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Underwater Robot Skims for Port Security

MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also inspect ships for the false hulls and propeller shafts that smugglers frequently use to hide contraband. Because of its small size and unique propulsion mechanism — which leaves no visible wake — the robots could, in theory, be concealed in clumps of algae or other camouflage. Fleets of them could swarm over ships at port without alerting smugglers and giving them the chance to jettison their cargo.Sampriti Bhattacharyya, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, built the main structural components of the robot using a 3-D printer. Half of the robot — the half with the flattened panel — is waterproof and houses the electronics. The other half is permeable and houses the propulsion system, which consists of six pumps that expel water through rubber tubes.Two of those tubes vent on the side of the robot opposite the flattened panel, so they can keep it pressed against whatever surface the robot is inspecting. The other four tubes vent in pairs at opposite ends of the robot’s long axis and control its locomotion.SourceAlso: Learn about Underwater Localization for Transit and Reconnaissance Autonomy.

Posted in: Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Motion Control, Power Transmission, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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'Solar Battery' Runs on Light and Air

Ohio State University researchers report that they have succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons.When the battery discharges, it chemically consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide. An iodide additive in the electrolyte acts as a “shuttle” that carries electrons, and transports them between the battery electrode and the mesh solar panel. The use of the additive represents a distinct approach on improving the battery performance and efficiency, the team said. The invention eliminates the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery.SourceAlso: Learn about Full-Cell Evaluation for New Battery Chemistries.

Posted in: Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Power Management, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Renewable Energy, Energy, Semiconductors & ICs, News

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Metal Injection Molding - Process Overview

Proto Labs offers product developers up to 5,000+ stainless steel parts in less than three weeks with its metal injection molding (MIM) process. MIM transforms a fine metal powder encapsulated in a plastic binder into fully dense, net shape metal parts through a multi-step debinding and sintering process.

Posted in: Tech Talks

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Overview of Liquid Silicone Rubber Molding - What is LSR?

At Proto Labs, product designers and engineers can get liquid silicone rubber (LSR) parts with the same quick-turn speeds as our thermoplastic injection-molding process. LSR parts are available in low volumes, typically from 25 to 5,000+ pieces, in three weeks or less. Why use LSR?

Posted in: Tech Talks

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Data acquisition for rugged and harsh environments: SomatXR

The NEW SomatXR family of rugged data acquisition modules were designed to perform in the harshest of environments. These modules are IP65/IP67 rated, meaning they can withstand high pressure washing, shock up to 70g, and sustained vibrations of 10g. By combining proven signal conditioning from the QuantumX family together with the SoMat experience of reliably collecting data in harsh environments, the result is “SomatXR”. This short webinar will only scratch the surface of the capabilities and versatility that this family of products offer, touching upon the benefits of its modular design, superior signal conditioning, and easy to use “out of the box” Catman setup software.

Posted in: Tech Talks

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Coming Soon - CFD in Multiphysics Analysis

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is widely used in multiphysics analysis, often as a convective mode for other physics present in a model. In this webinar, we will show you how to apply the capabilities of COMSOL Multiphysics® software to the analysis of laminar, multiphase, and turbulent flows.

Posted in: Upcoming Webinars

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Coming Soon - Mahindra Maximizes Engine Cooling System Performance with HyperWorks

An efficient cooling system is of paramount importance in any kind of vehicle, particularly as the engine power increases and the space in the underhood compartment decreases.

Posted in: Upcoming Webinars

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