It’s a Bridge, It’s an Island, It’s a Seashell

Freelance writer

Imagine a bridge that looks like a shimmering seashell. That’s exactly what the citizens of the historic city of Graz, Austria, got when they approved a new bridge across the Mur River in the centre of town.

Known as the Island in the Mur, the bridge is a massive, curvilinear structure that Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.) calls inventive and unconventional. It consists of a bowl and a dome that join seamlessly and rest on a steel pontoon. Ramps to the island from both sides of the river lead to walkways throughout the structure.
An Austrian structural engineering firm, Zenkner & Handel, worked on the project with the architects, the Acconci Studio of New York City.

Re-tirement Made Easier
Stop buying tires! That’s the surprising proposition that Goodyear Tire will soon offer to some clients, according to the Engineering & Mining Journal (Jacksonville, Fla.).

Instead, the company will suggest clients purchase a new product that’s a “significant departure” from traditional tire designs used in mining. The new design decouples the two tire components, the casing and the tread belt, and turns them into replaceable, serviceable parts.

Goodyear believes the new design is a significant improvement because tire changes on large mining trucks can typically take up to nine hours.

I Spy an Engineer
Ever thought about the contribution engineers have made to the venerable trade of espionage? Mechanical Engineering (New York) advises that if you’re curious, and find yourself in Washington, D.C., you’ll want to track down the city’s International Spy Museum.

Engineers have had a hand in everything from the Trojan Horse to the Minox camera, used in the spy industry for 50 years. Their creativity shows up in the specially designed chest cameras fitted on homing pigeons in the First World War, and in a lipstick pistol designed by Soviet engineers in the 1960s.

The engineering ingenuity of Americans is reflected by the Dog Doo Transmitter, an effective camouflage that hid homing beacons to direct aircraft for a strike or reconnaissance.

The publication also notes that you might – if you’re sharp enough and have the right equipment – see some modern-day espionage at work. There are more spies in Washington than anywhere else in the world.

A Pesky Solution
Putting the bite on mosquitoes – effectively and quickly – is something most of us would applaud.

A Malaysian company has found a way to make that happen, thanks to its use of new 3-D CAD software. According to Mechanical Engineering (New York), Coil Master has cut its time to market by half by using the mechanical design software.
The company makes mosquito coils that emit a slow-burning mosquito repellant and are popular in warmer climates. The software is employed to “virtually assemble” the coil before actual production, ensuring that all parts work together. According to Tan Huat Jin, the company’s director of engineering, it allows the team to look through each part for specific measurement.

The Age of Coal?
The worldwide demand for energy is expected to increase by 70 per cent during the next 30 years, says the International Energy Agency in a report for the World Coal Institute.

Although it advocates the use of all forms of energy, the report emphasizes coal because of its availability and affordability, notes Mining Engineering (Littleton, Colo.). The publication states that coal produces 39 per cent of the world’s electricity and 70 per cent of its steel. Its use in power generation is expected to increase 60 per cent by 2030.

But coal’s bad, right? Not necessarily. The report also purports that if current emission levels by coal-fired power plants were brought up to German emission levels, carbon dioxide reductions alone would better standards proposed by the Kyoto Protocol.

Super Stacker Wins Award
A device that prevents stockpile dust from contaminating surroundings has won the Industrial Structures and Engineering Machines category at the 2003 Steel Awards. The awards are hosted by the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction.

The design is the first of its kind in southern Africa, reports Mining Engineering (Littleton, Colo.). The circular Bateman/Schade stacker at the remote Skorpion Mine in Namibia is enclosed within a 30-metre dome, preventing contamination of the surroundings by wind-blown dust.

The Allure of Permafrost Gas
The promise of extracting natural gas hydrates trapped in ice-like solids under the Arctic permafrost has allured some energy experts for years. However, figuring out the difference between plain old ice and energy-rich hydrates is expensive and time-consuming, notes Mechanical Engineering (New York).

A new portable X-ray scanner, however, might speed the process. Mechanical engineer Barry Freifeld of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California developed the new scanner, which can examine hydrate samples in the field.

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