Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Achates engine design

Achates engine design


That’s the sales pitch for an opposed-piston alternative to today’s vehicle engines. No valves, no cylinder head. But will it get off the drawing board? WIRED reporting.

IF YOU POP THE hood on your car and yank out the plastic cover beneath it, you’ll see a beautiful bit of mind-boggling engineering: the internal combustion engine.

Today’s engines harness around 100 explosions of fuel and oxygen each second, generating massive power with minimal emissions. That’s great, but tightening pollution standards around the world mean automobiles must become increasingly efficient.

Electric cars offer one way forward, but they remain expensive and hobbled by range anxiety—the fear, often unfounded, that you’ll end up stranded with a dead battery. Internal combustion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, with advancements like turbochargers, direct injection, and variable valve timing squeezing more miles from every gallon.

Achates Power in San Diego believes it has a better way: Ditch the design that has dominated engine design for the past 130 years in favor of an idea abandoned in the 1940s and see a 30 percent bump in efficiency.

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Gal Fridman, co-founder of Aquarius Engines, with the firm's single-piston car engine [image credit: phys.org / Aquarius]

Gal Fridman, co-founder of Aquarius Engines, with the firm’s single-piston car engine [image credit: phys.org / Aquarius]

Too good to be true? If not, what might the future hold for this innovation? Phys.org takes a look.

An Israeli firm says a super-efficient engine it has created could drastically reduce fuel consumption and help power an auto industry revolution as manufacturers search for environmentally sound alternatives.

Industry analysts, however, question the reinvented internal combustion engine’s chances of success at a time when purely electric car technology is advancing and attracting investors.

The invention from Israeli-based Aquarius Engines is currently being discussed by France’s Peugeot, the firm said.

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Heathrow or Gatwick: Runway decision tomorrow 

Posted: October 24, 2016 by oldbrew in government, Travel
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Heathrow expects... [credit: your.heathrow.com]

Heathrow expects… [credit: your.heathrow.com]


One thing’s for sure – they won’t be adopting the Guardian’s solution of no more runways ever. When one battle ends another will start, as ITV News reports.

The Government will tomorrow make a decision on where a new runway for the south should be built and Heathrow is expected to be the winner.

But it is expected that Gatwick could also be allowed to expand at a later date. The decision will then be subject to consultation ahead of a vote by MP’s in early 2018.

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Obama’s Electric Car Fail

Posted: September 16, 2016 by oldbrew in Politics, predictions, Travel
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Donna Laframboise does the unthinkable and waves one of the US president’s promises – or predictions – under his nose, pointing out its hopeless failure to come true. Trying to get people to limit their travels to 100 miles or so is about as likely to succeed as nailing jelly to the wall.

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Only 40% of Obama’s electric cars are on the road. None meet the 150-mile-per gallon standard he promised.

obama_electric_car_promise1

Last year 17.5 million cars, SUVs, and light-weight trucks were sold in America. A mere 115,000 of those (two-thirds of one percent) were electric vehicles. Let’s press the rewind button back to the 2008 presidential campaign trail, in which Barack Obama declared:

we will help states like Michigan build the fuel-efficient cars we need, and we will get one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years. [bold added]

In March 2009, two months after he became President, Obama delivered a speech at the Southern California Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in which he similarly asserted:

we will put one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on America’s roads by 2015.

In these closing months of 2016, it’s reasonable to ask how those green promises worked out. In…

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By Viv Forbes

For at least 21 years now, the U.N. and the IPCC have been ringmaster to a troupe of thousands. They perform at massive annual conferences held in exotic locations, serviced by top hotels and airlines, and funded largely, directly or indirectly, by reluctant taxpayers. 

An estimated 45,000 attendees, including 114 from the Australian government, achieved nothing useful at Copenhagen and just more green tape in Paris. Each of these climate-fests is preceded by numerous meetings of bureaucrats drafting and redrafting their wish lists.

Now the U.N. Climateer-in-Chief, Ban Ki-moon, has jetted into the G20 summit in China to claim climate victory over climate skeptics.

Is there no end to this energy-wasting climate tourism? If they believe that the science is settled, no more conferences are needed.

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Glasgow International Airport

Glasgow International Airport


What’s this – business before enviro-correctness? Shocking to some perhaps. Could be fun if Scotland’s air fares undercut England’s by a significant margin. BBC reporting.

Plans to cut and replace air passenger duty (APD) in Scotland have been met with a mixed response. The Scottish government wants to replace APD, with the tax to be reduced by 50% from April 2018 and eventually abolished.

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Self-driving cars may end gasoline era 

Posted: April 30, 2016 by oldbrew in predictions, Travel

Driver-less car [image credit: google.com]

Driver-less car [image credit: google.com]


Or they may not. Robotic futures tend not to work out as predicted, but here’s another one, as DW.COM reports.

One likely roadblock is the amount of electricity required to make it feasible. Another one could be public resistance…

By 2025, self-driving cars could lead to a steep decline in fossil fuels – and in personal car ownership. Smart electric vehicles will pick you up, drop you off, and mostly look after themselves. A realistic scenario?

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Space: the final scrapyard?

Posted: December 23, 2015 by oldbrew in exploration, Travel
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Space debris [credit: NASA]

Space debris [credit: NASA]


So far there are no scrap metal collectors for space junk, as this Science/AAAS report illustrates.

Humans are messy, and not just here on Earth. Now, you can see all the junk we’ve launched into space for yourself with a data-driven animation created for the United Kingdom’s Royal Society by Stuart Grey, an astronomer at University College London.

It all begins in 1957 when the Soviet Union launches Sputnik, a 58.5-centimeter-wide ball emitting radio pulses. A piece of the rocket that took it into orbit was the very first piece of space junk. The United States launched its own satellite, Explorer 1, the next year.

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Piers Corbyn brought a friend, Mark, to the Paris Climate Challenge who helped enormously with the video editing and interviewing work. He runs his own site called ‘Windows on the World’ where he has posted a half hour program showing interviews with some of the attendees at the Paris Climate Challenge, including Niklas Morner, Franco Maranzana and Philip Foster.

WOTW

Click the image to see the video at Mark’s site – help raise his hit count please.

We were unable to cover any of Mark’s expenses from our shoestring budget and we’d like to, as he’s on a shoestring budget himself. If anyone would like to help, please use the donate button in the top left corner of the talkshop. All donations, of whatever size are appreciated.  – Thanks for your help. With it, we can keep on fighting the corruption and disinformation wrecking science’s good name and impoverishing the ordinary people of the world.

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Wind-powered train travel is on Dutch rail schedule

Posted: August 29, 2015 by oldbrew in Travel, wind
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[image credit: railway-technology.com]

[image credit: railway-technology.com]


The train now standing at Platform 1 is waiting for the wind to blow. Is that the future for Dutch railways? Peering through the hype, we may suspect other sources of power will have to be used if or when it’s not windy enough. TechXplore boards the green-tinged bandwagon:

Can the Dutch rail network run on wind? Julian Turner, writing in Railway-technology.com, reported that the Dutch rail network will run entirely on renewable wind energy by 2018.

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Charging station [image credit: Dean Wormald]

Charging station [image credit: Dean Wormald]


The UK has an impressively large development budget for its so-far unimpressively small collection of electric cars, as Phys.org reports. Is there any high-tech cure for ‘range anxiety’?

Wireless charging technology that is built into the road, powering electric cars as they move, is to undergo trials on England’s offroads. Announced on Tuesday, the technology will address the need to power up electric and hybrid vehicles on England’s roads. The trials will get under way later this year.

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London double-decker [image credit: buses world news]

London double-decker [image credit: buses world news]

The bad experience with batteries in London’s own-design hybrid buses hasn’t deterred further investment in the technology, reports E&T Magazine.

The first diesel buses converted to hybrid power will run on the streets of London early next year.

London is introducing an ultra low emission zone in 2020, so diesel buses will have to be replaced or converted to hybrid or all electric power.

While the price of fuel is rising, government subsidies are being cut. Vantage Power estimates that switching to hybrid power saves operators around £20,000 per bus per year and said retrofitting can convert four old buses for the price of one new one.

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Not in Service

Not in Service


The so-called ‘Boris bus’ or London’s ‘new Routemaster’, hailed as a wonder of green technology, is turning out to be an embarrassment, reports BBC News:

I’m told that at the back of a bus depot, there is a large pile of power batteries that no longer work.

All have been removed from the new bus for London and are a crucial part of the hybrid system.

Drivers say that many buses across London are operating without them in place.

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Heathrow pantomime [image credit: BBC]

Heathrow pantomime [image credit: BBC]


What effect will this have on public perceptions? Might help to consign climate change to the fringes of acceptability as an issue with any luck. The BBC reports:

Protesters disrupted flights at Heathrow Airport by cutting through a fence and chaining themselves together on a runway.

Direct action group Plane Stupid said 13 demonstrators opposed to the airport’s expansion plans got on to the northern runway at 03:30 BST.

The runway was closed for nearly three hours and 13 flights were cancelled.

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Caravanning in Antarctica is no holiday

Posted: July 8, 2015 by oldbrew in research, Travel
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Mobile home [image credit: BAS]

Mobile home [image credit: BAS]


The British Antarctic Survey has a new research station with a difference, reports the New Scientist:

CONSTANT darkness, bone-chilling temperatures and cut off from the rest of the world. Living in Antarctica isn’t for the faint-hearted – and I should know, I overwintered there a while back. But at least I lived in a base built on rock; it’s quite another matter when your home sits on top of a floating ice shelf. This is Halley VI, the Antarctic’s most futuristic construction so far.

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Pluto_probe
Squeaky bum time over at NASA for the team handling the Pluto probe with a sudden technical hitch – now resolved – days before the crucial fly-by, reports The Verge.

The New Horizons team is breathing a big sigh of relief this Monday. Over the weekend, the NASA team resolved a glitch that caused their Pluto probe to go into “safe mode” on July 4th. The spacecraft switched to its backup computer and briefly ceased communication with ground control.

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H/T to @IntrepidWanders for this paper, which lays out in clear terms the argument for abiotic oil/gas. I’ll post the second half next.

Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan by Huygens probe 2005

Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan. Artists impression. Credit: NASA/JPL Gregor Kervina

Evgeny Yantovski
Independent researcher
Elsass str. 58, D-52068 Aachen, Germany

Abstract
Thomas Gold was a main participant and contributor in the controversy between the biogenic
and abiogenic theories of the origin of hydrocarbons, a controversy launched by the abiogenic
views of Mendeleev and supported by other Russian and Ukrainian authors. The great success
of Gold’s forecasts is illustrated by a photo of the methane seas on the cold planetary body
Titan. Recently Scott et al.’s experiment on methane formation at high pressure suggests a
possibility of methane formation in the mantle. Some thermodynamic equilibrium
calculations suggest a possible exothermic reaction of carbon dioxide with fayalite producing
methane. In this view, carbon could play the role of an energy carrier from fayalite to
methane and then to a power plant and in a closed cycle be reinjected in Earth. Fayalite
becomes a fuel, with methane the energy carrier. Methane is then a renewable energy source.
The search for methane in Earth and resoluton of its origins deserve more efforts than ever
before.

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Opportunity Cost is the Achilles Heel of High Speed 2

Posted: November 5, 2014 by tallbloke in Politics, Travel

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Short and to the point, this article contains very useful reference links. Which way our public transport systems?

Richard Wellings

An economically rational transport investment policy would allocate scarce resources to those projects with the highest returns.

Yet even if one accepts the official estimates – and in reality there are major doubts as to whether the benefits will actually outweigh the costs – it is clear that High Speed 2 offers poor value for money compared with alternative transport schemes (data on rates of return on transport schemes here).

The issue of Opportunity Cost is therefore the Achilles Heel of HS2. Clearly the vast resources required would be far better deployed elsewhere.

If the aim is to cut journey times, then other schemes would deliver more valuable savings for less expenditure.

If the objective is to address overcrowding then there are far more cost-effective ways of increasing capacity and making more efficient use of existing links.

And if regeneration of the North is the priority, then greater…

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Talkshop contributor Cheremon emailed me earlier to say that today is the centenary of the birth of Adventurer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl. Here’s a short Biography of this remarkable man. I visited the museum and ‘ethnological park he built on Teneriffe (with Fred Olson’s money) some years ago, and marvelled at the similarity of the ancient artifacts from both sides of the Atlantic on display next to the pyramids he excavated from a pile of rubble. This from Biography.com:

 

Thor Heyerdahl Biography

Writer, Academic, Archaeologist, Explorer (1914–2002)
Born in 1914, Thor Heyerdahl grew up in Norway. He attended Oslo University, where he studied zoology. In 1936, Heyerdahl went to live on the Pacific island of Fatu Hiva. He made his world-famous voyage from Peru to French Polynesia aboard the Kon-Tiki in 1947. His book about this adventure became an international hit. In 1953, Heyerdahl led an archaelogical expedition to the Galapagos Islands. Two years later, he traveled to Easter Island. In his later years, Heyerdahl excavated pyramids in Peru and the Canary Islands. He died in 2002. (more…)

From 2020 drivers of all but the most efficient diesel cars and older petrol cars will be charged an additional £10 a day to use the London roads they already pay road tax and a ‘congestion charge’ to travel on. Boris Johnson is bringing in the new levy in response to EU pressure to further reduce emissions. The unelected EU commission launched legal proceedings against Britain in February.

toll-charge

Elsewhere, Labour is planning a network of low-emission zones that would force older diesel vehicles out of many cities. Sheffield, Leicester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and 14 other cities are considering bringing in the zones to cope with poor air quality.

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