· May 2011

May 2011

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Big Announcementlandartgenerator.org

We are very pleased to announce that, in partnership with New York City’s DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & RECREATION, the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition will be held for a site within Freshkills Park (the former Fresh Kills landfill) in Staten Island.

At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park will be almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. The transformation of what was formerly the world’s largest landfill into a productive and beautiful cultural destination will make the park a symbol of renewal and an expression of how our society can restore balance to its landscape.

In addition to providing a wide range of recreational opportunities, including many uncommon in the city, the park’s design, ecological restoration and cultural and educational programming will emphasize environmental sustainability and a renewed public concern for our human impact on the earth.” – FRESHKILLS PARK

The detailed design brief will be released here upon the opening of the competition in early 2012. The brief will be similar to the guidelines from the 2010 edition of the LAGI competition and will provide detailed information and analysis about the specific site location within Freshkills Park.

The expansiveness of the design site at Freshkills Park presents the opportunity to power the equivalent of thousands of homes with the artwork. The stunning beauty (MORE PHOTOS HERE) of the reclaimed landscape and the dramatic backdrop of the Manhattan skyline will provide an opportune setting from which to be inspired, and it offers the perfect environment for a showcase example of the immense potential of aesthetically interesting renewable energy installations for sustainable urban planning.

The monetary prize award (details in the coming months) will not guarantee a commission for construction; however, LAGI will work with stakeholders both locally (NYC) and internationally to pursue possibilities for implementation of the most pragmatic and aesthetic LAGI designs.

(concept and renderings by Robert Ferry, Studied Impact Design) click to see larger image

We designed the Plastikoleum Tower after being impressed with the idea that the Japanese inventor Akinori Ito came up with to convert plastic waste back into the raw petroleum from whence it originally came. His company, Blest Corporation, sells various scales of his converter from 1kg capacity to 50kg. Ito has been traveling around the world demonstrating the small desktop version (shown below) which can convert 1kg of plastic waste material into 1 liter of oil which can be refined into gasoline, kerosene, or diesel.


What got us thinking is that the hour long process requires about 1KWh of electricity to create each liter of oil (the plastic must be heated to 500 degrees Celsius). Since one liter of oil equivalent equals 11KWh (measured in BTU’s), the process itself uses up 9% of the energy that is contained in the resulting product. We thought: what if instead of the electricity for the conversion coming from the grid (fossil fuel generated electricity), it came directly from the sun? And what if instead of converting 1-50kg of plastic, it converted 10 tons of plastic each hour?

(Studied Impact Design) click to see larger image

We designed the Plastikoleum Tower as an interesting variation on the conventional solar power tower. The latest generation of this particular concentrated solar power technology is getting very efficient and is able to maintain 15 hour cycles of heat that maintain at least 500 degrees Celsius. For more about these, see the Torresol Energy Gemesolar plant (a collaboration with Masdar).

(Studied Impact Design) click to see larger image

The Plastikoleum Tower is basically the same thing, except that instead of using the heat to create steam for turbine electricity generation, it is used to create oil from plastic waste. At this level of production, we could put a nice dent in the millions of tons of plastic waste that is discarded every year and would otherwise end up completely unused in landfills. So the raw material is basically free. The oil product can be sold at $100 per barrel (as of this post) and has the added benefit of cleaning up the environment of plastic waste.

(Studied Impact Design) click to see larger image

Solar power towers generally are sized at around 20MW capacity. We’ve sized ours only at the capacity (10MW) that would be required to heat 10 tons of plastic (scaling up from the smaller models designed by Akinori Ito). At 10 tons per hour capacity, the tower could produce 60 barrels of oil every hour, or 900 barrels per day. With economies of scale in effect, it may be that 10MW could actually produce much more than that, but we’re being conservative in our estimate.

900 barrels per day would therefore net $90,000 per day from plastic feedstock that is either free or that the company could even charge for to help dispose of. That comes to $32 million per year in revenues, which should pay back the capital costs of the construction within just two years (based on a construction estimate of $2.5 million per MW installed capacity and accounting for operational expenses).

(Studied Impact Design) click to see larger image

It should be noted that burning the resulting oil fuel will still contribute to CO2 emissions. But leaving the plastic in landfills also contributes to perhaps greater greenhouse gas emissions, and burning the plastic as-is creates 5x the CO2 emissions as compared to burning the oil that the plastic melts down into.

The amount of oil per tower (900 barrels) that would be produced is literally a drop in the bucket (Abu Dhabi produces 2.8 million barrels per day). Nevertheless, towers such as this could become a useful source of fuel energy for geographical locations that have a lot of sun and a lot of plastic waste.

We can see these being built in tandem with electricity generating towers in the future. Or perhaps residual heat energy within the Plastikoleum Tower can be used to generate steam power at the same time as the plastic is melted within the same tower (by running water through pipes within the melting chambers).

Another thought is integrating this system into the fabric of a new urban community. The plastic is not combusted in the process (the heating must occur in a chamber free of oxygen) so there is no off-gassing or fumes of any kind. We can imagine an Ebenezer Howard garden city plan (one of his radial utopias), with each house shaded by a large heliostat.

Here’s a short video about Ito’s invention:

We learned about Blest Corporation via Inhabitat, Plastics Today, and Clean Technica

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There is a great deal to be learned from this energy-generating pavilion at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, designed by the Danish architecture firm 3XN.

Thin film solar and piezoelectric (electricity generated from pressure and vibration) generate the energy needed to power LED lights at night, making the project self-sufficient. The materials used are also considered as well, consisting of bioresins and rapidly-renewable materials.

Read more about the project (including about the phase-changing materials used to regulated the surface temperature of the artwork) at detail.de.

via ecofriend


Dr. Timothy Adams and his wife Cindy Adams are residents of the South Shore Heights neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska. They invested $40,000 last year to install solar panels on their own roof as a way to reduce their energy costs and, as they so rightfully put it, “making sure that we pass on a better world for our kids.”

As you can see from this small image taken from their website, the panels are almost impossible to notice past the large garage that dominates the front of their house. Nevertheless, they are being sued by the homeowners association of their neighborhood. A vote of the neighbors came out 2:1 in favor of forcing the Adams’ to spend another $6,000 to have the panels removed.

What stories like this make evident is that we have a long way to go towards education about renewable energy and the benefits of distributed grids and on-site generation.

Here is a link the the website that the Adams’ have made to promote their cause and educate people about solar (music on the site, but it can be paused). You’ll find more information about the specifics of the lawsuit that has been filed against them if you’re interested. And you can sign an online petition in their defense.

via WOWT.com

We were very honored to have been invited to present LAGI at the first ever Masdar Market Day event which took place on Friday, April 29. It was our first opportunity to ride the PRT and see the completed Masdar Institute of Science and Technology buildings, the first phase of the overall Masdar City project. Look for more information about similar events at Masdar City starting again in October.

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