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March 11, 2013
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Essential news for the global engineering community

  Today's Tech Buzz 
  • Grasshopper: A reusable rocket
    Reusable rockets could reduce the cost of space flights, which is one reason why SpaceX founder Elon Musk and his company have developed and are testing the Grasshopper, a vehicle that can take off and land vertically. "With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are testing the technology that would enable a launched rocket to land intact, rather than burning up upon reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere," the company said. Gizmag (3/11) , Forbes (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Global Window 
  • "TRex" to test soil around quake-hit New Zealand city
    "TRex," the world's largest seismic vibration truck at approximately 32 tons, will start testing soil in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city devastated by an earthquake in 2011. Using large hydraulics, the truck will "shake the ground" and analyze soil properties at up to an 850-foot depth. By "[u]sing state of the art information on soil properties ... we can begin to link cause and effect and better understand where such effects will occur elsewhere during future earthquakes worldwide," said University of Canterbury earthquake engineer Dr. Brendon Bradley. The New Zealand Herald (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Student's industrial emissions reduction yields useful byproducts
    A mechanical engineering student in India has devised a system by which industrial emissions can be reduced and useful byproducts created. The student, A Vijay Raj, has received a patent for his invention, which mixes smoke and water to produce carbonic acid, which eliminates the pollution from the smoke. The carbonic acid could then be used to create electricity. The Times of India (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Spotlight on Energy 
  • More cost-effective way found to turn natural gas into gasoline
    Natural gas is abundant these days in the U.S., but gasoline not so much. That may change with a new process from Siluria Technologies that economically turns natural gas into gasoline. The key is using less heat and energy than previously required to achieve the transformation. (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Solar cells may keep smartphones running longer
    Solar power firm Alta Devices said it has found a way to extend the battery life of wireless devices by up to 80% using high-efficiency gallium arsenide that could work even in low-light conditions. The Silicon Valley-based company said it has learned how to make gallium arsenide effective inside "thin film" devices such as cellphones and tablets. Basically, Alta has built a solar panel flexible enough to work on a mobile device, the company disclosed. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Bits blog (3/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Nanotech, solar roof play role in coiled skyscraper
    The Agora Garden, a 90-degree twisted skyscraper wrapped in vertical gardens designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, is being built in Taipei, Taiwan. The structure, "inspired by two encircling hands clasped together and the helical structure of DNA," will feature nanotechnologies, wide planted balconies and a rainwater capture system. It will also have a solar roof to produce energy, and low E glass to reduce excess solar gain and avert thermal loss. Inhabitat (3/10) , World Architecture News (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Innovations & Trends 
  • Exmark to release 5 models of propane lawn mowers
    Exmark Manufacturing announced that it will unveil five models of propane-powered lawn mowers in a bid to address the needs of its commercial clients. "Some of those customers were actually requesting those propane units. They can be more green, and save money on daily operational costs," said Garry Busboom, the company's chief development engineer. The machines will come with a propane-powered engine from Kohler, and use an Electronic Fuel Injection system with oxygen sensor to monitor air-fuel ratios and temperature. Beatrice Daily Sun (Neb.) (3/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Leadership & Development 
  • Study to examine why many STEM majors withdraw
    The University of Colorado will be applying $4.3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to learn just why it is that a high percentage of students in STEM majors give up. The study, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will look at such factors as particularly difficult classes that may cause students to reconsider. The Denver Post (2/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  ASME News 
  • ASME Digital Collection launched on Silverchair online platform
    ASME has launched the ASME Digital Collection (formerly the ASME Digital Library) on SCM6, an online publishing platform from Silverchair Information Systems. The state-of-the art platform will provide expanded accessibility and discoverability for ASME's e-Books, journals and conference proceedings by leveraging the latest in semantic technology and a host of other features and functionality. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Today's "fracking" has a long history
    "Fracking" may be fairly new as a subject of debate between energy companies and environmentalists, but the practice and technology date back to the 1860s. It all began with the use of explosives and reports of production increases of as much as 1,200%. But the more modern practice using non-explosive alternatives traces its origins in the 1930s, with the first industrial-scale commercial uses of the "Hydrafrac" coming in 1949. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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