New catalytic converter = cleaner cars + more economical to run

Kingsbury’s sketch of the converter substrate – and detailed explanation here

By helping to minimize the hydrocarbons and other pollutants that are emitted in a car’s exhaust, catalytic converters serve an important purpose. Because they contain precious metals such as platinum, however, they can also be expensive. Now, a British scientist has developed a new type of converter that should be cheaper, longer-lasting and more effective, plus it should boost the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

In a regular catalytic converter, exhaust flows through a honeycomb network of rare-metal-coated microscopic channels, which run throughout a ceramic block. As the emissions contact the metal catalyst, a chemical reaction takes place, eliminating some of the more toxic compounds. As a result, the exhaust that ultimately comes out of the tailpipe is considerably cleaner than it otherwise would be.

Dr. Benjamin Kingsbury, a research associate at Imperial College London, has devised a method of increasing the active surface area of the microscopic channels. Not only does this mean that the catalytic converter can eliminate more pollutants, but because the metal is able to be distributed in a more effective fashion, up to 80 percent less of it is required.

Additionally, laboratory tests indicate that in this new configuration, the metals degrade by approximately four percent after 100,000 km of use – by contrast, over the same distance, the metals in a regular converter degrade by about 35 percent.

Finally, the new converter reportedly prevents back pressure, a situation in which exhaust gases build up and cause the engine to work harder. This feature could allow motorists to use up to three percent less fuel.

Yes, most of us are still stuck in one or another variant of capitalist society. Good, bad or indifferent, that means Dr. Kingsbury has already established a company to commercialize the tech. If all goes well, you’ll be spending less on longterm maintenance of the infernal combustion engine in your motor vehicle. It will cost you a wee bit less when purchased. You will get slightly better fuel mileage.

Dr. Kingsbury will get to quit his day job and, hopefully, there will be a percentage from licensing income going to Imperial College where I presume he did at least some of the research that led to this device.

China’s Xinjiang bursting with an excess of green energy

Click to enlarge

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a major power supplier in China, has accelerated the development of green energy as it recorded higher installed capacity in 2013.

Statistics with the Xinjiang branch of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) showed that by 2013, the combined installed capacity of wind power, hydropower and solar power stations exceeded 1,368 million KW, accounting for about one third of all installed capacity in Xinjiang….

A project to connect the Xinjiang power grid to the northwest China grid was launched in 2010 to transmit Xinjiang’s redundant electric power to other parts of the country. The money made from this is used for developing Xinjiang.

The SGCC Xinjiang branch has put an average annual investment of 500 million yuan towards green energy projects.

Total installed capacity is expected to reach 6,048 million KW by the end of 2014, and that of green power will exceed 2,200 million KW.

While this wee post may seem a bit foreign to many of my readers you have to understand I live in a part of the United States with many parallels to Xinjiang.

Aside from some historic political differences, the natural landscape is often similar. As is the potential. It’s been 20 or 30 years since the New Mexico state engineer’s office determined we had sufficient resources to be a net exporter of wind-generated electricity. We are equally capable of filling state needs and then exporting solar-generated electricity.

The technology for each of these alternatives has improved and become more cost effective over the decades – while the state, local power utilities and the federal government have accomplished little more than a sampling of what might be if they were as serious about non-polluting power generation as they all are about the crap coal mined and burned in the Four Corners.

Belgian cryptography professor hacked by NSA – but, Obama and Congress say we only spy on enemies of the United States, right?

Belgium’s federal prosecutor is looking into the likely hacking of noted cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater by the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ…

Quisquater’s targeting became apparent during the investigation into the hacking of telecoms firm Belgacom, shown by Edward Snowden’s leaks to be the work of GCHQ.

As in that case, the Université catholique de Louvain professor apparently fell victim to a “quantum insert” trick that duped him into thinking he was visiting LinkedIn to respond to an emailed “request” when he was actually visiting a malware-laden copy of a LinkedIn page.

“The Belgian federal police (FCCU) sent me a warning about this attack and did the analysis,” Quisquater told me by email. As for the purpose of the hack: “We don’t know. There are many hypotheses (about 12 or 15) but it is certainly an industrial espionage plus a surveillance of people working about civilian cryptography…”

Whatever the precise motive, on the face of it Quisquater is very much a civilian target — a professor emeritus, not a spy, a terrorist nor a member of government. It would be difficult for any intelligence agency to claim that stealing information from him is a matter of crucial national interest…

I’d love to see the Belgian federal prosecutors acquire sufficient evidence to indict the bloody NSA and the phonies who never cease their mantra of protecting us from the bad guys, “never bothering ordinary civilians – or companies with industrial secrets worth stealing”.

The intellectual and political corruption of our government never ceases to amaze. And I have been an activist and cynic for a helluva long time. I realize the two qualities are simultaneously generated by the history of liars who “defend” our Constitution by despoiling it with rationales for dishonesty.

Sometimes I think the worst villains are the liberal fops who achieve a certain percentage of progressive goals – followed by crimes against humanity. The truly overt thugs are only behaving the way we expect them to act.