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Is Faraday the Future of Bicycles?

October 11, 2011 1 comment

“This ain’t no fixie with a minty fresh paint job, this is the Faraday.

Built for the Oregon Manifest design competition, ideas factory Ideo teamed up with bike builders Rock Lobster Cycles to produce this retro-technotastic electric bike.

Everything futuristic has been hidden inside the frame: those parallel top tubes hold a series of lithium-ion batteries which juice up the front-hub motor — all controlled from the green box tucked beneath the seat cluster.

Those two prongs up front serve as built-in headlights and the base of a modular racking system, letting you swap out various carrying mechanisms like a trunk or child seat with the pop of a bolt.”

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Graphene “Big Mac” Sandwich May Replace Silicon Chips

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

“The world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, discovered in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, has the potential to revolutionize material science.

Demonstrating the remarkable properties of graphene won the two scientists the Nobel Prize for Physics last year and UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has just announced plans for a £50m graphene research hub to be set up.

Now, writing in the journal Nature Physics, the University of Manchester team have for the first time demonstrated how graphene inside electronic circuits will probably look like in the future.

By sandwiching two sheets of graphene with another two-dimensional material, boron nitrate, the team created the graphene ‘Big Mac’ – a four-layered structure which could be the key to replacing the silicon chip in computers.

Because there are two layers of graphene completed surrounded by the boron nitrate, this has allowed the researchers for the first time to observe how graphene behaves when unaffected by the environment.”

New Machine Can Perform DNA Tests Within 3 Minutes

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

“The Polymerase Chain Reaction, which amplifies specific DNA sequences out of mixtures (starting with as little as a single molecule), has revolutionized molecular biology, enabling DNA-based tests that once took months to be performed in an afternoon.

But even an afternoon is pretty slow for some purposes, such as diagnostic kits for infectious agents.

A team of impatient researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Lab has now managed to cut the time needed for a PCR reaction down from a few hours to less than three minutes.

PCR relies on a cyclical amplification process: high temperatures reset the DNA-copying reaction, lower ones let a new round of reactions start, and they proceed at an intermediate step.

The proteins that catalyze these reactions are actually very fast; the delay comes from the time neeed to shift the reactions between these temperatures.

Small machines called thermocyclers heat and chill metal blocks as quickly as they can, but it still takes minutes to get through a single cycle.

When a typical PCR reaction runs for 30 cycles, that can soak up a lot of time. This not only slows individual PCR reactions down, but also means that the thermocycler isn’t available for anyone else’s use.

The Livermore team tackled the heating and cooling very simply: their device has two reservoirs of water kept at the high and low temperatures needed during the cycle.

The water is pumped through a foamed copper block that contains the sample, enabling it to quickly equillibrate to the target temperature.

They also eliminated the time spent at the intermediate temperature, figuring the samples will pass through there long enough on their way between the two extremes.”

Desert Living Tackled With California Roll House

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

“At times, the simplest form with least manipulation from its original form can offer visual amenities and adapted solution to the context.

California Roll prefabricated house takes this methodology to create its morphological adaptation to its environemt : desert.

Homogeneous exterior material which provides high grade of energy efficiency and reflects heat from the sun covers the entire surface except for glass panels which is electronically controlled to change its transparency.

Modularization of every structure members and finish materials are maximized to provide mobilty with rapid assembly and disassembly on site.

To sustain its challenging structural stand, carbon fibre truss frame under neath the exterior material holds the entire architecture.

Hydraulic powered automatic doors and security system is used for main entrance door which allows less spaces to operate the door mechanism.

California Roll house features these latest technologies applied to architecture which breaks the boundary of product or vehicle design and architectural design which brings more mobility to living spaces.”

Fraunhofer Develops Lightweight, Crash-Proof Battery for Electric Cars

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

“Everyone is talking about electric drives, and the scientists from Fraunhofer are also working on them. Engineers have replaced a battery box for lithium-ion batteries with a lightweight component. Not only does the housing save weight and sustain no damage in an accident — for the first time ever, it can also be mass-produced…

To advance the symbiosis between electromobility and lightweight construction, engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal, Germany, are developing manufacturing concepts that have one goal — they want to gradually replace individual components in the vehicle with lightweight ones…

The experts, along with colleagues from the Fraunhofer Institutes for Mechanics of Materials IWM, for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF and for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach Institut EMI, have developed a mass-production-ready, crash-safe battery housing that meets strict requirements.

The battery housing that surrounds the battery that weighs 340 kilograms (749.57 lbs.) only weighs 35 kilograms (77.16 lbs.). “Traditional solutions made of steel weigh up to 25 percent more,” said Reif. “The battery housing can withstand a crash, assuming a ten-fold gravitational acceleration.”

And even if a sharp object collides with the housing at 60 km/h (45mph), the highly sensitive battery on the inside remains intact. In addition, the 16 lithium-ion modules are protected from humidity, and a semi-permeable membrane to equalize pressure also guarantees that the batteries are able to “breathe.

What make the new battery protection so special are the new fiber-reinforced composite materials.”

CLASH Robot Can Climb Vertically Like an Insect

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

“UC Berkeley has a long history of developing innovative legged robots: There was ROACH, there was BOLT, there was DASH. DASH, a cockroach-Inspired design, was a very simple, very fast hexapedal robot that could scuttle along the ground at 15 body lengths per second.

Now meet the latest addition to this family of robot bugs: CLASH, pictured above, is a vertically-enabled successor to DASH, and it’s designed to zip up vertical or near-vertical cloth surfaces with the aid of tiny little spiny toes. It’s sort of like what you’d get if you put DASH and SpinyBot together in a dark room along with a 3D printer and some Barry Manilow (or whatever it is robots are listening to these days).

For a vertical climbing robot, CLASH is surprisingly quick. It may actually be one of the quickest climbing robots in existence, able to move upwards at 24 centimeters per second, which is really quite a lot faster than it sounds.

Part of the reason that CLASH can scramble around so fast is that it’s small and lightweight with a simple, but clever, design. CLASH is 10 centimeters long and weighs only 15 grams. The back-and-forth climbing motion of four legs (the back two are passive) is entirely driven by one single motor that gives CLASH a gait frequency of a brisk 34 strides per second.”

GM To Introduce “AirToungue” For Side-Impact Crashes?

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

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“Front airbags have done wonders for the most common type of collision, which is running into something head first. But 11 percent of car accident fatalities are caused by “far-side impact crashes,” which is where your car gets hit on the opposite side from where you’re sitting, sending you into the passenger seat if you’re behind the wheel.

GM is introducing a new type of airbag in some of its midsize SUVs for 2013 that’s designed to keep you safe in accidents like these by deploying out from the front seats into the center of the car. It’s a tubular design (in form factor, not awesomeness, although it’s also pretty awesome) that pops out of the side of your seat before you can say “I hate bugs”.

The cushion provides restraint to keep your head from ending up in the passenger seat while the rest of your body stays securely belted into the driver’s seat. It’s taken GM three years of research to get it to work, and it should also make a difference in rollovers — which don’t happen so often, yet carry a high mortality rate.”