Lightweight metal composite floats on water

In a development that could mean big things in the automotive and marine industries, researchers from Deep Springs Technology (DST) and the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering have created a new metal matrix composite that is so light it can float on water.


The magnesium alloy matrix composite is what is known as a syntactic foam: a type of composite material created by filling a metal, polymer or ceramic matrix with hollow particles. In this case, a magnesium alloy matrix is reinforced with hollow particles of silicon carbide, resulting in what the researchers claim is the world’s first lightweight metal matrix syntactic foam. Read more

The LifeStraw makes dirty water clean

More than one billion people – one sixth of the world’s population – are without access to safe water supply. At any given moment, about half of the world’s poor are suffering from waterborne diseases, of which over 6,000 – mainly children – die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water. The world’s most prolific killer though is diarrhoeal disease from bacteria like typhoid, cholera, e. coli, salmonella and many others.

03Safe water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions, especially in crucial areas such as poverty eradication, environmental upgradation, quality of life, child development and gender equality. LifeStraw was developed as a practical response to the billions of people who are still without access to these basic human rights. Read more

“Origami battery” made from paper and dirty water for just a few cents

A foldable, inexpensive paper battery that can generate a small amount of electricity brings a new sense of power to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. An engineer at Binghamton University in New York has developed a battery that creates power through the process of microbial respiration in a drop of dirty water on paper.

origamiIn the system, explained in the July issue of the journal Nano Energy, liquid containing bacteria can be used to power a paper-based sensor, which could be especially useful in areas and situations where access to electricity and resources are scarce.

“Any type of organic material can be the source of bacteria for the bacterial metabolism,” says Seokheun “Sean” Choi, the engineer who developed the battery. “And we don’t need external pumps or syringes because paper can suck up a solution using capillary force.” Read more

Water scarcity

water_scarcity_engWater scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage (where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers).

Water scarcity is among the main problems to be faced by many societies and the World in the XXIst century. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water.

Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon. There is enough freshwater on the planet for seven billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed. Read more

Row-bot cleans dirty water and powers itself by eating microbes

Inspired by the water boatman bug, a team at the University of Bristol has created the Row-bot, a robot prototype that is designed to punt itself across the top of the water in dirty ponds or lakes, and “eat” the microbes it scoops up.

row-bot-8It then breaks these down in its artificial stomach to create energy to power itself. In this way, it generates enough power to continuously impel itself about to seek out more bacteria to feed upon.

The Row-bot consists of two main elements – a propulsion mechanism to move the Row-bot around using a paddle operated by a minuscule 0.75 Watt, brushed DC motor, and its “stomach,” where a microbial fuel cell (MFC) supplies the electric current to the motor powering the paddle. Read more