Tracking Device Fits on the Head of a

Pin: Mini-Gyroscopes to Guide

Smartphones and Medical Equipment

Science (Oct. 8, 2010) — University of Illinois chemistry professor Alexander Scheeline wants to see high school students using their cell phones in class. Not for texting or surfing the Web, but as an analytical chemistry instrument.

Scheeline developed a method using a few basic, inexpensive supplies and a digital camera to build a spectrometer, an important basic chemistry instrument. Spectrophotometry is one of the most widely used means for identifying and quantifying materials in both physical and biological sciences.

“If we want to measure the amount of protein in meat, or water in grain, or iron in blood, it’s done by spectrophotometry,” Scheeline said.

Many schools have a very limited budget for instruments and supplies, making spectrometers cost-prohibitive for science classrooms. Even when a device is available, students fail to learn the analytical chemistry principles inherent in the instrument because most commercially available devices are enclosed boxes. Students simply insert samples and record the numbers the box outputs without learning the context or thinking critically about the process.

“Science is basically about using your senses to see things — it’s just that we’ve got so much technology that now it’s all hidden,” Scheeline said.

“The student gets the impression that a measurement is something that goes on inside a box and it’s completely inaccessible, not understandable — the purview of expert engineers,” he said. “That’s not what you want them to learn. In order to get across the idea, ‘I can do it, and I can see it, and I can understand it,’ they’ve go to build the instrument themselves. ”

So Scheeline set out to build a basic spectrometer that was not only simple and inexpensive but also open so that students could see its workings and play with its components, encouraging critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. It wouldn’t have to be the most sensitive or accurate instrument — in fact, he hoped that obvious shortcomings of the device would reinforce students’ understanding of its workings.

“If you’re trying to teach someone an instrument’s limitations, it’s a lot easier to teach them when they’re blatant than when they’re subtle. Everything goes wrong out in the open,” he said.

In a spectrometer, white light shines through a sample solution. The solution absorbs certain wavelengths of light. A diffraction grating then spreads the light into its color spectrum like a prism. Analyzing that spectrum can tell chemists about the properties of the sample.

For a light source, Scheeline used a single light-emitting diode (LED) powered by a 3-volt battery, the kind used in key fobs to remotely unlock a car. Diffraction gratings and cuvettes, the small, clear repositories to hold sample solutions, are readily available from scientific supply companies for a few cents each. The entire setup cost less than $3. The limiting factor seemed to be in the light sensor, or photodetector, to capture the spectrum for analysis.

“All of a sudden this light bulb went off in my head: a photodetector that everybody already has! Almost everybody has a cell phone, and almost all phones have a camera,” Scheeline said. “I realized, if you can get the picture into the computer, it’s only software that keeps you from building a cheap spectrophotometer.”

To remove that obstacle, he wrote a software program to analyze spectra captured in JPEG photo files and made it freely accessible online, along with its source code and instructions to students and teachers for assembling and using the cell-phone spectrometer. It can be accessed through the Analytical Sciences Digital Library.

Scheeline has used his cell-phone spectrometers in several classroom settings. His first classroom trial was with students in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of a 2009 exchange teaching program Scheeline and several other U. of I. chemistry professors participated in. Although the students had no prior instrumentation experience, they greeted the cell-phone spectrometers with enthusiasm.

In the United States, Scheeline used cell-phone spectrometers in an Atlanta high school science program in the summers of 2009 and 2010. By the end of the 45-minute class, Scheeline was delighted to find students grasping chemistry concepts that seemed to elude students in similar programs using only textbooks. For example, one student inquired about the camera’s sensitivity to light in the room and how that might affect its ability to read the spectrum.

“And I said, ‘You’ve discovered a problem inherent in all spectrometers: stray light.’ I have been struggling ever since I started teaching to get across to university students the concept of stray light and what a problem it is, and here was a high school kid who picked it right up because it was in front of her face!” Scheeline said.

Scheeline has also shared his low-cost instrument with those most likely to benefit: high school teachers. Teachers participating in the U. of I. EnLiST program, a two-week summer workshop for high school chemistry and physics teachers in Illinois, built and played with cell-phone spectrometers during the 2009 and 2010 sessions. Those teachers now bring their experience — and assembly instructions — to their classrooms.

Scheeline wrote a detailed account of the cell-phone spectrometer and its potential for chemistry education in an article published in the journal Applied Spectroscopy. He hopes that the free availability of the educational modules and software source code will inspire programmers to develop smart-phone applications so that the analyses can be performed in-phone, eliminating the need to transfer photo files to a computer and turning cell phones into invaluable classroom tools.

“The potential is here to make analytical chemistry a subject for the masses rather than something that is only done by specialists,” Scheeline said. “There’s no doubt that getting the cost of equipment down to the point where more people can afford them in the education system is a boon for everybody.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


This model garbage bin loader attaches to your ute,
light truck or trailer

Garbage bin loader Tips up to 60 kg bins into yourindustrial bin, ute, truck or

trailer, or stand alone carrier.

for use at warehouses or industrial sites.

click image to enlarge
Published by Henry Sapiecha

Coupled Water Tower/Wind Turbine Controller
Andras Tanczos
Helsinki, Finland


altA jointed water tower/wind turbine controller stores wind energy in the water towers of the drinking water network. At strong winds, the extra electrical energy generated by the wind turbine can be used to pump water into the water tower. When there is no wind, this energy can be released with a hydro-turbine, and the water goes back to the wells. The pump of the water tower and the hydro-turbine are used to control the water level in the reservoir. The electricity from the wind turbine is used for pumping the water or for supplying the electrical grid. The controller can also be installed on existing water towers and water tanks placed on top of buildings.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009


Panasonic to Test

External-combustion Engine for

Recovering Waste Heat in Plant


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.


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


Claim to save hugely in heating bills




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


Flesh eating robot on wheels

Chew Chew

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


Coconut tree timber a winner


Did you know that the wood from the coconut tree can be used as high-value flooring, bench tops, kitchen cabinets and furniture? The end product produced from coconut tree timbers has a very unique look and it’s about to make a big impact on the modern home scene. More information on cocowood.


Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th May 2009

How To Save The Biodiesel


Government dithering and high commodity prices make for a tough environment.


BURLINGAME, Calif.–Can the biodiesel industry be saved? It’s remotely possible–but not unless the government steps in to jump-start the besieged market.

Biodiesel, a low-carbon fuel usually made with soy, palm or canola oil, first grabbed the spotlight a few years ago. That was when Congress started promoting the green fuel as a replacement for traditional diesel. Private-equity firms started pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into companies like Seattle’s Imperium Renewables and Green Earth Fuels, of Houston, hoping to get in on the ground floor of a nascent market.

Federal government mandates and tax breaks, driven by the broader goal of fighting pollution and cutting reliance on foreign oil, were supposed to create a mass market, even though biodiesel was often more expensive than regular diesel fuel.

It hasn’t happened. Starting in mid-2007, prices of the canola and soy oils used to make biodiesel soared. That pushed up the cost of the green fuel and wounded producers’ bottom lines. With oil peaking at $147 a barrel last summer, biodiesel still made economic sense for some customers, since regular diesel prices climbed to an average $4.77 a gallon. Biodiesel didn’t look bad by comparison.


But then petroleum prices tanked. That widened the price gap and made the green option uneconomical for even the most die-hard environmentalists. Commodity prices have since come down, but not enough to bridge the gap. The recession has damped demand for energy overall and made it nearly impossible for fledgling clean-fuel ventures, including biodiesel makers, to get credit to expand.

“The market conditions are very, very tough right now,” says Joe Jobe, head of the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, Mo. Of the nation’s 176 biodiesel operators, “it’s very difficult to say how many of them are still operating.”

The industry’s woes illustrate the hazards of building a business around the prices of two volatile, and often unrelated, commodities–in this case, raw vegetable oil and petroleum. They also show that not all green fuels are created equal. Lots of environmentalists have hopped off the biodiesel bandwagon, charging that increased demand for commodities like palm oil will lead to deforestation and, in turn, even more greenhouse-gas emissions from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 16th April 2009

Fiddling With The Earth’s




Scientists, including Obama’s science advisor, get tied in knots over geoengineering.

Oil and gas are so deliciously tempting that humans are having no success in slowing down global warming the way scientists agree we should, by going easy at the fossil fuel buffet.

So like surgeons who use liposuction to deal with obesity, scientists are considering ways to deal with the consequences of our unhealthy carbon diet. They are thinking about blowing soot into the stratosphere, hanging sunshades in space and sprinkling the oceans with fertilizer to create blooms of carbon-sucking phytoplankton.

These approaches are aimed at cooling the earth by either allowing less sunlight in or letting more heat bounce back to space by removing heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The big idea–fighting or reversing atmospheric changes with large-scale tinkering of the earth–is called geoengineering, and it’s tying scientists in knots.

President Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, got twisted up himself last week. In his first interview since he was appointed, he mentioned to the Associated Press that he and the administration had discussed geoengineering approaches. Holdren later had to write an e-mail clarifying his position in response to fears that he and the administration were considering planning something specific. They aren’t.

“I said that the approaches that have been surfaced so far seem problematic in terms of both efficacy and side effects, but we have to look at the possibilities and understand them because if we get desperate enough it will be considered,” Holdren wrote.

This highlights why geoengineering is such an extraordinarily touchy scientific subject and why there is such deep ambivalence in the scientific community about it. Almost no one thinks that humans should be trying to change the atmosphere on a global scale. But then again, aren’t we already doing that by removing carbon from the ground in the form of fossil fuels and depositing it in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide on a massive scale? And what if we don’t solve the problem in time?



What complicates things is that the scientists who are most concerned with the pace of global warming and the destruction that might ensue are the ones who are forcing themselves to think about radical solutions. It terrifies them because they know better than anyone that the climate is massively complex and that unintended consequences lurk everywhere.

Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, best known for his work on ozone depletion, has advanced the idea of injecting sulfur particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight away from earth. James Lovelock, a hero to early environmentalists who proposed the Gaia hypothesis, has advocated placing long, vertical wave-driven pipes in the ocean that would pump nutrient-rich water to the surface to fertilize algae that would consume carbon dioxide.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 16th April 2009