Clean, Penetrating Traps

Just a quick couple new developments I’ve found interesting:

Burn Baby, Burn

We all know the problems associated with burning oil products. Not only do they lead to war and death on a large scale, and erosion of liberties, and God knows what else to come, but also buring oil is also fairly inefficient and produces considerable pollution.

However, if we’re going to be stuck burning oil for a while, which we must, in order to create more scarcity of the product, which will raise prices and produce more profit, we can at least burn the oil more cleanly.

Georgia Tech researchers have just come up with a very elegant way to burn oil more efficiently and far more completely. Their design is simpler than processing the exhaust after combustion. They just burn it more completely at the time of combustion.

They call this method Stagnation Point Reverse Flow Combustion and it really is very simple. So simple you wonder why nobody bothered to implement it before. It seems the most basic of things to do if you’re at all concerned about the toxic emissions your engines produce.

One of the big pollutants from oil combustion engines are the Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). This is the orange haze you see, the low-to-the-ground ozone that’s created and horrible for your lungs, and the chemicals that react so easily to create even more dangerous chemicals like acid rain.

Georgia Tech’s design allows the combustion to happen at much lower temperatures by introducing “radicals” into the fuel mixture such as hydrogen or oxygen and controlling the flow of combustion materials much better, stabilizing the burning. This results in significantly lower NOx emissions — less than 1 part per million. Also, it seems this technology is much cheaper to implement and maintain than current pollution reduction techniques.

Oh, did I mention, CO2 gas is also greatly reduced. In fact, as far as emissions go, it’s almost 0.

El Radar

Ohio State University just created something interesting, though it bothers me a bit. Undetectable radar. It works by generating lots of random noise that cloaks the true radar signal, which only the gadget itself will understand as a radar signal.

Apparently, most devices we have filter out and ignore random noise. So those radar detectors in your car may be of little use before long.

These Ohio State people, who were attacked and beaten by police en masse just a few years ago for protesting our involvement in Viet Nam, also think this new radar will be great for military applications. You can suss out who’s in a building and where, with those people being none the wiser.

But they also believe it will be great for helping locate bodies in disasters. And imaging our internal organs. Actually, the ground penetrating radar stuff is pretty cool. It’s helping a lot while we explore Mars for water.

[Oops! Looks like I was thinking Kent State in Ohio, rather than Ohio State University for those police shootings of student protesters. So either the Ohio State people were more well-behaved, or their law enforcement officers were nicer.]

Cheaper Just to Kill Them

General Barry R. McCaffrey (Ret.) is Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at the United State Military Academy. He spent the 18th and 19th of June at Guantanamo to see what all the ruckus was about. Here is his academic report.

He sounds so nostalgic for the days when the military could just run its own country in some other country, ignoring the pesky laws of the United States.

My favourite quote from him:

We need to rapidly weed out as many detainees as possible and return them to their host nation with an evidence package as complete as we can produce. We can probably dump 2/3 of the detainees in the next 24 months. Many we will encounter again armed with an AK47 on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. They will join the 120,000+ fighters we now contend with in those places of combat. It may be cheaper and cleaner to kill them in combat then sit on them for the next 15 years.

It’s really very sporting. But I’ll hold back on the sports stuff for now. I do appreciate the matter-of-fact nature in which he presents things. I appreciate even more that he is willing to admit the horrific failings of the US Military.