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Search Tags: Scott Carr
Fossil fuel power plants generate about two-thirds of the world's total electricity, and are expected to continue to play an important role in the years ahead. But, increasing energy demands worldwide means that there will be a need to better monitor power plants for signs of age and inefficiency, while stricter emission requirements will require higher levels of performance, capacity, and efficiency.
The U.S. Department of Energy is about to fund five projects that will develop technologically sophisticated monitoring networks for advanced fossil energy power systems.
The projects will support efforts by the Office of Fossil Energy's Advanced Research-Coal Utilization Science Program. They'll study new ways to develop and validate models of these networks; and the wireless, self-powered sensors used for advanced, next-generation power systems. They'll monitor the status of equipment, the degradation of materials, and the conditions that impact the overall health of any one component or system in the harsh high-temperature, highly corrosive environments of advanced power plants.
These advanced networks will help enhance the overall reliability, performance, and availability of emerging near-zero emissions power production systems.
$6.5 million will be invested in the projects, with nearly $5 million from the Energy Department and the remaining $1.5 million in cost share provided by the recipients.
Technology developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Lab will extend the life of light-emitting diode lamps. The invention could save U.S. municipalities millions of dollars every year in replacement fixture costs and maintenance, as the lamps are increasingly in demand for uses such as street lights and parking garage lighting. New graphite foam technology has been licensed to LED North America, which specializes in providing LED lighting products for municipal, commercial and industrial applications. Cooling LED lamps is critical to increasing their efficiency, considering that each 10-degree decrease in temperature can double the life of the lighting components. The newly licensed graphite foam offers many advantages over comparable heat sink materials such as copper and aluminum.
When NASA scientists were stymied last year in trying to devise a formula for predicting solar flares, they took an unusual approach: They posted their problem online, and offered a prize to anyone who could solve it. One requirement: the person with the winning solution would have to fork over exclusive rights to the idea - in exchange for a $30,000 prize. 579 people considered the challenge, while only five submitted entries. The winner was a retired radio frequency engineer from New Hampshire who offered an algorithm that may be a first step in helping NASA predict when solar particles might endanger astronauts or spacecraft. Top officials within the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget have called the contest the beginning of a huge movement. Now, the website challenge-dot-gov allows agencies to post challenges, create blogs and discussions, and reward winners with an array of incentives.
Air Force headquarters is restructuring parts of its space program. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley says the changes will streamline space operations, and will apply to headquarters, but not field offices. The review involved over 70 key people and organizations, including the Air Force, the Department of Defense, Congress and other space related groups within government and the commercial sector. Among the changes, the Air Force undersecretary will take charge of the space program. Also, the job of space acquisition has been moved out of the undersecretary of the Air Force's office to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. The Secretary says the changes will allow Air Force to perform space work in a more streamlined and effective way, with the ultimate goal of providing the best space support to the warfighter.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching a third pilot program with the aim of improving the delivery of Veterans health information, while also moving the Department closer to getting a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record in place for every veteran. An Indianapolis VA Medical Center will partner with the large Indiana Health Information Exchange to start securely exchanging electronic health records using the Nationwide Health Information Network. Similar to other pilots being conducted in Norfolk and San Diego, health care providers in the public and private sectors will be able to electronically share the health information of participating vets receiving health care at the Indianapolis Center. The Indianapolis pilot program will run through the end of 2012.
Traditional surveillance cameras can be a great help to law enforcement officers for a range of missions, including canvassing a crowd for criminal activity, or trailing a terrorist. But there are shortfalls, like a loss of visual contact with the rest of the scene when zooming in on a specific point of interest. A new video surveillance system being developed now by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate called the Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (or ISIS) takes new camera technology - and real-time image-stitching - and bolts it to a ceiling, mounts it on a roof, or fastens it to a truck-mounted mast. A unique interface then allows the user to maintain a full field of view, while a focal point of choice can be magnified. Like a fisheye lens, ISIS sees v-e-r-y wide. But, whereas a typical fisheye lens distorts an image and can only provide limited resolution, video from ISIS is perfectly detailed, from edge-to-edge.
The Department of Homeland Security has embarked on a project to develop an advanced sensor system for monitoring shipping containers from their point-of-storage to release in the maritime supply chain. The Advanced Container Security Device (or ACSD) is a small unit that attaches to the inside of a container and monitors all six sides for any intrusion or the presence of human cargo. If the device detects such an intrusion or presence it transmits alarm information through the Marine Asset Tag Tracking System to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The ACSD will also build in a standard plug-and-play interface so that other security or commercial sensors (such as those measuring radiological, chemical, or biological factors) can be easily integrated through a standard interface. 40 prototype systems have been delivered, tested and evaluated. This fiscal year, the project plans to remedy shortfalls discovered during prototype testing and put improvements in place.
A team from the 45th Space Wing has successfully launched the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite with the mission of providing secure, protected communications capability across a wide spectrum of military mission areas, including land, sea and air warfare. Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton calls the launch "historic." Its benefits, he says, will be felt in special operations, strategic nuclear deterrence, strategic defense, theater missile defense and space operations and intelligence. The 45th Space Wing's mission is to assure access to - what they call - the higher frontier and to support global military operations by delivering space effects that protect and defend the nation through global vigilance, reach and power.
An expected flood of retirements in the technology industry is leading U.S. aerospace and defense companies to step up their support for educational programs that will encourage students to pursue technical careers. A study by Aviation Week magazine found that, among companies with more than 100,000 workers, 19 percent of employees are now at retirement age, and that the figure will jump to more than 30 percent by the end of 2012. In reaction, companies like Raytheon are sponsoring student robotics competitions and forming partnerships with technical schools in an effort to address the expected shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The problem hits home for aerospace and defense companies especially, as many engineering jobs in the field are only open to U.S. citizens.
A little wax and soap will help build electrodes for cheaper lithium ion batteries. According to a study in an August issue of Nano Letters, a new one-step method will allow battery developers to explore lower-priced alternatives to popular lithium ion-metal oxide batteries. Consumers use them in everything from cell phones to toothbrushes, and they're being tried in automobiles. But, most lithium ion batteries available today are designed with an OXIDE of metal such as cobalt, nickel, or manganese which are relatively heavy and expensive. Scientists with the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Lab have been experimenting with cheaper metals and the more stable phosphate in place of oxide. Researchers say, paraffin can provide a good medium in which to grow lighter, cheaper electrode materials.