Engineers Design a Carbon Dioxide Cleanse for Earth
Jul30

Engineers Design a Carbon Dioxide Cleanse for Earth

By now, it’s an observable fact: the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere poses a serious threat to the environment. For the last decade, scientists have been working feverishly to develop cleaner sources of energy to help reduce the amount of CO₂ being added to the atmosphere—but it isn’t enough. Contemporary research and technology have fostered the idea of capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air as a way to achieve a cleaner environment. The development and, more importantly, implementation of clean energy sources will take time. Unfortunately, it may take more time than we, as a species, can afford. Companies, such as Carbon Engineering, are seeking more aggressive methods of removing CO₂ from the atmosphere to stall global warming. Direct air capture appears to be the only feasible way of removing the emissions of portable carbon dioxide sources like cars, trains and planes which account for 60% of the CO₂ in the air. Trees and plants perform a similar function to air capture: they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. However, in order to plant enough trees to reverse the build-up of CO₂, the amount of forested land would have to increase by a factor of 1,000. This would require repurposing viable agricultural acreage. Direct air capture can extract far more carbon dioxide than a one-acre tract of botanical land and can be installed in areas that have no agricultural potential, such as deserts. A prototype air capturing device has already been put to work at the University of Calgary. Air currents enter one end of the machine and pass over tightly corrugated PVC sheets which are saturated in a carbon dioxide absorbing solution. The packing material is shaped in a way that disturbs the air and ensures maximum surface exposure with the liquid. Once the air passes all the way through the prototype scrubber, more than 80% of the carbon dioxide has been removed and converted into carbonate salt. The prototype in Calgary currently collects more than 100 kilos of carbon dioxide every day. The prototype technology could be scaled up to 20,000 times the current size without making any major adjustments. At such a scale, the air capturing fans would be able to remove emissions from 300,000 cars per year. Air capturing has the added benefit of a usable by-product. The carbonate salts collected can be combined with hydrogen to produce hydrocarbons, such as gas and jet fuel. In essence, a scaled up air capturing system would have an overall ecological function that resembled the lifecycle of H₂O. Just as water evaporates, rises to the upper atmosphere, condenses and comes back down as rain;...

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Samsung Unveils the See-Through Semi
Jul06

Samsung Unveils the See-Through Semi

There may still be some debate about whether or not we can call this the Age of Convenience, but it is certainly becoming more convenient for drivers. Motorists now have access to technology that enables cars to parallel park on their own, reverse with no rear view mirror required, or warn of obstacles in their blind spots. Meanwhile, self-driving cars are quickly becoming a “thing.” Now, Samsung has adapted the same “rearview” window technology into a see-through semi that could help drivers travel in reverse without craning their necks. Semi’s have a way of slowing down traffic, particularly on those one or two lane highways where the speed limit is high, but a truck’s ability to take those winding curves at 55mph is…not. Every driver has experienced the frustration of wanting to take the leap across the dotted yellow line but without knowing what is waiting around the corner, it is hard to pull out in front. This is where the Samsung Safety Truck would be a definitive solution. The concept was initially attempted by Art Lebedev with their Transparentius Semi. A camera is attached to the front of the truck and connected to a series of flat screens on the back. Drivers stuck behind the semi are able to see everything that is happening ahead of the truck, and can then make an informed decision about when to try and pass. It seems like a fairly straightforward idea, but there are some mitigating logistical factors to consider. For one, coordinating four flat screens and installing them on the back of a semi is easier said than done. For another, the inexpensive camera does not make up for the significant investment of the screens. Any transport company attempting to make the improvements to their vehicles would be undertaking a significant financial burden. Though the prototype truck is no longer operational, Samsung has made great strides in solving technical challenges such as solar glare and proving that the concept works. At the pace things are developing, it may not be long before the idea of a see-through semi becomes entirely obsolete. While Google continues to perfect the idea of a car that can drive on its own, companies like Ford are demonstrating the benefits of Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication or V2V. Using wireless sensors, it is increasingly likely that cars will be sharing information, avoiding obstacles and driving us around without any need for a driver at all....

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Stanford University Builds a Better Battery
Jun30

Stanford University Builds a Better Battery

Batteries, for the most part, have remained unchanged for the better part of the last several decades. While some elements have changed in a conventional battery, the size and standard battery life inside of most consumer products and electronics have remained greatly unchanged. At least, that was the case until Stanford University scientists recently announced they had designed a carbon battery with a far superior battery life. Carbon is an inexpensive material found throughout the world and is used in many different materials, ranging from water filters all the way to air deodorizers. Now, the scientists are still working on what is known as the pore connectivity. Carbon doesn’t have the same kind of connectivity element as is the case with standard batteries, which means there can be a reduction in the continual energy flow, should the pores stop connecting with one another. Once it is completely figured out how to correct this issue, the Stanford battery should prove to be not only more environmentally friendly, but a battery that can drastically increase the amount of energy that can be stored inside of the battery. The Stanford designer carbon battery is currently undergoing testing where the processing temperature is increased drastically, from 750 degrees to 1,650 degrees (Fahrenheit). This improves the pore volume by 1,000 percent. With the increase in internal temperature, it allows the battery to maintain continual connectivity power. As long as this temperature is maintained, there should be no problem using the carbon battery. There are all sorts of potential advancements that hinge on this battery potential. It is not just allowing a mobile phone to maintain a longer battery life and to avoid changing the AAA batteries on the remote control as frequently. This can improve the battery life on electric vehicles, which means the charge lasts longer, in turn boosting the driving distance a vehicle can travel without needing a charge. Currently, outside of the Tesla models, most electric vehicles are limited to under a 100 mile driving radius, which makes any real driving road trip impossible to do simply on an electric battery charge. The designer carbon battery may change that. Furthermore, spaceflight and exploration heavily depends on batteries, so with NASA and other international partners working toward restoring the exploration of the moon and Mars—and to also have a sustained human presence on the moon—these kinds of batteries may prove extremely beneficial and helpful for the crew and even all of...

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Skrillex Live Phone Cases Are The Next Step in Smartphone Tech
Jun26

Skrillex Live Phone Cases Are The Next Step in Smartphone Tech

DJ and music producer Sonny Moore loves smartphones and all the gadgets that come with them. That’s why he, Android, and Google have teamed up to bring us a new generation of phone cases. Moore—also known as Skrillex—is merely the initial partner in Google’s new line of Edition cases for Android phones. The idea behind the cases was simple, yet like nothing we’ve seen before in smartphone tech. They aimed to create a small, limited collection of smart cases for your smartphone. Each Skrillex Live Case is individually numbered, bears a print of the artist’s signature on the inside, and uses near field communication (NFC) to link itself to your phone, and yours alone. Your phone will know exactly which case it wears and will be able to receive content to match. A completely customizable shortcut button connects you to your favorite apps with a single touch. For the visual design, the partners settled on the theme of space. The three cases have a spacey, ‘the future is now’ meets ‘glory of the mid-1990s’ look to them (a smiling alien head, some robot machinery, the apparent inner workings of a microchip). They’re fun designs, but certainly scream ‘I’m a Skrillex fan!’. One of the more exciting features of the limited edition cases involves the thirteen different satellites Google launched for this special occasion. The satellites gathered images while dancing around in the atmosphere for five hours. These images became the slideshow type wallpapers each case equips your phone with. At night, the image changes to a star map that shows the night sky over your location. And naturally, purchasing a Skrillex Live Case will also give you VIP access to Skrillex content, including videos, photographs, and much more. “We’re constantly making videos, and taking photos, and making sounds. …So we’ll be sending random treats to the case that no one else will get.” —Sonny Moore, a.k.a. Skrillex Google hopes its partnership with Skrillex will open the path to collaborations with other artists. We already know that more Edition partners are coming, though they have yet to be named. The Skrillex Live Cases are available in limited quantities, and on sale now through the Google store. They’re selling for $40, and are so far only available for the Nexus 6 phones....

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The Promise of Unlimited Lithium To Meet Rising Demand
Jun24

The Promise of Unlimited Lithium To Meet Rising Demand

The lithium-ion battery is a consumer’s stored energy preference today because it provides a higher and longer level of energy for personal electronics and electric vehicles. However, the world’s lithium supply is controlled by a few countries and corporations. What comes to issue is whether the supply of lithium will be able to keep up with the demand for it, particularly as more vehicles with battery power roll out. Over a million electrically powered vehicles are on the world’s roads now, and given their proliferation, it’s safe to say that the demand for lithium will remain heavy. At current consumption, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that we have a 365 year supply of lithium. Given the expected exponential increase in consumption though, it’s foreseeable that the supply could be reduced down to less than 20 years. That potential issue requires immediate attention if we’re going to continue to move away from fossil fuels as an energy source. Cobre Montana is an Australian company that believes it can resolve the issue of a lithium shortage through its new extraction process. It involves extraction of lithium from micas that are much more abundant than the South American ores we now extract lithium from. The process from micas is far less costly than extraction from ores that have to be mined. Extraction can even be done without any mining costs because mica is thrown away. The mica can be obtained as a byproduct of mining. As one Cobre Montana executive put it, the world consumes about 38,000 tons of lithium a year, but Elon Musk wants another 38,000 tons. That’s where we have the foreseeable bottleneck. Utility companies in the United States are also attracted to lithium-ion because they’re familiar with it, and it’s available through established and reputable companies. Lithium-ion is the preferred choice of these companies for short-term energy storage. As technology develops and more lithium-ion customers purchase battery powered electronics and electric vehicles, more research and development funds will be invested to meet the increasing demands. Assuming Cobre Montana’s process can be implemented and commercialized, the issue of global lithium availability should become moot....

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