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     Volume 6 Issue 45 | November 23, 2007 |

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For a Greener Tomorrow

Imran H. Khan

GE's hybrid locomotive

Riding on a train was the epic point of so many a child's life. I remember when I was young, I would go to Cox's Bazar with my parents and a major part of the journey would be on a train. It used to be a wise decision as most of the highways were not too well maintained and a regular road trip by bus would resemble the thrilling effects of the 'Magic Carpet' ride in Fantasy Kingdom. I still remember the engines, big coal munching beasts that would consume so much energy on just one trip. In the latest news, GE's hybrid locomotive has managed to cut both emissions and fuel consumption by up to half by capturing the 207-ton train's braking energy and using it to supplement the diesel engines to accelerate or climb steep inclines. No modern battery can capture, store, and redeliver that much power, so GE created its own: a 1,000-pound molten-salt cell, which combines sodium with a metal chloride. That chemical recipe allows more current to flow through it than other batteries, so the 20-cell system can deploy 2,000 horsepower in less than a second. The Evolution made its cross-country debut in May and will carry its first commercial load in 2010. I can't wait for this heap of metal quite tactfully termed “The Cleanest Train Ever Built” to find its way into the heartlands of Bangladesh

WaterSaver Technology from Aqus System

Have you ever had that feeling that while washing your hands you suddenly realise that you're using more water then you should? I have. Just a simple flush of the toilet could mean that you're using up about 40 percent of the household's fresh water supply. I usually feel a guilt trip running down my spine every time I'm in the loo with this knowledge. I was quite glad to have come across a WaterSaver Technology from Aqus System. The basic concept of the technology lies tucked inside the cabinet below the bathroom sink, The Aqus system cuts that 40 percent significantly. Instead of using freshwater to flush, it 'caches' the water that goes down your sink drain, filtering and disinfecting it and then quietly pumping it to your toilet tank. How clean is this water? Well according to the inventors, it's even safe for your toilet-slurping pets to drink. When there's not enough wastewater for a flush, Aqus pulls from your plumbing. The system saves up to 14 gallons a day in a two-person house. Very impressive if you are ready to pay the initial price of $295. Now if we manage to keep ourselves in the bathroom for a little while longer we will find ourselves looking at the latest designer concept in the washing machine genre. From designer Simona Luculano, this washing machine looks nothing like your regular household appliance. Unlike traditional washing machine eyesores that must be hidden in a garage or behind sliding doors, the Flexible Distance washing machine could actually be used as a decorative piece. Plus, it is as functional as it is attractive, with touch controls on the outer ring of the wash well and an LCD screen on the lid to monitor the progress of your churning t-shirt. It even conforms to low power and water consumption standards - or at least it would if these concepts ever goes into mass production and manages to find their way into hour households.

The Flexible Distance Washing Machine(Left) and Duracell's PowerSource Mobile 100

Moving slightly away from the aquatic genre, Duracell has come up with a portable Power Source for all ones gadgets. Duracell's new PowerSource Mobile 100 could be the new best friend of anyone who tends to carry a lot of gadgets around. It can extend the runtime of just about any portable device - and even provide up to two hours of additional juice for your laptop. That's just for your laptop. If that wasn't enough, it also has one AC outlet and two USB charge ports so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously. Had this sweet little lifesaver not come with a price tag of $140 I would certainly have it on my birthday list but unfortunately, convenience never comes cheap.

The Nissan GT-R

Now heading back to the road, I recently came across a car that made a lot of heads turn. The Japanese Nissan GT-R supercar, which was unveiled at the LA Auto Show last week had quite properly been named the 'geek car' of the coming year, lack of electric power be damned. A lot of that has to do with the instrument cluster, designed in conjunction with game-designers from the Playstation's Gran Turismo series, pushing a driver into stat and chart overload. A lot of that also has to do with the factory-spec's insane 480HP from a twin-turbo charged V6. Of course, getting that power to the ground for it's 3.5-second zero-to-sixty time takes a lot of rubber or a lot of technology, and in this case it has to do with an increasingly complex electronically-managed AWD system that in detailed function is one of the last remaining tech secrets of the car. The front-mounted engine runs through a transaxle, which is a driveshaft, center differential, and transmission in one, with gears mounted rearward. This puts more weight in the back, giving the car a better balance, front to back, especially with the passenger. The meat of the car's power generally goes to the back wheels one of the 12 fore mentioned sensors which read "speed, lateral and transverse acceleration, steering angles, tire slip, yaw rate, etc" and another yaw sensor which amounts to math between the steering angle and the actual yaw rate (rotation around a center axis) to collectively detect what I like to call "Oh darn" moments. Although it doesn't use batteries like a Prius or a Tesla, that's a lot of tech and power for the money. And possibly, tech-wise, it's even more sophisticated than throwing batteries and electrics under the hood. Humour me while I classify this as one cool gadget.

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