Infrastructure

  • U.K. approves well-capping and containment study; new prevention, mitigation solutions sought

    In response to BP’s Gulf disaster, the U.K. offshore oil and gas advisory group charged its technical review group to proceed with developing new solutions for preventing or mitigating similar catastrophes in the future; over the past twenty years nearly 7,000 wells have been successfully drilled in the U.K. continental shelf

  • Siemens's leak location and monitoring system reduces losses in drinking water supplies

    Precise knowledge of water losses is essential for operating and planning the maintenance of drinking water networks efficiently; Siemens’s new solution not only continuously checks for leaks, but also pinpoints them automatically; this is done by setting up district metering areas, in which the inflows and outflows of water are measured by ultrasonic flow meters

  • Napolitano: private sector-government cooperation needed for chemical plant security

    DHS secretary says federal-private collaboration is needed to secure the U.S. chemical plants; Napolitano said common-sense performance standards help protect chemical facilities against threats without compromising their operational characteristics or efficiency

  • Algorithm could improve hospital records security

    An algorithm secures patients’ records by ensuring that access to information is available to those who need it, but only when necessary; for example, once a patient has been admitted to hospital, the admissions staff do not necessarily need access to the patient’s records anymore; in many hospitals, those staff members nonetheless continue to have access to every record on file; using the algorithm, those staffers would only be able to access the patient’s record during admission processing; after that, they would find your information unavailable

  • NSA: Perfect Citizen program is purely "research and engineering effort"

    Perfect Citizen, a new National Security Agency (NSA) project, would deploy sensors in networks running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants; the sensors would detect intrusion and other unusual activity indicating a cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure; NSA spokeswoman says the program is “purely a vulnerabilities-assessment and capabilities-development contract—- This is a research and engineering effort” and “There is no monitoring activity involved, and no sensors are employed in this endeavor”

  • U.S. quietly launches protection program against cyber attacks on critical infrastructure

    The administration has quietly launched Perfect Citizen, a digital surveillance project to be run by the NSA; the project’s goal is to detect and detect cyber attacks on private companies and government agencies running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid, nuclear-power plants, dams, and more; the program would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack — although it would not persistently monitor the whole system

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  • 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

  • China's nuclear reactors to use technology rejected by U.S., U.K. as unsafe

    Ten of China’s proposed nuclear power reactors will use Westinghouse’s AP1000 advanced technology; the United States rejected the AP100 design, saying key components of the reactormight not withstand events like earthquakes and tornadoes; the United Kingdom indicated it, too, would reject Westinghouse’s new reactor because it could be vulnerable to terrorist attacks

  • Australia could face climate refugees

    Australia could face a wave of climate refugees from neighboring Pacific islands unless rich nations help poorer countries with climate change, scientists warned; the 900 climate scientists gathered at a the conference heard specialists say that Australia is already experiencing the effects of climate change and is likely to be one of the most severely affected among developed countries

  • U.S. Navy blimp to help track oil flow in gulf

    A U.S. Navy blimp arrived in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday to help detect oil, direct skimmers, and search for threatened wildlife; the blimp can carry as many as ten crew members as it flies slowly over the region to track the direction of the oil flow and how it is washing ashore

  • New long-term threat from oil spill recognized: increasing ocean's arsenic levels

    Oil spills can increase levels of toxic arsenic in the ocean, creating an additional long-term threat to the marine ecosystem; sediments on the sea floor filter naturally occurring arsenic out of seawater, keeping the levels of arsenic low; oil spills clog up sediments on the ocean floor with oil, which prevents the sediments from bonding with arsenic and burying it safely underground with subsequent layers of sediment

  • Can microbes break down oil washed onto Gulf beaches?

    Nature provides its own methods for keeping sandy beaches clean: microbial communities which are native to the sands; researchers are studying whether native oil-eating bacteria that wash ashore with the crude are helping or hindering these native microbial communities

  • U.S. gives $2 billion to solar energy companies

    The Obama administration awarded nearly $2 billion to two solar energy companies for three large solar energy projects — in Arizona, Indiana, and Colorado; the projects will create more than 3,000 jobs, power 70,000 homes, and produce millions of solar panels each year

  • Online monitors of Yorkshire flood risk

    The U.K. Environment Agency now offers individuals and businesses at flood risk in Yorkshire a real-time Web-based monitoring of local river and sea levels; the data from more than 1,700 monitoring stations across England and Wales will complement personalized phone and text-message alerts from the Environment Agency’s free flood-warning service

  • 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