Green Design

Water Splitter Runs on AAA Battery

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis.  The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.In addition to producing hydrogen, the novel water splitter could be used to make chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide, an important industrial chemical. Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. But scientists have yet to develop an affordable, active water splitter with catalysts capable of working at industrial scales."It's been a constant pursuit for decades to make low-cost electrocatalysts with high activity and long durability," said Stanford University Professor Hongjie Dai. "When we found out that a nickel-based catalyst is as effective as platinum, it came as a complete surprise."SourceAlso: Learn about a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell.

Posted in: Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Alternative Fuels, Green Design & Manufacturing, Materials, Metals, Energy, News


Physicists Create Water Tractor Beam

Physicists at The Australian National University have created a tractor beam on water, providing a radical new technique that could confine oil spills, manipulate floating objects or explain rips at the beach.The group discovered they can control water flow patterns with simple wave generators, enabling them to move floating objects at will. Advanced particle tracking tools revealed that the waves generate currents on the surface of the water.“We have figured out a way of creating waves that can force a floating object to move against the direction of the wave,” said Dr Horst Punzmann, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering, who led the project.SourceAlso: Learn about a Floating Oil-Spill Containment Device.

Posted in: Remediation Technologies, Green Design & Manufacturing, News


Hurricane-Tracking Unmanned Systems Win NASA Challenge

NASA has selected three winning designs solicited to address the technological limitations of the uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) currently used to track and collect data on hurricanes. Engineering teams at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Purdue University, and the University of Virginia were named first- through third-place winners, respectively, of the agency's 2013-2014 University Aeronautics Engineering Design Challenge.

Posted in: Alternative Fuels, Environmental Monitoring, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Aerospace, Aviation, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, Data Acquisition, News


NASA’s High-Flying Laser Altimeter Measures Summer Sea Ice

When NASA launches the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, in 2017, it will measure Earth’s elevation by sending out pulses of green laser light and timing how long it takes individual photons to bounce off Earth’s surface and return. The number and patterns of photons that come back depend on the type of ice they bounce off – whether it’s smooth or rough, watery or snow-covered.To get a preview of what summertime will look like to ICESat-2, NASA scientists, engineers, and pilots have traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska, to fly an airborne test bed instrument called the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar, or MABEL. MABEL collects data in the same way that ICESat-2’s instrument will – with lasers and photon-detectors. The data from the Alaskan campaign will allow researchers to develop computer programs, or algorithms, to analyze the information from ICESat-2.“We need to give scientists data to enable them to develop algorithms that work during summer,” said Thorsten Markus, ICESat-2’s project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “All the algorithms need to be tested and in place by the time of launch. And one thing that was missing was ICESat-2-like data on the summer conditions.”Between July 12 and August 1, MABEL will fly aboard NASA’s high-altitude ER-2 aircraft as the Arctic sea ice and glaciers are melting. In its half-dozen flights, the instrument will take measurements of the sea ice and Alaska’s southern glaciers, as well as forests, lakes, open ocean, the atmosphere and more, sending data back to researchers on the ground.SourceAlso: Learn about the Debris & ICE Mapping Analysis Tool (DIMAT).

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Photonics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, Aerospace, Aviation, RF & Microwave Electronics, Data Acquisition, News


Roof Tiles Clean the Air

A team of University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering students has developed a titanium dioxide roof tile coating that removes up to 97 percent of smog-causing nitrogen oxides.The students' calculations show that 21 tons of nitrogen oxides would be eliminated daily if tiles on one million roofs were coated with their titanium dioxide mixture. The researchers coated two identical, off-the-shelf clay tiles with different amounts of titanium dioxide, a common compound found in everything from paint to food to cosmetics. The tiles were then placed inside a miniature atmospheric chamber that the students built out of wood, Teflon, and PVC piping.The chamber was connected to a source of nitrogen oxides and a device that reads concentrations of nitrogen oxides. The students used ultraviolet light to simulate sunlight, which activates the titanium dioxide and allows it to break down the nitrogen oxides. They found the titanium dioxide coated tiles removed between 88 percent and 97 percent of the nitrogen oxides.SourceAlso: Learn about Spectroscopic Determination of Trace Contaminants in High-Purity Oxygen.

Posted in: Remediation Technologies, Green Design & Manufacturing, Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Test & Measurement, News


NASA Balloons Study Effects of Volcanic Eruption

A team of NASA and University of Wyoming scientists has ventured into the Australian bush to send a series of balloons aloft. The balloons will make measurements of a volcanic plume originating from neighboring Indonesia.The campaign, in Australia’s Northern Territory, is part of an effort to better understand the climate effects of volcanic eruptions.The KlAsh (Kelud Ash) experiment is based in Darwin, Australia, where smaller balloon payloads are being launched over the Indian Ocean. Larger balloons, with payloads that must be recovered, are being launched from Corroboree, a remote area about 60 miles south of Darwin.The larger balloon, filled with helium, measures about 115 by 65 feet when fully inflated.Almost all of the energy entering Earth’s climate system comes from the sun. Some of that energy is absorbed by the planet, while the rest is radiated back into space. Ash and sulfate reflect and absorb energy differently, and may also have different chemical impacts on the stratosphere.“Understanding those characteristics is important for climate models that include periodic volcanic activity,” said Terry Deshler, principal investigator for the University of Wyoming’s instrumentation.SourceAlso: Learn about Targeting and Monitoring of Volcanic Activity.

Posted in: Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, News


GPS Tide Gauge Measures Sea Level Change

Using radio signals from satellite navigation systems, Scientists at Chalmers Department of Earth and Space Sciences have developed and tested a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) tide gauge, an instrument that measures the sea level.The GNSS tide gauge uses radio signals from satellites in orbit around the Earth that are part of satellite navigation systems like GPS and Glonass (Russia’s equivalent of GPS).Two antennas, covered by small white radomes, measure signals both directly from the satellites and signals reflected off the sea surface. By analyzing these signals together, the sea level and its variation can be measured, up to 20 times per second.”We measure the sea level using the same radio signals that mobile phones and cars use in their satellite navigation systems,” says researcher Johan Löfgren. “As the satellites pass over the sky, the instrument ‘sees’ their signals – both those that come direct and those that are reflected off the sea surface.” SourceAlso: Learn about Global Positioning System (GPS) Meteorology.

Posted in: Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, RF & Microwave Electronics, Antennas, News