Wednesday, November 23, 2016

NASA Chooses Finalists For Deep Space Exploration Habitat

Hot off last year's successful results, NASA's public-private joint program, Next-STEP has just announced its newest aim to enlist private manufacturing for deep space exploration.

Next-STEP 2 will feature a competitive contract model for six companies chosen by NASA: Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corp, Orbital ATK, NanoRacks, and Boeing. These companies will provide prototypes from a shared grant of $65 million provided by NASA, along with up to 30 percent of their own money to added developmental costs.

Deep Space Habitat Prototype
Whereas the previous objective of 2015's Next-STEP included "commercial capabilities in low-orbit" (basically, airliners in space), this year's criteria focuses fully on developing a habitat environment for humans to survive the long time and conditions of deep space travel. The resulting technology could significantly advance NASA's well-publicized goal of astronauts reaching Mars by 2040. From NASA's press release detailing the endeavor:

"The ground prototypes will be used for three primary purposes: supporting integrated systems testing, human factors and operations testing, and to help define overall system functionality, These are important activities, as they help define the design standards, common interfaces and requirements while reducing risks for the final flight systems that will come after this phase."

 In essence, all six companies will have to find innovative ways to develop new designs of deep space habitats that will be subject to rigorous testing and risk assessment. Afterwards, NASA will almost certainly tweak whatever final prototype they choose, which will serve as the basis for the next generation of an increasingly interesting landscape of deep space exploration.


Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, October 28, 2016

"UFO" Houseboat Brings the Tiny House Concept To The Ocean





Off-the-grid lifestyles seem to be all the rage these days, and the tiny home trend is a an excellent reflection of this. Having a small, sustainable habitat has become more and more enticing to younger generations looking for cheaper alternatives to traditional homes, even if it means a bigger price tag up front. Italian-based company Jet Capsule , however, has taken this movement to a whole new level.

Sea level, that is.

The company, which manufactures yachts, has designed plans for a pod-like concept home that floats in the ocean. This "Unidentified Floating Object" will not only include 322 square feet of livable area, but also an off-the-grid energy apparatus including onboard solar panels and wind turbine as well. The fiberglass pod would include a fresh water generator, a vegetable garden on its outer rim, and an economic, slide-out kitchen. While it can cruise on its hydrojet propellers at a rate of 4 miles per hour, the pod's elastic anchor system ensures it won't capsize in stormy weather, provided it's docked in shallow water.
Jet Capsule's Floating Pod design
includes panoramic viewing of
underwater sea life.

One could see an issue if a vessel that moves this slowly had to gamble long distances with the risk of an approaching storm. Nevertheless, while it may not be an impervious home, many interests of the future dovetail with this design. The prospect of living off the grid, with the opportunity to travel to exotic locations, can appeal to all generations, whether green-minded or in retirement mode. And while the prototype Jet Capsule is promising currently demands a total of $800,000, the owners project the model could cost as low as $200,000.

More than a standard yacht, but less than your average home.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.



Friday, October 14, 2016

Wazer Desktop Waterjet Cutter Debuts at TechCrunch

At the recent TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield event, San Francisco-based Wazer debuted something that could very well revolutionize the small business world: a desktop waterjet cutter.

Image result for wazer printer
Wazer sets its desktop cutter at $6,000 for small business budgets
What was once considered appropriate for hobbyists now takes a different meaning in the context of the maker, DIY movement. The machine has a 12" x 18" bed and can even have its noisiest component (the pump) stored in a separate room. These features make it ideal for small businesses who, while they may have low volume orders compared to franchises, still need to produce original products faster than the speed of hands.

The major advantage of Wazer's product is the surprising effectiveness water and sand has compared to other laser and plasma technology in cutting. The machine issues a stream of water and garnet at a pressure somewhat less than industry standard but at different speeds, depending on the choice of raw material. While Wazer's cutter sacrifices a tiny bit of precision, it can make accurate cuts through one inch of almost any material provided. Steel is no issue, but even paper can be carved in creative methods without dissolving. In addition, the variety of possible materials even gives Wazer's product an edge over current 3D printing methods for start-ups looking to create prototypes. As Wazer CEO and co-founder Nisan Lerea says to TechCrunch:

"The problem with 3D printing,” says Lerea, “is that you’re making something out of relatively fragile plastic. With water jet technology, you can create prototypes out of the materials that will be used in the final products. If you need limited production runs, you can even do small-batch manufacturing with this machine, which doesn’t work with most 3D printing technologies.  
 Although the owners- who began this project as an academic experiment at Penn Engineering- do not believe water cutting will reach beyond niche markets. they have a very clear vision as to who those markets will be. “One of our test users is a jewelry maker who creates beautiful pieces out of coins,” Lerea continues. "Each piece she makes costs $5-600. The problem is that it takes her forever to make each piece. We can help her make more jewelry with better consistency, faster.”

Wazer's Kickstarter goal of $100,000 is all but in the bag, and as it centers on a resource more and more finite in a world of droughts and environmental instability, it would be interesting to see if the company ever considers plans to integrate resuseable water in its models.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, October 7, 2016

2016 LAGI Designs For Desalination And Clean Energy Winners

First place at the 2016 went to the Regatta H2O
The 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative entries are no less than breathtaking. The competition, intended every two years since 2008 as a way to blend public art with sustainable energy in architecture and design, centered this year's theme around clean water. The subsequent concept works from all over the world are now officially open to the public at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, California until November 1st, and the competition's panel has just announced its winners.

The purpose of the exhibits were not only to celebrate innovative aesthetic designs, but also to explore possible futures for infrastructure that can harvest clean energy while integrating into existing societies in ways that please the eye. As recent history has proven, local communities that don't want their landscapes altered have proven a necessary constituent for clean energy advocates to win over.
Having this year's initiative in Los Angeles- a city wracked by years of drought- made it a perfect opportunity to search for ideas built around water infrastructure. The designs were shown throughout the previous months at the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Highlights included a "Giant Orb" design by a Korean group of artists/architects that not only provided its own energy to stay buoyant, but also uses solar powered panels to generate drinkable water as well, producing an annual amount of 600,000 gallons.
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Second place was a US-based effort, created by University of Oregon. The ingenious design, inspired by whales in shape and utilizing high end reverse osmosis, (a process that is perfect for a marine location) can generate over 4300 megawatts of electricity and 172 million gallons of drinking water. Engineers in Pittsburgh took third place with "Paper Boat" . A network of iconic paper coat shapes that mask an underwater apparatus, where coral and kelp, encouraged by electrical currents from on-board solar cells, will grow and provide more habitats for diverse marine life.First place was taken by Tokyo-based Chrostopher Sjoberg and Ryo Salto, and is called the Regatta H2O. The concept involves aesthetically beautiful sails that collect and store wind energy, while also producing fresh water through fog harvesting. The project is estimated to create over 30 million gallons of water per year for local Angelinos.

The "Paper Boat" entry featured giant paper boats
 that cultivated underwater habitats for local marine life
Perhaps the boldest entry, was "The Pipe", designed and manufactured by Canadian-based Khalili Engineers. The Pipe features a solar-powered, electromagnetic desalination system that is capable of generating over 1.5 billion gallons of drinkable water each year. That kind of volume could make a real and immediate difference in local Angelinos who grow more and more each year, putting ever-mounting pressure on a city losing fresh water options with each dry summer that passes. It may not have placed, but The Pipe is the kind of grand thinking more experts in all industries and arts should explore in for the challenges of the next century.


Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"Still Made in America...." Rotor Clip E-Book Now Available

US manufacturing companies that have survived the last few decades have a story to tell. Rotor Clip is no exception, which is why we are proud to offer our e-book, “Still Made in America…The Story of Robert Slass and his Contributionto US Manufacturing.

It’s not a self-congratulatory book, though we have always taken great pride in what we do. Rather, it is a look at how Bob Slass, our founder, met the many challenges he faced while transforming Rotor Clip from its modest beginnings in 1957 to the global leader it has become in the 21st century. As we all know, manufacturing changed dramatically in our country in the past as foreign concerns lured many companies and jobs away from the US with the promise of cheap wages and low overhead costs.
Rotor Clip E-Book Now Available

But, despite these factors, Bob Slass acted in the true spirit of American entrepreneurism in this country, working hard to restructure his company and embracing the latest technology to counter the adverse economic trends that drove many manufacturing companies out of business.

I was young and disillusioned when I walked into Bob Slass’ office in 1982. I had previously worked at companies that seemed mediocre and complacent, unwilling to recognize how things were changing in our country and what to do to counter them. Bob on the other hand was on top of it, enthusiastic and optimistic, challenging me and all those who worked for him not to sit still for what many saw as the demise of manufacturing in America.

Even when our competition was purchased by a large international company in the 1980’s, he never faltered, never once lost sight of his vision for Rotor Clip and what we could and did become.

That’s the spirit we wanted to convey in our book and that’s the story we want to tell.

I invite you to download a copy of our book by clicking on this link. Then forward it to anyone you think would want to celebrate a US manufacturing company that has not only survived, but thrived as an example of American commitment to hard work, dedication and entrepreneurism.


Joe Cappello is Director of Global Marketing for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, June 17, 2016

STUDENT CONTEST WINNERS VISIT ROTOR CLIP AND NYC TRADE SHOW

It was our pleasure to host the winners of our recent “Ring-A-Majig” contest at Rotor Clip’s manufacturing facility in Somerset, New Jersey, this past week. James Powell, Joshua Adams, Josh Katsikis and Owais Siddiqui from EastCarolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, were given a tour of Rotor Clip’s manufacturing facility as well as an opportunity to visit the “Design in Engineering” trade show held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, June 14-16, 2016.

They were also taken on a tour of New York City, including a visit to the 9/11 memorial site in lower Manhattan.

The four won the 2016 Rotor Clip “Ring-A-Majig” contest, challenging students pursuing technical courses of study to use retaining rings (non-traditional fasteners) in original product designs. The contest was held in affiliation with ATMAE, the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering.

The winning student team of the Rotor Clip "Ring-A-Majig" contest from East Carolina University display their winning entry at the recent Design Show in NYC: a toy tank held together entirely by retaining rings. They are, from left to right, Josh Adams, James Powell, Josh Katsikis and Owais Siddiqui.

I had the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues with the students during their stay here at Rotor Clip. I was particularly impressed by their optimism and belief the future is looking good for those pursing manufacturing as a career.

Owais Siddiqui noted that his parents originally wanted him to pursue a career in IT. But he countered that “hardware was always exciting for me.” Before you can utilize software, he said “you need hardware.”

James Powell understood the concern about automation and how it eliminates conventional factory jobs. But embracing robotics will, in his view, create the need for more skilled technicians in the future. “We will just be re-directing what is needed as we evolve to a different skill set,” he noted.

Just working for a paycheck is not how Josh Adams regards his career. “I want to feel good about what I’m doing.” He said. He noted breakthrough technologies like 3-D printing bode well for US manufacturing. “Imagine what it (3-D printing) will be like in 10 years,” he said.

TV shows like “How it’s Made” first turned Josh Katsikis on to manufacturing. His studies at East Carolina University have demonstrated to him that “manufacturing is a very viable option as a career.” He also believes that new technologies like robotics “can increase production and create technical jobs that pay well.”

This belief in US manufacturing and the promise it holds for creating meaningful jobs is not just na├»ve optimism. As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted, “Countries that don’t make anything, soon lose their edge.”

Not if these students have anything to say about it.


Joe Cappello is Director of Global Marketing for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tidal Power: Think "Not So" Big?

There is a general sentiment that in order for alternative energy technology to be taken seriously, it must illustrate the capacity to compete on a large a scale with traditional fossil fuel infrastructure. While that may be an inevitability, the "think-big" perspective has increasingly run up against practical difficulties all over the globe. This was to be expected; after all, it is going to take a long time to match the availability of gas stations off every highway exit. But in the case of tidal power, numerous new projects are demonstrating the feasibility of smaller scale.

WW Turbine's protoype en route to testing before
its use in Vancouver, BC.
In British Columbia, Canada, for example, Water Well Turbine is putting the finishing touches on a $5million prototype projected to generate enough energy for just about 500 homes in a small community. The project has garnered local interest not only by the BC manufacturing and construction industries, but small businesses hamstrung by rising diesel prices as well. Already, Water Well has gotten a pledge from Dent Island Lodge, a nearby
fishing resort company. Water Well claims this one turbine can cut the lodge's electricity price by more than 75%.

Another small-scale project yielding intriguing results is the Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company. ORPC just recently received the Outstanding Stewards' of America's Waters award for its successful demonstration of its RivGen technology in the small Inuit community of Igiugig, Alaska. The RivGen is a small system that is, according to tidalenergytoday.org
ORPC's RivGen tidal turbines in Alaska.

 "a 25 kW self-deploying submersible hydrokinetic system designed to reduce and stabilize the cost of power in remote communities located near rivers and tidal estuaries that currently use diesel fuel for power generation."
Over the course of two summers, ORPC set up the RivGen in the waters of the Kvichak River and accumulated data of its maintenance, durability, and output. The results were extremely promising: the tidal power source produced a third of electricity needed to sustain the small village of 70 people. Considering the RivGen consists of two turbines 34 feet in width combined, supported by pontoons, the cost-efficiency alone is worth further investment.


While these two projects prove comprehensive efforts to integrate tidal energy into everyday communities are happening, they also prove the lack of consistent funding. In the case of ORPC, the state grants that matched private funds are currently on the chopping block in Alaska's upcoming budget. Furthermore, while WW Turbine's technology will be closely looked at by public utilities, BC Hydro still takes an official position that tidal energy infrastructure is not cost-effective, nor promising enough for mass investment. While that may be accurate on a large scale, the key to addressing it may be to, indeed, think smaller.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Good Vibes in Small Vibes

Awhile back we wrote about a new prototype of "bladeless" wind turbine that draws energy from its minimal vibrations made in the wind. This oscillating force posed interesting benefits in cost-efficiency, but ultimately the design, invented by Daniel Yenaz and explored by Vortex Bladeless, runs into practical limitations with scale and area. Now another team, this one from Ohio State University is delving into the same forces, but with an interesting twist.

OSU Assistant Professor Ryan Harne
led the experiment.
Ryan Harne, an assistant professor at the school, has led the research behind new "treelike" devices built to harness small amounts of energy from the vibrational energy of established city surroundings. This means not only in traditional areas of natural wind, but from the minimal swaying motion that buildings in every city affected by wind make, as well.

Harne's purpose for this research was to find ways of getting minimal energy to power sensors that monitor a structure's integrity, but without those devices needing to be plugged into traditional energy sources. As Harne explains in the Journal of Sound and Vibration:
“Buildings sway ever so slightly in the wind, bridges oscillate when we drive on them and car suspensions absorb bumps in the road,” he said. “In fact, there’s a massive amount of kinetic energyassociated with those motions that is otherwise lost. We want to recover and recycle some of that energy.”
This approach to oscillation differs somewhat in Vortex's approach, as it makes the somewhat brilliant move of harvesting kinetic energy off structures already built into surrounding infrastructure. This eliminates the need to construct costly devices built solely to generate oscillating force, as well as battery and transmitters that would normally be needed to power the sensors in the first place.

Harne and his team, whose initial experiments made use of internal resonance to produce such promising results, hope to continue developing the technology in the near future.


Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

ROTOR CLIP ANNOUNCES "RING-A-MAJIG" CONTEST WINNERS


We recently sponsored a contest among college and university students challenging them to design a working device that would be held together entirely by Rotor Clip retaining rings (non-threaded fasteners). 

We called it the "Ring-A-Majig" contest and it was  held in affiliation with ATMAE, the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering. Four degreed engineers from Rotor Clip judged the entries and selected five finalists. Each presented their ideas via a Webex presentation to the judges, who then selected the first, second and third place winners. 
Rotor Clip “Ring-A-Majig” contest winner (third place)--“Line Beam Engine” 
submitted by the team from East Carolina University, College of Engineering 
and Technology.This design is an educational model of how a line beam engine functions kinematically transferring rotational movement to linear movement.
 It is held together completely by retaining rings.


The winners and their designs were as follows: First Place, East Carolina University—M1A2Abrams Tank Tin Toy (Team members , James Powell, Joshua Adams, Josh Katsikis, Owais Siddiqui); Second Place, East Carolina University—Robot Torsen Differential (Team members, Andrew DiMeglio, Joshua Stevens, Connor Jones); Third Place--East Carolina University—Line Beam Engine (Team members, Jonathan Camden, Lawson Hawkins, Brian Pridgen.  (Professor Ranjeet Agarawala served as advisor for all there ECU teams).

The winning team members will each receive a cash prize for their efforts. 

The presentations afforded us the opportunity to see the students communicate their ideas in a clear and concise way. They explained their designs and how each would work (the devices had to display motion or movement, manual or powered like a ticking clock or a working toy). They also described the retaining rings they selected and why each particular type was chosen (taking up end play, reducing vibration, etc). In the end all five provided excellent technical rationales for the designs they chose. 

This is at the core of Rotor Clip's affiliation with ATMAE; namely, to support education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through programs that expose students to “real world” situations and encourage them to pursue careers in manufacturing.

Based on our experience with the "Ring-A-Majig" contest, I am happy to report that the future of U.S. manufacturing and the technical skills to make it successful are in capable hands!


 Joe Cappello is Director of Global Marketing for Rotor Clip Company.




Monday, March 28, 2016

“INTERNET OF THINGS” NEXT BIG THING

Imagine connecting your car, home systems and appliances to your devices in such a way that you could do some amazing things with the information you collect.

Such “smart” devices are nothing new, but these units are about to get a lot smarter, thanks to an innovation known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT delivers accurate data in real time so that you can act on it to gain a desired outcome when it is most needed. For example, there are devices that monitor your eating, sleeping and exercising habits and suggest how to improve each based on the data it collects and analyzes from your daily schedule. Another device can be programmed to notify relatives if your car is involved in an accident.

IoT Connects people to things via the Internet

 An appliance maker is even experimenting with a way for you to observe a roast as it is cooking in your oven when you’re not at home, so that you can remotely fine tune temperature and time.

This era of “Big Data” is also changing the face of manufacturing. New improvements in software and data storage make it possible to timely collect and analyze enormous quantities of data. Companies can accurately predict when a part for a certain machine needs to be replaced before it fails based on an analysis of long term historical data.

 As a recent Industry Week article notes, IoT has the capability of tracking every aspect of a business from the all the machines on a factory floor to inventory and suppliers: 

“When fully leveraged,” the article notes, “ IoT can mean better inventory management, pulled production instead of pushed production, accurate activity-based costing, automatic adjusted logistics that adapt to changes in the manufacturing layer and productivity increases.”

A GE white paper on the topic notes the impact of IoT implementation:

 “We can be collectively objective, rather than individually subjective. We can do so in areas where we formerly acted based on intuition and assumption rather than by data and analysis.”

If this seems like another passing fad to you, consider GE and its commitment to IoT. CEO Jeffrey Immelt made a bold investment in recent years to position GE as the leading software provider for the Industrial Internet. The company set up a software operation in San Ramon, California, in 2012 and developed its own operating system for the Industrial Internet called, “Predix.”

Job seekers initially found it difficult to take GE’s ads for software developers seriously (think of the GE TV ad where a coder named Owen tells his skeptical friends he has been hired by GE to write “…a new language for machines so planes, trains and even hospitals can work better”).

Soon they got the message and GE’s services have helped manufacturing companies improve operations. For example, GE’s aviation customers are using Predix applications to monitor wear and tear on their jet engines and fine tune maintenance schedules. It’s also giving wind turbines the capability of automatically changing the direction of their blades to catch more wind.

GE’s ultimate goal is to become a top 10 software company by 2020 by helping manufacturing companies utilize advanced data collection and analyses afforded by IoT and the connectivity of the internet.

And that ultimately means better, more reliable products for all of us.


Joe Cappello is Director of Global Marketing for Rotor Clip Company.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Chile Approves Ambitious Hydroelectric Project in The Desert

About the last place one could choose as a setting for an unprecedented hydroelectricity undertaking would be a desert.

And out of all the deserts in the world, the 50,000 mile Atacama- one of the driest places on the planet- would most likely be the very last one to be considered. Nevertheless, Chilean developers and local business representatives have received a crucial approval from regional environmental agencies to move ahead with a gargantuan project that would generate 300 megawatts of electricity. This was after the project was rejected, to much local fanfare, by the country's government last year. While the design of the plant could prove to be an exceptional blueprint for other countries to use, its purpose is controversial and may prove to illustrate the complicated layers of navigating a new era of energy.

The project, proposed by Chilean energy company Valhalla, depends on the discovery of two massive depressions located 13,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains to the east. Ocean water pumped from 1200 miles away will be stored in these natural reservoirs the size of 22,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The giant capacity means that water can drop from these heights 24 hours a day, powering a total of five hydroelectric plants that are being planned for construction. Even better, the searing sun that beats down on the Atacama desert will also fuel solar cells installed to power the bringing the water up the mountains, making the entire process carbon-neutral with zero emissions.

As much of an engineering feat as it is for green enthusiasts, however, the proposal still faces widespread disapproval from local Chileans. The reasons may have less to do with the technology and more to do with who directly benefits from it. The industries that operate in the provinces slated to receive the hydroelectricity are all mining companies harvesting copper and other metals from the ground. Activists argue that although the companies will be operating on clean energy, their objectives of stripping the land will still have devastating effects on the Patagonia environment. And while developers have, naturally, assured that the trade-offs (no hydroelectricity will mean a doubling down on coal-fired plants) are worth it, there are no details yet about whether the water moved out of the ocean is to be desalinated. If not, it will be crucial to ensure the salt in the water does not permeate into the surrounding wilderness of Patagonia. It's also worth noting the project is currently underfunded, and the solar aspect of the project has not yet been approved by the government.

Despite the risks, if it works, Valhalla's design could serve as a template for cities all over the world currently having to rely on less and less snowfall from their surrounding mountain ranges.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, January 29, 2016

NASA to Fund "Sideways" Flying

2016 has already been generous to NASA, with congressional approval of a 10 percent increase in its overall budget. While this infusion of $1.6 billion could be used for many ideas both existing and new, many experts are hoping the agency spends a portion of it on a concept that could eventually revolutionize air travel as we know it: the bidirectional plane.
Rendering of Futuristic Bidirectional Plane
Although the concept has been around forever, 2012 marks the year when actual capital began fueling the idea for real-world use. Ge-Cheng Zha, an aerospace engineer at the University of Miami, introduced a flying wing design back then that resembled a ninja star, and would turn 90 degrees after reaching optimal altitude. Having used its broad wings to achieve the right amount of lift needed for take-off, the smaller wings enable the plane to achieve supersonic speeds that would cut a trip from New York to Tokyo down to four hours from 15.

Zha's proposal received over $100,000 in grant research money from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. A successful demonstration of feasibility in various tests such as wind tunnel performance and mathematic models will open up an additional $500,000. With NASA's additional budget funding, one can only hope even more money is devoted to this specific concept.

A bidirectional plane not only solves the eternal aeronautic quandary of achieving speed without sacrificing stability, but it will revolutionize both military and private air travel, cutting distance time exponentially.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, January 22, 2016

US Army Invests In Vehicles Powered By Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Despite a decade of interest, vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells are nowhere near available on a mass scale to the commercial automotive industry. There are multiple reasons for this, ranging from a lack of hydrogen fuel infrastructure to high costs per vehicle. But proponents of the technology may have finally found a market that can not only be a sustainable buyer, but may prove to the rest of the world how superior hydrogen fueled cars could be.

Chevy Colorado selected by military to test effectiveness 
of hydrogen fuel cells
The US military will begin field test runs of GM's hydrogen fuel line truck: the Chevrolet Colorado,  for scouting and reconnaissance divisions. Through the US Army's Tank Automotive Research and Engineering Center, (TARDEC) the Chevy truck will be used in a variety of situations that call for its advantages. Hydrogen fueled vehicles are dead silent, do not need daily refueling, and make water as a by-product (which could be handy in a number of ways in many desert combat scenarios)Hydrogen vehicles also have a high low-end torque power, enabling them to carry more of a heavy load.

As TARDEC Director Paul Rogers stated, "The potential capabilities hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can bring to the war fighter are extraordinary, and our engineers and scientists are excited about the opportunity to exercise the limits of this demonstrator."

With already over 3 million miles run by this previous summer, the Army, who collaborated with NASA in developing the technology years ago, clearly believes in hydrogen fuel cells as a reliable alternative to fossil fuel engines. While this should naturally be considered a sign that commercialization is not far behind, the lack of freeing up substantial government or private subsidies for building hydrogen fuel storage infrastructures all over the nation has proven to be a considerable obstacle. This could be for a variety of reasons, some of them as legitimate as a real worry over the dangers of individual vehicles powered by hydrogen on public roads, some of them as unfortunate as the technology not having a personality such as Elon Musk to devote resources and media appearances touting its benefits.

Yet, the US military's continual fidelity prove hydrogen fuel cells are not fading into obscurity anytime soon. And in a time where there is growing consensus that the status quo of fuel resources must change, the climate for vehicles like the Chevy Colorado to garner appeal is real.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Mexico City's Pod Proposal


Los Angeles and New York get a lot of national grief over their respectively nightmarish traffic experiences. Indeed both could use improvements in how to address issues of congestion and bottle-necking. Despite all the bad press lower Manhattan and the 405 get, however, neither towns can begin to compare with the insanity that is being a commuter in Mexico City.

Number two in TomTom's traffic index behind Istanbul, Mexico City's residents are trapped in traffic between and home and work that makes their trips 55 percent longer than average. This is not merely a problem centering around the automobile, as 61 percent of residents take public transportation already, and only 16 percent drive individual vehicles. Clearly, the sheer number of population means no one transportation method can fix this, and even a combined network needs to consider alternatives that think outside traditional infrastructure models.

The city's transportation department- Seciti- seems to have arrived upon a consensus on one possibility: gondolas. Lightweight, considerably cheaper to install and maintain than more subway systems, gondolas would actually directly serve the majority populace that does not drive while also providing a rather enjoyable commuter experience. Each pod would hold two people, and move on tracks over traffic routes, hovering over already existing gridlock. Even more innovative, passengers can program a direct path to a destination platform. This may pose certain issues of bunching (one would think tourist-heavy stops would demand more individual pod queues than others), but a carefully analyzed map could create "exhaust valve" routes to bypass any potential crowding risks, just like added lines on existing metro systems.


Seciti's recent proposal was unveiled at a press conference, complete with an animated video (above) showing how the concept will be applied. Although funding still needs to be sought after from both private and public sources, the ecological, locally-manufactured project could serve as a template for the growing global city of the 21st century.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.