Viewers of the Unseen

Viewers of the UnseenMicroscope power is restricted by diffraction limit­—anything smaller than about half the wavelength of the illuminating light can’t be seen. A University of Michigan team created a lens with metallic resonators that focuses microwaves 10 times more than diffraction limit allows,its sound unbelievable buts its true .These lenses could be used to make smaller, faster computer chips.

This is done using a new revolutionary material termed as "Metamaterial" the buzzword for today’s material scientist

Now what is it really??

These substances are tiny engineered structures from existing composite that are used to manipulate light, sound and radiowaves. Researchers are just starting to find applications for this research and may soon come out with products that can cloak military vehicles, make stronger microscopes and faster computer chips

New Water Cleaning Technology Could Lessen Environmental Impacts From Shale Production

A novel water cleaning technology currently being tested in field demonstrations could help significantly reduce potential environmental impacts from producing natural gas from theMarcellus shale and other geologic formations, according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

ABSMaterial’s Osorb technology, which uses swelling glass to remove impurities, has been shown to clean flow back water and produced water from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells. Produced waters are by far the largest volume byproduct associated with oil and gas exploration and production. Approximately 21 billion barrels of produced water, containing a wide variety of hydrocarbons and other chemicals, are generated each year in the United States from nearly one million wells.

NETL, the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) research laboratory, is addressing concerns about produced water by funding multiple projects to develop environmental tools and technologies, such as Osorb, that will improve management of water resources, water usage, and water treatment during oil and gas exploration and production.

Two pilot-scale Osorb-based water treatment systems have been built to date: a non-regenerating skid-mounted system which handles inputs of up to 4 gallons per minute, and a 60-gallon-per-minute trailer-mounted system that included a mechanism for Osorb regeneration. ABSMaterials has used these systems on numerous water samples including flow back water from theMarcellus, Woodford, and Haynesville shale formations and produced water from the Clinton and Bakken formations.

In independent testing, the skid-mounted system was found to remove more than 99 percent of oil and grease, more than 90 percent of dissolved BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes), and significant amounts of production chemicals. Concurrent testing was performed using the trailer-mounted 60-gallon-per-minute system on produced water streams. One major oil services company conducted a full pilot test in the field using produced water from the Clinton formation in Ohio in July 2010 and March 2011. These tests showed that total petroleum hydrocarbon levels were slashed from 227 milligrams per liter to 0.1 milligrams per liter.

The results of this project have led to commercial interest from several global energy companies and future collaborative efforts. ABSMaterials also plans to deploy a trailer-mounted, 72,000-gallons-per-day water purification system for field use in North America in mid 2011.

A number of existing treatment techniques separate dispersed oils from water, taking advantage of the density difference between oil and water. However, very few technologies effectively address dissolved hydrocarbons, slicking agents, and polymers that prevent flow-back water from being recycled or discharged.

Osorb, a hybrid organic-inorganic nano-engineered structure, is a breakthrough in hydrocarbon removal technology that rapidly swells up to eight times its dried volume upon exposure to non-polar liquids. The swelling process is completely reversible—with no loss in swelling behavior even after repeated use—when absorbed species are evaporated by heating the material.

The ABSMaterials project was funded through the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. It is the second project under FE’s Oil and Natural Gas Program to show significant success treating produced or flow-back water. Several other projects will be conducting demonstrations focusing on other water treatment technologies during the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
Taken From: http://www.epmag.com/Production/ProductionNews/2011/April/item81755.php

India to launch its solar powered Aerial Vehicles

With strength of approximately 170,000 personnel and more than 1,600 aircrafts, the Indian Air Force is the world’s fourth largest air force. And with the recent spate of the ‘nascent’ arms race, India has already started to built up its own indigenous program for air superiority capability, such as the ‘Tejas’ (light combat aircraft) and Sukhoi 30 MKIs (India’s much advanced variant of Sukhoi 30). But shifting our focus to the relatively unknown facet of the air-force i.e. the UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), India is now looking forth to rather notch up a ‘green’ level by launching its program for solar-powered UAVs capable of flying for a fortnight.

To be developed by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), which is India’s premier defence research agency, these solar powered UAVs are envisaged to act as spy drones which can cruise in the sky for several days at a time. Though one could certainly conclude that - going ‘green’ was not DRDO’s top priority. These zero emission, high-altitude, long endurance (HALE) solar-powered UAVs can undertake a 15-day continuous flight over 30,000-feet. Moreover they will also feature the state-of-the-art, cost-effective and flexible 24×7 ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) platform, which is analogous a “pseudo-satellite” orbiting closer to the ground. The theoretically simple mechanism for power, involves - harnessing of solar energy during the daytime, and storing it in fuel cells for usage during the night time.

It should be noted that this project follows in the footsteps of DRDO’s earlier trysts with UAVs. Very recently they announced the previously secretive - AURA (autonomous unmanned research aircraft) program to develop UCAVs capable of firing missiles, bombs and PGMs (precision-guided munitions). For this project, Dr Prahlada, DRDO’s chief controller R&D (aeronautics), said:

Yes, Army and IAF have asked us to develop the solar-powered HALE UAV. Initial work is in progress for such a drone which can undertake a 15-day continuous flight over 30,000-feet. Solar efficiency is low but we are looking at a payload of around 50 kg (sensors, cameras etc). We will seek some collaboration from either US or European companies.

Haier brings human-powered washing machine to IFA 2010

Hoping from one task to other ,to manage your daily schedule leaves you with very little time to keep yourself in good shape. What if there was something that could do your clothes while you hit the exercise bike? Well, the new human-powered washing machine by the Chinese electronics giant Haier promises just that. This pioneering machine includes an exercise bike that collects energy as you pedal into a lithium-ion battery, which is hard wired to the front loading machine.

Just 20 minutes of pedaling gives you one cold cycle wash without drawing power from the grid. Haier brings to your doorstep a healthy, electricity saving, money saving and green way to spotless clothing. This ingenious human-powered washing machine was recently seen at the IFA 2010. I am sure you can’t wait to see this innovative machine go beyond prototype stage

Laser technology ensures sustainable flight for multi mission UAV’s

After successfully powering robots using lasers last year, Seattle based Research and Development Company Laser Motive has claimed yet another feat which could resolve the energy problems of conventional unmanned aerial vehicles. The company has succeeded in keeping a model helicopter hovering for six hours, powered only by the energy of a laser.
The experiment requires a beam tracking the helicopter automatically and illuminating its photovoltaic panels that are optimized for laser’s wavelength. The PV cells convert around 50 percent of the laser power to electricity which is enough to keep the rotors spinning and elongate the operation period.
The development could be a leap forward in ensuring a sustainable flight for the UAV’s that are unable to meet their energy requirements through solar power alone die their heavy weight. The hovering helicopter could be recharged on the base or in flight by hovering above a laser base for lengthy periods.

Cave Diving

Cave diving is one of the most challenging and potentially dangerous kinds of diving and presents many hazards because diver cannot swim vertically to the surface due to the cave’s ceilings, and so must swim horizontally or diagonally to escape. The underwater navigation through the cave system may be difficult and exit routes may be at considerable distance and the dive may also be deep so resulting in potential deep diving risks. There are several cave diving venues around the world and one of them is the Devil’s eye. The Devil’s eye cave system is the most popular and frequently dived caves with over 30,000 feet of mapped passageways. There are still portions of the cave that have yet to be adequately explored and mapped so divers can spend a lifetime of active cave diving and still not see all of it.

Future Perfect - Capturing CO2 for energy

What’s happening right now?
 In 2011, the emissions of carbon dioxide produced from coal consumption will be over 5,636.3 million tons. Now we have come across numerous conceptions that make use of alternative systems that do reduce the CO2 emissions, like adoption of solar energy, wind power and even hydrogen fuel cells.

But what if we address the very core issue, by utilizing carbon dioxide itself for our important industrial as well as economic purposes? Well, in actuality, there have been such conscientious ventures, which do make use of CO2; starting from using it to power geothermal plants to even utilizing it as a fuel itself.


1. CO2 for geothermal energy:

A mega project from U.S. Department of Energy will make use of CO2 to extract heat from subterranean rock formations to power geothermal electric plants. To be built on the New Mexico-Arizona border, the ambitious proposition will utilize an advanced technology conceived by Los Alamos National Laboratory. The technology calls for CO2 as substitution for water and other fluids to carry geothermal energy to surface plants. This project itself will include an electric plant of 3- to 5-MW capacity.

2. Turning Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel - Using Solar Power:

Back in the 1990’s, Lin Chao at Princeton University had come up with a unique setup in the form of an electrochemical cell, with CO2 as electrolyte. In this cell, he used palladium cathodes and a catalyst of pyridinium (a garden variety organic chemical that is a by-product of oil refining), and by passing electric current, found out that methanol can be obtained from CO2. Then, after 2003, a student named Emily Barton contrived an electrochemical cell that makes use of a semiconducting material used in photovoltaic solar cells for one of its electrodes. She was then successful in utilizing sunlight to transform CO2 into the basic fuel.

3. Solar reactor creates fuel from CO2:

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology, headed by Sossina Haile have managed to ingeniously devise a 2ft. tall prototype of a solar reactor that catches the solar energy, and then uses it as a catalyst for converting carbon dioxide and water into fuels. The hollow centered reactor incorporates a quartz window for magnifying the sun rays to heat the contraption. The heat, in turn, initiates a reaction which produces hydrogen (usable as a fuel) and carbon monoxide (used in various industries) from carbon dioxide.

4. W/Air breathing necklace filters CO2 for energy:

Fascinatingly quirky yet utterly adroit; these are the CO2 filtering necklaces that can actually be worn as accessories. Though looking like some post apocalyptic gas mask, the necklaces can filter CO2 from the surrounding air, which in turn makes the air more ‘breathable’, while the CO2 is converted into electricity for use.

5. Converting CO2 to energy:

Another system that is somewhat analogous to the previously mentioned Solar reactor, and this time the prototype was contrived by Clifford Kubiak and Aaron Sathrum from the University of San Diego. The system utilizes solar energy for conversion to electricity, and this resultant electrical energy is used to charge up the two catalysts. The chemical reaction, thus initiated, converts CO2 into oxygen and carbon monoxide. Now carbon monoxide may be toxic, but it does have a plethora of uses ranging from chemical industry, medicines to even meat coloring.

6. New Microbe Tech Turns Sun and CO2 Into Fuel:

Biofuel manufacturing company Joule unlimited has managed to successfully contrive engineered cyanobacteria that require only sunlight and CO2 to produce liquid hydrocarbons like ethanol and diesel. According to the company, the exclusive patent contains a recombinant acyl ACP reductase (AAR) enzyme and a recombinant alkanal decarboxylative monooxygenase (ADM) enzyme. The fusion of these enzymes with the bacteria allows for production of liquid hydrocarbon in a single step.

7. Bacteria that turn CO2 into energy:
In another separate project, UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume carbon dioxide and produce the liquid fuel isobutanol. The reaction itself will be powered by natural light, and, hence, would be a replication of photosynthesis. The end product, i.e. isobutanol is generally considered to be a petrol alternative.

The concept
There can be several adverse effects of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from increase in micro level pollution to even climate shifting patterns over vast swathes of lands. So, at the end of the day, it’s all about channeling the adversity of carbon emissions into a productive system that can cater to our energy needs. And, for that, we need to support and develop such technologies, which can provide at least some form of solution to this gravely amounting problem.

The advantages
Emission of greenhouse gases can prove to be one the greatest man made disasters in the long run. But such convenient technologies not only give us a chance to regulate those rates of emissions, but also to utilize them for further economic progression. So the benefits are ‘twofold’, i.e. they are not just limited to reduction of pollution levels, but also encompass the enhanced generation of energy.

The impact
As we have previously mentioned that CO2 accounts for around 388 parts per million (ppm) of our atmosphere. Now statistically, that is an increase of 31 percent over the past 250 years, and actually 15 percent has increased in the last 35 years. Now, among the consumption of fossils fuels, oil (petroleum) has 35 percent share, while coal and natural gas respectively have 27 percent and 20 percent; and all of them contribute to phenomenal rates of CO2 emission. So, in a paradoxical albeit convenient turn of events, we can basically introduce the CO2 itself as one of the major ’share-holders’ of energy in those figures. The impact can logically be impressive as a polluting element is itself utilized as an energy source.

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