Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Without widespread public charging infrastructure, electric cars are doomed


Recent studies suggesting that charging at home--and, crucially, at work--are by far the most important locations.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Longer-range electric cars coming closer

Battery power is the future, that motoring will become cheaper, cleaner and greener

The Guys at LG Chem have reportedly made a series of breakthroughs that will allow its lithium-ion batteries to be more energy-dense; that is that they can store more energy for a given size and weight, allowing the range of a car they’re fitted to to increase. Indeed, LG Chem claims that its advances in battery technology could allow an ‘average’ electric car to go for around 200-miles, on a single charge.

From a Reuters report, LG Chem Chief Executive Prabhakar Patil said that “several factors are at play that are landing at this 200-mile range. We’ve been talking to several OEMs regarding where our battery technology is and where it’s going.”

Those OEMs, or car makers to you and I, apparently include Ford (which is planning a stand-alone all-electric model to rival Toyota’s Prius), Volkswagen (which is keen to launch a longer-range and more practical e-Golf by 2018) and Nissan (which is also keen to launch a second-generation Leaf by 2018).

That combination of range and price is significant because it’s exactly where Tesla is going to pitch its forthcoming affordable car, the Model 3. Tesla boss Elon Musk has repeatedly said that the ‘sweet spot’ for range, and the point at which pure-battery electric vehicles start to become relevant to a much broader swathe of the car buying public, lies between 125 & 220 miles

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Solar energy 'could provide 4% of UK electricity in a decade'

The plummeting cost of solar panels has caused the government to revise upwards its forecast for solar energy use.

This has influenced the government's decision to reduce solar subsidies from this month.
But the solar industry said the cuts were a mistake and would prevent it from competing with fossil fuels.

The price of solar panels has reduced by 70% in the past few years as subsidies in many countries created a mass market and drew in Chinese manufacturers.

In the UK this prompted the government to withdraw subsidies from large-scale solar farms - above 5MW - from the end of March.

That in turn has created a temporary solar boom as firms race to connect to the grid in the coming days.

The Solar Trades Association said as much new capacity has been installed in the first three months of this year as in the whole of 2014.

But after April it expects installations to fall 80%, because most firms will not be able to compete.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Google researchers hack PCs using DRAM electrical leaks

Google researchers have written the first-ever attack code that takes advantage of electrical interference between densely packed memory cells, a unique style of attack that could require changes in chip design.

The work builds on a paper published last year by Carnegie Mellon University and Intel, which found it was possible to change binary values in stored memory by repeatedly accessing nearby memory cells, a process called “bit flipping.”

DRAM memory is vulnerable to such electrical interference because the cells are so closely packed together, a result of engineers increasing a chip’s memory capacity.

Chipmakers have known about electrical interference, but may have viewed it as a reliability issue rather than a security problem, wrote Mark Seaborn, a Google software engineer. Google’s work shows bit flipping can have a much larger impact.

They tested 29 x86-based laptops manufactured between 2010 and last year and found some vulnerable. All of the laptops, which were not identified by make and model, used DDR3 DRAM.

A lack of technical information makes it hard to figure out more broadly which computers would be most vulnerable.

found on http://www.pcworld.com/article/2896032/google-researchers-hack-computers-using-dram-electrical-leaks.html

Friday, 27 March 2015

Thursday, 26 March 2015

'Misleading' 4K TV Advert Banned - Advisory Group Warns Against 4K Over-Promising

Leading UK electrical retailer DSG Retail – owner of the Currys and PC World stores – has been officially censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its use of a television advert stating that LG’s 4K TVs let you “watch your favourite Christmas movies in greater detail”.

The offending advert, which ran over the key pre-Christmas marketing period, received complaints from an unspecified number of viewers, leading to the ASA investigation. The main thrust of the complaints was that the advert implied native 4K sources were commonplace, when in fact they’re anything but. There are no broadcasters currently broadcasting 4K films, Ultra HD Blu-rays are still just an unfinished list of specifications, and 4K streaming is still in its infancy (and only available to people willing to subscribe to Netflix NFLX +0.76% and/or Amazon Prime).

The defence put up by Currys to the ASA investigators was that the LG 4K TVs referred to in the advert “would show an increased resolution compared to standard full HD (1920×1080)” due to the quality of the processing LG uses to remap (upscale) HD sources to the 3840×2160 pixels in 4K UHD TVs.

The ASA, though, refused to accept this argument on the grounds that it had not “seen evidence showing how ‘near to’ 4K quality that increase in resolution was, or that any increase in quality was, therefore, comparable with, and similar to, genuine 4K quality.”

The ASA ruling further concluded that: “Because there was such limited 4K content available in the UK, we understood that any improvement in quality in films or programmes watched over the Christmas period was unlikely to be achieved by the use of 4K technology specifically.”

LG’s Commercial Director of Consumer Electronics in the UK stated at a product launch event last week that he believes the upscaling in LG’s latest 4K TVs delivers ’95-96%’ of the experience with HD sources that you get with native 4K content. The ASA, though, clearly doesn’t agree – and to be honest, based on my experience of testing  many 4K TVs over the past two years, neither do I. Yes, some 4K TVs do upscale HD more effectively than you might expect considering the process involves conjuring up more than six million new pixels of picture information, but at no point has any upscaled image I’ve seen got within a few per cent of rivalling the look of a good true 4K source.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hotel manager handed £200,000 fine for flouting fire safety laws

Ouch!! A hotel manager has been handed the biggest ever fine secured by the London Fire Brigade for flouting safety laws and risking the lives of guests.

Salim Patel, former owner of the Radnor Hotel, in Bayswater, was fined more than £200,000 after fire inspectors found numerous fire safety breaches.

The Old Bailey heard during a routine inspection in 2011 investigators found missing fire doors, inadequate emergency lighting and no fire risk assessment.

The basement storeroom had also been converted to be used for sleeping.

A follow up inspection found there was no working fire detection system.

Mr Patel was ordered to make the hotel safer, but he ignored the warning and was taken to court by the LFB.

Sentencing, Judge Kennedy said the public expected “absolute attention” to fire safety and Mr Patel did not provide it.

Mr Patel was handed a four month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months during a hearing at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

He was fined £200,000 and also ordered to pay £29,922 court costs.

Neil Orbell, head of fire safety regulation, said: “This is the biggest fine we have ever secured against an individual for breaking fire safety laws and it should send a message to all business owners that if they are shirking their fire safety responsibilities and putting the public at risk we won’t hesitate to prosecute.

“The size of the fine should also serve as a stark reminder that the courts take fire safety just as seriously as we do."

found at - http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/hotel-manager-handed-200000-fine-for-flouting-fire-safety-laws-10103689.html

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

One day, you could buy a chocolate bar with your heart’s electrical signal

Fancy the idea of paying for things with our fingertips is taking hold, thanks to the likes of the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6’s efforts to bring the authentication tech to the masses. But one Canadian company is already looking ahead.

Toronto-based firm Nymi has created a band which can authenticate users using a person’s cardiac rhythm, and it's already successfully allowed users to sign into their online banking accounts in a trial run.

The Nymi Band measures and records the electrical activity of a user’s heart and, combined with a Windows, iOS, Android or Mac app via Bluetooth, allows people to confirm their identity.

Our hearts create electrical impulses generated by the polarisation and depolarisation of cardiac tissue, creating a unique waveform - essentially a fingerprint for the heart - and it’s this signal which ECG readers like the Nymi Band, can detect.

In its current state you simply touch a sensor on the band with one finger while it’s strapped to your opposite wrist, and we can’t see any reason why the technology can’t be used to authentic contactless purchases in future. As you can imagine, it’s also much harder to fake than a fingerprint or cracking a password, and offers higher levels of security.

The Apple Watch, in tandem with Apple Pay, already lets US shoppers pay for items with a simple tap (or at least, it will, when it hits shelves on 24 April).

While it’s more convenient than whipping out a wallet, you have to enter a 4-digit code each time you wear the Apple Watch to authenticate it to make payments - and that’s after you’ve authenticated the Apple Pay app with your fingerprint.

Sure that all adds up to just a few seconds, but being able to authenticate payments directly with an ECG band will be faster, and more secure than a 4-digit code to boot.

We’re still quite a way off from buying crips with our hearts, but with testing already taking place in the Royal Bank of Canada and Halifax, we’re definitely on the right track.

Found on  http://www.stuff.tv/news/one-day-you-could-buy-chocolate-bar-your-hearts-electrical-

Monday, 23 March 2015

Time for a Fire Risk assesment?

we hear many horror stories... check out this one from a Manchester Newspaper

The Oasis Lounge
Bosses and employees of a shisha bar branded a ‘death-trap’ over serious fire safety failings have been convicted in a landmark prosecution.

The Oasis Lounge on Great Jackson Street, Hulme, was torn down in February 2013 because it was deemed to be a fire risk.

The venue - one long room with settees - was covered by a flammable, Bedouin-style marquee and its only fire exit was blocked by barrels of diesel.

Customers smoked Turkish-style water pipes but the fire service said smouldering charcoal made the premises high-risk and it was ordered to close immediately.

Bosses however flouted the order by continuing to host parties for as many as 150 people. Now four men and two women have been convicted of a string of fire safety offences in what is thought to be biggest prosecution of its kind.

They are Wali Yaqub, 35, of Mauldeth Road, Burnage; Tajamul Khan, 26, of Nebo Street, Bolton; Bushra Javed, 25, of Stainer Street, Longsight; Adeel Bhatti, 26, of Chapel Way Gardens, Oldham; Ishtiaq Ahmed, 36, of Chapelway Gardens, Royton, and Salma Jangeer, 32.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Lighter Batteries For Electric Vehicles - will it help?

For battery electric vehicles to overcome the built-in advantages of vehicles rocking conventional internal combustion engines, many analysts point to battery costs as being the determining factor. But we also need to consider weight. in particular, Battery weight.

The main goal of the Tesla Gigafactory is to bring battery costs down by some 30%, allowing the Tesla Model III the ability to offer a 200-mile driving range for just $35,000. Elon Musk has again and again targeted the BMW 3-Series as the Model III’s main competitor, and with a curb weight of just over 3,400 pounds (1,542 kgs), the Bimmer represents an excellent “goal” weight for the average family sedan. The Tesla Model S, with its 4,600 pound (2,086 kgs) curb weight, is a much heavier car in comparison, with about 1,600 of those pounds dedicated to the battery alone. In order to bring the batteries weight down Tesla must bring the watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) up, and it will do that with new battery cell technology.

Currently, Tesla uses thousands of individual Panasonic 18650 laptop battery cells in its battery packs, which cost an estimated $250/kwh and offer an estimated energy density of 233 Wh/kg. Once Gigafactory production begins though, Tesla will be upgrading to new 20700 battery cells, which will be physically larger, capable of holding more energy, and thus requiring fewer individual modules. As battery chemistries and energy densities improve, battery electric vehicles could actually end up weighing substantially less than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

For battery electric vehicles to overcome the built-in advantages of vehicles rocking conventional internal combustion engines, many analysts point to battery costs as being the determining factor. But an article written for Seeking Alpha emphasizes that there may be another tipping point in the battery electric vehicles vs. internal combustion engines battle, and that’s the weight of the batteries themselves.

found on http://cleantechnica.com/2015/03/17/lighter-batteries-may-prove-tipping-point-electric-vehicles/

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Silicon carbide based devices to protect aircraft electrical systems

Flying in a Storm can be pretty scary. With lightning paths travelling from cloud-to-ground or cloud-to-cloud - and with an aircraft in flight sometimes forming part of this route.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, such an event doesn’t spell danger as the outer skin of the aircraft, which is traditionally aluminium, does much to accommodate the lightning’s path. Meanwhile, voltage surge suppression devices protect aircraft electronics from overload by the current involved.

However, the next generation of aircraft, with their increased use of composite materials for constructing their airframes - and resulting reduced electrical screening - will require a new approach to this. Although lighter and more fuel-efficient aircraft are certainly more attractive, it is highly important that their lightning protection functions are not reduced. 

As a result, researchers are exploring the possibility of using a silicon carbide based device to protect aircraft electrical systems, in the form of Innovate UK-funded Current Limiting Diodes (CLDs), which will absorb excess energy surges induced in the electrical wiring by a lightning strike while reducing the size and therefore the weight of traditional suppressor devices.

The project is being led by Controls and Data Services, part of the Rolls-Royce Group, alongside Raytheon UK, which is lending its expertise in high-temperature silicon carbide (HiTSiC).

Found on : http://www.theengineer.co.uk/news/silicon-carbide-based-devices-to-protect-aircraft-electrical-systems/1020072.article#ixzz3UrF0RVM9

Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday Fact

•In Disney's Fantasia, the Sorcerer name is Yensid which is Disney backwards.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Selfie danger during solar eclipse, eye experts warn

Taking pictures of tomorrows solar eclipse on a smartphone could put people at risk of blindness, eye experts warn.

The College of Optometrists says the danger comes should people look directly at the Sun as they position themselves for selfies or other shots.

Inadvertently glancing at the Sun - even briefly while setting up a shot - can lead to burns at the back of eye.

Tomorrow the UK will experience a partial solar eclipse - the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, blotting out up to 98% of its disc and putting much of the UK into a morning twilight.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

DOUBLE your phone's battery time with a special DSyson battery...

James Dyson is hoping to boost the battery life of our smartphones, cars and - of course - our vacuum cleaners.

He has invested £10 million in Michigan-based battery experts Sakti3.

The company has developed a range of 'solid-state' batteries (SSBs) that store 50 per cent more energy than current models and will make our favourite gadgets smaller and safer.

Firm's solid-state battery stores more power than standard lithium-ion. SSBs replace liquid electrolyte in current Li-ion with a metal coating, This makes them more robust, safer and can double the energy density.

Batteries will feature in Dyson's range of cordless vacuum cleaners

The technology could also be used in anything that has a rechargeable battery.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Friday 13th fact

•Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th."

Thursday, 12 March 2015

1 in 4 companies endanger employees

A quarter of European businesses are risking the safety of their employees because of badly maintained fire systems, a study has found.

The survey of European fire equipment installers, carried out by FIA member and fire safety solutions manufacturer Hochiki Europe, also revealed that 33% of customers do not have up to date fire detection records on site.

The company stresses that failing to properly maintain a fire safety system risks lives and leads to false alarms.

The study also highlights legislation such as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which dictates that businesses must meet certain standards regarding the maintenance of safety systems and protection of the workforce.

To help support businesses accurately assess their existing security equipment, Hochiki Europe has developed an online tool which quizzes the user on the performance status of a building’s current solution and provides guidance about how to improve it.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Heat-gathering concept tyre charges your car while you drive.

At the Geneva car show, Goodyear showed an intriguing concept tyre that would feed an electric car's batteries while rolling down the road.

Since no one wants to be stranded with an empty battery, electric-car-range anxiety is a real thing. A

The basic idea behind the BH03 is that it takes the heat generated while driving and transforms it into electrical energy that could be used to recharge a car's batteries.

Details on the tyre, which is constructed with a layer of thermo-piezoelectric material, are very vague.

The BH03 tyre is also designed with ultra-black textured patches meant to absorb both light and heat. Sunlight warms up the tires on a parked electric car, adding to the heat that can be transformed into electric energy.

The BH03 is just a concept at this point. we think it could take quite some time for us to be able to buy them in real life.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

SpaceX Falcon 9 Brings All-Electric Satellites Into Orbit

Space transport services company SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sunday, March 1, to place the first ever all-electric communications satellites into orbit.

The two communications satellites were built by Boeing and owned by Bermuda-based ABS and Paris-based Eutelsat Communications, which shared the manufacturing and launching costs of the satellites in a business arrangement prompted by technological innovation.

The pair of satellites was designed to deliver video, internet, data and mobile services worldwide and equipped with all-electric and lightweight engines instead of the chemical propulsion systems that are used conventionally.

Because the satellites run entirely on electric instead of fuel, they are cheaper and lighter to transport making it possible to launch them in a medium sized Falcon 9 rocket.

Fuel takes up 50 percent of the weight of most communications satellites which is traditionally a liquid propellant being carried for in-space maneuvers. Boeing's innovation allows operators of satellites to order smaller spacecraft that can host additional communications capacity in order to replace the mass that is being free up by the removal of the fuel tanks.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Solar Impulse plane begins epic global flight

A record-breaking attempt to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane has got under way from Abu Dhabi.

The aircraft - called Solar Impulse-2 - took off from the Emirate, heading east to Muscat in Oman.
Over the next five months, it will skip from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the process.

Andre Borschberg was at the controls of the single-seater vehicle as it took off at 07:12 local time (03:12 GMT).

He will share the pilot duties in due course with fellow Swiss, Bertrand Piccard.

The plan is stop off at various locations around the globe, to rest and to carry out maintenance, and also to spread a campaigning message about clean technologies.

Monday's leg to Oman will cover about 400km and take an estimated 12 hours. Details of the journey are being relayed on the internet.

Found on the BBC

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ford launches e-bikes

Motor company Ford has launched electric bicycles at Mobile World Congress, as part of its plans to extend its footprint beyond cars.

Increasingly car manufacturers are looking to new ways to make money with many developing so-called smart transportation systems.

Ford's e-bikes come in two flavours - one for use by commuters and one as a commercial bike for couriers.

Both are linked to a smartphone app that provides step-by-step navigation.

The experiment with e-bikes is part of Ford's smart mobility plan - it is keen to study how such bicycles integrate with cars and public transport.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Ikea unveils phone-charging furniture

Ikea has unveiled a range of furniture fitted with wireless charging spots for mobile devices.

The Home Smart range will initially include lamps, bedside tables and a coffee table as well as individual charging pads for any surface.

Ikea has used the wireless charging standard QI, which is also supported by Samsung in its latest handset, the S6.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth urged caution over the recyclability of such products.
The Swedish furniture firm will sell charging covers for incompatible iPhone and Samsung models.
There are currently more than 80 QI-compatible handsets and 15 QI-enabled cars on the market according to QI's backers the Wireless Power Consortium, an industry body whose members includes Belkin, Motorola, Panasonic and Sony.

However it is not the only charging standard in development.

The S6 will also be compatible with PMA, a rival wireless charger solution provided by the Power Matters Alliance, whose members include Starbucks, Duracell Powermat, Huawei and Lenovo.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World's first lagoon power plants unveiled in UK

Plans to generate electricity from the world's first series of tidal lagoons have been unveiled in the UK.

The six lagoons - four in Wales and one each in Somerset and Cumbria - will capture incoming and outgoing tides behind giant sea walls, and use the weight of the water to power turbines.

A £1bn Swansea scheme, said to be able to produce energy for 155,000 homes, is already in the planning system.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey says he wants to back the project.

The cost of generating power from the Swansea project will be very high, but the firm behind the plan says subsequent lagoons will be able to produce electricity much more cheaply.

It says the series of six lagoons could generate 8% of the UK's electricity for an investment of £12bn.

read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31682529

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

5G researchers manage record connection speed

Researchers at the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) managed one terabit per second (Tbps) - many thousands of times faster than current data connections.

The head of the 5GIC said he hoped to demonstrate the technology to the public in 2018.
Ofcom has said 5G could be available in Britain by 2020.

At 1Tbps, it would be theoretically possible to download a file 100 times the size of a feature film in about three seconds. The speed is more than 65,000 times faster than average 4G download speeds.
It is also far in excess of the previous best achieved in tests: Samsung's 7.5 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is less than 1% of the Surrey team's speed.

According to news website V3, 5GIC director Prof Rahim Tafazolli said: "We have developed 10 more breakthrough technologies and one of them means we can exceed 1Tbps wirelessly. This is the same capacity as fibreoptics but we are doing it wirelessly."

His research team built its own kit and carried out the tests in lab conditions over a distance of 100m.
'Step change'

It remains to be seen whether it will be possible to replicate the speeds in real-world conditions. Prof Tafazolli said he wanted to carry out more tests around the university's campus before going public.
"We want to be the first in the world to show such high speeds," he said.

The regulator Ofcom has been supportive of efforts to get 5G to the public and, last month, it called for input from the industry on how to go about it.

It has said that 5G would be able to use very high-frequency spectrum - above 6 GHz - to run a range of services - from holographic projections to financial trading.

The regulator said it expected 5G mobile to be capable of delivering between 10 and 50Gbps, compared with the 4G average download speed of 15Megabits per second (Mbps).

Speaking as Ofcom launched its consultation in January this year, its acting chief executive Steve Unger said: "5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G."

The breakthrough by the 5GIC team brings that one step closer. But Prof Tafazolli said there were hurdles to overcome before 5G would be ready

"An important aspect of 5G is how it will support applications in the future. We don't know what applications will be in use by 2020, or 2030 or 2040 for that matter, but we know they will be highly sensitive to latency.

"We need to bring end-to-end latency down to below one millisecond so that it can enable new technologies and applications that would just not be possible with 4G," he told V3.

found on the BBC.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The 'Internet of things'

"Internet of things" like it or not is here to stay. The idea that everything in the human environment, from kitchen appliances to industrial equipment, could be equipped with sensors and processors that can exchange data, helping with maintenance and the coordination of tasks. Realizing that vision, however, requires transmitters that are powerful enough to broadcast to devices possible the other side of your house, but energy-efficient enough to last for months -- or even to harvest energy from heat or mechanical vibrations.

A key challenge is designing these circuits with extremely low standby power, because most of these devices are just sitting idling, waiting for some event to trigger a communication.
When it's on, you want to be as efficient as possible, and when it's off, you want to really cut off the off-state power, the leakage power.

Expect a new Bluetooth transmission with an even longer-range 802.15.4 wireless-communication protocol.

While semiconductors are not naturally very good conductors, neither are they perfect insulators. Even when no charge is applied to the gate, some current still leaks across the transistor. It's not much, but over time, it can make a big difference in the battery life of a device that spends most of its time sitting idle.

These are the challenges that face us.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Half of pubs compliant with fire safety regulations

Pubs and clubs could be losing money through out-of-date fire assessments, after a Government report outlined that only half of licensed premises are complaint with the Fire Safety Order.

Research shows that only 52% of 8,200 licensed premises audited were “satisfactorily compliant” after being tested by fire and rescue authorities (FRA), compared to 30% of 4,900 offices and 29% of 6,000 factories and warehouses.

The most commonly non-compliance issues were risk assessments, emergency routes and exits and maintaining precautions.

A fire risk assessments is a legal requirement and determines the number of people a premises can accommodate at any one time.