Posts Tagged ‘fuel’
A job at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is notoriously dangerous: in the aftermath of a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, reports have emerged of low wages, steep risks, and shoddy management throwing the plant cleanup process into disarray and exacerbating onsite hazards. Now, some employees at Fukushima are encountering yet another precarious scenario, as they begin the gargantuan task of removing radioactive fuel rods from a cooling pool inside one of the plant’s reactors.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s operator has gained permission to move forward with a plan that would transfer over 1,000 fuel rods to a new location on the site, potentially preventing massive radiation leaks in the future, reports The Wall Street Journal. Around 1,300 spent fuel rods and 200 new fuel rods have been sitting in a pool inside one of the plant’s reactors, Unit 4, since it was damaged in March 2011. The four-meter-long rods (around 13 feet) will be pulled out of the plant one at a time by a crane that still needs to be constructed.
There’s a growing number of startups out there that are focusing on building new hardware, and that’s an immensely different problem compared to building a software business, in terms of sourcing resources to use to build the products involved, sourcing talent and solving problems. That’s why Natasha Baker founded SnapEDA, a website and community dedicated to helping hardware engineers connect, and helping businesses connecting with them.
Baker was at Disrupt’s Startup Alley this year, showing off her platform, which she says is essentially a Github for hardware. It’s a community based around sharing CAD design for components in circuit boards and electronics, including tools that allow schematics to be downloaded in a variety of formats compatible with all leading CAD programs, and community validation tools that allow users to flag problems with schematics or to verify that they work correctly.
“What we’re trying to do is show people everything they need to know, so data sheet specs, pricing, and availability,” Baker said in an interview, discussing the parts pages aspect of the site. “But our main value add, the thing that hasn’t really been done before is offering CAD files that are convertible to every format.”
Aside from providing crowd-sourced, multi-format exportable design files for chips, SnapEDA also aspires to be a true community for builders and electronics engineers. Part of that is allowing people to vouch for designs and components, but another part is allowing them to build personal profiles on SnapEDA, which lists their community contributions, as well as tags that describe their expertise. The long-term vision is to use those to help connect them with companies who need to find specific talent. Baker says that it’s a big challenge for companies to find the right people to help them design and build hardware, so there’s a big opportunity in becoming a specialist network for that.
“A lot of the startups don’t know where to find designers,” she said. “Or they have designers, but they don’t know where to find the layout engineers [those who actually plot out the circuit board layout]. So our goal is to connect people who are specialized in different areas of electronic design. Electronic design is so niche, but there’s so many specialities even within electronic design.”
Someone needs to provide a central resource not only for connecting these individuals but also for keeping track of what hardware engineers are doing, and which ones are actually qualified to fill the needs of emerging hardware startups.
“We try to aggregate all the actions that people have taken on the site,” she said. “Because just the way that Github has made it so that people look at your online profile before they hire you as a software engineer, we think the same thing is going to happen for hardware.”
SnapEDA also has a manufacturing platform, where they produce their own boards for customers. They have both low-cost options sourced from China, as well as manufacturing partners based in Portland or Toronto for customers who would rather source things domestically.
Startups supporting hardware startups are becoming more numerous as the opportunity expands, with others like Upverter trying to capitalize on this growing movement. SnapEDA has a good model to follow in Github, but we’ll have to wait and see if hardware has matured enough as a startup category to fuel a big need for this kind of product and community. So far, the company is bootstrapped, but Baker says they’ll start looking for funding pretty soon.
Health gadget company Withings will announce in a few minutes a new funding round from Bpifrance, Idinvest Partners, 360 Capital Partners and existing investor Ventech. Out of the $ 30 million, $ 15 million comes from Bpifrance, the newly created public entity — BPI means Public Investment Bank in French. It is one of its first traditional VC deal.
Withings is perhaps best known for its series of smart scales and body analyzers (along with curious one-off devices like a baby monitor), but the company has recently decided to take a stab at creating yet another sort of fitness gadget: a wearable activity tracker. Calling that particular market crowded is putting it awfully mildly. Devices from the likes of Nike, Jawbone, and Fitbit have put an approachable face on the quantified self movement and have garnered plenty of attention from press and health-conscious consumers.
That’s not to say that Withings’ own fitness tracker, the Pulse, is entering the fight unarmed — it’s capable of measuring its user’s heart rate with a single touch in addition to tracking steps taken and hours slept. The Pulse’s big value though is that it provides even more data for existing Withings device owners to tap into, which helps users piece together a more fully-realized image of their health. That street runs both ways too — the $ 99 Pulse may wind up acting as a sort of Trojan Horse to introduce its users to the rest of Withings’ health-centric gadgets.
While Withings prepares to face off against some highly popular rivals, it plans to use that fresh infusion of capital to strengthen its foundation. In addition to expanding to new markets, and fleshing out its R&D efforts with new hires, Withings hopes to improve its retail distribution deals to more prominently show off its health-conscious wares to consumers. The Paris-based company was founded in 2008 and previously raised $ 3.85 million (€3 million) in 2010.
When it comes to the investment, the most surprising part is that Bpifrance is leading the round. Bpifrance is the new venture with teams from OSEO, CDC Entreprises, and the FSI (France’s sovereign wealth fund). In its past iterations, it has invested in France’s biggest startups, such as Dailymotion, or even well-established companies, such as Orange.
Many startup enthusiasts thought that the public institutions weren’t supporting France’s startup economy by putting money into those companies. Dailymotion was already a “success” when the FSI invested. Withings may indicate a new trend at Bpifrance. The institution could make many smaller and riskier deals to support startups at an early stage.
Researchers at Virginia Tech have actually effectively extracted large amounts of hydrogen from plants, a promising discovery that can assist bring hydrogen closer to the environmentally-friendly fuel source lots of are hoping it can be. Y.H. Percival Zhang and his team achieved this through the use of xylose, the 2nd most widespread sugar in plants. “Our brand-new process could help end our dependence on nonrenewable fuel sources,” Zhang said of the finding. Hydrogen energy has the possible to become a growing sector, but as Forbes mentions, logistical obstacles have actually hindered its development into a low-cost, widely offered power source. By tapping into xylose– found in every plant– researchers have actually made it over one hurdle; they have actually found a.
Researchers at Virginia Tech have successfully extracted large amounts of hydrogen from plants, a promising discovery that could help bring hydrogen closer to the environmentally-friendly fuel source many are hoping it can be. Y.H. Percival Zhang and his team accomplished this through the use of xylose, the second most prevalent sugar in plants. “Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” Zhang said of the finding. Hydrogen energy has the potential to become a booming industry, but as Forbes points out, logistical challenges have hindered its progression into a low-cost, widely available power source. By tapping into xylose — found in every plant — researchers have made it over one hurdle; they’ve found a…
Most of us have faced that sense of dread that comes when our phones lay drained and dysfunctional right when we need them the most. Sure, we could beat ourselves up for not charging them as long as we should have (or perhaps making a bad choice of phones), but that’s where this particularly cute Kickstarter project comes into play. Devotec’s Fuel micro charger is a terribly tiny rechargeable external battery for when a smartphone’s charge goes south at an inopportune moment.
How small is it? Think “clip it to your keychain small.” And it’s shaped like a little gas can! How quaint.
As you could probably guess from its size, there’s only so much juice you’ll be able to squeeze out of this thing. The Fuel’s internal battery is only capable of holding about 500mAh worth of charge, which Devotec figures will give your smartphone up to a half hour of extra talk time — more than enough to fire off a few frenzied emails or to make a brief emergency call or two. I’ve come to appreciate bulkier fare like Mophie’s PowerStation Duo, but folks looking for a pint-sized lifesaver that won’t weigh down their bags will find something to like here.
For this first production run, Devotec is focusing mostly on churning out Fuel chargers with microUSB connectors, but the team is also plugging away on Lightning versions for the iPhone 5s in your life. There’s still no ETA on when to expect them though, so iPhone 5 owners may want to look elsewhere for now — after all, the first-party microUSB-to-Lightning adapter costs nearly as much as the Fuel itself.
Devotec’s Kickstarter campaign launched less than a week ago and the team has already blown past its $ 20,000 funding goal, but you can still lock in your order for a microUSB model for around $ 18 at this point. The final retail version will cost $ 25, so the cheapskates among you may want to jump on this now (like I just did).
Taking its traffic-management technology to Indonesia, Japanese car-maker Honda has successfully road-tested a new smartphone app that on average was able to delay the formation of traffic jams by as much as six minutes and improve fuel-efficiency by as much as 22 percent. Tech-On reports that Honda worked with researchers at the University of Tokyo to deploy a new smartphone app in vehicles between September 2012 to February 2013 on a toll road in Jakarta, which monitored the acceleration and deceleration of a vehicle and instructed drivers on when to slow down.
Each week our pals at Inhabitat recap the week’s most fascinating green advancements and clean technician news for us– it’s the Week in Green.
Silicon Valley dominated this week’s news cycle, starting with Yahoo’s statement that it will not enable employees to work from home. Some are crying nasty, nevertheless, mentioning that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently installed a baby room in her workplace, which unlike a lot of moms, she’s allowed to bring her kid to work. But while Yahoo’s statement could have ruffled some feathers, Google gave greenies reason to smile, as it revealed plans to build a jumbo, green-roofed growth at the technician giant’s Mountain View head office. Not to be outdone, Samsung unveiled strategies to build a garden-filled, environment-friendly Silicon Valley headquarters of its own.Com ments
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NASA believes our return to the Moon could be sustained by extracting water from the lunar soil to produce air and even fuel. But how to get large amounts of that soil without bringing heavy, failure-prone machinery? The agency’s RASSOR (pronounced “razor”) excavator robot might do the trick. Rather than wield big scoops, it has a pair of arm-mounted drums that can change the robot’s profile and dig with far more efficiency than RASSOR’s 100-pound weight would usually allow, using one drum as a grip. The robot’s sheer flexibility is also key to its working for the estimated five years of NASA’s plans: if the crawler ever overturns or gets caught, it can flip over and keep the main treads out of the ground while clearing out soil-related jams. There’s enough refinement needed that a RASSOR 2 follow-up should be in testing around early 2014, but the sequel will be close enough to the ideal design that long-term Moon missions could have the little hauler as a passenger.
Filed under: Robots