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Trends in Nanotech

July 23rd, 2013

The emerging science of nanotechnology plays an important part in how engineering continues to change the world in which we live. These recent tends in nanotech are areas any practicing or fledgling engineer needs to pay attention to over the next few years. Expect nanotechnology to become a vital aspect in everyone’s daily life by the end of this decade.

Stronger Materials and Composites

Carbon nanotube-based technology allows the construction of stronger materials used in a variety of vehicles, including cars and bicycles, as well as in sporting equipment. Expect nanotechnology to improve your tennis racquet or golf clubs, in addition to the vehicle you use to get to the country club!

Improving Scalability of Nanotech Production

One thing holding back the growth in nanotechnology is the difficulty producing materials and products with nanotech at a reasonable cost. Advancements in the manufacturing process are expected to improve the scalability of nanotech production and therefore lower its overall price. If this process continues to drag out, the adaptation of nanotechnology will remain relatively slow.

Commercialization of Carbon Nanotube Technology

The continued commercialization of carbon nanotube technology makes it more likely that its manufacturing scale issues will get solved. “Advances will make the use of carbon nanotube materials even more compelling for mechanical engineers,” says David J. Arthur, CEO, SouthWest NanoTechnologies, a producer of carbon nanotubes. In addition to the advancements in vehicle and sporting goods technology, nanotubes will play a vital role in the areas of flat-screen displays and personal armor.

Nanotech Improving Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Advancements in nanotechnology are playing a role in the development of energy efficient products that focus on improved sustainability. The previously mentioned vehicle technology innovations also are expected to lead to better fuel efficiency in addition to other enhancements, like more cost-effective construction.

Nanomedicine to Enhance the Quality of Life

The world of biomedicine is reaping the benefits of nanotechnology, for example the development of a therapy combining lasers and gold nanoshells to destroy cancer cells. Other innovations include nanosensors that improve the efficacy of hospital diagnostic equipment.

If you are inspired by the growing role played by nanotechnology in the practice of engineering, talk to the people at The Talley Group. Since they are one of the leading engineering staffing companies in the Seattle area, they can help steer your career towards working in the world of nanotech.

An App for Breathing Easier — Yes it Exists

June 20th, 2013

Sure there are a lot of apps for the iOS and Android platforms that involve breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation; but engineers from the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and UW Medicine, actually created an app called SpiroSmart The app helps to test lung function. It provides a mobile platform for spirometry, helping doctors detect any problems that could be hampering a person’s ability to breathe.

“One of the major causes of illness has to do with the lungs,” said Eric Larson, a lead author of the app. “If we can catch a problem early, it can make all the difference. Getting involved with pulmonologists the question became: ‘How do you make a low-cost barometer for lung health?’

Leveraging the Mobile Microphone

Larson’s team had to tweak their algorithms to properly interpret the data that comes from someone blowing into their mobile microphone. Much time was spent on the best ways to read what is essentially an audio signal. The SpiroSmart app offers accuracy within five percent of commercially available lung instruments.

The app also does a nice job guiding the user through performing the test at home. It makes sure the proper test is being run. The entire lung test system, including the app, is currently undergoing a clinical trial period before approval is sought from the FDA.

A Low Cost Option for Spirometry

The researchers hope that SpiroSmart provides a low-cost option for lung telemetry, allowing patients to test out their own lung function at home, and helping doctors check on the efficacy of any treatment plans. A professional spirometer can cost upwards of $3,000, so this app can hopefully bring a similar capability for a mere fraction of the cost.

The software developers working on the SpiroSmart project prove once again that engineering can impact humanity in so many positive ways. Does this kind of engineering work inspire you to take your career to the next level? If so, talk to the engineering staffing experts at The Talley Group, one of the leading engineering recruitment firms in the Northwestern United States. They have the staff on hand to help you improve your career.

PolyPlus Wins Edison Award for Lithium Air and Water Batteries

February 18th, 2013

When an innovative company wants to win an award, they look towards the Edison. The PolyPlus Battery Company won this prestigious honor with it’s Lithium-Air and Lithium-Water Batteries. The invention won the gold award in the power generation/utilization category.

Being recognized with an Edison Award provides companies with one of the highest stamps of approval and support in the invention industry. These awards honor excellence in creativity and product development as well as sustainability and human-centered design.

These environmentally friendly batteries enable a new group of environmentally-friendly power sources for land and sea. They are ultra-lightweight and made of water-stable lithium electrodes.

The company began in 1991 and is based out of Berkeley, Calif. It has become a leader in the development of these next generation lithium battery products. The company began through innovations made by two scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for an environmentally friendly and cost-effective lithium/organosulfur battery. Its lithium-sulfur battery is now a commercial product. They company currently is working to develop rechargeable and non-rechargeable Lithium-Air, Lithium-Seawater and Lithium-Sulfur batteries.

How it works

PolyPlus developed lithium electrodes that remain remarkably stable in a broad scope of electrolytes, including aqueous and nonaqueous solvents. PolyPlus seals the lithium metal core by using solid electrolyte membranes and a unique compliant seal. The solid electrolyte is conductive to lithium ions, and impervious to liquids and gases. Because of this, the core is electrochemically active, but chemically isolated from the external electrolyte. This isolation allows for the construction of these batteries with unprecedented energy density.

Lithium-Air and Lithium-Seawater batteries are built with non-toxic materials and purposely environmentally safe.

In a lithium-air battery oxygen is taken from the atmosphere, as needed for the cell reaction, resulting in a safe, high specific energy power source. The use of a solid electrolyte membrane in advanced lithium-air technology also eliminates self-discharge, allowing for extremely good shelf life and maintenance of high quality products.

In a lithium-seawater battery, a solid electrolyte membrane is used to prevent direct electron transfer from the negative electrode to species in the aqueous electrolyte, extending the voltage window.

Contact The Talley Group today to be part of the next generation of sustainable energy engineering.

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