Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

The secret on the ocean floor

Posted: February 21, 2018 by oldbrew in exploration, government, History, innovation

Hughes Glomar Explorer at Long Beach, California (1976) [image credit: TedQuackenbush @ Wikipedia]


One mining forecast claims ‘an emerging undersea industry in oceans around the world could be worth $30bn a year by 2030.’ Do the origins of this go back to the Cold War?

Did a 1970s CIA plot spark a boom in deep sea mining? – asks BBC News.

In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.

It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.

Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.

It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.

But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch – the whole expedition was a lie.

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Image credit: BBC


That should ring everyone’s bell (sorry). Time for a phone-call-to-God joke.

Mobile providers are preparing to install antennas in church spires across the country, after ministers and bishops signed an agreement aimed at using the Church of England’s buildings to help obliterate blackspots, reports The Daily Telegraph.

A new “accord” between the Government and the Church sets out a joint plan to improve “connectivity” in rural areas by making use of spires and towers, following the successful use of the structures to improve access to high-speed broadband in two dioceses.

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The US Permian Basin has massive oil and gas reserves [credit: theamericanenergynews.com]


No sign of demand for oil fading any time soon, despite all the climate propaganda from wishful thinkers. Even web searches for ‘peak oil’ have declined as US production has soared. Everyone knows, or ought to, that turning the oil tap off would collapse any industrial economy in days.
H/T The GWPF

US crude oil output surges to new all-time record highs in January. It’s a great day for the US energy industry, a great day for the frackers, and a great day for American-style capitalism, says Mark J. Perry of AEIdeas.

I haven’t used the Drudge Report siren in a long time, but thought it was appropriate today to announce a monumental and historic US energy milestone: US crude oil production set a monthly record in January of 10.2 million barrels per day (bpd), based on the EIA’s most recent monthly forecast that was released yesterday (see top chart above).

January’s crude oil production topped the previous record of 10.04 million bpd established back in November 1970, more than 47 years ago.

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Credit: energy.gov


California is – somewhat optimistically perhaps – looking to phase out its use of fossil fuels, and equally reliable alternatives need to be found and developed.

Experts say the American West is full of geothermal reservoirs whose energy could power millions of homes. But extracting that energy isn’t easy, as NPR explains.

Three and a half hours east of Los Angeles lies the Salton Sea, a manmade oasis in the heart of the Mojave Desert.

It was created in 1905, when a canal broke and the Colorado River flooded the desert for more than a year. The Sea became a tourist hotspot in the 1950’s, perfect for swimming, boating, and kayaking.

But now, people are coming here looking for something else.

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Mazda’s newest engine technology


Mazda seems confident its spark controlled compression ignition solution – a sort of cross between petrol and diesel engine technology, but running on petrol – can rival electric vehicles in overall CO2 output and hopes to put it on sale.

We get it says TechXplore. Car-makers say they are on board for a next chapter in the electrification of cars and they have teams dedicated to developing cars toward that end.

Well-known brands are looking at alternative-fuel solutions such as hybrid or all-electric. It seems as if the internal combustion engine will be on its way out.

But wait.

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We don’t normally do press releases at the Talkshop, but this one might be interesting if we can work out what it really means. The fact that they refer to grid stability implies it’s an issue in Germany at least.

Automobile, home and power supply combined to form an intelligent energy network: In a pilot project the Audi Smart Energy Network for the first time interacts with the power grid.

This marks a major advance for grid stability, claims Audi’s press release.

As part of a research project, Audi is running a pilot project with households in the Ingolstadt area and the Zurich region in conjunction with other partners.

This involves combining various sizes of photovoltaic systems with stationary storage batteries. The control software by the Zurich start-up company Ampard distributes the solar power intelligently based on the current or plannable demand from car, household and heating system.

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Hyperloop: Future or fantasy?

Posted: January 20, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel


Hype or hope? BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones visits Virgin Hyperloop One’s test track near Las Vegas.

So, here’s the plan – we’re going to load you into a pod, and then shoot you at 700 mph (1,123 km/h) through a vacuum, taking you to your destination in minutes rather than hours.

That is the rather unlikely pitch of Hyperloop One.

But the remarkable thing that struck me on a recent trip to the project’s test site in Nevada was that nobody thought it was, well, remarkable.

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Construction of Chinese ‘solar road’


For less cost they could have put the panels at the side of the road, angled towards the sun.

Road built from solar panels targeted by gang thought to be trying to steal technology, reports the South China Morning Post.

The one-kilometre stretch of photovoltaic highway – built of solar panels which cars can drive over – opened for testing in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province on December 28.

During a routine inspection last Tuesday, staff found that it had been vandalised and a portion of it was missing, Qilu Evening News reported.

A narrow 1.8-metre panel had been removed and seven surrounding panels damaged by the thieves.

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Image credit: BBC


Before anyone asks – ‘UTS are also adapting the emerging technology to spot crocodiles for a program in northern Australia.’

High-tech shark-spotting drones are patrolling dozens of Australian beaches this summer to quickly identify underwater predators and deliver safety devices to swimmers and surfers faster than traditional lifesavers, reports Phys.org.

As hundreds of people lined up in early morning sun to take part in a recent ocean swimming race at Bilgola beach north of Sydney, they did so in the knowledge the ocean had been scanned to keep them safe.

“I think it is really awesome,” 20-year-old competitor Ali Smith told AFP. “It is cool to see technology and ocean swimming getting together, and hopefully more people will feel safer and get involved.”

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Guangzhou, China


If there were prizes for irony, this would have to be a contender. Does the coal generate its electricity?

China, already the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market, is now using battery power to fuel cargo shipping as well, reports Quartz Media.

A Chinese company has built a 2,000 metric-ton (2,204 tons) all-electric cargo ship, which was launched from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid-November, according to state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

The 70-meter long (229 feet) and 14-meter wide (45 feet) ship is equipped with over 1,000 lithium batteries, with a total capacity of 2,400 kilowatt-hours.

By comparison, Tesla’s Model X is equipped with a 100-kWh battery that allows it to drive nearly 570 kilometers (350 miles).

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Tesla electric truck [image credit: Tesla]


Maybe they could put some solar panels on its roof and only recharge in daylight and/or when it’s windy.

Tesla’s recently unveiled electric truck will require the equivalent power used by up to 4,000 homes to recharge, says Energy Live News.

That’s according to new analysis by an energy consultancy, which calculated it based on the range and charge time for the megacharger.

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A match for the diesel engine?


The end of the road for the internal combustion engine could be further off than some people think, if innovations like this can live up to their publicity claims without being too expensive for mass use.

Nissan Motor Co. will unveil its VC Turbo engine, which uses an efficiency-boosting variable compression ratio system, at the Los Angeles auto show next week, reports North American Energy News.

Shinichi Kiga, the head of Nissan’s gasoline engine project group, told Reuters that the global automaker plans to keep improving the internal combustion engine and that the VC Turbo engine is part of that vision.

On Nov. 28, Nissan will unveil its Infiniti QX50 sport utility vehicle at the LA Auto Show. The luxury SUV engine uses the variable compression ratio system which will boost thermal efficiency to about 40 per cent, as much as twice the level of current gasoline engines available.

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Record-breaking winter season for Lapland tourism

Posted: November 22, 2017 by oldbrew in humour, innovation, Travel
Tags:

Credit: Visitfinland


This place sounds ideal for an upmarket climate conference. The brand new Glass Resort is ‘situated right next door to Santa’s office at Santa Claus Village’. Just the place from which to send out all those generous climate funds that no country with any sense wants to contribute to.

Snow is more popular than ever, says the Barents Observer. About 600 charter flights are landing at Finland’s three northernmost airports in the months ahead.

New hotels, glass igloos, log-huts, snow constructions and ice cottages. Lapland seems prepared to welcome tens of thousands of tourists starting now in late November. Santa Claus is still an attraction, but newcomer of the year is the Snow Man.

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Credit: ITER


A rosy picture of cheap renewables is put forward by Bloomberg, but they rely on ‘promises’ and ignore the true logistics of plastering the world with their Hollywood-style vision of wind turbines, solar panels and industrial-scale batteries. The extravagant claim is made that ‘the concept of the need for baseload generation is fading away’. How’s that going in Australia for example?
H/T The GWPF

The world’s biggest scientific experiment is on course to become the most expensive source of surplus power. 

With wind-farm campaigners starting to promise subsidy-free power by 2025 and electricity demand in Europe stagnating, the future of fusion research looks bleak.

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Image credit: Statoil


They’re only tethered to the sea floor, but you still wouldn’t want to bump into one. The five turbines are 253 metres tall (of which 78m. submerged) and 720-1,600 metres apart, about 25 km.(15 miles) offshore. Will they throw the towel in if one floats away – or sinks?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has officially opened the 30 MW Hywind Scotland windfarm today (18 October), which is situated 25 kilometres off the coast of Aberdeenshire, and being operated by Statoil in partnership with Masdar reports Utility Week.

“This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland,” said Sturgeon. “Our support for floating offshore wind is testament to this government’s commitment to the development of this technology and, coupled with Statoil’s Battery Storage Project, Batwind, puts us at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world centre for energy innovation.”

Statoil’s executive vice president of new energy solutions, Irene Rummelhoff, said Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 metres and will be able to open areas “that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind”.

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What effect the extra demands of being used for energy storage might have on the long-term efficiency and life of the electric vehicle’s battery is not mentioned. They hope that more EVs on such schemes could reduce the need for new power generation, by allowing smarter management of existing resources.

Ovo, the UK electricity supplier, is to offer a ‘vehicle-to-grid’ service to buyers of the Nissan Leaf from next year, allowing electric car owners’ to drive for free by letting energy firms use their vehicle’s batteries, reports Power Engineering International.

Savings from the scheme will cover the £350-£400 annual cost of charging a Nissan Leaf, the electricity supplier told the Guardian.

The move could mean greater take-up of electric vehicles and help power grids manage the growth in green energy, according to its backers.

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Credit: carsdirect.com


Fast-charging high-capacity batteries sound ideal if they can get the idea to work at the real-world industrial scale – always a big ‘if’ of course.

Asphalt may hold the key to unlocking the high capacity of lithium metal batteries, reports R&D Magazine.

Rice University researchers have found that a small amount of asphalt may allow lithium metal batteries to charge 10-to-20 times faster than commercial lithium-ion batteries.

The researchers developed anodes— comprising of porous carbon from asphalt— that showed stability after more than 500 charge-discharge cycles and a high-current density of 20 milliamps per square centimeter, demonstrating the material’s promise for use in rapid charge and discharge devices that require high-power density.

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The ‘Wooden Wonder’ combat aircraft of the 1940s


The Wooden Wonder Mosquito showed it could work for an aircraft. Now Japanese researchers say ‘wood pulp could be as strong as steel, but 80% lighter’, reports BBC News.

Car parts of the future could be made out of a surprising material. Wood.

Researchers in Japan are working to create a strong material out of wood pulp that could replace steel parts in vehicles within a decade.

Work is also charging ahead in the country to develop plastics that can withstand high temperatures, to replace metal for parts near the engine.

These innovations are part of a wider industry push to make cars lighter.

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Dyson to make electric cars from 2020 

Posted: September 26, 2017 by oldbrew in innovation, News, Travel
Tags:

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]


It will have to be better than the last British attempt by an inventor, which was classed as a tricycle, but that should be easy enough. A radical design with a solid state battery are among the few clues available so far, but – like other Dyson products – ‘it won’t be cheap’.

Dyson, the engineering company best known for its vacuum cleaners and fans, plans to spend £2bn developing a “radical” electric car, says BBC News.

The battery-powered vehicle is due to be launched in 2020. Dyson says 400 staff have been working on the secret project for the past two years at its headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

However, the car does not yet exist, with no prototype built, and a factory site is yet to be chosen.

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Cassini probe at Saturn
[credit: NASA]


NASA’s Cassini space probe is still sending back useful data before it ends its 20 year mission by diving into the unexplored Saturnian atmosphere.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old, says BBC News.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world. If confirmed, it means we are looking at Saturn at a very special time in the age of the Solar System.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September. The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel.

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