Weekly Tech Roundup | Aug 23, 2019

Weekly tech roundup: environmental technology edition

This week’s tech roundup includes six of the latest environmental technologies invented by leading-edge federal laboratories.

All of these featured technologies are available to entrepreneurs and businesses via a license agreement so they can be introduced into the commercial market to help protect the planet and the people on it.

TechLink can help you navigate the entire licensing process at no cost to you.

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Brush and forest fire fighting system

In Brazil, the Amazon rainforest is currently burning at a record rate. Environmentalists are warning that these fires could cause planet-wide destruction.

Unfortunately, conventional methods for fighting fires have remained largely the same over the years. And firefighters are usually at a devastating disadvantage.

The Navy's relatively simple fire fighting system uses a jet engine to generate a high-velocity air stream of particle size cold water droplets. The droplets are driven into the atmosphere at the fire’s edge, dropping the temperature considerably and creating a barrier against the fire. This prevents the fire from spreading and the resulting heat loss will eventually extinguish or put out the fire.

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Wearable sensor detects chemical, biological, radiological agents

Military, law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders are routinely exposed to potentially dangerous chemical, biological, or radiological agents and require reliable detection.

Navy scientists developed a chemical, biological, or radiological weapon sensor based on electrophoretic technology that uses minimal electrical power while providing instant identification of dangerous agents.

Electrophoretic displays are commonly used in consumer electronics, like e-readers. When the electronic paper is irradiated, the incoming gamma-rays interact with the embedded particles and generate a recoil electron. Since the basic sensing principle of the electronic paper is based on charging particles within a transparent micro-container, it can also be used to detect chemical, biological, or radiological agents.

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Energy optimized navigation for autonomous vehicles

Navy scientists recently invented software for autonomous air, land, or sea vehicles that identifies an energy-optimal path to a given destination.

Energy is a key constraint on the performance of vehicles because it dictates their range, endurance, and payload capacity. There are two energy-related ways to improve the performance of a vehicle: store more energy or manage the available energy more intelligently.

The Navy's software takes into account the initial location, an initial time, the final location, the vehicle energy model, and an environmental forecast to generate a global path.

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Drone biosensor system for detecting biological hazards

Navy scientists invented a drone-biosensor system capable of detecting the presence of hazardous agents without putting a person in danger of contamination or exposure.

The system can wirelessly detect, monitor, and analyze harmful agents at incident scenes in real-time, and its operator can control the drone’s path to identify potential threats or conditions of interest. The biosensor contains a sampling chamber to trap air in the environment, which is then illuminated with laser light and analyzed for the signature absorption and fluorescence signals of known biomolecules.

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Sensitive sulfur detector for testing fuel cells

Navy scientists recently invented a highly sensitive, graphene-based sulfur detector that can quickly differentiate between good and bad fuel cells.

Fuel cells are becoming an attractive option for the military and commercial applications due to their low noise and heat signatures, lighter weight, and long lifetime. Possible applications include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), portable power in the field, silent camp and silent watch operations, as well as onboard submarines and ships.

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Advanced water purification via contactless ion concentration

Army scientists have invented a novel water purification technology that is energy efficient and separates out diluted contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, spores, clay, hair, proteins, nucleic acids, peptides, lipids, and humic acids.

This design has a contactless filtration function that prevents bacterial biofilm formation on the membrane and clogging or fouling of the membrane, substantially reducing the need for replacing or cleaning, and minimizing overall maintenance requirements.

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Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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