MM: Breathing Easier With Nanofibers, And Google Sniffs Out Methane Leaks

In this episode, we examine a nanofiber filter that filters out more than smog, and Google sniffs out methane leaks.

Nanofiber Filter

Regardless of smog alerts, dirty air is still going to seep indoors. Bu now researchers at the National University of Singapore may have developed a way for people to breathe easier with a new nanofiber solution. Air filters made from the material can block most particles while allowing air to continue circulating and block UV rays without reducing natural light.

To develop the material, the team first created organic molecules out of a chemical compound that organized themselves into a nanofiber structure. When the solution is spread over a non-woven mesh, the fibers cling to the material and form thin, clear sheets once they dry out.

The new filters are much better at letting air pass through, boasting air permeability that is up to 2.5 times better than existing products.

The material is transparent and researchers think it could be used for fitting filters into windows and doors, so residents could let in a breeze while still keeping the big city smog out.

The next step for the team is to add anti-bacterial functions to the filter and look at ways to commercialize the technology, for which they've already filed a patent.

Will this help resident’s breathe easier? Would this technology be helpful in a manufacturing facility? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

Google Sniffs Out Methane Leaks

Turns out those brightly colored Google Street View vehicles have been collecting more information than that used to give you directions.

The Environmental Defense Fund has teamed up with Google Earth Outreach and scientists from Colorado State University in an effort to track down methane gas leaks. Officials say that while major leaks are often quickly repaired, smaller leaks can sometimes go unnoticed for months or even years.

While driving around select cities — including Boston, Staten Island and Indianapolis — the Google Street View vehicles use mobile infrared laser methane analyzer technology to find potential leaks. Air enters the system through an opening in the car’s front bumper and is pumped into a small tube into the trunk where the air sample is analyzed. 

Using a series of algorithms, onboard computers match the continuous flood of data — approximately 2,000 data points per minute — with precise GPS locations to generate leak maps. When the maps were compared with those compiled by utility companies, the Google vehicles found leaks utilities weren’t aware of.
Currently, four Google Street View cars are outfitted with methane sensors. The research team hopes to deploy the system across more cities in the U.S.

In what ways to you see edible technology being used? Do you think it has applications in the manufacturing world? Tell us what you think in the comments below.