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New & Notables sites for Engineering

Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles

Nimbus Rises In World Of Cloud Computing

New Technique Braces Buildings against Earthquakes

Multiferroics, making a switch the electrical way

Finishing touches: New alloys offer alternative to chrome

How Solid Is Concrete's Carbon Footprint?

Deep-sea monsters

Complete dissolution and partial delignification of wood in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate

From sandcastles to solid rock

Nitrogen n-dopes graphene

Rapid Pole Climbing with a Quadrupedal Robot

Q & A: Steven Chu

RSC acquires ChemSpider

Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles
"In preparing this Guide,we have taken a wide definition of engineering, so its scope consequently ranges more widely than only engineering design.We have taken an holistic view, recognising three main issues. • Firstly, engineering and sustainable development are closely linked, with many aspects of sustainable development depending directly and significantly on appropriate and timely actions by engineers • Secondly, engineering design is only a part, though a very important part, of the extended engineering process of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and execution, as summarised in The Universe of Engineering – A UK Perspective, (The Royal Academy of Engineering, 2000) • Thirdly, engineering input to sustainable development solutions must be provided in partnership with many other interests. Such engineering input begins with participation in framing the issue of concern or how it is described in terms of the actual needs or wants underlying the issue to be addressed. The input needed then proceeds through the development and detailing of the engineering dimension of options, to the implementation of the option that is judged as the most attractive by and to the variety of stakeholders. It is also vital that the engineering input includes consideration of all of the consequences of that implementation into the future"
Read it at http://www.raeng.org.uk/events/pdf/Engineering_for_Sustainable_Development.pdf

Nimbus Rises In World Of Cloud Computing
" (May 25, 2009) — Cloud computing is a hot topic in the technology world these days. Even if you're not a tech-phile, chances are if you've watched a lot of television or skimmed a business magazine, you've heard someone talking about cloud computing as the way of the future. While it's difficult to predict the future, a cloud computing infrastructure project developed at Argonne National Lab, called Nimbus, is demonstrating that cloud computing's potential is being realized now."
Read about it at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090508190421.htm

New Technique Braces Buildings against Earthquakes
"Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan have developed a new method for bracing high rise concrete buildings. By reinforcing the concrete with steel fibers, they were able to design coupling beams (beams used to connect walls around openings like windows and door frames) that are both easier to construct and more effective than traditional coupling beams. A test structure using these new beams was shown to be able to withstand a fake earthquake stronger than any real earthquake ever recorded. "
Read about it at http://thefutureofthings.com/news/7074/new-technique-braces-buildings-against-earthquakes.html

Multiferroics, making a switch the electrical way
"Multiferroics are materials in which unique combinations of electric and magnetic properties can simultaneously coexist. They are potential cornerstones in future magnetic data storage and spintronic devices provided a simple and fast way can be found to turn their electric and magnetic properties on and off. In a promising new development, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) working with a prototypical multiferroic have successfully demonstrated just such a switch — electric fields."
Read about it at http://newscenter.lbl.gov/press-releases/2009/05/21/multiferroics/

Finishing touches: New alloys offer alternative to chrome
" Anne Trafton, News Office May 19, 2009 Ever since the 1940s, chrome has been used to add a protective coating and shiny luster to a wide range of metal products, from bathroom fixtures to car bumpers. Chrome adds beauty and durability, but those features come at a heavy cost. Though it's cheap to produce and harmless to consumers, the industrial process to create it is dangerous for workers and pollutes the environment. "People have been trying to replace it for a very long time," says Christopher Schuh, MIT associate professor of materials science and engineering. "The problem is that it's the only plated metal coating that has all of these properties -- hardness, long-lasting shine and corrosion protection." Until now, that is. Schuh and his collaborators have developed a new nickel-tungsten alloy that is not only safer than chrome but also more durable. The new coating, which is now being tested on the bumpers of a truck fleet, could also replace chrome in faucet fixtures and engine parts, among other applications. "
Read about it at http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/metal-0519.html

How Solid Is Concrete's Carbon Footprint?
" Concrete may absorb more carbon dioxide than earlier estimates suggested. Many scientists currently think at least 5 percent of humanity's carbon footprint comes from the concrete industry, both from energy use and the carbon dioxide (CO2) byproduct from the production of cement, one of concrete's principal components. Yet several studies have shown that small quantities of CO2 later reabsorb into concrete, even decades after it is emplaced, when elements of the material combine with CO2 to form calcite. A study appearing in the June 2009 Journal of Environmental Engineering suggests that the re-absorption may extend to products beyond calcite, increasing the total CO2 removed from the atmosphere and lowering concrete's overall carbon footprint."
Read more at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?org=ENG&cntn_id=109892&preview=false

Deep-sea monsters
"While the crane, the digger and the dumper truck are instantly recognisable, their subsea cousins, the mechanical leviathans that lay our ever-expanding network of oil and gas pipelines, remain the unsung heroes of heavy engineering. Few systems are larger or more impressive than the snappily named PL3: a subsea plough developed by Northumberland-based offshore specialist IHC Engineering Business. The 205-ton plough — along with a related backfill system that covers cables once they have been laid — is currently being fitted to Far Samson: a ship that is on long-term lease from its owner Farstad by Italian oil-and-gas contractor Saipem. Custom built over 18 months and designed to withstand the rigours of the offshore engineering world for around 10 years, the two machines are rated to operate up to 1,000m beneath the waves. "
Read about it at http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Articles/311370/Deep-sea+monsters.htm

Complete dissolution and partial delignification of wood in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate
" Ning Sun, Mustafizur Rahman, Ying Qin, Mirela L. Maxim, Héctor Rodríguez and Robin D. Rogers. Both softwood (southern yellow pine) and hardwood (red oak) can be completely dissolved in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C2mim]OAc) after mild grinding. Complete dissolution was achieved by heating the sample in an oil bath, although wood dissolution can be accelerated by microwave pulses or ultrasound irradiation. It has been shown that [C2mim]OAc is a better solvent for wood than 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([C4mim]Cl) and that variables such as type of wood, initial wood load, particle size, etc. affect dissolution and dissolution rates; for example, red oak dissolves better and faster than southern yellow pine. Carbohydrate-free lignin and cellulose-rich materials can be obtained by using the proper reconstitution solvents (e.g., acetone/water 1 : 1 v/v) and approximately 26.1% and 34.9% reductions of lignin content in the reconstituted cellulose-rich materials (from pine and oak, respectively) have been achieved in one dissolution/reconstitution cycle. The regenerated cellulose-rich materials and lignin fractions were characterized and compared with the original wood samples and biopolymer standards. For pine, 59% of the holocellulose (i.e., the sum of cellulose and hemicellulose) in the original wood can be recovered in the cellulose-rich reconstituted material; whereas 31% and 38% of the original lignin is recovered, respectively, as carbohydrate-free lignin and as carbohydrate-bonded lignin in the cellulose-rich material."
Read it at http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/GC/article.asp?doi=b822702k

From sandcastles to solid rock
"IMAGINE being able to make spray-on roads across the desert, or being able to take a sandcastle home from the beach in the form of a solid rock sculpture. Research from Murdoch University could one day turn sandcastles into livable homes / Image: Istockphoto These are just two possibilities presented by a new treatment for sand pioneered by Murdoch University’s Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch. The treatment alters the consistency of sand, doing anything from solidifying it slightly to changing it into a substance as hard as marble. It blends a calcium solution, bacteria and other inexpensive compounds, forcing the bacteria to form carbonate precipitates with the calcium. This creates calcium carbonate, also called calcite, identical to limestone. “Hopefully it will be civil engineering technology,” says Dr Cord-Ruwisch. "
Read about it at http://www.sciencewa.net.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2512&Itemid=587

Nitrogen n-dopes graphene
May 7, 2009 "Researchers have made both p- and n-type graphene field-effect transistors for the first time. The devices could be used as the basic building blocks in integrated circuits, microprocessors and memories. It is relatively easy to p-dope graphene using adsorbates and oxygen groups on edges but for real-world applications, scientists need to be able to make n-doped material too. This is more difficult because special strategies are needed. Now, Hongjie Dai of Stanford University in the US and colleagues have shown that graphene can be n-doped through high-power electrical joule heating in ammonia gas. The high power causes the material to heat up to hundreds of degrees and the graphene edges/defect sites (which are more reactive) start to react with the ammonia gas to form carbon–nitrogen groups. The researchers confirmed the formation of carbon–nitrogen species in the thermally annealed graphene using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and nanoscale secondary ion mass spectroscopy. "
Read more at http://nanotechweb.org/cws/article/tech/39000

Rapid Pole Climbing with a Quadrupedal Robot
"This paper describes the development of a legged robot designed for general locomotion of complex terrain but specialized for dynamical, high-speed climbing of a uniformly convex cylindrical structure, such as an outdoor telephone pole. This robot, the RiSE V3 climbing machine—mass 5.4 kg, length 70 cm, excluding a 28 cm tail appendage—includes several novel mechanical features, including novel linkage designs for its legs and a non-backdrivable, energy-dense power transmission to enable high-speed climbing. We summarize the robot’s design and document a climbing behavior that achieves rapid ascent of a wooden telephone pole at 21 cm/s, a speed previously unachieved—and, we believe, heretofore impossible—with a robot of this scale. The behavioral gait of the robot employs the mechanical design to propel the body forward while passively maintaining yaw, pitch, and roll stability during climbing locomotion. The robot’s general-purpose legged design coupled with its specialized ability to quickly gain elevation and park at a vertical station silently with minimal energy consumption suggest potential applications including search and surveillance operations as well as ad hoc networking."
Read more and watch it climb at http://kodlab.seas.upenn.edu/Gch/Icra2009

Q & A: Steven Chu
"The secretary of energy talks with Technology Review about the future of nuclear power post Yucca Mountain and why fuel-cell cars have no future. By Kevin Bullis "
Read the interview at http://www.technologyreview.com/business/22651/?nlid=2027

RSC acquires ChemSpider
"The Royal Society of Chemistry announced today that it has acquired ChemSpider, heralding a breakthrough investment for the organisation and for the Chemistry Community. ... ChemSpider is a free online service providing a structure centric community for chemists. Providing access to almost 21.5 million unique chemical entities sourced from over 200 different data sources and integration to a multitude of other online services, ChemSpider is the richest single source of structure-based chemistry information. "
Read about it and see it at http://www.rsc.org/AboutUs/News/PressReleases/2009/ChemSpider.asp

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