Skyscraper Power Plant Designed to Harness Energy from Lightning Storms
Hydra is a power plant and research facility combined, designed to harness the energy of lightning storms. The Serbian design team, consisting of Milos Vlastic, Vuk Djordjevic, Ana Lazovic and Milica Stankovic, received runner-up status in the 2011 Skyscraper Competition over at eVolo. The Hydra is essentially intended to be a massive lightening rod that can take advantage of the immense amount of energy held in each lightening bolt that strikes it.
Constructed out of grapheme, this carbon-based element is two hundred times stronger than steel and has a high electric and thermal conductivity. When struck by lighting, the plant will produce hydrogen through electrolysis and store the power in huge batteries; it can then be transported by truck or pipeline anywhere it is needed.
The Hydra project can be built in any of the five regions of the world which have the highest concentration of lightning storms — such as South America, Florida, Singapore or the Congo. The Hydra accomodates research facilities as well a residential hive and housing for engineers and their families.
With a front row seat during thunderstorms, it is surely one of the coolest places to be — especially considering that its only byproduct is fresh, clean water.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge is aimed at developing a robot that can work with humans at disaster sites, combining their strengths to overcome their weaknesses.
The development of robots capable of operating in a melange of disarray and hazards will allow relief agencies to reduce the danger to disaster victims and first responders alike. This is the goal of DARPA’s multi-year Robotics Challenge, which in December will pit a variety of robots and software against a series of eight real-world tasks that might be encountered in actual disaster situations.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge is aimed at developing a robot that can work with humans at disaster sites, combining their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. While DARPA’s Track A teams are developing their own robots as well as the software to attempt DARPA’s challenges, Track B/C teams have been supplied with a Boston Dynamics ATLAS humanoid robot for which they will develop disaster-busting software.
The ATLAS humanoid robot is 74 in (188 cm) in height, 30 in (76 cm) from shoulder to shoulder, 22 in (56 cm) thick at the chest, and weighs 330 lb (150 kg) with its hydraulic power controller. It has 28 degrees of freedom in its basic skeleton and features an on-board control computer to convert higher-level commands it receives into the lower-level commands that actually direct the robot how to move. The power (480 three-phase VAC at 30 amps) and commands (via 10 Gbps fiber optic Ethernet) are supplied through a tether.
The virtual first round of the challenge was completed in June, involving a competition taking place in the Robotics Challenge Simulator. Six Track A teams and seven Track B/C teams qualified to continue on to the DARPA Robotics Trials to be held at Homestead Speedway in Florida on December 20-21, 2013.
The Track B winner was Team IHMC, from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, which took the competition with a score 25 percent higher than Worcester Polytechnic’s second-place showing. They took delivery of their ATLAS on August 14, and wasted no time in transferring the virtual ATLAS’s software onto this impressive piece of hardware.
While the ATLAS appears in the video above to be a bit weak at the ankles, this is the type of problem expected to appear when transitioning from a model of a robot to controlling the real thing. Hopefully it will all get sorted before the trials, in which we are likely to see if these robots can stand up after a fall. The Boston Dynamics video below further demonstrates the obstacle-beating and exceptional balance capabilities of the humanoid robot.
TLAS is designed to be able to carry out a range of movements, so that the robot can use as many tools and accesses designed for human use as possible; for example, this Worchester Polytechnic utility vehicle modified for the ATLAS trials with a field computer and a 480 volt generator.
o test these abilities and skills in the December trials, all robots will be tasked to complete the following: Driving a utility vehicle, walking across rubble, restoring access to a blocked entryway, opening a door and entering a building, climbing a ladder and walking (or crawling) across a catwalk, finding and closing a valve to stop the flow from a leaking pipe, and attaching a fire hose or other connector.
While the overall disaster scenario can be envisaged from these tasks, in this December’s trial they will be taken on one at a time. Multiple attempts will not be allowed, nor will safety harnesses. If you break your robot, you break your robot. Let’s wish the participants better luck than that.
New Wave Energy wants to put power plants in the sky
Harvesting power from the wind and the sun is nothing new. We’ve seen flying wind turbines and solar power plants that aim to provide clean renewable energy. UK-based New Wave Energy has a bolder idea in the works. The company plans to build the first high altitude aerial power plant, using networks of unmanned drones that can harvest energy from multiple sources and transmit it wirelessly to receiving stations on the ground.
The patent-pending technology aims to have drone networks hover in the sky harvesting both solar and wind power, while moving about at low speeds to keep track of the sun. The drones will operate at high altitudes where the winds are more stable and there’s minimal chance of weather patterns or aircraft interfering with them.
"At 50,000 ft (15,000 m) there is very little air traffic and biodiversity, unless you go over the Himalayas," company director Michael Burdett tells Gizmag. "Implementing a system in these conditions will not obstruct any existing systems."
Each 20 x 20 m (65 x 65 ft) drone will have four rotors, multiple wind turbines and a flat base for generating solar power. It’ll be able to power itself with the harvested energy and generate an additional 50 kW that can be transmitted wirelessly to the ground. Rectenna arrays installed inland or on offshore installations would receive the electromagnetic waves and convert them into usable power.
Burdett estimates that an aerial power plant containing thousands of drones could produce around 400 MW of power, enough to power over 205,000 homes annually. Designed to be easy to update, the drone networks can be outfitted with more efficient generators as they become available. A drone power plant capable of delivering so much power, the company says, would be pretty large, around twice the size of an offshore wind farm such as the Robin Rigg farm in the Solway Firth, Scotland.
Though it sounds quite ambitious, there have been a number of advances in drone design and technology that help give an aerial power plant some weight. Solara’s UAV can stay airborne for up to 5 years and Quadrotor’s UAVs are able to charge devices wirelessly. Getting a power-producing drone network airborne also offers other benefits, such as being able to link small aerial power plants to each other wirelessly to deliver large amounts of energy reliably.
The company states that it will be able to handle energy output within a drone network as efficiently as managing data in an information network. An aerial power plant also makes it easier to provide power to remote locations with long range transmissions, or help out immediately in the event of an emergency or a natural disaster.
"The time for a response in times of natural disaster depends on the drone’s current location and flight speed once the final form is specified," Burdett says. "Using smaller drones of 50 to 100 kW will reduce implementation times. It would be feasible to produce a system to operate at lower altitudes if required, one which could be transported with other equipment for relief efforts and implemented instantly."
Microwave Test – an eye opener
It has been known for some years that the problem with microwaved anything is not the radiation people used to worry about, it’s how it corrupts the DNA in the food so the body can not recognize it.
Microwaves don’t work different ways on different substances. Whatever you put into the microwave suffers the same destructive process. Microwaves agitate the molecules to move faster and faster. This movement causes friction which denatures the original make-up of the substance. It results in destroyed vitamins, minerals, proteins and generates the new stuff called radiolytic compounds, things that are not found in nature.
So the body wraps it in fat cells to protect itself from the dead food or it eliminates it fast. Think of all the Mothers heating up milk in these ‘Safe’ appliances. What about the nurse in Canada that warmed up blood for a transfusion patient and accidentally killed him when the blood went in dead. But the makers say it’s safe. But proof is in the pictures of living plants dying!!!
The effect, which lasted for days after the light was turned off, could dramatically improve the performance of devices like computer chips.
WSU doctoral student Marianne Tarun chanced upon the discovery when she noticed that the conductivity of some strontium titanate shot up after it was left out one day. At first, she and her fellow researchers thought the sample was contaminated, but a series of experiments showed the effect was from light.
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"It came by accident," said Tarun. "It’s not something we expected. That makes it very exciting to share."
The phenomenon they witnessed-“persistent photoconductivity”-is a far cry from superconductivity, the complete lack of electrical resistance pursued by other physicists, usually using temperatures near absolute zero. But the fact that they’ve achieved this at room temperature makes the phenomenon more immediately practical.
And while other researchers have created persistent photoconductivity in other materials, this is the most dramatic display of the phenomenon.
The research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, appears this month in the journal Physical Review Letters.
"The discovery of this effect at room temperature opens up new possibilities for practical devices," said Matthew McCluskey, co-author of the paper and chair of WSU’s physics department. "In standard computer memory, information is stored on the surface of a computer chip or hard drive. A device using persistent photoconductivity, however, could store information throughout the entire volume of a crystal."
The TidGen Power System takes advantage of one of nature’s most consistent energy sources: the tide. It sits on the floor of a bay or deep river, where water rotates foils that drive a permanent magnet generator, sending roughly 150 kilowatts of electricity to shore. The first TidGen unit, installed off the coast of Maine last year, was the first ocean-energy project of any kind to connect to the U.S. grid. An environmental assessment released in March showed no adverse impact to the marine ecosystem.
Toyota’s FCV Concept is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell — and it’s coming to dealers in a couple of years. Toyota this week released the first photos of its latest concept car, called the Toyota FCV Concept. The Toyota FCV Concept, which will be shown later this month at the Tokyo Motor Show, is an electric car.
It’s a “concept car”, meaning that it’s just for show, but you’ll be able to buy something very similar in a couple of years. Toyota says that it will begin selling a car like the FCV-R in 2015 or thereabouts. But the FCV Concept isn’t an ordinary electric car. It doesn’t have a battery pack. Instead, it has a system that makes its own electricity, right on board — from hydrogen.
Electric cars, without the batteries
That system is called a fuel cell, and Toyota is just one of several automakers that have made heavy bets on fuel cells — and hydrogen — as a way to power the automobiles of the future. Fuel cells convert the energy in hydrogen to electricity by oxidizing it. That means the hydrogen atoms are combined with oxygen atoms. The result is electricity — along with water, or water vapor. That water vapor is the only “exhaust” emitted by a fuel-cell car.
Fuel-cell cars have all of the advantages of electric cars. Electric cars are clean and quiet, and Tesla Motors and its hot Model S sedan have shown that they can be stylish and fun to drive, too.
Just nine years later Moulton Taylor had designed and flown his Aerocar, proving the viability of Ford’s fantastical concept. But only three models were ever built, and the dream of a viable vehicle that can offer freedom both in the air and on the road has remained frustratingly elusive.
Until now that is.
Technology - “sense and avoid” avionics, computer-aided design, and materials science - has advanced to such a degree that safety authorities are tantalisingly close to giving full approval to flying cars.
"Since the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford we’ve had the dream of marrying the plane and the car," said Dick Knapinski, spokesman for the US Experimental Aircraft Association, "but engineering, regulatory and cultural hurdles have always got in the way.
For example, in July this year, Boston-based company Terrafugia showed off its Transition “roadable aircraft” at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
"We have an experimental airworthiness certificate from the FAA [US Federal Aviation Authority] which means we still have to stay away from populated areas," said Richard Gersh, Terrafugia’s vice-president of business development, "but everything is going to plan to achieve full certification."
The Transition, whose wings fold up against the body of the carriage, is also licensed for testing on the road, but Mr Gersh emphasises its primary function is as an aircraft.
"We don’t envisage this replacing your family car, and you’ll always have to take off and land at an airport," he said. "But it does give you the flexibility of driving to the airport and to your destination at the other end."
When the Transition eventually goes on sale - which could be in two years, depending on how long full safety certification takes - it will retail for about $280,000 (£173,000), slightly cheaper than a Cessna Skyhawk fixed-wing plane.
The company has already received more than 100 orders, said Mr Gersh.
Les Dorr, FAA spokesman, told the BBC: “If a ‘flying car’ is intended to operate on US highways then the vehicle has to conform to both the applicable US Department of Transportation standards for a car and the applicable aviation standards for an aircraft.
Shrinking laboratory-scale processes to automated chip-sized systems would revolutionize biotechnology and medicine.
A silicon nanomembrane developed at the University of Rochester could drastically shrink the power source needed with electroosmotic pumps (EOPs) to move solutions through micro-channels — paving the way for ultra-thin ”lab-on-a-chip” diagnostic devices the size of a credit card.
“Until now, electroosmotic pumps have had to operate at a very high voltage — about 10 kilovolts,” said James McGrath, associate professor of biomedical engineering. “Our device works in the range of one-quarter of a volt, which means it can be integrated into devices and powered with small batteries.”
The thin pnc-Si membranes allow the electrodes to be placed much closer to each other, creating a much stronger electric field with a much smaller drop in voltage, thus allowing for a smaller power source.
The nanocrystalline silicon membranes are inexpensive to make and can be easily integrated on silicon or silica-based microfluidic chips, said McGrath. Besides portable medical diagnostic devices, inexpensive, highly portable devices that process blood samples to detect biological agents such as anthrax are also needed for military and homeland-security efforts.
EOPs could also be used to cool electronic devices, such as laptops and other portable electronic devices.
Gray Matter: How to Start a Fire With Only Compressed Air
You’ve probably seen contestants on Survivor trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together or concentrating sunlight with their eyeglasses. But among preindustrial fire-starting methods, it’s hard to beat the portable convenience of fire pistons, used in Southeast Asia since prehistoric times.
Almost all gases heat up when compressed. The harder and the faster the compression, the hotter the gas gets, hot enough even to ignite cotton wool or other flammable materials. Diesel engines work the same way: They have no spark plugs; instead the fuel/air mixture is ignited by compression as the cylinder closes up.
Perhaps most surprising is that this same principle also explains how many high explosives work. They are called “high” because their explosive reaction expands through a supersonic pressure wave that travels much faster than ordinary burning, making them far more powerful than low explosives like gunpowder. Each successive bit of material in a high explosive ignites when the pressure wave compresses and heats trapped microscopic bubbles of gas. When manufactured without bubbles, even extremely powerful high explosives can be impossible to detonate. Without gas to compress, there is no way for the detonation wave to heat up neighboring areas.
For example, ANFO (ammonium nitrate/fuel oil) explosive mixtures, commonly used in mining, don’t always naturally contain enough trapped gas, and require a “sensitizer” to render them reliably explosive—often just a slurry containing hollow glass microspheres.
Some high explosives also create heat through the friction of microscopic crystals rubbing against each other, but in many cases the difference between bang and no bang is just hot air.
One of the key problems we currently face in our world is the pollution produced from cars. And one of the solutions used to combat this problem is electric cars, but since they are much too costly for most people to afford at the moment, so a designed has come up with a proposed solution to the problem. Called Biolamps, these lamps contain algae mixed with water, which converts the CO2 into oxygen which it then emits back out into the atmosphere. In addition to creating Oxygen, the lamp also converts the CO2 into a biomass which can be used to power up the lamps. If the lamp has more CO2 biomass than it needs, it uses an underground tube system to push it to the nearest filler station where it can be converted into a biofuel to power eco cars. Talk about innovative! It’s great to see technology being used to push our world into a greener state; hopefully technology like this will be implemented before it’s too late to save our world.: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/01/biolamps-uses-co2-to-light-up-the-streets/?ref=rss