The Innovators: Slippery toilets, smart bricks

The creative among us:

This new magical coating saves water by making toilets so slippery that poop basically flushes itself. What if you didn’t have to use as much water to flush what you put in them? Don’t be squeamish: New tech from researchers at Penn State is designed to make toilets so slippery that they’re essentially self-cleaning, cutting water use in half in the process.

Lincoln’s new heated windshield wiper tech could make winter driving a lot simpler. First off, they’re heated. Each blade contains a strip of thin metal foil connected to a power source. Second, the system forces washer fluid out through 38 or 42 laser-cut holes on the blades themselves, right onto the glass. This allows the vehicle to use 50 percent less liquid.

bricksBacteria-Filled Bricks Build Themselves. Researchers have developed a living substance that can transform from a gooey sand mixture into a solid brick—and then help build more copies of itself. Powered by photosynthesis, these microorganisms absorb sunlight, nutrients, and carbon dioxide and spit out calcium carbonate—the rigid compound found in seashells and cement.

A new approach to making airplane parts, minus the massive infrastructure. “If you’re making a primary structure like a fuselage or wing, you need to build a pressure vessel, or autoclave, the size of a two- or three-story building, which itself requires time and money to pressurize,” says Brian Wardle, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. “These things are massive pieces of infrastructure. Now we can make primary structure materials without autoclave pressure, so we can get rid of all that infrastructure.”

houseThe world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood now has its first houses. In a rural area on the outskirts of a town in Southern Mexico, a giant, 33-foot-long 3D printer recently built the walls of the first homes in the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood. The 500-square-foot houses were finished with roofs, windows, and interiors.

~ Singultus

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