• Modular housing could tackle housing crisis and improve energy efficiency

    Modular housing could tackle housing crisis and improve energy efficiency

    The body, which represents UK manufacturers, called for planning permission on homes of this type to be fast tracked as they cost 55 per cent less to heat than the average UK home and are built 50 per cent faster than bricks and mortar equivalents. Modular building can also cut the carbon emissions associated with the construction of new homes by 83 per cent and produce substantially less waste, it added. The technique typically reduces the amount of transport access needed for building sites, with 80 per cent fewer vehicle movements to sites, which cuts local disruption and pollution. Factory engineering means modular homes can be built to consistently high sustainability standards saving £800 a year in energy costs for a typical three-bedroom family home. Make UK said that record…

  • Water firms to cut customer bills by millions after missing targets

    Water firms to cut customer bills by millions after missing targets

    Households are to see almost £150 million taken off their water bills after 11 water suppliers have been hit by fines, regulator Ofwat has announced. Among the fined companies, Thames Water and Southern Water were said to have performed the worst and will have to return almost £80m to customers, according to Ofwat. Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water and Yorkshire Water, among others, also face fines following the regulator's recent enforcement cases, as part of an ongoing investigation into wastewater treatment works. “When it comes to delivering for their customers, too many water companies are falling short, and we are requiring them to return around £150 million to their customers," said David Black, the chief executive of Ofwat for England and Wales.  “We expect companies to improve…

  • Q&A: Why does TCS sponsor the London Marathon?

    Q&A: Why does TCS sponsor the London Marathon?

    Dickon Ross: For those who may not know already, what is TCS? Michelle Taylor: TCS is a global IT services and consulting company, so we basically work with our clients around the world to use technology to help innovate and improve how they work and transform their businesses DR: What does the sponsorship involve, apart from putting your name in the title?   MT:   This weekend you’ll see that the town is painted in pink, black and white - which is exciting. But the true reason we got into this is to build relationships and to showcase innovation. One of the biggest ways we do that is through the race app that allows spectators to connect with their runners. This app has been a game-changer in endurance running particularly around the London Marathon. When we were partners in 2020 and…

  • Observations confirm computational model predictions of sea-level rise

    Observations confirm computational model predictions of sea-level rise

    A team of scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US has analysed the 'fingerprint' of sea-level change attributable to the melting of the Greenland ice sheets. By analysing high-resolution satellite observations, the team was able to confirm the predictions made using theoretical and computational models of sea-level changes to forecast climate-change-driven impacts. “Using sea-surface-height observations from satellites in the way we have independently verifies observations of Arctic and Greenland ice-mass loss and allows us to tease apart contributions to global sea-level rise from individual ice sheets and glacier systems," said Sophie Coulson, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Global warming has significantly increased the likelihood of…

  • Hornsea 2, world’s largest windfarm, now fully operational off Yorkshire coast

    Hornsea 2, world’s largest windfarm, now fully operational off Yorkshire coast

    With initial construction starting as far back as 2016 , the 1.3GW project comprises 165 wind turbines and is located approximately 55 miles off the Yorkshire Coast. Each turbine blade is 81m long, with the blade tips reaching more than 200m above sea level. A single revolution of the turbine blades is estimated to produce sufficient energy to power an average UK home for 24 hours. Around 242 miles (390km) of subsea export cables have also been installed. The project is situated alongside its sister site, Hornsea 1, and together they can power 2.5 million homes. The UK has a stated ambition to have 50GW of offshore wind capacity in operation by 2030. The Hornsea Zone, an area of the North Sea covering more than 2,000 sq km, is also set to include Hornsea 3. The 2.8GW project is planned…

  • Flawed CIA covert websites may have risked sources’ lives, research says

    Flawed CIA covert websites may have risked sources’ lives, research says

    A report published by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has raised serious doubts about the US intelligence agency’s handling of safety measures, after finding that the CIA used "flawed" websites for covert communications for years.  Using only a single website, as well as publicly available material such as historical internet scanning results and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine , Citizen Lab said it identified a network of 885 websites that it attributed “with high confidence” as having been used by the CIA between 2004 and 2013. Although the researchers said the websites were probably not used by the CIA recently, they revealed that a subset of them are still linked to active intelligence employees or assets, including a foreign contractor and a current state department…

  • Space debris removal deadline cut to five years by FCC

    Space debris removal deadline cut to five years by FCC

    Out-of-service satellites must be removed from the Earth's orbit “as soon as practicable and no more than five years following the end of their mission,” according to the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule. Commissioners voted 4-0 to adopt the draft rule, published earlier this month, relating to all spacecraft that end their lives in orbits at altitudes of 2,000km (1,242 miles) or below. The rule would apply to satellites launched two years after the order is adopted and would include both US-licensed satellites as well as those licensed by other jurisdictions and seeking US market access. Satellites already in space would be exempt. The previous voluntary Nasa guidelines published in the 1990s allowed operators to wait as long as 25 years to remove the satellites, a timeline…

  • Google shutting down Stadia gaming platform after just three years

    Google shutting down Stadia gaming platform after just three years

    Stadia is a cloud gaming service first launched in 2019 that is operated by Google and is accessible through Chromecast Ultra and Android TV devices. Rather than running games on the device itself, like traditional home consoles, they run on one of the company's numerous data centres and stream the game’s video and audio feed back to the user. This requires a very low latency internet connection for the games to feel smooth and responsive on the user’s end, something which Google cannot guarantee for every user. “While Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service,” Google’s Stadia VP Phil Harrison…

    E&T Magazine
  • Nasa and SpaceX plan mission to boost the orbit of the Hubble Telescope

    Nasa and SpaceX plan mission to boost the orbit of the Hubble Telescope

    Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning to fund the study which could see one of the firms dragon rockets used to adjust the telescope’s orbit in a servicing mission. Hubble orbits the Earth in the extremely tenuous upper atmosphere, and over time its orbit decays due to drag. If not reboosted, it is estimated that it will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere sometime between 2028 and 2040, with the exact date depending on how active the Sun is and its impact on the upper atmosphere. If Hubble were to descend in a completely uncontrolled re-entry, parts of the main mirror and its support structure would probably survive, leaving the potential for damage or even human fatalities. In November 2021, Nasa extended the service contract for Hubble until June 2026. SpaceX proposed the study to better…

  • How turning bugs into benefits can help tackle recruitment problems

    How turning bugs into benefits can help tackle recruitment problems

    Results of the IET’s most recent annual skills survey , published in December 2021, suggest that almost half (49 per cent) of UK firms are experiencing problems because of the shortage of skilled people in the market. Aside from fighting it out with the competition by offering higher pay, and more bells and whistles, what can employers do to become genuinely more attractive to the scarce pool of talent with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills? The longer-term solution is to create a talent pipeline to attract young people to the sector and train them. But this will take time. In the shorter term, there are practical steps employers can take quickly to attract the best people. To attract and retain workers in this new world, organisations have to offer something…

  • View from India: Hop on a flight that takes you back and forth in time

    View from India: Hop on a flight that takes you back and forth in time

    The aeronautical industry in India took off in Bangalore in 1940 when a far-sighted visionary, Walchand Hirachand, joined forces with the then government of Mysore to establish Hindustan Aircraft. Planes like the Harlow Trainer, Glider, Hawk-P36 and Horlow-PC5 were manufactured by Hindustan Aircraft. The Indian government nationalised Hindustan Aircraft in 1964 and it became HAL, or Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, a defence public sector unit. India’s first aerospace defence establishment, HAL has been extending the aviation frontier to newer heights with each new aircraft. HAL’s principal business lies in the design, development, manufacture, repair and overhaul of aircraft, helicopters, engines and related systems including avionics, instruments and accessories. Innovation, and employment…

  • Spark the change: what electric vehicles need next

    Spark the change: what electric vehicles need next

    We’ve not run a family car now for at least ten years. We gave it up for environmental reasons and found some added bonuses in financial savings, more exercise and less stress. That’s not at all unusual for London – the majority of Londoners don’t own cars. And since we ditched ours, many friends and relatives joined us in becoming car-free households too. The kids complained at first but now they're older it’s they who won’t let us buy another internal combustion engine. Their generation may be the spark that really sets the electric drivetrain rolling. A survey this month found they were highly influential in purchasing decisions (see graphic below). The motor manufacturers are all busy developing new electric ranges. Almost without exception they expect to replace their petrol and diesel…

  • Carbon capture technology now in use at NTPC’s India power plant

    Carbon capture technology now in use at NTPC’s India power plant

    UK-based carbon capture organisation Carbon Clean has begun capturing carbon from  NTPC’s power plant in India, with a view to converting it to methanol and reducing the facility's environmental impact.  The project is taking place at NTPC’s 500MW coal-fired power plant (Unit-13) at Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power Station, in Madhya Pradesh,  India, in collaboration with Green Power International. The organisations are expected to use a modified tertiary amine to capture CO2 from the flue gas that the power plant produces, capturing a total of 20 tonnes of CO2 per day. The carbon captured will then be combined with hydrogen to produce 10 tonnes of methanol a day, through a catalytic hydrogenation process. “We are thrilled to see our technology begin to capture carbon from NTPC’s plant…

  • Bitcoin has ‘extremely troubling’ impact on climate change, report finds

    Bitcoin has ‘extremely troubling’ impact on climate change, report finds

    In December 2021, Bitcoin had an approximately $960bn market capitalisation, with roughly 41 per cent of global market share among cryptocurrencies. Although known to be energy intensive, the extent of Bitcoin’s climate damages is unclear. In a new report, the researchers estimated that that in 2020, Bitcoin mining used 75.4 terawatt hours of electricity (TWh) – higher electricity usage than Austria (69.9 TWh) or Portugal (48.4 TWh) in that year. “We find no evidence that Bitcoin mining is becoming more sustainable over time,” said UNM professor Benjamin A. Jones. “Rather, our results suggest the opposite: Bitcoin mining is becoming dirtier and more damaging to the climate over time. In short, Bitcoin’s environmental footprint is moving in the wrong direction. “Globally, the mining, or…

  • Book review: ‘Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration’

    Book review: ‘Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration’

    One of the most persistent technology predictions to have emerged in the past decade is that artificial intelligence (AI) will be transformative in how we go about our daily lives. If the screed of near-horizon futurology is to be believed, one of AI’s most significant impacts will be on the way we work. Opinions are divided between, at one end of the spectrum, robots taking over from the human workforce and fragmenting the labour market while, at the other, the forecast that we can leave iterative grunt work to computers while we get on with tasks that are more creative and rewarding, while perhaps even fitting in an extra round or two of golf. When pictures are painted in such extremes of light and shade it’s time to call in the experts, and in ‘Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine…

  • Majority want UK vehicle taxation reforms

    Majority want UK vehicle taxation reforms

    VED is a tax levied on every vehicle on UK roads. The first-year rate for new vehicles varies according to their carbon emissions, from zero for the cleanest models to as much as £2,000 for the most polluting. A flat rate of £140 applies for subsequent years, except for zero-emission vehicles which continue to have no charge. The survey of 3,000 UK adults’ views on road pricing found that three out of five people (60 per cent) believe vehicle taxation needs reforming. Nearly half (49 per cent) favour a scheme that charges drivers based on how they use their vehicles. The research carried out for pressure group the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that people supported a well-designed pay-as-you-drive system that they believe would be a fairer and more transparent way to tax electric…

  • Government announces £1.5bn insulation scheme for low-income households

    Government announces £1.5bn insulation scheme for low-income households

    The UK government has announced a new £1.5bn package to improve the energy efficiency of UK households, as the country faces a looming energy crisis.  Under the Help to Heat scheme, a round 130,000 social housing and low-income properties could see their bills reduced by around £400 to £700, the government said.  Social housing with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower will be eligible to receive upgrades, while the Home Upgrade Grant funding will help people who are most vulnerable to fuel poverty, living in privately owned off-gas-grid homes and on low incomes. Local authorities and social-housing providers will be able to submit bids for funding and will deliver upgrades from early next year until March 2025. The scheme aims to reduce the likelihood of households…

  • Cockroaches on the run from AI-controlled laser

    Cockroaches on the run from AI-controlled laser

    Cockroaches are an all-pervasive, extremely resilient pest found in many countries around the world, including the UK. Such is their reputation for survival in the harshest of conditions that the myth has developed that they could even survive a nuclear bomb. Household cockroaches can live in populations that number into the millions. They can spoil food and appliances, but are also a serious health hazard, triggering allergic reactions and the development of asthma. Various, often imperfect methods are used to try and control cockroaches, from mechanical tools such as sticky traps to chemical approaches using gels and pastes. However, traps have a limited range and the long-term use of chemical treatments can make cockroaches resistant to insecticides. However, the cockroaches' days…

  • EU to facilitate suing AI and drone companies in new draft rules

    EU to facilitate suing AI and drone companies in new draft rules

    The AI Liability Directive would reduce the burden of proof on people suing over incidents involving AI and digital devices, with the goal of providing more legal clarity for manufacturers and consumers, the Commission said.  In addition to drones and AI systems, other devices such as self-driving cars, voice assistants and search engines could also fall under the directive's scope, which could run alongside the EU's proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, the first law regulating the use of AI systems.   Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders described it as a legal framework fit for the digital age. "While considering the huge potential of new technologies, we must always ensure the safety of consumers," he said in a statement. "Proper standards of protection for EU citizens are the basis…

  • BP failing to report massive emissions from Iraq operations, Greenpeace alleges

    BP failing to report massive emissions from Iraq operations, Greenpeace alleges

    Unearthed, which is the environmental charity’s investigatory arm, found that BP has failed to report massive flaring emissions from one of its projects in Iraq – equivalent to the annual emissions of over 970,000 petrol cars. BP jointly owns the Rumaila operating company but Unearthed said the firm denies responsibility for its emissions. Gas is released during oil production and is typically captured for use in power generation or reinjected to force more oil out of the ground. But in some places, a lack of infrastructure means it has nowhere to go and is set alight or vented into the atmosphere instead. In impoverished Iraq the vast majority of gas produced during oil production is flared, which exacerbates climate change. According to Unearthed, big oil companies “routinely” underreport…

  • World's largest flow battery to offer grid-scale energy storage in China

    World's largest flow battery to offer grid-scale energy storage in China

    Energy storage technology can help power systems more easily respond to strain during large-scale drains on the power grid as well as potentially lowering the carbon footprint of an energy network by charging during off-peak times and releasing the energy back to the grid when needed. It could also support increased use of renewable energy, which is key to helping China achieve its carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals which are currently set for 2030 and 2060 respectively. A flow battery is one in which two liquids are separated by a membrane and circulated in order to enable ion exchange between them. They typically offer a long cycle life and are suited for consistent energy delivery which is required for grid-level storage solutions. Image credit: DICP …

  • Hydrogen could prove inefficient for heating homes, despite government claims

    Hydrogen could prove inefficient for heating homes, despite government claims

    Hydrogen will not have a major role in the future of heating homes across Britain, according to a peer-reviewed review of more than two dozen independent studies, published in the academic journal  Joule. The research found that using hydrogen in domestic heating is less economic, less efficient, more resource intensive and has a bigger environmental impact than many alternatives, including heat pumps, solar thermal panels and district heating – where whole blocks or neighbourhoods are supplied through the same hot water system. The academic findings contradict the statements made by Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who told the House of Commons last week that hydrogen was a "silver bullet", that could be used as a way to store excess renewable power, and "with some adjustments piped…

  • AI voice assistants could negatively impact child development, research finds

    AI voice assistants could negatively impact child development, research finds

    A team from the University of Cambridge said that children can view social robots as beings with their own rights and feelings, despite being aware of the machine status. This is exacerbated by the way they interact with the devices through the use of wake commands such as “Hey Google” or “Hi Alexa”, which increases the risk that children over-anthropomorphise digital devices. However, there is no expectation that polite terms, such as “please” or “thank you”, should be used during these interactions and there is no need to consider the tone of voice and whether the command being issued may be interpreted as rude or obnoxious. The inability of smart speakers to offer children constructive feedback if their speech is considered rude or inappropriate could normalise negative social interactions…

  • First lithium refinery in the UK to be built in Teesside

    First lithium refinery in the UK to be built in Teesside

    Worley  has announced that it has commenced work on the first   lithium   refinery in the UK, which will be built in Teesside by Green Lithium. Once operational, the plant is expected to produce 50,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium a year.   Lithium is an essential material in battery manufacturing. However, Europe's current lithium- refining capacity in Europe doesn’t match the increasing demand for battery-grade  lithium chemicals. According to the company, the Teeside plant will  produce up to 6 per cent of Europe’s expected battery demand by 2030, providing enough of the material to produce one million EVs annually. The new refinery is designed to supply low-carbon, battery-grade lithium chemicals to serve the growing European market for energy storage systems and electric vehicles…