Vegan Leather from the Prickly Pear Cactus

As interest continues to rise in sustainable and vegan leather alternatives, two Mexican entrepreneurs have founded Desserto, an organization dedicated to exploring the capabilities of the Opuntia cactus, more commonly known as the prickly pear. This perennial grower can yield organic material to harvest every six to eight months for about eight years. No irrigation systems are needed, it is dried under the sun and naturally tanned, …

Astronaut Urine Will Be a Valuable Resource on the Moon

Since the cost of shipping resources to the moon remains prohibitively high, planning for long stints—or even habitation—requires savvy, as the rugged surface (aka regolith) restricts growth. Earlier this year, researchers found that, when mixed with moon dirt, astronaut urine could be a remarkably useful building material. When urea, “the second-most common compound in human urine after water” is blended with the dirt, the resulting …

Excess Heat From the London Underground Used to Warm Nearby Homes

A red, metal-clad building—the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre—in London’s Islington marks the center of Europe’s newest type of energy network. The building itself (by Cullinan Studio) acts as the central provider for heat and hot water for hundreds of homes and public offices within its proximity. A fan situated below ground, but above the Underground redirects heat from the Northern Line tunnel (which would otherwise …