Continuing with the new format started last month, here is the June technology report.
Batteries: Okay this one is a bit dated but still cool as flexible batteries are the next big thing to hit the market if you believe industry sources. Here are four ideas for alternative and often cheaper sources to make environmentally “friendly” batteries: a slurry of abundant minerals (i.e. iron, sulfur, sodium and magnesium); the byproducts of wood and paper production; rotten apples; and atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Biofuels: This pre-treatment method could cut production costs by 30%; while this super-microbe converted up to 97% of the sugars in a corn stalk into fuel. Super methanol (sounds cool right!) could produce biofuels in under 10 minutes. Plastics found in nature could be used to create hydrogen in fuel cells; and black fungus could produce jet fuel.
Hydro-Tidal Power: This mini-generator can harness tidal energy but is small enough to sit in a river or by a coast without much disturbance. Underwater kites could harvest 64 times more power than turbines. This underwater buoy can generate power at depths up to 130 feet deep; while this seawall harvests power from crashing waves.
Solar: This organic antennae converts often-unabsorbed blue light into lower powered photons that common solar panels can absorb; while this solar cell is tuned to collect higher-energy photons to start with. Sunlight combined with microbes and nanowires could produce sustainable methane gas in the future. This team set a new record at 14% efficiency for solar hydrogen production. And a transparent coating could increase solar panel efficiency by cooling it by as much as 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In April, more record temperatures were recorded across the planet according to the NOAA climate report. Month after month we have seen the same trend here, with April 2016 recorded as the warmest April since record keeping began in 1880. It was also the fourth warmest month on record, beat only by December 2015, February 2016 and March 2016. When considering the land masses only, it was the third warmest April on record.
- Baseball season is in full swing and in honor of my favorite team, my Google Search of the month was, “GIS and Orioles.” If you look through the long list of hits, you might find this gem by N.G. Swenson of the University of Arizona where they study the distribution of avian species, including two orioles, using GIS. The study examined climatic factors and their influence on species diversification and hybridization.
- From Memphis, we travel south and west to review Texas’ largest city’s online GIS resources, Houston. And while the GIS landing page leaves much to be desired, it links to an online portal called My City that is quite robust! In My City, you can access a variety of online maps based on themes like crime, permits and fire hydrants. Advanced GIS users might skip over this online portal and go straight here where you can download a huge variety of vectors and rasters.
Brock Adam McCarty