• Graphene laminated pipes reduce corrosion in the oil and gas industry

    Corrosion costs the oil and gas industry in the U.S. alone $1.4 billion. Researchers have discovered ways of using graphene to prolong the lifetime of pipes used in the oil and gas industry.

  • Catastrophic floods may trigger human resettlement away from rivers

    Flooding is one of the most damaging natural hazards, and its negative impacts have markedly increased in many regions of the world in recent decades. In the period 1980-2014, floods generated economic losses exceeding $1 trillion and caused more than 226,000 casualties. The increasing trend of global flood losses has mainly been attributed to the increasing exposure of people and assets due to rising populations in flood-prone areas.

  • Genoa bridge collapse: the mafia’s role

    Investigations into the collapse of the 51-year old Morandi Bridge in Genoa will look at different possible causes, including wear and tear, heavy traffic, structural flaws and other problems. As the usual political inferno between parties and private firms rages on, the phantom threat of mafia involvement in Italian construction has resurfaced. The region of Liguria sadly scores quite high in the assessments of mafia infiltration. In the area, Calabrian mafia clans of the ‘ndrangheta – Italy’s most powerful mafia today – have heavily invested in the construction sector, in public tenders and in the exploitation of the port of Genoa and the roads to France and to the rest of the Italian north, for the purposes of illegal trafficking.

  • Lawmaker demands answers about Russian cyberattacks on electric utilities

    In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2016 and 2017, hackers backed by the Russian government successfully penetrated the U.S. electric grid through hundreds of power companies and third-party vendors. Russian hackers gained access to control rooms, putting them in a position to disrupt U.S. power flow.

  • Early warning system for tracking groundwater contamination

    Groundwater contamination is increasingly recognized as a widespread environmental problem. The most important course of action often involves long-term monitoring. But what is the most cost-effective way to monitor when the contaminant plumes are large, complex, and long-term, or an unexpected event such as a storm could cause sudden changes in contaminant levels that may be missed by periodic sampling?

  • Genoa bridge collapse: maintaining these structures is a constant battle against traffic and decay

    As rescue workers look for survivors in the concrete rubble that used to be part of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italian authorities are starting their investigation into the possible causes behind this terrible tragedy. It is too early to determine what may have caused the catastrophic collapse of more than 100 meters of the multi-span, cable-stayed suspension bridge, completed just over 50 years ago. But it’s important to understand that bridge engineering does not end when construction finishes and traffic starts to flow. In fact, properly looking after a bridge during its long life is as crucial as having a good design, using high-quality materials, and ensuring sound workmanship during construction.

  • Climate change, sea level rise to cause more devastating tsunamis worldwide

    As sea levels rise due to climate change, so do the global hazards and potential devastating damages from tsunamis, according to a new study. Even minor sea-level rise, by as much as a foot, poses greater risks of tsunamis for coastal communities worldwide.

  • Questions and anxiety in Italy over Genoa bridge collapse

    In the wake of the deadly Morandi Bridge collapse in Genoa, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called for “all infrastructure” in Italy to be checked. Investigators is still trying to determine the cause of the collapse. Italian rescue workers worked through the night and into the morning in search for survivors. A 100-meter section of the Morandi Bridge, affectionally called Genoa’s “Brooklyn Bridge,” collapsed during a heavy rain storm on Tuesday causing dozens of vehicles to plunge some 45 meters.

  • Wildfires are inevitable – increasing home losses, fatalities and costs are not

    Wildfire has been an integral part of California ecosystems for centuries. Now, however, nearly a third of homes in California are in wildland urban interface areas where houses intermingling with wildlands and fire is a natural phenomenon. Just as Californians must live with earthquake risk, they must live with wildfires. Focusing on traditional approaches like fighting fires and fuels management alone can’t solve the wildfire problem. Instead, California must become better prepared for inevitable fires and change how it develops future communities.

  • What are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats?

    Flooding can be catastrophic to a nuclear power plant because it can knock out its electrical systems, disabling its cooling mechanisms and leading to overheating and possible meltdown and a dangerous release of radioactivity. At least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built just a few meters above sea level could be threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. More than 20 flooding incidents have been recorded at U.S. nuclear plants since the early 1980s. A number of scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that climate change will impact coastal nuclear plants earlier and harder than the industry, governments, or regulatory bodies have expected, and that the safety standards set by national nuclear regulators and the IAEA are out of date and take insufficient account of the effects of climate change on nuclear power.

  • Urban water services vulnerable to attacks using a botnet of smart commercial irrigation systems

    Cybersecurity researchers warn of a potential distributed attack against urban water services which uses a botnet of smart irrigation systems. The researchers analyzed and found vulnerabilities in a number of commercial smart irrigation systems, which enable attackers to remotely turn watering systems on and off at will. Botnet attacks can also empty an urban water tower in an hour, and empty flood water reservoir overnight.

  • Flood thy neighbor: Who stays dry and who decides?

    When rivers flood now in the United States, the first towns to get hit are the unprotected ones right by the river. The last to go, if they flood at all, are the privileged few behind strong levees. While levees mostly are associated with large, low-lying cities such as New Orleans, a majority of the nation’s Corps-managed levees protect much smaller communities, rural farm towns and suburbs such as Valley Park. Missouri. Valley Park’s levee saga captures what’s wrong with America’s approach to controlling rivers.

  • As Russians hack the U.S. grid, a look at what’s needed to protect it

    The U.S. electricity grid is hard to defend because of its enormous size and heavy dependency on digital communication and computerized control software. The number of potential targets is growing as “internet of things” devices, such as smart meters, solar arrays and household batteries, connect to smart grid systems. In late 2015 and again in 2016, Russian hackers shut down parts of Ukraine’s power grid. In March 2018, federal officials warned that Russians had penetrated the computers of multiple U.S. electric utilities and were able to gain access to critical control systems. Four months later, the Wall Street Journal reported that the hackers’ access had included privileges that were sufficient to cause power outages. It’s important for electric utilities, grid operators and vendors to remain vigilant and deploy multiple layers of defense.

  • Wanted: Smart ideas for grid modernization

    A consortium of national labs and nonprofit organizations has announced a call for concepts to engage the smart grid community in demonstrating visionary interoperability capabilities on how facilities with distributed energy resources, or DERs, integrate and interact with the utility grid.

  • Toward a more secure electrical grid

    Not long ago, getting a virus was about the worst thing computer users could expect in terms of system vulnerability. But in our current age of hyper-connectedness and the emerging Internet of Things, that’s no longer the case. With connectivity, a new principle has emerged, one of universal concern to those who work in the area of systems control. That law says, essentially, that the more complex and connected a system is, the more susceptible it is to disruptive cyber-attacks.