of 10 stars. In the film Mr Yacouba tells his incredible story of his battle with nature and man.

First rope-free elevator system

It is said that half of the world’s population lives in cities. This number is expected to reach 70% by the end of the century.

Optimising vertical developments and ensuring that there are patches of green and recreation grounds in today’s smart cities is the way to go. Mid- to high-rise buildings offer solutions to various environmental challenges.

Thyssenkrupp has developed a rope-free elevator system based on electromagnetic principles. There can be multiple elevators operating within a single duct. This way the whole system can transfer more people. With this technology it will be possible to build taller buildings which will allow to gather even more individuals in a given land area.

The main benefits of the system are as follows:

  • Shorter waiting times. Passengers never wait more than 15 to 30 seconds for a lift;
  • Significantly increased capacity (by at least 50%);
  • Much smaller footprint (by half);
  • Substantially reduced weight and mass;
  • Focus on safety.

The exchange system allows 90 degrees turning of the linear drive and guiding equipment, which opens new possibilites for engineers.

Image source: Thyssenkrupp website