In our continued look at cool and important technological advancements, here are the items I found for August:
Biofuels: A synthetic red dye that forms crystals could increase the growth of methane-producing bacteria by 10 to 18 times. New supplements found by MIT will let yeast survive in higher concentrations of ethanol, thereby increasing their ability to produce biofuels. A new strain of coli could produce biofuels from switchgrass in a single step. Finally, Texas A&M scientists discovered an enzymatic mechanism to increase hydrocarbon production in green algae.
Solar: Talk about wearable technology, these newly developed solar cells are 50 times thinner than a human hair and can sit on top of a soap bubble. Setting up solar cells quickly during a time of need (like in disaster management) has never been easier than with these roll-out sheets of panels. A revolutionary metamaterial made of gold and magnesium fluoride could produce energy from heat even during the night. Perovskites are a hot topic in solar as they are cheaper to produce than traditional silicon panels, and this technique produces more efficient and thermally-resistant perovskite panels.
Wind: Intel installed 58 micro-turbines on the roof of its Santa Clara, California headquarters, each able to generate 65 kWH. There are lots of bridges out there and this idea uses their braces as a home for wind turbines. This technology uses ultrasonic waves to predict when bearings in turbines might fail, thereby reducing maintenance costs. In the coming years, we might see wind turbines built from wood at 20% less cost.
- The June 2016 NOAA climate report confirms that the global warming trend continues – are you surprised? Here are some of the records we set last month: June 2016 was the warmest June in the 137 years of NOAA climate records; June was the 14th month the global temperature record was broken, with the land and water temperatures some 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th Century average; and then June was the 9th highest monthly departure from average ever recorded, tying March 2015. You can read more of the report here.
- In honor of the birth of American Explorer, Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark), on August 18, 1774, my Google search of the month was, “Meriwether Lewis and GIS.” If you go through the results, you might find this student project completed by a class of Dr. Harry Jol at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire to search for the historic site of a native village visited by Lewis and Clark in the winter of 1805. The village belonged to the Clatsop Nation and was located along the shores of the former Clatsop River in Oregon. The project uses a blend of historic accounts and GIS techniques to locate the approximate site of the lost native village.
- From the heart of the Rocky Mountain region, we travel east for a review of Vermont’s largest city’s online GIS resources, Burlington. And while Burlington is a cool town, their online resources leave a bit to be desired. They do have a functional webmap you can access here; and then also a property search site here. If you need the actual shapefiles and rasters for your GIS project, you can find a few here as well as email the administrator. Overall, a below average site compared to those we have reviewed here in the past.
Brock Adam McCarty