600kW Energy Kite to Begin Tests in Hawaii
Google X's plans to fly energy kites capable of generating electricity from wind continue, with the company reporting that it is beginning site preparation in Hawaii to conduct long-duration flights of an 84-foot prototype in 2016. The company will obtain a Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration before tests may begin. The kite is capable of generating 600kW of energy and has been undergoing limited testing in Alameda, Calif. The long-duration flights in Hawaii will evaluate its ability to fly in a known wind corridor at altitude—around 1,100 feet—and generate the expected amounts of electricity.
Bruce Power to Rehab Units 3-8
Bruce Power, which operates the world's largest nuclear facility in Ontario, has entered into a long-term agreement with the province's Independent Electricity System Operator to supply it with 6,300 megawatts of electricity. The agreement will take effect Jan. 1 and will allow Bruce Power to invest in life-extension activities for Units 3 through 8 as part of a long-term refurbishment program that will start on Unit 6 in 2020. Bruce Power says the refurbishment of each unit will add 30-35 years of operational life. Bruce Power is a partnership among TransCanada Corp., Borealis Infrastructure, the Power Workers’ Union and the Society of Energy Professionals. That group will bear the risk of delivering the projects on time and on budget.
New Shepard Space Vehicle Completes Test
Blue Origin, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' privately funded space effort, launched and landed its reusable rocket and space vehicle at the company's Texas launch facility. Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle reached the planned test altitude of 100 kilometers. It touched down via parachute 11 minutes later. The vehicle's rocket booster, which separated from the crew capsule after the powered flight, made a controlled vertical landing four and a half feet from the center of the pad from which it was launched.
Researchers Develop Oil Spill Cleanup Material
Scientists in Australia have developed a material that can absorb up to 33 times its weight in oils and organic solvents. The material—a boron nitride nanosheet—could help ease the effects of oil spills and other environmental accidents. Deakin University researchers developed the first stage of the material, boron nitride powder, which had strong absorption capabilities but was inadequate for industrial cleanup uses. Turning the powder into a sponge was an essential step in the process. Researchers formed it into thin sheets that could be made into a sponge. The nanosheet is made up of flakes that are several nanometers in thickness. This form enables the nanosheet to increase its surface area per gram to the size equal to around five and a half tennis courts. The material acts much like a sponge to absorb oil, which naturally floats to the water surface, in about 20 minutes. Once a sponge layer fills up, it is collected and replaced with a new sponge until all the oil is removed.