British Airways Plans To Turn Trash Into Jet Fuel

British Airways may soon be powering its planes from jet fuel made from trash. The plan is to take common household waste, like coffee cups and turn it into aviation fuel. The company in an announcement on Tuesday said their plant would take in more than 500,000 tons of non-recyclable household waste annually and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 70% for every ton of sustainable jet fuel produced.

If everything goes to plan, construction of the plant will begin in 2021 and will be based in northeast Lincolnshire.


Clothing Protects You From Rain, Stains, And Allows You To Control Electronics

Researchers from Purdue University have developed innovative new clothing that allows the wearer to control electronic devices. It also keeps you fresh, dry, fashionable, clean and safe from the latest virus that’s going around. For the first time, a technique has been created that can transform any existing cloth item or textile into a self-powered e-textile containing sensors, music players or simple illumination displays using simple embroidery.

This clothing is based on omniphobic triboelectric nanogeneragtors which use simple embroidery and fluorinated molecules to embed small electronic components into clothing. This new e-textile can harvest the energy of the user to power textile-based electronics and the interface makes it possible to seamlessly communicate with machines and the Internet of Things.

Aside from protecting you from rain, stains, and bacteria, the e-textile can be washed many times in a conventional washing machine without any apparent degradation. This is an important advancement of wearable machine-human interfaces.


Talking Laser

Researchers at The Pentagon as a part of a military initiative called the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWP) have finished tesing a weapon that makes lasers talk. The weapon works by using the principle called the Laser Induced Plasma Effect, which involves firing an incredibly powerful laser to create a ball of plasma, then shooting a second laser to oscillate the plasma, creating sound waves. By firing the laser at the right frequencies, the plasma vibrations mimic human speech.

According to the news site MilitaryTimes.com, a military-ready version of this weapon will be ready in as little as five years. The reaseachers eventually hope to create a version of the laser that can send clear messages hundreds of miles away.

In the journal Optics Letters in January, Researchers at MIT is said to be working on something similar. In their version the laser would wiggle water molecules in the air near the listener’s ear, causing calculated molecular collisions that produce sound waves.


Sony’s Wearable Air Conditioner

Funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign, the electronics giant Sony is working on a wearable air conditioner that slips in the back of a shirt. Sony is calling the device the Reon Pocket, which is able to lower the temperature on your back by as much as 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

The device cools by using the peltier effect and has a reported battery life of 2 hours. Although the battery life won’t last you through a day at the park, it will keep you cool during your morning commute or daily jog.

The Reon Pocket is expected to launch in Japan first with a price equivalent to a $117. Currently the release date is March 2020. There’s no word on a release date for the US.


 

We May Soon Be Seeing Flying Cars Above Us

Flying cars were once the stuff of dreams and movies, such as Back to the Future. Recently Uber announced plans to create an air taxi service which they refer to as “Uber Elevate”. Their main goal with this service is to ease traffic congestion and shorten trip times. According to Uber, the service will be cheaper than owning a car-on a per passenger, per mile basis.

Uber estimates the taxis will be ready to launch in 2023 and plans to launch the service in Dallas-Fort Worth and Frisco, Texas areas as well as LA. Right now Uber is still in the early stages and still needs to work with aerospace partners for vehicle designs as well as creating skyports and getting the proper FAA certifications.


Robots Modeled After Ants May One Day Help In Emergency Relief Situations

Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Osaka University in Japan have created a robot modeled after trap-jaw ants called “Tribot”. These robots are designed to function in colonies, where each member has a role like leader and worker. Because Tribots are completely untethered, they are perfect for emergency relief situations and exploration missions and if a colony breaks down or malfunctions, another can take its place without disruption to the mission.

According to their paper, the researchers shared that each Tribot has it’s own battery, sensors, and can be set to different power levels. The Tribot can also be set to one of five walking styles for various terrain and circumstances: vertical jumping for height, horizontal jumping for distance, somersault jumping to clear obstacles, walking on textured terrain, and crawling on flat surfaces.

Currently, Tribots only exist as prototypes.


New Innovation Can Bring The Sense Of Touch To Robots and Prosthetic

Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee and his team from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering, have created an ultra responsive and robust artificial nervous system. This nervous system can be paired with any kind of sensor skin layers to function effectively as an electronic skin. The system known as “ACES” detects signals like the human sensory nervous system, using a network of sensors connected by a single electrical conductor, unlike the nerve bundles in the human skin.

An advantage to the ACES system is that it’s more than a 1,000 times faster than the human sensory nervous system. Electronic skin based on the ACES’s system is also able to identify the shape, texture and hardness of objects 10x faster than the blink of an eye. Another key advantage to this system is that it’s very resilient to physical damage. Previous systems had interconnected sensors, where as, the ACES system has all the sensors connected to a common electrical conductor with each sensor operating independently. This allows ACES enabled electronic skins to continue functioning as long as there is one connection between the sensor and the conductor.

This innovation could one day allow robots to perform disaster recovery tasks or take over mundane operations such as packing of items in warehouses. When it comes to disabled individuals, ACES can help develop realistic prosthetic limbs that can restore the sense of touch.

Telepathic Gaming

Researchers from the University of Washington have developed a method of playing games with just a persons mind. In their testing, 3 participants were connected using a brain-to-brain interface to play a Tetris type game. The participants were put in different rooms and couldn’t see, hear, or speak to each other.

Two people, the Senders can see the game, but can’t control the game. The third person, the Receiver is the only one that can tell the game to rotate the block or not. Besides seeing the game, the senders screens showed the word “Yes” on one side and “No” on the other side. Beneath the “Yes” option, an LED flashed 17 times per second. Beneath the “No” option, an LED flashed 15 times per second.

Once the Senders make a decision, they send it to the Receiver’s brain by concentrating on the corresponding light. Read the full article to learn more.


New Development Could Help Bring Clean Drinking Water To Millions

A solar still is a device that takes dirty or salty water and converts it into safe drinking water. It works by using the heat from the sun to heat up water into vapor, which is then condensed at the top and sent to a separate storage container. The downside to this device is that in order to supply a small family with enough water, requires a solar still that is very large and expensive.

Recently scientists at the University of Texas in Austin developed a new material that speeds up the process of evaporation. This new development will greatly reduce the size of the system by up to 12X. If the technology can be done at an affordable price, it will also help bring clean drinking water to millions around the world.

Read the full article to learn more.


Diesel Engine Soot Transformed Into Lithium Batteries

In a study, researchers have made an interesting discovery. They found that the soot from diesel engines on merchant ships can be used to create lithium-ion batteries. For the study, the researchers obtained soot from several ships currently in operation and then heated it to 2700°C to remove impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen.

It was then cooled and examined using high powered microscopes which found that the soot was transformed from its original form and now resembled an almost perfectly crystalline graphite structure. The newly formed soot based product was tested for electrical conductivity, and when compared to the commonly-used artificial graphite material it was found to be very similar.

While this is a very promising discovery, more testing has to be done before this renewable alternative becomes mainstream.

To learn more read the full article.