Category Archives: Energy & emissions

X-rays from Copper Source Set New Gold Standard for Measuring Industrial Materials

By Alison Gillespie – Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have produced and precisely measured a spectrum of X-rays using a new, state-of-the-art machine. The instrument they used to measure the X-rays took 20 years to develop, and will help scientists working at the agency make some of the world’s most accurate measurements of materials for use in everything from bridges to pharmaceuticals.

The process of building the instrument for making the new measurements was painstaking. “This new specialized precision instrument required both a tremendous amount of mechanical innovation and theoretical modeling,” said James Cline, project leader of the NIST team that built the machine.

“That we were able to dedicate so many years and such high-level scientific expertise to this project is reflective of NIST’s role in the world of science.” more> https://goo.gl/e0zrET

Updates from GE

Physicists Are ‘Breeding’ SchröDinger’s Cat, And It Could Reveal The Limits of The Quantum World
By Bec Crew – Physicists have figured out how to ‘breed’ Schrödinger’s cat – an object in a quantum superposition of two states with opposite properties – to produce enlarged versions that could one day reveal the limits of the quantum world.

If they can continue to breed their ‘cats’ even bigger, the experiment could finally reveal the exact point at which objects switch between classical and quantum physics – the divide between the microscopic and macroscopic worlds that physicists have been chasing for decades.

The original Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment states that if you put a live cat in an explosion-proof box with a bomb, until you open the box, you’ll have no idea if the bomb exploded and the cat died. Or maybe the bomb didn’t explode and the cat is still alive.

From our perspective, as long as the box is shut, the cat is occupying two realities. It’s both dead and alive, because we can’t confirm which one, but we know it can’t be neither.

This isn’t just a hypothetical question – in quantum physics, being in two different states at the same time is known as a superposition state, and it’s the entire basis of quantum computing, which is set to revolutionise how we process data in the future. more> https://goo.gl/XMFMB6

How the U.S. Prepared for Nuclear Catastrophe

BOOK REVIEW

Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, Author: Garrett Graff.

By Mahita Gajanan – Raven Rock is the name of the military installation built in the late 1940s near Camp David, in case of disaster during the Cold War. As Graff’s subtitle indicates, not everyone was invited to take shelter.

“It’s too hard to keep people scared enough that every family will have a shelter,” Graff said. “The planners were like, ‘This is going to be too much to save America. So, we’re going to try to figure out how to save the idea of America.'”

As we think about Russia and North Korea, these questions are more relevant today,” he said. “We just don’t know what [Trump] is doing or who might be appointed to some of these secret roles after a catastrophic incident.”

Graff said plans for a nuclear disaster today “absolutely exist,” although they remain classified. more> https://goo.gl/G1DnyD

Updates from Georgia Tech

New Projects Create a Foundation for Next-Gen Flexible Electronics
By Josh Brown – Four projects set to move forward at the Georgia Institute of Technology aim to lay the groundwork for manufacturing next-generation flexible electronics, which have the potential to make an impact on industries ranging from health care to defense.

Researchers at Georgia Tech are partnering with Boeing, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, General Electric, and DuPont as well other research institutions such as Binghamton University and Stanford University on the projects.

Flexible electronics are circuits and systems that can be bent, folded, stretched or conformed without losing their functionality. The systems are often created using machines that can print components such as logic, memory, sensors, batteries, antennas, and various passives using conductive ink on flexible surfaces. Combined with low-cost manufacturing processes, flexible hybrid electronics unlock new product possibilities for a wide range of electronics used in the health care, consumer products, automotive, aerospace, energy and defense sectors.

“Flexible electronics will make possible new products that will help us address problems associated with food supply, clean water, clean energy, health, infrastructure, and safety and security,” said Suresh Sitaraman, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, who is leading Georgia Tech’s flexible electronics activities. more> https://goo.gl/qjx3UT

Related>

From bedroom to boardroom, Supreme Court is in your business

By Nancy Benac – The influence of the court’s nine justices is hard to overstate. So pay attention as Congress prepares to take up the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to join the high court.

From the time Americans roll out of bed in the morning until they turn in, the court’s rulings are woven into daily life in ways large and small.

“From the air you breathe and the water you drink to the roof over your head and the person across from you in bed, the Supreme Court touches all of that,” says Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

A walk through daily life on the lookout for Supreme Court fingerprints … more> https://goo.gl/ykUXDt

Related>

Updates from GE

Charged Up: GE Shows Investors Its Energy Playbook
By Tomas Kellner – The acquisition of Alstom’s energy assets delivered $1.5 billion in synergies in 2016, $300 million above GE’s original five-year target for Alstom synergies, GE’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bornstein told investors at a conference in New York held by GE’s Power and Renewable Energy businesses last week. “Alstom makes us more competitive,” Bornstein said. “It broadens the service base and creates long-term incremental value.”

Jobs, cash, costs and software were the key themes at the conference. Bornstein said GE Oil & Gas was now “applying the same methodology” to its planned merger with Baker Hughes. “The businesses are very complementary,” he said. “It’s going to be a merger of equals.” Bornstein said he was “highly confident” the deal would “deliver a lot more value than $1.6 billion” in synergies by 2020, the target the companies released when they announced the deal last October.

Bornstein also talked about the need to speed up the shrinking of GE’s $25 billion in “structural costs,” which are funding support functions, R&D, corporate operations and other expenses. more> https://goo.gl/z07MkD

A Brief History of the Grand Unified Theory of Physics

By Lawrence M. Krauss – Each time we peel back one layer of reality, other layers beckon. So each important new development in science generally leaves us with more questions than answers. But it also usually leaves us with at least the outline of a road map to help us begin to seek answers to those questions.

The successful discovery of the Higgs particle, and with it the validation of the existence of an invisible background Higgs field throughout space (in the quantum world, every particle like the Higgs is associated with a field), was a profound validation of the bold scientific developments of the 20th century.

As elegant as this idea might be, it is essentially an ad hoc addition to the Standard Model of physics—which explains three of the four known forces of nature, and how these forces interact with matter. It is added to the theory to do what is required to accurately model the world of our experience. But it is not required by the theory. The universe could have happily existed with massless particles and a long-range weak force (which, along with the strong force, gravity, and electromagnetism, make up the four known forces). We would just not be here to ask about them. Moreover, the detailed physics of the Higgs is undetermined within the Standard Model alone. The Higgs could have been 20 times heavier, or 100 times lighter.

Why, then, does the Higgs exist at all? And why does it have the mass it does? (Recognizing that whenever scientists ask “Why?” we really mean “How?”) If the Higgs did not exist, the world we see would not exist, but surely that is not an explanation. Or is it? Ultimately to understand the underlying physics behind the Higgs is to understand how we came to exist. When we ask, “Why are we here?,” at a fundamental level we may as well be asking, “Why is the Higgs here?” more> https://goo.gl/UCn3w8

Related>

The Electric Car Rush Started Too Early

By Leonid Bershidsky – The hyped-up electric vehicle revolution, driven by a fear of being left behind and overzealous regulation, may be forcing car companies to make expensive mistakes. The modern electric vehicle is conceptually inconsistent with how people want to use cars, and in many countries the environmental effect of switching to EVs is negligible.

To spend heavily on electrification, companies have to believe forecasts from experts who don’t have skin in the game. McKinsey, for example, recently put out a report arguing that consumer interest in electric cars is growing. All automakers need to do is keep up incremental improvements and advertising more to increase awareness.

That could turn out to be wishful thinking, because the modern EV caters to a specific-use scenario that increasingly doesn’t work for today’s consumers. more> https://goo.gl/kg48lX

The Future of Growing Cities Rests in Smart Transit

By Robert Garcia – Transportation isn’t just about moving people around; it’s also about moving goods. As home of the nation’s largest port complex, Long Beach has made significant strides to transport goods in more efficient and environmentally sustainable ways, and we are quickly becoming a model for ports across the globe.

Long Beach is now ranked in the top 10 cities nationally for walkability and bike-ability. And we have even used technology to make it easier for those who elect to drive, with apps like EZParkLB, which shows parking availability and pricing in real time. In addition, we have partnered with Mercedes Benz to launch an electric vehicle charger giveaway program to encourage more people to adopt sustainable technology.

Through the Green Port Policy, the Port of Long Beach has successfully introduced smart technologies over the past twenty years, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming a zero-emissions facility. We have reduced greenhouse gases significantly by using electric equipment on the docks and are currently in the process of converting existing vehicles to clean cargo-handling technologies. Other advances include providing shore power for ships, allowing engines to be shut down, and on-dock rail that shifts more than 30 percent of the cargo shipments from trucks to trains. And our newest terminal, Middle Harbor, uses the most advanced automated technology available to move containers from ships and into economic markets throughout the country. more> https://goo.gl/XBpdXi

Related>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Four-Stroke Engine Cycle Produces Hydrogen from Methane and Captures CO<sub2
By John Toon – When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it’s been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there’s a natural gas supply available.

By adding a catalyst, a hydrogen separating membrane and carbon dioxide sorbent to the century-old four-stroke engine cycle, researchers have demonstrated a laboratory-scale hydrogen reforming system that produces the green fuel at relatively low temperature in a process that can be scaled up or down to meet specific needs. The process could provide hydrogen at the point of use for residential fuel cells or neighborhood power plants, electricity and power production in natural-gas powered vehicles, fueling of municipal buses or other hydrogen-based vehicles, and supplementing intermittent renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics.

Known as the CO2/H2 Active Membrane Piston (CHAMP) reactor, the device operates at temperatures much lower than conventional steam reforming processes, consumes substantially less water and could also operate on other fuels such as methanol or bio-derived feedstock. It also captures and concentrates carbon dioxide emissions, a by-product that now lacks a secondary use – though that could change in the future.

Unlike conventional engines that run at thousands of revolutions per minute, the reactor operates at only a few cycles per minute – or more slowly – depending on the reactor scale and required rate of hydrogen production. And there are no spark plugs because there’s no fuel combusted. more> https://goo.gl/h4K7fV

Related>