Tuesday, 13 January 2009

New world record by developing a solar cell which converts 25.8% of light energy

Researchers at Radboud University in Nijmegen have set a new world record by developing a solar cell which converts 25.8% of light energy it receives into electricity, the university says on its website.

The previous record was 24.5%. Normal solar cells use about 15%. The researchers made their cell using a compound called gallium arsenide, rather than silicon.

Source : DutchNews.nl

Friday, 02 January 2009

JAXA Kizuna Broadband Satellite: The fastest Internet, from space

Kizuna, launched by the Japanese space agency JAXA in February, will deliver to remote areas of Japan and Southeast Asia the fastest satellite Internet connections ever—up to 1.2 gigabits per second, or 500 times the average American consumer connection. Unlike previous satellites, Kizuna is powerful enough to supply industrial-speed signals to small, inexpensive antennas on the ground. Another first: It tracks the weather and adjusts signal strength for specific regions accordingly; for example, it will send a stronger signal to an area where it’s raining in order to penetrate the storm.

Source: Popular Science

Bahrain World Trade Center: The wind-power towers

The first skyscraper to integrate large-scale wind turbines suspends three 1,200-megawatt units between its matching 787-foot office towers. The turbines, which were completed in April, supply 15 percent of the electricity for the two buildings—roughly the same amount used by 300 homes.
To maximize energy output, the tapered towers funnel wind between them, creating a negative pressure zone behind the buildings that draws more air through the gap. This suction effect increases wind speeds by up to 30 percent at each of the 95-foot-long rotors to boost electricity production. It also redirects wind gusts hitting the tower by up to 45 degrees off center so that they hit the turbines at a nearly perpendicular angle for optimal electricity generation.

Source: Popular Science

Hillman Composite Beam: A super-strong bridge beam

When John Hillman subjected his bridge beam to load tests, it handled a hydraulic press’s 145 tons of maximum force with ease. The Hillman Composite Beam (a winner of our 2008 Invention Awards) weighs one third as much as concrete competitors—saving 20 percent on shipping and installation costs—and can hold 50 percent more weight. The beam gets its strength from within. A concrete arch supports the weight above it, and a steel plate running lengthwise prevents the arch from collapsing. A plastic shell wards off corrosion. The first bridge built with the beams opened in August in Illinois. Next up: a 540-foot bridge in Maine, and licensing deals in Canada and Europe.

Source: Popular Science

Serious Materials EcoRock: The cleanest walls

Drywall, plasterboard, wallboard—whatever you call it, the substance that covers billions of square feet of American homes hasn’t changed since its invention in 1917. Drywall factories still roast ground-up gypsum rock in 500°F kilns, spewing out 20 billion pounds of greenhouse gases a year. So Serious Materials created EcoRock: a drywall that congeals without heat, uses recycled materials that don’t require mining, and holds up even better.
The company’s chemists tested 5,000 recipes before they came up with EcoRock’s stew of 20 materials. The fly ash, slag, kiln dust and fillers—85 percent of which are industrial by-products—react chemically when mixed with water and bind together into a paste that’s poured into sheets. The oven-free process uses just 20 percent of the energy of the typical method. And without the starch and cellulose that’s mixed into ordinary gypsum boards, EcoRock is impervious to termites and mold. It costs about the same as high-end drywall, so it may find a home in houses both green and mainstream.

Source : Popular Science

Icon A5: A seaplane for beginners

Intended for novice fliers who have received the FAA’s new, more accessible sport-pilot license, the A5 is a low-cost, seaworthy, easy-to-fly, easy-to-store aircraft that aims to bring personal flight to the masses. This sleek floatplane has folding wings that make it compact enough to tow home and stow in your garage. To make it simple for even the greenest pilots to fly, the A5 uses a sports-car-like instrument panel with GPS navigation and minimal instrumentation. The 100-horsepower engine can run on unleaded gas, so it can refuel at most marinas. The plane took its first flight in July, and Icon expects to begin delivering them to customers by late 2010.

Source : Popular Science

Large Binocular Telescope: The farthest-seeing telescope ever built

With 10 times the light-collecting power of Hubble, the world’s highest-resolution optical telescope exposed its twin 27.6-foot mirrors for the first time last January. Those mirrors, made of a compound called borosilicate that collects more light in less space than previous materials, should allow the scope to see planets orbiting distant stars.

Source : Popular Science

NASA Mars Lander: Life on Mars within reach

Aside from actual living things, the ultimate find for planetary science is the stuff that makes life possible: water. That’s exactly what NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander found in July, when its scooping device uncovered clumps of ice buried just beneath the surface of the Martian arctic plain. Guided by a team of scientists at the University of Arizona, the Lockheed Martin–built spacecraft has been up there since May, gathering soil samples using its robotic arm and capturing the highest-resolution images of another planet ever taken. Phoenix analyzes Martian soil and ice samples using the most advanced onboard microscopes, electro-chemistry analyzers, high-temperature furnaces, and mass spectrometers ever sent to another planet, breaking down the raw material of the Red Planet into its most basic components. The lander stores that data on a one-terabyte solid-state hard drive and then beams it—along with meteorological data captured by its weather-monitoring tools—back to Earth. But all things must pass: Any day now, as the Martian winter brings on months of nonstop darkness, the solar-powered lander will shut down, most likely for good.

Source: Popular Science

GluBam Construction: The sustainable bridge

The bridge Yan Xiao built in Leiyang with GluBam was the town’s first. Each beam that spans the brick columns was created using Xiao’s novel process of transforming irregular bamboo into a practical building material. First he tore strips of bamboo from the stalk and arranged them in such a way as to provide the most strength. He then coated the strips with glue and compressed them in a self-built hydraulic press into beams, 33 feet long and up to three feet wide, each capable of supporting eight tons. Xiao says that the beams cost just 20 percent as much as imported lumber. Better still, rural China has a constantly replenishing supply of bamboo.

Source: Popular Science

Laser Surface Authentication System: Knocks off knockoffs

Despite our niftiest holograms and watermarks, counterfeiters still manage to sneak billions of dollars of fake goods onto store shelves. Instead of slapping on authenticity seals, which can be copied, Ingenia Technology’s anti-counterfeit scanner reads the nanoscopic variations that occur naturally on the surface of every object, from documents to a perfume bottle, and no two are ever the same. To do this, laser light strikes the object, and detectors measure the random scattering of photons that bounce back. The system still recognizes the original nanostructures on a sheet of paper even after it has been baked, soaked, scrubbed, crumpled, and scribbled on with a pen.

Source : Popular Science

Kajima Demolition Tech: Destroying one floor at a time

In congested cities like Tokyo, there’s barely room to swing a wrecking ball, and neighbors hate the caustic dust that implosions kick up. So the Japanese construction company Kajima developed a tidier technique, which it first used this past spring to take down a 17-story and a 20-story office tower: Knock out the ground floor, lower the building on computer-controlled hydraulic jacks, and repeat. Keeping deconstruction on the ground is safer for workers, and the orderly disassembly makes it easier to contain asbestos and other toxic materials. Kajima recycled 99 percent of the steel and concrete and 92 percent of the interior materials—55 percent is standard—and cut demolition time by a fifth.

Source : Popular Science