"Smart dressing" is developing a new meaning, thanks
to engineers at the Virginia Tech Department of Electrical
and Computer Engineering.
The engineers are at work on e-textiles - textiles interwoven
with electronic omponents - reports Machine Design (Cleveland,
Ohio). The e-textiles contain clustered microphones that can
pinpoint sources of sound.
The textiles could be used to locate military vehicles. Another
potential application is clothing for the visually handicapped,
who could use the technology to obtain cues about approaching
A Digital Ship Upon a Digital Sea?
The first entirely digitally designed frigate has been created
by DCN, a military shipyard maker in Brest, France. Shipyard
engineers used product lifecycle management software to track
designs and study images of the ship, working as a team regardless
of each one's own location.
The software is credited with a 17-per-cent cost reduction
for hull and structure production, as well as a significant
reduction in several other areas, reports Mechanical Engineering
A Kansas plant has succeeded in what is likely the largest
galvanizing job ever done on a component. A Plus Galvanizing
Inc. of Salina, Kan., used a bath of molten zinc to galvanize
a 42-ton steel component for a cable-stayed bridge, Engineering
News-Record (New York) reports.
The part is for the steel core reinforcing assembly for concrete
towers over the Olentangy River in Columbus, Ohio. Previously,
the company had not dipped anything heavier than 26 tons.
Playing with Fire a Serious Problem
Fire Engineering (Fair Lawn, N.J.) reports that fires started
by children under age six are the leading cause of fire deaths
among preschoolers in the United States. The National Fire
Protection Association found that three out of every four
fires started by children involved lighters or matches.
New Coal Technologies Tested
New coal technologies under study in the United States hold
hope of significantly increasing plant efficiencies. One study
is examining the use of building advanced steam cycle power
plants that operate at 1328° F. Current plants operate
at 1004° F. Power Engineering (Tulsa, Okla.) reports that
the higher steam temperatures would increase average plant
efficiencies from about 35 per cent to nearly 50 per cent.
another study, researchers are building and evaluating a circulating
moving bed combustor. This new type of steam generator significantly
reduces heat transfer surface and could substantially reduce
Emission Credits to Burn
A developer in the United Kingdom has applied for a permit
that would allow him to build a power plant "potentially"
free of greenhouse gases, the Engineering News-Record (New
Valleys Energy Ltd. plans to begin construction next year
on the $600-million plant in Wales. The unit will have an
additional "shift phase" on its gasification combined-cycle
unit that will convert carbon monoxide and water into carbon
dioxide and hydrogen. By 2007, when the European Union's emission
trading system has been set up, the company will be able to
sell its carbon dioxide emissions allowance.
Governments in the European Union agreed in 2002 to introduce
carbon dioxide trading in 2005 as part of the Kyoto Accord
greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Goodbye Wall Street
The zeal for public ownership among engineering and construction
firms is waning fast, according to the Engineering News-Record
(New York). Engineering firms such as EA Engineering, Science
and Technology, Inc. are completing "privatization processes."
The publication says the proportion of publicly owned firms
on Wall Street has dropped from 29 per cent five years ago
to 15 per cent today. Engineering firms appear to believe
that private ownership offers fewer hassles and better potential
Reducing Evaporation to Save Money
A new technology has recently become available that could
help water-intensive industries and municipalities reduce
costs. Mining Engineering (Littleton, Colo.) reports that
the technology, called Water$aver, is a combination of evaporation-control
technology with "a self spreading capability" that
makes it economical.
International testing has found that it reduced water evaporation
by up to 40 per cent, while using food-grade chemicals with
no negative impact. The technology employs fatty alcohols,
viewed as "the only environmental and effective way to
retard water evaporation."
Water$aver can be used to preserve raw water in reservoirs,
canals, lakes, ponds and recreation areas.
Engineering Breathing Space
When it comes to learning more about how and why we breathe
in toxic particles, mechanical engineers have much to contribute,
according to Mechanical Engineering (New York).
Mechanical engineers at North Carolina State University are
using real-world data to create computer simulations of the
way in which toxic solid particles are inhaled into the lungs.
Although that might seem like a biomedical specialty, "its
roots are in fluid dynamics analysis," the publication
Industrialized countries are reporting increases in such chronic
diseases as asthma and lung cancer, creating more demand for
knowledge on how ultra-fine particles become deposited in
human airways and the lungs. The research could assist medical
device makers in creating "smart inhalers" that
distribute medicine in the lungs with optimum efficiency.
A Bridge to the Future?
Talk about finding another use for old detergent bottles
and plastic forks.
A new bridge in New Jersey's Wharton State Forest has been
partly built of recycled, high-density polyethylene and polystyrene,
reports Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.). These substances
are used to make common household items such as plastic dinnerware
and milk jugs.
The one-lane, 17-metre vehicular bridge has a load capacity
of 36 tons and a lifespan of up to 100 years with almost no
maintenance. Dr. Thomas Nosker, a professor of materials engineering
at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says the structure represents
the first use of such beams for structural support.
Irish Engineers Export Hard-Won Knowledge
It's no surprise that Irish engineers should have developed
a reputation for building structures capable of fending off
all sorts of attacks.
According to Engineering News-Record, Northern Ireland engineering
firms such as Teraproof Ltd. have landed contracts in the
United States and as far away as Colombia. The firm's design
enhancements include shatterproof windows, net curtains to
contain flying glass and reinforced structural frames.
Plastic Boon to Potato Farmers
The fine white sand mixed with volcanic ash in the Pacific
Northwest grows great potatoes, but it's tough on tillage
equipment. Mechanical Engineering (New York) reports that
the bronze bearings in tillage machines are replaced twice
or more each season, a job that takes five hours each time.
One company decided to replace the bronze with plastic parts
supplied by Igus Inc. of East Providence, R.I. The parts are
proving to be a big success, costing less than bronze ones
- and lasting 10 times longer.
Collaboration Counts in Boston
The new Boston Art Museum shows what can be accomplished
when engineers and architects communicate well, according
to an article in Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.).
The museum, the first to be built in that city in a century,
is being constructed on a small landfill on the edge of Boston's
harbour, with the shoreline walkway incorporated into its
ground floor and a huge amount of gallery space above.
Markus Schulte of Aurup, N.Y., structural engineer for the
project, says an excellent collaboration with the New York
architects Diller and Scofidio led to a remarkably practical
and straightforward design.
The museum is designed as a box structure featuring a 23-metre
steel frame. The top level is column-free and dramatically
cantilevers toward the harbour. Instead of a costly bathtub
foundation, the building will be constructed directly above
the landfill on deep steel piles.
Quebec Among World's Best
Chile, Quebec and Australia are the world's three most attractive
places to invest in mining, according to a survey recently
published in Engineering & Mining Journal (Chicago). The
survey, compiled annually by the Fraser Institute, is based
on the views of industry executives on the mineral and policy
potential of 47 geopolitical jurisdictions.
Chile ranked 100th for mineral potential and 85th for policy
potential, ahead of Quebec with 98th for mineral potential
and 77st for policy potential. Alberta had an overall rank
of 35, behind Saskatchewan with a 41st.
Hot Springs, Hot Nanotechnology
You wouldn't expect that the steaming hot mineral geysers
in Yellowstone National Park would lead to a breakthrough
by NASA scientists, but that's exactly what has happened.
Aerospace America (Reston, Va.) reports that heat-loving bacteria
called Thermus aquaticus, seen in the hot springs at the park,
could enable an industry that produces "incredibly small
sensors." The ultra-small sensors could be used to create
electronics components 10 to 100 times smaller than today's.
NASA says the protein cells from the robust, heat-loving bacteria
in the geysers can be genetically engineered to create computer
chips and other electronic products that could spark "revolutions
in electronics and computing."
System Helps Engineers See Beyond Surface
A new coating system holds hope of helping engineers face
the challenges of installations that require routine inspection
and maintenance, according to Power Engineering (Tulsa, Okla.).
Called the Optically Active Coating System, the system provides
a high-quality industrial coating that still allows quality-control
inspectors "to see down to the substance below."
The process, produced by NCP Coatings, is designed for equipment
requiring lifetime inspections for structural integrity, leaks