Dedicated sandbag filling tool five times faster than a shovel

With all the advances we hear about in fields such as nanotechnology and electric vehicles, it’s easy to believe that simpler technology has evolved as far as it can go – that there is simply no way of improving things like the stapler, the dinner plate or the garden hose. Well, that line of thinking was recently proven wrong with the invention of a better type of sandbag. Now, as if to drive the point home, we hear about a better way of filling sandbags, and it’s a device called the GoBagger. Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Panasonic to Test

External-combustion Engine for

Recovering Waste Heat in Plant

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Estir Co Ltd, a venture team of Panasonic Corp, started a verification test of the “Waste Heat Recovery Stirring Engine,” which generates electric power from waste heat in a plant, in June 2009 at Panasonic Nara Plant in Japan.

The company will test the reliability of the engine at the plant in operation in the aim of commercializing it in fiscal 2011.

estir has been engaged in the development of the stirring engine in collaboration with the National Maritime Research Institute since 2005. And it has already achieved a power generation efficiency of 15% with waste heat that was emitted from industrial furnaces such as drying, blast and heat-treating furnaces, power generating facilities, boilers and motors and has a temperature from 300 to 650°C.

This time, the company will attach the stirring engine to the chimney flue of the high-pressure air distribution equipment in Panasonic Nara Plant. It generates 500W output power by using part of waste heat having a temperature of about 300 to 500°C, which is lower than before.

If estir can verify the reliability in the test, it will develop a power generating engine with a capacity of about 5 to 10kW within fiscal 2009 in prospect of commercialization and aim to release a product in fiscal 2011 as an engine able to reduce CO2 emission at production sites.

CLIMATE POWER EMISSIONS STOCK

In the industrial world, about 10% of primary energy such as petroleum and natural gas is discarded as waste heat. Therefore, energy recovery from waste heat is a major issue in reducing environmental loads.

A stirring engine is an external-combustion engine that expands and compresses the air inside the engine by using an outer heat source to obtain drive force. It can use various heat sources for power generation and is gaining attention especially in the field of energy conservation.

There has already been a stirring engine that uses heat of combustion gas with a temperature of more than 1,000°C. But it has been difficult to commercialize a stirring engine that uses waste heat having a temperature of about 300 to 500°C, such as waste heat in a plant, due to the low power generation efficiency and high costs.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009

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Mitsubishi Heavy to Test CO2

Recovery from Coal-fired Flue Gas

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) and Southern Company, a major US power company, will jointly launch a field test in 2011 to recover high-purity carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired flue gas.

The two companies will set up a CO2 recovery demonstration plant, which is designed to be built at a medium-scale thermal power station in Alabama, the US. Based on the results of this demonstration plant, they will aim to commercialize the recovery plant in the future.

The field test will be subsidized by the US government. The demonstration plant will be constructed in Plant Barry, a coal-fired power station owned by Southern’s subsidiary Alabama Power. Recovered CO2 will be compressed and stored in an aquifer deep underground.

The demonstration plant is composed of various facilities such as those for pre-processing, CO2 absorption/reclamation (absorption and reclamation towers) and CO2 injection. The plant will recover 500t of CO2 per day (equivalent to that produced when 25,000kW electricity is generated). The recovery rate is 90% or higher. The purity of recovered CO2 is expected to be 99.9%.

The recovery process is as follows. Coal-fired flue gas contains not only CO2 but also ‘impurities’ such as SOx, NOx, heavy metals and halogen compounds. These impurities are removed as much as possible in the pre-processing facilities, and the flue gas is cooled to near room temperature.

Flue gas with most impurities removed is taken into the absorption tower. Inside the tower, the gas is brought into contact with an absorbing solution so that only CO2 is absorbed into the solution. The solvent, “KS-1,” is an amine-based material co-developed by MHI and Kansai Electric Power Co Inc.

Next, the solution containing CO2 is sent to the reclamation tower, where CO2 and the solution are separated from each other by heating. Then, CO2 is recovered, and the solution is recycled.

MHI has already commercialized a system to recover CO2 from natural gas-fired flue gas. But, in order to apply this system to coal-fired flue gas, an additional process is required to remove heavy metals and halogen compounds because the impurities contained in natural gas-fired flue gas are only SOx and NOx.

Electric Power Development Co Ltd is also testing a CO2 recovery plant for coal-fired flue gas at its Matsushima Thermal Power Plant. However, the amount of CO2 recovered at the plant is only 10t per day. Therefore, a field test needs to be carried out using a larger scale plant for commercialization.

In addition to the field test announced this time, MHI is planning to construct a demonstration plant with a recovery capacity of 3,000t per day in the UK and intends to start trial operations in 2015.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009

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Claim to save hugely in heating bills

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WEST AUSTRALINA INVENTOR..!

WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT?

When the combustion process is improved more value is then gained from the wood used. Excessive smoke is unburnt fuel. SmartBurn enables this fuel (smoke) to be burnt in the fire instead of being released into the atmosphere.    SmartBurn reduces Carbon emissions (as soot and sap).

Chimney Before SmartBurn Chimney After SmartBurn Before  SmartBurn After SmartBurn

Each SmartBurn prevents approximately 15 kg of smoke haze and      particulate emissions from entering the atmosphere.

SmartBurn contains a mixture of non-toxic natural ingredients and for best results SmartBurn should be replaced every 3 months.

SmartBurn is also effective in lounge open fireplaces and kitchen stoves.

SmartBurn is proudly Australian Invented, Manufactured and Owned.

This exciting technology has been Internationally Patented and the name SmartBurn has been Trademarked.

FIND OUT MORE HERE > http://www.smartburn.com.au/

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 29th May 2009

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Scientists find source of carbon lava

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ALBUQUERQUE (UPI) — U.S. and French scientists say they have discovered the origin of carbon-based lavas erupting from a Tanzanian volcano.

The researchers, led by the University of New Mexico, analyzed gas samples collected from inside the active crater of Tanzania’s Oldoinyo Lengai volcano — the only volcano that is actively producing carbon-based lavas. The geochemical analyses revealed a very small degree of partial melting of minerals in the Earth’s upper mantle is the source of the rare carbon-derived lava.

Although carbon-based lavas, known as carbonatites, are common, the Oldoinyo Lengai volcano, located in the East African Rift in northern Tanzania, is the only place on Earth where they are actively erupting. The researchers said the lava expelled from the volcano is highly unusual in that it contains nearly no silica and greater than 50 percent carbonate minerals. Typically lavas contain high levels of silica, which increases their melting point to above 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit. The lavas of the Oldoinyo Lengai volcano erupt as a liquid at approximately 1,004 degrees Fahrenheit.

The research by the scientists from the University of New Mexico, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego and the Research Center for Petrographics and Geochemicals in Nancy, France, appears in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 18th May 2009

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Flesh eating robot on wheels


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Chew Chew the gastrobot (Pic: New Scientist)

At last, a robot that is powered by food – but watch out, this gastrobot’s ideal food is flesh!

According to this week’s New Scientist, a researcher at the University of South Florida has developed a 12-wheeled monster called Chew Chew, with a microbial fuel cell stomach that uses E. coli bacteria to break down food and convert chemical energy into electricity.

“Turning food into electricity isn’t unique,” says Wilkinson. “What I’ve done is make it small enough to fit into a robot”.

The microbes produce enzymes that break down carbohydrates, releasing electrons which are harnessed to charge a battery by a reduction and oxidation reaction.

Wilkinson says this is analogous to blood supply and respiration in a mammal – but delivering electrons instead of oxygen.

Gastrobot consists of three 1-metre long wheeled wagons complete with pumps for redox solution, battery bank, oesophagus, ultrasonic eyes, mouth, DC motor and E.coli powered stomach.

Unfortunately, the microbial fuel cell doesn’t produce enough power to actually move Chew Chew. Instead, the electricity is used to charge the batteries and only when these are fully charged does can the robot move. When the batteries are drained, the cycle must then be repeated.

According to New Scientist, early applications for gastrobots are likely to include mowing lawns – grazing on grass clippings for fuel.

The ideal fuel in terms of energy gain is meat, says inventor Stuart Wilkinson, but at the moment Chew Chew lives on sugar cubes.

Catching meat would require the robot to produce more energy and besides Wilkinson isn’t so sure it’s good to give gastrobots a taste for meat.

Conversion to eat carion flesh or decaying corpses is another option.

“Otherwise they’ll notice there’s an awful lot of humans running around and try to eat them,” he warns.

Tags: science-and-technology

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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Robots clear bombs the

wireless way


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Dr Jun Jo controls his robots with his mobile phone (Image: Griffith University)

A robot controlled by wireless technology could be used to control bomb disposal and security reconnaissance vehicles, its Australian creator says.

Dr Jun Jo, a senior lecturer at Griffith University, created the prototype of a ‘bomb removal car’ with postgraduate students.

The robotic car is controlled by Bluetooth wireless networking technology, which potentially allows an operator to stay at a safe distance while sending the vehicle into a hazardous situation.

A video camera mounted onto the front of the robot streams images back to the operator.

The operator can then direct the robot to a particular location, identify a suspicious package and scoop it up with an in-built shovel.

“Through a camera I can see what the robot sees and with Bluetooth I can control it within 100 metres,” says Jo.

At 20 centimetres long, the robotic vehicle is about the size of a child’s model car.

“It looks like a toy at this stage, but I want to build a larger one,” he says.

Linking technology

Bluetooth networking is commonly used to link computers and mobiles to peripheral devices. But Jo says there are also many potential applications for Bluetooth and robotics, not just in dangerous situations.

“I am looking at applications in both the security industry and in entertainment,” says Jo, who also runs the university’s robotics and games research laboratory.

“Robotics and games share many qualities in their control methods and algorithms,” he says. “I feel in the near future there will be more
applications for robots in the games industry.”

Robotic football, for example, is a concept that enthusiasts already explore using teams of four-legged players: Sony Aibo robot dogs.

Meanwhile, mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson is exploring using Bluetooth applications for fun, such as a tiny toy car that can be controlled easily by mobile phone.

Recently the company also unveiled a remote-controlled digital camera on wheels called ROB-1. The camera can be steered from a mobile and sends a video stream back to handset, so the owner can decide what pictures to shoot.

Problems with video

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There are limitations to the quality of video people can expect from Bluetooth, says Jo.

“One of the drawbacks of Bluetooth is that it is a medium transmission speed. It’s not bad for five frames per second, which would allow you to work out where an object is.”

Jo’s prototype is based on Bluetooth for now, but could be adapted to other current or future networking standards.

“At the moment Bluetooth is one of the most advanced mobile networking technologies, but others will come in time and they could be easily added to such a system,” he says.

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The robotic car could be expanded to work with Australia’s 3G or GPRS mobile data networks, which he says could make control possible from distant locations.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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Radio waves pick up explosives


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New techology is being used to detect explosives, like those in landmines. So fields like this one in the Golan Heights region of Israel may be easier to clear (Image: Reuters/Yonathan Weitzman)

Scientists in Japan are using radio waves rather than x-rays to detect explosives such as TNT in landmines or luggage.

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They say their new technique is better than conventional methods of detection and can identify different types of white powder, from flour and salt to drugs and explosives.

The technique can also identify landmines, an improvement from traditional metal detectors that cannot tell bits of metal in the ground from an actual mine.

“Until now it has been very difficult to detect specific explosives such as TNT because they contain atoms of nitrogen that vibrate at very low frequencies,” says Professor Hideo Itozaki at Osaka University, one of the authors of the paper published in the latest issue of the journal Superconductor Science and Technology.

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He says the lower this resonant frequency, the harder it is to detect which atoms are present in a molecule. This, in turn, makes it harder to define what the molecule or substance is.

To overcome this, the scientists turned to a technique called nitrogen quadrupole resonance, which uses radio waves to detect atoms of nitrogen in different positions in a molecule.

For example, a nitrogen atom attached to a carbon atom will have a different resonance to one attached to an atom of oxygen.

Because the molecular structure of each explosive is different, the resonant frequency will be different.

The scientists then developed a device to detect these subtle differences in vibrations, a superconducting quantum interference device, or SQUID.

The device, which is only about 1 centimetre across, operates at -196°C, so needs liquid nitrogen to cool it.

“This will not hinder the equipment from being used in places such as airports as liquid nitrogen is becoming much easier to deal with and is already routinely used in hospitals and laboratories,” says Itozaki.

One hitch for now, though, is that the screening time takes “several minutes”, something the team is working to improve.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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Beer helps scientists find

landmines


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An ingredient of beer, brewer’s yeast, can ‘smell’ explosives (Image: iStockphoto)(Source: iStockphoto)

Biotechnologists have genetically engineered brewer’s yeast to glow green in response to an ingredient found in landmines, a new study shows.

The study, published today online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, shows the yeast can detect, or smell, airborne particles from explosives.

The scientists engineered the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to sense molecules of the chemical DNT, or dinitrotoluene.

DNT is left over after making the explosive TNT, or trinitroluene. And dogs trained to sniff for explosives are believed in fact to be trained to detect DNT.

The scientists spliced a gene found in rats into the yeast’s genome so that the surface of its cells reacted in response to DNT.

To get a visual cue as to whether this ‘nose’ had detected DNT, the scientists also added a gene to turn the yeast a fluorescent green when contact was made.

The authors, led by Associate Professor Danny Dhanasekaran of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, believe they have found a useful, if so far experimental, type of biosensor.

These gadgets use organisms to detect environmental chemicals, including biological or chemical weapons.

In the past, scientists have shown that organisms such as moths and bees can detect explosives

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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COAG commits to fire warning

system

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The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to set up a national telephone emergency warning system to which the Federal Government has committed up to $15 million.

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The system, which gained importance after the high death toll of the Victorian fires earlier this year, will send warning alerts — recorded voice and SMS — to people based on the billing address of the subscriber.

It was not technically possible as yet to send alerts depending on the location of people’s mobile phones, according to Prime Minister Rudd, but he said that COAG had committed to undertake research with industry so that it could be done.

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The system will be operational by October 2009 according to the COAG communiqué. An open tender process will be held to find a suitable developer. When completed, it will be operated by the State and Territory authorities.

Telstra said it was continuing discussions with the governments and authorities at the states and federal level on the matter.

The government had come under fire [PARDON THE PUN] over the lack of a warning system after it was revealed that a system had already been trialled, but that the government had not managed to work towards putting it into place, reportedly due to its high $20 million price tag.

Another related government tender to build a secure database, which could provide access to the necessary telephone numbers while protecting individuals’ identities, closed this week.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st May 2009