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How to get rid of a wood-burning stove
Thu, 02 Feb 2023 12:28:49 GMT

Removal requires someone with experience, or you may be able to convert it into a less polluting appliance

Wood-burning stoves have become a key talking point in England as the cost of gas and electricity soars, and people have started to burn wood for heat.

The stoves have also become popular because of the cosy atmosphere they can lend a house, and many, especially in affluent urban areas, have noticed the distinctive wintry smell coming from chimneys as they walk around their neighbourhoods. Some people also believed burning wood must be better for the environment than using gas.

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Match ID: 0 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 air pollution, 15.00 carbon

Study links adoption of electric vehicles with less air pollution and improved health
2023-02-02T19:33:30+00:00
submitted by /u/Wagamaga
[link] [comments]
Match ID: 1 Score: 40.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 air pollution

Air pollution causes chess players to make more mistakes, study finds
Thu, 02 Feb 2023 10:33:23 GMT

Co-author of paper says results have implications for anyone who has to think hard in polluted areas

Chess experts make more mistakes when air pollution is high, a study has found.

Experts used computer models to analyse the quality of games played and found that with a modest increase in fine particulate matter, the probability that chess players would make an error increased by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increased by 10.8%.

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Match ID: 2 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 air pollution

Carbon capture is here—it just isn’t evenly distributed
Thu, 02 Feb 2023 18:11:04 +0000
Small installations like CarbonQuest's may provide a key demonstration of the tech.
Match ID: 3 Score: 30.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change, 15.00 carbon

Why EVs Aren't a Climate Change Panacea
Sat, 28 Jan 2023 15:44:01 +0000


“Electric cars will not save the climate. It is completely wrong,” Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has stated.

If Birol were from Maine, he might have simply observed, “You can’t get there from here.”

This is not to imply in any way that electric vehicles are worthless. Analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) argues that EVs are the quickest means to decarbonize motorized transport. However, EVs are not by themselves in any way going to achieve the goal of net zero by 2050.

There are two major reasons for this: first, EVs are not going to reach the numbers required by 2050 to hit their needed contribution to net zero goals, and even if they did, a host of other personal, social and economic activities must be modified to reach the total net zero mark.

For instance, Alexandre Milovanoff at the University of Toronto and his colleagues’ research (which is described in depth in a recent Spectrum article) demonstrates the U.S. must have 90 percent of its vehicles, or some 350 million EVs, on the road by 2050 in order to hit its emission targets. The likelihood of this occurring is infinitesimal. Some estimates indicate that about 40 percent of vehicles on US roads will be ICE vehicles in 2050, while others are less than half that figure.

For the U.S. to hit the 90 percent EV target, sales of all new ICE vehicles across the U.S. must cease by 2038 at the latest, according to research company BloombergNEF (BNEF). Greenpeace, on the other hand, argues that sales of all diesel and petrol vehicles, including hybrids, must end by 2030 to meet such a target. However, achieving either goal would likely require governments offering hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, in EV subsidies to ICE owners over the next decade, not to mention significant investments in EV charging infrastructure and the electrical grid. ICE vehicle households would also have to be convinced that they would not be giving activities up by becoming EV-only households.

As a reality check, current estimates for the number of ICE vehicles still on the road worldwide in 2050 range from a low of 1.25 billion to more than 2 billion.


Even assuming that the required EV targets were met in the U.S. and elsewhere, it still will not be sufficient to meet net zero 2050 emission targets. Transportation accounts for only 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the U.S.; the sources of the other 73 percent of GHG emissions must be reduced as well. Even in the transportation sector, more than 15 percent of the GHG emissions are created by air and rail travel and shipping. These will also have to be decarbonized.

Nevertheless, for EVs themselves to become true zero emission vehicles, everything in their supply chain from mining to electricity production must be nearly net-zero emission as well. Today, depending on the EV model, where it charges, and assuming it is a battery electric and not a hybrid vehicle, it may need to be driven anywhere from 8,400 to 13,500 miles, or controversially, significantly more to generate less GHG emissions than an ICE vehicle. This is due to the 30 to 40 percent increase in emissions EVs create in comparison to manufacturing an ICE vehicle, mainly from its battery production.

In states (or countries) with a high proportion of coal-generated electricity, the miles needed to break-even climb more. In Poland and China, for example, an EV would need to be driven 78,700 miles to break-even. Just accounting for miles driven, however, BEVs cars and trucks appear cleaner than ICE equivalents nearly everywhere in the U.S. today. As electricity increasingly comes from renewables, total electric vehicle GHG emissions will continue downward, but that will take at least a decade or more to happen everywhere across the U.S. (assuming policy roadblocks disappear), and even longer elsewhere.

If EVs aren’t enough, what else is needed?

Given that EVs, let alone the rest of the transportation sector, likely won’t hit net zero 2050 targets, what additional actions are being advanced to reduce GHG emissions?

A high priority, says IEA’s Birol, is investment in across-the-board energy-related technology research and development and their placement into practice. According to Birol, “IEA analysis shows that about half the reductions to get to net zero emissions in 2050 will need to come from technologies that are not yet ready for market.”

Many of these new technologies will be aimed at improving the efficient use of fossil fuels, which will not be disappearing anytime soon. The IEA expects that energy efficiency improvement, such as the increased use of variable speed electric motors, will lead to a 40 percent reduction in energy-related GHG emissions over the next twenty years.

But even if these hoped for technological improvements arrive, and most certainly if they do not, the public and businesses are expected to take more energy conscious decisions to close what the United Nations says is the expected 2050 “emissions gap.” Environmental groups foresee the public needing to use electrified mass transit, reduce long-haul flights for business as well as pleasure), increase telework, walk and cycle to work or stores, change their diet to eat more vegetables, or if absolutely needed, drive only small EVs. Another expectation is that homeowners and businesses will become “fully electrified” by replacing oil, propane and gas furnaces with heat pumps along with gas fired stoves as well as installing solar power and battery systems.

Cyclist waiting at a red light at an intersection in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dronning Louise’s Bro (Queen Louise’s Bridge) connects inner Copenhagen and Nørrebro and is frequented by many cyclists and pedestrians every day.Frédéric Soltan/Corbis/Getty Images

Underpinning the behavioral changes being urged (or encouraged by legislation) is the notion of rejecting the current car-centric culture and completely rethinking what personal mobility means. For example, researchers at University of Oxford in the U.K. argue that, “Focusing solely on electric vehicles is slowing down the race to zero emissions.” Their study found “emissions from cycling can be more than 30 times lower for each trip than driving a fossil fuel car, and about ten times lower than driving an electric one.” If just one out of five urban residents in Europe permanently changed from driving to cycling, emissions from automobiles would be cut by 8 percent, the study reports.

Even then, Oxford researchers concede, breaking the car’s mental grip on people is not going to be easy, given the generally poor state of public transportation across much of the globe.

Behavioral change is hard

How willing are people to break their car dependency and other energy-related behaviors to address climate change? The answer is perhaps some, but maybe not too much. A Pew Research Center survey taken in late 2021 of seventeen countries with advanced economies indicated that 80 percent of those surveyed were willing to alter how then live and work to combat climate change.

However, a Kanter Public survey of ten of the same countries taken at about the same time gives a less positive view, with only 51 percent of those polled stating they would alter their lifestyles. In fact, some 74 percent of those polled indicated they were already “proud of what [they are] currently doing” to combat climate change.

What both polls failed to explore are what behaviors specifically would respondents being willing to permanently change or give up in their lives to combat climate change?

For instance, how many urban dwellers, if told that they must forever give up their cars and instead walk, cycle or take public transportation, would willingly agree to doing so? And how many of those who agreed, would also consent to go vegetarian, telework, and forsake trips abroad for vacation?

It is one thing to answer a poll indicating a willingness to change, and quite another to “walk the talk” especially if there are personal, social or economic inconveniences or costs involved. For instance, recent U.S. survey information shows that while 22 percent of new car buyers expressed interest in a battery electric vehicle (BEV), only 5 percent actually bought one.

Granted, there are several cities where living without a vehicle is doable, like Utrecht in the Netherlands where in 2019 48 percent of resident trips were done by cycling or London, where nearly two-thirds of all trips taken that same year were are made by walking, cycling or public transportation. Even a few US cities it might be livable without a car.

People ride bicycles at Stationsplein Bicycle Parking facility located near Utrecht Central Station in Utrecht, Netherlands The world’s largest bike parking facility, Stationsplein Bicycle Parking near Utrecht Central Station in Utrecht, Netherlands has 12,500 parking places.Abdullah Asiran/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

However, in countless other urban areas, especially across most of the U.S., even those wishing to forsake owning a car would find it very difficult to do so without a massive influx of investment into all forms of public transport and personal mobility to eliminate the scores of US transit deserts.

As Tony Dutzik of the environmental advocacy group Frontier Group has written that in the U.S. “the price of admission to jobs, education and recreation is owning a car.” That’s especially true if you are a poor urbanite. Owning a reliable automobile has long been one of the only successful means of getting out of poverty.

Massive investment in new public transportation in the U.S. in unlikely, given its unpopularity with politicians and the public alike. This unpopularity has translated into aging and poorly-maintained bus, train and transit systems that few look forward to using. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the current state of American public transportation a grade of D- and says today’s $176 billion investment backlog is expected to grow to $250 billion through 2029.

While the $89 billion targeted to public transportation in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help, it also contains more than $351 billion for highways over the next five years. Hundreds of billions in annual investment are needed not only to fix the current public transport system but to build new ones to significantly reduce car dependency in America. Doing so would still take decades to complete.

Yet, even if such an investment were made in public transportation, unless its service is competitive with an EV or ICE vehicle in terms of cost, reliability and convenience, it will not be used. With EVs costing less to operate than ICE vehicles, the competitive hurdle will increase, despite the moves to offer free transit rides. Then there is the social stigma attached riding public transportation that needs to be overcome as well.

A few experts proclaim that ride-sharing using autonomous vehicles will separate people from their cars. Some even claim such AV sharing signals the both the end of individual car ownership as well as the need to invest in public transportation. Both outcomes are far from likely.

Other suggestions include redesigning cities to be more compact and more electrified, which would eliminate most of the need for personal vehicles to meet basic transportation needs. Again, this would take decades and untold billions of dollars to do so at the scale needed. The San Diego, California region has decided to spend $160 billion as a way to meet California’s net zero objectives to create “a collection of walkable villages serviced by bustling (fee-free) train stations and on-demand shuttles” by 2050. However, there has been public pushback over how to pay for the plan and its push to decrease personal driving by imposing a mileage tax.

According to University of Michigan public policy expert John Leslie King, the challenge of getting to net zero by 2050 is that each decarbonization proposal being made is only part of the overall solution. He notes, “You must achieve all the goals, or you don’t win. The cost of doing each is daunting, and the total cost goes up as you concatenate them.”

Concatenated costs also include changing multiple personal behaviors. It is unlikely that automakers, having committed more than a trillion dollars so far to EVs and charging infrastructure, are going to support depriving the public of the activities they enjoy today as a price they pay to shift to EVs. A war on EVs will be hard fought.

Should Policies Nudge or Shove?

The cost concatenation problem arises not only at a national level, but at countless local levels as well. Massachusetts’ new governor Maura Healey, for example, has set ambitious goals of having at least 1 million EVs on the road, converting 1 million fossil-fuel burning furnaces in homes and buildings to heat-pump systems, and the state achieving a 100 percent clean electricity supply by 2030.

The number of Massachusetts households that can afford or are willing to buy an EV and or convert their homes to a heat pump system in the next eight years, even with a current state median household income of $89,000 and subsidies, is likely significantly smaller than the targets set. So, what happens if by 2030, the numbers are well below target, not only in Massachusetts, but other states like California, New York, or Illinois that also have aggressive GHG emission reduction targets?

Will governments move from encouraging behavioral changes to combat climate change or, in frustration or desperation, begin mandating them? And if they do, will there be a tipping point that spurs massive social resistance?

For example, dairy farmers in the Netherlands have been protesting plans by the government to force them to cut their nitrogen emissions. This will require dairy farms to reduce their livestock, which will make it difficult or impossible to stay in business. The Dutch government estimates 11,200 farms must close, and another 17,600 to reduce their livestock numbers. The government says farmers who do not comply will have their farms taken away by forced buyouts starting in 2023.

California admits getting to a zero-carbon transportation system by 2045 means car owners must travel 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and even more by 2045. If drivers fail to do so, will California impose weekly or monthly driving quotas, or punitive per mile driving taxes, along with mandating mileage data from vehicles ever-more connected to the Internet? The San Diego backlash over a mileage tax may be just the beginning.

“EVs,” notes King, “pull an invisible trailer filled with required major lifestyle changes that the public is not yet aware of.”

When it does, do not expect the public to acquiesce quietly.

In the final article of the series, we explore potential unanticipated consequences of transitioning to EVs at scale.


Match ID: 4 Score: 17.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 climate change, 8.57 carbon

Tate rape allegations, text exchanges with women detailed in court document
Thu, 2 Feb 2023 17:14:29 EST
Andrew Tate, the self-styled “king of toxic masculinity,” is being investigated for two counts of rape, according to a Romanian court order obtained by The Washington Post.
Match ID: 5 Score: 15.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 toxic

New satellite to police carbon dioxide emitters from space
2023-02-02T18:27:02+00:00
New satellite to police carbon dioxide emitters from space submitted by /u/IslandChillin
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 6 Score: 15.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

Brown gold: the great American manure rush begins
Thu, 02 Feb 2023 11:00:02 GMT

The energy industry is turning waste from dairy farms into renewable natural gas – but will it actually reduce emissions?

On an early August afternoon at Pinnacle Dairy, a farm located near the middle of California’s long Central Valley, 1,300 Jersey cows idle in the shade of open-air barns. Above them whir fans the size of satellites, circulating a breeze as the temperature pushes 100F (38C). Underfoot, a wet layer of feces emits a thick stench that hangs in the air. Just a tad unpleasant, the smell represents a potential goldmine.

The energy industry is transforming mounds of manure into a lucrative “carbon negative fuel” capable of powering everything from municipal buses to cargo trucks. To do so, it’s turning to dairy farms, which offer a reliable, long-term supply of the material. Pinnacle is just one of hundreds across the state that have recently sold the rights to their manure to energy producers.

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Match ID: 7 Score: 15.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

‘We see misogyny every day’: how Andrew Tate’s twisted ideology infiltrated British schools
Thu, 02 Feb 2023 10:00:00 GMT

A year ago, most teachers had never heard of the ex-kickboxer and social media influencer. Now, his toxic machismo is the talk of the playground – and the staffroom

Daniel is 10. He likes football, Fifa, the gaming website Poki, coding and basketball. Last year, he asked his dad if he had ever heard of Andrew Tate. “I hadn’t,” admits his father, Nick, who went away, did some research and was horrified at what he found.

Today, it seems as if virtually every parent in Britain has heard of the ex-kickboxer, social media influencer and self-professed misogynist, whose videos have been watched millions of times and whose recent arrest in Romania on suspicion of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group to exploit women has kept him in the headlines.

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Match ID: 8 Score: 15.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 toxic

13,000 People From the Niger Delta Just Sued Shell for Years of Oil Spills
Thu, 02 Feb 2023 00:01:20 +0000

“As we speak, oil is spilling in my community every day, people are dying.”

The post 13,000 People From the Niger Delta Just Sued Shell for Years of Oil Spills appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 9 Score: 15.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 toxic

Green projects are boosting UK growth - CBI report
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 01:05:44 GMT
Projects aimed at lowering carbon emissions are boosting growth in poorer parts of the country.
Match ID: 10 Score: 12.86 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 3 days
qualifiers: 12.86 carbon

New FTX Filing Pulls Back the Curtain on Sam Bankman-Fried’s Massive Influence-Peddling Operation
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 22:19:54 +0000

A bankruptcy filing revealed new information about how the crypto exchange spent money on consultants, think tanks, and business relationships.

The post New FTX Filing Pulls Back the Curtain on Sam Bankman-Fried’s Massive Influence-Peddling Operation appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 11 Score: 12.86 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 12.86 carbon

The American West’s Salt Lakes Are Turning to Dust
Sat, 28 Jan 2023 13:00:00 +0000
A new research and monitoring program aims to conserve threatened but overlooked saline ecosystems.
Match ID: 12 Score: 8.57 source: www.wired.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 climate change

IEEE Discusses 6 Simple Solutions to Climate Change at COP27
Thu, 26 Jan 2023 19:00:04 +0000


Simple, effective solutions that can help lessen the impact of climate change already exist. Some of them still need to be implemented, though, while others need to be improved.

That’s according to 2023 IEEE President Saifur Rahman, who was among the speakers from engineering organizations at the COP27 event held in Egypt in November. The IEEE Life Fellow spoke during a session addressing the role of technology in delivering an equitable, sustainable, and low-carbon resilient world.


Rahman, a power expert and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech, is the former chair of the IEEE ad hoc committee on climate change. The committee was formed last year to coordinate the organization’s response to the global crisis.

About one-third of emissions globally are produced through electricity generation, and Rahman said his mission is to help reduce that amount through engineering solutions.

At COP27, he said that even though the first legally binding international treaty on climate change, known as the Paris Agreement, was adopted nearly a decade ago, countries have yet to come to a consensus on how to stop burning fossil fuels, among other issues. Some continue to burn coal, for example, because there are no other economically feasible choices for them.

“We as technologists from IEEE say, ‘If you keep to your positions, you’ll never get an agreement,’” he said. “We have come to offer this six-point portfolio of solutions that everybody can live with. We want to be a solution partner so we can have parties at the table to help solve this problem of high carbon emissions globally.”

The solutions Rahman outlined were the use of proven methods that reduce electricity usage, making coal plants more efficient, using hydrogen and other storage solutions, promoting more renewables, installing new types of nuclear reactors, and encouraging cross-border power transfers.

Energy-saving tips

One action is to use less electricity, Rahman said, noting that dimming lights by 20 percent in homes, office buildings, hotels, and schools could save 10 percent of electricity. Most people wouldn’t even notice the difference in brightness, he said.

Another is switching to LEDs, which use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs cost about five times more, but they last longer, he said. He called on developed countries to provide financial assistance to developing nations to help them replace all their incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

Another energy-saving measure is to raise the temperature of air conditioners by 2 °C. This could save 10 percent of electricity as well, Rahman.

By better controlling lighting, heating, and cooling, 20 percent of energy could be saved without causing anyone to suffer, he said.

Efficient coal-burning plants

Shutting down coal power plants completely is unlikely to happen anytime soon, he predicted, especially since many countries are building new ones that have 40-year life spans. Countries that continue to burn coal should do so in high-efficiency power plants, he said.

One type is the ultrasupercritical coal-fired steam power plant. Conventional coal-fired plants, which make water boil to generate steam that activates a turbine, have an efficiency of about 38 percent. Ultrasupercritical plants operate at temperatures and pressures at which the liquid and gas phases of water coexist in equilibrium. It results in higher efficiencies: about 46 percent. Rahman cited the Eemshaven ultrasupercritical plant, in Groningen, Netherlands—which was built in 2014.

Another efficient option he pointed out is the combined cycle power plant. In its first stage, natural gas is burned in a turbine to make electricity. The heat from the turbine’s exhaust is used to produce steam to turn a turbine in the second stage. The resulting two-stage power plant is at least 25 percent more efficient than a single-stage plant.

“IEEE wants to be a solution partner, not a complaining partner, so we can have both parties at the table to help solve this problem of high carbon emissions globally.”

Another method to make coal-fired power plants more environmentally friendly is to capture the exhausted carbon dioxide and store it in the ground, Rahman said. Such carbon-capture systems are being used in some locations, but he acknowledges that the carbon sequestration process is too expensive for some countries.

Integrating and storing grid and off-grid energy

To properly balance electricity supply and demand on the power grid, renewables should be integrated into energy generation, transmission, and distribution systems from the very start, Rahman said. He added that the energy from wind, solar, and hydroelectric plants should be stored in batteries so the electricity generated from them during off-peak hours isn’t wasted but integrated into energy grids.

He also said low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen fuel should be considered as part of the renewable energy mix. The fuel can be used to power cars, supply electricity, and heat homes, all with zero carbon emissions.

“Hydrogen would help emerging economies meet their climate goals, lower their costs, and make their energy grid more resilient,” he said.

Smaller nuclear power plants

Rahman conceded there’s a stigma that surrounds nuclear power plants because of accidents at Chernobyl, Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and elsewhere. But, he said, without nuclear power, the concept of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 isn’t realistic.

“It’s not possible in the next 25 years except with nuclear power,” he said. “We don’t have enough solar energy and wind energy.”

Small modular reactors could replace traditional nuclear power plants. SMRs are easier and less expensive to build, and they’re safer than today’s large nuclear plants, Rahman said.

Though small, SMRs are powerful. They have an output of up to 300 megawatts of electricity, or about a quarter of the size of today’s typical nuclear plant.

The modular reactors are assembled in factories and shipped to their ultimate location, instead of being built onsite. And unlike traditional nuclear facilities, SMRs don’t need to be located near large bodies of water to handle the waste heat discharge.

SMRs have not taken off, Rahman says, because of licensing and technical issues.

Electricity transfer across national borders

Rahman emphasized the need for more cross-border power transfers, as few countries have enough electricity to supply to all their citizens. Many countries already do so.

“The United States buys power from Canada. France sells energy to Italy, Spain, and Switzerland,” Rahman said. “The whole world is one grid. You cannot transition from coal to solar and vice versa unless you transfer power back and forth.”

Free research on climate change

During the conference session, Rahman said an IEEE collection of 7,000 papers related to climate change is accessible from the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. IEEE also launched a website that houses additional resources.

None of the solutions IEEE proposed are new or untested, Rahman said, but his goal is to “provide a portfolio of solutions acceptable to and deployable in both the emerging economies and the developed countries—which will allow them to sit at the table together and see how much carbon emission can be saved by creative application of already available technologies so that both parties win at the end of the day.”


Match ID: 13 Score: 8.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 7 days
qualifiers: 4.29 climate change, 4.29 carbon

Climate Reparations Won’t Work
Fri, 27 Jan 2023 14:00:00 +0000
For Tonga and other nations disproportionately impacted by the environmental crisis, cash is only a band-aid for a spiraling disaster.
Match ID: 14 Score: 6.43 source: www.wired.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 6.43 climate change

Forecasting the Ice Loss of Greenland’s Glaciers With Viscoelastic Modeling
Fri, 27 Jan 2023 13:00:04 +0000


This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

To someone standing near a glacier, it may seem as stable and permanent as anything on Earth can be. However, Earth’s great ice sheets are always moving and evolving. In recent decades, this ceaseless motion has accelerated. In fact, ice in polar regions is proving to be not just mobile, but alarmingly mortal.

Rising air and sea temperatures are speeding up the discharge of glacial ice into the ocean, which contributes to global sea level rise. This ominous progression is happening even faster than anticipated. Existing models of glacier dynamics and ice discharge underestimate the actual rate of ice loss in recent decades. This makes the work of Angelika Humbert, a physicist studying Greenland’s Nioghalvfjerdsbræ outlet glacier, especially important — and urgent.


As the leader of the Modeling Group in the Section of Glaciology at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, Humbert works to extract broader lessons from Nioghalvfjerdsbræ’s ongoing decline. Her research combines data from field observations with viscoelastic modeling of ice sheet behavior. Through improved modeling of elastic effects on glacial flow, Humbert and her team seek to better predict ice loss and the resulting impact on global sea levels.

She is acutely aware that time is short. “Nioghalvfjerdsbræ is one of the last three ‘floating tongue’ glaciers in Greenland,” explains Humbert. “Almost all of the other floating tongue formations have already disintegrated.”

One Glacier That Holds 1.1 Meter of Potential Global Sea Level Rise

The North Atlantic island of Greenland is covered with the world’s second largest ice pack after that of Antarctica. (Fig. 1) Greenland’s sparsely populated landscape may seem unspoiled, but climate change is actually tearing away at its icy mantle.

The ongoing discharge of ice into the ocean is a “fundamental process in the ice sheet mass-balance,” according to a 2021 article in Communications Earth & Environment by Humbert and her colleagues. (Ref. 1) The article notes that the entire Northeast Greenland Ice Stream contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 1.1 meters. While the entire formation is not expected to vanish, Greenland’s overall ice cover has declined dramatically since 1990. This process of decay has not been linear or uniform across the island. Nioghalvfjerdsbræ, for example, is now Greenland’s largest outlet glacier. The nearby Petermann Glacier used to be larger, but has been shrinking even more quickly. (Ref. 2)


Map of Greenland showing location of cracks and ice flow near the coast.


Existing Models Underestimate the Rate of Ice Loss

Greenland’s overall loss of ice mass is distinct from “calving”, which is the breaking off of icebergs from glaciers’ floating tongues. While calving does not directly raise sea levels, the calving process can quicken the movement of land-based ice toward the coast. Satellite imagery from the European Space Agency (Fig. 2) has captured a rapid and dramatic calving event in action. Between June 29 and July 24 of 2020, a 125 km2 floating portion of Nioghalvfjerdsbræ calved into many separate icebergs, which then drifted off to melt into the North Atlantic.

Direct observations of ice sheet behavior are valuable, but insufficient for predicting the trajectory of Greenland’s ice loss. Glaciologists have been building and refining ice sheet models for decades, yet, as Humbert says, “There is still a lot of uncertainty around this approach.” Starting in 2014, the team at AWI joined 14 other research groups to compare and refine their forecasts of potential ice loss through 2100. The project also compared projections for past years to ice losses that actually occurred. Ominously, the experts’ predictions were “far below the actually observed losses” since 2015, as stated by Martin Rückamp of AWI. (Ref. 3) He says, “The models for Greenland underestimate the current changes in the ice sheet due to climate change.”


Sequence of photos showing the flow of ice in the Nioghalvfjerdsbr\u00e6 glacier.


Viscoelastic Modeling to Capture Fast-Acting Forces

Angelika Humbert has personally made numerous trips to Greenland and Antarctica to gather data and research samples, but she recognizes the limitations of the direct approach to glaciology. “Field operations are very costly and time consuming, and there is only so much we can see,” she says. “What we want to learn is hidden inside a system, and much of that system is buried beneath many tons of ice! We need modeling to tell us what behaviors are driving ice loss, and also to show us where to look for those behaviors.”

Since the 1980s, researchers have relied on numerical models to describe and predict how ice sheets evolve. “They found that you could capture the effects of temperature changes with models built around a viscous power law function,” Humbert explains. “If you are modeling stable, long-term behavior, and you get your viscous deformation and sliding right, your model can do a decent job. But if you are trying to capture loads that are changing on a short time scale, then you need a different approach.”

To better understand the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream glacial system and its discharge of ice into the ocean, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have developed an improved viscoelastic model to capture how tides and subglacial topography contribute to glacial flow.

What drives short-term changes in the loads that affect ice sheet behavior? Humbert and the AWI team focus on two sources of these significant but poorly understood forces: oceanic tidal movement under floating ice tongues (such as the one shown in Fig. 2) and the ruggedly uneven landscape of Greenland itself. Both tidal movement and Greenland’s topography help determine how rapidly the island’s ice cover is moving toward the ocean.

To investigate the elastic deformation caused by these factors, Humbert and her team built a viscoelastic model of Nioghalvfjerdsbræ in the COMSOL Multiphysics software. The glacier model’s geometry is based on data from radar surveys. The model solved underlying equations for a viscoelastic Maxwell material across a 2D model domain consisting of a vertical cross section along the blue line shown in Fig. 3. The simulated results were then compared to actual field measurements of glacier flow obtained by four GPS stations, one of which is shown in Fig. 3.

How Cycling Tides Affect Glacier Movement

The tides around Greenland typically raise and lower the coastal water line between 1 and 4 meters per cycle. This action exerts tremendous force on outlet glaciers’ floating tongues, and these forces are transmitted into the land-based parts of the glacier as well. AWI’s viscoelastic model explores how these cyclical changes in stress distribution can affect the glacier’s flow toward the sea.


Left photo with text overlay indicating the location of where GPS stations were positioned. Right photo shows closeup of GPS station.


Three plots comparing experimental and simulated data.


The charts in Figure 4 present the measured tide-induced stresses acting on Nioghalvfjerdsbræ at three locations, superimposed on stresses predicted by viscous and viscoelastic simulations. Chart a shows how displacements decline further when they are 14 kilometers inland from the grounding line (GL). Chart b shows that cyclical tidal stresses lessen at GPS-hinge, located in a bending zone near the grounding line between land and sea. Chart c shows activity at the location called GPS-shelf, which is mounted on ice floating in the ocean. Accordingly, it shows the most pronounced waveform of cyclical tidal stresses acting on the ice.

“The floating tongue is moving up and down, which produces elastic responses in the land-based portion of the glacier,” says Julia Christmann, a mathematician on the AWI team who plays a key role in constructing their simulation models. “There is also a subglacial hydrological system of liquid water between the inland ice and the ground. This basal water system is poorly known, though we can see evidence of its effects.” For example, chart a shows a spike in stresses below a lake sitting atop the glacier. “Lake water flows down through the ice, where it adds to the subglacial water layer and compounds its lubricating effect,” Christmann says.

The plotted trend lines highlight the greater accuracy of the team’s new viscoelastic simulations, as compared to purely viscous models. As Christmann explains, “The viscous model does not capture the full extent of changes in stress, and it does not show the correct amplitude. (See chart c in Fig. 4.) In the bending zone, we can see a phase shift in these forces due to elastic response.” Christmann continues, “You can only get an accurate model if you account for viscoelastic ‘spring’ action.”

Modeling Elastic Strains from Uneven Landscapes

The crevasses in Greenland’s glaciers reveal the unevenness of the underlying landscape. Crevasses also provide further evidence that glacial ice is not a purely viscous material. “You can watch a glacier over time and see that it creeps, as a viscous material would,” says Humbert. However, a purely viscous material would not form persistent cracks the way that ice sheets do. “From the beginning of glaciology, we have had to accept the reality of these crevasses,” she says. The team’s viscoelastic model provides a novel way to explore how the land beneath Nioghalvfjerdsbræ facilitates the emergence of crevasses and affects glacial sliding.


Aerial view of Nioghalvfjerdsbr\u00e6 glacier showing vast expanse of ice covered by deep crevasses.


“When we did our simulations, we were surprised at the amount of elastic strain created by topography,” Christmann explains. “We saw these effects far inland, where they would have nothing to do with tidal changes.”


Plot showing ice movement in different parts of the Nioghalvfjerdsbr\u00e6 glacier.


Figure 6 shows how vertical deformation in the glacier corresponds to the underlying landscape and helps researchers understand how localized elastic vertical motion affects the entire sheet’s horizontal movement. Shaded areas indicate velocity in that part of the glacier compared to its basal velocity. Blue zones are moving vertically at a slower rate than the sections that are directly above the ground, indicating that the ice is being compressed. Pink and purple zones are moving faster than ice at the base, showing that ice is being vertically stretched.

These simulation results suggest that the AWI team’s improved model could provide more accurate forecasts of glacial movements. “This was a ‘wow’ effect for us,” says Humbert. “Just as the up and down of the tides creates elastic strain that affects glacier flow, now we can capture the elastic part of the up and down over bedrock as well.”

Scaling Up as the Clock Runs Down

The improved viscoelastic model of Nioghalvfjerdsbræ is only the latest example of Humbert’s decades-long use of numerical simulation tools for glaciological research. “COMSOL is very well suited to our work,” she says. “It is a fantastic tool for trying out new ideas. The software makes it relatively easy to adjust settings and conduct new simulation experiments without having to write custom code.” Humbert’s university students frequently incorporate simulation into their research. Examples include Julia Christmann’s PhD work on the calving of ice shelves, and another degree project that modeled the evolution of the subglacial channels that carry meltwater from the surface to the ice base.

The AWI team is proud of their investigative work, but they are fully cognizant of just how much information about the world’s ice cover remains unknown — and that time is short. “We cannot afford Maxwell material simulations of all of Greenland,” Humbert concedes. “We could burn years of computational time and still not cover everything. But perhaps we can parameterize the localized elastic response effects of our model, and then implement it at a larger scale,” she says.

This scale defines the challenges faced by 21st-century glaciologists. The size of their research subjects is staggering, and so is the global significance of their work. Even as their knowledge is growing, it is imperative that they find more information, more quickly. Angelika Humbert would welcome input from people in other fields who study viscoelastic materials. “If other COMSOL users are dealing with fractures in Maxwell materials, they probably face some of the same difficulties that we have, even if their models have nothing to do with ice!” she says. “Maybe we can have an exchange and tackle these issues together.”

Perhaps, in this spirit, we who benefit from the work of glaciologists can help shoulder some of the vast and weighty challenges they bear.


References

  1. J. Christmann, V. Helm, S.A. Khan, A. Humbert, et al. “Elastic Deformation Plays a Non-Negligible Role in Greenland’s Outlet Glacier Flow“, Communications Earth & Environment, vol. 2, no. 232, 2021.
  2. European Space Agency, “Spalte Breaks Up“, September 2020.
  3. Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, “Model comparison: Experts calculate future ice loss and the extent to which Greenland and the Antarctic will contribute to sea-level rise“, September 2020.

Match ID: 15 Score: 6.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 6.43 climate change

Crispr Wants to Feed the World
Fri, 27 Jan 2023 12:00:00 +0000
The power to fight human diseases put genome editing on the map. But similar technology could help crops withstand the stress of climate change.
Match ID: 16 Score: 6.43 source: www.wired.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 6.43 climate change

Solar-to-Jet-Fuel System Readies for Takeoff
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 17:00:00 +0000


As climate change edges from crisis to emergency, the aviation sector looks set to miss its 2050 goal of net-zero emissions. In the five years preceding the pandemic, the top four U.S. airlines—American, Delta, Southwest, and United—saw a 15 percent increase in the use of jet fuel. Despite continual improvements in engine efficiencies, that number is projected to keep rising.

A glimmer of hope, however, comes from solar fuels. For the first time, scientists and engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have reported a successful demonstration of an integrated fuel-production plant for solar kerosene. Using concentrated solar energy, they were able to produce kerosene from water vapor and carbon dioxide directly from air. Fuel thus produced is a drop-in alternative to fossil-derived fuels and can be used with existing storage and distribution infrastructures, and engines.

Fuels derived from synthesis gas (or syngas)—an intermediate product that is a specific mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen—is a known alternative to conventional, fossil-derived fuels. Syngas is produced by Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis, in which chemical reactions convert carbon monoxide and water vapor into hydrocarbons. The team of researchers at ETH found that a solar-driven thermochemical method to split water and carbon dioxide using a metal oxide redox cycle can produce renewable syngas. They demonstrated the process in a rooftop solar refinery at the ETH Machine Laboratory in 2019.

Close-up of a spongy looking material Reticulated porous structure made of ceria used in the solar reactor to thermochemically split CO2 and H2O and produce syngas, a specific mixture of H2 and CO.ETH Zurich

The current pilot-scale solar tower plant was set up at the IMDEA Energy Institute in Spain. It scales up the solar reactor of the 2019 experiment by a factor of 10, says Aldo Steinfeld, an engineering professor at ETH who led the study. The fuel plant brings together three subsystems—the solar tower concentrating facility, solar reactor, and gas-to-liquid unit.

First, a heliostat field made of mirrors that rotate to follow the sun concentrates solar irradiation into a reactor mounted on top of the tower. The reactor is a cavity receiver lined with reticulated porous ceramic structures made of ceria (or cerium(IV) oxide). Within the reactor, the concentrated sunlight creates a high-temperature environment of about 1,500 °C which is hot enough to split captured carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere to produce syngas. Finally, the syngas is processed to kerosene in the gas-to-liquid unit. A centralized control room operates the whole system.

Fuel produced using this method closes the fuel carbon cycle as it only produces as much carbon dioxide as has gone into its manufacture. “The present pilot fuel plant is still a demonstration facility for research purposes,” says Steinfeld, “but it is a fully integrated plant and uses a solar-tower configuration at a scale that is relevant for industrial implementation.”

“The solar reactor produced syngas with selectivity, purity, and quality suitable for FT synthesis,” the authors noted in their paper. They also reported good material stability for multiple consecutive cycles. They observed a value of 4.1 percent solar-to-syngas energy efficiency, which Steinfeld says is a record value for thermochemical fuel production, even though better efficiencies are required to make the technology economically competitive.

Schematic of the solar tower fuel plant.  A heliostat field concentrates solar radiation onto a solar reactor mounted on top of the solar tower. The solar reactor cosplits water and carbon dioxide and produces a mixture of molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which in turn is processed to drop-in fuels such as kerosene.ETH Zurich

“The measured value of energy conversion efficiency was obtained without any implementation of heat recovery,” he says. The heat rejected during the redox cycle of the reactor accounted for more than 50 percent of the solar-energy input. “This fraction can be partially recovered via thermocline heat storage. Thermodynamic analyses indicate that sensible heat recovery could potentially boost the energy efficiency to values exceeding 20 percent.”

To do so, more work is needed to optimize the ceramic structures lining the reactor, something the ETH team is actively working on, by looking at 3D-printed structures for improved volumetric radiative absorption. “In addition, alternative material compositions, that is, perovskites or aluminates, may yield improved redox capacity, and consequently higher specific fuel output per mass of redox material,” Steinfeld adds.

The next challenge for the researchers, he says, is the scale-up of their technology for higher solar-radiative power inputs, possibly using an array of solar cavity-receiver modules on top of the solar tower.

To bring solar kerosene into the market, Steinfeld envisages a quota-based system. “Airlines and airports would be required to have a minimum share of sustainable aviation fuels in the total volume of jet fuel that they put in their aircraft,” he says. This is possible as solar kerosene can be mixed with fossil-based kerosene. This would start out small, as little as 1 or 2 percent, which would raise the total fuel costs at first, though minimally—adding “only a few euros to the cost of a typical flight,” as Steinfeld puts it

Meanwhile, rising quotas would lead to investment, and to falling costs, eventually replacing fossil-derived kerosene with solar kerosene. “By the time solar jet fuel reaches 10 to 15 percent of the total jet-fuel volume, we ought to see the costs for solar kerosene nearing those of fossil-derived kerosene,” he adds.

However, we may not have to wait too long for flights to operate solely on solar fuel. A commercial spin-off of Steinfeld’s laboratory, Synhelion, is working on commissioning the first industrial-scale solar fuel plant in 2023. The company has also collaborated with the airline SWISS to conduct a flight solely using its solar kerosene.


Match ID: 17 Score: 4.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 183 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change, 2.14 carbon

Portable Life-Support Device Provides Critical Care in Conflict and Disaster Zones
Tue, 24 Jan 2023 15:37:00 +0000


This is a sponsored article brought to you by LEMO.

A bomb explodes — medical devices set to action.

It is only in war that both sides of human ingenuity coexist so brutally. On the one side, it innovates to wound and kill, on the other it heals and saves lives. Side by side, but viscerally opposed.

Dr. Joe Fisher is devoted to the light side of human ingenuity, medicine. His research at Toronto’s University Health Network has made major breakthroughs in understanding the absorption and use of oxygen by the body. Then, based on the results, he developed new, highly efficient methods of delivering oxygen to patients.

In 2004, together with other physicians and engineers, he created a company to develop solutions based on his innovations. He named it after the Toronto neighborhood where he still lives — Thornhill Medical.



Meanwhile, the studies conducted by Dr. Fisher started drawing attention from the U.S. Marines. They had been looking for solutions to reduce the use of large, heavy, and potentially explosive oxygen tanks transported by their medical teams to military operation sites.

“At first, they asked us if we could prove that it was possible to ventilate patients using much less oxygen,” says Veso Tijanic, COO of Thornhill Medical. “We proved it. Then, they asked us whether we could develop a device for this. Finally, whether we could integrate other functionalities into this device.”

The device is currently saving lives in Ukraine, Thornhill Medical having donated a number of them as well as its mobile anesthesia delivery module MADM.

These back-and-forths lasted about five years, gradually combining science and technology. It resulted in a very first product, launched in 2011: MOVES, an innovative portable life support unit.

This cooperation has also deeply transformed Thornhill Medical.

“We used to see ourselves as an R&D laboratory, we have now also become a medical device manufacturer!” says Tijanic.

Whilst the U.S. Marines started using MOVES, Thornhill Medical continued to innovate. In 2017, it launched an enhanced version, MOVES SLC.

Today, the Canadian company employs a staff of about 70. It continues to do research and development with its own team and partners around the world, publishing regularly in scientific journals. It has sold MOVES SLC around the world and launched two other solutions, MADM and ClearMate.

MADM is a portable device (capable of functioning on extreme terrain) which connects to any ventilator to deliver gas anaesthesia. ClearMate is an instrument — also portable and without electricity — which allows to take quick action in case of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is the most common respiratory poisoning, where every second without treatment worsens consequences on the brain and other organs.

An innovative ventilator design

Just like these two products, the heart of MOVES SLC is a technology stemming directly from Dr. Fisher’s research in breathing sciences. It includes a ventilator operating in circle-circuit: It recovers the oxygen expired by the patient, carefully controls its concentration (high FiO2) and redistributes only the strict minimum to the patient.

MOVES SLC operates with significantly less oxygen than required by traditional open-circuit ventilators. This is so little that a small oxygen-concentrator — integrated into MOVES SLC, that extracts oxygen from ambient air — is sufficient. No need for supplies from large oxygen tanks.

Yet, MOVES SLC is more than an innovative ultra-efficient ventilator, says Tijanic: “It is a complete life support device.” In addition to its integrated oxygen concentrator, it also includes suction and several sensors that monitor vital signs and brings it all together via a unique interface that can be operated on the device or by a mobile touch screen.


The MOVES SLC portable life-support unit.


The user can intubate a patient and monitor its ventilation (FiO2, ETCO2, SpO2, ABP and other indicators) in addition to the patient’s temperature (two sensors), blood pressure (internal and external) and 12-lead ECG. The evolution of these measurements can be followed over the last 24 hours.

All of this, in a device measuring only 84 cm x 14 cm x 25 cm, weighing about 21 kilograms (including interchangeable batteries) which can be slung across the shoulder.

“MOVES must function in the middle of military operations, and be resistant to vibrations, crashes and shock, continue operating smoothly in sandstorms or in the rain.”
—Veso Tijanic, COO of Thornhill Medical

“MOVES SLC represents no more than 30 percent of the volume and weight of traditional equipment — ventilator, concentrator, suction, monitoring device,” adds the COO. Integrating various technologies in such a lightweight, compact package was, without surprise, a major challenge for the engineers. Still, not the most difficult one.

Making medical device components capable of withstanding extreme conditions will have been even more complex. “Traditional technologies were designed to function in hospitals,” explains Tijanic. “MOVES must function in the middle of military operations, and be resistant to vibrations, crashes and shock, continue operating smoothly in sandstorms or in the rain, in temperatures between -26°C and +54°C.”

Sometimes, the engineers could take existing components and develop protective features for them. Occasionally, they would recast them from different markets (oxygen sensors, for instance) to integrate them into their device. And in other cases, they had to start from scratch, creating their own robust components.

Military-grade ruggedness

The challenge was successfully overcome: “MOVES is designed under the highest industry standards and has been tested and fully certified by various regulatory bodies.” It has been certified MIL-STD-810G, a ruggedness U.S. military standard, verified by over twenty different tests (acoustic vibration, explosive atmosphere, etc.).

The device is hence approved for use — not only transported, but actually used on a patient — in various helicopters, aircraft and land vehicles. And this makes a world of difference for Tijanic. “Critical care, such as we provide, normally requires specially equipped facilities or vehicles. With MOVES SLC, any place or vehicle — even civilian — of sufficient size, is an opportunity for treatment.”

Thornhill’s fully integrated mobile life support has been used by military medical teams for five years already. The device is currently saving lives in Ukraine, Thornhill Medical having donated a number of them as well as its mobile anesthesia delivery module MADM.

An Introduction to MOVES SLC



In July 2022, the U.S. Army published a report summarizing its medical modernization strategy. The 22-page report confirms the need for ever more lightweight, compact, and cost-effective technology. It also mentions the use of artificial intelligence for more autonomous monitoring of the patients’ medical condition. Thornhill is exploring the AI angle.

“There isn’t always a qualified expert available everywhere,” explains Tijanic. “AI could ensure the optimum settings of the device, and then modify these depending on how the patient’s condition evolves.”

Thornhill is also exploring another solution for cases where no experts are available on spot. Last April, a MOVES SLC was used in a demonstration of “remote control of ventilators and infusion pumps to support disaster care.” Operators based in Seattle successfully controlled remotely a device based in Toronto. Science-fiction thus becomes science, and turns into reality.

The Canadian company continues innovating to heal and save lives on rough chaotic terrain and in the most extreme and unpredictable circumstances. It is driven by medical and technological progress. It is also driven by a many-thousand-year-old trend: Humans will likely never stop waging war.



Match ID: 18 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

5G and EVs Crucial Technologies for 2023
Thu, 19 Jan 2023 19:00:05 +0000


The five most important areas of technology this year, according to a recent survey, will be cloud computing, 5G, the metaverse, electric vehicles, and the Industrial Internet of Things.

The survey consulted 350 CIOs, CTOs, IT directors, and other technology leaders in Brazil, China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


In “The Impact of Technology in 2023 and Beyond: An IEEE Global Study,” the global senior executives also weighed in on what areas could benefit from 5G implementation, what tasks would be automated by artificial intelligence, and how they plan to adopt the metaverse.

Almost 95 percent of the leaders said incorporating technologies that would help their organization become more sustainable and energy efficient was a top priority.

The executives said they thought telecommunications, transportation, energy, and financial services would be the areas most affected by technology this year.

They also shared what areas would benefit from 5G implementation.


The impact of 5G

Almost all of the tech leaders agreed that 5G is likely to impact vehicle connectivity and automation the most. They said areas that will benefit from 5G include remote learning and education; telemedicine; live streaming of sports and other entertainment programs; day-to-day communications; and transportation and traffic control.

About 95 percent said satellites that are used to provide connectivity in rural areas will enable devices with 5G to connect from anywhere at any time. In an interview with IEEE Transmitter about the results, IEEE Senior Member Eleanor Watson predicted that the space satellites will be game-changers because they “enable leapfrogging off the need to build very expensive terrestrial infrastructure. They’re also the ultimate virtual private network—VPN—for extrajurisdictional content access.”

Automation through AI and digital twins

Nearly all the tech leaders—98 percent—said routine tasks and processes such as data analysis will be automated thanks to AI-powered autonomous collaborative software and mobile robots, allowing workers to be more efficient and effective.

The same percentage agreed that digital twin technology and virtual simulations that more efficiently design, develop, and test prototypes and manufacturing processes will become more important. A digital twin is a virtual model of a real-world object, machine, or system that can be used to assess how the real-world counterpart is performing.

Meetings in the metaverse

The leaders are considering ways to use the metaverse in their operations. Ninety-one percent said they plan to use the technology for corporate training sessions, conferences, and hybrid meetings. They said that 5G and ubiquitous connectivity, virtual reality headsets, and augmented reality glasses will be important for advancing the development of the metaverse.

Companies are looking to the metaverse to help them with their sustainable development goals. IEEE Senior Member Daozhuang Lin told IEEE Transmitter that “metaverse-related technology will be a major contributor to reducing carbon emissions because it allows technologists and engineers to perform simulations, rather than relying on real-world demonstrations that run on traditional energy.” But for the technology to really take off, the respondents said, more innovations are needed in 5G and ubiquitous connectivity, virtual-reality headsets, augmented-reality glasses, and haptic devices.

Read more about IEEE members’ insight on the survey results on IEEE Transmitter.


Match ID: 19 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 14 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Spy Cams Reveal the Grim Reality of Slaughterhouse Gas Chambers
Wed, 18 Jan 2023 16:00:00 +0000
Animal rights activists have captured the first hidden-camera video from inside a carbon dioxide “stunning chamber” in a US meatpacking plant.
Match ID: 20 Score: 2.14 source: www.wired.com age: 15 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Fine-Tuning the Factory: Simulation App Helps Optimize Additive Manufacturing Facility
Thu, 12 Jan 2023 13:00:03 +0000


This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

History teaches that the Industrial Revolution began in England in the mid-18th century. While that era of sooty foundries and mills is long past, manufacturing remains essential — and challenging. One promising way to meet modern industrial challenges is by using additive manufacturing (AM) processes, such as powder bed fusion and other emerging techniques. To fulfill its promise of rapid, precise, and customizable production, AM demands more than just a retooling of factory equipment; it also calls for new approaches to factory operation and management.


Illustration of coal mines and iron works in England, with horse carts, a railroad, and smoking chimneys.


That is why Britain’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has enhanced its in-house metal powder bed fusion AM facility with a simulation model and app to help factory staff make informed decisions about its operation. The app, built using the Application Builder in the COMSOL Multiphysics software, shows the potential for pairing a full-scale AM factory with a so-called “digital twin” of itself.

“The model helps predict how heat and humidity inside a powder bed fusion factory may affect product quality and worker safety,” says Adam Holloway, a technology manager within the MTC’s modeling team. “When combined with data feeds from our facility, the app helps us integrate predictive modeling into day-to-day decision-making.” The MTC project demonstrates the benefits of placing simulation directly into the hands of today’s industrial workforce and shows how simulation could help shape the future of manufacturing.

“We’re trying to present the findings of some very complex calculations in a simple-to-understand way. By creating an app from our model, we can empower staff to run predictive simulations on laptops during their daily shifts.”
—Adam Holloway, MTC Technology Manager

Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace With DRAMA

To help modern British factories keep pace with the world, the MTC promotes high-value manufacturing throughout the United Kingdom. The MTC is based in the historic English industrial city of Coventry (Figure 2), but its focus is solely on the future. That is why the team has committed significant human and technical resources to its National Centre for Additive Manufacturing (NCAM).


Wide photo of a modern glass and metal building next to a reflecting pool.


“Adopting AM is not just about installing new equipment. Our clients are also seeking help with implementing the digital infrastructure that supports AM factory operations,” says Holloway. “Along with enterprise software and data connectivity, we’re exploring how to embed simulation within their systems as well.”

The NCAM’s Digital Reconfigurable Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace (DRAMA) project provides a valuable venue for this exploration. Developed in concert with numerous manufacturers, the DRAMA initiative includes the new powder bed fusion AM facility mentioned previously. With that mini factory as DRAMA’s stage, Holloway and his fellow simulation specialists play important roles in making its production of AM aerospace components a success.

Making Soft Material Add Up to Solid Objects

What makes a manufacturing process “additive”, and why are so many industries exploring AM methods? In the broadest sense, an additive process is one where objects are created by adding material layer by layer, rather than removing it or molding it. A reductive or subtractive process for producing a part may, for example, begin with a solid block of metal that is then cut, drilled, and ground into shape. An additive method for making the same part, by contrast, begins with empty space! Loose or soft material is then added to that space (under carefully controlled conditions) until it forms the desired shape. That pliable material must then be solidified into a durable finished part.


Closeup photo of a silver metal part with multiple interconnected links.


Different materials demand different methods for generating and solidifying additive forms. For example, common 3D printers sold to consumers produce objects by unspooling warm plastic filament, which bonds to itself and becomes harder as it cools. By contrast, the metal powder bed fusion process (Ref. 1) begins with, as its name suggests, a powdered metal which is then melted by applied heat and re-solidified when it cools. A part produced via the metal powder bed fusion process can be seen in Figure 3.

How Heat and Humidity Affect Metal Powder Bed Fusion

“The market opportunities for AM methods have been understood for a long time, but there have been many obstacles to large-scale adoption,” Holloway says. “Some of these obstacles can be overcome during the design phase of products and AM facilities. Other issues, such as the impact of environmental conditions on AM production, must be addressed while the facility is operating.”


Microscope photo of metal grains showing gray spheres of different sizes grouped together.


For instance, maintaining careful control of heat and humidity is an essential task for the DRAMA team. “The metal powder used for the powder bed fusion process (Figure 4) is highly sensitive to external conditions,” says Holloway. “This means it can begin to oxidize and pick up ambient moisture even while it sits in storage, and those processes will continue as it moves through the facility. Exposure to heat and moisture will change how it flows, how it melts, how it picks up an electric charge, and how it solidifies,” he says. “All of these factors can affect the resulting quality of the parts you’re producing.”

Careless handling of powdered metal is not just a threat to product quality. It can threaten the health and safety of workers as well. “The metal powder used for AM processes is flammable and toxic, and as it dries out, it becomes even more flammable,” Holloway says. “We need to continuously measure and manage humidity levels, as well as how loose powder propagates throughout the facility.”

To maintain proper atmospheric conditions, a manufacturer could augment its factory’s ventilation with a full climate control system, but that could be prohibitively expensive. The NCAM estimated that it would cost nearly half a million English pounds to add climate control to its relatively modest facility. But what if they could adequately manage heat and humidity without adding such a complicated system?

Responsive Process Management with Multiphysics Modeling

Perhaps using multiphysics simulation for careful process management could provide a cost-effective alternative. “As part of the DRAMA program, we created a model of our facility using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) capabilities of the COMSOL software. Our model (Figure 5) uses the finite element method to solve partial differential equations describing heat transfer and fluid flow across the air domain in our facility,” says Holloway. “This enabled us to study how environmental conditions would be affected by multiple variables, from the weather outside, to the number of machines operating, to the way machines were positioned inside the shop. A model that accounts for those variables helps factory staff adjust ventilation and production schedules to optimize conditions,” he explains.


Three screenshots of COMSOL Multiphysics simulation software.


A Simulation App that Empowers Factory Staff

The DRAMA team made their model more accessible by building a simulation app of it with the Application Builder in COMSOL Multiphysics (Figure 6). “We’re trying to present the findings of some very complex calculations in a simple-to-understand way,” Holloway explains. “By creating an app from our model, we can empower staff to run predictive simulations on laptops during their daily shifts.”


Screenshot of COMSOL software.


Screenshots of COMSOL software.


Two screenshots of COMSOL software.


The app user can define relevant boundary conditions for the beginning of a factory shift and then make ongoing adjustments. Over the course of a shift, heat and humidity levels will inevitably fluctuate. Perhaps factory staff should alter the production schedule to maintain part quality, or maybe they just need to open doors and windows to improve ventilation. Users can change settings in the app to test the possible effects of actions like these. For example, Figure 8 presents isothermal surface plots that show the effect that opening the AM machines’ build chambers has on air temperature, while Figure 9 shows how airflow is affected by opening the facility doors.


Computer image showing airflow with arrows and colors indicating how air circulates.


A Step Toward a “Factory-Level Digital Twin”

While the current app is an important step forward, it does still require workers to manually input relevant data. Looking ahead, the DRAMA team envisions something more integral, and therefore, more powerful: a “digital twin” for its AM facility. A digital twin, as described by Ed Fontes in a 2019 post on the COMSOL Blog (Ref. 2), is “a dynamic, continuously updated representation of a real physical product, device, or process.” It is important to note that even the most detailed model of a system is not necessarily its digital twin.

“To make our factory environment model a digital twin, we’d first provide it with ongoing live data from the actual factory,” Holloway explains. “Once our factory model was running in the background, it could adjust its forecasts in response to its data feeds and suggest specific actions based on those forecasts.”


Diagram showing how physical assets related to their digital twin.


“We want to integrate our predictive model into a feedback loop that includes the actual factory and its staff. The goal is to have a holistic system that responds to current factory conditions, uses simulation to make predictions about future conditions, and seamlessly makes self-optimizing adjustments based on those predictions,” Holloway says. “Then we could truly say we’ve built a digital twin for our factory.”

Simulation at Work on the Factory Floor

As an intermediate step toward building a full factory-level digital twin, the DRAMA simulation app has already proven its worth. “Our manufacturing partners may already see how modeling can help with planning an AM facility, but not really understand how it can help with operation,” Holloway says. “We’re showing the value of enabling a line worker to open up the app, enter in a few readings or import sensor data, and then quickly get a meaningful forecast of how a batch of powder will behave that day.”

Beyond its practical insights for manufacturers, the overall project may offer a broader lesson as well: By pairing its production line with a dynamic simulation model, the DRAMA project has made the entire operation safer, more productive, and more efficient. The DRAMA team has achieved this by deploying the model where it can do the most good — into the hands of the people working on the factory floor.


References

  1. S. Hendrixson, “AM 101: Powder Bed Fusion,” Jun. 2021; https://www.additivemanufacturing.media/articles/am-101-powder-bed-fusion-pbf
  2. E. Fontes, “Digital Twins: Not Just Hype,” Feb. 2019; https://www.comsol.com/blogs/digital-twins-not-just-hype/


Match ID: 21 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 21 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

The Tech Is Finally Good Enough for an Airship Revival
Sat, 10 Dec 2022 16:00:02 +0000


At Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., Lighter Than Air (LTA) Research is floating a new approach to a technology that saw its rise and fall a century ago: airships. Although airships have long since been supplanted by planes, LTA, which was founded in 2015 by CEO Alan Weston, believes that through a combination of new materials, better construction techniques, and technological advancements, airships are poised to—not reclaim the skies, certainly—but find a new niche.

Although airships never died off entirely—the Goodyear blimps, familiar to sports fans, are proof of that—the industry was already in decline by 1937, the year of the Hindenburg disaster. By the end of World War II, airships couldn’t compete with the speed airplanes offered, and they required larger crews. Today, what airships still linger serve primarily for advertising and sightseeing.


This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

LTA’s Pathfinder 1 carries bigger dreams than hovering over a sports stadium, however. The company sees a natural fit for airships in humanitarian and relief missions. Airships can stay aloft for long periods of time, in case ground conditions aren’t ideal, have a long range, and carry significant payloads, according to Carl Taussig, LTA’s chief technical officer.

Pathfinder’s cigar-shaped envelope is just over 120 meters in length and 20 meters in diameter. While that dwarfs Goodyear’s current, 75-meter Wingfoot One, it’s still only half the length of the Hindenburg. LTA expects Pathfinder 1 to carry approximately 4 tonnes of cargo, in addition to its crew, water ballast, and fuel. The airship will have a top speed of 65 knots, or about 120 kilometers per hour—on par with the Hindenburg—with a sustained cruise speed of 35 to 40 knots (65 to 75 km/h).

Some 21st-century Airship Tech

It may not seem much of an advance to be building an airship that flies no faster than the Hindenburg. But Pathfinder 1 carries a lot of new tech that LTA is betting will prove key to an airship resurgence.

For one, airships used to be constructed around riveted aluminum girders, which provided the highest strength-to-weight ratio available at the time. Instead, LTA will be using carbon-fiber tubes attached to titanium hubs. As a result, Pathfinder 1’s primary structure will be both stronger and lighter.

Pathfinder 1’s outer covering is also a step up from past generations. Airships like the 1930s’ Graf Zeppelin had coverings made out of doped cotton canvas. The dope painted on the fabric increased its strength and resiliency. But canvas is still canvas. LTA has instead built its outer coverings out of a three-layer laminate of synthetics. The outermost layer is DuPont’s Tedlar, which is a polyvinyl fluoride. The middle layer is a loose weave of fire-retardant aramid fibers. The inner layer is polyester. “It’s very similar to what’s used in a lot of racing sailboats,” says Taussig. “We needed to modify that material to make it fire resistant and change a little bit about its structural performance.”

A cylindrical white airship under construction in a large aircraft hanger. LTA Research

But neither the materials science nor the manufacturing advances will take primary credit for LTA’s looked-for success, according to Taussig—instead, it’s the introduction of electronics. “Everything’s electric on Pathfinder,” he says. “All the actuation, all the propulsion, all the actual power is all electrically generated. It’s a fully electric fly-by-wire aircraft, which is not something that was possible 80 years ago.” Pathfinder 1 has 12 electric motors for propulsion, as well as four tail fins with steering rudders controlled by its fly-by-wire system. (During initial test flights, the airship will be powered by two reciprocating aircraft engines).

There’s one other piece of equipment making an appearance on Pathfinder 1 that wasn’t available 80 years ago: lidar. Installed at the top of each of Pathfinder 1’s helium gas cells is an automotive-grade lidar. “The lidar can give us a point cloud showing the entire internal hull of that gas cell,” says Taussig, which can then be used to determine the gas cell’s volume accurately. In flight, the airship’s pilots can use that information, as well as data about the helium’s purity, pressure, and temperature, to better keep the craft pitched properly and to avoid extra stress on the internal structure during flight.

Although LTA’s initial focus is on humanitarian applications, there are other areas where airships might shine one day. “An airship is kind of a ‘tweener,’ in between sea cargo and air freight,” says Taussig. Being fully electric, Pathfinder 1 is also greener than traditional air- or sea-freight options.

After completing Pathfinder 1’s construction late in 2022, LTA plans to conduct a series of ground tests on each of the airship’s systems in the first part of 2023. Once the team is satisfied with those tests, they’ll move to tethered flight tests and finally untethered flight tests over San Francisco’s South Bay later in the year.

The company will also construct an approximately 180-meter-long airship, Pathfinder 3 at its Akron Airdock facility in Ohio. Pathfinder 3 won’t be ready to fly in 2023, but its development shows LTA’s aspirations for an airship renaissance is more than just hot air.

This article appears in the January 2023 print issue as “The Return of the Airship.”


Top Tech 2023


Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

Preview exciting technical developments for the coming year.

Can This Company Dominate Green Hydrogen?

Fortescue will need more electricity-generating capacity than France.

An Airship Resurgence

Pathfinder 1 could herald a new era for zeppelins

A New Way to Speed Up Computing

Blue microLEDs bring optical fiber to the processor.

The Personal-Use eVTOL Is (Almost) Here

Opener’s BlackFly is a pulp-fiction fever dream with wings.

Baidu Will Make an Autonomous EV

Its partnership with Geely aims at full self-driving mode.

China Builds New Breeder Reactors

The power plants could also make weapons-grade plutonium.


Economics Drives a Ray-Gun Resurgence

Lasers should be cheap enough to use against drones.

A Cryptocurrency for the Masses or a Universal ID?

What Worldcoin’s killer app will be is not yet clear.

IBM’s Quantum Leap

The company’s Condor chip will boast more than 1,000 qubits.

Arthritis Gets a Jolt

Vagus-nerve stimulation promises to help treat autoimmune disorders.

Smartphones Become Satphones

New satellites can connect directly to your phone.

Exascale Comes to Europe

The E.U.’s first exascale supercomputer will be built in Germany.

The Short List

A dozen more tech milestones to watch for in 2023.


Match ID: 22 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 54 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Climate change: Five key takeaways from COP27
Sun, 20 Nov 2022 11:04:11 GMT
The biggest win on climate since the Paris Agreement in 2015... or the biggest loss?
Match ID: 23 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 74 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

India’s First Private Space Rocket Blasts Off
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 17:51:56 +0000


A rocket built by Indian startup Skyroot has become the country’s first privately developed launch vehicle to reach space, following a successful maiden flight earlier today. The suborbital mission is a major milestone for India’s private space industry, say experts, though more needs to be done to nurture the fledgling sector.

The Vikram-S rocket, named after the founder of the Indian space program, Vikram Sarabhai, lifted off from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on India’s east coast, at 11:30 a.m. local time (1 a.m. eastern time). It reached a peak altitude of 89.5 kilometers (55.6 miles), crossing the 80-km line that NASA counts as the boundary of space, but falling just short of the 100 km recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

In the longer run, India’s space industry has ambitions of capturing a significant chunk of the global launch market.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, cofounder of the Hyderabad-based startup, says the success of the launch is a major victory for India’s nascent space industry, but the buildup to the mission was nerve-racking. “We were pretty confident on the vehicle, but, as you know, rockets are very notorious for failure,” he says. “Especially in the last 10 seconds of countdown, the heartbeat was racing up. But once the vehicle had crossed the launcher and then went into the stable trajectory, I think that was the moment of celebration.”

At just 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighing only around 550 kilograms (0.6 tonnes), the Vikram-S is not designed for commercial use. Today’s mission, called Prarambh, which means “the beginning” in Sanskrit, was designed to test key technologies that will be used to build the startup’s first orbital rocket, the Vikram I. The rocket will reportedly be capable of lofting as much as 480 kg up to an 500-km altitude and is slated for a maiden launch next October.

man standing in front of a rocket behind him Skyroot cofounder Pawan Kumar Chandana standing in front of the Vikram-S rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India.Skyroot

In particular, the mission has validated Skyroot’s decision to go with a novel all-carbon fiber structure to cut down on weight, says Chandana. It also allowed the company to test 3D-printed thrusters, which were used for spin stabilization in Vikram-S but will power the upper stages of its later rockets. Perhaps the most valuable lesson, though, says Chandana, was the complexity of interfacing Skyroot's vehicle with ISRO’s launch infrastructure. “You can manufacture the rocket, but launching it is a different ball game,” he says. “That was a great learning experience for us and will really help us accelerate our orbital vehicle.”

Skyroot is one of several Indian space startups looking to capitalize on recent efforts by the Indian government to liberalize its highly regulated space sector. Due to the dual-use nature of space technology, ISRO has historically had a government-sanctioned monopoly on most space activities, says Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation think tank, in New Delhi. While major Indian engineering players like Larsen & Toubro and Godrej Aerospace have long supplied ISRO with components and even entire space systems, the relationship has been one of a supplier and vendor, she says.

But in 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a series of reforms to allow private players to build satellites and launch vehicles, carry out launches, and provide space-based services. The government also created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (InSpace), a new agency designed to act as a link between ISRO and the private sector, and affirmed that private companies would be able to take advantage of ISRO’s facilities.

The first launch of a private rocket from an ISRO spaceport is a major milestone for the Indian space industry, says Rajagopalan. “This step itself is pretty crucial, and it’s encouraging to other companies who are looking at this with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,” she says. But more needs to be done to realize the government’s promised reforms, she adds. The Space Activities Bill that is designed to enshrine the country’s space policy in legislation has been languishing in draft form for years, and without regulatory clarity, it’s hard for the private sector to justify significant investments. “These are big, bold statements, but these need to be translated into actual policy and regulatory mechanisms,” says Rajagopalan.

Skyroot’s launch undoubtedly signals the growing maturity of India’s space industry, says Saurabh Kapil, associate director in PwC’s space practice. “It’s a critical message to the Indian space ecosystem, that we can do it, we have the necessary skill set, we have those engineering capabilities, we have those manufacturing or industrialization capabilities,” he says.

rocket launching into the sky with fire tail The Vikram-S rocket blasting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India.Skyroot

However, crossing this technical milestone is only part of the challenge, he says. The industry also needs to demonstrate a clear market for the kind of launch vehicles that companies like Skyroot are building. While private players are showing interest in launching small satellites for applications like agriculture and infrastructure monitoring, he says, these companies will be able to build sustainable businesses only if they are allowed to compete for more lucrative government and defense-sector contacts.

In the longer run, though, India’s space industry has ambitions of capturing a significant chunk of the global launch market, says Kapil. ISRO has already developed a reputation for both reliability and low cost—its 2014 mission to Mars cost just US $74 million, one-ninth the cost of a NASA Mars mission launched the same week. That is likely to translate to India’s private space industry, too, thanks to a considerably lower cost of skilled labor, land, and materials compared with those of other spacefaring nations, says Kapil. “The optimism is definitely there that because we are low on cost and high on reliability, whoever wants to build and launch small satellites is largely going to come to India,” he says.


Match ID: 24 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 76 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

COP27: Lack of women at negotiations raises concern
Wed, 16 Nov 2022 01:01:11 GMT
Women barely feature in negotiations in Egypt despite bearing the brunt of climate change.
Match ID: 25 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 79 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Robotic Falcon Keeps Birds Away From Airports
Sun, 06 Nov 2022 14:00:00 +0000


Collisions with birds are a serious problem for commercial aircraft, costing the industry billions of dollars and killing thousands of animals every year. New research shows that a robotic imitation of a peregrine falcon could be an effective way to keep them out of flight paths.

Worldwide, so-called birdstrikes are estimated to cost the civil aviation industry almost US $1.4 billion annually. Nearby habitats are often deliberately made unattractive to birds, but airports also rely on a variety of deterrents designed to scare them away, such as loud pyrotechnics or speakers that play distress calls from common species.

However, the effectiveness of these approaches tends to decrease over time, as the birds get desensitized by repeated exposure, says Charlotte Hemelrijk, a professor on the faculty of science and engineering at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. Live hawks or blinding lasers are also sometimes used to disperse flocks, she says, but this is controversial as it can harm the animals, and keeping and training falcons is not cheap.

“The birds don’t distinguish [RobotFalcon] from a real falcon, it seems.”
—Charlotte Hemelrijk, University of Groningen

In an effort to find a more practical and lasting solution, Hemelrijk and colleagues designed a robotic peregrine falcon that can be used to chase flocks away from airports. The device is the same size and shape as a real hawk, and its fiberglass and carbon-fiber body has been painted to mimic the markings of its real-life counterpart.

Rather than flapping like a bird, the RobotFalcon relies on two small battery-powered propellers on its wings, which allows it to travel at around 30 miles per hour for up to 15 minutes at a time. A human operator controls the machine remotely from a hawk’s-eye perspective via a camera perched above the robot’s head.

To see how effective the RobotFalcon was at scaring away birds, the researchers tested it against a conventional quadcopter drone over three months of field testing, near the Dutch city of Workum. They also compared their results to 15 years of data collected by the Royal Netherlands Air Force that assessed the effectiveness of conventional deterrence methods such as pyrotechnics and distress calls.

Flock-herding Falcon Drone Patrols Airport Flight Paths youtu.be

In a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the team showed that the RobotFalcon cleared fields of birds faster and more effectively than the drone. It also kept birds away from fields longer than distress calls, the most effective of the conventional approaches.

There was no evidence of birds getting habituated to the RobotFalcon over three months of testing, says Hemelrijk, and the researchers also found that the birds exhibited behavior patterns associated with escaping from predators much more frequently with the robot than with the drone. “The way of reacting to the RobotFalcon is very similar to the real falcon,” says Hemelrijk. “The birds don’t distinguish it from a real falcon, it seems.”

Other attempts to use hawk-imitating robots to disperse birds have had less promising results, though. Morgan Drabik-Hamshare, a research wildlife biologist at the DoA, and her colleagues published a paper in Scientific Reports last year that described how they pitted a robotic peregrine falcon with flapping wings against a quadcopter and a fixed-wing remote-controlled aircraft.

They found the robotic falcon was the least effective of the three at scaring away turkey vultures, with the quadcopter scaring the most birds off and the remote-controlled plane eliciting the quickest response. “Despite the predator silhouette, the vultures did not perceive the predator UAS [unmanned aircraft system] as a threat,” Drabik-Hamshare wrote in an email.

Zihao Wang, an associate lecturer at the University of Sydney, in Australia, who develops UAS for bird deterrence, says the RobotFalcon does seem to be effective at dispersing flocks. But he points out that its wingspan is nearly twice the diagonal length of the quadcopter it was compared with, which means it creates a much larger silhouette when viewed from the birds’ perspective. This means the birds could be reacting more to its size than its shape, and he would like to see the RobotFalcon compared with a similar size drone in the future.

The unique design also means the robot requires an experienced and specially trained operator, Wang adds, which could make it difficult to roll out widely. A potential solution could be to make the system autonomous, he says, but it’s unclear how easy this would be.

Hemelrijk says automating the RobotFalcon is probably not feasible, both due to strict regulations around the use of autonomous drones near airports as well as the sheer technical complexity. Their current operator is a falconer with significant experience in how hawks target their prey, she says, and creating an autonomous system that could recognize and target bird flocks in a similar way would be highly challenging.

But while the need for skilled operators is a limitation, Hemelrijk points out that most airports already have full-time staff dedicated to bird deterrence, who could be trained. And given the apparent lack of habituation and the ability to chase birds in a specific direction—so that they head away from runways—she thinks the robotic falcon could be a useful addition to their arsenal.

This article appears in the February 2023 print issue as “Robotic Falcon Is the Scarecrow of the Skies.”


Match ID: 26 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 88 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

MOXIE Shows How to Make Oxygen on Mars
Thu, 08 Sep 2022 15:27:59 +0000


Planning for the return journey is an integral part of the preparations for a crewed Mars mission. Astronauts will require a total mass of about 50 tonnes of rocket propellent for the ascent vehicle that will lift them off the planet’s surface, including 31 tonnes of oxygen approximately. The less popular option is for crewed missions to carry the required oxygen themselves. But scientists are optimistic that it could instead be produced from the carbon dioxide–rich Martian atmosphere itself, using a system called MOXIE.

The Mars Oxygen ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) Experiment is an 18-kilogram unit housed within the Perseverance rover on Mars. The unit is “the size of a toaster,” adds Jeffrey Hoffman, professor of aerospace engineering at MIT. Its job is to electrochemically break down carbon dioxide collected from the Martian atmosphere into oxygen and carbon monoxide. It also tests the purity of the oxygen.

Between February 2021, when it arrived on Mars aboard the Perseverance, and the end of the year, MOXIE has had several successful test runs. According to a review of the system by Hoffman and colleagues, published in Science Advances, it has demonstrated its ability to produce oxygen during both night and day, when temperatures can vary by over 100 ºC. The generation and purity rates of oxygen also meet requirements to produce rocket propellent and for breathing. The authors assert that a scaled-up version of MOXIE could produce the required oxygen for lift-off as well as for the astronauts to breathe.

Next question: How to power any oxygen-producing factories that NASA can land on Mars? Perhaps via NASA’s Kilopower fission reactors?

MOXIE is a first step toward a much larger and more complex system to support the human exploration of Mars. The researchers estimate a required generation rate of 2 to 3 kilograms per hour, compared with the current MOXIE rate of 6 to 8 grams per hour, to produce enough oxygen for lift-off for a crew arriving 26 months later. “So we’re talking about a system that’s a couple of hundred times bigger than MOXIE,” Hoffman says.

They calculate this rate accounting for eight months to get to Mars, followed by some time to set up the system. “We figure you'd probably have maybe 14 months to make all the oxygen.” Further, he says, the produced oxygen would have to be liquefied to be used a rocket propellant, something the current version of MOXIE doesn’t do.

MOXIE also currently faces several design constraints because, says Hoffman, a former astronaut, “our only ride to Mars was inside the Perseverance rover.” This limited the amount of power available to operate the unit, the amount of heat they could produce, the volume and the mass.

“MOXIE does not work nearly as efficiently as a stand-alone system that was specifically designed would,” says Hoffman. Most of the time, it’s turned off. “Every time we want to make oxygen, we have to heat it up to 800 ºC, so most of the energy goes into heating it up and running the compressor, whereas in a well-designed stand-alone system, most of the energy will go into the actual electrolysis, into actually producing the oxygen.”

However, there are still many kinks to iron out for the scaling-up process. To begin with, any oxygen-producing system will need lots of power. Hoffman thinks nuclear power is the most likely option, maybe NASA’s Kilopower fission reactors. The setup and the cabling would certainly be challenging, he says. “You’re going to have to launch to all of these nuclear reactors, and of course, they’re not going to be in exactly the same place as the [other] units,” he says. "So, robotically, you’re going to have to connect to the electrical cables to bring power to the oxygen-producing unit.”

Then there is the solid oxide electrolysis units, which Hoffman points out are carefully machined systems. Fortunately, the company that makes them, OxEon, has already designed, built, and tested a full-scale unit, a hundred times bigger than the one on MOXIE. “Several of those units would be required to produce oxygen at the quantities that we need,” Hoffman says.

He also adds that at present, there is no redundancy built into MOXIE. If any part fails, the whole system dies. “If you’re counting on a system to produce oxygen for rocket propellant and for breathing, you need very high reliability, which means you’re going to need quite a few redundant units.”

Moreover, the system has to be pretty much autonomous, Hoffman says. “It has to be able to monitor itself, run itself.” For testing purposes, every time MOXIE is powered up, there is plenty of time to plan. A full-scale MOXIE system, though, would have to run continuously, and for that it has to be able to adjust automatically to changes in the Mars atmosphere, which can vary by a factor of two over a year, and between nighttime and daytime temperature differences.


Match ID: 27 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 147 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Inside the Universe Machine: The Webb Space Telescope’s Staggering Vision
Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:00:00 +0000


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

“Build something that will absolutely, positively work.” This was the mandate from NASA for designing and building the James Webb Space Telescope—at 6.5 meters wide the largest space telescope in history. Last December, JWST launched famously and successfully to its observing station out beyond the moon. And now according to NASA, as soon as next week, the JWST will at long last begin releasing scientific images and data.

Mark Kahan, on JWST’s product integrity team, recalls NASA’s engineering challenge as a call to arms for a worldwide team of thousands that set out to create one of the most ambitious scientific instruments in human history. Kahan—chief electro-optical systems engineer at Mountain View, Calif.–based Synopsys—and many others in JWST’s “pit crew” (as he calls the team) drew hard lessons from three decades ago, having helped repair another world-class space telescope with a debilitating case of flawed optics. Of course the Hubble Space Telescope is in low Earth orbit, and so a special space-shuttle mission to install corrective optics ( as happened in 1993) was entirely possible.

Not so with the JWST.

The meticulous care NASA demanded of JWST’s designers is all the more a necessity because Webb is well out of reach of repair crews. Its mission is to study the infrared universe, and that requires shielding the telescope and its sensors from both the heat of sunlight and the infrared glow of Earth. A good place to do that without getting too far from Earth is an empty patch of interplanetary space 1.5 million kilometers away (well beyond the moon’s orbit) near a spot physicists call the second Lagrange point, or L2.

The pit crew’s job was “down at the detail level, error checking every critical aspect of the optical design,” says Kahan. Having learned the hard way from Hubble, the crew insisted that every measurement on Webb’s optics be made in at least two different ways that could be checked and cross-checked. Diagnostics were built into the process, Kahan says, so that “you could look at them to see what to kick” to resolve any discrepancies. Their work had to be done on the ground, but their tests had to assess how the telescope would work in deep space at cryogenic temperatures.

Three New Technologies for the Main Mirror

Superficially, Webb follows the design of all large reflecting telescopes. A big mirror collects light from stars, galaxies, nebulae, planets, comets, and other astronomical objects—and then focuses those photons onto a smaller secondary mirror that sends it to a third mirror that then ultimately directs the light to instruments that record images and spectra.

Webb’s 6.5-meter primary mirror is the first segmented mirror to be launched into space. All the optics had to be made on the ground at room temperature but were deployed in space and operated at 30 to 55 degrees above absolute zero. “We had to develop three new technologies” to make it work, says Lee D. Feinberg of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the optical telescope element manager for Webb for the past 20 years.

The longest wavelengths that Hubble has to contend with were 2.5 micrometers, whereas Webb is built to observe infrared light that stretches to 28 μm in wavelength. Compared with Hubble, whose primary mirror is a circle of an area 4.5 square meters, “[Webb’s primary mirror] had to be 25 square meters,” says Feinberg. Webb also “needed segmented mirrors that were lightweight, and its mass was a huge consideration,” he adds. No single-component mirror that could provide the required resolution would have fit on the Ariane 5 rocket that launched JWST. That meant the mirror would have to be made in pieces, assembled, folded, secured to withstand the stress of launch, then unfolded and deployed in space to create a surface that was within tens of nanometers of the shape specified by the designers.

Images of the James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope to scale, compared to a human figure, who is dwarfed by their size The James Webb Space Telescope [left] and the Hubble Space Telescope side by side—with Hubble’s 2.4-meter-diameter mirror versus Webb’s array of hexagonal mirrors making a 6.5-meter-diameter light-collecting area. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA and the U.S. Air Force, which has its own interests in large lightweight space mirrors for surveillance and focusing laser energy, teamed up to develop the technology. The two agencies narrowed eight submitted proposals down to two approaches for building JWST’s mirrors: one based on low-expansion glass made of a mixture of silicon and titanium dioxides similar to that used in Hubble and the other the light but highly toxic metal beryllium. The most crucial issue came down to how well the materials could withstand temperature changes from room temperature on the ground to around 50 K in space. Beryllium won because it could fully release stress after cooling without changing its shape, and it’s not vulnerable to the cracking that can occur in glass. The final beryllium mirror was a 6.5-meter array of 18 hexagonal beryllium mirrors, each weighing about 20 kilograms. The weight per unit area of JWST’s mirror was only 10 percent of that in Hubble. A 100-nanometer layer of pure gold makes the surface reflect 98 percent of incident light from JWST’s main observing band of 0.6 to 28.5 μm. “Pure silver has slightly higher reflectivity than pure gold, but gold is more robust,” says Feinberg. A thin layer of amorphous silica protects the metal film from surface damage.

In addition, a wavefront-sensing control system keeps mirror segment surfaces aligned to within tens of nanometers. Built on the ground, the system is expected to keep mirror alignment stabilized throughout the telescope’s operational life. A backplane kept at a temperature of 35 K holds all 2.4 tonnes of the telescope and instruments rock-steady to within 32 nm while maintaining them at cryogenic temperatures during observations.

Metal superstructure of cages and supports stands on a giant platform in a warehouse-sized clean-room. A man in a cleanroom suit watches the operations. The JWST backplane, the “spine” that supports the entire hexagonal mirror structure and carries more than 2,400 kg of hardware, is readied for assembly to the rest of the telescope. NASA/Chris Gunn

Hubble’s amazing, long-exposure images of distant galaxies are possible through the use of gyroscopes and reaction wheels. The gyroscopes are used to sense unwanted rotations, and reaction wheels are used to counteract them.

But the gyroscopes used on Hubble have had a bad track record and have had to be replaced repeatedly. Only three of Hubble’s six gyros remain operational today, and NASA has devised plans for operating with one or two gyros at reduced capability. Hubble also includes reaction wheels and magnetic torquers, used to maintain its orientation when needed or to point at different parts of the sky.

Webb uses reaction wheels similarly to turn across the sky, but instead of using mechanical gyros to sense direction, it uses hemispherical resonator gyroscopes, which have no moving parts. Webb also has a small fine-steering mirror in the optical path, which can tilt over an angle of just 5 arc seconds. Those very fine adjustments of the light path into the instruments keep the telescope on target. “It’s a really wonderful way to go,” says Feinberg, adding that it compensates for small amounts of jitter without having to move the whole 6-tonne observatory.

Instruments

Other optics distribute light from the fine-steering mirror among four instruments, two of which can observe simultaneously. Three instruments have sensors that observe wavelengths of 0.6 to 5 μm, which astronomers call the near-infrared. The fourth, called the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), observes what astronomers call the mid-infrared spectrum, from 5 to 28.5 μm. Different instruments are needed because sensors and optics have limited wavelength ranges. (Optical engineers may blanch slightly at astronomers’ definitions of what constitutes the near- and mid-infrared wavelength ranges. These two groups simply have differing conventions for labeling the various regimes of the infrared spectrum.)

Mid-infrared wavelengths are crucial for observing young stars and planetary systems and the earliest galaxies, but they also pose some of the biggest engineering challenges. Namely, everything on Earth and planets out to Jupiter glow in the mid-infrared. So for JWST to observe distant astronomical objects, it must avoid recording extraneous mid-infrared noise from all the various sources inside the solar system. “I have spent my whole career building instruments for wavelengths of 5 μm and longer,” says MIRI instrument scientist Alistair Glasse of the Royal Observatory, in Edinburgh. “We’re always struggling against thermal background.”

Mountaintop telescopes can see the near-infrared, but observing the mid-infrared sky requires telescopes in space. However, the thermal radiation from Earth and its atmosphere can cloud their view, and so can the telescopes themselves unless they are cooled far below room temperature. An ample supply of liquid helium and an orbit far from Earth allowed the Spitzer Space Telescope’s primary observing mission to last for five years, but once the last of the cryogenic fluid evaporated in 2009, its observations were limited to wavelengths shorter than 5 μm.

Webb has an elaborate solar shield to block sunlight, and an orbit 1.5 million km from Earth that can keep the telescope to below 55 K, but that’s not good enough for low-noise observations at wavelengths longer than 5 μm. The near-infrared instruments operate at 40 K to minimize thermal noise. But for observations out to 28.5 μm, MIRI uses a specially developed closed-cycle, helium cryocooler to keep MIRI cooled below 7 K. “We want to have sensitivity limited by the shot noise of astronomical sources,” says Glasse. (Shot noise occurs when optical or electrical signals are so feeble that each photon or electron constitutes a detectable peak.) That will make MIRI 1,000 times as sensitive in the mid-infrared as Spitzer.

Another challenge is the limited transparency of optical materials in the mid-infrared. “We use reflective optics wherever possible,” says Glasse, but they also pose problems, he adds. “Thermal contraction is a big deal,” he says, because the instrument was made at room temperature but is used at 7 K. To keep thermal changes uniform throughout MIRI, they made the whole structure of gold-coated aluminum lest other metals cause warping.

Detectors are another problem. Webb’s near-infrared sensors use mercury cadmium telluride photodetectors with a resolution of 2,048 x 2,048 pixels. This resolution is widely used at wavelengths below 5 μm, but sensing at MIRI’s longer wavelengths required exotic detectors that are limited to offering only 1,024 x 1,024 pixels.

Glasse says commissioning “has gone incredibly well.” Although some stray light has been detected, he says, “we are fully expecting to meet all our science goals.”

NIRCam Aligns the Whole Telescope

The near-infrared detectors and optical materials used for observing at wavelengths shorter than 5 μm are much more mature than those for the mid-infrared, so the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) does double duty by both recording images and aligning all the optics in the whole telescope. That alignment was the trickiest part of building the instrument, says NIRCam principal investigator Marcia Rieke of the University of Arizona.

Alignment means getting all the light collected by the primary mirror to get to the right place in the final image. That’s crucial for Webb, because it has 18 separate segments that have to overlay their images perfectly in the final image, and because all those segments were built on the ground at room temperature but operate at cryogenic temperatures in space at zero gravity. When NASA recorded a test image of a single star after Webb first opened its primary mirror, it showed 18 separate bright spots, one from each segment. When alignment was completed on 11 March, the image from NIRcam showed a single star with six spikes caused by diffraction.

Image of a star with six-pointed spikes caused by diffraction Even when performing instrumental calibration tasks, JWST couldn’t help but showcase its stunning sensitivity to the infrared sky. The central star is what telescope technicians used to align JWST’s mirrors. But notice the distant galaxies and stars that photobombed the image too!NASA/STScI

Building a separate alignment system would have added to both the weight and cost of Webb, Rieke realized, and in the original 1995 plan for the telescope she proposed designing NIRCam so it could align the telescope optics once it was up in space as well as record images. “The only real compromise was that it required NIRCam to have exquisite image quality,” says Rieke, wryly. From a scientific point, she adds, using the instrument to align the telescope optics “is great because you know you’re going to have good image quality and it’s going to be aligned with you.” Alignment might be just a tiny bit off for other instruments. In the end, it took a team at Lockheed Martin to develop the computational tools to account for all the elements of thermal expansion.

Escalating costs and delays had troubled Webb for years. But for Feinberg, “commissioning has been a magical five months.” It began with the sight of sunlight hitting the mirrors. The segmented mirror deployed smoothly, and after the near-infrared cameras cooled, the mirrors focused one star into 18 spots, then aligned them to put the spots on top of each other. “Everything had to work to get it to [focus] that well,” he says. It’s been an intense time, but for Feinberg, a veteran of the Hubble repair mission, commissioning Webb was “a piece of cake.”

NASA announced that between May 23rd and 25th, one segment of the primary mirror had been dinged by a micrometeorite bigger than the agency had expected when it analyzed the potential results of such impacts. “Things do degrade over time,” Feinberg said. But he added that Webb had been engineered to minimize damage, and NASA said the event had not affected Webb’s operation schedule.

Corrections 26-28 July 2022: The story was updated a) to reflect the fact that the Lagrange point L2 where Webb now orbits is not that of the “Earth-moon system” (as the story had originally reported) but rather the Earth-sun system
and b) to correct misstatements in the original posting about Webb’s hardware for controlling its orientation.

Corrections 12 Aug. 2022: Alistair Glasse’s name was incorrectly spelled in a previous version of this story, as was NIRCam (which we’d spelled as NIRcam); Webb’s tertiary mirror (we’d originally reported only its primary and secondary mirrors) was also called out in this version.

This article appears in the September 2022 print issue as “Inside the Universe Machine.”


Match ID: 28 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 211 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

NASA to Industry: Let’s Develop Flight Tech to Reduce Carbon Emissions
Wed, 29 Jun 2022 14:25 EDT
NASA announced Wednesday the agency is seeking partners to develop technologies needed to shape a new generation of lower-emission, single-aisle airliners that passengers could see in airports in the 2030s.
Match ID: 29 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 218 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Ahrefs vs SEMrush: Which SEO Tool Should You Use?
Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:16:00 +0000
semrush vs ahrefs


SEMrush and Ahrefs are among the most popular tools in the SEO industry. Both companies have been in business for years and have thousands of customers per month.

If you're a professional SEO or trying to do digital marketing on your own, at some point you'll likely consider using a tool to help with your efforts. Ahrefs and SEMrush are two names that will likely appear on your shortlist.

In this guide, I'm going to help you learn more about these SEO tools and how to choose the one that's best for your purposes.

What is SEMrush?

semrush

SEMrush is a popular SEO tool with a wide range of features—it's the leading competitor research service for online marketers. SEMrush's SEO Keyword Magic tool offers over 20 billion Google-approved keywords, which are constantly updated and it's the largest keyword database.

The program was developed in 2007 as SeoQuake is a small Firefox extension

Features

  • Most accurate keyword data: Accurate keyword search volume data is crucial for SEO and PPC campaigns by allowing you to identify what keywords are most likely to bring in big sales from ad clicks. SEMrush constantly updates its databases and provides the most accurate data.
  • Largest Keyword database: SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool now features 20-billion keywords, providing marketers and SEO professionals the largest database of keywords.

  • All SEMrush users receive daily ranking data, mobile volume information, and the option to buy additional keywords by default with no additional payment or add-ons needed
  • Most accurate position tracking tool: This tool provides all subscribers with basic tracking capabilities, making it suitable for SEO professionals. Plus, the Position Tracking tool provides local-level data to everyone who uses the tool.
  • SEO Data Management: SEMrush makes managing your online data easy by allowing you to create visually appealing custom PDF reports, including Branded and White Label reports, report scheduling, and integration with GA, GMB, and GSC.
  • Toxic link monitoring and penalty recovery: With SEMrush, you can make a detailed analysis of toxic backlinks, toxic scores, toxic markers, and outreach to those sites.
  • Content Optimization and Creation Tools: SEMrush offers content optimization and creation tools that let you create SEO-friendly content. Some features include the SEO Writing Assistant, On-Page SEO Check, er/SEO Content Template, Content Audit, Post Tracking, Brand Monitoring.

Ahrefs

ahrefs


Ahrefs is a leading SEO platform that offers a set of tools to grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and monitor your niche. The company was founded in 2010, and it has become a popular choice among SEO tools. Ahrefs has a keyword index of over 10.3 billion keywords and offers accurate and extensive backlink data updated every 15-30 minutes and it is the world's most extensive backlink index database.

Features

  • Backlink alerts data and new keywords: Get an alert when your site is linked to or discussed in blogs, forums, comments, or when new keywords are added to a blog posting about you.
  • Intuitive interface: The intuitive design of the widget helps you see the overall health of your website and search engine ranking at a glance.
  • Site Explorer: The Site Explorer will give you an in-depth look at your site's search traffic.
  • Domain Comparison
  • Reports with charts and graphs
  • JavaScript rendering and a site audit can identify SEO issues.
  • A question explorer that provides well-crafted topic suggestions

Direct Comparisons: Ahrefs vs SEMrush

Now that you know a little more about each tool, let's take a look at how they compare. I'll analyze each tool to see how they differ in interfaces, keyword research resources, rank tracking, and competitor analysis.

User Interface

Ahrefs and SEMrush both offer comprehensive information and quick metrics regarding your website's SEO performance. However, Ahrefs takes a bit more of a hands-on approach to getting your account fully set up, whereas SEMrush's simpler dashboard can give you access to the data you need quickly.

In this section, we provide a brief overview of the elements found on each dashboard and highlight the ease with which you can complete tasks.

AHREFS

ahrefs interface


The Ahrefs dashboard is less cluttered than that of SEMrush, and its primary menu is at the very top of the page, with a search bar designed only for entering URLs.

Additional features of the Ahrefs platform include:

  • You can see analytics from the dashboard, including search engine rankings to domain ratings, referring domains, and backlink
  • Jumping from one tool to another is easy. You can use the Keyword Explorer to find a keyword to target and then directly track your ranking with one click.
  • The website offers a tooltip helper tool that allows you to hover your mouse over something that isn't clear and get an in-depth explanation.

SEMRUSH

semrush domain overview


When you log into the SEMrush Tool, you will find four main modules. These include information about your domains, organic keyword analysis, ad keyword, and site traffic.

You'll also find some other options like

  • A search bar allows you to enter a domain, keyword, or anything else you wish to explore.
  • A menu on the left side of the page provides quick links to relevant information, including marketing insights, projects, keyword analytics, and more.
  • The customer support resources located directly within the dashboard can be used to communicate with the support team or to learn about other resources such as webinars and blogs.
  • Detailed descriptions of every resource offered. This detail is beneficial for new marketers, who are just starting.

WHO WINS?

Both Ahrefs and SEMrush have user-friendly dashboards, but Ahrefs is less cluttered and easier to navigate. On the other hand, SEMrush offers dozens of extra tools, including access to customer support resources.

When deciding on which dashboard to use, consider what you value in the user interface, and test out both.

Rank Tracking

If you're looking to track your website's search engine ranking, rank tracking features can help. You can also use them to monitor your competitors.

Let's take a look at Ahrefs vs. SEMrush to see which tool does a better job.

Ahrefs

ahrefs rank tracking


The Ahrefs Rank Tracker is simpler to use. Just type in the domain name and keywords you want to analyze, and it spits out a report showing you the search engine results page (SERP) ranking for each keyword you enter.

Rank Tracker looks at the ranking performance of keywords and compares them with the top rankings for those keywords. Ahrefs also offers:

You'll see metrics that help you understand your visibility, traffic, average position, and keyword difficulty.

It gives you an idea of whether a keyword would be profitable to target or not.

SEMRUSH

semrush position tracking


SEMRush offers a tool called Position Tracking. This tool is a project tool—you must set it up as a new project. Below are a few of the most popular features of the SEMrush Position Tracking tool:

All subscribers are given regular data updates and mobile search rankings upon subscribing

The platform provides opportunities to track several SERP features, including Local tracking.

Intuitive reports allow you to track statistics for the pages on your website, as well as the keywords used in those pages.

Identify pages that may be competing with each other using the Cannibalization report.

WHO WINS?

Ahrefs is a more user-friendly option. It takes seconds to enter a domain name and keywords. From there, you can quickly decide whether to proceed with that keyword or figure out how to rank better for other keywords.

SEMrush allows you to check your mobile rankings and ranking updates daily, which is something Ahrefs does not offer. SEMrush also offers social media rankings, a tool you won't find within the Ahrefs platform. Both are good which one do you like let me know in the comment.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is closely related to rank tracking, but it's used for deciding which keywords you plan on using for future content rather than those you use now.

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is the most important thing to consider when comparing the two platforms.

AHREFS



The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer provides you with thousands of keyword ideas and filters search results based on the chosen search engine.

Ahrefs supports several features, including:

  • It can search multiple keywords in a single search and analyze them together. At SEMrush, you also have this feature in Keyword Overview.
  • Ahrefs has a variety of keywords for different search engines, including Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and other search engines.
  • When you click on a keyword, you can see its search volume and keyword difficulty, but also other keywords related to it, which you didn't use.

SEMRUSH



SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool has over 20 billion keywords for Google. You can type in any keyword you want, and a list of suggested keywords will appear.

The Keyword Magic Tool also lets you to:

  • Show performance metrics by keyword
  • Search results are based on both broad and exact keyword matches.
  • Show data like search volume, trends, keyword difficulty, and CPC.
  • Show the first 100 Google search results for any keyword.
  • Identify SERP Features and Questions related to each keyword
  • SEMrush has released a new Keyword Gap Tool that uncovers potentially useful keyword opportunities for you, including both paid and organic keywords.

WHO WINS?

Both of these tools offer keyword research features and allow users to break down complicated tasks into something that can be understood by beginners and advanced users alike.

If you're interested in keyword suggestions, SEMrush appears to have more keyword suggestions than Ahrefs does. It also continues to add new features, like the Keyword Gap tool and SERP Questions recommendations.

Competitor Analysis

Both platforms offer competitor analysis tools, eliminating the need to come up with keywords off the top of your head. Each tool is useful for finding keywords that will be useful for your competition so you know they will be valuable to you.

AHREFS



Ahrefs' domain comparison tool lets you compare up to five websites (your website and four competitors) side-by-side.it also shows you how your site is ranked against others with metrics such as backlinks, domain ratings, and more.

Use the Competing Domains section to see a list of your most direct competitors, and explore how many keywords matches your competitors have.

To find more information about your competitor, you can look at the Site Explorer and Content Explorer tools and type in their URL instead of yours.

SEMRUSH



SEMrush provides a variety of insights into your competitors' marketing tactics. The platform enables you to research your competitors effectively. It also offers several resources for competitor analysis including:

Traffic Analytics helps you identify where your audience comes from, how they engage with your site, what devices visitors use to view your site, and how your audiences overlap with other websites.

SEMrush's Organic Research examines your website's major competitors and shows their organic search rankings, keywords they are ranking for, and even if they are ranking for any (SERP) features and more.

The Market Explorer search field allows you to type in a domain and lists websites or articles similar to what you entered. Market Explorer also allows users to perform in-depth data analytics on These companies and markets.

WHO WINS?

SEMrush wins here because it has more tools dedicated to competitor analysis than Ahrefs. However, Ahrefs offers a lot of functionality in this area, too. It takes a combination of both tools to gain an advantage over your competition.

Pricing

Ahrefs

  • Lite Monthly: $99/month
  • Standard Monthly: $179/month
  • Annually Lite: $990/year
  • Annually Standard: $1790/year

SEMRUSH

  • Pro Plan: $119.95/month
  • Guru Plan:$229.95/month
  • Business Plan: $449.95/month

Which SEO tool should you choose for digital marketing?

When it comes to keyword data research, you will become confused about which one to choose.

Consider choosing Ahrefs if you

  • Like friendly and clean interface
  • Searching for simple keyword suggestions

  • Want to get more keywords for different search engines like Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, and more

 

Consider SEMrush if you:

  • Want more marketing and SEO features
  • Need competitor analysis tool
  • Need to keep your backlinks profile clean
  • Looking for more keyword suggestions for Google

Both tools are great. Choose the one which meets your requirements and if you have any experience using either Ahrefs or SEMrush let me know in the comment section which works well for you.

 

 


Match ID: 30 Score: 2.14 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 338 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

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