Hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more commonplace on our roads and now the world's first hydrogen powered hybrid ferry is set to take to the water off New York. Following on from the 2008 launch of the San Francisco Hornblower Hybrid that runs on a combination of solar, wind and diesel power, the new 1,400-hp New York Hornblower Hybrid adds another energy source to the mix with hydrogen fuel cells to complement its clean Tier 2 diesel engines, solar panels and wind turbines.
Starting next April, a Lufthansa Airbus A321 aircraft making the daily flight between Hamburg and Frankfurt will be running partially on biofuel. The airline will trial the biofuel blend, made of a 50/50 mixture of kerosene and hydrotreated vegetable oil, in one of the plane’s engines for six months. It’s part of the Lufthansa-led burnFAIR project, which is studying the long term effects of sustainable biofuels on aircraft performance. Although the Brazilian airline TAM performed a test flight of a biofuel-powered Airbus A320
last month, Lufthansa claims to be the first airline to conduct a long-term trial using biofuel during flight operations.
When it comes to solar cells, everyone is chasing the highest conversion efficiency. Although we’ve seen conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent
achieved with multi-junction solar cells in lab environments, Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab is bringing this kind of efficiency to mass production with the announcement of its C3MJ+ solar cells which boast an average conversion efficiency of 39.2 percent.
, electric vehicles
, renewable energy
, quantum computing
and slicker, smarter consumer electronics – just some of the fields in which the rollercoaster of human technological development continues to gather pace each year ... and 2010 was no exception. As the calendar flips towards December, it's time for a look back at some of the key breakthroughs that have caught our attention over the past 12 months.
Researchers from the Nokia Research Center in Tampere, Finland, have turned a wall of ice into a huge interactive touchscreen display. Using infrared emitters and detectors to determine hand location and movement, the team projected images onto the blocks of ice so that users could see flames behind their hands. Happily, users didn't need to worry about catching a chill from icy fingers as the setup managed to keep track of gloved as well as ungloved hands.
Those looking forward to quieter city streets as a result of near-silent electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids replacing internal combustion engine vehicles on our roads may have to think again. To ensure that cyclists and pedestrians, including the visually impaired, are aware of stealthy oncoming vehicles, researchers have been looking at different noises
that can be applied to EVs. Toyota has also already announced plans to sell an onboard audio alert system
for its Prius but it looks like such systems are set to become more widespread with the Infiniti M35h to be the world’s first hybrid to get an audible pedestrian warning system as standard.
SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) of Germany has launched its latest gaze and eye tracking system called the RED500. Eye tracking is a key research technique for many types of scientific, marketing, and design studies. Billed as the world’s first high-performance and high-speed remote eye tracker, the RED500 features a “scientific grade” 500 Hz sampling rate, binocular tracking, and a portable all-in-one design.
Switzerland’s Yves Rossy, better known as Jetman or Fusionman
, has achieved another aviation first by performing two aerial loops using his unique jet-powered strap-on wing. Rossy made headlines in 2004
, when he first achieved horizontal flight with his original carbon fiber wing, flying 12 kilometers (7.46 miles) over the Alps. He created an even bigger fuss in 2008
, when he used his wing to fly across the English Channel. Then, just last year
, he got a bit wet when he unsuccessfully tried to fly from Morocco to Spain. Now, however, he can add another success to his growing list.
Scientists have for the first time created "super twisted" light which can be used for more effective disease and virus identification. The process involves polarizing a light beam to create a kind of light corkscrew, then reflecting it off a gold surface to twist the vortex even tighter. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are two conditions now being examined using this new technique.
In the early 20th century Henry Ford revolutionized automobile production with the introduction of the assembly line for the iconic Ford Model T. Now, almost a century later, a car has been produced using a process that could prove just as revolutionary – 3D printing. Code-named, Urbee, the streamlined vehicle is the first ever to have its entire body, including its glass panel prototypes, 3D printed with an additive manufacturing process.