Monthly Archives: May 2010
Our latest YouTube video clip is a look at what our dependence on oil is doing to the Earth.
Researchers from the UK Met Office have studied the benefits of various biofuel crops in models of the future global climate. They have found that the carbon that is released into the atmosphere from the loss of natural vegetation could be paid back by using miscanthus grass within 30 years.. Estimates for other biofuel crops, such as corn for ethanol, range from 167 to 420 years to pay back their carbon debt. According to John Hughes, UK Met Office Research Scientist, "Our study demonstrates the huge potential of energy crops, in particular of Miscanthus. Also, by scaling the results up … Continue Reading
Independent Natural Resources Inc, has received a permit for a wave powered facility to desalinate water off the coast of Freeport, Texas. The company hopes that the system will be in operation by the end of the year. The facility will be a 25 by 50 metre platform under which there will be 18 of the company’s SEADOG wave pumps. Each pump will send water up through three water wheels connected to a generator. The electricity from the generator will be used to power a reverse osmosis desalination machine. The SEADOG pumps, each of which are about two metres in … Continue Reading
Scientists at Arizona State University have reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that they have genetically engineered bacteria to produce biofuel. Researchers Xinyao Liu and Roy Curtiss have engineered cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that continuously secret the oil. The scientists started by producing cyanobacteria carrying the enzyme thioesterase, that clips the bonds that bind fatty acid to more complex carrier proteins. This allowed for oil to accumulate within the microbes, to the point where it can no longer be contained. They then modified two layers of the cyanobacteria’s cellular envelope so that the fatty acid could get … Continue Reading
In case you were worried that the end of oil would mean the end of motor sport, here’s highlights of the TTXGP, claimed to be the first all-electric zero-emission motorcycle grand prix.
Chih-hung Chang, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University, is developing a new approach to solar energy which he believes may dramatically lower their cost while reducing waste and environmental impacts. Currently, thin-film solar cells are made using methods such as sputtering, evaporation and electrodeposition. Those processes can be time-consuming, or require expensive vacuum systems or exotic chemicals that raise production costs. An alternative approch is to use chemical bath deposition. This is a low-cost deposition technique that was developed more than a century ago. The problem is that changes in the growth solution over time make … Continue Reading
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Bremen have developed a paint which they say improves the efficiency of ships, aircraft and wind turbines by reducing their flow resistance. They have achieved this by modelling the paint’s structure on the scales of fast-swimnming sharks which evolved in a manner that significantly diminishes drag. Carribean Reef Sharl (Image by Albert Kok via Wikimedia)
D.Net, a non-profit research organisation, is bringing some of the benefits of modern technology to impoverished rural villages in Bangladesh through a band of "InfoLadies". The InfoLadies are young women equipped with a bicycle, phone, some medical equipment and a netbook loaded with information on topics from agriculture to health, sanitation and disaster management. The content uses simple text, pictures and engaging animations to reach all users, many of whom are illiterate. Their medical kits include items such as blood pressure monitors and pregnancy test kits.
PC Aero has shown a prototype of an all-electric, single-seater plane in Germany. The Elektra One has a wingspan of 8.6 meters and it has an effective payload of 90 kilograms. The composite plane weighs 120 kilograms and is powered by a 16 kW electric motor. The manufacturers claim that it has a operational range of up to 400 kilometres at 160 kilometres per hour.