Better Mileage Cuts Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Driving a vehicle that gets better gas mileage is by far the best way for an individual to combat climate change with relatively little effort, say University of Michigan researchers. If every American driver were to buy a vehicle that gets 31 miles per gallon instead of the current average of 21.4 mpg, total greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by 5%, according to a study by UM's Transportation Research Institute. Buying a vehicle that achieves 56 mpg would result in a 10% reduction. The study examines how individuals can contribute to reductions of five man-made sources of greenhouse gas emissions—industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural and transportation—without substantial time, effort or alteration to one's lifestyle.
A Better Way to Ferment Beer
A student team from the University of Pennsylvania has come up with a prize-winning proposal to speed up the fermentation process in beer making. The method involves microfluidics and is industrially scalable. One of the biggest bottlenecks, so to speak, in beer making is the fermentation process in which yeast metabolically converts the sugar found in barley, hops and other ingredients into alcohol, or more precisely, ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. In breweries, this process typically occurs in large batch reactors where the brew is mixed with a measured amount of yeast. In all, the process can take up to three weeks. The student team, calling themselves Fermento, proposed applying a microfluidic fabrication technology developed at Penn to speed up the process. The approach accelerated the rate at which yeast converts sugar to alcohol by 70% by increasing the surface area of the liquid sugars exposed to the yeast.
CFRP Flexibility Measured on Aircraft
Beyond theoretical estimates, little is known about the actual behavior of carbon fiber reinforced plastic components during aircraft flights. Now, however, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have begun measuring with nanometer resolution just how much CFRP deforms during flight. The project uses fiber optic technology to assist in its measurement, since it is more accurate than conventional metallic strain gauges. The tests measured deformation of CFRP used to make an upper fuselage structure from the cockpit to the wings — one of the most heavily stressed components during flight — on a medium range, 70-passenger aircraft. Early test flights show the system to be accurate enough to identify each flight maneuver based on a unique CFRP deformation.