And he taketh away! Victor Petrenko, Professor at Dartmouth
College, has it in for ice. No more scraping in the driveway, defrosting the
freezer, or de-icing at the airport. No more eco-enemy anti-freeze!
Ice has a charged surface--the opposite of whatever it is stuck
to--due to a unique layer of mobile protons. Petrenko found that, because the
layer displays liquid-like properties, when he sends a small electrical current
across a conductive surface covered in ice, such as an airplane wing,
electrolysis frees the protons, transforming the thin layer into hydrogen and
oxygen. The trapped gasses then break through to the surface, shedding the ice
in the process. "The principal is similar to that of parallel plate capacitors,"
says Professor Petrenko.
The charge could theoretically also be applied to freezers to keep
ice from forming inside, on automobile windshields, or on electrical lines. New
England power companies like that idea since an ice storm in 1998 cost them
about $5 billion dollars. And I'm pretty happy about not waiting in the deicing
line at the airport. Commercial applications are years away, but prototypes are
very promising, according to Petrenko. His ideas are simple, but so novel that
he has been awarded a 2000 Discover Award for Technological Innovation in
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
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.