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Scottish scientists develop whisky biofuel: more environmentally sustainable & 30% more power output than ethanol

Professor Martin Tangey, Director of Edinburgh Napier University Biofuel Research Centre, holds a glass of whisky during a media viewing in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Scottish scientists develop whisky biofuel - By-products from distilling process could be used to power cars and even aviation, according to researchers in Edinburgh

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "one for the road". Whisky, the spirit that powers the Scottish economy, is being used to develop a new biofuel which could be available at petrol pumps in a few years.

Using samples from the Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian, researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have developed a method of producing biofuel from two main by-products of the whisky distilling process – "pot ale", the liquid from the copper stills, and "draff", the spent grains.

Copious quantities of both waste products are produced by the £4bn whisky industry each year, and the scientists say there is real potential for the biofuel, to be available at local garage forecourts alongside traditional fuels. It can be used in conventional cars without adapting their engines. The team also said it could be used to fuel planes and as the basis for chemicals such as acetone, an important solvent.

The new method developed by the team produces butanol, which gives 30% more power output than the traditional biofuel ethanol. It is based on a 100-year-old process that was originally developed to produce butanol and acetone by fermenting sugar. The team has adapted this to use whiskey by-products as a starting point and has filed for a patent to cover the new method. It plans to create a spin-out company to commercialise the invention.  read more »

Passion for ocean: 14-year-old Dutch girl sets off on solo sail around the world under the Sea Shepherd flag

14-year-old Laura Dekker hoists a flag of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society at her 38-foot (11.5-meter) yacht Guppy setting off on a sail around the world by herself

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World’s Youngest Sailor Sets Sail Under the Sea Shepherd Flag - Laura Dekker has been handed the Sea Shepherd Jolly Roger by Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director Geert Vons in Den Osse.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder and President, Captain Paul Watson, along with Laurens de Groot, had a unique conversation around midnight on August 3, 2010 while driving north on Highway 405 from San Clemente to Los Angeles, California. It was early morning in the small Dutch harbor of Den Ostse in the Netherlands when Captain Watson called Laura Dekker—a 14-year-old sailor from the Netherlands—just as she was setting out with her 38-foot sailing yacht Guppy to begin her quest to be the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo.

Dekker was born on her parent’s sailing yacht off the coast of New Zealand. She has already crossed the North Sea solo at the age of thirteen. Two months ago, Dekker met with Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director Geert Vons and Laurens de Groot in the Sea Shepherd Amsterdam office. She asked if she could fly the Sea Shepherd flag and promote the efforts of Sea Shepherd during her voyage.

Vons, de Groot, and everyone else within Sea Shepherd Netherlands and Sea Shepherd International were immediately enthusiastic.  read more »

Zephyr, unmanned plane doubled 30-hour record set in 2001 - significance: solar powered, hand-launched, non-stop 82-hour flight

Zephyr is prepared for takeoff. It has more than doubled the unofficial record of more than 82 hours

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Bertrand Piccard - "The pioneer is not always the one who succeeds, but the one who is not scared to fail." 'Zephyr is the world's first and only truly persistent aeroplane,' said Neville Salkeld, MD of QinetiQ's UK Technology Solutions Group. This amazing aircraft, launched by hand, can provide low-cost, non-stop surveillance over persistent surveillance and communications capability measured in terms of weeks, if not months. Not only is Zephyr game-changing technology, it is also significantly more cost effective to manufacture and deploy than traditional aircraft and satellites.'

the Zephyr solar-powered plane recently broke the endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

Zephyr at take off from the US Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona for its endurance record breaking flight for an unmanned air system

British solar-powered unmanned drone finally lands after flying non-stop for two weeks: It has more than doubled the unofficial record of more than 82 hours already held by Zephyr and has smashed the official record of more than 30 hours set in 2001  read more »

Solar powered 1st nonstop 26hr night flight, longest distance, highest altitude: Swiss Solar Impulse marks Solar Aviation Era

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, a Swiss solar-powered plane, completed first non-stop night flight on solar energy after flying 26 hours and 9 minutes.

Swiss Plane Completes First Solar-Powered Overnight Flight

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Aviation News [July 8, 2010] Swiss Plane Completes First Solar-Powered Overnight Flight
The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, a Swiss solar-powered plane, completed the first non-stop night flight on solar energy after flying 26 hours and 9 minutes. It was the longest solar flight at the highest altitude in aviation history, Solar Impulse announced on Thursday.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA has a huge wingspan, equal to the Airbus A340’s 63.4 meters. It includes approximately 12,000 photovoltaic cells, most of them on the wing and around 880 on the horizontal stabilizer.

Fly around the World with a Solar Powered Airplane

July 8 2010 Solar Impuse - longest solar flight at the highest altitude in aviation history

The plane took off on Wednesday morning from the Payerne airbase with André Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, at the controls. The HB-SIA flew at an altitude of 8,500 meters until 11:00 p.m., when the sun rays stop being enough to supply the solar cells.  read more »

Pope Benedict XVI: "human dignity must be preserved", criticizing body scanners which Rabbis say violate Jewish women's rights

Top: Pope Benedict XVI: ‘human dignity must be preserved’. ‘Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity’. Bottom: hands-up to be scanned - ‘virtual strip search’ - at airport

"Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity". "For you this reality represents an ever more task of complex organization and it is a labour that if often discreet and barely known, not always noted but which does not escape the eyes of God, who sees all of Man's works even those that are hidden."

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Pope Benedict XVI criticises airport body scanners. Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against the use of body scanners at airports insisting that "human dignity must be preserved".

The Pope made his comments during an audience with airport workers held at the Vatican. Although the Pontiff did not mention the words body scanner it was clear what he meant as he told the 1,200 strong crowd: "Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity.

"Respecting these principles can seem particularly complex and difficult in the present context.

"The economic crisis has had problematic effects on the civil aviation sector, the international terrorist threat which, precisely, has in its line of fire airports and aircraft to realise its destructive schemes.  read more »

EU voted down body scanners in 2008: "degrading measure". Concerns: Effective? Health? Dignity? Privacy? Heavy cost?

Cartoons. Top R: Sign in front of body scanner: ‘Remove All: shoes; belts; metal; dignity; rights’. Bottom L: ‘I hate it when fans of that Village People hit song step into the full body scanner!’
Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan - naked body scanners image of him were printed and circulated by airport staff

Craziness is not rare, neither is Crime. Else, there would be no need for law, law enforcement, etc. etc.. Does Fear lead to solutions, or to panic, shutting out common sense and wisdom? EU Justice Chief has the answer: "We have to have a very clear line on this. We must never be driven by fear but by our values."
MEPs not yet convinced about body scanners, await impact analysis: "legitimate questions"... "Technology has become the new religion in counter-terrorism"... "Violation of dignity"... "no matter how much technology you have, terrorists will manage to circumvent it"... "great cost implications" of using body scanners, and advised against "putting burdens on airport companies" (also tax payers?) without the certainty that such scanners would be useful.

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