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Thursday, 28 April 2011

New R&D program to help Canadian companies compete globally

April 25, 2011

The launch of a new federally funded national internship program will help Canadian companies compete in the global marketplace through advanced research and development. Connect Canada, a $5-million, five-year program, was launched at an event hosted by Chrysler Canada at the University of Windsor-Chrysler Canada Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC).

In its five years of funding, Connect Canada expects to place 750 graduate students at companies across Canada in all economic sectors. For a small investment, companies will be able to hire a dedicated graduate-level student intern to investigate research issues relevant to their business needs. Interns will gain valuable industry experience while working on R&D projects that enhance their graduate studies.

Japanese production suffers record fall

April 28, 2011

Japanese factory output suffered a record decline in March as the devastating tsunami crippled supply chains across the world's third-largest economy.

The government said production plummeted 15.3 per cent in March from February, the biggest decline since records began in 1953, and worse than analysts had expected. Household spending dropped 8.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Lockheed Martin to pursue growth outside US

The Financial Times
April 26, 2011

Lockheed Martin, the largest US defence contractor by revenues, expects a strong rise in international sales to provide most of its growth over the next two to three years, while US sales are flat, the company said on Tuesday.

It made the prediction as it reported first-quarter earnings from continuing operations up 12 per cent at $1.55 per share, roughly in line with analysts’ expectations. The company raised its projection of expected full-year earnings slightly, to $6.95-$7.25, from previous guidance of $6.70-$7, thanks to a $90m benefit from a successful appeal over tax payments for 2003-08.

Although the immediate budget crisis in the US has passed with the agreement to avoid a government shutdown, Lockheed is still facing a future of constrained military funding in its home country, which accounts for about 85 per cent of revenues.
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Materials costs squeeze US industry

The Finanical Times
April 27, 2011

Rising prices for commodities such as oil and steel and inflation in emerging economies are a threat to the revival of US manufacturing industry, executives at some of the leading companies have warned.

Manufacturers such as United Technologies, Honeywell, Eaton, Ford Motor and Boeing have been reporting stronger-than-expected earnings for the first quarter and often raising their forecasts of growth for the full year.

Lubi is World's Most Efficient Solar Device

Magog, Canada (SPX)
April 28, 2011

Enerconcept Technologies has introduced the Lubi, the world's most efficient solar air heater, that features significant energy savings and quick paybacks for commercial, institutional and industrial facilities.

The Lubi is a wall-mounted solar collector that simulates an aesthetic architectural glass-like facade, but provides up to 80.7-percent peak heating efficiencies, which is the highest efficiency ever recorded for any solar air technology, according to Canadian Standards Association (CSA-International) certification tests.

Los Angeles pilot program offers up to $2,000 off EV charging stations 
April 25, 2011

You can already get a pretty hefty federal rebate on an electric vehicle, and it looks like at least some folks in Los Angeles can now also save a good chunk of change on an EV charging station. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just announced a new pilot program this week that will provide rebates of "up to $2,000" on home EV charging stations -- to the first 1,000 applicants, that is. That will apparently be expanded soon enough, however, with the city promising to begin accepting additional applications on May 1st, and eventually cover up to 5,000 EV chargers. Those receiving the rebate will also be required to participate in the LADWP's Residential Time-of-Use Rate that offers discounts for charging during off-peak hours, and the city will monitoring charging patterns in an effort to determine how to best allocate resources. Head on past the break for the full press release.

Chicken Fat Fuel Emissions Look Cleaner And Greener

Edwards CA (SPX)
April 28, 2011

NASA recently performed emissions testing on alternative, renewable fuels for a greener and less petroleum-dependent future. The search for alternative fuels is driven by environmental concerns as well as a desire for reduced reliance on foreign sources.

"Renewable" means that the fuel source isn't some form of fossil fuel. The source could be algae, a plant such as jatropha, or even rendered animal fat. In late March and early April 2011, a team at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California tested renewable biofuel made from chicken and beef tallow in one of the four engines of a DC-8 airplane.

Food vs fuel: the debate is over

Guelph, Canada (SPX)
April 28, 2011

A new study released by the Grain Farmers of Ontario should put an end to the ongoing debate of whether the grain we grow should be used for food or fuel. We can and should do both.

The abundance of grain grown by farmers around the world and here in Ontario can both protect the environment and feed the world. As farm yields climb and investments are made in farm production in the developing world, feeding and fueling the world can even be done cost effectively.

Compressed air energy storage has bags of potential

The Engineer
April 25, 2011

The only thing you can say for certain about British weather is that it’s unpredictable. One minute the sun is shining. The next, you’re soaked through by April showers. Given our eclectic weather and island status, you’d think that we’d be an ideal location for wind power. But despite leading the world in offshore wind capacity, wind contributes less than three per cent of the UK’s energy needs. The power these sources generate is intermittent, and that’s a big sticking point for investment in the technology.
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Thermal barrier coating could boost efficiency of gas turbines

The Engineer
April 27, 2011

A spin-out company from Imperial College London has developed a thermal barrier coating for gas turbine parts that can optically feed back its temperature and ageing status even while the engine is running at full speed.

The main application for the technology is in power-generating gas turbines, where the coating could help to achieve significant efficiency savings.
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Report: Storage for spent nuclear fuel more crucial than ever

MIT News
April 27, 2011

Japanese nuclear crisis adds to the urgency of dealing with radioactive used fuel, and may raise cost of new plants, MIT study says

The United States and other countries around the world looking to nuclear power for their energy needs must consider how spent fuel will be handled as they construct new plants and examine existing ones, especially in light of the recent crisis in Japan, according to a comprehensive study from MIT.

The ongoing problems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi powerplant — caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami — have been significantly exacerbated by the presence of used fuel housed in the reactor buildings, and demonstrate the urgency needed in dealing with such waste, the report’s authors say. It specifically underscores the importance of finding a way to deal with the growing amount of spent nuclear fuel housed at existing U.S. nuclear plants.

Caterpillars inspire new movements in soft robots

The Institute of Physics
April 27, 2011

Researchers have been examining the diverse behaviours of caterpillars to find solutions for the new generation of search and rescue soft robots.

Despite their extreme flexibility and adaptability, current soft-bodied robots are often limited by their slow speed, leading the researchers to turn to terrestrial soft-bodied animals for inspiration.

Some caterpillars have the extraordinary ability to rapidly curl themselves into a wheel and propel themselves away from predators. This highly dynamic process, called ballistic rolling, is one of the fastest wheeling behaviours in nature.
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This heat pump can last 10,000 years

University of Stavanger
April 27, 2011

Researchers now are testing an entirely new heat pump. While those we use today last ten to twenty years, the new one will last almost forever.

The new heat pump consists of many miniature heat pumps as small as one cubic millimeter. To heat a house one needs several thousand of them. They are put together into larger units that can be tall and thin or short and wide.

The most important advantages of the new heat pump is that you can regulate its size and form and that it is more durable than heat pumps are today. It is also more environmentally friendly, Doctor of Physics Jan Kåre Bording says, who is Chief Engineer at the University of Stavanger in Norway.

California may use vibrational energy of driving to generate power
April 27, 2011

When you get into your car, for the daily commute or for a relaxing weekend visit to a friend house you give off energy. Not just the energy from the fossil fuels that you burn, but a different kind of energy, vibrational energy. Most of us do not give that energy a second thought, unless we're trying to do something that requires fine motor skills, such as putting the lid back onto your slightly deformed cup of scalding hot coffee, but it is there.

It is also a potential source of a green, and renewable energy. California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a democrat from the Burbank district, hopes to help his home state to use it effectively. He has put in motion a legislation proposing that, if it passes, would create a pilot program designed to capture those vibrations.

New Triton submarine in race to reach ocean bottom
April 28, 2011

Step back to 1960 when Trieste, the first and only manned vessel, reached the deepest known part of the ocean called Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench near Guam. No other vessel has ever managed to reach this depth of near 36,000 feet. In an announcement this week, Triton Submarines hopes to be the next to reach this great depth in a newly designed submersible.
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Swiss solar plane to attempt first international flight

April 28, 2011

Switzerland's solar-powered aircraft is expected to attempt its first international flight as early as next week to Brussels, the team managing the project said on Thursday.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Collecting Your Data

April 25, 2011

The latest controversy covers the privacy and the trade of personal data from your mobile phone more so, your smart device.  Apple is collecting iPhone and iPad users data.  However, it has also came out that Apple is not the only company collecting data.  Google has been doing the same thing with its Android operating systems.  Google came under fire when they were caught collecting similar Wi-Fi data from its street view cars.  As a smart phone user,  I was very stunned.  I did not sign up for this but, I am sure this is all covered in the fine print which no person ever reads.  After doing more research about the topic, I was more surprised of what I have learned.  This is far from being a recent issue, tracking of individuals via their cellphones has been going on for almost ten years at least.

The movements of Apple users were tracked and stored in a hidden iOS file which gets synced to their PC every time they connect the phone. The secret file was discovered by computer experts and made public at the recent Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Apple confirms that "it "intermittently" collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours, according to a letter the company sent to U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) last year."

According to security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier." These results were reviewed and confirmed by another independent consultant. Google said it uses some of the data to build accurate traffic maps. A cellphone's location data can provide details about, for instance, how fast traffic is moving along a stretch of highway. They goes on to say that the Wi-Fi data it collects is anonymous and that it deletes the start and end points of every trip that it uses in its traffic maps. However, the data by provided Samy Kamkar, contained a unique identifier tied to an individual's phone.

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 22, 2010, "Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people's locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the $2.9 billion market for location-based services expected to rise to $8.3 billion in 2014, according to research firm Gartner Inc." Hence by buying a smart phone or a tablet PC, you are automatically consented to have Apple or Google to collect your data and target personal advertisement based on your activities. This will only help them to generate more revenue from users of there products.

More shocking is that under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC mandated that by October 1, 2001 a quarter of all new cellphones be equipped with GPS functionality that would allow authorities to track the location of users. By the end of 2002, this became a mandatory requirement of all new cellphones. Mobile phone companies have been tracking their users, in line with government mandates. Even though, there are many positive aspects with these smart devices. It could also allows your personal data to be used for commercial marketing(OS, third parties apps and mobile carriers) and government matters(police). US lawmakers have invited Apple and Google to attend a hearing on privacy next month following claims the iPhone and Android devices regularly track a user's location and stores the data. This is a step in the right direction and hopefully this is will result in giving users the option to be tracked.

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In the wake of the wind

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
April 11, 2011

On the Front Range within the Rocky Mountains, prevailing winds sweep eastward over the mountains smack into the National Wind Technology Center.

Several wind turbines, some taller than a 40-story building, spin and hum at the site, just outside of Boulder, Colo., waiting for an experiment to start in the next month.

The turbines not only produce power, they produce wakes -- similar to what forms in bodies of water -- that are invisible ripples and waves and other disturbances in the atmosphere downstream that can damage turbines and decrease efficiency. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers and collaborators will launch a study of those wakes this month, with an eye toward improving the efficiency of wind farms.

The scientists also will collect valuable data that will help validate the wind flow models developed at Livermore and other laboratories and universities.
To read more click here..

Most powerful millimeter-scale energy harvester generates electricity from vibrations

University of Michigan
April 25, 2011

Electrical engineers at the University of Michigan have built a device that can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to electricity with five to 10 times greater efficiency and power than other devices in its class. And it's smaller than a penny.

"In a tiny amount of space, we've been able to make a device that generates more power for a given input than anything else out there on the market," said Khalil Najafi, one of the system's developers and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Zeroing in on the Elusive Green LED

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
April 26, 2011

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method for manufacturing green-colored LEDs with greatly enhanced light output.

The research team, led by Christian Wetzel, professor of physics and the Wellfleet Constellation Professor of Future Chips at Rensselaer, etched a nanoscale pattern at the interface between the LED’s sapphire base and the layer of gallium nitride (GaN) that gives the LED its green color. Overall, the new technique results in green LEDs with significant enhancements in light extraction, internal efficiency, and light output.

The discovery brings Wetzel one step closer to his goal of developing a high-performance, low-cost green LED.
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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Walki Biomass Cover: Improves Drying Process And Energy Content Of Energy Wood

Espoo, Finland (SPX) 
April 26, 2011
Logging residue is an inexpensive and easily accessible source of biofuel, but to improve the energy content it must first dry on the ground and after that it can be stored in piles for several months. To shelter the piles from moisture through rain, snow and ice, Walki has developed a paper-based, waterproof cover that can be chipped and burned together with the residue.

The importance of biofuels is increasing globally due to tightening emissions restrictions. Interest in wood-based biofuels has also increased because there are new combustion technologies available on the market that are suitable for solid biofuels.
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Solar Lighting Consortium Hopes to Develop Universal Specifications

Victoria, Canada (SPX) 
April 26, 2011
Carmanah Technologies is pleased to announce its participation as a founding member to form the Consortium for Solar Lighting (CSL). The CSL's other founding members are Sharp Electronics Corporation, Inovus Solar, Inc., and SolarOne Solutions, Inc.

The mission of this group is to accelerate the adoption of reliable solar lighting technology through the development of universal specifications intended to support customers' fair and comprehensive evaluation of commercial-scale lighting systems. In the process, the group expects that these specifications will foster awareness of solar powered lighting and the applications where it is a viable alternative to conventional grid-connected lighting technology. 

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Purdue picked for international 'EcoCAR' competition

West Lafayette IN (SPX) 
April 26, 2011  

Purdue University has been selected as one of 16 teams to participate in EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future, an international competition to develop advanced automotive technologies. The Purdue team is a multidisciplinary effort led by Vahid Motevalli, head the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology.

The competition was established in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Corp. to speed the development of vehicles aimed at reducing petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
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AGC creates 15% lighter glass for mobile devices
April 25, 2011

Asahi Glass Co. (AGC), a Tokyo-based makers of flat glass, automotive glass, display glass, chemicals and other high-tech materials and components, has announced the creation of a the world's thinnest soda-lime glass substrate for touchscreens. The glass, which could lighten the weight on a variety of mobile devices, is measuring in at just 0.28 mm. This is 15% thinner than the current thinnest commercially available substrate, which is 0.33 mm. As you may expect, the glass is also 15% lighter, which is good news for anyone carrying around a smartphone or tablet PC.
To read more click here... 

Agricultural robot will be able to harvest high-value crops

The Engineer
April 21, 2011

Robotics engineers in the European Union (EU) plan to develop an agricultural robot that can sense, spray and pick high-value crops.

Researchers working on the so-called Clever Robots for Crops (CROPS) project plan to create a prototype robotic system that will be able to harvest high-value crops such as greenhouse peppers, orchard fruit and premium wine grapes.

Volvo Buses and SAIC Motors form joint company for new energy driveline systems

April 19, 2011

Volvo Buses and Chinese SAIC Motors have agreed to form a new joint venture company. It is a company for driveline systems for new energy buses such as hybrids and electric buses. The new company will be owned by SAIC with 60% and by Volvo with 40%.

Volvo will invest 40M RMB and SAIC 60M RMB in the new company that will be named Shanghai Green Bus Drive System Co and will be based in Shanghai, China, For the past 10 years, Volvo and SAIC have together successfully operated the joint venture company Sunwin Bus, one of the largest city bus manufacturers in China.
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Johnson Controls-Saft to Supply Advanced Batteries to the Beijing Electric Vehicle Company

Johnson Control
April 19, 2011

Johnson Controls-Saft, a global leader in the development and manufacture of advanced lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, will supply the complete battery system for two electric vehicles which will be launched by the Beijing Electric Vehicle Company (BJEV), a subsidiary of Beijing Automotive Industry Company (BAIC). BJEV and BAIC have plans to manufacture 150,000 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2015.

"The electric vehicle market in China represents a tremendous growth opportunity for the automotive industry," said Ray Shemanski, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and is vice president and general manager of Advanced Battery Systems for Johnson Controls Power Solutions. "While this electric battery system is the first China-specific product designed and developed by our advanced battery team in China, it leverages our proven technology currently in production in Europe and the United States, and indicates the potential of a quickly growing China market."

NASA awards funding to four companies as part of CCDev2

The Engineer
April 20, 2011

NASA has awarded four Space Act Agreements worth a total of $269.3m (£164.5m) in the second round of the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) programme.

Each company will receive between $22m and $92.3m to advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of their systems, including launch vehicles and spacecraft.

The companies selected for CCDev2 awards are Blue Origin ($22m), Sierra Nevada Corporation ($80m), Space Exploration Technologies ($75m) and Boeing ($92.3m).

Shearline champions Thixotropic moulding process

The Engineer
March 28, 2011

The thixotropic process is gaining ground for its ability to create strong yet light magnesium parts for a range of applications. Dave Wilson reports

Despite the fact it is a method widely used to manufacture housings for mobile phones and portable computers in the Far East, engineers in the UK would be forgiven for being unfamiliar with ’thixotropic moulding’.

However, as product designers become more aware of the versatility of the process to produce lightweight, strong, complex moulded magnesium parts, this could soon change. Many may soon be considering the use of magnesium alloy parts as a replacement for those made from engineering plastics and die-cast magnesium and aluminium alloys.

Solar power goes viral

MIT News
April 25, 2011

Researchers at MIT have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by enlisting the services of tiny viruses to perform detailed assembly work at the microscopic level.

In a solar cell, sunlight hits a light-harvesting material, causing it to release electrons that can be harnessed to produce an electric current. The new MIT research, published online this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, is based on findings that carbon nanotubes — microscopic, hollow cylinders of pure carbon can enhance the efficiency of electron collection from a solar cell's surface.
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Say Hello to Cheaper Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Los Alamos National Laboratory
April 22, 2011
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have developed a way to avoid the use of expensive platinum in hydrogen fuel cells, the environmentally friendly devices that might replace current power sources in everything from personal data devices to automobiles.

In a paper published today in Science, Los Alamos researchers Gang Wu, Christina Johnston, and Piotr Zelenay, joined by researcher Karren More of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, describe the use of a platinum-free catalyst in the cathode of a hydrogen fuel cell. Eliminating platinum—a precious metal more expensive than gold—would solve a significant economic challenge that has thwarted widespread use of large-scale hydrogen fuel cell systems.
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Courant Institute receives ONR grant to develop crow-sized autonomous plane

April 20, 2011

New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences has received a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a bird-sized, self-flying plane that could navigate through both forests and urban environments.

The Courant Institute shares the $4.5 million, 5-year grant with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Harvard University.

“The plane would be about the size of a crow, and, like a bird, would use vision to navigate, but it would use orientable propellers and not flap its wings.” explained Yann LeCun, a professor at NYU’s Courant Institute.

The work will rely, in part, on a technology that emulates the visual system of animals called Convolutional Networks, which mimics the neural network in the mammalian visual cortex and can be trained to quickly interpret the world around it. The vision system will run on a new type of computer chip that uses a “dataflow” architecture. Dubbed NeuFlow, the new chip will enable Convolutional Networks and other computer perception algorithms to run on very small and lightweight devices hundreds of times faster than a conventional computer.
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Scientists engineer nanoscale vaults to encapsulate 'nanodisks' for drug delivery

April 20, 2011

There's no question, drugs work in treating disease. But can they work better, and safer?
In recent years, researchers have grappled with the challenge of administering therapeutics in a way that boosts their effectiveness by targeting specific cells in the body while minimizing their potential damage to healthy tissue.
The development of new methods that use engineered nanomaterials to transport drugs and release them directly into cells holds great potential in this area. And while several such drug-delivery systems — including some that use dendrimers, liposomes or polyethylene glycol — have won approval for clinical use, they have been hampered by size limitations and ineffectiveness in accurately targeting tissues.

High-tech materials to mimic camouflage skill of marine animals

Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)
April 21, 2011

Camouflage expert Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is co-recipient of a $6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to study and ultimately emulate the exquisite ability of some marine animals to instantly change their skin color and pattern to blend into their environment.

Hanlon, who has spent more than three decades studying the camouflage artistry of squid, octopus, and cuttlefish (a class of animals known as the cephalopods), is collaborating with materials scientists and nanotechnologists at Rice University toward the goal of developing materials that can mimic cephalopod camouflage.
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GM to develop Chevy as global brand

Finanical Times
April 24, 2011
Chevrolet, the car brand that helped defined American motoring for much of the last century, will gain a higher profile under plans by its parent General Motors to extend the marque’s global reach. 

“There will be a lot more emphasis on making people aware that Chevy is our global brand”, Joel Ewanick, the Detroit carmaker’s marketing chief told the Financial Times.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Indian engineering students awarded by NASA

Zee News
April 24, 2011

Six teams from different engineering colleges of India were awarded in a competition organised by international space agency NASA, for designing a lunar vehicle for future expeditions to the moon.

The competition -- Great Moonbuggy Race competition challenges the students to tackle several engineering problems dealt with by Apollo-era lunar rover developers at the Marshall Center in the late 1960s.

Students from high school and college are supposed to design, build and race lightweight, human-powered rovers called "moonbuggies".
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Using the energy in oil shale without releasing carbon dioxide in a greenhouse world

Washington DC (SPX) 
April 25, 2011  

New technology that combines production of electricity with capture of carbon dioxide could make billions of barrels of oil shale - now regarded as off-limits because of the huge amount of carbon dioxide released in its production - available as an energy source in a greenhouse world of the future.
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Development in Fog Harvesting Process May Make Water Available to the World’s Poor

Science Daily
April 21, 2011

In the arid Namib Desert on the west coast of Africa, one type of beetle has found a distinctive way of surviving. When the morning fog rolls in, the Stenocara gracilipes species, also known as the Namib Beetle, collects water droplets on its bumpy back, then lets the moisture roll down into its mouth, allowing it to drink in an area devoid of flowing water.
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Kansas higher education officials pushing initiative to produce more engineers

LJ World
April 25, 2011

Despite the state’s budget woes, higher education officials are hoping that when legislators reconvene this week, they will approve a high-dollar initiative to produce more engineers.

The push to boost engineering graduates has been one of the “bright spots” of the 2011 legislative session, said Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

“We need to increase engineers by 50 to 60 percent,” she said. “At KU, we must expand our teaching facilities. We would recruit more (engineering students) if we had a place to put them.”

The Kansas Senate has approved a plan that calls for spending $4 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012, and $7 million for each year after. The state funds would come from casino gambling revenues, and the universities — KU, Kansas State and Wichita State — would have to provide matching funds.

The bill would also allow the issuance of $195 million in bonds to build engineering facilities.
Supporters of the proposal say the demand for more engineers will increase in the next few years, especially with the announcement that Boeing will build the next generation of air refueling tankers, and with the growing bioscience and renewable energy industries.

Today, legislators, industry executives, members of the Kansas Board of Regents and representatives from KU, K-State and Wichita State are meeting at AGCO Corp. in Hesston to discuss the initiative.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the proposal as the Legislature reconvenes.

DPWH promotes ‘green’ engineering

GMA News
April 25, 2011

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has started promoting “green" engineering using environment-friendly indigenous materials and bioengineering technology.

Design engineers from the DPWH regional and district engineering offices have started training at the DPWH central office in Manila on the use of such technologies, the DPWH said.

“At the end of the three-day training, participant engineers are expected to gain more knowledge on the general characteristics of coconut fiber, distinguish the characteristics and specifications of coconut fiber geotextiles and bio-engineering materials," the DPWH said.
To read more click here...

Lowell looks to brighter future

Biz Smart
April 22, 2011

Just as its famous mills are a symbol of the Industrial Revolution, Lowell officials hope the state-of-the-art UMass Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center — set to open in fall 2012 — will put the struggling city back on the map and at the forefront of the coming revolution in high-tech manufacturing.

“We’re looking forward to this center being able to expand the breadth of the university’s ability to do research that spins off new companies, as well as the depth and sophistication of their ability to do that in certain fields,” said Adam Baacke, Lowell’s assistant city manager for planning and development. “We definitely think that it bodes well for the city.”
To read more click here...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

S. Korean firm unveils robot playmate for kids

April 20, 2011

South Korean telecoms operator KT on Wednesday rolled out a robot playmate for children in a move aimed at cashing in on the potentially lucrative industry.

Kibot, which has a monkey face and a display panel on its body, can read books, sing songs, play online games and wheel around with its cheeks blinking and head tilting.

The robot, about 20 centimetres (eight inches) tall, also allows children to make video phonecalls to their parents when an electronic card is placed on its face.

Kibot, targeting those aged three to seven, can also tell children "Let's play" along with a few other expressions -- such as "It feels good" in response to a pat.

Parents can remotely control it by mobile phone and monitor children via a camera embedded in Kibot, said KT, the nation's second-largest wireless operator.

The robot made by local firm Iriver, in which KT invested 4 billion won ($3.68 million), costs 485,000 won ($447) in addition to the monthly wireless bill.

"Kibot will be like a friend for kids, who constantly need something by their side to touch, see and play with," Seo Yu-Yeol, head of KT's home business group, told reporters.

The former state-run firm in 2005 developed several robots as part of a national campaign to promote the industry but met with a lukewarm response.

Seo said things have changed with wireless networks so common and smartphones ubiquitous.

South Korea last year deployed about 30 robots to teach English to schoolchildren in a pilot project designed to nurture the nascent industry, in which it pledged to invest 100 billion won over three years.

Iran To Put Monkey Into Orbit

Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti)
April 21, 2011

Iran plans to launch a monkey into space in mid-September, the ISNA news agency said on Wednesday, citing Iranian Space Agency head Hamid Fazeli.

The monkey will be sent into orbit in a capsule carried by the Kavoshgar-4 (or Explorer-4), rocket, which was test-launched with a monkey doll on board in mid-March.

Iran announced an ambitious space program in the mid-2000s. The country launched the Kavoshgar 1 rocket into space in February 2008.

The Kavoshgar 2 rocket, carrying a space lab and a restoration system, was launched in November 2008.

In February 2010, the Kavoshgar 3 rocket reportedly carried a test capsule with a rat, a turtle and worms into space.

Western powers suspect Iran of using its space program to develop ballistic missiles. Iran denies the allegations.

Lasers could replace spark plugs in cars

Baltimore (UPI) 
April 20, 2011
After 150 years of sparking ignition in internal combustion engines, spark plugs may someday be replaced by laser igniters, Japanese researchers say.

A switch to laser igniters would yield cleaner, more efficient and more economical vehicles, they say.

Solar That Floats

Novato CA (SPX) 
April 21, 2011

SPG Solar has announced the availability of it's next generation in floatingsolar technology. Redesigned and engineered to be cost competitive, SPG Solar Floatovoltaics makes it possible for commercial, industrial and government users with little available rooftop or land space to float solar on water, providing triple benefits: energy savings, water savings and environmental benefits. Using proven and cost effective floating technology, fresh water irrigation ponds, lakes, or reservoirs become revenue-generating, power producing platforms.

Electric cars: night-time charging better - study

Paris (AFP) 
April 19, 2011

Charging electric cars at night eases a smog problem caused by fossil-fuel plants which provide the power for these vehicles, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Plug-in cars are viewed as a key tool in the fight for a cleaner planet as they do not emit tailpipe pollution when they run on electricity.

Related Article:

More Evidence Suggests Electric Cars Need Night Time Charging

Washington DC (SPX)
April 21, 2011

Researchers in America have shown that ozone-a known pollutant at low levels in the earth's atmosphere, causing harmful effects on the respiratory system and sensitive plants-can be reduced, on average, when electric vehicle charging is done at night time.

Ozone forms as hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, emitted into the air, react with sunlight. Two of the largest emitters of these pollutants are vehicles and electricity generating units (EGUs) with some of the most densely populated regions in the US still failing to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards after 30 years of regulation.

Limit to nanotechnology mass-production?

IOP Publishing journal
April 21, 2011

A leading nanotechnology scientist has raised questions over a billion dollar industry by boldly claiming that there is a limit to how small nanotechnology materials can be mass produced.

In a paper published today, Thursday, 21 April, in IOP Publishing’s journal Nanotechnology, Professor Mike Kelly, Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, University of Cambridge, stated that you cannot mass produce structures with a diameter of three nanometres or less using a top-down approach.
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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Analysis: Could Germany's next leader be Green?

April 20, 2011

The astonishing rise of the Greens has given Germany's pro-environment party a new and unexpected problem  do the Greens have anyone who could lead the country?

The party that was founded three decades ago as an anti-nuclear and anti-war party will be leading the government in one of Germany's 16 states for the first time after winning the election in Baden-Wuerttemberg state last month.
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U.S. hi-tech energy unit extends life in budget deal

April 20, 2011

A high-tech U.S. research agency will get $130 million for programs that could one day decrease the cost of solar power and lessen dependence on rare earth metals used for alternative energy, the U.S. energy secretary said.

The funding, which partially came from this month's federal budget deal, will go to five new programs at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or Arpa-E.
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New MIT research may turn building's windows into powerplants

Deccan Herald
April 20, 2011

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on a new system through which the entire surface area of a building's windows could be used to generate electricity, without interfering with the ability to see through them.

The key technology is a photo-voltaic cell based on organic molecules, which harnesses the energy of infrared light while allowing visible light to pass through.
Coated onto a pane of standard window glass, it could provide power for lights and other devices, and would lower installation costs by taking advantage of existing window structures.
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The Rare-Earth Crisis

Technology Review
May / June 2011

Today's electric cars and wind turbines rely on a few elements that are mined almost entirely in China. Demand for these materials may soon exceed supply. Will this be China's next great economic advantage?

On the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, an hour's drive southwest of Las Vegas in Mountain Pass, California, lies a 1.4-billion-year-old deposit of cerium, neodymium, and other metals that is the richest source of rare-earth elements in the United States. Beside hills populated by cacti, Joshua trees, and wandering tortoises is a vast waste dump of tan and white rocks that was built up over more than 50 years of production at a 50-acre open-pit mine here. The mine was once the world's biggest producer of these metals, which are crucial to such diverse products as computer hard drives, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and the magnets used in electric vehicles' motors. And the site still holds enough of them to mine for at least another 30 years. But in 2002 it was shut down, owing to severe environmental problems and the emergence of Chinese producers that supplied the metals at lower cost. The mine sat idle for a decade.
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Using 3-D Design to Benefit Consumers

Technology Review
April 15, 2011

Though many engineers now use sophisticated 3-D hardware instead of drafting designs on paper, the technology hasn't filtered down to the consumer, who usually opens a box to find lengthy, confusing instruction manuals on paper. But some companies have recently begun trying to use the designs they develop in computer-aided design (CAD) software as the basis for interactive, 3-D manuals.
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