The contribution of aircraft to greenhouse gas emissions has been well documented and while biofuels are being trialled
in an effort to combat the issue, an expected doubling in air traffic by 2035 suggests that a fundamental shift in technology is needed to make real progress. That's the starting point for the D “double bubble” – a design concept presented to NASA by an MIT led research team which promises a 70 percent improvement in fuel economy, reduced noise, lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and the ability to use shorter runways.
The miniaturization of electrical sensors
coupled with the development of flexible silicon technology
paves the way for a wide variety of medical sensors that can be implanted into the human body. One of the major obstacles facing the development of such devices, not to mention artificial organs
, is how they are powered. Currently devices need to be constantly recharged via an external power source or, as is the case with battery-powered pacemakers, replaced altogether. Now a team of French researchers has implanted a new type of biofuel cell into rats that overcomes these problems by generating electricity from a potentially limitless source - sugar in the rat’s bodies.
If you’ve read even a little bit about potential sources of biofuel, you’ll know that algae is one of the big ones. During photosynthesis, the unicellular aquatic plant turns sunlight and carbon dioxide into oil. It’s grown in ponds, where it’s not taking land away from food production, and yields much more oil than other biofuel crops, such as corn or soybeans. Researchers at the University of Michigan have recently come up with a method of getting algae to give up its oil more quickly and efficiently than has previously been possible - they pressure cook it.
It seems like every day, a new way of producing biofuel is being discovered. Within the past few years, we’ve reported on technology that harvests biofuel from garbage
, crop waste
, carbon dioxide
and wood-munching marine isopods
. Now, Arizona State University has announced a new development in the harvesting of biofuel from cyanobacteria microbes - ASU researchers Xinyao Liu and Roy Curtiss have genetically engineered bacteria that literally ooze the stuff out of their skins.
The same process that illuminates big-screen plasma TV’s can now create ultra-clean fuels, according to a scientific report presented earlier this week. According to Prof. Albin Czernichowski from France’s University of Orleans, a device called a GlidArc reactor has successfully been used to create clean fuels from waste materials, utilizing electrically-charged clouds of gas called “plasmas.” One of the fuels is a form of diesel that reportedly releases ten times less air pollution than conventional diesel.
Natural photosynthesis isn't as efficient as we would like it to be, and incorporating solar energy into useful products is the subject for much collective research. Engineering researchers from University of Cincinnati have found a way to artificially create a photosynthetic material from foam which uses plant, bacterial, frog and fungal enzymes to produce sugars from sunlight and carbon dioxide.
Engineers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to convert 95% of the energy of cellulosic biomass into jet fuel using stable, inexpensive catalysts, basic equipment and minimal processing. The end hydrocarbon product is so similar to jet fuel that it is ready for application by present internal engine designs.
Just what, you may ask, is a gribble? It’s a tiny marine isopod, and it eats wood. For centuries, they destroyed wooden ships. Today, they continue to munch away on docks and piers. Unlike creatures such as termites, however, gribbles have no helpful microbes in their digestive system to help them digest wood - they themselves possess the enzymes necessary for converting it to sugar. British researchers are now suggesting that what works for the gribbles could also work for converting wood waste and straw into liquid biofuels.
If you’re a fan of the original Back to the Future
movie, then you probably liked the scene at the end where Doc Brown used some random household waste to fuel his time-traveling deLorean. Well, we’re now getting a little bit closer to that being a reality... sort of. While practical flying cars, time travel and cold fusion are still a ways off, the ability to power your car with garbage isn’t. Canadian biofuels firm Enerkem is currently working with the city of Edmonton, Alberta, to convert that city’s municipal waste into ethanol. This will lower the city’s greenhouse gas output, keep much of its waste out of the landfill, and produce a “clean” fuel Doc Brown would be proud of.
Bentley is fast moving from its luxury car tag to that of a supercar brand with the latest release of its Continental Supersports Convertible – the fastest four-seater convertible on the road. The new Supersports has the same 630PS (621bhp/463kW) twin-turbocharged W12 engine as the Continental Supersports Coupé introduced in 2009. Bentley says this is the fastest, most potent drop-top the company has ever built - 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds (0-100kmh in 4.2 seconds) and a top speed of 202mph (325kmh).