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In addition to Elon Musk’s earlier renewable energy breakthroughs with Tesla brand electric cars and the Powerwall, the next big step for Tesla is to turn roofs into solar energy collectors for sustainable power within the home. Appropriately titled “Solar Roof,” the technology aims to make home-based solar energy collection affordable, practical, and most importantly, attractive.

In 2016, Elon Musk announced a new technology in solar energy collection- Solar panels that blend functionally and aesthetically into the roofs of consumers. The technology is partly based around one of the traditional drawbacks of home solar collectors: They are simply unattractive. Traditional solar panels are bulky, and most often placed in the yard or sitting on top of the conventional roof structure of a home. Tesla’s Solar Roof technology places the solar panels themselves directly into the tiles found on roofs. The technology claims to disguise the actual solar collector cells by making them nearly invisible from the ground, and only seen clearly from above the home, which, conveniently, is where the Sun is located.

tesla-solar

Tesla’s vision for Solar Roof.

Solar Roof currently has four different styles of solar panel roof tiles for customers to choose from: Tuscan Glass, Slate Glass, Textured Glass, and Smooth Glass, and it can be expected that more choices will be offered in the future. The technology is meant to be paired with other Tesla innovations, such as the Powerwall, to provide clean, renewable energy for the home (and, presumably, for electric cars).

The biggest downside to the new technology, as is the case with most contemporary renewable energy tech, is upfront cost: Estimates for a Solar Roof installation could cost in upwards of $60,000, according to Consumer Reports. However, as in the case with most renewable energy sources, the cost savings over the lifetime of the Solar Roof must also be taken into account. In the long term, renewable energy sources are indeed more cost effective, but come with higher upfront expenditures.

Business Insider has an excellent video that provides an overview of the Solar Roof.

Engineering

A groundbreaking type of cement has the potential to transform homes and roads into massive energy storage systems

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For lack of a better word, concrete is awful for the environment. Beyond water, it’s the most-used product in the world, and its carbon footprint shows that making cement and concrete alone is responsible for 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions, or more than 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.

But MIT researchers have come up with new material that might be able to help solve that issue. After mixing water, cement, and a sooty substance called carbon black, they made a supercapacitor, which is like a big concrete battery and stores energy.

Admir Masic, a scientist at MIT and one of the researchers who came up with the idea, said in a statement last year, “The material is fascinating.”

“You have cement, which is the most common man-made material in the world, mixed with carbon black, which is a well-known historical material because it was used to write the Dead Sea Scrolls,” he said. “These materials are at least 2,000 years old, and when you mix them in a certain way, you get a conductive nanocomposite. That’s when things get really interesting.”

The amazing properties of the material come from the fact that carbon black is both highly conductive and water-resistant. To put it another way, as the mixture hardens, the carbon black rearranges itself into a web of wires that run through the cement.

According to the researchers, it’s not only a huge step forward in the move toward renewable energy around the world, but its recipe also makes it better than other batteries. Even though cement has a high carbon cost, the new material is only made up of three cheap and easy-to-find ingredients. Standard batteries, on the other hand, depend on lithium, which is limited and expensive in terms of CO2: “particularly in hard rock mining, for every tonne of mined lithium, 15 tonnes of CO2 are emitted into the air,” says MIT’s Climate Portal.

Since cement isn’t going anywhere soon, putting it together with a simple and effective way to store energy seems like a clear win. Damian Stefaniuk, one of the researchers who came up with the idea, told BBC Future this week, “Given how common concrete is around the world, this material has the potential to be very competitive and useful in energy storage.”

“If it can be made bigger, the technology can help solve a big problem: how to store clean energy,” he said.

How could that be done? One possible solution is to use it to pave roads. This way, the highways can collect solar energy and then wirelessly charge electric cars that drive on them. Because they release energy much more quickly than regular batteries, capacitors aren’t very good for storing power every day. However, they do have benefits like higher efficiency and lower levels of performance degradation, which makes them almost perfect for giving moving cars extra power in this way.

One more interesting idea is to use it as a building material. The researchers wrote in their paper that a 45-cubic-meter block of the carbon-back-cement mix could store enough energy to power a typical US home for a year. To give you an idea of how big that is, 55 of them would fit in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The team says that a house with a foundation made of this material could store a day’s worth of energy from solar panels or windmills and use it whenever it’s needed because the concrete would stay strong.

Franz-Josef Ulm, a structural engineer at MIT, said, “That’s where our technology looks very promising, because cement is everywhere.”

“It’s a fresh way to think about the future of concrete.”

The paper is now out in the journal PNAS.

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Engineering

The Cybertruck is experiencing a less than favorable beginning

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In 2019, Elon Musk introduced the Cybertuck, an event that did not unfold as Musk had anticipated. Subsequently, a series of calamities have occurred, and presented here are a few comical and mortifying instances.
The initial moment of realization

The Cybertruck was revealed on a well-illuminated stage as a new addition to Tesla’s product lineup. The vehicle was designed to accommodate six individuals, achieve a speed of 0 to 100 kilometers (0 to 60 miles) per hour in under 3 seconds, and possess a somewhat childlike aesthetic.

Additionally, it was asserted during the presentation that the material was impervious to a 9mm handgun. In order to demonstrate the veracity of this assertion, Franz von Holzhausen, the chief designer of Tesla, forcefully propelled a metal sphere towards one of the truck’s windows.

The ball promptly shattered the window, much to the astonishment of all present, and even Musk uttered a few profanities.

The company continues to assert that the Cybertruck remains resistant to shattering.

With the release of the Cybertruck, it has become apparent that rough terrain poses a challenge for this vehicle, despite its Off-Road Mode designed to handle steep inclines, declines, uneven surfaces, shallow streams, and other obstacles.

The Cybertuck appears to be better suited for driving on paved roads than off-roading, which has been a disappointment for owners. Even mild off-roading can be problematic and may necessitate assistance.

It strongly dislikes sand

 

@myonymyon

lol this thing is such a shitbox #fyp #tesla #cybertruck #fail #meme #guilestheme #guilesthemegoeswitheverything #bruh #shitbox

♬ original sound – Myony (LESBIAN APOCALYPSE)

Being summoned back
In the previous month, a recall was issued for Cybertrucks manufactured from November 13, 2024, to April 4, 2024. This recall specifically related to a problem with the accelerator pedals and affected a total of 3,878 vehicles. The presence of lubricant between the pedal and the covering pad was causing the pad to slide off and become stuck underneath the interior trim in front of it.

@el.chepito1985

serious problem with my Cybertruck and potential all Cybertrucks #tesla #cyberbeast #cybertruck #stopsale #recall

♬ original sound – el.chepito

The Cybertruck appears to have encountered a less than favorable beginning.

 

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Engineering

The company responsible for constructing the tallest building in the world intends to convert skyscrapers into gravity batteries

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A renowned architecture and engineering firm, known for its impressive portfolio of projects including the world’s tallest building, has partnered with Energy Vault, a startup, to develop skyscrapers that integrate gravity batteries into their design.

With the world’s transition to renewable energy, the issue of storage becomes increasingly important. One issue is that the availability of wind and solar energy does not always align with the peak demand for power. During days with strong winds or abundant sunshine, there is a possibility of excess electricity being generated. This could result in a scenario where consumers are actually paid to use electricity in order to prevent grid overload. While cheap and clean energy is undoubtedly beneficial, it is important to consider the waste of unused power.

It would be more advantageous if we could store that energy for future utilization. Gravity batteries are a viable option for achieving that goal.

Despite its catchy name, the concept behind gravity batteries is actually quite straightforward. When energy sources generate more energy than needed, the surplus energy is utilized to raise weights, converting it into potential energy. When the power supply is low, these objects can be released to power turbines as gravity pulls them towards the Earth.

Reservoirs are the most common form of gravity batteries, but there are also innovative projects that utilize abandoned mines to move sand or other weights when there is excess power being produced. It has been proposed to integrate gravity batteries into the architectural plans of skyscrapers.

“Since our inception, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has consistently pushed the limits of architecture and engineering, revolutionizing the impact of buildings on cities and communities,” stated Adam Semel, the Managing Partner of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

This collaboration with Energy Vault demonstrates a dedication to expediting the global shift away from fossil fuels. Additionally, it aims to investigate how renewable energy infrastructure can improve our collective natural surroundings and urban spaces.

According to the teams, future skyscrapers could be equipped with gravity batteries to provide them with multi-GWh of gravity-based energy storage. This would be sufficient to power the skyscrapers themselves as well as nearby buildings. Through the integration of the hydro system into buildings, the aim is to reduce the impact on wildlife ecosystems that is often associated with alternative energy storage systems.

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