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2-in-1 Motor Increases Range of Electric Cars

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have invented a 2-in-1 electric motor that increases the range of electric vehicles. The engine integrates the traditional electric motor with the air-conditioning compressor, typically two separate units. This novel, space-saving design allows the use of bigger batteries, which can increase the range of electric vehicles by an additional 15 to 20 percent.

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Engineering More Efficient Vehicle Powertrains

More than 60 percent of the energy generated in vehicle engines by fuel is lost through the exhaust gas and the coolant. The biggest part of this simply slips off into the environment as heat. The Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT is probing the causes for this kind of waste. It is developing efficient drive concepts for vehicles, and has succeeded in increasing the degree of efficiency of car engines by five percent, and up to ten percent for commercial vehicle powertrains.

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Pulley Mechanism Improves Hand Function After Surgery

Engineers at Oregon State University have developed and successfully demonstrated a simple pulley mechanism to improve hand function after surgery. The device is one of the first instruments ever created that could improve the transmission of mechanical forces and movement while implanted inside the body.

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NASA Team Proposes Laser for Orbital Debris Tracking

Barry Coyle and Paul Stysley, laser researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, want to develop a method to define and track orbital debris using laser ranging — a promising approach that could overcome shortfalls with passive optical and radar techniques, which debris trackers use today to locate and track dead satellites, spacecraft components, and other remnants orbiting in low-Earth or geosynchronous orbits where most space assets reside.Inspired by an Australian study that found laser tracking increased the accuracy of debris ranging by a factor of 10 when compared with other methods, Coyle and Stysley now "want to reproduce the results from this paper on a larger scale," using Goddard’s Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO). The GGAO satellite laser-ranging team, led by Goddard’s Jan McGarry, has advanced laser-ranging techniques using satellites equipped with retro-reflectors, becoming world leaders in the field.GGAO’s 48-inch telescope, which transmits outgoing and receives incoming laser beams, was built in the early 1970s as a research and development and testing facility for laser ranging, lidar, and astronomical instruments. The facility has ranged to spacecraft at planetary distances and has been used to provide on-orbit calibration of some of Goddard’s altimetry spacecraft. NASA also used the facility in 2005 to determine the performance of the laser-altimeter instrument aboard its MESSENGER spacecraft as it flew past Earth during its sojourn to Mercury.Once the team demonstrates ranging with a target not equipped with the retro-reflector, it would like to implement the technique in a global network of ground-based laser observatories to observe and more accurately track debris, thus aiding the world’s current debris-tracking efforts.Although it’s difficult removing the material itself, NASA mission operators can minimize its impact on operational space assets. They can move non-operational spacecraft to less populated orbits to remove the threat to new missions or allow dead craft to re-enter the atmosphere, where they burn up upon entry. What’s essential is that these assets are tracked and monitored to protect active and future missions from potentially harmful collisions, Coyle said.SourceAlso: Learn about a Debris & Ice Mapping Analysis Tool.

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Are robots an effective way of combating outbreaks like Ebola?

This week's Question: Next month, scientists will convene at universities across the country to consider the role that autonomous machines might play in combating the Ebola crisis. Telepresence robots, according to some researchers, could theoretically perform healthcare tasks like delivering food and medicine to the sick and cleaning equipment. The robots could also act as interpreters between patients and doctors, or provide checklists to medical workers as they put on and remove safety equipment. What do you think? Are robots an effective way of combating outbreaks like Ebola?  

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New System Could Prolong Power in Mobile Devices

Researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use. The technology taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.

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Technology Enables First Test of Actual Turbine Engine Conditions

Because of the difficulty of monitoring turbine engines in operation, most manufacturers test turbine blades either after flight or rely on simulated tests to give them the data on how the various coatings on the blades are performing. Until now, creating an accurate simulation has been out of reach.

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