The Ecocapsule is an egg-shaped, mobile dwelling designed to produce more electricity than it consumes and harvest more rainwater than its occupants use. It was developed by Nice Architects, a firm based in Bratislava, Slovakia. Shaped like an egg to minimize its surface-area-to-volume ratio, its walls are made of two layers of aluminum-reinforced polycarbonate with aerogel insulation sandwiched in between. Nice Architects describes the Ecocapsule as a "low-energy house packed into a compact form", although other potential applications include as a disaster-relief shelter, a scientific research station, and even as a "remote Airbnb".
Weighing 1.7 metric tons (1.7 long tons; 1.9 short tons) and measuring 4.5 meters (15 ft) in length by 2.4 meters (7.9 ft) in width by 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) in height, the 86-square-foot (8.0 m2) Ecocapsule is designed to accommodate two occupants. In addition to providing sleeping quarters for two with folding beds, it also includes a kitchenette, a shower, a table with two chairs, working windows, and even storage space. The Ecocapsule's interior, described by Devin Coldewey as "futuristic but warm", is bathed in natural light and predominantly white in color with blond wood accents.
The Ecocapsule is powered primarily by a built-in, 750-watt (1.01 hp) wind turbine and secondarily by a high-efficiency, 600-watt (0.80 hp) solar cell array. It is designed to produce more energy than it consumes, as long as the external temperature remains between −13 °F (−25 °C) and 104 °F (40 °C). The dwelling is also equipped with a 9,744-watt-hour (35,080 kJ) battery that can hold five days worth of electrical charge. If the battery is charged, the Ecocapsule diverts some of the energy captured by the solar cells to supplement its water heater. Other energy-conservation features of the dwelling are its high-efficiency climate control system and a heat exchanger that uses exhaust air to warm fresh incoming air.
The Ecocapsule also harnesses rainwater with its 145-US-gallon (550 L) reservoir, which is connected to two different filters and located beneath the dwelling's floor. A full reservoir provides two occupants with enough water for three weeks, which is provided to the Ecocapsule's sink and shower by either electric pumps or manual foot pumps that allow occupants to conserve its electric supply. To conserve water, the dwelling also features an incinerating toilet.
The Ecocapsule has a central computer that monitors its electricity and water levels, as well as outside weather conditions, allowing it to predict how long its supplies will last. This computer can be controlled with either a smartphone or tablet. According to Nice Architects, the Ecocapsule should in theory allow its occupants to live off the grid for nearly a year.
On May 28, 2015, the Ecocapsule was publicly unveiled at Vienna's Pioneers Festival after six years of development. By July 2015, thousands of pre-orders had already been made and interest generated among celebrities such as Susan Sarandon. In August 2015, Nice Architects announced that it had finished its Ecocapsule prototypes and was beginning production of the dwellings. It also announced that the Ecocapsule would be available for pre-ordering during the fourth quarter of 2015, and that the first units would be delivered by July 2016.
As of August 2015, no figure or estimate had been given for the price of an Ecocapsule, although Nice Architects had estimated that shipping alone (from Slovakia) to New York City would cost 2,200 euros (about US$2,400), and to Melbourne would cost 1,500 euros (about AU$2,100). In addition to being shipped, the dwelling is also designed to be transported by airlifting, towing, or by pack animal. Nice Architects has also voiced its intent to develop different variants of the Ecocapsule, such as a "camper" model.
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