Archive for October 6th, 2006|Daily archive page

Making Water From Thin Air

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2006 at 4:07 pm

By Audrey Hudson| Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Oct, 06, 2006

A company that developed technology capable of creating water out of thin air nearly anywhere in the world is now under contract to nourish U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq.

The water-harvesting technology was originally the brainchild of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which sought ways to ensure sustainable water supplies for U.S. combat troops deployed in arid regions like Iraq.

“The program focused on creating water from the atmosphere using low-energy systems that could reduce the overall logistics burden for deployed forces and provide potable water within the reach of the war fighter any place, any time,” said Darpa spokeswoman Jan Walker.

To achieve this end, Darpa gave millions to research companies like LexCarb and Sciperio to create a contraption that could capture water in the Mesopotamian desert.

But it was another company, Aqua Sciences, that developed a product on its own and was first to put a product on the market that can operate in harsh climates.

“People have been trying to figure out how to do this for years, and we just came out of left field in response to Darpa,” said Abe Sher, chief executive officer of Aqua Sciences. “The atmosphere is a river full of water, even in the desert. It won’t work absolutely everywhere, but it works virtually everywhere.”

Sher said he is “not at liberty” to disclose details of the government contracts, except that Aqua Sciences won two highly competitive bids with “some very sophisticated companies.”

He also declined to comment on how the technology actually works.

“This is our secret sauce,” Sher said. “Like Kentucky Fried Chicken, it tastes good, but we won’t tell you what’s in it.”

He did, however, provide a hint: Think of rice used in saltshakers that acts as a magnet to extract water and keeps salt from clumping.

“We figured out how to tap it in a very unique and proprietary way,” Sher said. “We figured out how to mimic nature, using natural salt to extract water and act as a natural decontamination.

“Think of the Dead Sea, where nothing grows around it because the salt dehydrates everything. It’s kind of like that.”

The 20-foot machine can churn out 600 gallons of water a day without using or producing toxic materials and byproducts. The machine was displayed on Capitol Hill last week where a half-dozen lawmakers and some staffers stopped by for a drink.

“It was very interesting to see the technology in action and learn about its possible implementation in natural disasters,” said Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., a Republican from Florida whose hurricane-prone district includes Fort Lauderdale.

“It was delicious,” Shaw said.

Jason Rowe, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Feeney, another Florida Republican, called the technology “pretty impressive.”

“I was pretty blown away by the things it’s able to do,” Rowe said. “The fact that this technology is not tied to humidity like others are makes it an attractive alternative for military bases in the Mideast where humidity is not really an option.

“It seems like it’s a cheaper alternative to trucking in bottled water, which has a shelf life,” said Rowe, who described himself as a fiscal hawk.

Once deployed, the machines could reduce the cost of logistical support for supplying water to the troops in Iraq by billions of dollars, said Stuart Roy, spokesman of the DCI Group, Aqua Sciences’ public affairs firm.

The cost to transport water by C-17 cargo planes, then truck it to the troops, runs $30 a gallon. The cost, including the machines from Aqua Sciences, will be reduced to 30 cents a gallon, Roy said.

Several systems on the market can create water through condensation, but the process requires a high level of humidity.

Aqua Sciences’ machines only require 14 percent humidity, Roy said. “That’s why this technology is superior and why they are getting the contracts.”
Link to Source

Woodrow WIlson Center Find Nano Regulation Inadequate

In nano on October 6, 2006 at 1:13 am

Regulating the Products of Nanotechnology: The report was commissioned by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in advance of FDA’s first major public meeting on regulating products containing nanotechnology materials. Report here

Molecular machines highlighted in 1st issue of Nature Nanotechnology

In nano on October 6, 2006 at 12:39 am

One of the top four nanotech articles highlighted in the first issue of Nature Nanotechnology is “Making Molecular Machines Work” by Wesley Browne and Ben Feringa. Full text of the article is free, at least for now. From the conclusions:

The exquisite solutions nature has found to control molecular motion, evident in the fascinating biological linear and rotary motors, has served as a major source of inspiration for scientists to conceptualize, design and build — using a bottom-up approach — entirely synthetic molecular machines. The desire, ultimately, to construct and control molecular machines, fuels one of the great endeavours of contemporary science. The first primitive artificial molecular motors have been constructed and it has been demonstrated that energy consumption can be used to induce controlled and unidirectional motion. Linear and rotary molecular motors have been anchored to surfaces without loss of function — a significant step towards future nanomachines and devices. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated unequivocally that both linear and rotary motors can perform work and can move objects. However, although the first applications of molecular motors to the control of other functions have been realized, the whole field is still very much in its infancy and offers ample opportunity in the design of nanomechanical devices.

Major challenges in the development of useful nanomachines remain, such as the development of fast and repetitive movement over longer time frames, directional movement along specified trajectories, integration of fully functional molecular motors in nanomachines and devices, catalytic molecular motors, systems that can transport cargo and so on. As complexity increases in these dynamic nanosystems, mastery of structure, function and communication across the traditional scientific boundaries will prove essential and indeed will serve to stimulate many areas of the synthetic, analytical and physical sciences. In view of the wide range of functions that biological motors play in nature and the role that macroscopic motors and machines play in daily life, the current limitation to the development and application of synthetic molecular machines and motors is perhaps only the imagination of the nanomotorists themselves.

Eoin Clancy of Newcastle University points out that the issue also includes a set of definitions and commentary from various nano researchers, including Eric Drexler, put together by Mauro Ferrari. Link to Source

Highly functional biosurfactants using yeasts

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2006 at 12:33 am

(Nanowerk News) With the collaboration of Toyobo Co., Ltd, Dai Kitamoto, Group Leader of the Biochemical Materials Group of the Research Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Chemistry, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), has succeeded in developing a highly functional biosurfactants.
The developed biosurfactants present superb skin moisturizing characteristics equivalent to those of natural ceramides, and it can be used in functional cosmetics and for other skin care products. The biosurfactants consist of only sugar and fatty acids, and are thus highly environmentally friendly. They can also be used for high-performance washing detergents and advanced nanomaterials, because they easily form a variety of liquid crystals in aqueous solutions. Read more

Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2002-04

In Health on October 6, 2006 at 12:28 am

Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2002-04

The Nanotech Dragon

In nano on October 6, 2006 at 12:23 am

Anew survey of global R&D spending by Battelle puts China in 4th place behind India, Japan and the US.
Read more
For the survey see here