Tech Universe: Tuesday 26 July

By Miraz Jordan

General Motors are planning to re-use old Chevrolet Volt batteries to possibly be used to store energy or be used as back-up power sources. Photo / Supplied
General Motors are planning to re-use old Chevrolet Volt batteries to possibly be used to store energy or be used as back-up power sources. Photo / Supplied

LOW VOLTAGE: Dead batteries? What do we do with them that's eco-friendly? As electric cars become more popular this problem will enter a whole new realm. General Motors have an idea: once Chevrolet Volt batteries have done all they can for the car they actually still have 70% of their life left in them. Why not use them to power homes during an outage? GM are building a prototype system to store energy in used car battery packs, including from sources such as wind and sun. That's a lot more sense than tossing them in a landfill. General Motors explains.

A FACE IN THE CROWD: Heathrow Airport in the UK is installing facial recognition scanners in areas where international and domestic passengers mingle as a way to prevent illegal immigration. The first scan takes place after passengers have obtained their boarding pass and just before security. Faces will be scanned again after security and before boarding.

Scanners work from about 1 metre away and take less than 5 seconds per person. Face it, air travel gets harder every day. IT World has the details.

SPEED READ: The world's data is multiplying boundlessly. Scientists and others need to work with enormous datasets, so storage and speed of manipulation become crucial. IBM researchers created a storage system capable of scanning in 10 billion files in 43 minutes — about 40 times as fast as their previous system. For a demonstration IBM built a cluster of 10 eight-core servers, with a total of 6.8 terabytes of solid-state memory. They use the flash memory to store metadata about where the files themselves are stored. Flash memory; flash speeds. More at Computerworld.

CHAIR LIFT: Dmitry Bibikow lives on the 5th floor of his building in Voronezh, Russia. Not having a lift would mean great exercise on the stairs for many people but Dmitry uses a wheelchair. The Council promised to put a lift in the building, but after 6 years he stopped waiting on them and did something about it himself. He installed a personal winch on the outside of the building that lifts him and his chair. In some countries they would have sued. Read more at the Mail Online.

DROOP POWER: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory claim that around 55% of all the energy generated in the US in 2009 was lost as waste heat. A team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, hope to use a pyroelectric polymer to capture some of that heat and use it to generate electricity. A strip of the material is attached to a hot surface. As the material heats it generates electricity and droops towards the cool surface. Then it loses heat and springs back up. At some point won't the cool surface heat up too? New Scientist has the details.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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