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Inhabitat’s Week in Green: biophotovoltaic table, giant rubber ducky and cushions of shredded cash

Buon giorno! Milan Design Week 2012 is in the rear-view mirror now, but we're still sifting through the incredible furniture, lighting and technology that was showcased all throughout the city this year. Inhabitat sent a couple of correspondents to report on everything that was on display, and they didn't disappoint. We featured a nifty biophotovoltaic table that uses moss to generate electricity through photosynthesis. We also caught wind of a digital camera that IKEA unveiled in Milan that's made of cardboard. And given our love for terrariums, we were pretty excited to find this pendant lamp that doubles as a vegetable garden at this year's fair. But the star of the Milan show this year had to be British designer Tom Dixon, who rolled out countless innovative lamp designs, including the gorgeous Etch Light, which casts geometric shadows all over the room -- and he even invited visitors to design their own flat-pack lamps!

Milan Design Week isn't the only interesting news that we've been tracking in Europe. In Italy, Europe's most modern train, the Italo, hit the tracks for the first time. The bright red high-speed train is modeled after a Ferrari, and it promises to provide more luxury and energy efficiency. In Germany, the automation company Festo created an extraordinary helium-filled flying robot that propels itself through the air by repeatedly turning itself inside-out. We're still wondering how such a robot might be put to use, though.

And art is cropping up in unexpected places. In one of our favorite stories of the week, a giant rubber ducky was spotted floating down the Loire River in France. Why? The 82-foot ducky carries no political meaning (of course); it's simply meant to bring people together, according to artist Florentijn Hofman. In Hamburg, a group of trashmen transformed a fleet of dumpsters into pinhole cameras that take moody black-and-white photos.

In interplanetary news, Google and James Cameron announced plans to fund a venture to mine precious metals and rare minerals from asteroids. They hope to mine platinum-group metals and asteroid water. That's right: water. In an unrelated story, Donald Trump says the Scottish government has "betrayed" him for planning to install an offshore wind farm near Trump's golf resort.

In the world of cars, we were pretty surprised to learn that Ford is planning to use shredded cash in its vehicles. Say what?! You read that right: The automaker intends to recycle tons of old, damaged or out-of-circulation bills to make cushions, insulation and other car components. Audi unveiled its Q5 Hybrid Quattro, a midsize SUV that the company claims will get 34 mpg. And in another step forward for electric vehicles, GE Energy unveiled its new fully-networked WattStation electric vehicle charging platform. The network will enable owners to manage charging stations remotely, and it'll make it easier for drivers to access location and pricing details for charging stations. Tesla was also in the news this week, but not for its speedy cars; the Silicon Valley car company is teaming up with the solar rental company SolarCity to develop a new off-grid solar power storage system for home use.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/29/biophotovoltaic-table-giant-ducky-cushions-of-shredded-cash/

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