Material scientist Viney Dixit and his team at the Hydrogen Energy Center of Banaras Hindu University in India have discovered that carbonized coconut flesh contains secret ingredients that dramatically enhance its ability to store hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a potential renewable fuel because it can easily be generated from water using electrolysis. It also burns cleanly to produce water vapor. The hope is that it could also be distributed using the same global network of liquid fuel transport that moves petrol around the planet. However, one of the main challenges in its wide adoption as a renewable fuel is that hydrogen is difficult to store efficiently as it has a poor energy density by volume compared to petrol. That is why much of the material science research in this area has focused on finding materials that adsorb hydrogen efficiently and then release it again when it is required.
In their research, Viney and his team have shown that coconut outperforms a number of other hydrogen storage materials, particularly in its ability to work over many charging cycles. The team spent some time studying the microstructure of the carbonized coconut flesh to work out why it performs so well. And they have pinpointed two mechanisms. The first is that the carbonized coconut flesh contains a significant amount of potassium chloride, which polarizes the carbon matrix in which it is embedded. This enhances the hydrogen adsorption capacity. The second is that the carbon matrix also contains significant amounts of magnesium, which is known to enhance the dissociation of hydrogen molecules, making them easier to adsorb. That is an interesting result that suggests some promising avenues for future research. Read more
Australian startup called GoFar has created a telematics system that tells you in real time how well you are driving and what it is costing you. The startup is run by its founder Danny Adams and a team of four including partner Ian Davidson and Indian maths olympiad medallist Imam Syed.
The GoFar is a pocket-sized device that is based on a Formula one performance meter. Using the device, drivers would know exactly how well they drive, the cost per trip and the savings they can make by driving well – both from an operational and insurance point of view. With GoFar placed on the dashboard, the driver is instantly informed if he or she does any of the following things: corners badly, swerves, over-brakes, overspeeds and/or over-accelerates.
The device plugs into the diagnostics port and shows the driver through a simple red and green display how he or she is driving. The driver subsequently “learns” how to avoid “wasteful” behaviour. The linked app also records and stores all the information on every trip, and gives a dollar value in petrol terms. So far the app has proven to cut petrol costs by between 13 percent and 23 percent.
This form of telematics is not completely new. However, most companies are concentrating on the adaptation of their products for the fleet market. Fleet cars are fitted with a black box and information is sent to a third party. GoFar can be used personally or adapted for fleet use.
The device can be adapted for insurance purposes in countries such as Britain where those electing to use telematics in their car have been offered discounts of about 25 percent. Young drivers, normally facing abnormally high premiums, have been able, through proof of good driving, to achieve substantial drops in premiums. Read more in a report by Adam Courtenay.
Indian tech startup CarIQ Technologies has developed a wireless device to allow users keep a virtual eye on their chauffeurs. The device plugs into the data port of a car and serves as a sort of nanny cam for the driver, streaming information to the owner’s mobile phone.
According to CarIQ’s founder Sagar Apte, the product is particularly helpful for folks with drivers. Along with car’s location, CarIQ can share information about how the driver is driving, whether the car is being misused.
Similar devices are used in the U.S. to monitor teenagers’ driving habits. But CarIQ is targeting Indian customers that want to make sure that their car isn’t being taken for a joyride while they are having dinner or are on a holiday abroad.
The CarIQ, which looks like a chubby, white memory stick, is plugged into a data port below the steering wheel of a car. It uses a SIM card and GPS to track the vehicles location and also collects data on how it is being driven. All that information is uploaded to the Internet so users can keep track of their cars through their cell phones. So, if your driver is racing the car somewhere far away, the device will pinpoint where the car is, at what speed it is being driven and even whether it is being driven rashly, as the CarIQ monitors sudden stops and acceleration.
The CarIQ also alerts users to engine and battery problems or the need for a tune up. It can also help drivers get better gas mileage. Read more
Most schools in rural India can’t afford basic supplies like desks, and most of the students attending them can’t afford backpacks. To address this, Bombay-based nonprofit Aarambh worked with designers to come up with an ingenious solution that can transform old cardboard boxes into a convertible desk and school bag.
The result, Help Desk, folds quickly from one thing to the other; at the end of the day, a few simple moves turn the desk back into a bag to carry books home. The design ended up costing only about 20 cents to make since it’s made from used cardboard. The designers prototyped a few different variations to test with the students, looking for a solution that would be ergonomically correct as a desk and is also easy to build. So far, the final design has been given to 10,000 students at 600 schools.
The desk-bags don’t last forever, especially since cardboard doesn’t stand up well to the rain. But the team is working on developing a low-cost material that can be coated on the surface to help it repel water. Right now, they only last about six months to a year. But anytime they need to be replaced, it’s simple to make again. Read more
Indian engineer H. Abdul Shabeer has created a device that deactivates mobile phones before they can cause accidents or deaths on the highways. As soon the driver’s use of cell phone is detected, especially when the vehicle is in motion, the jammer flashes warning beeps within five seconds. If he still continues with his chat, it can immediately switch it off or a micro camera will click him in the very act and transmit it along with the number plate to the traffic control room or near a signal post so that police can act on time. If anybody tries to damage or remove the system, then the device will automatically transmit the vehicle’s registration number to the control room.
The low-cost device, powered by the vehicle, can differentiate between a mobile phone being used by a driver or any passenger in a van or a bus, even if many of them are making simultaneous calls.
The system could be a boon for a country like India, accounting for the highest number of road accidents worldwide, claiming thousands of lives every year, according to reports. Shabeer has applied for a patent on the product, which is ready for commercial applications. Read more