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18_1_web

Bulletin of the
CONNECTICUT ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
The following is excerpted from press
releases of the National Academies and from

Infocus Magazine, a news resource of the
National Academies, which can be found at
electrochemical reactions, form the heart of fuel cell power generation systems. They  Climate Change Plan Falls Short
desirable emissions and noise and higher overall efficiency than more traditional spacecraft to private automobiles, large sta- tionary power generation systems to small future research,” but lacks a “clear guid- electronic devices, fuel cells are poised to ing vision” and will requires significant play an increasingly critical role in meeting revision in order to adequately meet the the world’s growing demand for clean, reli- with the effects of climate change on the “Efficacy of the Connecticut Motor Vehicle Emissions Testing Program” Connecticut is currently home to a number of companies and research centers on the cutting edge of fuel cell research and devel- opment. These include United Technologies Corporation’s UTC Fuel Cells (formerly International Fuel Cells) in South Windsor, “Efficacy of MTBE Use in Connecticut” which has supplied NASA with fuel cells for E. Graedel, professor of industrial ecol- manned space flight since the early Apollo world leader in fuel cell technology; Fuel the president’s fiscal year 2004 budget Cell Energy in Danbury and Torrington, the largest manufacturer of molten carbonate fuel cells in the world; and Proton Energy “Building Agricultural Biotechnology in Connecticut” (1997) ing systems. New, but important, players in ing and affecting other natural systems, the state’s fuel cell industry are Southbury- based GenCell, rapidly becoming known for innovative approaches to fuel cell design, manufacture and system reliability; and the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center, a cen- ter for research and development established at the University of Connecticut’s Storrs ment of advanced fuel cell technologies and associated technologies, educating “students “Electromagnetic Field Health Effects” The Academy wishes to express its sincere thanks to all of its of all ages,” commercializing fuel cell technology, and serving as sponsors, whose support makes the important work of the the “principal center” for demonstrating innovative and critical Academy, including this publication, possible.
Special recognition and thanks for continuing support The presence of some of the world’s largest fuel cell manufac- of the Academy’s programs to the Connecticut turers, along with a number of smaller companies engaged in Department of Economic and Community Development innovative research and development and a world-class center of excellence, makes Connecticut a leader in the field of fuel In April 2002, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering was asked to conduct a study of the fuel cell industry, to include a description of the most current fuel cell technology, a description of current applications for fuel cells, an examination and summary of potential future applications for fuel cells, and an assessment of the leading fuel cell tech- nologies and their development status and application time frames, with particular focus on Connecticut fuel cell produc- ers. That study, requested by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) was released in December of 2002.
Entitled “A Study of Fuel Cell Systems,” the study identifies five different kinds of fuel cell technologies that have been devel- The purpose of the Academy is to “provide guidance to the people 1. Alkaline Fuel Cells, which can be very small, and have
and the government of the State of Connecticut … in the application of science and engineering to the economic and social welfare.” been used in NASA’s space shuttle and in other applica-tions where pure gases can be used as fuel; 2. Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC), designed for large,
Michael J. Werle, Vice President/President ElectDirector for International and External Programs 3. Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells (PAFC), the only kind of fuel
UTC Office of Science and Technology (ret.) cells that are currently in widespread use in commercial or relatively large stationary applications; Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, Trinity College 4. Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC),
Principal Scientist , GTE/BBN Systems & Technologies expected to be the system of choice for vehicular power applications, but also being developed for stationary 5. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), a prime candidate for
relatively large, stationary systems.
George Foyt , Executive Editor - Engineering Manager of Electronics Research, UTRC (ret.) The most important advantages (cited for all fuel cell technolo- Jan Stolwijk, Executive Editor - Science gies) are “very low levels of unwanted emissions” and “low Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health (Emeritus) noise,” according to the study, while the most significant chal- lenges to the development of fuel cell power systems include cost (system and life cycle), lack of demonstrated reliability for most types, lack of infrastructure for some types, and the need to identify and develop markets. The BULLETIN of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering is published by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Inc., 179 Allyn Street, Suite 512, Hartford, CT 06103-1422. Telephone and fax: (860) The report notes that Connecticut is already considered a world 527-2161. E-mail: acad@ix.netcom.com. WWW: www.ctcase.org. To subscribe to the Bulletin, contact us by phone, email or subscribe online at leader in the application of fuel cell systems for stationary power applications (for instance, UTC Fuel Cells already has The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering is a private, nonprofit over 250 PAFC-based units installed worldwide) and is the only public-service organization established by Special Act No. 76-53 of the state that can claim “substantial system experience in any fuel cell power application.” However, the authors also note that 2 Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering • Volume 18,1 / Spring 2003 Science and Engineering Notes from Around Connecticut have targeted youngsters in second and third grades, this is the first aimed at kindergartners.
FAST FOOD. In Tolland, schoolchildren have been fingerprint-
ESKIMO TALK. Yupik, an Eskimo-Aleut language that is unique
ed—but it’s just so they can get through the lunch line. To speed because it is the common language of a native group whose mem- up the often slow process of paying for food, the school system has bers live on both sides of the Bering Strait, is among the endangered languages receiving support from the Endangered Language Fund
purchased a biometric scanning system which allows youngsters to (ELF) of Yale University. The Yupik language is spoken both in Siberia
purchase their snacks simply by putting their index finger on a small and on St. Lawrence Island in the United States. However, the lan- scanner. The device identifies each youngster by creating an algo- guage was suppressed in Russia under the Soviets, making it harder rithm that plots 12 key points at the intersections of the child’s finger- for Soviet Yupiks to understand their native tongue. Yupik is one of print arcs and swirls; these 12 points are then matched to patterns twelve indigenous languages that have received support this year already stored in the computer, and the child’s purchase is charged from ELF, which is dedicated to studying and maintaining languages to his or her account. While the system shows much promise, it does take some getting used to. “We’ve had to train the kids not to eat their lunch while they’re standing in line,” said food services director A LITTLE BIT WIRELESS. A new wireless technology under develop-
Jackie Schipke. Greasy fingers, it turns out, can prevent the scanner
ment by New Haven-based DSL.net allows laptops to hook up to
the Internet without first being connected to a cellular phone. The technology, known as WiFi, also offers upload and download speeds that are far faster than those found on current wireless services. The TALK NOW, READ LATER. Low-income youngsters improve their
company hopes that WiFi, which was tested in a coffee shop in vocabulary and language skills much more quickly when they attend Rhode Island in September, could eventually provide high-speed preschool with more affluent children, according to research con- wireless access to small and mid-sized business customers, accord- ducted by Carlota Schechter, an education professor at St. Joseph’s
ing to spokesman Joe Tomkowicz. The technology, though, is tied
College in West Hartford. The study compared two preschools that
to specific sites: during its September test, WiFi could be used only served only low-income youngsters with five that handled children within a 75-yard radius of the coffee shop.
from a variety of economic backgrounds. Schechter found that, after six months, not only did the low-income youngsters attending mixed POISON PROTECTION. Through its link with the Toxic Exposure
preschools increase their vocabularies six times faster than their more Surveillance System, the Connecticut Poison Control Center at the
isolated peers, they have also caught up with their affluent classmates. University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington is part of an
early warning system that could identify a biological or biochemical TOWN-GOWN TOGETHER. Yale has been awarded a four-year,
warfare attack within the United States. The surveillance system is a nationwide database that contains detailed toxicological information $2.1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to on more than 24 million poison exposures reported to US poison enhance science education at Yale, and to fund science outreach centers, says Marc Bayer, medical director for the Center. “When we
programs for New Haven public schools. The money will be used to
get a call about an exposure, we enter the case into the database in support a variety of projects, including a summer residential program real time, so it’s immediately available to experts who can screen for for high school students that introduces them to science research and exposure patterns across the entire country.” clinical medical care at Yale; the DEMOS program, in which Yale stu-dents volunteer in science programs in local schools; and the STARS program, which encourages ethnic minority students aiming for sci- SCIENCE MAJORS. With a grant from the National Science
Foundation, Naugatuck Valley Community College, in Waterbury,
will develop and evaluate strategies to encourage students to earn
degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
LITE LIGHTS. The town of Hamden currently pays about $3.5
( STEM) fields. The three-year project, Partners to Attract and Sustain
million annually for utilities, but municipal officials believe Adult Learners, will engage area businesses as supporters of the
they can cut those costs by 30% to 50%. Last fall, the town program, and will help students through mentoring, tutoring, scholar- hired national energy conservation company Vestar to perform a ships, internships, academic advising, and web-based virtual tours of townwide energy audit. The company will survey municipal and STEM industry work sites. The college is one of only 14 colleges and school buildings, pumping stations, street lights, and sewer lines universities nationwide to receive funding for the program this year. for a three- to four-month period, looking for ways that the town can improve its use of energy. Its recommendations may include READING READINESS. In a New Haven pilot study last year, the
upgrading heating and ventilation systems, replacing boiler Breakthrough To Literacy reading program increased the reading
plants, and redesigning interior lighting. Should the town hire it readiness of children in poor neighborhoods to the same level as that to make improvements, Vestar guarantees the results.
of youngsters from more affluent areas. This year, the program, which relies on a combination of phonics, reading comprehension, teacher Items that appear in the In Brief section are compiled from training and technology, has been implemented in all New Haven previously published sources including newspaper accounts and press releases. For more information about any In Brief item, please kindergartens. As part of Breakthrough, the youngsters do some of cal the Academy at (860) 527-2161, write the editors at their lessons on a computer, which records all their answers, creating 179 Al yn St., Suite 512, Hartford, CT 06103-1422, or email us a report that teachers can easily view. While other literacy programs Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering • Volume 18,1 / Spring 2003 3 Science and Engineering Notes from Around Connecticut POWER ON ITS OWN. Hartford-based United Technologies
in a pond. He found that the animals behaved differently in each Corporation (UTC) is expanding its power production business by
environment, and that the mesocosms did not accurately predict the partnering with a California microturbine company. The alliance with Capstone Turbine Corp. allows UTC to offer a low-emission microturbine system, which extends the company’s line of stand- alone power generators. Like the fuel cells that the company already produces, the microturbines allow power to be produced on site. The generators are intended for commercial, industrial, and munici- BIRD WATCH. With a $50,000 federal grant, the state Department
pal facilities, according to Capstone. Based on a technology similar of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to develop a coastline
to that used in a jet engine, they’re about the size of a refrigerator. birding trail that will include about 50 birdwatching sites. The Each one can generate about 30 kilowatts of electricity, and sells for trail should be in place next summer, with detailed information about each site posted on the web, according to DEP supervising
wildlife biologist Jenny Dickson. Sites expected to be included are
the Coastal Center in Milford, Hammonasset Beach State Park in
Madison, and Audubon Greenwich. Other sites can be nominated
by going to
RIVER RESTORATION. The lower Hop River, in Coventry and
Columbia
, has been reconfigured as part of a Department of
SELF-HEALERS. With a $3.4 million National Science Foundation
Environmental Protection (DEP) project intended to restore the
grant, Yale researchers hope to find ways to control plant diseases by
stream to a more natural state. During a 1970s highway construc- tapping into the plants’ own protective abilities. The team, led by S.P.
tion project, the Hop River had been straightened and relocated; Dinesh-Kumar, plans to focus on the plants’ hypersensitive response
this change ultimately increased erosion in the river and degraded (HR), in which cells at the infection site undergo rapid death. This fish habitat. The restoration was intended to correct that. The DEP reaction, explains Dinesh-Kumar, can save the plant by depriv- used living plants, and other materials including coconut fiber ing the pathogens of nutrients, thus limiting their ability to survive. rolls, and erosion control fabric to stabilize the stream beds, and The researchers will develop functional genomics and proteomics tree-root structures to deflect water flow from stream banks and techniques to identify the genes involved in disease resistance and susceptibility, and to explore the molecular mechanisms by which infectious viruses thwart the plant’s defenses. Infectious crop diseases BETTER QUALITY. With the help of student volunteers from
result in multi-billion dollar crop losses annually, says Dinesh-Kumar.
Norwalk and Westport, the water-quality monitoring organiza-
tion HarborWatch/RiverWatch keeps track of the small rivers
SAFE CIDER. At the Beardsley Cider Mill and Orchard, in Shelton,
that flow into Long Island Sound. Based at the Nature Center
Dan Beardsley relies on the latest technology to keep his farm going.
in Westport, the organization has been testing water since His state-of-the-art cider mill, which visitors can observe in action, 1985, focusing on the smaller streams that the Department of
processes apples at the speed of one bushel per minute. And, even Environmental Protection (DEP) often doesn’t pay attention to.
more importantly, Beardsley, an environmental scientist-turned-farm The volunteers, supervised by Dick Harris, the group’s direc-
entrepreneur, has devised his own way to keep cider safe. Beardsley tor of water resources, have detected problems that range from has developed a pasteurization machine that relies on ultraviolet an ammonia spill to leaking septic tanks. Data collected by light to knock out bacteria. The $3,500 machine enables Beardsley the group is used by the DEP and by Westport town officials to to run a cost-effective operation, and unlike heat pasteurization, the ultraviolet process does not affect the cider’s taste. Beardsley plans to patent the device, which is undergoing testing. RETURN OF THE NATIVE CAT. Mountain lions, long vanished
from Connecticut, may be returning to the state. Once native to
the region, the big cats were driven out by hunters, and by the growing human population. Now, they’re believed to live largely in the western United States, and in some parts of Florida. But TUMOR TISSUE. To aid researchers in the fight against cancer,
some Connecticut enthusiasts believe that at least a few of the ani- the University of Connecticut Health Center plans to establish
mals have moved back. There have been unconfirmed sightings, a ‘tumor bank,’ which will store a sample of every cancer tumor including one in Farmington and a cluster in Somers. Cougar fans
removed at the Center’s hospital. After hospital pathologists have are also encouraged by the state’s changing landscape. The state is studied the tumor to determine the best way to treat it, excess tis- now far more wooded than it was a century ago — two-thirds, as sue will be saved. It will be cataloged by its type and stage, flash- frozen to -188° C., and stored in a freezer tank cooled by liquid nitrogen, where it can be retrieved by researchers looking for a UNNATURAL WORLDS. For the past twenty years, scientists
particular type of cancer. Researchers can use the tissue to deter- have often used mesocosms, or artificial ecosystems, to study such mine the tumor’s genetic characteristics; they can also use it to test issues as drinking water standards, the effects of global climate change, and endangered species. But this technique may not give
accurate results, according to a study done by Yale Forestry and
STAY STRONG. Elderly people may be able to stay independent
Environmental Studies professor David Skelly. To evaluate the
longer if they participate in strength training and balance exercises, accuracy of this method, Skelly conducted identical experiments on according to a Yale study. The researchers followed a group of 188
tadpoles in mesocosms (250-gallon tanks) and in enclosures placed people who were 75 or older, providing half of them with physical 4 Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering • Volume 18,1 / Spring 2003 Science and Engineering Notes from Around Connecticut therapy and the other half with educational materials. The subjects were scored on their ability to perform tasks essential to indepen- dent living, like walking, bathing, dressing, and eating. “We found that the physical therapy intervention was effective in preventing WORKOUT. The computer-controlled exercise bike that helped
functional decline, while the control group showed a steady decline quadriplegic actor Christopher Reeve regain some function in his over the year,” says Yale professor Thomas M. Gill, the study’s princi-
paralyzed limbs is now available to some Connecticut patients. The pal investigator. The elderly who received physical therapy were less bikes, donated by the Connecticut Chapter of the National Spinal
likely to spend time in nursing homes, and had fewer fall related Cord Injury Association, help those unable to move on their own to
injuries. The exercise program consisted of daily balance exercises maintain good physical condition by moving their body for them. lasting 10 to 15 minutes, and muscle training with elastic resistance The stationary bikes, or Functional Electrical Stimulation machines, use electrodes to stimulate the patient’s nerves. This activates the leg muscles, causing the patient’s legs to move, and providing vigorous AT UCONN, A MOUTHFUL. At the Dental Prosthetic Lab at the
aerobic exercise. The bikes, which cost at least $15,000, have been University of Connecticut, technicians make perfectly fitting caps,
donated to the Valley-Shore YMCA in Westbrook, the University of
crowns, bridges, and implants using CAD-CAM (computer aided Connecticut in Storrs, the New Horizons Center in Farmington, and
design-computer aided manufacturing). Using an impression sent by the West Haven Community Resources Center.
the dentists, the laboratory technicians begin by making individual dies of the teeth. The die is mounted on a computerized rotating WITHOUT BIOPSIES. A device that combines ultrasound and
platform, and traced by a highly accurate stylus. A computer digi- near-infrared optical capabilities could help diagnose whether a tizes the tracing and converts it into a 3-dimensional model, which breast lump is a harmless cyst or a malignant tumor. The sensi- is used as the basis for the new prosthetic which is manufactured tive, hand-held imager, developed and patented by University of
elsewhere. “Ten years ago, if someone told me CAD-CAM would be Connecticut physicist Quing Zhu, contains an infrared light compo-
this accurate, I would have doubted it,” says Gary Karlsrud, director
nent that is able to distinguish between benign and cancerous solid lumps, and an ultrasound component, which emits high-frequency sound waves that bounce off tissue, and can pinpoint the tumor’s CRITICAL PROTEINS. A new technology to diagnose and treat
precise location. The imager, which could help eliminate some cancer has been developed by researchers at the Yale School of
biopsies, shows promise in detecting small cancers, which are often Medicine. The scientists use microarrays to determine the kinds and
the more aggressive types. The imager could also be used to monitor amounts of proteins that are expressed at particular points in a cell. the progress of cancer therapy, by checking whether or not a can- “This is a breakthrough for new bio-specific drug discovery since it cer is shrinking in response to treatment. The device, which is still allows the measurement of proteins that will determine if the patient undergoing clinical trials, is being developed with the help of a four- is likely to respond to therapy,” says lead researcher and pathology year $800,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.
professor David L. Rimm. Currently, pathologists diagnose cancer by
looking at cell morphology. Checking the proteins associated with
QUANTUM LEAP. With a $1.2 million grant from the W.M. Keck
that cancer could allow greater precision, both in identifying the Foundation, Yale researchers hope to find out whether it’s possible
cancer, and in predicting the course of the disease. to build a quantum computer. This device, unlike a conventional computer, would have ‘bits’ able to be both on and off at the same HEART ATTACK. A drug commonly used to treat heart failure seems
time. Studies suggest that a quantum computer would be far more to increase the risk of death in women, according to research done powerful than the ones in use today. “The question we will address at the Yale School of Medicine. While the medication, digoxin, did
in this project is whether or not quantum information can be stored not affect mortality in men, it increased the risk of death in women and processed in solid-state and molecular systems,” said Yale by 23%. “These data suggest that digoxin acts differently in men physics professor Robert Schoelkopf, one of the project’s principal
and in women,” said Harlan Krumholz, director of the Yale-New
investigators. The grant, which establishes the W.M.Keck Foundation
Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, and
Center for Quantum Information Physics at Yale, will help fund the
the study’s senior author. Digoxin, also sold as Lanoxin, is one of purchase of a field-emission scanning electron microscope system, the commonly prescribed medications in the country. However, for as well as other equipment. The project’s total budget is more than patients suffering only from heart failure, the drug’s only benefit is a small reduction in hospitalizations. “Women with heart failure who are taking digoxin should talk with their physicians about whether PATIENT CARE. To coordinate its 37 operating rooms and up
they should continue with this drug,” said Krumholz.
to 100 surgeries a day, Yale-New Haven Hospital has installed a
computerized management system called NaviCare. Replacing a
HEALING TOUCH. A $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes
cumbersome paper-based tracking system, it allows hospital staff of Health will be used to establish an Exploratory Center for
to easily keep track of, and adjust to, the constantly changing flow Frontier Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
of activity. Work stations let hospital staff update information, while “Our studies will focus on energy medicine—therapeutic touch, display boards show information like the start time of each surgery, healing touch, and reiki,” says Karen Prestwood, a professor at the
the stage of the operation, and estimated time of completion. The UConn Center for Aging and principal investigator for the new
system allows hospital staff to more easily manage the constant Center. She plans to apply rigorous scientific standards to these scheduling changes, so that, for example, if an operation runs longer studies, which will look at the effects of therapeutic touch on bone than expected, a simple keystroke can identify idle operating rooms metabolism, bone formation, and on the healing of wounds. that can be tapped for the procedures that have been displaced. Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering • Volume 18,1 / Spring 2003 5 Science and Engineering Notes from Around Connecticut JUST THE GOOD ONES. A new technology that can screen
to compete with low-cost overseas operations, like those in China. potential drugs for toxicity even before the compounds are tested This new technique is made possible by improvements in robotics, in mammals has been developed by scientists at New Haven-based which allow the machines to make reliably consistent parts on their Curagen, and Bayer Corp., with offices in West Haven. Toxicity,
own, and by computer technologies that link plant equipment to the especially liver toxicity, is one of the primary reasons that drug com- Internet, so that a single supervisor can oversee operations at many pounds fail in development, so the ability to predict toxicity so early plants, at any time and from any place.
should help to make the drug development process more efficient and less costly. Bayer plans to use the Predictive Toxicogenomics Screen to evaluate a variety of compounds under development, said Curagen officials; the process is expected to be licensed to other pharmaceutical companies. CLEANING THE AIR. Connecticut has joined other states in a
suit to force the US Environmental Protection Agency to pro-
mulgate stalled 2001 diesel truck and bus exhaust standards.
These standards could reduce diesel emission by 90%, prevent-
ing about 8,300 deaths a year. In Connecticut, residents face MONEY FOR BIOTECHS. Biotech startups will have a new
a 1 in 1,736 risk of cancer from diesel exhaust — a risk that is advantage in Connecticut, thanks to the advent of the state’s new 576 times higher than the federal benchmark of 1 in 1 million. Bioscience Machinery and Equipment Financing Program. The
Construction equipment produces 57% of the state’s diesel pol- program, part of the Office of BioScience in the Department of lution, with the rest coming from cars and buses. Economic and Community Development, is designed to make it easier for the companies to obtain the financing they need for capi- AIRPORT SECURITY. A state-of-the-art digital fingerprint scan-
tal investment. It will provide banks with a 30% loan guarantee for ner is helping to enhance security at Bradley International
small biotechs. The state plans to make $11 million available over Airport. As part of a post-9/11 effort to thwart terrorist infiltra-
the next two years, and this program will be marketed to compa- tion, the $35,000 machine has recorded the fingerprints of all of nies in other states as a way of drawing them to Connecticut. the more than 4,000 airport and airline employees with access to secure areas. The scanning device, known as the ID 1000 Live LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. University of Connecticut
Scan System, provides a detailed, magnified picture of a finger’s population geographer Alex Vias has found that micropolitan areas,
unique markings, providing a resolution of up to 1,000 dots also known as emerging metropolitan areas, have been among per square inch. The machine generates a format that can be the fastest growing regions in the country over the past 30 years. scanned by the FBI. About 80 of the devices have been sold to Micropolitan regions are defined as county-level units with a popu- 65 US airports during the past year.
lation of more than 40,000 and a central city with a population of over 15,000. There are 219 of these regions scattered around the CHOO-CHOO. After nearly two years of work, archivists at
country, and they are of special interest because they reflect the the University of Connecticut have created an extensive online
changes occurring in the country as a whole. By studying popula- collection of material documenting the New Haven Railroad.
tion and employment data, Vias and his colleagues found that since This digitized collection includes nearly 500 photographs of 1970, the number of micropolitan regions with mining centers steam and electric locomotives. The site also includes a catalog dropped from 14 to five, while the number of regions with agri- of material in the collection that has not been posted online. In cultural centers dropped from 20 to five. The number of those with addition to photos, the collection includes administrative and manufacturing, service, and trade centers remained fairly constant. payroll files, maps, and blueprints. Putting the collection online makes it one of the country’s most accessible railroad collec- CNS RESEARCH. Pfizer Inc, with a research facility in Groton, plans
to invest $5 billion over the next five years to develop new medica-tions to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders. This means FLYING HIGH. When engineers design a new plane, they figure
that Pfizer will dedicate, in total, about $2 billion a year to studying out how much stress it can handle by building a full-scale model central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Approximately 1.5 billion and then breaking off one of the wings. With a $715,000 grant people worldwide suffer from a medical or neurological disorder, from the National Science Foundation, University of Connecticut
according to Pfizer, with many going underdiagnosed or untreated. (UConn) professor Thomas Peters hopes to find a way to elimi-
It takes about twelve years and an average of $800 million to bring nate that final, very expensive step. Peters, a computer scientist a drug from the initial discovery phase to market, said Stephen
and engineer, studies geometric intersections: for example, the Lederer, director of media relations for research and development.
joint where a wing connects to a fuselage. Right now, he explains, The company spends about $5.3 billion on research annually. wing-breaking is necessary because engineers generate designs using computer algorithms that cannot accurately predict the NO HANDS. A plastics manufacturing plant in Vernon runs by
“complex surface interactions” found in modern planes. Peters itself every night—and that’s the wave of the future. At the plant, hopes to develop a more efficient way to design the algorithms. owned by ABA-PGT, fourteen injection-molding machines work
He will head a team of researchers from UConn, Purdue, MIT and without human supervision, producing the gears used in lawn Boeing; their success could save the aerospace and automotive sprinklers and computer printers, and then depositing the parts in industries more than a billion dollars a year.
boxes on conveyor belts. Such “lights-out” manufacturing is increas-ingly popular throughout the country as companies look for ways — Compiled and edited by Karen Miller
6 Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering • Volume 18,1 / Spring 2003 News from the National Academies (continued from page 1)  The Promise of Nanotechnology
government launch a major research effort. The report also urges Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating matter at the federal and state agencies to collaborate on a new system for atomic, molecular, and macromolecular levels — a scale of less documenting sources of runoff, and recommends that the US Environmental Protection Agency continue efforts to phase out th the width of a human hair. Operating at these most basic levels, scientists are able to create materials, devices, and systems with fundamentally new properties and functions. Industry and academia hope to use nanotechnology to design products that are faster, cheaper, lighter, and stronger.
Meeting the ‘Call to Duty’
Science and engineering on this scale will have a dramatic The National Academies have met “the call to duty” posed impact on fields such as computing, telecommunications, and by the September 11 attacks in a variety of ways, including medicine. For nanotechnology to fulfill its promise, however, convening groups of experts to identify and examine techni- the government-funded National Nanotechnology Initiative cal approaches to countering or mitigating the most danger- — which has received almost $1 billion in funding since 2001 ous threats facing the United States. More than 100 scientists, — must increase its support of long-term research and promote engineers, physicians, and national-security specialists were more interdisciplinary efforts, according to a new report from enlisted in the task, which resulted in a 440-page report entitled the National Research Council. Investment in the development Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in of tools that allow scientists to view, model, and manipulate Countering Terrorism.
nanoscale objects must continue, and a “new breed of scientist” must emerge — one who is well-grounded in a specific disci- Although the report is the centerpiece of the Academies’ coun- pline but able to work across multiple fields. Nanotechnology terterrorism activities, they have undertaken other studies and centers in the United States currently encourage collaboration, held workshops to seek ways to make the nation safer. A new but creation of a more widespread interdisciplinary culture is Academies web site at www.nap.edu/firstresponders provides crucial to stimulating growth in the field.
firefighters, EMTs, and other rescue personnel with links to cred- ible information resources on chemical and biological terrorism. Federal leaders of the initiative need to develop a broad strategic The Transportation Research Board and the National Materials plan that outlines goals and objectives. In addition, an indepen- Advisory Board have been advising the new Transportation dent advisory board composed of leaders from industry and aca- Security Administration on explosives-detection technologies. Yet demia should be established, the report recommends. another study focused on how well the Internet performed on Sept. 11. Last fall the Academies released Countering Agricultural Bioterrorism. The study, which was initiated before Sept. 11, warns that the country remains vulnerable to a bioterrorism  Too Much Oil in the Sea
attack on its crops and livestock and needs a more comprehen- Although double-hulled tankers and tougher international stan- dards have led to a significant drop in the amount of oil spilled by ships since 1989, some 29 million gallons of oil still winds up  Easing Rules on Big Rigs
in North American ocean waters each year as a result of human activity, according to a new report from the National Research The federal government should authorize states to permit Council. Most of this oil can be attributed to land-based runoff, trucks that exceed present federal size limits to operate on polluted rivers, jet skis, and airplanes that jettison fuel over the interstate highways, provided that impacts on safety and water, with only about 10% coming from tanker and pipeline road-maintenance costs are monitored, according to a new spills, or the oil-drilling process.
report from the Transportation Research Board.
Oil runoff from cars and trucks is a particular problem in coastal The standard tractor-trailer has five axles, and the current regions where more roads and parking lots are being built to federal limit is 80,000 pounds. The report recommends that accommodate dramatic population growth. Oil that is in waste- states be allowed to issue permits for the operation of six-axle water or that has been improperly disposed of also finds its way tractor-trailers weighing up to 90,000 pounds. to the ocean. Two-stroke engines manufactured before 1998 discharge significant amounts of unburned fuel and can still be Noting that objective data collection and analysis is critical, found on many recreational boats and jet skis; bigger ships may the study committee recommends that Congress charter a release oil from their engines while in port or at sea.
new organization to oversee implementation of federal truck- size regulations and evaluate their results, carry out pilot Scientists studying the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill discov- studies and research to determine the impact of trucks on ered that the environmental devastation caused by an oil spill highways, and recommend new rules based on its findings. of that magnitude lasts much longer than previously thought, The proposed studies could provide industry and states with and that even a small spill in an ecologically sensitive area can incentives to develop safety innovations. have long-term effects. There is growing evidence that toxic com- pounds found in oil can adversely affect marine species even at Promising technologies, such as electronic braking systems, could improve truck safety but more research and monitor- ing is needed, the report says. The proposed pilot studies and While scientists now better understand the damage caused by permit program could provide incentives for industry and an acute oil spill, less is known about how the ocean ecosystem is affected by chronic releases from land-based sources or boat engines. To learn more, the report recommends that the federal Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering • Volume 18,1 / Spring 2003 7 other states, including Michigan, Ohio, California, and Texas, are actively engaged in developing fuel-cell-based industries which could pose “significant challenges” to Connecticut’s existing lead in the field of stationary power applications as market penetration anticipated as production volume increas- well as its efforts to enter the market for transportation applica- Transportation markets, which include transit buses, other The study identifies a wide range of uses, or applications, for fleet-type commercial vehicles, and automobiles, will be fuel cells — from commercial building heat and power to mili- more difficult to penetrate, according to the study, because of tary applications to small electronic devices — and time frames the relatively low cost of existing piston-engine power plants. for achieving market penetration that range, depending upon Although the potential market is large, costs must be reduced the application, from one to seven years. sufficiently to make fuel cells an economically competitive alternative.
“Large capacity stationary power” — defined as a system with an output power capability exceeding 100kW — is likely to Very low power (~1-5 kW ) fuel cells for electronic applications be the “first significant commercial market,” according to the offer a promising market, and one which no Connecticut com- Academy report. This market should see immediate growth (in pany is currently targeting, according to the study. 2003-2004) due to significant price level breakthroughs which were recently announced. This market includes Stationary Finally, the use of fuel-cell-like devices to make pressurized Reliable Power (applications in which reliability is vital, hydrogen gas is expected to be a small but growing “niche” such as rapid response financial systems, on-line commerce, market, competing with the pressurized bottled gas industry.
hospitals, etc.); Commercial Building Power ( small, com-mercial buildings or strip malls, where the heat generated by The study concludes that, while there are still major obstacles the system often is also used, resulting in a combined usage to large-scale fuel cell commercialization, including cost called “Combined heat and power” or CHP); and Distributed and reliability issues, there are also many opportunities for Power (applications that serve several customers or a small “rewarding investments” aimed at lowering the manufacturing substation, usually as part of the overall power grid). Two costs, improving long-term reliability, and increasing market Connecticut companies, UTC Fuel Cells and Fuel Cell Energy, penetration. — Martha Sherman, Connecticut Academy of
are nationally competitive in this market, with even greater Science and Engineering
Bulletin of the
CONNECTICUT ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

Source: http://www.ctcase.org/bulletin/18_1.pdf

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Marine geoscience

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