Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

University of Wisconsin

A new app can help turn your smartphone into a detector of cosmic rays thought to emanate ...

There are all sorts of apps available for smartphones to show atmospheric phenomena like wind speed, temperature, and rainfall along with other observations for tides and phases of the moon. But how about something really cool like an app for measuring the amount of interstellar cosmic radiation hitting the earth? A professor of physics from the University of Wisconsin thought that would be cool as well, and created an app to turn your smartphone into a cosmic ray detector that works in a similar way to those instruments found in high-tech observatories and mega-expensive laboratories.  Read More

Prof. Rolf Reitz (center) and members of his student team with the RCCI-powered Saturn

Five years ago we first heard about a Caterpillar diesel engine located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that had been modified to run on an unlikely-sounding mixture of diesel and gasoline. Not only did the one-cylinder engine work, but it was more efficient than pure-diesel or pure-gas engines at converting the chemical energy of fuel into motion. Sitting in a basement lab, however, isn't the same as experiencing use in the real world. That's why students at UW-Madison, led by Prof. Rolf Reitz, have now put another diesel/gas engine into a 2009 Saturn.  Read More

Someday, simply having your phone in the car while driving could recharge it

While it's already possible to wirelessly recharge smartphones in cars, those cars need to be equipped with a special charging pad that the phone has to be placed on. Thanks to a newly-developed "nanogenerator," however, it might eventually be possible to place the phone anywhere in any car, letting the vehicle's vibrations provide the power.  Read More

A test subject, wired up to the brain control interface

We've recently seen rehabilitative systems in which stroke victims use their thoughts either to move animated images of their paralyzed limbs, or to activate robotic devices that guide their limbs through the desired movements. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, have just announced an alternative approach. Their device acts as an intermediary between the brain and a non-responsive hand, receiving signals from the one and transmitting them to the other.  Read More

Using a photo-catalytic reaction, the Airocide purifier (left) is claimed to neutralize ai...

Some time ago, astronauts on the International Space Station needed a way to eliminate the ethylene gas that was being produced by plants growing aboard the station. NASA collaborated with the University of Wisconsin, and the result was an air-purifying system known as Airocide. Flash forward to the present, and that technology has been licensed for use in a household product that reportedly eliminates all sorts of airborne nasties.  Read More

A prototype tongue-buzzing PoNS device

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a device known as a PoNS, that shows promise for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, strokes, or the effects of diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command are now conducting a study on the device, which works by stimulating the patient’s tongue.  Read More

Liam impressed his doctors and classmates alike with his 'Robohand,' which was created by ...

According to the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO), there are some 32 million amputees in the world today, around 80 percent (25 million) of whom live in developing countries where only five percent have been fitted with an artificial limb. It is estimated that 200,000 people lost a limb as a result of the 2010 Haiti earthquake alone. Two low-cost, printable prostheses highlight the potential impact 3D printing could have on the quality of life for millions as the technology becomes more accessible around the world.  Read More

Researchers have developed a new lignin-solvent process to separate cellulosic biomass int...

In order to improve the sustainability credentials of biofuels, experts have been trying to figure out ways to produce them from non-food sources, such as cellulose – the material that makes up the cell walls of plants. Now, researchers from the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point have patented a process that they say paves the way for the creation of biofuels from cellulosic plant material.  Read More

University of Wisconsin researchers discover nannorod catalyst that works as well as plati...

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified an inexpensive nanorod catalyst with efficiencies rivalling that of platinum. Composed of nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods, the new catalyst holds the promise of cheaper, more efficient microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that generate their own hydrogen from waste water  Read More

Looking through a UV-blocking filter, the green spots show the location of active catalyst...

Storing solar energy for the periods of time when the sun isn’t shining is key to improving solar technology. The energy produced can be stored in batteries or used to produce fuel that can act as storage. Solar fuel processes are generally modeled on photosynthesis, the natural process whereby plants convert sunlight into chemical energy in the form of biomass and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Current options are expensive, but a group or researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison claim they have found a faster, cheaper method to find electrocatalysts that improve the water oxidation process in the search for solar energy storage.  Read More

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