• Startup offering a solution to deter dangerous railway hacking

    Rail transport is undergoing a huge transformation thanks to automated, wireless and connected technologies that whoosh passengers down the tracks faster and more efficiently than ever before possible. However, these same technologies have opened a door to new types of cyber-attacks that can threaten passenger safety, disrupt service and cause serious economic damage. A new startup has raised $4.7 million in seed money to develop its proactive solution to protect railways and metros.

  • Man-made earthquake risk reduced if fracking is 895m from faults

    Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is a process in which rocks are deliberately fractured to release oil or gas by injecting highly pressurized fluid into a borehole. This fluid is usually a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The risk of man-made earthquakes due to fracking is greatly reduced if high-pressure fluid injection used to crack underground rocks is 895m away from faults in the Earth’s crust, according to new research.

  • Engineering crops to conserve water, resist drought

    Agriculture already monopolizes 90 percent of global freshwater—yet production still needs to dramatically increase to feed and fuel this century’s growing population. For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 percent without compromising yield by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants.

  • Sinking ground in San Francisco Bay exacerbates flooding from rising sea levels

    New research shows that sections of the San Francisco Bay shoreline are sinking at rates of nearly half an inch (10 millimeters) a year. But knowledge of where the ground in the Bay Area is sinking, and by how much, is not included in the official planning maps that authorities use to assess the local flooding risk from rising sea levels. The researchers used radar imaging to measure elevations to discover important gap in planning for sea level rise in Bay Area.

  • Combining old and new to create a novel power grid cybersecurity tool

    An innovative R&D project that combines cybersecurity, machine learning algorithms and commercially available power system sensor technology to better protect the electric power grid has sparked interest from U.S. utilities, power companies and government officials. Creating innovative tools and technologies to reduce the risk that energy delivery might be disrupted by a cyber incident is vital to making the nation’s electric power grid resilient to cyber threats.

  • Microgrids have a large impact

    As many as 1.3 billion people lack access to electrical power. Engineers make strides in technologies that promise to make electrical power more accessible almost anywhere on the planet. One of his solutions is microgrids, which provide independent power generation and storage systems capable of operating as mobile or standalone systems or as a supplemental part of larger conventional power grids.

  • MIT energy conference speakers say transformation can happen fast

    The pace of advances in key clean energy technologies has been growing faster than many experts have predicted, to the point that solar and wind power, combined with systems for storing their output, can often be the least expensive options for new types of power-generating capacity. In fact, a radical transformation of the world’s energy landscape is well-underway, experts say.

  • Metal-eating microbes are cost-effective for recycling rare earth elements

    Today’s high-tech devices usually contain components made of rare earth elements (REEs), a class of metallic elements including neodymium and dysprosium. Despite this demand, and despite the fact that REEs are relatively common in the earth’s crust, REEs are difficult to obtain, and the U.S. currently does not produce a domestic supply. This scarcity of domestic REEs leaves manufacturers of everything from cellphones and computers to wind turbines and telescope lenses vulnerable to supply disruptions. have developed an economical way to recycle REEs using a bacterium called Gluconobacter oxydans.

  • Low-cost arsenic sensor could save lives

    Worldwide, 140 million people drink water containing unsafe levels of arsenic, according to the World Health Organization. Short-term exposure causes skin lesions, skin cancer and damage to the cognitive development of children, while long-term exposure leads to fatal internal cancers. A new low-cost, easy-to-use sensor which can test drinking water for arsenic in just one minute.

  • Sea level rise requires new forms of decision making

    U.S, cities facing sea level rise need to look beyond traditional strategies for managing issues such as critical erosion and coastal squeeze, according to new research. Civil society initiatives must now play a crucial role in adapting society to climate change, and decision makers must seriously consider the tradeoff among three options: sea wall; beach-nourishment; and relocating coastal infrastructure.

  • Russia used social media extensively to influence U.S. energy markets: Congressional panel

    The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee last week released a staff report uncovering Russia’s extensive efforts to influence U.S. energy markets through divisive and inflammatory posts on social media platforms. The report details Russia’s motives in interfering with U.S. energy markets and influencing domestic energy policy and its manipulation of Americans via social media propaganda. The report includes examples of Russian-propagated social media posts.

  • Extreme weather tests U.K. gas security to the limit

    The National Grid, which manages the U.K.’s energy network, warned that it might not have enough gas to meet demand on March 1, due to plummeting temperatures and issues with supply. It has since withdrawn the warning, saying the market response has boosted supplies. But Britain’s lack of flexible energy supply is a serious issue. This isn’t the first time such a warning has been issued and it probably won’t be the last.

  • Kremlin hackers infiltrated the most secure German government communication network

    The German government yesterday (Wednesday) confirmed that it had suffered a large cyberattack which infiltrated federal computer networks in search of sensitive information. Anonymous German law enforcement sources said that the Russia hacking group APT28, aka Fancy Bear, had placed malware in a government network and infiltrated both the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry. Fancy Bear, which is one of the hacking groups operated by the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence branch), conducted the 2016 hacking campaign of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Russian government hackers managed to infiltrate the German government’s “Informationsverbund Berlin-Bonn” (IVBB) network, a communication network which was specially designed as a secure communications platform.

  • New evidence of nuclear fuel releases discovered at Fukushima

    Uranium and other radioactive materials, such as cesium and technetium, have been found in tiny particles released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors. This could mean the environmental impact from the fallout may last much longer than previously expected according to a new study by a team of international researchers. The team says that, for the first time, the fallout of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor fuel debris into the surrounding environment has been “explicitly revealed” by the study.

  • Flood risk for Americans is greatly underestimated

    A new study has found that forty-one million Americans are at risk from flooding rivers, which is more than three times the current estimate—based on regulatory flood maps—of thirteen million people. The study is based on a new high-resolution model that maps flood risk across the entire continental United States, whereas the existing regulatory flood maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cover about 60 percent of the continental United States. Avoiding future losses is particularly important as average flood losses in the United States have increased steadily to nearly $10 billion annually.