Missouri lawyer Joshua Neally was driving his Tesla Model X home from his office when he suffered piercing pain in his stomach and chest. Rather than call an ambulance he set his Tesla Model X in self-driving mode and headed for a hospital 20 miles (32km) down the road. He was able to park it and check himself in.
He suffered a pulmonary, a potentially fatal obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs. Very probably, the car saved his life.
Back in 2013 the WHO tells us that there were 1.25 million road traffic deaths globally each year. By 2030 they expected road deaths to be the fifth leading cause of death. The problem may largely go away.
2. Australian cars and buses could be electric within 10 years
Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) find this could be done affordably and expeditiously.
Electric cars may cost more to produce, but are cheaper to run and maintain. So the cost against business as usual depends on technological advance and the price of oil. See cost scenarios here.
Thanks to John D for the link.
3. Solar plane flies around the world
Solar Impulse 2 completed the first round-the-world flight by a solar-powered aeroplane, after touching down in Abu Dhabi in late July.
Here Solar Impulse 2 flies over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi:
The wing span is 72 metres compared to 68.2 metres for a Boeing 747. It only ways 2.3 tonnes compared to the Boeing’s 154 tonnes.
With more than 17,000 solar panels on its wings it could go forever if the sun was shining, but normally about 30mph. There’s room for one and the seat doubles as a loo, so the pilot can’t stay up there all that long.
A significant achievement, but I think the route stayed well north of the equator, so I don’t know whether that strictly qualifies as ’round the world’.
4. Microbes to clean up water and generate power
It’s long been known that bacteria can chew up contaminants in sewage and waste water, generating electricity as they go. However, a microbe sludge usually remains, and the process has been difficult to scale up outside the laboratory.
Now Boston-based Cambrian Innovation is field testing BioVolt, a microbial fuel cell at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland. In one day it can convert 2250 litres of sewage into enough clean water for at least 15 people, plus generate the electricity to power itself with a bit left over. They plan to scale it up to more than 20,000 litres per day.
The process uses particular strains of bacteria.
Other teams are working on different versions of the process in different settings. One can remove pharmaceuticals, for example synthetic oestrogens.
One generates methane as it cleans up waste water produced by a Californian brewery, cutting the brewery’s energy use by 15 per cent and its water use by 40 per cent.
5. China’s industrial heartland in danger of sinking
David Spratt and Shane White have the story.
China’s key industrial zone on the Zhujiang River Delta/Pearl River Delta (PRD), the world’s largest and fastest growing urban area drawing tens of millions of people into a special economic zone, is built on soft, unstable land.
- The area of the PRD is 8000 square kilometres. Its current population is 42 million people. The greater PRD as defined by Chinese authorities (to include Hong Kong, Macau etc) is far bigger still with 65 million people. The projected population by 2025 is 90 million, and 120 million by 2050. Of the total area, almost half (3720 square kilometres) is within 2 metres of mean sea level.
The northern and central parts of the PRD lie between 0.4 metres and 2.4 metres above sea level, with the southern part of the delta lower, at minus 0.3 metres to plus 0.4 metres relative to mean sea level.
The PRD is already subject to flooding that is attributed to sea-level rise and subsidence, and to flash flooding in response to extreme weather events.
The area is responsible for 20% of national GDP, more than 30% of foreign direct investment, and 40% of China’s exports.
China will become very serious about mitigating global warming.