A wood-burning stove that uses sound to generate electricity and refrigeration could one day make waves in developing countries. That’s the hope of an international team headed by engineer Paul Riley of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. This month, the U.K. government and the U.S.’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico awarded the team almost $4 million to develop a Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration, and Electricity (SCORE). The appliance would rely on external combustion, such as a wood fire, to heat one end of a tube of compressed gas, inducing sound waves that can be harnessed to generate enough electricity to power a light bulb and a small refrigeration unit.
The principle isn’t new, but the technology has been too expensive for general use, says thermoacoustician Steven Garrett of Pennsylvania State University in State College. The SCORE team hopes to make it cost-effective with cheaper materials: Compressed air could replace high-pressure helium, for example. “If anybody can pull this off, it’s got to be these guys,” says Garrett. The device may not cut down on wood consumption, but tests suggest that it will make use of up to 30% of a wood fire’s energy, much more than a typical stove’s 7% efficiency.
Originally appeared in Science Magazine as a Random Sample: [html] [pdf]
Before I became an expeditionary mountaineer I had a certain disdain for difficult climbing objectives. They have their place, of course, and I nodded approvingly whenever I read of some thirteen-day spin-drifted, single-cramponed ascent of an untouched Alaskan face accomplished on a week’s food and fuel. I was glad they did it, and not me.
Instead, I announce to the readership of Harvard Mountaineering, which is to say most of its editors, my part in an expedition of a different sort. Oh sure, the expedition claims the first recorded ascents of nine peaks in the Borkoldoy range of the Kyrgyz Tien Shan1. But I write to share my subversive strategy of making the expedition laborious and complicated enough to merit the title without undue resort to the risks and discomforts of hard climbing. A sneakier path to glory. Continue reading Kyrgyzstan The Hard Way→
Robotic aircraft of the future, used for reconnaissance or communication, may need to rely on wing morphing, a trick mastered ages ago by birds for long flights. By measuring how ultraversatile swifts morph their wings to double their gliding time or triple their turn rate, researchers have given both biologists and engineers a greater understanding of the secrets of efficient flight.
I conducted a travel experiment recently. Everywhere I go, people make suggestions on what to see, which I usually politely ignore. (“Oh, England? You must see the hedgerows! Spain? Don’t miss Barcelona! Kyrgyzstan? Where’s that?)