Engineering

  • Detecting buried plastic pipes

    As the utility infrastructure ages, metal pipes, such as cast iron gas mains, are rapidly being replaced with plastic ones; buried plastic pipes are notoriously difficult to detect using current methods which are expensive, inefficient, and in many cases do not produce the quick and accurate results required; an Oxford University spin-out offers a solution

  • Second pipe may have crippled BP well's defenses

    The discovery of a second drill pipe joins a list of clues that is helping scientists understand the complexities of the Deepwater Horizon accident, and learn lessons which will inform changes in how deep-water drilling is conducted; evidence emerges that BP cut safety corners because the drilling fell behind schedule; one expert says: the accident “absolutely was preventable—[the rig lacked] “a regulatory presence onboard that said, “I don’t care how late it is, you do it right or you go home.”

  • X Prize Foundation may offer $3 to $10 million award for Gulf Oil Spill solutions

    X Prize Foundation, known for offering prizes to innovative and future-oriented innovations, is considering offering a prize of between $3 and $10 million for a viable solution to stopping the oil spill in the Gulf; the foundation in the process of developing a multi-million dollar competition to help alleviate the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf; the X Prize Foundation is best known for what was originally called the Ansari X Prize — a $10 million competition open to anyone who could build a reusable, privately built craft capable of reaching outer space

  • UGI proposes innovative clean-up plan for Gulf

    BP’s oils spill now covers an area the size of Luxembourg; a U.K. clean-tech company joins with an Ohio-based partner to offer boat towing technology platforms specifically designed to remove the oil threatening the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the waters around the Deepwater Horizon well; a towed membrane acts like blotting paper in attracting oil that can then be released only by mechanical pressure

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  • Marines to use autonomous vehicles built by Virginia Tech students

    Virginia Tech engineering students designed an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) which the U.S. Marines Corps will test in a war game in Hawaii; the unmanned vehicles are designed to resupply troops, to reduce the actual loads manually carried by Marines, and to provide an immediate means for the evacuation of any casualties in combat

  • Cap temporarily removed from gushing well

    The lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap was taken off the failed Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer (BOP) earlier today after a vent on the cap accidentally got closed; it appears that a remotely operated vehicle accidentally bumped into the LMRP cap and closed a vent; the cap was taken off the well because with the vent closed, dangerous pressure was beginning to build up inside the well, raising the specter of another explosion, similar to the one on 20 April which destroyed the well

  • Flying-boat tilt-rotor catamaran design wins NASA rescue vehicle competition

    Engineering students from Virginia Tech won first prize in NASA’s competition aiming to promote the design of more effective rescue crafts; the winning design, dubbed the Rescue Amphibious Firefighting Tiltrotor (RAFT), is a combination airplane/helicopter/catamaran featuring two flying-boat style hulls joined by a central wing to form a catamaran for landings on water even in rough seas

  • BP's first relief well has now reached 4,200 meters, with 1,300 meters to go

    BP has been drilling two relief wells in the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to stem the flow of oil from the stricken Deepwater Horizon; a relief well aims to bisect the original well casing, enabling engineers to pump in mud and concrete to seal up the well; drilling into an 18-centimeter-wide cylinder 5,500 meters below the sea floor is not easy

  • Balls of steel: A scientists proposes dropping steel balls into well to stop leak

    Willard Wattenburg made a name for himself by directing the capping of the more than 500 hundred burning oil wells in Kuwait after the Gulf War in 1991; he now proposes dropping steel balls of different sizes into the gushing well; if the steel balls are big enough in diameter, their weight will pull them downward even through the upward-rushing torrent of oil and gas; they will settle into the well at some deep level and begin to clog it

  • Flipper bridge could sort out Hong Kong-China traffic switch

    In Hong Kong, people drive on the left; in mainland China, they drive on the right; a Dutch architectural firm has proposed a solution for traffic between the two places: a flipper bridge

  • Researchers show that light can be bent around corners

    Israeli researchers show that small beams of light — called Airy beams — can be bent in a laboratory setting; Airy beams promise remarkable advances for engineering, and they could form the technology behind space-age “light bullets” — as effective and precise defense technologies for police and the military, but also as a new communications interface between transponders

  • 110-foot concrete bridge withstands 8.0 earthquake simulation

    University of Nevada, Reno, researchers demonstrate a 110-foot long, 200-ton concrete bridge model that can withstand a powerful jolting, three times the acceleration of the disastrous 1994 magnitude 6.9 Northridge, California earthquake, and survive in good condition

  • Panel sharply raises estimate of oil spilling into the Gulf to 60,000 barrels a day

    A government expert panel raised yet again the estimate of the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf: the new estimate is 60,000 barrels a day, up from 30,000 last week; BP had only been able to collect about 15,000 barrels a day at its peak with the containment cap, and this new calculation, if it holds up, suggests that BP’s latest plans for capturing oil may not be adequate

  • BP capturing "less than half" of oil from spill

    BP claims the cap placed on the broken well is capturing between 15,000 and 16,000 barrels a day, but this is less than half the 40,000 barrels of crude which keep gushing into the Gulf’s water; one Gulf drilling expert has warned that, in a worst-case scenario, it may take until Christmas to contain the leak fully

  • 23-mile long oil plume approaches Florida's Treasure Coast

    Scientists say that the most likely pathway for oil to reach the Florida Keys was for it to be pulled into a counterclockwise rotating frontal eddy in the northeast corner of the Loop Current, and then south along the eastern frontal zone of the Loop Current to the Dry Tortugas; a scientific research vessel finds an extensive oil slick that stretched about twenty miles along the southward flowing jet which merged with the northern front of the Loop Current