As the planet is hastily running short of natural resources, communities are looking to waste as an asset. Anything from biochar to human excrement are now staples in energy production. To bring everything together, engineers have created the NEWgenerator, which processes materials found in sewage.
First, the waste is fed into a bioreactor, where anaerobic microorganisms break down the solids and produce biogas.
The methane produced is chemical-free and perfect for cooking and heating. To complete the cycle, USF engineers have also made the most of liquid and solid waste.
The water that passes through is… disinfected with chlorine, and while the end result is probably still not drinkable, it’s clean enough to use to flush the toilets in the block or irrigate crops.
The remainder of the waste can be used as fertilizer. So far, the system is testing waters in India and South Africa. Each device is usable for up to 100 people a day, with future versions projected to reach thousands. Considering that millions are without access to basic amenities, the NEWgenerator is a game-changer for marginalized communities.
Nowadays, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never been truer. We’re turning garbage into anything from furniture to vodka, and it seems we can push the limits even further. Engineering group Arup is proving just that, proposing the use of food waste in building materials.
The report aims “at demonstrating that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible.” This could be done by diverting, in part, organic waste that is traditionally managed through landﬁll, incineration and composting to become a resource for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products.
According to Arup, bananas can produce textiles, while mushrooms can grow actual towers. It seems, with food waste, it’s best to let one’s imagination run wild — and for good reasons.
Using food waste for building materials would help create a circular economy where organic waste, instead of being disposed, is the main resource… This would help ameliorate rising levels of waste and shortfalls of raw material, as well as providing the industry with cheap, low carbon materials.
Looking to renovate your home? No need for concrete fillers — just use rice!
From powering homes to treating cancer, the simple battery has come a long way. To up the ante of renewable energy sources, MIT has developed an air-breathing battery that stores energy at zero emissions.
“This battery literally inhales and exhales air, but it doesn’t exhale carbon dioxide, like humans — it exhales oxygen,” says Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT.
Cost of production is 1/30th that of regular lithium-ion batteries. Over five years, researchers experimented with various materials such as sulfur and potassium permanganate. While its impact was a priority, pricing was also heavily considered.
“It’s a creative and interesting new concept that could potentially be an ultra-low-cost solution for grid storage,”
In the end, the battery is definitely the first of its kind and is not only unique, but highly efficient.
We all know that flu shots are a necessary evil. While microneedle patches are replacing traditional injection procedures, patients still have to undergo numerous follow-ups. Now, MIT engineers are looking to eliminate the need for multiple booster shots with an advanced micropod technology.
“We are very excited about this work because, for the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it,”
The pods, described as “tiny coffee cups” consist of an already FDA-approved material. For kicks, it’s called poly lactic-co-glycolic acid. Or just PLGA, really. The micropods have the potential to be practical in other ways, especially over long periods of time.
“The… technique could provide a new platform that can create nearly any tiny, fillable object with nearly any material, which could provide unprecedented opportunities in manufacturing in medicine and other areas,”
Because immune cells die over time and patient compliance when it comes to vaccines is low, the micropods are practically genius. Let’s face it — hospitals aren’t exactly the place to be.
Since the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, people have been doing their best to reach out to victims. Nonprofit groups are replacing ruined cars with bikes. Millionaires are welcoming displaced children into their homes. Conceivably, the best way to avoid a disaster is to be able to predict it. Thanks to scientists at MIT, there is a new algorithm that may be able to foresee extreme weather patterns.
Themistoklis Sapsis, associate professor at MIT, [said] “We have applied this framework to turbulent fluid flows… They’re encountered in climate dynamics in the form of extreme rainfall, in engineering fluid flows such as stresses around an airfoil, and acoustic instabilities inside gas turbines,”
The system is complicated — we’ll leave it at that — but it can help us formulate evasion strategies. In the past, engineers relied heavily on mathematical equations in the hopes of being able to identify extreme weather patterns. Nonetheless, the data proved to be lacking.
Sapsis said that the framework is generalisable enough to apply to a wide range of systems in which extreme events may occur. He plans to apply the technique to scenarios in which fluid flows against a boundary or wall, such as air flows around jet planes, and ocean currents against oil risers.
In their fear and dislike of Math, people tend to forget that more than just being fancy abstract numbers, algorithms do have practical, visible, and useful manifestations. And this isn’t just me promoting the subject.
So far in engineering realms, only Dyneema has given steel materials a run for their money. Now integrated into an everyday backpack, Dyneema is pushing researchers to develop more industrial-strength products. With sustainable options on the rise, wood is the first to make its way up the ladder. Owing it entirely to science, a newly developed “super wood” is 10 times stronger than its normal counterpart.
“It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and moulded at the beginning of the process.”
The magic behind it is a simple treatment and heated compression process. Super wood will likely wriggle its way into buildings and even vehicles, as the material is practically bulletproof.
“It is particularly exciting to note that the method is versatile for various species of wood and fairly easy to implement,” says engineering scientist Huajian Gao.
The affordable process that requires no more than various liquids and most any type of wood is truly inventive. I wouldn’t mind an indestructible rocker in my living room to save on furniture expenses.
Thinkers and innovators from around the world are making incessant attempts to counter food waste. Supermarkets in Norway are selling “expired” food still fit for the kitchen. Kitchen company Smarter is installing refrigerator cameras to help households monitor their food. But some groups believe food itself is where the core problem lies. Scientists have developed a genetically modified apple that doesn’t go brown, thus cutting waste and costs.
The Arctic apple… [is] the result of some very clever genetic engineering that, according to the company, “silences” the enzyme that causes regular old nature-made apples to brown.
Okanagan Specialty Foods will be selling the apples in supermarkets pre-sliced, to really drive the point. (It’s an A+ for clever marketing!) The “hacked” apples don’t necessarily have added health benefits, but their prolonged freshness will reduce waste.
“Arctic apples are one of the most studied foods of all time. They have been rigorously reviewed by… teams at the USDA, FDA, CFIA and Health Canada, based on more than ten years of data and studies, and these experts all agree that Arctic apples are as safe and healthy as other apples.” [claims the site.]
While I was hoping Arctic apples would up my resistance to the common cold, I can’t say I’m disappointed. I never liked slicing them anyway.
We may now be able to photograph planets using a makeshift super-camera, but can we defend Earth? NASA certainly thinks so and is looking to hire a planet protection officer to ward off alien microbes.
The position was created after the US ratified the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, specifically to support Article IX of the document:
“States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose.”
The annual salary projected for the position boasts six figures. In fact, it’s approximately $187,000 and that doesn’t include additional benefits. The final candidate will travel to space centers around the world — but not everything is fun and games.
The officer helps ensure something from another world, most imminently Mars, doesn’t contaminate Earth.
They help establish the equipment, protocols, and procedures to reduce… risks.
The job is not as easy as it seems, and not just anyone can qualify. Candidates must have been civilian government employees and (obviously) know a lot about space. Not to mention NASA also requires applicants to hold degrees in physical science, engineering, or mathematics. I wouldn’t be surprised if top universities saw a spike in such degrees!
More perfect human beings are coming.
The first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon
This is a first for America:
Until now, American scientists have watched with a combination of awe, envy, and some alarm as scientists elsewhere were first to explore the controversial practice. To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China.
In altering the DNA code of human embryos, the objective of scientists is to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like the blood condition beta-thalassemia. The process is termed “germline engineering” because any genetically modified child would then pass the changes on to subsequent generations via their own germ cells—the egg and sperm.
I think it’s just a matter of time before modified human embryos get implanted into a womb – which will then lead to a human race free of many inherited diseases.