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BIOGAS FROM CACTUS

Image: REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Biogas from cactus is a TechnologyLandmark for use in an OmegaMap. The information is derived from an article written by Sean Fleming on March 22, 2019 and presented by the World Economic Forum.

Since 2016 a new form of biogas has been used in Mexico to power agricultural equipment. Rogelio Sosa López, is a farmer and tortilla producer from Zitácuaro. He was always searching for new ways to keep operating costs down. Working with a colleague, Antonio Rodríguez they pulped cactus to make biogas.

It is now being used by the city of Zitacuaro to fuel a fleet of its vehicles. The fuel is made by a company called Nopalimex. The fuel has a number of advantages. Its functionality is improved – it costs about $0.65 per litre which is about one third cheaper than gasoline or diesel. It is said to burn much cleaner than conventional fuel. It is derived from a biological source, the prickly pear, commonly called the nopal and more formally Opuntia. This source grows prolifically to a height of seven or eight metres. Furthermore the nopal grows in areas not used for the cultivation of food.

Biogas from cactus contributes to the functionality of Process-Energy. Its position in the Functionality Grid is illustrated below. Its level of maturity is estimated at a technology readiness level of TRL 7. This level is described as: “System prototype demonstrated in operational environment”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

DNA AS GENERAL DATA STORAGE

DNA data storage is regarded as a Technology Landmark for use in an OmegaMap. It is estimated that 160 zettabytes per year storage capacity will be required worldwide by 2025.The information presented here is based on an article “The Rise of DNA Data Storage” written by Megan Molteni and published in Wired on June 26, 2018. This article cites many sources, but focuses on the work of Hyunjun Park at Catalog Technologies.

The locus of innovation is a new Principle of Operation embodied in a system using the code for of DNA (symbolised by the letters C G A and T)  as well as the carrier for this code as well (four nitrogen containing nucleobases (cytosineguanineadenine, and thymine). This is a step beyond present data storage devices such as magnetic tape, silicon chips, hard disc drives and flash memories. In these cases the code and the carrier are two separate elements.

The effect of this innovation is to improve the Functionality : Store-Information. Its position is indicated on the Functionality Grid. (See diagram below).

Three Functional Performance Metrics are recorded. (i) Data stored per unit of space. At present hard disc drives store approximately 30 million gigabytes per cubic metre, while the potential for DNA is 600 billion gigabytes in the same space. (ii) Duration of storage. Hard disc drives need to be refreshed once in five years, tape has to be replaced after ten years, while DNA is stable over millennia. (iii) Energy used to store a unit of information. Details are not available but present data storage centers require as much electricity as a medium sized country. The functional performance metric for DNA storage is orders of magnitude less.

The Technology readiness level on a scale of 1 to 9seems to be TRL3 : i.e., “Experimental proof of concept”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

BIRDS PATROL VESSELS AT SEA

Source: New York Times

Seabirds carrying radar detectors are regarded as a Technology Landmark for use in an OmegaMap. Widespread use could limit illegal ship activity.

The information presented here is based on an article “They’re Stealthy at Sea but They Can’t Hide From the Albatross” written by Katherine Kornel and published in the New York Times on 27 January 2020. This article comments on the work of Dr. Henri Weimerskirch a marine ecologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Chize, France.

The locus of innovation is a new Principle of Operation combining the flight patterns of Albatrosses and data logging devices fitted to the birds. This makes it possible to pinpoint the locality of vessels engaged in illegal or nefarious activities. They switch their Automatic Identification System transponders off to avoid detection.

The effect of this innovation is to improve the Functionality : Transport-Information. Its position in the techno-sphere is indicated on the Functionality Grid. (See diagram below).

Two Functional Performance Metrics characterise the innovation:  (i) Coverage – surveying larger areas of ocean with less effort. (ii) Accuracy – positioning targeted vessels more precisely in a given expanse of ocean.

The Technology readiness level on a scale of 1 to 9 isTRL6 : i.e., “Technology demonstrated in relevant environment”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)

For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-2

CHEAPER LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES

Source: BloombergNEF

Cheaper Lithium-ion batteries are regarded as constituting a Technology Landmark for use in an OmegaMap. Its widespread use would contribute significantly to making renewable energy storage more popular.

The information presented here is based on an article “A Behind the Scenes Take on Lithium-ion Battery Prices” written by Logan Goldie-Scot and published in Bloomberg NEF, on March 5, 2019. Prices are anticipated to fall at a rate of 18% per annum to the year 2030.

The locus of innovation is a combination of new Principles of Operation causing higher energy densities and cycle lives, as well as larger production runs.

The effect of this innovation is to improve the Functionality : Store-Energy. Its position in the techno-sphere is indicated on the Functionality Grid. (See diagram below).

As mentioned above, two Functional Performance Metrics are referred to:  (i) Energy density – kilowatt-hours per unit of weight or space. (ii) Number of recharge cycles. This source does not provide information on these.

The Technology readiness level, on a scale of 1 to 9, is TRL9 : i.e., “Actual system proven in operational environment”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

LIQUID SOLAR FUEL

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Bottled solar fuel is regarded as a Technology Landmark for use in an OmegaMap. Its widespread use would contribute significantly to making solar energy storable and transportable.

The information presented here is based on an article “Scientists can now bottle solar energy, turn it into liquid fuel” written by Robby Berman and published in bigthink.com on November 11, 2018. This article cites an article entitled “Emissions-free energy system saves heat from the summer sun for winter” that appeared in Chemistry and Engineering of Chalmers University in Sweden. The research team at Chalmers is headed by Prof. Kasper-Moth Poulsen.

The locus of innovation is a new Principle of Operation embodied in a system calledMolecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage (MOST)”. It consists of two components: (i) A compound that is a combination of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. When it is exposed to sunlight it forms an energy storing liquid isomer. (ii) A cobalt-based catalyst. 

When the isomer is passed through the catalyst the stored energy is released as heat.

The effect of this innovation is to improve the Functionality : Store-Energy. Its position in the techno-sphere is indicated on the Functionality Grid. (See diagram below).

Three Functional Performance Metrics are recorded. (i) Watt-hours multiplied by time, per kilogram of compound. A value of 250 watt hours for 18 years is reported. (ii) Number of storage and release cycles. A minimum of 125 cycles is on record. (iii) Energy waste released to the environment. This is zero.

The Technology readiness level on a scale of 1 to 9 seems to be TRL3 : i.e., “Experimental proof of concept”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)

For descriptions of:

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

 

ELECTRICITY BEAMED TO MOVING OBJECT

This technology is regarded as a Technology Landmark for use in an OmegaMap. Its widespread use would contribute significantly to the effectiveness in which electricity is transmitted to moving objects such as motor vehicles that now have to be idle while recharging.

The information presented here is based on an article entitled “Researchers at Stanford have made a milestone achievement towards making Wireless Electricity Transmission a Reality”, written by Felix Omondi in innov8tivemag, on April 14, 2018.

It was Nikola Tesla who pioneered the concept of wireless transmission of electricity. His device is now known as the Tesla coil. Its function was to transmit electricity from a stationary position to a stationary object.

The recent research by Prof. Shanhui Fan at Stanford has added the ability to transmit electricity to a moving object. His team uses a new principle of operation relying on a “feedback resistor and voltage amplifier system that automatically detects where the energy should be pointing”.

The effect of this innovation is to improve the functionality of Transport-Energy. Its position in the techno-sphere is indicated on the Functionality Grid. (See illustration below).

An appropriate functional performance metric is energy transmitted x distance covered per unit of energy required. At present this is about half of that which would be needed to recharge a moving electric vehicle.

The technology readiness level is said to be TRL 4 on a scale of 1-9, i.e. “Technology validated in lab”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)

For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC FROM CACTUS

Photo by: Veronika Nedelcu on Unsplash

Biodegradable plastic from cactus has been identified as a Technology Landmark for use in an OmegaMap. If this technology succeeds it will lessen the accumulation of plastic pollution at present afflicting the ecosphere. The information source for this sketch is an article “This Mexican is making biofuel from cactus plants” written by Sean Flemming on March 22, 2019 and published in the World Economic Forum. Background information is contained in an article entitled “Nopal juice forms basis for new biodegradable plastic” published in Mexico News Daily on June 12, 2018.

Sandra Pascoe of the University of the Valley of Atemajac used the juice from the Nopal cactus to form plastic sheeting. She is now cooperating with the University of Guadelajara Centre for Biological and Agricultural Research.

The Nopal juice contains “…monosaccharides and polysaccharides, which can be combined with glycerol, natural waxes and proteins to create a liquid that forms into plasticky sheets.” These plastic sheets decompose naturally when buried.

The functionality that this invention is focused on is ProcessMatter. Its position in the functionality grid is illustrated below. Details of functional performance metrics are not available at this stage.

The technology readiness level (TRL) on a scale of 1-10 is judged to be TRL 4 “Technology validated in lab”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • Functional performance metrics; pp. 40-43
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

ENERGY INDEPENDENT TREATMENT OF EFFLUENT

Credit: zorabc/DepositPhotos

Seaside located effluent treatment that does not rely on an external energy source has been identified as a Technology Landmark for an OmegaMap. Its successful application would lessen the pollution caused by interruptions in power supply which result in untreated effluent being discharged into the ocean.

The information presented here is sourced from an article written by David Szondy, “Blue power”could make wastewater plants energy-independent”, New Atlas, July 30 2019.

Research at the University of Stanford has pointed to a process that is energy independent and carbon neutral. Its principle of operation is to use the salinity gradient that occurs when effluent is mixed with seawater. When this mixture is washed over electrodes made of Prussian Blue and polypyrrole, a battery is created.

The functionality focus is Process-Energy. Its position in the Functionality Grid is illustrated in the diagram below.

Two functional performance metrics (FPMs) can be considered. A functional performance metric that is used to express the reduction in energy needed for producing one unit of treated effluent. This would reflect an increase to the theoretical limit as external energy input becomes zero. Another functional performance metric could be output of energy related to the input of effluent. In this case: 0.65 kW/h of electricity per 1 cubic meter of effluent. Data on the improvement of this ratio is not available. 

The Technology readiness level on a scale of 1-10 seems to be at TRL 4 – i.e., “Technology validated in lab”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • Functional performance metrics; pp. 40-43
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23


STEEL BLAST FURNACE POWERED BY HYDROGEN

Steel blast furnaces powered by hydrogen would contribute significantly to a reduction in carbon emissions. This development is considered a Technology Landmark for an Omegamap.

The information presented below is based on an article; “How to Power a Steel Blast Furnace Using Only Hydrogen” written by Carolene Delbert on November 15 2019, in the Popular Mechanics Newsletter. This was based on an article published in Renew Economy written by Michael Mazengrab on November 13 2019. It was brought to our attention by Alan Brent in a post on LinkedIn.

Steelmakers in Germany moved toward carbon neutral steel production by using hydrogen to power a blast furnace. The company, ThyssenKrupp at its facility in North-Rhine Westphalia, used a new principle of operation. In its “furnace 9” it fed hydrogen into one of 28 tuyeres, or nozzles, that otherwise supply coal into the blast furnace. Following the successful trial, ThyssenKrupp plans to scale up the injection to all 28 tuyeres within the furnace and aims to eventually run at least three furnaces completely on hydrogen by 2023. It has committed to reducing emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The functionality focused on here is Process-Energy. It is illustrated in the Functionality Grid below. To make 1000 kilograms of steel requires 780 kilograms of coal. Data could not be found on the input requirements of hydrogen. It is therefore not possible to calculate Functional Performance Metrics. However the company aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The technology readiness of this innovation is judged to be TRL 5 on a scale of 1 to 9, i.e. “Technology validated in relevant environment”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

LASER BEAM BOOSTS HARD DISC DRIVE

In an article on the Seagate Blog, December 2, entitled “HAMR Milestone: Seagate Achieves 16TB Capacity on Internal HAMR Test Units”, John Paulsen describes an enhanced hard disk drive. It has been identified as a Technology Landmark for an OmegaMap.

The abbreviation HAMR stands for Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording. “HAMR uses a new kind of media magnetic technology on each disk that allows data bits, or grains, to become smaller and more densely packed than ever…” The essence of the innovation lies in the principle of operation. A laser beam is used to heat tiny spots on the disk.

The functional performance metric is terabytes per drive. The units described by Paulsen store 16TB per drive. These are internal test units. The company is working on 20TB per drive by 2020. These units will be delivered at the same size as a conventional hard drive.

Their technology readiness level is judged to be TRL4, i.e., “Technology validated in lab”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of:

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23

FOREST THERAPY: USING THE HEALING POWER OF TREES

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The book Forest Bathing by Dr. Qing Li, Chairman of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine, describes a medical technology landmark. It is considered a Technology Landmark for an OmegaMap.

The description starts with the natural pleasant sensation that many people have, while spending time in a forest. The five human senses can all come into play –  sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

The book then turns to aspects of healing. These include; reduced blood pressure, improved cardiovascular and metabolic activity, lower blood sugar levels, increasing the count of natural killer cells, and increasing  production of anti-cancer proteins. These have been scientifically observed by comparing the profiles of people who have engaged in forest therapy with the profiles of control groups. The former significantly outrank the latter.

This leads to a fundamental question. Is there  a physically identifiable emanation in a forest that carries the healing power? The answer suggested is “yes”. It is called phytoncide and is produced by trees to protect them from afflictions. Scientific studies have shown that phytoncides can be of benefit to humans as well. While research is ongoing we should regard available evidence as pointing to a medical technology landmark.

Forest therapy contributes to the functionality of Process-Matter. Its position in the Functionality Grid is illustrated below. Its level of maturity is estimated at a Technology Readiness Level of TRL 6. This level is described as: “Technology demonstrated in relevant environment”.

Technical terminology is covered in: Van Wyk, Rias, (2017) Technology: Its Fundamental Nature, Beau Bassin, Mauritius, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, (http://amzn.to/2Avsk3r)
For descriptions of: 

  • Technology Landmark; pp. 83-84, Diagram 11.1, Stage 3
  • Principle of operation; p. 20
  • Functionality; pp. 24-25
  • OmegaMap; pp. 92-93
  • Functionality Grid; pp. 29-32
  • Technology readiness levels; pp. 22-23