Carbon fiber for its strength and rubber for its deformability combine in an artificial muscle that can lift 12,000 times its own weight. The muscle developed by researchers at the University of Illinois is induced to contract with a small electric current that heats the silicone rubber and causes it to force apart the surrounding carbon fibers, leading to an expansion in width and a corresponding contraction.
The new Gentlewasher incorporates standard design elements with human power to bring washing machines to parts of the world where they are currently unknown. The machine also boasts the advantage of using less than half as much water as a regular washing machine to clean a 6-pound load of laundry.
The liquefied natural gas-fueled cruise ferry Viking Grace now has a rotor sail to further improve its green credentials. It has the further distinction of becoming the first passenger vessel with the sail technology.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating three vehicles crashes that involved semi-autonomous driving systems -- two in Teslas and one in a Volvo operated by Uber -- as safety experts continue to question the safety of autonomous vehicles. The inability to keep drivers alert at the wheel while using self-steering systems has prompted some companies to install infrared cameras to monitor driver's head and eye movements.
Cliffs left by erosion along Snow's Cut in North Carolina's New Hanover County are now ameliorated by gently sloping rock fields that serve to prevent further losses. The fields stretch about 500 feet at the north and south banks east of the Snow's Cut bridge.
Erosion control along a beach in Florida's Indian Bayou will receive $68,000 in funding approved by Santa Rosa County Commissioners. Measures to prevent red clay sediment from seeping into the bayou will include silt fencing, hay bales and rock dams.
Montgomery County, Md., is seeking to cut about $113 million in stormwater projects and reorganize the Department of Environment Protection, an amended budget request states. The move is raising concerns among environmentalists, who say it will curb treatment of runoff flowing into Chesapeake Bay.
Mountain erosion can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but can also release CO2, and the latter effect appears to be greater, research published in Science has found. The culprits are tiny organisms that feed on the eroding rock and then release CO2 as a byproduct.
The practice of replenishing groundwater with advanced treated reclaimed water as part of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is now common in a number of cities. A new review examines the effectiveness of such practices and identifies ways to establish compliance targets that reduce health risks and sustain system performance.
No one has been able to actually see a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system, but that may change with the world's most sophisticated camera. Astronomers have produced an integral field spectrograph that uses microwave kinetic inductance detectors to filter out a star's blinding light and reveal the faint outlines of planets.