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UPDATED: July 26, 2010 NO. 30 JULY 29, 2010
Next Big Thing
Ideas, inventions and gadgets at the Expo might revolutionize people's life

Swedish expertise in the Symbiocity approach has been exported to countries like China, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Britain, as a source of inspiration for urban planning.

Hebei Province's Caofeidian, a city about 200 km southeast of Beijing, is building a climate-neutral eco-city. Sweden-based consulting engineering co., Sweco, has been commissioned to perform an analysis and draw up a strategy for the sustainable planning of the first phase of the city, covering an area of around 30 square km. Dr. Ulf Ranhagen, Sweco's chief architect and the developer of the Symbiocity concept, is in charge of the Caofeidian project.

"The solutions cannot be copied, but the mindset of looking at synergy to combine economic, social, ecological and spatial aspects on sustainable development stay the same," said Ranhagen.

Cars of the Future—YeZ and EN-V

Exhibition Venue: SAIC-GM Pavilion

How Long: 20 Years From Now

GREEN MOBILITY: YeZ, a concept car mimicking photosynthesis developed by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), is displayed at the SAIC-GM Pavilion (COURTESY OF JAPAN PAVILION)

Since people already have constructed carbon-neutral communities that are extremely energy efficient, why not build cars with zero carbon emissions, or even better, negative emissions in the future?

This is not too big a dream. YeZ, a concept vehicle designed by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and emits oxygen back into the atmosphere. The concept is exhibited at the SAIC-GM Pavilion with the theme of "Drive to 2030."

YeZ, meaning leaf in Chinese, uses a gigantic leaf-shaped roof to shelter the two seats. The leaf is more like a canopy and makes the space half open. The roof is imbedded with dozens of tennis ball-sized silver panels, which are photovoltaic panels that can automatically adjust their angles to more efficiently track sunlight anytime. The solar power system will serve as the vehicle's main source of energy even on overcast or rainy days. The veins of the leaf are illuminated and can flash on and off to show the energy flow while traveling.

The concept car adopts three technologies to achieve its groundbreaking feature of artificial photosynthesizing. Besides using solar power to drive the engine, the car also incorporates small wind turbines in its wheels to harvest energy from the environment. Most importantly, engineers creatively included the technologies of turning carbon dioxide in the air into kinetic energy and converting high concentrations of carbon dioxide into electricity for the vehicle's lighting or as the vehicle's air-conditioning refrigerant. SAIC has spent about one year developing this model from scratch. The vehicle's maximum speed and load are 70 km per hour and 140 kg respectively.

"The reason we opted for half-open space instead of enclosed space is to symbolize that man and nature can eventually merge into one," said Gu Yuqing, a SAIC engineer who participated in the designing.

He said that although it could be decades before YeZ goes on sale, its features and technologies have been used on other SAIC cars that are about to hit the market. These cars include E1, a pure electric four-seater that made its debut at this year's Beijing International Auto Show and is expected to be mass-produced in 2012.

SAIC's partner GM also exhibits three models of its EN-V (electric networked-vehicle) concept, named as Jiao (pride), Miao (magic) and Xiao (smile) in Chinese. Despite the difference in color and shape, the three models share the same underpinnings. They are all two-seaters running on two electric motors, one in each "driving" wheel. The motors are powered by lithium-ion phosphate batteries, which can be recharged via a standard wall outlet. The motors also provide "braking" for the vehicle, which is completely drive-by-wire and can be controlled manually or autonomously. In autonomous mode, the EN-V uses vehicle-to-vehicle communications, global positioning system and distance sensing technologies to enhance safety.

MODEL BUILDING: The six-storey Broad Pavilion, whose parts were factory-made and installed in one day (LI LI)

"EN-V reinvents the automobile by creating new vehicle DNA through the convergence of electrification and connectivity," said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of GM China Group. "It provides an ideal solution for urban mobility that enables future driving to be free from petroleum and emissions, free from congestion and accidents, and more fun and fashionable than ever before."

Buildings of the Future—Factory-made and Sustainable

Exhibition Venue: Broad Pavilion

How Long: Waiting for Mass Production

Rome wasn't built in a day, but the Broad Pavilion was. From a three-minute movie, visitors to the pavilion can see that on March 6, Broad Air Conditioning Co. built the six-floor 2,000-square-meter building, including external walls, windows, floors and roof in 24 hours. All components were factory made and assembled by bolts, without traditional civil engineering and decoration. According to the Broad Pavilion, besides the unbelievable speed of construction, the building's parameters have proven that it is highly safe, energy efficient and healthy.

The building's Level 9 Earthquake Resistance, tested and certified by the China Academy of Building Research, is achieved by its diagonal bracing structure, light weight and steel construction, according to the company.

The company's brochure said the building only uses one sixth the materials of conventional construction. Even though the construction materials are much lighter (250 kg per square meter) than traditional materials (more than 1,500 kg per square meter), the floors and walls are airtight and soundproof.

The pavilion is five times more energy efficient than conventional buildings because of the adoption of a 15-cm thermal insulation for walls and roofs, triple glazed plastic windows, external solar shading, fresh air heat recovery and LED lighting.

COLORFUL AND RECYCLABLE: Hosts and hostesses from the Germany Pavilion in outfits made of eco-friendly material take a break (LI LI)

The indoor air is 20 times cleaner than the outdoor air. The efficient air purification system has three levels and the air is exchanged up to 2.5 times per hour.

"We want to show visitors that this can house their future homes: comfortable, refreshing and with a small electricity bill," said Zou Fengming, a guide at the pavilion. Zou said the construction cost for this building is 3,000 yuan ($441) to 4,000 yuan ($588) per square meter, which is a little higher than that of conventional buildings. "But mass production of buildings in the future can greatly drive the price down," she said.

The factory-made model shouldn't scare away people who want to use home interior decoration to show their personality, said Tang Ying, head of the pavilion. "You can decorate the interior space to your own tastes and the building's facade can be tailor-made," said Tang.

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