Engineering and Technology
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As they age, steel and concrete structures often need to be retrofitted. One such way of strengthening is with Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer – or ‘CFRP’ – laminates. For certain applications, however, this can be a difficult and time-consuming process, and the resulting laminates are prone to debonding. In his research, Dr Abheetha Peiris at the University of Kentucky developed a new type of strengthening in the form of CFRP strip and rod panels. The panels can slot together seamlessly – making them less prone to failure, and far easier to assemble. Through a series of experiments and field applications, he revealed how the new method can be applied for retrofitting both steel and concrete structures.
Satellites are vital to modern civilization, powering the GPS in our phones, enabling long-range communication, and giving us insights into Earth’s climate and the universe beyond. We now launch thousands of new satellites into space each year, dramatically increasing the risk of collisions. Such satellite collisions create debris that can damage more satellites. Thomas Kleinig and his colleagues are developing and testing a new approach to avoid collisions by exploiting a unique property of the thin atmosphere that satellites travel through.
Organic molecules dissolved in rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are essential to plant and animal life. Some of these molecules are also degraded and enter a complex cycle of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur containing compounds. Surprisingly, scientists currently have a limited understanding of the fate of these molecules. Dr Daisuke Minakata and his colleagues from Michigan Technological University are involved in an ambitious programme to overcome this critical knowledge gap.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many universities to deliver their courses online, exposing the limitations of remote learning strategies. Dr Barrett Caldwell and his team at Purdue University devised a new approach that could help to improve online courses in different engineering subjects. The approach builds on his experience while teaching and developing the ‘Perspectives on Systems Engineering’ course, which is part of the curriculum for the Systems Engineering program at Purdue University.
Some of the greatest advances in medical history have revolved around the creation of new materials that can replace damaged tissues in the body. Today, many researchers focus on creating materials that can replace damaged bone tissue, which often cannot heal naturally. Dr Susmita Bose and her team at Washington State University have been researching ways to engineer exciting new materials that mimic the structure of natural bone, allowing us to live happier, healthier, and longer lives.
Dr Alan Litchfield | Jeff Herbert – ReSOLV: Preventing Software Piracy with Cryptocurrency Blockchain Technology
Software piracy is a large and growing problem. The methods used to combat it are becoming increasingly complex as technology evolves, costing software publishers and users billions of dollars each year. Dr Alan Litchfield from the Auckland University of Technology and Jeff Herbert from Cybercraft, New Zealand, have developed a new method to suppress software piracy. In a recent paper, they present ReSOLV – a method for software validation based on cryptocurrency blockchain technology.
The magnetic field that enshrouds Earth is generated by processes deep within the planet’s interior, which geologists still don’t fully understand. Among the effects that remain poorly studied are brief variations in the strength of the magnetic field, which occur over timescales of several decades. Through detailed mathematical analysis, Dr Klaudio Peqini and Professor Bejo Duka, both at the University of Tirana in Albania, explore how these variations could arise from changes in the flows of material at the boundary between Earth’s core, and its thick layer of mantle.
Across the globe, climate change is driving extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, with increasing frequency, duration, and intensity. Accurately assessing the flow of water through rivers – or river discharge – could help us forecast extreme weather events and prevent loss of life. Sensors onboard satellites could provide more accurate and in-depth measurements of river variables than ever before. As part of the RIDESAT project, funded by the European Space Agency, Dr Angelica Tarpanelli and her team of researchers from Italy and Denmark investigate how combining remote sensing data from satellites could support river discharge assessments.
Professor Andrew R. Barron | Repurposing Plastic COVID Facemasks to Improve the Steel-Making Process
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, billions of plastic facemasks have been used and disposed of, with the majority destined for landfill. Professor Andrew R. Barron and his team at the Energy Safety Research Institute in Swansea, Wales, have developed an innovative method for repurposing these used facemasks. By transforming them into a powdered material that acts as a reducing agent, Professor Barron’s team aim to make the steel-making process more energy-efficient and sustainable.
Wide-area scans of the sky are an important tool for astronomers as they seek to learn more about the universe. However, as the latest observation techniques have become increasingly sensitive, faint objects within these surveys can appear to blend together. Through his research, Dr Peter Melchior at Princeton University presents a computer-based framework for disentangling these blended sources, and for artificially reconstructing the components they contain. Named SCARLET, the technique could soon help astronomers to study the depths of the observable universe in unprecedented levels of detail.
The engine of a typical passenger vehicle is made up of hundreds of mechanical parts. These parts require lubrication to prevent them from overheating and to keep them working efficiently. Ken Hope and his team at Chevron Phillips Chemical, headquartered in Texas, have analysed the extent to which different types of lubricant oils reduce friction. They then used this data to estimate how an optimised oil mixture can achieve an overall improvement in engine efficiency.
Medical professionals require years of training before they can describe ultrasound images of developing foetuses. Dr Mohammad Alsharid and colleagues from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford suggest that this task could one day be carried out by machine learning algorithms. In their latest study, the team showed how neural networks, trained by the expert knowledge of real sonographers, could convert subtle features within the images into accurate, readable captions.
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