energy & design

From ecstasy to exergy: Running out of easy copper

Built in 1978 by German steel company Krupp, the giant Bagger 288 was designed for open mining trenching. It took more than five years and $100 million to design and manufacture. It can move more than 76,000 cubic meters (~2,700,000 cubic ft) of coal, rock, and earth in a day. Why would anyone need to […]

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Energy: A Sense Of Loss

Whenever electricity is transmitted from one place to another a certain amount is simply lost. In older grids, energy is wasted overcoming resistance in the lines themselves. In extremely high voltage lines, so-called corona discharge losses [as shown in the image above] can offset the lower resistance losses. Whether system-wide electricity losses amount to three […]

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A smooth journey

Two images have preoccupied me in recent days. The first one [below] was taken in a lounge at Paris airport. I remember being struck by the intense design effort that had been made to create a controlled and insulated environment. On the tv screen were images of the popular revolt that is unfolding, bloodily, in […]

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Why does Laura Bush’s friend want to poison our water?

Dr Martin Schuepbach from Dallas, Texas, has the following plan, concerning natural gas, for the Cevennes region of France, where I live [below]: First, he will take millions of gallons of our clean mountain water. To this he will add a cocktail of up to up to 600 toxic chemicals including highly corrosive salts, carcinogens […]

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Utopia is here

Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years from now we are due to discover find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction. Do we have to wait that long? Many urban sites today already are at […]

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Renewable energy: salvation, or snake oil?

[First published at Design Observer] Unsettling patches of metallic eczema have started appearing on former vineyards where I live in the south of France. They turn out to be solar farms, the first spores of a clean energy revolution that will soon cover the land. People tell me I should be pleased, but I feel […]

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