China to build worlds largest waste-to-energy plant

The worlds largest waste-to-energy plant is being built in Shenzhen, China.

Shenzhen has had problems with illegal discarding of trash and its many over-sized landfills, notably when a waste spill, in December of 2015, caused a landslide burying 33 buildings and killing dozens.

Many countries burn trash and while it might not be the best solution, its something that’s drastically needed in the most populous country in the world.

Not only will it help the city potentially save lives, the energy plant is expected to produce usable electricity from a third of the trash. The plant will have around 44,000 square meters of solar panels on its mile long roof and it might even provide electricity to neighboring cities.

It should be noted that this plant might not be environmentally safe, though its not a solution for reusable energy, it’s a solution to the waste problem in the city. The city has reportedly been burning 5,000 tonnes of waste in a single day. This plant will help the China with one of its serious issues. It’s expected to be running by 2020 and is just one of 300 plants that are planned to be built around the country.

France is planning to install more than 600 miles of solar roads.

France plans to install solar-panels on its roads in order to provide its citizens clean energy. The French Minister of Ecology and Energy, Ségolène Royal, stated that the French government is planning to install 620 miles (1000 kilometers) of solar panels on their roads and the amount of solar energy would be beneficial to 5 million French people. This development will take five years and it will be able to provide energy up to 8 percent of country’s population. The French road builder Colas and the National Institute of Solar Energy are working together and the project is called the Wattway project.

Colas is a leading solar panel provider and has won the Climate Solutions Award at the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris late last year. According to the company’s website, the panels, which are 7mm thick and composed of photovoltaic cells are arranged like tiles pattern in a polycrystalline silicon layer which will be placed on road surface and skid-resistant and adhere directly to the roadway. The panels are strong enough to support all types of vehicles, including trucks. Each kilometer of Wattway panels are capable of providing enough clean energy to power 5,000 homes. Colas’ technology is innovative, compared to other photovoltaic solutions, in that it does not require to rip out the existing road infrastructure.

It is expected that France will start to test solar-panels on the road surface in spring. There isnt any information on which roadways will be covered with the Wattway panels, or how much the project will cost. Though according to the colas site “the cost with Wattway is estimated at 6 euros/watt-peak.” Though it should be noted that conventional photovaltaic panels have a higher energy yield, at 18%, while the Wattway panels have a 15% energy yield, making them inferior. A proposal has also been put forward from the government to raise taxes on petrol to support France’s transport infrastructure costs, which could help financially support the Wattway project.

There are also other projects like the Wattway.

 

In 2014, the Netherlands built a 70-meter solar panel bike path near Amsterdam that might be able to generate enough electricity to power three houses. The project cost $3.7 million and surpassed expectations after it generated electricity that saved about $2,000 in electricity costs for that first year.

SolarRoads.jpg

SOURCE| SOLAROADS

Japan is also working on a different distribution of solar panels and has been working with the Solar power company Kyocera. The solar power plant is made of about 9,000 waterproof solar panels that float on top of polyethylene on a reservoir and is able to produce around 2,680 megawatt hours per year.

Kyocera Solar Plant.jpg

SOURCE| Illustration: Kyocera Corp.

Solar Roadways is also working on research and development of solar panels for use on roads for the near future. They were awarded a new 2-year $750,000 contract by the Federal Highway Administration for research.

There is a trend in solar energy and new initiatives like the Wattway introduce new applications for capturing solar energy. Who knows maybe in the future all roads will be able to capture solar energy and we will finally have an efficient system that provides clean energy.

5D data storage could store data for billions of years

University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Center (ORC) scientists announced on Monday that they have developed a technique for 5D digital data storage that is capable of storing that data for billions of years.

This revolutionary technique works through ultra-fast laser writing and it carves data into a thermally stable disc. The storage allows up to 360 TB per disc, thermal stability up to 1,000°C , and at room temperature it can last 13.8 billion years.

The file consists of three layers of nano-structured dots which are apart by five micrometers and these dots change the way that light travels via glass. This modifies the polarization of light that can be read using both an optical microscope and a polariser, which is an optical filter that allows specific light to be passed through, blocking other light.

SOURCE|Optoelectronics Research Centre, YouTube

This technology was demonstrated first in 2013 by a Southampton researcher team, but at that time storage capacity was 300kb for 5D recording. By three years, they had successfully developed a recording technique and also encoded 5D data storage for important documents of human history such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Peter Kazansky, a professor at the ORC, says: “It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”

This technology could be a very secure and stable form of portable memory. It will replace the need to store data in the clunky, often failing hard drives. Harddrive.jpg

It can be useful to save and preserve countless historical documents and records from being destroyed or lost.

Researchers will present their research at the SPIE Photonics West Conference in San Francisco, USA. SPIE is the International Society for Optics and Photonics. A 5D data encoded copy of the UDHR was also recently presented at the closing ceremony of the International Year of Light to UNESCO in Mexico.

 

The worlds largest solar plant has started phase 1 in Morocco

Morocco has built the world’s biggest solar power plant that will provide electricity for 1.1 million people. The plant, Noor-Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), is being built on the Saharan desert and will be the size of the country’s capital city once it has finished development in 2018. The first phase, Noor 1, has been switched on by the country’s King himself, King Mohammed VI.

Noor 1 provides 160 megawatts of electricity and is located a few miles from the town of Ouarzazate. It will provide solar electricity to 650,000 people until 3 hours after sunset. It stores heated molten salt in which the solar energy is stored, to allow for energy usage and production at night. The difference in CSP and other plants is that CSP does not separate electrons from atoms in photons it uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight to a fixed point, which is then heated, turned to steam, and runs a turbine to produce electricity.

In the future it will also cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year and some energy will be transported to other regions and even countries. The International Energy Agency estimated that around 11% of the worlds electricity energy could come from CSP. Noor 2 is set to open in 201 and Noor 3 for 2018. When all phases are complete the Noor CSP will generate 500 megawatts of energy for 1.1 million people.

The projected has a funding of $9 billion including investments of $1 billion from KfW, a German investment bank, $400 million from the World Bank, and $596 million from the European Investment Bank. The country announced its plans, at the Paris climate summit, to use solar, wind, and hydropower to generate 42% its energy by 2020 and 52% by 2030.

Morocco is taking a leadership role as the first country in the world take on this revolutionizing step. In November it will host the UN climate change conference and maybe inspire others to do the same.

Gravitational Waves proven real 100 years after Einsteins predictions

On September 14th, 2015, at 11:50 a.m, gravitational waves spread through the Earth as a result of a collision between two black holes about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

In 1916, 100 years ago, an enigmatic theoretical physicist predicted a phenomenon known as gravitational waves. These waves warp space and time and are caused by objects with incredible mass. Albert Einstein went on to write his predictions on gravitational waves in the general theory of relativity, though these waves eluded scientists well past Einsteins lifetime.

Gravitational Waves

SOURCE|LIGO

It wasn’t until 1974 when researchers, Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse, indirectly confirmed the existence of gravitational waves when shifts in flashing from a pair of neutron stars matched the predictions made by Einstein. They went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 for their discovery.

On February 11th, 2016 The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced their findings. David Reitze, the executive director of LIGO, said at the Washington DC press conference, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves.”

Marco Drago at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics saw the signal on his computer in Hannover, Germany. Bruce Allen, Drago’s boss confirmed the signal on September 14th, 2015.

LIGO Data

SOURCE|LIGO

The National Science Foundation in Washington D.c., gathered scientists to discuss the findings and Physical Review Letters from a team of more than a thousand researchers in 15 different countries. This was the first time that scientists directly detected gravitational waves that began at 35 hertz and picked up to 250 hertz, they lasted about one-fourth of a second, and sounded like chirps, they were picked up by L-shaped antennas in Washington State and Louisiana. This was also the first black hole merger that scientists have observed, which also occurred between 600 million and 1.8 billion years ago. The collision apparently radiated more energy than all the stars in the observable universe at the time.

SOURCE|CALTECH LIGO

Gravitational waves, when they travel through the universe collide with matter like planets, stars, and other cosmic objects which can later be produced into sounds and studied. This new discovery might lead to news ways for astronomers to find undiscovered cosmic objects in space. According to Einstein the Earth should experience gravitational waves often, the only problem is that by the time these waves reach Earth they are hard to detect. Which might not be a problem in the future as the LIGO has been upgraded.

The Advanced LIGO will be an upgrade to three interferometers in the U.S. Other gravitational wave detectors are the Virgo interferometer in Italy, the GEO600 in Hannover, another is being developed in Japan, and a third LIGO development has been proposed in India. With a multitude of detectors it would be easier to detect gravitational waves and to pinpoint the source that caused the waves.

A new era of scientific research is about to begin through the proven existence of gravitational waves and there most likely will be a Noble Prize for this discovery.

The Smog Free Tower sucks up pollution in the air!

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you can go days without food and hours without water, but you can only last a few minutes without air. On average, each person takes over 3,000 gallons of air each day. Nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and inert gases are typical in the air but add soot, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical vapors and you have a recipe for disaster. Though pollution in not only limited to the air, it can contaminate the water we drink and the soil we use to grow our food, it is a problem that is difficult to solve until now.

Smog Free Tower

Source|STUDIO ROOSEGAARDE

The Smog Free Tower, is the latest technology to help clean the air of pollution. Created by Daan Roosegaarde it was successfully crowdfunded and tested in Rotterdam, the tower can clean an incredible 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour by sucking up toxic particles.

Currently these towers are not capable of cleaning entire cities and are used in smaller areas such as parks and toxic civic spaces. Towers are being planned for cities around the world such as Beijing, Paris, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.

The towers are 20 feet long, wonderfully designed, and run on 1,400 watts, which is pretty low key. They use small positive currents to charge ions to turn smog into dust particles. These particles are then processed by the tower, compressed, put into small cubes, and turned into jewelry such as rings. These pieces are then given to backers of the project and other supporters, which is very creative.

Source|STUDIO ROOSEGAARDE

Each cube or “Smog Free Cube” is about 1000 m3 of clean air.

Source|STUDIO ROOSEGAARDE

According to Pure Earth, pollution is one of the biggest global threats, which affects over 200 million people around the world and kills tens of thousands each year, many of them are children, according to the EPA.

While these towers may not immediately clean the air, they are the first step to what could possibly be a new wave of technology to fight the spread of pollution and the disastrous effects that it can have.

 

Google’s Project Skybender wants to deliver 5G internet using solar powered drones

Remember Project Loon? Its a project, part of Google Access, that aims to give internet to areas around the world that do not have internet using balloons that float near space. Now, according to a report from The Guardian, Google has a new project called Project Skybender, no not Airbender.

Project Skybender plans to use solar drones to deliver 5G internet. Currently Google is testing in New Mexico with a goal of delivering 5G incredibly fast internet connection around the world. The company is using a Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft and a solar powered Titan Drone made by Titan Aerospace for testing. They are also reportedly renting Virgin Galactic hangers and paying $300,000 to Spaceport America for its own flight control center. The company has received FCC permission to test their drones until July.

Google will also use millimeter wave technology, which delivers higher speeds than the current 4G technology that’s widely in use. Millimeter technology looks to be the future of high speed data transmission technology. While millimeter waves are believed to have 40 times faster service the only issue with 5G is that it’s not far reaching and can only travel a short distance. The company is working to solve this issue.

Google Fiber to provide free internet service for low income residents in select cities.

Google has plans to provide free internet access to low income Americans in affordable housing and its not coming in megabit, its gigabit speed.

This is a very important step in providing what should be considered a necessary 21st century utility to people who cannot afford it. Though it should be noted that Google has already been providing free 5 Mbps internet in public housing.

If you may have not known Google Fiber is is Google’s broadband internet and cable service, with a whopping 1 gigabit speed. Currently there are only a select few locations with Fiber infrastructure: Atlanta, Austin< Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville, Provo, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio. They have plans to expand their services to other cities across the country. But due to the cost and sometimes the political scene, it is difficult to expand quickly.

As for the free internet the company is working with the white house and local government, residents in parts of Kansas city, Mo., Kansas City, Kan. will be the first to get a free subscription to 1,000 Mbps Google Fiber service. At that speed a user can download an HD Movie in about 7 seconds. If you want to personally check this claim head over to the Google Fiber website, where they have a “race” comparing speeds and the time it takes to download a file.

Google Fiber

“We’ve wired all 100 homes with Fiber, and families can sign up today to access the Internet at up to 1,000Mbps,” the Google Fiber announcement said. “Across Kansas City, we’re working with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, reaching more than 1,300 families in the metro area.”

They also said that there are plans to bring free internet to low income families to cities where the service, Google Fiber, currently operates. Residents also do not need to pay for anything, including any equipment or installation fees.

Google is known to do these kinds of things. Currently they are working with groups such as Connecting for Good to offer discounted rates for refurbishes devices such as laptops, tablets, and phones. In coordination with ConnectHome, a program headed by President Obama, Google will also provide computer labs and digital literacy programming for lower grade students.

Having internet is a must as it provides important things such as access to information and the ability to connect with others, these should not be privileges to only those that can afford it.

Deep Learning with Google and Movidius

Google wants to progress their work with Neural networks to make smart phones more powerful and are going to partner with Movidius to use their chips for faster processing in their future devices.

Movidius, a California based company is leading in embedded machine vision technology providing artificial vision intelligence to the the next generation devices. Google confirmed partnership with Movidius for powerful image recognition technology direct to the smartphone. Right now, certain device capabilities are depend on cloud based apps and through those apps the device will communicate with the server for different tasks like facial recognition, street signs, and finger prints.

Google will place Movidius’ powerful MA2450 chip inside Android devices and by doing this Google will make it easier to match images like faces and signs in real time without uploading pictures. This new technology gives devices the ability to understand images and audio with better accuracy and speed.

The MA2450 is the most powerful processing unit that Movidius has under the Myriad family and the Myriad 2 Vision processing unit is the first vision processor that’s always on. Currently Google’s Project Tango uses the Myriad VPU processor. Project Tango is one of the most fascinating projects that can do real time 3D mapping and vision using tablets. The chip can execute 2 trillion 16-bit operations per second, and haul massive amounts of data using less power than before at 500 milliwatts.

Check out project Tango!

Source: Google ATAP|Youtube

This technology allows for better security using facial recognition and those really cool retinal scans you see in futuristic movies. The application for this technology isn’t limited to the smart device market, but in others as well such as the banking and medical markets.

Check out the vision of Movidius!

Source Movidius|Youtube