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Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for June, 2007

Is PLANKTOS showing a new road to environmentally concious investments?

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 30, 2007

When I bumped into the PLANKTOS website yesterday, it was a different kind of experience. The read struck a special chord because of my background in environmental physics. With the recent hoopla in environment restoration, CO2 reduction, and green investments, PLANKTOS’s mission and business model seem very innovative.

The San Francisco based for-profit ecorestoration company operates both at sea and on land. At sea, they spray iron dust to regenerate depleted plankton population. Planktons absorb atmospheric CO2 and store them in their tissues. The process of carbon sequestration settles these thousands of tones of carbon dioxide at the bottom of the sea. The business makes profits from ventures sponsored by international governments, eco-agencies, and private manufacturing companies who want to by environmental credits by cleaning up their mess. Emperor penguin

These kinds of businesses benefit from the breadth and depth of environmental consciousness across the world. More people are informed about the negative outcomes of carbon based pollutants, the more they will try to make conscious decisions about economic and social activities that harm the environment. This model will be more profitable with time as we develop a consensus about the gravity of the eco-danger arising from emission. Other business areas for ecorestoration may involve innovative cheap technologies that curtail pollutions in business districts and manufacturing areas. They could range from portable emission detectors for preventive measures to aerosol and particle inhibitors installed around vent and discharge ducts. GREEN CITY types of ventures will proliferate too.



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Nanoparticle to fight allergy

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 22, 2007

Its the buckyball – a soccer ball shaped nanoparticle that has been found effective in fighting allergies. Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University have been able to show that certain carbon based nanoparticles have been able to restrict allergic response during cell culture experiments. This finding is going to contribute to nanoimmunology research significantly.

Nanoparticle research is now the emerging gateway for new inventions in material science, technology, robotics, and healthcare. Micro-scale medicine research that involves binding agents to cells and tissues has been a very exciting domain of exploration. Particles that can attach to extremely small bio entities (like blood cells or tumor cells) are capable of activating, limiting, and catalyzing events in our favor. The buckeyball, with 60 Carbon atoms, is relatively inert and stable. This particle is capable of restrict mast cells from releasing histamine.

As with any early research, university research teams are the pathfinders in early breakthroughs. Healthcare and medical startups in nanoparticle domain will more and more tap on these teams and their findings. However, these findings need to go through more rigorous validations in order to reduce the risk of failure in pilot studies leading to launch. The invention-to-market time for nano materials are lower than pharmacological developments (that often range from 5-10 years) for conventional drugs. This whole new area of nanoimmunology will definitely create a new business model for investments and availability of affordable advanced treatments.

Read the article [here].

Posted in Innovation, investment, Medicine, micron, nanotechnology | 2 Comments »

High Altitude Wind Power

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 20, 2007

Bryan Roberts, a professor of engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney, has teamed up with Sky WindPower, a San Diego based startup, to generate wind power from high altitude winds. For land based wind mills, the efficiency is often quite low – due to the unpredictability and lack of consistency of wind. However, at around 15000 feet above, the jet stream is consistent and strong. The efficiency of a high altitude based, floating windmill can reach upto 90% at that elevation.

Initially, Roberts was having problem in acquiring the initial funding to develop an operational pilot for his project. The ROI was not considered significant. However, lately Sky WindPower has come forward to commercialize Roberts’ dream. Read the article [here].

The prospect of high altitude wind power looks very promising. However, there could be some cost and implementation related issues with the basic hardware and maintenance. The cost of power (Kw) generated from these devices should be low enough to sustain the commercial deployment and long-term operation costs. The hardware consists of cable that holds the flying mill to the ground. If there are series of such mills flying across a large area, what kind of wear and tear is associated over a longer span of time? Considering that jet stream is pretty strong, the effort to stabilize the position and the orientation of the device will be a significant. Now Roberts says that his rotor based design is capable of maintaining the lift and stability with much ease than a helicopter.

Locating jet stream consistency will be another area of interest. There are various degrees of air traffic at 15000 feet elevation as well. We will wait to see how Roberts dream flies – and may be one day his invention provides a cheaper mean to sustained energy.

Posted in aviation, Energy, Innovation | Leave a Comment »

Dermacia’s body bank – what are the prospects?

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 11, 2007

Dermacia, a Claifornia based skin-care product manufacturer, has embarked on an optimistic project of building a human-tissue bank. The ‘BioTrust‘, a $76 million joint venture between Dermacia and Univ. of Iowa, plans to collect human tissue samples with the donor’s consent and create a huge database of body cells tagged with personal information of the donor – and could also incorporate medical histories of individuals for a better characterization of the collected tissue.

BioTrust will sell tissue samples for research activities and will provide a more normalized information regarding the classification of the cells based on physical attributes tied to the samples. While collecting samples, the donors will be able to identify the kind of researches they would like to participate in the future. An online application will also allow the donor to update any medical information during the life trajectory, which might make the sample worthy for some new pathbreaking researches for drugs or medical inventions.

I was just thinking about more futuristic implication of such a tissue repository. How will this business survive? What are the key goals of this project? Will this be only limited to long-term research or something else down the road? What is the profit-revenue model for such a business based on the demands in todays and possibly tomorrow’s industry?

Several questions! However, this concept of storing human samples with highly organized data attached to them could be a whole new area of research. I feel that this will just work in tandem with stem cell research. May be someday, family members would like to develop organs and rebuild damaged tissues with the same DNA attributes coming through its own generations. Or could they just ask for a better liver or a better kidney? 10-15 years down the road, this storage may provide the ultimate key to regenerative organ study. Furthermore, if the donor updates his/her data with continued health information, the prospect for research and new drug development is astronomical.

[Read Article]

Picture: Courtesy Pop Sci

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Even plants protect their families!

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 10, 2007

There has been a new finding observed by two scientists from the Kyoto University in Japan. When a certain plant is attacked by a predator, such as insects, the plant sends out a SOS signal. A chemical is released by the plant that attracts enemies of the predator. Most amazing part of the finding is that even other plants in the neighborhood start sending out SOS and collectively produce chemicals to save the affected mate.

Now that is something very interesting. Its like family value in its most basic form being displayed by plants. Is this some sort of congnitive intelligence or to some degree species trying to save their own – a pattern developed through evolution over time. You may check the news out at the following link.

[Read Article]

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