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