News

Researchers Create Jet Fuel Compounds From Fungus

Washington State University researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil, and rotting fruit. They used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

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NASA Tests Green Aviation Technology

Two NASA experiments designed to help reduce fuel consumption and emissions will fly this spring on a specially outfitted Boeing 757 airplane called the ecoDemonstrator. One includes 31 small devices that will blow jets of air on the vertical tail, and the other involves non-stick coatings to help repel bugs from the leading edge of wings. Both are designed to improve the air flow over the surface and ultimately reduce drag.

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Airflow Model Could Reduce Time on the Tarmac

New research could lead to more efficient takeoffs on airport runways and improve safety. A mathematical tool was developed to calculate the flow of turbulent air produced by a plane’s wing tips — known scientifically as wing-tip vortices — when an airplane takes off. The study will assist in improving the present standards for the separation distance between planes, while maintaining safety. Mathematically calculating the amount of turbulence created by the wing tips of aircraft, particularly during takeoff, gives air traffic controllers a better method of determining how far each aircraft should be from the next.

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Computer Cooling System Could Save $6.3 Billion a Year in Electricity

A patented passive cooling system for computer processors from the University of Alabama could save U.S. consumers more than $6.3 billion per year in energy costs associated with running their computer cooling fans. The system uses convection to circulate 3M's Fluorinert FC-72 electronic cooling liquid through channels in a computer's processor, and then into a heat sink that serves as an external radiator.

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Researchers Create Acoustic 'Image' of Thunder

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) researchers have imaged the first acoustic signature of thunder, visually capturing the sound waves created by artificially triggered lightning.While the general mechanics of thunder generation are understood, it is not particularly clear which physical processes of the lightning discharge contribute to the thunder we hear. By studying the acoustic power radiated from different portions of the lightning channel, researchers can learn more about the origins of thunder as well as the energetic processes associated with lightning.  Dr. Maher A. Dayeh, a research scientist in the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division, designed a large, sophisticated array of microphones to study the acoustic signature of thunder. Fifteen microphones, spaced one meter apart, were lined up 95 meters away from the rocket launch pad where the triggered lightning would strike. To image the vertical profile of the bolt, Dayeh used post-signal processing techniques and directional amplification of the data signals captured by the microphone array. The technique revealed a distinct signature of thunder generated by the lightning strike. Future experiments could allow scientists to study the probable acoustic signatures of current pulses, step leader branches, and discharge channel zigzags independently.SourceLearn about an Accelerometer Sensors Network for Acoustic Diagnostics (MASNAD).

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Will "smart city" lighting efforts pay off?

This week's Question: At this year's Mobile World Congress in Spain, Sierra Wireless and Philips CityTouch demonstrated "smart city" lighting capabilities. The companies' systems connect a city's individual street lights to the Internet via 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. The "smart" technology allows authorities to create customized lighting patterns and adjust the lamps for specific weather conditions or neighborhood needs. With "smart city" designs, users will potentially gain a clearer picture of a city’s lighting infrastructure, access real-time data on energy consumption, and receive automatic failure notifications, ultimately reducing costs in both energy and maintenance. To achieve this type of connected city, however, a common set of standards must enable interoperability so that every application can communicate and share data. Security levels, too, must be maintained. What do you think? Will "smart city" lighting efforts pay off?

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Orion Testing Provides Data for Splashdown Recovery Operations

The first full joint testing between NASA and the U.S. Navy of the Orion spacecraft recovery procedures off the coast of California was suspended after the team experienced issues with handling lines securing a test version of Orion inside the well deck of the USS San Diego. Tests were being conducted to prepare for recovery of Orion after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean at the end of its first spaceflight.

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