Terri-Jane Yuzda


Humans on Mars Would Need Spaceships with More Radiation Resistance

Freelance Writer

Will it soon be safe for people to spend time on Mars?

Life on Mars - can we survive the radiation?

NASA scientists are closer to an answer, according to Aerospace America (Reston, Va.). The problem is the higher radiation levels on Mars than on Earth. Since the average healthy male stands a 20 per cent chance of dying from cancer, scientists want to know how much that risk would increase with a trip to Mars. Initial reports place that figure at between one and 19 per cent, with the latter figure judged unacceptable.

Work being done by NASA engineers on polyethylene shielding is viewed as promising in the drive to build more radiation-resistant spaceships.

Talk About Double Duty

A new convertible tunnel in Malaysia has been designed to both relieve traffic bottlenecks and help reduce flooding, according to Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.).
During very wet weather, the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel in Kuala Lumpur will close to traffic and instead be used to channel storm water.

In moderately wet weather, traffic will proceed and the SMART system will channel water along a bypass within the tunnel.

Chem City?

The eyes of the international petroleum community are on the Chinese city of Nanjing as it seeks to become a world centre for chemical production. According to Chemical Engineering (Washington, D.C.), Nanjing is “high on the list” of petrochemical companies worldwide trying to tap the Chinese market.

Private investment in the Nanjing Chemical Industry Park is predicted to reach $7.5 billion US in 2005.

Sun Shines on Solar

Solar is getting red-hot in Germany.

The EngineeringNews-Record (New York) says that work will soon start on what is believed to be the world’s largest solar photovoltaic station. The plant, in Gottelborn, is being built to take advantage of market conditions created by German legislation effective last January.

The legislation requires electricity distributors to purchase the entire output of solar plants.

Paraffin Power

So you don’t give a candle stick for paraffin?

Think again. According to Mechanical Engineering (New York), paraffin, as a rocket fuel, can be twice as powerful as traditional propellants. Brian Cantwell, an engineering professor at Stanford University in California, came to that conclusion after testing paraffin in a small rocket in Nevada last fall.

Lose Those Cattails

Operations have begun in the largest constructed wetland in the world, Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.) reports. The publication calls the recent movement of water through the South Florida Water Management District a “critical milestone in efforts to restore the Everglades.”

The area in the constructed wetland encompasses 16,500 acres (6,680 hectares) and is built to remove pollutants in runoff before they go into the Everglades. Phosphorus is the major concern, the article states, noting that the design target is to reduce the pollutant to 10 to 20 parts per billion.

Gary Goforth, the project’s chief consulting engineer, says ongoing research has found that particular types of submerged aquatic vegetation are most effective in removing the substance. Previously cattails had been used, but are now being replaced.

No More Disappearing Steaks

Keeping the meat supply secure is taking on new meaning, Food Engineering (Troy, Miss.) reports. In an effort to cut down on shoplifting, Cryovac Food Packaging has engineered new meat soaker pads that conceal electronic article surveillance tags. The tags are micro-wave safe and can be used for high-end meats.

Stop the Revolving Door

Revolving doors came to a halt in Japan this spring following the death of a six-year-old boy in Tokyo. According to the Engineering News-Record (New York), the motion detectors in the door at the Mori Tower are supposed to stop the door if they detect an object in the way. Police investigations suggest that the sensors may have a blind spot where they should have detected the boy’s head.

Keep it Simple

The capital costs of copper mining can be reduced by simplifying process plant design, the Engineering & Mining Journal (Jacksonville, Fla.) says.
A new feasibility study for the Las Cruces copper project near Seville, Spain, focused on the exclusive use of atmospheric leaching, instead of combined pressure and atmospheric leaching. The streamlining cut capital costs without affecting copper recovery.

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