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Wednesday, 11 May 2016 15:45

Ecocapsule: A Tiny Solar-And-Wind-Powered Mobile Home A Little Off-The-Grid Place Of Your Own Featured

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Innovator: Sona Pohlova and Tomas Zacek
Age: 31 and 36
Title: Architects and co-founders of Ecocapsule, a startup in Bratislava, Slovakia, with four full-time employees

Form and function
Made of insulated steel and aluminum with a fiberglass shell, the Ecocapsule is a 1.1-ton, 70-square-foot mobile home powered by wind and solar energy for off-the-grid living.

Pod 1

Origin
In 2009 the co-founders entered a competition to design a small home. They didn’t win but drew enough interest from potential buyers that they kept working on it.

Cost
The capsule, available later this year from the company’s website, costs about $90,000, plus shipping.

Pod 2

Layout
Enter through a hatch in the 15-by-7-by-8-foot pod to find a small stove, toilet, and shower on one side and a foldout bed and table on the other. The capsule’s wooden interior can be customized for various uses.

Power
The capsule can generate as much as 1.35 kilowatts via a wind turbine and solar panels on the roof. It stores up to 10kw in a rechargeable battery with a seven-year life span.

Market
Ecocapsule is processing its first 50 preorder deposits and has received 17,000 e-mails expressing interest, including from U.S. Army contractors, Zacek says.

Next Steps
Ecocapsule is seeking $1 million in capital so it can begin larger-scale production. Peter Wheelwright and Alison Mears, architecture professors at New York’s New School, say they worry its materials may be environmentally unfriendly and possibly unsafe. Aluminum production is energy-intensive, and some fiberglass products can contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical. Zacek says the materials are safe. He and Pohlova are researching alternative materials, such as hemp, to make the capsule greener.

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