The Japanese firm Muji has recently unveiled a their first offering in the tiny home sphere. The so-called Muji Hut is a minimalist tiny home, equipped with just the basic necessities, but it also looks very cozy and inviting. It would work great as a vacation cabin, a home office or a guesthouse, but might not work so well as a permanent home.
The Muji Hut measures 97 sq ft (9.1 sq m), but the exterior deck adds an additional 32 sq ft (3 sq m) to the floorspace. The exterior is made of cedar wood and was treated with the all-natural preserving method called Shou Sugi Ban. The interior cladding is unfinished Japanese cypress plywood, while they used polystyrene foam for insulation, and it appears that only the ceiling is insulated. That, together with the fact that the windows are only single pane, it seems that the Muji Hut is only suitable for mild climates, though it does have a fairly large wood-burning stove installed for heating. The Muji Hut also needs a reinforced concrete foundation, and has no electric power or plumbing installed.
The interior is comprised of a single room, which the owners can furnish according to their wishes. It would be easy to add a small kitchenette and maybe a composting toilet, as well as solar panels to the roof. This tiny home may not have a whole lot of extra features, but it does exactly what it is meant to do: it provides an affordable way to build a cozy dwelling anywhere you want to be.
The Muji Hut will be available in mid-2017 and will cost around $27,000 including construction. At this time, it can only be shipped in Japan.
The wider adoption of solar cells is largely being stalled by their cost. That’s why a lot of new research in this field has been focused on making solar cells more affordable. And now a group of engineers at MIT and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have made a breakthrough.
They’ve created a 3D printed material, which is able to change shape when heated or cooled, and then return to it’s original form on it’s own. Among the many applications of such a material it could also be used as the turning mechanism for solar cells, which would allow them to effortlessly capture more solar energy.
The 3D printed material they created is capable of remembering its original shape, and always returning to it when certain key conditions are met. In other words, it can be bent, twisted, stretched and used to build complex shapes (such as a replica of a flower or the Eiffel Tower). These structures bend and stay in the new form until they are heated to between 104 to 356 degrees Fahrenheit when the material becomes rubbery and once again assumes its original shape.
To create these structures, they used a special 3D printing method called microstereolithography, which etches patterns onto the polymers using light as they are layered. The thinner the structure the faster it reacts to temperature changes and they are actually calling this new tech 4D printing, since the changing of shape happens across the fourth dimension of time.
Designing an effective way of combining this new tech with PV cells would make them much more efficient at harvesting solar power, as well as make it possible to use solar cells in a lot more places. More efficient solar cells would also lessen the need for large battery banks.
|Homes that Pass the "Energy Efficiency Sandwich" TestMarkets InsiderThese can include foam-backed siding, extra insulation and structural insulated panels. As for the openings in the house, fiberglass entry doors and solidly-constructed vinyl windows offer some of the best resistance to weather, wind and air infiltration.