Infrastructure

  • Preventing on-land spills by reducing pipeline accidents

    Three thousand companies operate more than 2.5 million miles of pipeline carrying flammable and dangerous fuels, such as natural gas and diesel, across the United States to U.S. homes and businesses; with tens of thousands of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico every day, lawmakers want to ensuring that what happened off the Gulf Coast does not occur somewhere inside the United States

  • New Jersey chemical plant vulnerable

    Chemical plants must submit a report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detailing what they — the plants — consider a “worst case disaster scenario”; Kuehne Chemical said that for its South Kearny, New Jersey, chemical facility the worst that could happen would be the catastrophic release of one 90-ton rail car of chlorine gas which would put 12 million people at risk within a 14-mile radius of the plant in the New York-New Jersey region; trouble is, the company keeps more than one chlorine-filled rail car on the site, in addition to on-site storage of 2 million pounds of chlorine gas, so a worst-case disaster at the site could be far worse than the company’s scenario

  • 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

  • Smart Grid cybersecurity market to reach $3.7 billion by 2015

    Spending on security for the smart grid will represent approximately 15 percent of total smart grid capital investment between now and 2015; cumulative investment in the security sector will reach $21 billion between 2010 and 2015, with annual revenue reaching $3.7 billion by 2015; among other incentives, one key condition for smart grid funding awarded last year under the federal stimulus program was that the awardees incorporate strong security into their smart grid initiatives

  • Leak at Vermont nuclear plant

    Yet more troubles for the already-troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear plant: an 18-inch crack is found a fiberglass cooling tower pipe — the second crack in the same pipe; since the beginning of the year, the plant has experienced several accidents, among them a tritium leak and a leak of Strontium-90 into the neighboring soil and ground water; the leaks were found in an examination which was part of the plant’s request for a 20-year extension of its operating license

  • Bacteria will help keep CO2 safely sequestered

    With the world still heavily reliant on fossil fuels to meet its energy needs, carbon sequestration technologies could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions; one of the big challenges to making this a reality is ensuring that the CO2 stays locked away underground; the humble Bacillus subtilis bacteria will help

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  • A surge protector to end all surge protectors

    If an equipment failure, terrorist attack, or lightning strike causes a power surge, also known as a fault current, that fault current can cascade through the grid and knock out every substation and piece of equipment connected to the problem site; DHS’s Resilient Electric Grid project aims to develop a superconductor cable designed to suppress fault currents that can potentially cause permanent equipment damage

  • 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

  • Panel urges extradition, compensation in Bhopal disaster case

    The 1984 Bhopal chemical plant disaster caused the death of 15,000; hundreds of thousands were permanently disabled; and thousands of children were born with birth defects; an Indian government panel has decided to seek the extradition of former Union Carbide Corp. chief Warren Anderson to sand trial in India for; the panel also recommended that the Indian government demand that Dow Chemical Co. — which acquired Union Carbide in 1999 — pay $325 million in compensation for the families of the dead and disabled

  • 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

  • How safe are the Gulf oil dispersants?

    As of 14 June, more than 3.34 million liters of dispersant had been sprayed onto oil on the sea surface; at least a further 1.52 million liters had been pumped into the oil gushing from the stricken well some 1,500 meters below sea level; the use of such large volumes at depth is unprecedented, and marine biologists are concerned about possible toxicity to organisms, including shrimp and fish larvae

  • 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

  • It may be impossible to protect the North American grid against catastrophic events

    Making sure the North American grid continues to operate during high-impact, low-frequency (HILF) events — coordinated cyber and physical attacks, pandemic diseases, and high-altitude nuclear bomb detonations — is daunting task; the North American bulk power system comprises more than 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, thousands of generation plants, and millions of digital controls; more than 1,800 entities own and operate portions of the system, with thousands more involved in the operation of distribution networks across North America

  • Bill would give the president emergency power to critical networks under attack

    New bill would give the president emergency powers to protect critical private networks under attack; the president could order a patch or tell a cyber network to stop receiving incoming data from a particular country when critical infrastructure in the private sector such as the electrical grid or financial grid is threatened or attacked; the bill’s sponsors insisted it does not allow the government to take control of any private cyber-network