Infrastructure

  • N.C. panel to issue sea-level rise forecast to guide coastal, infrastructure development

    Scientists with the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission(CRC) will have their last public meeting today (Monday) before the group issues its projections on sea level rise around the state’s coastal areas. In a 2010 forecast, the science panel concluded that North Carolina’s sea levels would increase by thirty-nine inches by 2100. Climate-change skeptics and coastal developers opposed the report, and in 2012 persuaded the state legislature to bar any state agency from adopting a policy based on any sea level forecast. The legislature modified the CRC’s mandate by limiting its projections to 30-year periods and instructing it to focus on four separate zones and not the entire state projections. The CRC will submit it report to the legislature on 1 March 2016.

  • Ultrasonic robot inspects pipes at nuclear power plant

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    GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) the other day announced that its ultrasonic robot, Surveyor, successfully inspected a section of underground pipe at the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station. The inspection at the site of two Westinghouse-built pressurized water reactors near Bay City, Texas, marks the first deployment of the state-of-the-art robot at a nuclear power plant.

  • SCE&G places 180,000-pound CA05 module at V.C. Summer Unit 2, S.C.

    South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) and its partners placed on 6 December the CA05 structural module on the V.C. Summer Unit 2 nuclear island. The company says this is one of several milestones achieved this year in the construction of nuclear reactors that are among the first in the U.S. in thirty years.

  • New chemical sponge would lessen the carbon footprint of oil industry

    U.K. scientists have discovered a ground-breaking technique with the potential dramatically to reduce the amount of energy used in the refinement of crude oil. The existing industrial process uses huge amounts of energy to separate and purify these gases, so the new technique has the potential to revolutionize the oil industry by significantly reducing carbon emissions and making the process more environmentally friendly.

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  • Florida's First Coast region trying to cope with rising seas

    City planners in Florida’s First Coast region are taking steps to avoid massive destruction to property and human life as sea level rise is expected to cause mass flooding and super storms during the next few decades. Some groups are lobbying for coastal property-insurance reforms, while others are researching ways to help historic properties manage flooding.

  • Exploring ways to deal with Great Lakes water-level changes

    Extreme water-level fluctuations in the Great Lakes, including historic lows on lakes Michigan and Huron in 2013 and substantial upward trends in 2014, are creating serious challenges for many shoreline property owners, tourism-related businesses, municipal planners, and others. To help these community decision makers determine the best strategies for dealing with these water-level changes, a two-tiered, two-year research initiative has been launched with the goal of developing information, tools, and partnerships to help decision makers address challenges and opportunities posed by water-level variability.

  • Water’s role in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire

    The Roman Empire, stretching over three continents and persisting for many centuries, was home to an estimated seventy million people. In such a vast area ensuring a stable food supply was no easy task, particularly given the variable and arid climate of the Mediterranean region. Smart agricultural practices and an extensive grain-trade network enabled the Romans to thrive in the water-limited environment of the Mediterranean, a new study shows. The stable food supply brought about by these measures, however, promoted population growth and urbanization, pushing the Empire closer to the limits of its food resources.

  • Turning excess space into apartments as an incentive for earthquake-retrofitting of buildings

    San Francisco is dealing with a housing shortage at the same time that city officials are trying to get landlords to retrofit buildings which are at risk of crumpling during a severe earthquake. In 2013, Mayor Ed Lee approved a bill that mandates retrofits for soft-story multi-unit residential buildings over the next four to seven years. Roughly 4,800 buildings of two or more stories, containing five or more apartment units, which were approved for construction before January 1978, have to be retrofitted, according to the mandate.A member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, recently proposed that building owners of at-risk apartment buildings be allowed to finance earthquake retrofits by converting garages, basements, and other excess space into apartments –a plan which would also increase the city’s housing stock.

  • Storing hydrogen underground could boost transportation, energy security

    Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for the growing fuel cell electric vehicle market.

  • McAfee Labs report previews 2015 cyber threats, exploits, evasions

    McAfee Labs November 2014 Threats Report offers an analysis of threat activity in the third quarter of 2014, and the organization’s annual 2015 Threats Predictions for the coming year. The report details a third quarter filled with threat development milestones and cyber events exploiting long-established Internet trust standards. McAfee Labs forecasts a 2015 threat landscape shaped by more attacks exploiting these standards, new attack surfaces in mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), and increasingly sophisticated cyber espionage capabilities, including techniques capable of evading sandboxing detection technologies.

  • Re-thinking Southern California earthquake scenarios

    New three-dimensional (3D) numerical modeling that captures far more geometric complexity of an active fault segment in southern California than any other, suggests that the overall earthquake hazard for towns on the west side of the Coachella Valley such as Palm Springs and Palm Desert may be slightly lower than previously believed.

  • Coordinated cyberattacks by Iran-based hackers on global critical infrastructure

    Irvine, California-based cybersecurity firm Cylance last week released a report detailing coordinated attacks by hackers with ties to Iran on more than fifty targets in sixteen countries around the globe. Victim organizations were found in a variety of critical industries, with most attacks on airlines and airports, energy, oil and gas, telecommunications companies, government agencies and universities.

  • Growing cybersecurity threats offer opportunities for cybersecurity businesses

    A 2013 report from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team(US-CERT) noted that the number of cyberattacks reported by federal agencies had skyrocketed 782 percent since 2006, to nearly 49,000, in 2012. Today, the figure is much higher. The increasing threat of cyberattacks from domestic and foreign actors has opened up opportunities for cybersecurity professionals, many of whom held positions with the U.S. military or intelligence agencies. For the private sector, cybersecurity spending is expected to reach $71.1 billion this year, and expected to grow about 9 percent annually through 2016.

  • Insurance industry needs support to address effects of climate change on the built environment

    A new report finds that the increasing frequency of extreme weather brought on by climate change adversely affects real estate values and increases the probability of property damage occurring in urban areas. In the last ten years alone, direct losses in real estate and infrastructure as a result of natural disasters has tripled, reaching $150 billion per year. The report highlights the steps the insurance industry has taken to adopt risk standards for climate change across the industry, from catastrophe models and scenario analysis to insurance products that incentivize risk-reducing building practices.

  • Using earthquake research to refine fracking methods

    Researchers at Oklahoma State University (OSU) are using historical earthquake data to make oil and natural gas drilling more efficient. Members of the university research team found that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process in which water and sand are blasted at high pressure into rock to remove oil, can cause an effect similar to earthquakes. Data gleaned from historical earthquake experiences have told scientists much about what happens to the rock during such events – and the knowledge may allow oil companies to understand how to extract gas without also removing groundwater.