This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Wearable Health-Monitoring Sensors
Sick babies in remote parts of the world could be monitored from afar using wearable technology designed at the University of Sussex (UK). Parents concerned about the risk of crib death could keep track of their new babies’ heart and breathing rates with automatic updates to their smartphones using fitness-tracker-style technology built into baby pajamas. The sensor consists of a liquid made from an emulsion of graphene, water, and oil that conducts electricity. Because the new liquid technology is so sensitive, it picks up very small signals when attached to the body. The technology could also improve early detection of life-threatening symptoms such as sleep apnea or cardiac arrhythmia, where constant monitoring with conventional equipment is challenging outside of the hospital environment.
Contact: Lynsey Ford
Phone: +44 01273 873712
In-Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System
The In-Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System, developed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, consists of a miniaturized inline connector containing self-monitoring electronics that detect wire faults and determine fault type and location on powered electrical wiring. When a damaged or defective wire is identified, the system is capable of autonomously transferring electrical power and data connectivity to an alternate wire path. The tester was designed to monitor electrical faults in either online or offline modes of operation. The system enables the detection of intermittent faults that can be repaired before they become serious problems. A built-in memory device stores all relevant fault data that can be displayed in real time or retrieved later.
Contact: Kennedy Space Center
Non-Polluting Fossil Fuel Technology
The Ohio State University developed technology that has the potential to economically convert fossil fuels and biomass into useful products, including electricity, without emitting carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. A process was devised that transforms shale gas into products such as methanol and gasoline, all while consuming carbon dioxide. This process can also be applied to coal and biomass to produce useful products. Under certain conditions, the technology consumes all the carbon dioxide it produces, plus additional carbon dioxide from an outside source. The technology, called coal-direct chemical looping combustion, releases energy from coal while capturing more than 99 percent of the resulting carbon dioxide, preventing its emission to the environment. The key advance is the use of iron oxide particles that supply the oxygen for chemical combustion. After combustion, the particles take back the oxygen from air, and the cycle begins again.