- From our focus on biofuels in June, this month we turn to a collection of new and interesting technological advancements that are sure to improve the world and our lives.Developing new products from sustainable resources will be a trend that continues as metals and other non-renewable materials are depleted on our planet. As such, here are some ideas for using wood to replace otherwise unsustainable products we commonly use. German researchers have found a way to make insulation from ground wood that is put under high pressure. Oregon State researchers have found a way to use tree cellulose as an effective supercapacitor. And this research uses cellulose to produce sustainable jet fuel.
Now here are some ideas for harvesting energy from motion and vibrations to power small devices. This research uses aluminum nitride to harvest energy from ubiquitous, low-level atmospheric vibrations. This idea uses multiple layers of plastic which flex back and forth to capture energy from mechanical vibrations and then power small devices; while this research uses silicon wafers to capture energy from vibrations and surface impacts. Here is a novel approach to use animal motion to power the small trackers which monitor their movements.
Finally, here are some novel approaches to improve the efficiency of everyday activities. This idea uses small polymer beads to save water and power while washing clothes. Most of use a computer every day and this research will save power by reducing the waste heat generated by computer chips; and here is a way to save energy in microchips by squeezing them extremely hard. Another way to reduce energy use in electronics is a more efficient power source such as was invented by the folks at MIT; in fact, we have ordered these adapters for our Apollo Mapping laptops!
- For those of you who often read my pieces, I think it would come as no surprise for me to say that I am very ‘green’ in my own life: I do not own a car; I buy as much local produce as I can; my house is 100% organic; I keep my heat at 60 degrees during winter nights; etc. etc. Keeping in line with my love for the planet, check out this series of graphics on climate and energy use topics. The graphics are extremely easy to interpret and are eye opening even for those who feel that the leading cause of climate change is not anthropogenic, but rather due to natural atmospheric, solar and planetary cycles.
- In honor of the allergies many of us suffer through during the spring and summer, my Google Search for the month was, “GIS and allergies.” What was returned is an interesting in-progress study by Harvard Forest. The study aims to model the impacts of climate change on pollen induced allergies. As you can imagine, GIS is a central part of the research that is underway. For those New Englanders who also have allergies, this might be a study you want to keep an eye on for its final results!
- From Maine we travel down the coast to my home state of Maryland for a review of their largest city’s GIS resources, Baltimore. I am happy to report that after some digging on their GIS site, I was able to find both an online viewer and a means to download data in shapefile format. For those of you looking to see a collection of interactive maps online, here is a link to Baltimore’s CityView. And for those of your looking for a wide variety of spatial data for download, OpenBalitmore is where you want to head.
Brock Adam McCarty