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UCLA team captures CO2 in cement production, puts it into concrete

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Turning a harmful by-product of an industrial process into a harmless raw material of the end product itself is the result of some “blue sky” thinking at UCLA. Researchers there have found a way to take carbon dioxide, which is emitted in large quantities during the manufacture of Portland Cement, and use it to make concrete. The production of concrete accounts for about 5 per cent of CO2 emissions in the world, so being able to use that carbon in making concrete would be “a double whammy,” according to the UCLA team. They are calling their invention Co2ncrete. The team developed their proof of concept by combining pure CO2 with ... Read More »

NYC’s $4 billion subway station: masterpiece or boondoggle?

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New York City just opened a new subway station. It cost $4 billion and took twelve years to build. Architecture critic Michael Kimmelman wrote in the New York Times that the price paid for the “dino carcass” was an unconscionable use of public funds, a boondoggle. Can anyone even imagine such a thing being approved in Toronto? Four billion dollars for one subway station? Of course it’s not just any old station. In the first place, it is the work of world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, and the main hall of the building is grandly designated the Oculus (eye). And it is described officially as the World Trade Centre Hub, though ... Read More »

Mushroom-based material can replace polystyrene; Ikea latest to consider using

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There isn’t much that’s good to be said about polystyrene, or Styrofoam. It’s safe for use with food, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. It’s light and makes a pretty good packing material for electronics and other fragile products. Other than that, it’s all negative. It’s made from petroleum, which is non-sustainable, non-renewable, and heavily polluting. Production of polystyrene creates the second-worst impact on the environment, in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; only aluminum production is worse, according to a fact sheet from Harvard University. It is a main component in urban litter and marine debris, is detrimental to wildlife, does not biodegrade, takes up ... Read More »

Bjarke Ingels’ Toronto condos: playful form for a change

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It would be sad if the most diverse city in the world had the most homogeneous real estate. So said one of the world’s favourite architects, Bjarke Ingels, speaking about Toronto, where he gave a lecture last night. The Danish-born, New York-based founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) has his first Toronto project in the works, and it promises to put into practice what he spoke about in his lecture: building communities through architecture. Ingels is certainly not the first, whether famous architect or ordinary observer, to note that much of Toronto’s architecture is bland and boring. Frank Gehry called it mediocre. What Ingels has proposed for the King Street ... Read More »

Don’t be a victim; never send money to someone you don’t know

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Imagine how you’d feel if you had scrimped and saved for years to build up a down payment on a home, only to have the money snatched from you by scammers. It happens all the time, thanks to the way we do business these days, relying so heavily on email and wire transfers, and everything done right now with a click on a “send” button. The problem is, as technology becomes more and more sophisticated and efficient, so do the criminals. Wire transfers are among the most common methods of moving money around the world. Billions of dollars are moved this way every day, often by financial institutions and businesses that export and ... Read More »

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