My favorite device was Mr. Fusion. When Doc Brown needed fuel for his time-traveling DeLorean, he simply fed a bunch of organic waste into this tiny energy device. Presumably Mr. Fusion broke down the waste into hydrogen, which fired a thermonuclear fusion reaction to generate energy. The intricate details, of course, are left to the imagination.
It’s not Mr. Fusion, but it’s the next best thing.
Invented by Professor Michael Ladisch and a team of Purdue researchers, the so-called “tactical biorefinery” allows soldiers to convert waste into power in the field. The system is portable by Army standards, roughly the size of a small moving van. Organic waste is fed into the system, which separates food material from residual trash. Food waste is fermented into ethanol. Residual materials (paper, plastic, Styrofoam, and cardboard) are sent to a gasifier to make low-grade propane gas and methane. The gas and ethanol are then combusted in a diesel engine to produce electricity.
While it won’t be sending any DeLoreans 20 years into the future, the tactical biorefinery can certainly reduce the volume of waste generated by military units in the field. If fielded by the military it would also reduce the volume of fuel carried by these units. In addition, the inventors foresee several civilian applications including turning debris into emergency power in disaster areas and provision of supplemental power for restaurants producing food waste.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.