Clean Hydrogen: Stanford graduate student Haotian Wang and colleagues have developed a novel water splitter that produces clean-burning hydrogen from water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Photo Courtesy of L.A. Cicero/Stanford News Service) Engineering Technology 

Clean Hydrogen Production for 200 Hours

By Kate S. Scientists at Stanford University have just built a low-cost water splitter that uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas. This is an invention that could pave the way for a boom in production of clean-burning cars. The scientists say that their device, which can run nonstop for an unprecedented period of time, could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry. The team used lithium-ion battery technology to create one low-cost catalyst that is capable of driving the entire…

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Eva, the first evaporation-powered vehicle, has a turbine engine that rotates as water evaporates from the walls of the engine (Photo by Xi Chen, Columbia University) Engineering Environment Physics Science Videos Technology 

Turning Evaporation into Electricity

By Kate S. The power of water has long been harnessed by humanity, but one part of the water cycle — evaporation — has been overlooked until now. Many scientists are experimenting with improved solar cells and biofuels, but Columbia University scientists have a new, noteworthy idea. They have announced the development of a novel device that turns evaporation into electricity. In fact, the small prototype generates enough electricity to power a lightbulb and the rotary engine that drives a miniature car. Energy from Evaporation When evaporation energy is scaled…

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Frosted Smart Windows: Window tinting can turn milky for privacy while still allowing 90 percent or more of sunlight to enter (Courtesy of Tim Zarki, University of Cincinnati) Engineering Technology 

Stay Tuned for Low-cost, Smart Windows

By Kate S. Today, the University of Cincinnati announced that, together with industry partners, they’ve invented new ‘smart window’ shade technology that could improve upon existing windows and blinds. The researchers say that this patent-pending research will lead to low-cost window tinting that dynamically adapts for brightness, color, and opacity. The new tech is designed to provide privacy while allowing light in. A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati, Hewlett Packard, and EMD/Merck Research Labs has resulted in a patent-pending product that the team is calling ‘tunable’ window tinting. The…

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Brainprint: Sarah Laszlo, an assistant professor of Psychology, in her laboratory (Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University photographer) Biology Engineering Technology 

Can Brainprints Replace Passwords?

By Kate S. How many passwords do you keep track of? How many have you forgotten? According to researchers from Binghamton University, remembering lots of complicated codes may one day be a thing of the past. The unique way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords. Studying Brain Biometrics The research team monitored the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD. They recorded the brain’s reaction to each group of letters, focusing on the…

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Off-grid tiny house Engineering Environment Technology 

Off-Grid Tiny House Will Blow Your Mind

By Kate S. This is not the set of a sci-fi show. It is the Ecocapsule, an independent off-the-grid micro house from Nice Architects, an architectural studio in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Ecocapsule has been in development since 2008. Recently, a prototype went on display for the first time at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, Austria, and EH Science invited the architects to talk about their egg-shaped creation. “With its off-grid life span, portability, and flexibility, it is suitable for a wide range of applications–from an independent research station or a…

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An array of objects decorated using Columbia Engineering Professor Changxi Zheng's new method -- computational hydrographic printing -- that physically aligns a surface color texture onto a 3D printed surface with a precision never before attained. (Changxi Zheng, Columbia Engineering) Engineering Technology 

3D Printing, Now with Surface Decorations

By Kate S. Science and art go together beautifully. It just got a lot easier and cheaper to add complex surface art to your 3D printing creations. Researchers at Columbia Engineering and Zhejiang University in China have developed a technique that enables more precise 3D printing than ever before. 3D Printing Meets Hydrographic Printing Engineers often find ways to make our lives healthier, safer, and easier to clean. Sometimes, they make things easier to view, or in this case, more visually appealing. The new technique is based on hydrographic printing,…

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This figure shows how a gorilla and a human to grip and move an object. The dots indicate positions in which the object can be gripped. (Yale University) Biology Engineering 

Better Understanding the Human Grip

The human hand is an evolutionary wonder: 26 percent of the bones in our bodies are in our hands. Now, scientists are coming to better understand the grip and special grasping ability of humans and other primates. In a new study, a research team found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision gripping skills comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, a creature that predates the first known stone tools by about a million years. Manual dexterity is traditionally viewed as a key adaptation that…

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Mobile battery life (Patrisyu via freedigitalphotos.net) Citizen Science Engineering Technology 

How to Extend Your Mobile Battery Life

Have you ever frantically searched for an outlet to charge your phone? You are not alone. Mobile devices have a large number of different adjustable system settings, but the energy impact of those settings can be difficult to understand for average users, and even for experts. Now, a team of computer scientists from the University of Helsinki, Finland, have measured how long Android phone batteries last with different combinations of settings and environmental conditions. And yes, we are going to tell you how to get the most out of your…

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Brain-like computer: Artwork courtesy of CoolDesign via freedigitalphotos.net Engineering Physics Technology 

Brain-like Computers from Optical Fibers

Computers that function like a human brain could soon become a reality thanks to new research using optical fibers made of speciality glass. This research has the potential to allow a faster and smarter brain-like computer that can learn and adapt. Researchers from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton, UK, and Centre for Disruptive Photonic Technologies (CDPT) at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, have demonstrated how neural networks and synapses in the brain can be reproduced with optical pulses as information carriers, using special fibers…

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Self-cleaning surfaces (Artwork by Vectorolie via freedigitalphotos.net) Engineering Technology 

New, Durable Self-cleaning Surfaces

Put away the polish!  A new paint that creates self-cleaning surfaces has been developed by a research team at University College London (UCL). The coating can be applied to clothes, paper, glass and steel. When combined with adhesives, the paint maintains its self-cleaning properties after being wiped, scratched with a knife, and scuffed with sandpaper. Self-cleaning surfaces work by being extremely water repellent, but often stop working when damaged or exposed to oil. According to Claire Carmalt, professor of inorganic chemistry at UCL, “The surfaces tend to be mechanically weak…

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