Sunday, October 24, 2010

Robo Aid

Insect hearing biomimicry inspires new approach to small antennas

By gd

4 March 2011One Comment

Ormia ochracea is a small parasitic fly best known for its strong sense of directional hearing. A female fly tracks a male cricket by its chirps and then deposits her eggs on the unfortunate host. The larvae subsequently eat the cricket. Though it doesn’t work out well for male crickets, such acute hearing in a tiny body has inspired a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher as he studies new designs for very small, powerful antennas.

For a structure like an antenna to effectively transmit or receive an electromagnetic wave at a given frequency, the size must be comparable to the wavelength at that frequency. Making the structure’s aperture size physically smaller than a wavelength becomes a critical performance issue. These small antennas aren’t as efficient and don’t work well beyond a narrow band of frequencies.

Usually, an insect’s “ears” are not even located on the head, but instead are close together on its thorax or elsewhere, depending on the particular insect. Despite the small time and intensity differences, some insects have directional hearing capabilities surpassing those of humans. The parasitic fly, which appears to be among the smallest with superb directional hearing, can detect the direction of a chirping cricket with an accuracy of one to two degrees.

“These are small antennas that actually work better than large antennas”, said Nader Behdad, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who took this knowledge and began designing circuits that could mimic an insect’s auditory system. “There hasn’t been any work done to design antennas that mimic the hearing mechanism of different insects. We’ve designed a basic proof-of-concept antenna and have some preliminary results. But at this point, we still need to understand what the physics are.”

Behdad is designing a super resolving type of antenna, which is capable of distinguishing signals coming from different directions. If he can create very small, efficient super-resolving antennas, the technology could result in significantly more wireless bandwidth, better cell phone reception and other applications in the consumer electronics industry, as well as new radar and imaging systems.

He is also interested in eventually using his research to explore small super-directive antennas, a class of antennas that could capture a lot of power coming from one direction. Though this type of antenna is still far from reality, the result could be a tiny antenna with the capabilities of a giant one.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Great application of biomimicry.

Dr.A. Nellore(AP),India Jagadeesh

# 6 March 2011 at 5:41 am

Silk moth’s antenna inspires development of better nanospores

By gd

5 March 2011One Comment

By mimicking the structure of the silk moth’s antenna, the research of University of Michigan researchers has led to development of better nanopores (essentially holes drilled in a silicon chip). Nanopores can be used to study single molecules or proteins, and the tiny tunnel-shaped tool could lead to advances in understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

This project is headed by Michael Mayer, an associate professor in the U-M departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Also collaborating are Jerry Yang, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego and Jiali Li, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas. The team engineered an oily coating that traps and smoothly transports molecules of interest through nanopores. The coating also allows researchers to adjust the size of the pore with close-to-atomic precision.

“What this gives us is an improved tool to characterize biomolecules”, said Mayer. “It allows us to gain understanding about their size, charge, shape, concentration and the speed at which they assemble. This could help us possibly diagnose and understand what is going wrong in a category of neurodegenerative disease that includes Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.”

Mayer’s “fluid lipid bilayer” resembles a coating on the male silk moth’s antenna that helps it smell nearby female moths. The coating catches pheromone molecules in the air and carries them through nanotunnels in the exoskeleton to nerve cells that send a message to the bug’s brain.

“These pheromones are lipophilic. They like to bind to lipids, or fat-like materials. So they get trapped and concentrated on the surface of this lipid layer in the silk moth. The layer greases the movement of the pheromones to the place where they need to be. Our new coating serves the same purpose”, he added.

One of Mayer’s main research tracks is to study proteins called amyloid-beta peptides that are thought to coagulate into fibers that affect the brain in Alzheimer’s. He is interested in studying the size and shape of these fibers and how they form.

“Existing techniques don’t allow you to monitor the process very well. We wanted to see the clumping of these peptides using nanopores, but every time we tried it, the pores clogged up”, said Mayer. “Then we made this coating, and now our idea works.”

To use nanopores in experiments, researchers position the pore-pricked chip between two chambers of saltwater. They drop the molecules of interest into one of the chambers and send an electric current through the pore. As each molecule or protein passes through the pore, it changes the pore’s electrical resistance. The amount of change observed tells the researchers valuable information about the molecule’s size, electrical charge and shape.

Due to their small footprint and low power requirements, nanopores could also be used to detect biological warfare agents. The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Another case of solving complex problem through simple solution from nature.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 6 March 2011 at 5:47 am

MIT helps Brazilian waste pickers to use leftover cooking oil as vehicle fuel

By gd

25 February 2011One Comment

There are estimated half-million garbage pickers in Brazil, known as catadores, who turn waste into profit by sorting out recyclable items and selling their findings to recycling companies. With help from some MIT students, the catadores have a less-expensive and environmentally friendly option to transport those goods by using recycled cooking oil for their fuel.

In summer 2010, members of MIT’s biodiesel team, along with a Media Lab student and one Brazilian MIT student, traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to begin work on the project, called Green Grease. They worked with Rede CataSampa, one of the many catadores cooperatives, to convert two of its large trucks to run directly on filtered vegetable oil.

The team, led by Libby McDonald, a Green Hub Global Program Associate at the Community Innovators Lab in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, decided to convert the vehicles to use filtered oil instead converting the waste oil to biodiesel. Although conversion allows more flexibility since biodiesel can be used in any diesel vehicle, without any modifications, the biodiesel conversion process requires relatively complex machinery and expensive, toxic chemicals.

By contrast, the oil-filtration process and vehicle conversions are simple and can make use of many recycled parts that the catadores were able to find or improvise, explains junior Angela Hojnacki, president of the Biodiesel@MIT team and a member of the Green Grease team bringing the technology to Brazil. Additional advantage is the warm temperature in Brazil which allows the waste oil to flow properly, without extra heaters that would be needed in colder climates.

The use of filtered vegetable oil could decrease the presence of a pollutant that, if dumped into rivers as it tends to happen now, can kill fish and disrupt ecosystems. In order to counter that, Brazil has begun implementation of environmental regulations which restrict the disposal of waste oil and require the installation of grease traps in residential buildings’ plumbing systems. Aside better environmental practice, it can drastically reduce, or eventually even eliminate, the fuel costs for the catadores to operate their trucks.

Converting the trucks involved installing a separate, parallel fuel tank and fuel delivery system, along with a set of valves that can be adjusted so the vehicle can operate on either standard diesel fuel or filtered oil, depending on what is available. As part of the process, the local catadores found materials such as an old metal street sign that was converted to use as a gasket for the added fuel tank.

Now that the truck drivers in one cooperative have been trained in how to carry out the vehicle conversions and set up filtration systems, they can convert it into a small business – converting other vehicles and providing the oil. On a follow-up visit this year, with the help of the catadores they trained in Sao Paulo, the team plans to expand the project to additional eight cities (Diadema, Garulhos, Sao Jose do Campos, Rio Claro, Campinas, Palmital, Barueri, and Osasco).

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

This is being done in India too. But this oil is used in old vehicles only otherwise new ones get damaged.
I reproduce below interesting note on the subject:
(Source:vegetable oil car, Yes! Your car can run on vegetable oil, Can you use regular fuel in a car that runs on vegetable oil?
• Dayton Says:
August 3rd, 2010 ):
Only diesel vehicles can be run on vegetable oil. That being said you really have to look at the area that you live in. If you live in a warm climate you can just pour vegetable oil in your tank, no conversion necessary. What most people don’t know is that diesel engines were originally designed to run on peanut oil by Diesel, the inventor of the engine. So the simplest conversion is a single tank with preheater to run on diesel or oil in one tank. You can run on diesel or veg oil, or a blend of the 2. i have a 1982 Mercedes 300SD 5cyl diesel and I occassionally have left over cooking oil in the summer time. I just pour it in the tank, makes your exhaust smell like an unscented soy candle. So that would be a diesel/veg oil blend. Normally I just run on diesel fuel. The conversion is not cheap. It usually runs anywhere from $400 – $1500 depending on if you need a one or 2 tank system plus bolstering up your filter system. You can always use regular diesel at any time and typically on the 2 tank system there is an electronic switch allowing you to go between the diesel tank and veg oil tank so you can purge the system back to diesel in cold weather.


Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 26 February 2011 at 7:52 amNASA researchers reveal various applications of atomic oxygen

By gd

24 February 2011One Comment

A scientific method developed by researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center uses atomic oxygen to save and restore works of art that would have been irreparably damaged. It can also completely sterilize surgical implants intended for human bodies, improve glucose monitoring devices for diabetic patients, and texture the surfaces of polymers to invite bone cell adhesion, leading to a variety of medical advances.

The oxygen that we breathe is comprised of two atoms of oxygen, the ozone which occurs in Earth’s upper atmosphere is comprised of three atoms of oxygen, while a single atom of oxygen is named atomic oxygen. The folks from NASA’s Glenn Research Center were asked to investigate the damage caused to NASA spacecraft by atomic oxygen. Aside the methods used to protect spacecraft from atomic oxygen, the researchers discovered a way to harness the potentially destructive power of atomic oxygen and use it to improve life on Earth.

“In the first few shuttle flights, materials looked frosty because they were actually being eroded and textured”, said Bruce Banks, a senior physicist with Alphaport, supporting the Space Environment and Experiments branch at Glenn. “Atomic oxygen reacts with organic materials on spacecraft exteriors, gradually damaging them.”

When the solar arrays were designed for the Space Station, there was a concern that the solar array blankets, which are made of polymers, would quickly erode due to atomic oxygen. In order to counter that, the researchers created a coating of a clear silicon dioxide glass that is so thin, it is flexible. This protective coating adheres to the polymers of the array and protects the arrays from erosion, while barely sacrificing any thermal properties.

“We became aware of how the surface chemistry changes, how it [atomic oxygen] removes organic materials… it can remove anything organic that’s a hydrocarbon, that might not be easily removed by normal chemicals”, said Banks.

There are different ways of applying atomic oxygen to surfaces. Most frequently, a vacuum chamber is radiated with microwaves or radio-frequency waves in order to break the oxygen into single oxygen atoms. A sample of polymer is placed in the chamber and its erosion is measured to determine the level of atomic oxygen inside the chamber. Another method of applying atomic oxygen is to use a portable, pencil beam machine that directs a flow of atomic oxygen to a specific target. It might be possible to create a bank of these beams to cover a larger surface area.

The team discovered various other applications of atomic oxygen. They learned that it turns the surfaces of silicone into glass, which can be helpful in creating components needed to form a tight seal without sticking to each other. There are many biomedical applications of atomic oxygen. Atomic oxygen has been used to texture the surface of polymers that may fuse with bone. The surface of smooth polymers typically discourages adhesion with bone forming cells, but the atomic oxygen creates a surface where adhesion is enhanced. There are a variety of ways this could be beneficial to osteopathic health.

Atomic oxygen can also be used to remove biologically active contaminants from surgical implants. Even with modern sterilization practices, it is difficult to remove all debris from bacterial cells (called endotoxins) from the implants. The endotoxins are organic but not living, and they can cause inflammation since sterilization may not remove them. Atomic oxygen cleans the implant and removes all traces of organic materials, which greatly diminishes the risk of post-operative inflammation.

The technology is also being used for glucose sensors and other biomedical monitors. These monitors use acrylic optical fibers that are textured by atomic oxygen. This texturing allows the fiber to filter out red blood cells, letting serum in the blood more effectively contact the chemical sensing component in the monitor.

“It makes the test more accurate… while requiring a fraction of the blood that’s normally required to do blood sugar testing. You can prick almost anywhere on your body and get enough blood to register the sugar level of the blood”, said Sharon Miller, an electrical engineer in the Space Environment and Experiments Branch at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

When works of art are compromised, atomic oxygen can be used to remove the organic contaminants without damaging the actual painting. The process removes all organic materials, such as carbon or soot, but it typically doesn’t affect the paint. The pigments in paint are mostly inorganic, and have already been oxidized, meaning that atomic oxygen doesn’t damage them. Pigments that are organic can also be preserved, through carefully timing the exposure to atomic oxygen. The canvas is also safe, as the atomic oxygen only reacts on the surface of the painting.

Artwork can be placed in a vacuum chamber where atomic oxygen is created. Depending on the amount of damage, the painting can remain in the chamber anywhere from 20 hours to 400 hours. The pencil beam can also be used to specifically target a damaged area in need of restoration, eliminating the need to place the artwork in a vacuum chamber.

Museums, galleries and churches have come to Glenn to save and restore their works of art. Glenn has demonstrated the ability to repair a fire-damaged painting by Jackson Pollack, removed lipstick from an Andy Warhol painting and saved smoke-damaged paintings at St. Stanislaus Church in Cleveland. The Glenn team has used atomic oxygen to restore a piece that was previously thought to be irreparable: a centuries-old, Italian copy of a painting by Raphael called “Madonna of the Chair”, which belongs to St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland.

The team hopes to continue researching ways that atomic oxygen can be of use, and to further explore the promising areas that they have already identified. Many of the technologies have been patented, and the Glenn team hopes that companies will license and commercialize some of the technologies, so they may be of even more use to society.

One Comment

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Great research by NASA Scientists which has many applications.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 27 February 2011 at 1:50 pm

NIST research improves organic solar power technology

By gd

31 July 2009One Comment

Organic photovoltaics, which rely on organic molecules to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity, are a hot research area because in principle they have significant advantages over traditional rigid silicon cells. Organic photovoltaics start out as a kind of ink that can be applied to flexible surfaces to create solar cell modules that can be spread over large areas as easily as unrolling a carpet. Although much cheaper to make and easier to adapt to a wide variety of power applications, their market presence is limited until the technology improves. Even the best organic photovoltaics convert less than 6 percent of light into electricity and last only a few thousand hours.

Rigid silicon cells are around 15% efficient, and much higher have been reached in multi-junction systems – a clear advantage over current organic technology. But it’s a balance between between efficiency and production costs, so if these new type of cells – which use organic molecules to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity – reach 10% they will become competitive according to NIST’s David Germack.

“The industry believes that if these cells can exceed 10 percent efficiency and 10,000 hours of life, technology adoption will really accelerate,” says Germack. “But to improve them, there is critical need to identify what’s happening in the material, and at this point, we’re only at the beginning.”

In the most common class of organic photovoltaics, the “ink” is a blend of a polymer that absorbs sunlight, enabling it to give up its electrons, and ball-shaped carbon molecules called fullerenes that collect electrons. When the ink is applied to a surface, the blend hardens into a film that contains a haphazard network of polymers intermixed with fullerene channels. In conventional devices, the polymer network should ideally all reach the bottom of the film while the fullerene channels should ideally all reach the top, so that electricity can flow in the correct direction out of the device. However, if barriers of fullerenes form between the polymers and the bottom edge of the film, the cell’s efficiency will be reduced.

By applying X-ray absorption measurements to the film interfaces, the team discovered that by changing the nature of the electrode surface, it will repulse fullerenes (like oil repulses water) while attracting the polymer. The electrical properties of the interface also change dramatically. The resultant structure gives the light-generated photocurrent more opportunities to reach the proper electrodes and reduces the accumulation of fullerenes at the film bottom, both of which could improve the photovoltaic’s efficiency or lifetime.

“We’ve identified some key parameters needed to optimize what happens at both edges of the film, which means the industry will have a strategy to optimize the cell’s overall performance,” Germack says. “Right now, we’re building on what we’ve learned about the edges to identify what happens throughout the film. This knowledge is really important to help industry figure out how organic cells perform and age so that their life spans will be extended.

One Comment

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Great Advances in Solar Cell Technology.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 27 February 2011 at 1:46 pm

Biomimicry of bees and the insect’s hive behavior – RoboBees

By gd

22 October 2009 2 Comments

From flies to fish to lobsters, small insects and animals have long been ideal models for robotic and computer scientists. Bees, for example, possess unmatched elegance in flight, zipping from flower to flower with ease and hovering stably with heavy payloads. A multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, engineers, and biologists at Harvard received a 10 million dollars grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) Expeditions in Computing for the development of RoboBees, a colony of small-scale mobile robotic devices.

The collaborators envision that the Nature-inspired research could lead to a greater understanding of how to artificially mimic the collective behavior and “intelligence” of a bee colony; foster new methods for designing and building an electronic surrogate nervous system able to skillfully sense and adapt to changing environments; and advance work on the construction of small-scale flying mechanical devices. The researchers anticipate the devices will open up a wide range of discoveries and practical innovations, advancing fields ranging from entomology and developmental biology to amorphous computing and electrical engineering.

By leveraging existing breakthroughs from Professor Robert Wood’s Microrobotics Lab, which conducted the first successful flight of a life-sized robotic fly in 2007, the team will explore ways to emulate such aerobatic feats in their proposed devices. In addition, achieving autonomous flight will require compact high-energy power sources and associated electronics, integrated seamlessly into the ‘body’ of the machine.

The robotic platform for the colony of artificial bees will be designed using principles derived from insect biomechanics and the fluid dynamics of flapping wings. Proper design of all mechanical and aeromechanical components of the robotic bee are crucial, since propulsive efficiency will determine flight time, and payload limitations will determine the size and mass available for sensing, communication, and other on-board electronics. However, unlike the real bees, scientists confirm that the robots will not have stingers.

Similarly, actuator power requirements necessitate the development of efficient drive electronics, and require portable power sources with high energy-to-weight ratios. Therefore, a rigorous study of the coupled mechanics and aerodynamics of an insect-scale vehicle is essential to the success of this project.

One of the most complicated areas of exploration will be the creation of a suite of artificial “smart” sensors, similar to bee’s eyes and antennae. Professor Gu-Yeon Wei explains that the ultimate aim is to design dynamic hardware and software that serves as the device’s ‘brain,’ controlling and monitoring flight, sensing objects such as fellow devices and other objects, and coordinating simple decision-making.

This will include sensors for proprioception and exteroception, an electronic nervous system (ENS), and control algorithms. The research of the RoboBee brain will be focused on computationally-efficient control, compact and efficient sensors, and energy-efficient electronic hardware.

In order to mimic the sophisticated behavior of a real colony of insects, the research will involve the development of sophisticated coordination algorithms, communications methods (i.e., the ability for individual machines to ‘talk’ to one another and the hive), and global-to-local programming tools to simulate the ways groups of real bees rely upon one another to scout, forage, and plan.

Coordinated behavior by the colony has the potential to dramatically increase effectiveness over each RoboBee operating independently. This requires new approaches for robust communication, coordination algorithms, and new models for programming the colony as a whole. The RoboBees colony shares characteristics with sensor networks, robot swarms, and modular robots. In all of these systems, the goal is to achieve high-level robustness from individuals with limited resources and reliability.

The investigators, primarily based at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), will coordinate efforts with faculty from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard and Northeastern University’s Department of Biology. In addition, Centeye, a microelectronics firm in Washington, D.C., specializing in vision chip and visual sensor technology, will contribute technical knowledge. A number of the collaborators are core faculty members of the newly created Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. As the work fits particularly well with Wyss’s mission of “creating new materials and devices using Nature’s design principles,” the Institute, along with SEAS, will play a critical role in supporting the research, providing laboratory space and in-kind financial support.

The team will also create an interactive exhibit in the Museum of Science, Boston, in order to teach and inspire future scientists and engineers

2 Comments »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

More and more applications of Biomimicry especially in Computers. Alas We have to turn to NATURE to solve COMPLEX Problems with SIMPLE solutions!


Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 20 February 2011 at 6:48 pm

Skin cell gun sprays stem cells for fast recovery from serious burns

By gd

6 February 2011 9 Comments

Spray-on skin that could help you heal your skin within several days after a serious burn seems as something we used to see in science fiction, but that technology has been developed worldwide for over 5 years. Compared to other currently available skin regeneration or replacement methods, this method shortens the time needed for generation of replacement skin, time needed for rehabilitation, and it is more affordable.

WARNING: The video below contains some graphic images of burns and injuries that are not suitable for everyone. We don’t suggest watching if you have a weak stomach.

Spray-on skin was pioneered in Australia by Dr Fiona Wood AM, who patented her invention of spray on skin for burns victims. She was leading a committed team in the fight to save 28 Bali bombing patients suffering from between 2 and 92 percent body burns, deadly infections and delayed shock. Unlike previous techniques of skin culturing which require 21 days to produce enough cells to cover major burns, her method reduced the period to only 5 days.

The research has also been developed a couple of years ago in UK and by the US military which funds various researches related to regeneration and faster healing. They funded a research at University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine where researchers developed a prototype gun that creates spray-on skin developed by military scientists.

Instead growing sheets of skin for a period which can last over a month, this approach uses stem cells which are harvested from a small patch of healthy skin from the victim or a donor. Afterwards, it is put into a solution and sprayed back on to the affected area. According to Dr Jörg Gerlach from the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the whole process takes only 90 minutes and the burns can heal within four days. It eliminates a major flaw of existing burns treatment, the time taken to grow new layers of skin in the lab, during which time patients can die from infection.

“What we’re doing is taking the cells, isolating them, and, in the same procedure on the same day, we’re putting the cells onto the wound”, said Gerlach. “The progenitor cells can act immediately. The most critical cells are present, and we are using those cells right away from the patient. We just need to take care that we are distributing the cells nicely over the wound.”

After creating the liquid, it is loaded into a sterile syringe in the skin cell gun and sprayed on the patient’s burned area. After being sprayed, the patient’s wound is covered with a special dressing that provides glucose, sugar, amino acids, antibiotics and electrolytes to the treated area, in order to provide nutrition and clean the wound until the stem cells establish their conversion.

The prototype skin cell gun has already been used to help several patients. So, what is the reason we aren’t seeing this technology used worldwide? Since there is no information about pricing related to this particular technology, I’ll use a comparison to a similar method used a couple of years ago by UK researchers where costs were about $9,000 a day. Due to advance in this technology, and the increasing number of competitors in this field, we do believe this treatment should be more affordable today. In any case, if you compare it to the average hospital stay of a burn victim which lasts for two to three weeks and costs which can reach over $3,000 per day, this method proves less expensive.

UPDATE: We wanted to provide our readers with answers and satisfy our curiosity, and Dr Jörg Gerlach provided us additional information.

“The patient shown was treated with a preliminary prototype and we expect to have our final prototype ready in a few months. The technology is not yet FDA approved, so no device can be purchased. The skin gun price will probably be in the range of $9,000″, Gerlach said for RobAid.

He added that they are in the phase-I work and have to go through phase-II and II clinical studies, and he estimates they’ll need around 4 years. They are developing an electronically processor controlled pneumatic device in a collaboration with a small prototyping company in Berlin, Germany, that does not injure the cells during spraying and bases on medical disposables.

“It is important to mention that there was a misleading statement in the video. What was shown was the patient after one year. His surgeon told him that the wound has healed, but that meant a dry wound without the need of a dressing or bandage. Of course the skin looked still like a wound in the healing process after 4 days”, said Gerlach. “Only over time it became as before the burn. For several months there was a discolorization, meaning that the pigment cells needed much more time for regeneration than the keratinocytes – but that is a positive sign that there was a need for such a therapy, since the pigment cells are in the deeper parts of the skin.”

I was interested have they used the same method to treat some forms of local skin diseases, and Gerlach replied: “I am very sorry to say that our work does relate only to acute burns, and here second degree cases. We can not offer treatments for a situation several months after the injury. This technology is not able to address scars or other conditions like vitiligo, vascular conditions, hair loss or acne. I am not aware of groups which could offer a solution to those problems

9 Comments »

  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Very good innovation. Major breakthrough in SKIN SURGERY.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 20 February 2011 at 6:54 pm

Mimosa biomimicry inspires new adaptive structures

By Rob Aid

20 February 2011One Comment

Researchers at University of Michigan (U-M) and Penn State University are studying how plants like the Mimosa can change shape, and they’re working to replicate the mechanisms with artificial cells. Currently, their artificial cells are palm-size and larger, but they’re trying to minify them by using microstructures and nanofibers to construct them. They’re also exploring how to replicate the mechanisms by which plants heal themselves.

“This is quite different from other traditional adaptive materials approaches”, said Kon-Well Wang, Mechanical engineering professor at U-M. “In general, people use solid-state materials to make adaptive structures. This is really a unique concept inspired by biology.”

The Mimosa is among the plant varieties that exhibit specialized “nastic motions” – movements noticeable in real time with the naked eye. Its capability to fold its leaves when touched is inspiring a new class of adaptive structures designed to twist, bend, stiffen and even heal themselves. The phenomenon is made possible by osmosis (the flow of water in and out of plants’ cells) which enables the plant to fill or empty some of its cells with water. These microscopic shifts allow the plants to move and change shape on a larger scale.

“We know that plants can deform with large actuation through this pumping action”, said Wang. “This and several other characteristics of plant cells and cell walls have inspired us to initiate ideas that could concurrently realize many of the features that we want to achieve for adaptive structures.”

Erik Nielsen, assistant professor in the U-M Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, believes nastic movements might be a good place to start trying to replicate plant motions because they don’t require new growth or a reorganization of cells.

“These rapid, nastic motions are based on cells and tissues that are already there”, said Nielsen. “It’s easy for a plant to build new cells and tissues during growth, but it’s not as easy to engineer an object or machine to completely change the way it’s organized. We hope studying these motions can inform us about how to make efficient adaptive materials that display some of the same types of flexibility that we see in biological systems.”

At U-M, Michael Mayer, associate professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, is also involved in the research. At Penn State, the project involves Charles Bakis, distinguished professor of engineering sciences and mechanics, and Christopher Rahn, professor of mechanical engineering.

When this technology matures, it could be used for shape-shifting robots which could change their shape into elephant trunks or snakes to maneuver under a bridge or through a tunnel, and then turn into something less flexible in order to grab or carry something. The researchers also believe it could be used for future morphing wings that would allow airplanes to behave more like birds by changing their wing shape and stiffness in response to their environment or the task at hand.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Biomimicry at its best in structures.

In this connection traditional methods of construction in vogue in the past in Andhra Pradesh, India are worth looking into.

In Andhra Pradesh(Some parts) people used to make bamboo frames(just like iron rod frames) for making structure to make almairahs. Bamboo’s tensile strength is equal to that of steel and it bends easily.

Also in Kenya Sisal agave plant is chopped into pieces, dried and mixed in concrete. Sisal fibre is very strong and ropes are made with it.

Also in Andhra Pradesh(India) in the earlier days in the roof construction wooden bars were used and in place where they go in the wall that portion was wrapped with a leaf called Moduga in Telugu. I saw in a demolished house after 100 years the Moduga Leaves were in tact.

Traditional methods of construction need to be revived giving a modern refinement.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India

# 21 February 2011 at 2:24 am

Wind Explorer wind-powered car traveled across Australia

By Rob Aid

16 February 2011One Comment

The Wind Explorer is a lightweight electrically-, wind- and kite-powered vehicle all in one. It might seem as a concept, but it already exists and it is on its route across the Australian continent. With extreme efficiency, the Wind Explorer combines technologies that are available today, but neither sensibly nor fully utilized. The wind explorer only uses a fraction of the energy of the most efficient cars with combustion engine of today.

Every day, in the course of the Wind Explorer’s 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) journey coast to coast straight across Australia, pilots Stefan Simmerer and Dirk Gion set up a mobile wind turbine to recharge the vehicle’s lithium-ion-batteries. As an additional source of power, they use large kites in crosswinds to pull their vehicle.

The Wind Explorer is an absolute lightweight, a wind-electromobile, an open roadster for two which weighs in at 200 kilograms including 4 blocks of 14 batteries with ceramic separators cells each and wind turbine. Its top speed is 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), but its pilots claim it that Wind Explorer performs most economic power consumption at 45-60 kilometers per hour (roughly 30-40 mph).


The Wind Explorer combines lithum-ion technology, lightweight carbon fiber sandwich technology, low friction tires and an aerodynamic form. It is so efficient that the little wind turbine carried aboard can produce enough energy for a daily distance of 250 to 400 kilometers (155 to 250 miles). By comparison: for a 100-kilometer stretch, the Wind Explorer needs roughly half the amount of electricity needed to wash and dry a load of wash.

The starting point for the continental crossing was south of Perth in Albany, Australia’s southwest-most point. From there the route followed the south coast through the Nullarbor plain, Adelaide and Melbourne all the way to Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. It has been able to cover 200 to 490-kilometer legs every day. The first 1,000 kilometers in Western Australia were spent adjusting and fine-tuning the wind turbine and lithium-ion- battery components. During this first project phase, electricity was drawn from the Australian grid. Since crossing the border to South Australia, however, the team has been relying nearly exclusively on self-generated wind power.

Although we most probably won’t see a large number of these vehicles in our surroundings, the Wind Explorer serves its intended purpose to inspire ideas about limiting the bad effects of traffic on the environment – while staying mobile as well. Who knows, maybe it inspires some kind of sport where both technology and vehicles would be perfected for better performance.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Just for Fun Application of Wind Energy.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 17 February 2011 at 10:31 am

Plasmonics with coated nanodomes for thin and affordable solar cells

By gd

4 February 2011One Comment

A multidisciplinary team of Stanford engineers led by Mike McGehee, Yi Cui and Mark Brongersma, and joined by Michael Graetzel at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is developing a new type of thin solar cell that could offer a new direction for the field. They succeeded in harnessing plasmonics – trapping light within thin solar cells to improve performance and push them one step closer to daily reality.

“Plasmonics makes it much easier to improve the efficiency of solar cells”, said McGehee, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at the Stanford University and director of the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics – a multidisciplinary, multi-university team tackling the challenges of thin-film solar cells.

Plasmonics is the study of the interaction of light and metal. Under precise circumstances, these interactions create a flow of high-frequency, dense electrical waves rather than electron particles. The electronic pulse travels in extremely fast waves of greater and lesser density, like sound through the air.

“Using plasmonics we can absorb the light in thinner films than ever before”, he added. “The thinner the film, the closer the charged particles are to the electrodes. In essence, more electrons can make it to the electrode to become electricity.”

McGehee and team members spread a thin layer of batter on a transparent, electrically conductive base. This batter is mostly titania, a semi-porous metal which is also transparent to light. Next, they use their nano-mould of iron to imprint the dentures which remind of a honey comb. After they make the dentures, they add a layer of a light-sensitive dye which dentures and potential cracks inside the imprint. At the end, they added a layer of silver, which hardens almost immediately. The result is a pattern of nanodomes on the light-ward side of the silver.

This layer of silver acts as a mirror, scattering unabsorbed light back into the dye for another shot at collection, and it enables the reaction between the light and the silver nanodomes to produce plasmonic effects. According to researchers, the reflectors without them will not produce the desired effect, and the nanodomes must be just the right diameter and height, and spaced according to their findings, to fully optimize the plasmonics.

The photons enter and pass through the transparent base and the titania (the waffle), at which point some photons would be absorbed by the light-sensitive dye (the butter), creating an electric current. Most of the remaining photons would hit the silver back reflector and bounce back into the solar cell. A certain portion of the photons that reach the silver, however, will strike the nanodomes and cause plasmonic waves to course outward.

In recent years, much hope has been directed toward these lightweight, flexible cells that use photosensitive dyes to generate electricity. These cells have many advantages, because they are less energy intensive and less costly to produce. They are thinner even than other “thin” solar cells, and as you probably know, thinness enables higher flexibility. Thus, they are printable on flexible bases that can be rolled up and taken virtually anywhere. Many use non-toxic, abundantly available materials, as well – a huge plus in the push for sustainability.

The downsides of this technology are its efficiency (about 8% of light is converted into electricity), and its durability (about 7 years under continuous use outside). In comparison, the bulkier commercial solar technologies available today have reached 25% efficiency, and certain advanced applications exceeded 40% in efficiency, and the commercial standard is 20 to 30 years of durability.

Nonetheless, the researchers believe that if they can convert just 15 percent of the light into electricity, and increase the lifespan to a decade, we might soon find ourselves in the age of personal solar cells. I must agree that there is no need for expensive and more durable technologies due to progress in that field of technology which would require you to change the solar cells used to power your home once a significantly efficient technology emerges.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Improvement in cost Effective solar cell technology.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 5 February 2011 at 11:55 am

MIT researchers develop self-repairing photovoltaic technology

By gd

27 September 2010

One of the problems with harvesting sunlight is that sunlight leads to a gradual degradation of many systems developed to harness it. But plants have adopted an interesting strategy to address this issue by constantly breaking down their light-capturing molecules and reassembling them from scratch, thus renewing the basic structures that capture the sun’s energy (for example, a leaf on a tree is recycling its proteins about every 45 minutes).

That process has inspired Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and his team of graduate students and researchers to create a novel set of self-assembling molecules that can turn sunlight into electricity. The molecules can be repeatedly broken down and then reassembled quickly, just by adding or removing an additional solution.

MIT”s Strano Research Group produced synthetic molecules called phospholipids that form disks which provide structural support for other molecules that actually respond to light, in structures called reaction centers which release electrons when struck by particles of light. The disks, carrying the reaction centers, are in a solution where they attach themselves spontaneously to carbon nanotubes. The nanotubes hold the phospholipid disks in a uniform alignment so that the reaction centers can all be exposed to sunlight at once, and they also act as wires to collect and channel the flow of electrons knocked loose by the reactive molecules.

The system Strano’s team produced is made up of seven different compounds, including the carbon nanotubes, the phospholipids, and the proteins that make up the reaction centers, which under the right conditions spontaneously assemble themselves into a light-harvesting structure that produces an electric current.

“We’re basically imitating tricks that nature has discovered over millions of years” — in particular, “reversibility, the ability to break apart and reassemble”, said Strano. The team, which included postdoctoral researcher Moon-Ho Ham and graduate student Ardemis Boghossian, came up with the system based on a theoretical analysis, but then decided to build a prototype cell to test it out. They ran the cell through repeated cycles of assembly and disassembly over a 14-hour period, with no loss of efficiency.

For conventional silicon-based photovoltaic cells, there is little degradation in performance through time, but many new systems (which are developed for lower cost, higher efficiency, flexibility or other improved characteristics) can have a significant degradation in performance. The individual reactions of these new molecular structures in converting sunlight are about 40 percent efficient. Theoretically, the efficiency of the structures could be close to 100 percent. But in the initial work, the concentration of the structures in the solution was low, so the overall efficiency of the device (the amount of electricity produced for a given surface area) was very low. They are working now to find ways to greatly increase the concentration.

Comment

  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Excellent. Congratulations.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 20 January 2011 at 6:44 pm

Fruit fly nervous system biomimicry for faster computer networks

By Rob Aid

15 January 2011 One Comment

The fruit fly has evolved a method for arranging the tiny, hair-like structures it uses to feel and hear the world. A team of researchers in Israel and at Carnegie Mellon University were inspired by that method and they think it could be used for more effectively deployed wireless sensor networks, such as environmental monitoring, where sensors are dispersed in a lake or waterway, or systems which control swarms of robots.

With a minimum of communication and without advance knowledge of how they are connected with each other, the cells in the fly’s developing nervous system manage to organize themselves in a way in which a small number of cells serve as leaders that provide direct connections with every other nerve cell. The researchers used the insights gained from fruit flies to design a new distributed computing algorithm.

“Computational and mathematical models have long been used by scientists to analyze biological systems”, said one of the researchers Ziv Bar-Joseph, a faculty member of the Lane Center for Computational Biology and the Machine Learning Department in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. “Here we’ve reversed the strategy, studying a biological system to solve a long-standing computer science problem.”

Today’s large-scale computer systems and the nervous system of a fly both take a distributive approach to performing tasks. Though the thousands or even millions of processors in a computing system and the millions of cells in a fly’s nervous system must work together to complete a task, none of the elements need to have complete knowledge of what’s going on, and the systems must function despite potential failures of individual elements.

In the computing world, one step toward creating a distributive system is to find a small set of processors that can be used to rapidly communicate with the rest of the processors in the network — what graph theorists call a maximal independent set (MIS). Every processor in such a network is either a leader (a member of the MIS) or it is connected to a leader, and the leaders are not interconnected. A biological analogy is the similar arrangement which occurs in the fruit fly, which uses tiny bristles to sense the outside world. Each bristle develops from a nerve cell, called a sensory organ precursor (SOP), which connects to adjoining nerve cells, but does not connect with other SOPs.

The common solutions to select a MIS use a probabilistic method (similar to rolling a dice) in which some processors identify themselves as leaders, based in part on how many connections they have with other processors. This selection process is rapid, but it requires lots of complicated messages being sent back and forth across the network, and it requires that all of the processors know in advance how they are connected in the network. That can be a problem for applications such as wireless sensor networks, where sensors might be distributed randomly and all might not be within communication range of each other.

During the larval and pupal stages of a fly’s development, the nervous system also uses a probabilistic method to select the cells that will become SOPs. In the fly, however, the cells have no information about how they are connected to each other. As various cells self-select themselves as SOPs, they send out chemical signals to neighboring cells that inhibit those cells from also becoming SOPs. This process continues for three hours, until all of the cells are either SOPs or are neighbors to an SOP, and the fly emerges from the pupal stage.

The researchers noted that the probability that any cell in the fly will self-select increases not as a function of connections (as in the typical MIS algorithm for computer networks) but as a function of time. The method does not require advance knowledge of how the cells are arranged. The communication between cells is as simple as can be. The researchers created a computer algorithm based on the fly’s approach and proved that it provides a fast solution to the MIS problem.

“The run time was slightly greater than current approaches, but the biological approach is efficient and more robust because it doesn’t require so many assumptions”, said Bar-Joseph. “This makes the solution applicable to many more applications.”

One Comment

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Another case of solving complex problem through nature’s simple solution.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India

# 17 January 2011 at 12:28 am

Sunswift IVy sets the world record for the fastest solar car

By gd

7 January 2011 One Comment

University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sunswift solar car has been developed for almost 15 years, and its current version – Sunswift IVy – managed to set a new Guinness World Record as the world’s fastest vehicle powered by the sun. The car smashed the world solar car speed record at the HMAS Albatross navy base airstrip in Nowra, traveling at an average speed of 88km/h (almost 55 mph).

“We broke the record at 10.32 this morning”, said Daniel Friedman, Sunswift project manager. “The Guinness World Book of Records adjudicators were on hand, so it’s all official. We’ve even been handed our certificate.”

The speed was significantly faster than the previous record of 79km/h (49 mph). The record was set for cars that are powered exclusively by silicon solar cells. Although Sunswift IVy normally uses its cells to charge a 25kg (bit more than 55 pounds) battery to operate, the battery was removed for the record attempt. Friedman said the team was excited that the car performed so well, because they expected to set the record when the sun was at its peak at noon.

“We hope the news will spur a lot more interest in solar energy and the debate about renewable energy technology”, Friedman added.

Sunswift IVy is designed and built by UNSW students. It has a similar size as an average sedan, but with half the height and 1/10th of the weight of an average car. While students are also usually the drivers of the carbon-fiber race vehicle, professional racing driver Barton Mawer and Craig Davis, from electric car firm Tesla’s European operations, were drivers for this attempt.

“We were confident… we only needed a little bit of sunshine and that was enough”, Mawer said. “I’ve been lucky enough to drive racing cars all around the world but this was right up there as a buzz. To grab the world record is just great for the whole team, and the University of New South Wales put in a big effort to get this done and hopefully we can keep chipping away at it to raise the bar.”

IVy produces about 1200 watts – the same power it takes to run a toaster. The car managed to reach higher speeds, with a top speed of 103km/h (64 mph) during the 3000km (1865 miles) Global Green Challenge race from Darwin to Adelaide in 2009, in which the team won the first place in their category.

Sure it looks a bit large and uncomfortable, and Maver said the car handled reasonably well, “although I think I gave the team a bit of a scare when I got up on two wheels on the turn”. However, it is a start that demonstrates how we could incorporate solar technology in order to provide (additional) power for the vehicles of the future. Did I mention the Sunswift project is open source?

Comment

  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Congratulations to those involved in the car fabrication.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 8 January 2011 at 6:01 am

Word Lens – augmented reality app able to translate foreign text around you

By gd

18 December 2010 One Comment

Here is an article about an application that offers on-the-fly video translations or processing from the printed text it is able to recognize. Although the news about Word Lens from Quest Visual was viral a few days ago, we didn’t publish our article about it before we managed to get some additional information about the application and future plans of its developers.

Word Lens is a product of two and a half years of work from John DeWeese and Otavio Good. As we previously mentioned, it is able to translate or process text it recognizes and offer similarly formatted augmented reality image on the gadget’s display. That makes it ideal as an aid when you’re visiting a country without knowing their native language.

The app itself is free and it comes with an option that lets you reverse words it is able to recognize in the scene, or delete them altogether. However, if you want to use its translation abilities, you have to pay to download a package for a one-way language translation. There are only 2 packages available at the moment – English to Spanish, and Spanish to English. The developers said they are also working on translations between other European languages and will expand to other World languages from there.

It doesn’t require any internet or phone connection in order to operate, so you don’t have to worry about the rates while in roaming. On the other hand, it would probably be a lot more powerful and useful if it had such an option. The translations are reminding of those you get from services such as Babelfish or Google Translate, and are mostly crude. However they prove useful because they provide enough information to get the general idea of the original text.

It isn’t made to translate huge chunks of text either, so forget about reading full articles or books written in a foreign language. Word Lens is incapable to detect handwritten notes or quirky fonts, and those words stay unaltered. Another small remark about the functionality is the option that should be automated, and it is related to detection of the phone or gadget orientation. It was unable to translate the text while the phone was held horizontally, until we changed the option to landscape interpretation.

You can capture translated stills with a button in the menu located at the bottom of the screen, however, there is no option to save them to your device. Another useful feature it has is the book icon which launches a dictionary based on its database and translates the words you type into it. Basically, it is handy when you need to translate short texts, such as signs, notes, or restaurant menus.

Currently, it works only on suitable Apple gadgets, such as iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or fourth generation iPod touch’s. However, the developers claim they do plan to make releases for other platforms (such as Android) in the future. Although it needs tweaking, this application shows a great potential to help the travelers in a relatively simple point-and-use manner. Let’s hope the developers get stimulated by the feedback to develop even better application.

One Comment

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Excellent.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 19 December 2010 at 5:54 am

A nanoscale insight on lithium batteries could increase battery durability

By gd

12 December 2010 One Comment

Battery developers know that recharging and using lithium batteries over and over damages the electrode materials. Researchers at the DOE’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab on the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) grounds have been observing how nanowires composed of tin oxide rapidly change shape and deform when they are being charged.

“Nanowires of tin oxide were able to withstand the deformations associated with electrical flow better than bulk tin oxide, which is a brittle ceramic”, said Chongmin Wang, a materials scientist at the lab. “It reminds me of making a rope from steel. You wind together thinner wires rather than making one thick rope.”

Wang, PNNL chemist Wu Xu and Jianyu Huang from the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Sandia National Lab, built a small battery with lithium cobalt oxide as the anode and a cathode composed of a single tin oxide nanowire. The team used a specially outfitted transmission electron microscope (TEM) to set up a miniature battery. This instrument allowed them to image smaller wires of about 200 nanometers in diameter (about a fifth the width of the previous nanowires) while they charged it.

The miniature battery included a positive electrode of lithium cobalt oxide and a negative electrode made from thin nanowires of tin oxide. Between the two electrodes, an electrolyte provided a conduit for lithium ions and a barrier for electrons. The electrolyte was specially designed to withstand the conditions in the TEM. When the team charged the miniature battery at a constant voltage, the wire twisted and increased its total volume by about 250 percent.

Apparently, the ions cause a reaction front to move through the nanowire creating a moving “medusa zone” or cloud of dense dislocations. These dislocations are nucleated and absorbed at the moving front.

The researchers noted that the nanowire is in a crystalline state at the beginning, but the ions convert the tin oxide into a glassy state. They think the amount of accumulated deformation might provide a clue as to why some of these battery materials wear down. However, they also note that tin oxide nanowires perform better than bulk tin oxide cathodes.

The reason that atomic-scale examination of the charging and discharging process of a single nanowire had not been possible was because the high vacuum in a TEM made it difficult to use a liquid electrolyte. Part of the Huang group’s achievement was to demonstrate that a low-vapor-pressure ionic liquid (essentially, molten salt) could function in the vacuum environment.

“The methodology that we developed should stimulate extensive real-time studies of the microscopic processes in batteries and lead to a more complete understanding of the mechanisms governing battery performance and reliability”, said Huang. “Our experiments also lay a foundation for in-situ studies of electrochemical reactions, and will have broad impact in energy storage, corrosion, electrodeposition and general chemical synthesis research field.”

One Comment

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Good innovation for battery durability.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 19 December 2010 at 5:56 am

Process desalinates water, produces hydrogen and treats wastewater

By gd

11 December 2010 One Comment

There are many efforts to invent ways to make water desalination a low energy consumption process. Water purification usually requires a lot of energy as well, while utility companies need large amounts of water for energy production. Their goal is to find a low-energy-required treatment technology. Researchers from the University of Colorado Denver College of Engineering and Applied Science may have discovered an answer.

Last year, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology incorporated desalination into microbial fuel cells, a new technology that can treat wastewater and produce electricity simultaneously. However, putting it into practical use proved to be challenging due to current fluctuation.

Six months after the initial hypothesis, a team of researchers from the University of Colorado Denver, lead by Zhiyong (Jason) Ren, discovered that this process can produce hydrogen gas, which can be stored and used for energy production, thus increasing the feasibility of the previously envisioned technology.

“Ships and their crews need energy generated on-site as well as fresh drinking water”, said Ren. “Thus, the Navy is very interested in both low energy desalination and renewable energy production.”

A recent study by Logan group at Penn State University also demonstrated similar findings in that the energy contained in hydrogen gas not only can offset the energy used for the desalination process but has surplus that can be used for downstream processing.

“This discovery is a milestone for our new research group”, said Ren. “We are very excited about our findings and will continue working to improve the technology.”

Next steps for Ren and his team will include using real wastewater to test the efficiency as well as optimizing the reactor configuration to improve system performance. For more information read the study published in Environmental Science & Technology named “Concurrent Desalination and Hydrogen Generation Using Microbial Electrolysis and Desalination Cells”.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Excellent. Hydrogen is the future Energy Carrier.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 12 December 2010 at 10:11 am

Green architecture – The Park Hotel in Hyderabad, India

By gd

29 November 2010 One Comment

The recently completed The Park Hotel Hyderabad, the flagship hotel for The Park Hotel Group, has achieved the first LEED Gold certification for a hotel in India. This 49 382 square-meter (531,550-square-foot), 270-room hotel infuses a modern, sustainable design with the local craft traditions, and is influenced by the region’s reputation as a center for the design and production of gemstones and textiles.

The building’s three sides wrap around an elevated central courtyard that can be accessed from the hotel lobby. This flexible outdoor area is protected from strong winds, and serves as an extension of the restaurants inside. It features a private dining court and a swimming pool, which can be seen from the adjacent areas and the nightclub below, with moving patterns formed by light passing through the pool’s water. The outdoor courtyard was designed to be a multifunctional space accessible from the lobby, restaurants, and bar that surround it. Elevated three stories above ground, this veranda provides views to Hussain Sagar Lake and the city.

Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM), a New York-based architectural firm, the project is distinctive for its profound implementation of sustainable design strategies, with special attention paid to the building’s relationship to its site, daylighting and views. Solar studies influenced the site orientation and building massing, with program spaces concentrated in the north and south facades, and service circulation on the west to reduce heat gain. The hotel rooms are raised to allow more expansive views, situated on top of a podium comprised of retail spaces, art galleries, and banquet halls open to guests and visitors.

The facade provides a range of transparency according to the needs of the spaces inside. Perforated and embossed metal screens over a high-performance glazing system give privacy to the hotel rooms while allowing diffused daylight to enter the interior spaces, and provides acoustic insulation from trains passing nearby. The opaque areas of the cladding shield the hotel’s service areas from public view.

The final design solution is a computer-derived pattern composed of custom panels that could be fabricated through a programmed laser punch machine that the fabricator had purchased. The pattern creates a range of gradients that change from open or “perforated” to closed or “embossed” shapes. For example, the south façade has more open perforations while the west has more closed embossed shapes due to increased solar exposure. The shape of the facade’s openings, as well as the three-dimensional patterns on the screens themselves, were inspired by the forms of the metalwork of the crown jewels of the Nizam, the city’s historic ruling dynasty.


The interiors continue the jewelry concept – with silver, gold and gem tones throughout. Many of the interior surfaces, including the mosaics, reflect local designs, which were implemented by artists and craftsmen from the region. The materials used in construction and interiors of the 7 stars Park Hotel in Hyderabad have a significant amount of recycled materials.

While the building envelope impacts the energy infrastructure, the building systems impact the water infrastructure. Since the government of India has instituted mandatory water conservation measures for all new buildings, the Park Hotel adhered to these guidelines by installing an on-site water treatment facility. The on-site equipment treats sewage and grey water generated in the building and uses it for irrigation on site. Additionally, water storage tanks in the building collect and distribute rain water for non-potable use inside the hotel.

The final selection for glass is 35mm insulated glazed unit by China Southern Glass, thicker than the industry standard IGU of 24mm. The unit make up was a 6mm laminated outer light, at 24mm air gap, and a 5mm inner light with a double low-e coating on the outer surfaces. Aside better heat insulation, the glass was chosen because it offers better sound insulation. The cooling loads generated from solar heat gain were approximately 20% lower than the baseline model.

One Comment »

Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

Excellent hotel in our State Capital. The Park Hotel Group has excellent reputation for quality.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 6 December 2010 at 1:11 am



MIT researchers on a path to revive solar heat harvesting

By Rob Aid

30 October 2010 One Comment

Researchers explored the thermo-chemical approach to capture solar energy since the 1970s, but nobody could find a chemical that could reliably and reversibly switch between two states, absorbing sunlight to go into one state and then releasing heat when it reverted to the first state. Such a compound was discovered in 1996, but it included ruthenium, a rare and expensive element. Researchers at MIT have revealed that another material, called fulvalene diruthenium, can accomplish similar energy storage and release properties.

Essentially, the molecule undergoes a structural transformation when it absorbs sunlight, putting the molecule into a higher-energy state where it can remain stable indefinitely. Then, triggered by a small addition of heat or a catalyst, it snaps back to its original shape, releasing heat in the process. But the team found that the process is a bit more complex.

“It turns out there’s an intermediate step that plays a major role”, said Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In this intermediate step, the molecule forms a semistable configuration partway between the two previously known states. The two-step process helps explain why the molecule is so stable, why the process is easily reversible and also why substituting other elements for ruthenium has not worked so far..

In effect, explained Grossman, this makes it possible to produce a “rechargeable heat battery” that can repeatedly store and release heat gathered from sunlight or other sources. In principle, Grossman said, a fuel made from fulvalene diruthenium, when its stored heat is released, “can get as hot as 200 degrees C, plenty hot enough to heat your home, or even to run an engine to produce electricity.”

“It takes many of the advantages of solar-thermal energy, but stores the heat in the form of a fuel. It’s reversible, and it’s stable over a long term. You can use it where you want, on demand. You could put the fuel in the sun, charge it up, then use the heat, and place the same fuel back in the sun to recharge”, said Grossman

In addition to Grossman, the work was carried out by Yosuke Kanai of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Varadharajan Srinivasan of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Steven Meier and Peter Vollhardt of the University of California, Berkeley. Their report “Mechanism of Thermal Reversal of the (Fulvalene)tetracarbonyldiruthenium Photoisomerization: Toward Molecular Solar–Thermal Energy Storage” was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Grossman plans to collaborate with Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry, in order to design new, inexpensive materials that exhibit this same reversible process. The tight coupling between computational materials design and experimental synthesis and validation should accelerate the discovery of promising new candidate used for solar thermal fuels.

Comment

  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:

“Rechargeable heat battery” that can repeatedly store and release heat gathered from sunlight or other sources, is indeed a breakthrough technology in the field. My congratulations to MIT Researchers.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

# 7 November 2010 at 12:36 am

MIT researchers developing portable solar-powered desalination system
By gd
16 October 2010 One Comment
Although systems that remove salt from saltwater (desalination systems) have existed for decades, they are typically large-scale installations that require lots of energy to operate. A team of researchers from MIT has designed a solar-powered desalination system that could be rapidly deployed in remote areas, such as desert locations or farms and small villages in developing countries.
Led by Steven Dubowsky, a professor in both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and graduate students Amy Bilton and Leah Kelley, the group built a small prototype of the system last spring to test algorithms they had developed to run it. They have since demonstrated that the prototype is capable of producing almost 303 liters (80 gallons) of water a day in a variety of weather conditions.
The systems are also designed so that they can be cost-effectively assembled from standard parts and put into operation within hours using local human capital. Another objective is to create a device that can operate efficiently over a range of solar conditions. Unlike conventional solar-powered desalination systems that run on expensive, short-life batteries when it gets cloudy, this system is designed for “optimal control”. The system’s computer can change certain variables, such as the power of the pump or the position of the valves, to maximize water output in response to changes in sunshine, temperature and water demand. Various sensors are connected to a control computer that alerts operators when to make these changes. “If it’s very sunny, the system will work faster and produce more water, but even when it’s cloudy, it will still produce water”, said MechE graduate student and team member Kelley.

The system relies on reverse osmosis, a filtration method that removes molecules and ions such as salt from solutions by applying pressure to the fluid as it flows over a permeable membrane. This process begins as photons, or particles of light from the sun, fall onto a solar photovoltaic panel and excite electrons in that panel. This activity generates electric power that pushes seawater through various pumps until it is sent (at extremely high pressure) into a vessel that has a permeable membrane made of polymer material. As a result of the high pressure, the water that diffuses through the membrane has had minerals removed.
Dubowsky and his students are trying to ease the device operability as they gather data on how the system performs. Recently, they sent a small-scale unit to the Middle East for testing. In addition to trying to determine ways to produce more water, they are looking at how they might change the system’s design to make the system more durable.
They estimate that a larger version of the unit, which would cost about $8,000 to construct, could provide about 3,785 liters (1,000 gallons) of water per day. Dubowsky and his students also estimate that one C-130 cargo airplane could transport two dozen desalination units — enough to provide water for 10,000 people.
One Comment »
Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:
Good.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
# 19 October 2010 at 4:15 am
Princeton Univeristy researchers developing plastic electronics
By gd
14 October 2010 2 Comments


A new technique developed by Princeton University engineers for producing electricity-conducting plastics could dramatically lower the cost of manufacturing solar panels. By overcoming technical hurdles to producing plastics that are translucent, malleable and able to conduct electricity, the researchers have opened the door to broader use of the materials in a wide range of electrical devices.
The area of research, known as “organic electronics” because plastics are carbon-based like living creatures, holds promise for producing new types of electronic devices and new ways of manufacturing existing technologies, but has been hampered by the mysterious loss of conductivity associated with moldable plastics.
“People didn’t understand what was happening”, said Yueh-Lin Loo, an associate professor of chemical engineering, who led the Princeton team. “We discovered that in making the polymers moldable, their structures are trapped in a rigid form, which prevented electrical current from traveling through them.”
Once they understood the underlying problem, Loo and her colleagues developed a way to relax the structure of the plastics by treating them with an acid after they were molded. By using that method, they were able to make a plastic transistor. They produced the electrodes of the transistor by printing the plastic onto a surface, a fast and cheap method similar to the way an ink-jet printer produces a pattern on a piece of paper.
Loo said the technique potentially could be scaled up for mass production presses akin to those used to print newspapers. “Being able to essentially paint on electronics is a big deal”, Loo said. “You could distribute the plastics in cartridges the way printer ink is sold, and you wouldn’t need exotic machines to print the patterns.”
By allowing plastic solar cells to be manufactured using low-cost printing techniques and by replacing indium tin oxide (ITO) as the primary conducting material, the plastics the team developed hold potential for lowering the cost of solar panels. Currently, the electricity generated by plastic solar cells is collected by a transparent metal conductor made of ITO. The conductor must be transparent so that sunlight can pass through it to the materials in solar cells that absorb the light energy.
A rare and pricey byproduct of mining, ITO had come under increasing demand for use in flat-screen televisions, mobile phones and other devices with display screens. “The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing”, Loo said. “To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, we need to find a replacement for ITO. Our conducting plastics allow sunlight to pass through them, making them a viable alternative.”
The researchers anticipate that the plastics also could replace expensive metals used in other electronic devices, such as flexible displays. In addition, the scientists are beginning to explore the use of the plastics in biomedical sensors that would display a certain color if a person had an infection. For instance, the plastics turn from yellow to green when exposed to nitric oxide, a chemical compound produced during ear infections in children.
“Imagine tinted windows that can also generate power during the day”, Loo said in the video above. “Imagine disposable sensors that would change color if the water source is contaminated, or yet think of smart plastic patches that can monitor your health and deliver medication when you’re sick. The possibilities are endless.”
2 Comments »
• Dr.A.Jagadeesh said:
Great Future.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
# 19 October 2010 at 4:26 am


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