Electric car could help solve renewable energy’s storage issue

Electric car manufactures say that electric cars will have 10 times the already electricity capacity as they bring in the idea of batteries on wheels. Consumers worldwide are embracing electric vehicles, Gielen said. In Norway, half of all cars sold last year were electric, while China, the world’s largest market, is expected to reach 10% next year.

An introduction to smart charging for electric cars could also help tackle an huge issue with renewable energy, Gielen said – the massive storage capacity needed to keep grids going when the sun has set and the wind has stopped blowing. “You can look at these electric vehicles as batteries on wheels,” he said. “Ninety-five per cent of the time they are parked, and we need storage to integrate high shares of solar and wind into the grid, so why not use these batteries? The amount of car batteries, the gigawatts of car batteries, will be 10 times what we have compared to stationary batteries – that’s a lot of battery capacity.

“It doesn’t mean there is going to be no ownership at all, people can still choose to pay 10 times more, just like they choose to pay 10 times more for a watch,” he said. “That is all right, they are free – but most transportation will be autonomous, on–demand and electric.”

3,000 people are set to be hired by BT

BT are set to hire 3,000 new employees to speed up their BT Openreach push to provide ultrafast service to more than 1 million more homes and firms are planned. They’re planning to get rid of all their non-spots in cities particularly in suburban and rural areas. BT are trying to kick off and employ engineers to make sure that over 3 million homes have gigabit speed internet by 2020. A drive from recruitment from BT is to ensure that they make up for the great deal of job cuts last year, where they cut 4,000 job roles in which there were half of the jobs cut in the UK with most being back office and managerial.

BT said that the first cities that have gigabyte internet rolled out would be Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester. These would connect to 40 towns in the UK over the next 10 years. Clive Shelley, the chief executive of Openreach, the division that controls most of the UK’s broadband network, said: “Openreach is getting on with the job of building an ultrafast Britain. We are accelerating our plans; where possible, we will be ‘fibre first’.

Fibre broadband will be 50 times faster than standard UK broadband and three times quicker than the fastest option currently available from BT. Gigabit speeds will allow consumers to download 4K-quality movies in minutes rather than hours.

Dispute in trading continues between the giants of jet manufactuers.

A large trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier is still not over as a ruling denies Boeing to request 292% of Bombardier’s traffic of C-Series jets. Boeing had put an argument forward that its rival received unfair subsidies from the British and Canadian governments, but a decision to impose tariffs made by the US Commerce Department in December has now been overruled by the International Trade Commission. In a statement, Bombardier said the decision was “a victory for innovation, competition and the rule of law”. The ruling was welcomed in the UK, as more than 1,000 jobs at Bombardier’s factory in Belfast were potentially at risk. Trade union Unite said workers in Northern Ireland would be “breathing a huge sigh of relief”.

A statement from Bombardier says that the ruling was welcomed in the UK, meaning that more than 1,000 jobs at Bombardiers factory in Belfast are in risk. Hayward said that the importance of the ITC decision could not be underestimated, as any Boeing appeal on this case could take years, by which time the climate of US protectionism instigated by President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ stance could have changed. Even if the ITC decision is reversed on appeal, it buys time for the C-Series to become established in the world market. “It’s a good aircraft,” said Hayward. “It’s the first that’s been designed specifically with low-cost carriers in mind.”

Google’s aim for the moon comes to an end, as their comepetition closes after 10 years.

Google sponsored a competition in which the winner would receive $30 million, the aim of the competition was to send a private spacecraft to the moon, but of recent times due to the lack of competition and interest it got cancelled, leaving the $30 million to be unclaimed. The competition lasted over 10 years and with the 5 finalists chosen and the aim of the Earth’s natural satellite set to take orbit by 31st March and with the 5 final designs chosen, none of them were expected to be released in time. “While we did expect a winner by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30M Google Lunar XPrize will go unclaimed,” wrote founder Peter H. Diamandis and CEO Marcus Shingles online.
They also stated that it was incredibly difficult to land on the moon which is why they gave such a large prize, over a long period of time. They’re expecting the best of the best which is why they didn’t select any of the finalists from XPRIZE competitions, so they are aiming high in terms of achievements to try and achieve a tremendous goal. Teams and companies raised $300m in their attempts, creating hundreds of jobs and establishing the first commercial space companies in India, Malaysia, Israel and Hungary. STEM ran programmes alongside the competition, which awarded more than $6m in prize money for passing previous goals. Despite failing to launch, one team successfully received the first ever mission approval from the US government to send a private spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon.

Funding of £20 million to be used for the Institute of Coding announced by the government.

Many universities, companies and industries has come together to create the Institute of Coding, a new UK project backed by £20m of government funding a new Institutes developed by companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Cisco. The project is led by Bath University, with a £20 million investment to show the digital skills gap within the UK in which is matched by a further £20 million by industry to fund for equipment and training. “The strength of the Institute of Coding lies in the fact that it brings together educators, employers and outreach groups to co-develop digital skills education at undergraduate and masters level for learners in universities, at work and in previously under-supported groups across the country,” said Institute director, Dr Rachid Hourizi.
Universities involved are bringing their expertise and the areas they thrive in, from sector leaders in business and computer science to experts in arts and design to specialists in widening participation and outreach. According to the Department for Education, the Institute of Coding will be based around five core themes:
1. University learners – This is to increase the amount of employability for graduates of universities to help them get into work with targeted qualifications. Inversion of Control programmes will incorporate learning which solves real-world business problems and develops business, technical and interpersonal skills.
2. The digital workforce – To develop specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance.
3. Digitalising the professions – to help and develop different job roles and professions to take a step in digital transformation such as helping learners retrain via new digital training programmes.
4. Widening participation – To help increase the equality and diversity in technology-related jobs and education such as tailored workshops, boot camps, innovative learning facilities and other outreach activities. In 2017, female programmers and software developers made up just 3.9 per cent of tech and telco professionals in the UK.
5. Knowledge sharing and sustainability – To share outcomes and good practice between the universities to ensure long-term sustainability of the IoC. This will include building up an evidence base of research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills gaps.

Volvo will trial autonomous buses in Singapore in 2019

Autonomous buses are set to be trialled in Singapore by Swedish car manufactures Volvo, they’re partnering with Singapore university Nanyang Technological to work on the fully autonomous electric buses in 2019. Volvo are set to expand in their wide range of autonomous technology, already being in the mining, quarry and refuse collection. The 40-seater Volvo 7900 electric buses to be deployed in Singapore will be equipped with technologies that include GPS and LIDAR laser technology systems for charting, positioning and detecting obstacles around the vehicle, and an integrated navigation system that includes automated steering, gear changing, and speed throttling technologies.

The Volvo buses are set to be in use in 2019, they’ll go to the CETRAN testing centre to test real road conditions and to test extreme conditions such as hurricanes and tropical storms. The NTU-Volvo programme will be supported by SMRT and ABB, which will be assessing the vehicles’ roadworthiness and charging systems.

“We are seeing fast-growing interest in both autonomous and electric vehicles in cities all over the world. Together with NTU, one of the world’s leading universities of technology, we now have the possibility of testing various solutions under realistic conditions in a major city that has high ambitions for its public transport,” said Håkan Agnevall, president Volvo Buses.

Effective Space signs first contract for satellite life extension services

UK-built spacecraft to help extend life of communication satellites. In 2020 Two UK-built spacecraft will be launched and they’re designed to latch on to ageing communication satellites and keep them in their assigned orbit, thereby extending their life. The announcement follows the signing of a $100m contract between UK-based Effective Space, which is developing the Space Drone spacecraft, and a major satellite operator.
When the spacecraft has launched in 2020 it will be used to control the position and orientation of two communication satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, potentially extending their life by several years, according to Shahida Barick, at Effective Space. Most satellites are designed for 15 years’ service, at the end of which their hardware systems typically still work perfectly.
The Space Drone vehicle itself is at the preliminary design stage of development, with a critical design review planned soon. Effective Space is also in negotiations with potential suppliers and in the “final stage” of negotiations with a launch provider.
. The agreement is one of the first commercial contracts for in-orbit satellite servicing. The Space Drone spacecraft could also be used for removing space debris, to support low-earth orbit or medium-earth-orbit constellations, and for in-space exploration, mining and manufacturing logistics.
Changes in the overall communications satellite market have also helped the company, he said, because operators are reticent to buy new satellites as they watch the development of high-throughput satellites and low Earth orbit constellations like OneWeb. “Any operator who can win some additional life, from now until 2025, are actively pursuing at least mission analysis with us,” he said. “That’s a major shift.”

Alstom will soon run tests on automated freight trains, this will run over a 100km distance and will take place in the Netherlands.

Alstom will soon run tests on automated freight trains, this will run over a 100km distance and will take place in the Netherlands.

These trials will begin this year and will see a locomotive vehicle equipped with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) technology. It will run for 100km without driver intervention from Rotterdam harbour to CUP Valburg , which is located in the east of the country.

This autonomous vehicle will then travel along the Betuweroute, a 150km track freight line connecting Rotterdam to Germany, this line is equipped with the inter-operable European signalling system ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System).

 “So we are adding a secondary system, a second electronic box, which can read this information, as well as information on the driver’s schedule, such as where he should be stopping, and is connected to the braking and acceleration systems of the train,” said Shirlaw.

Shirlaw said “It frees up the driver to perform the captain’s role without having to have his eyes focused on the traffic information and his hands on the accelerator and brake.”

Future winter Olympics could witness bobsled team hosting their event on plastic tracks rather than the ice channels we are all so used to.

Future winter Olympics could witness bobsled team hosting their event on plastic tracks rather than the ice channels we are all so used to.

30th January 2018 11:20 am


Research carried out by Purdue University discovered that using high molecular weight polyethylene covered in a fine Spray of H20 mimicked the performance of ice almost Identically.

This plastic is already widely used as a low-friction material within artificial hip joints and on the bottom of racing skis. The international bobsled and luge federations joint resources with the university over a priod of 3 years. Their finalised verdict was that replacing ice with this chosen plastic material we can tackle a number of cost and environmental issues.

 “These are enormously costly facilities, and some of them don’t have many people using it,”  Jan-Anders Mansson said , he is a professor in materials and chemical engineering, along with being director of Purdue’s Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Centre. “So, they’re built for the Olympics and then they stand rather unused.”

Mansson is also quoted saying that the track built for the 2006 Turin Olympics cost around $100m to actually build along with an additional $1m annual maintenance costs. In comparison the cost of building a plastic track is about $4-5m meanwhile the environmental impact can be reduced by up to 70%

This low wear and low friction plastic not only replicated the almost identical feel of ice it also simulates the same speed profile. This allows teams to travel at speeds of 100KM/h in just a 600m distance. With over 1,000 test runs the study shows that the polyethylene didn’t show any significant wear and tear or damage. What signs were shown as a reflection of the tests were minimal and wouldn’t effect competition.

 “When a sled passes, yes, it makes a microgroove, but then the polymer heals very quickly,” Mansson said. “We were so surprised that it worked so well like this in every category.”

 “The goal for any sport is to get kids in there and they start to compete, and the interest grows,” he said. “If you do this not with ice but with plastic that has the same properties, you can have summer bobsledding, family bobsledding and even large events in warm countries.”

“If they can run Formula 1 races in downtown Monaco, this would not be rocket science.”

Battery prototype from Switzerland could be more safe and reliable

Researchers in Switzerland have designed a new prototype battery that could store more energy than existing batteries, while keeping up with the high levels of safety and reliability. The battery prototype is based on sodium technology opposed to the more common lithium batteries found in most mobile phones. The science behind how the lithium batteries work by ions leaving the cathode to move to the anode. The use of a metallic anode such as sodium would increase the amount of energy that could be stored in a battery, in which the researchers at the University of Geneva have put into action.

“But we still had to find a suitable solid ionic conductor that, as well as being non-toxic, was chemically and thermally stable, and that would allow the sodium to move easily between the anode and the cathode,” explained Hans Hagemann, professor of physical chemistry at Geneva. The prototype uses solid electrolytes rather than liquid, which allows them to use a metal anode without risking of dendrites.

The researcher at the University of Geneva’s prototype is a boron based conductor, in which is enabled to sodium ions to roam freely within the battery, because of the inorganic conductor, it removes the chance of the battery catching fire. The problem the researchers found was trying to keep the three layers of the battery close, in which they come up with a solution of dissolving the part of electrolyte in a solvent.

Arndt Remhof, the project leader said that they also tested it over 250 charge and discharge cycles, and found that 85% of the energy capacity was still functional. ““But it needs 1,200 cycles before the battery can be put on the market,” say the researchers. “In addition, we still must test the battery at room temperature, so we can confirm whether or not dendrites form, while increasing the voltage even more. Our experiments are still ongoing.”