The five biggest engineering innovations of 2017…so far
18 July 2017
We’ve already crossed the halfway point of 2017. Although the year may have seemed to pass by quickly, engineers and scientists have been hard at work innovating the technologies of tomorrow. Here are the biggest engineering innovations of 2017 so far.
1. China unveils the world’s largest floating solar plant
2017 has been a big year in renewable technologies. Although many countries are joining efforts to improve Eco-friendly technologies, perhaps China is leading the way in innovation. Recently, continuing China’s reign of innovative ‘green’ technologies, was their implementation of the world’s largest floating solar power plant.
The plant, engineered and installed by Sungrow, announced the world’s largest floating solar power plant entered operation earlier in May. The 40 MW plant will power over 6,500 homes.
Built and installed on top of an abandoned mining operation, the plant will not affect any marine life. It is a small but a great step in the direction of clean energy.
2. Two quantum computers face-off for first time in history
Quantum computers have been making major headlines in recent history. Earlier in 2017, two quantum computers faced off for the first time in history.Earlier this year, researchers at Cornell University pitted two quantum computers against each other in an epic virtual battle. The challenge was to perform and solve an algorithm to compare and determine which quantum computer is the most effective. Both computers are state-of-the-art 5-qubit quantum computers which operate on two entirely different platforms.
The two competing computers were designed and engineered in completely different ways with completely different methods. The differences in the computers made it especially intriguing for scientists to test which of the two is better.
One computer which belongs to the University of Maryland. Its setup relies on a trapped-ion system. In it, five ytterbium ions are held in place by a strong electromagnetic trap. The ions are actuated by lasers to carry out the programmed algorithms.
On the other hand is IBM’s computer with an entirely different configuration. In contrast, IBM’s computer relies on multiple superconducting loops which carry out algorithms using microwave signals. Their computer is also the first one in history to be publically accessible via cloud computing. Its ability to be programmed by online users was the reason the experiment could be carried out.
3. SpaceX launches first reused spaceship
SpaceX continues to dominate the skies – and space. In June of 2017, SpaceX continued its exceptional legacy of successful rocket launches and landings.
The company is renowned for reusing their rockets, and now, the company successfully launched into space a reused rocket for the first time.
4. Tesla smashes acceleration record of production cars
Another world record in 2017: Tesla smashed the acceleration record of production cars. Early on in February, Tesla’s Model S P100D broke the Motor Trend’s all-time world record for fastest acceleration of a production car by going 0 to 97 kph in just 2.28 seconds.According to Motor Trend, the Tesla Model S P100D is the world’s fastest production car in the world. Featuring a dual electric motor all-wheel drive, the P100D offers unrivaled acceleration. The secret to its speed is the advanced engineering vastly improving its power and aerodynamic properties.
The P100D features a smart air suspension system that actively changes the vehicle’s height to optimize efficiency. At highway speeds, the suspension system lowers the front end to reduce the frontal area where most of the drag accumulates.
With all in consideration, Tesla has become the fastest production car in 2017 – and ever.
5. India breaks record after launching 104 satellites on one rocket
Adding to the record list in 2017 is India’s space agency. The agency light the skies up once again following the launch of a rocket carrying a record-breaking payload containing 104 satellites.
On its 39th flight, the PSLV-C37 carried 103 nano-satellites into space along with the much larger Cartosat-2 series satellite. The mission decimated the last record of Russia’s precious record launch carrying 37 satellites back in 2014.
2017 has been an incredible year in engineering thus far. We have selected some of our favorite moments, however, there are some that were just shy of making the top five. So, we decided to list them anyway.
Insect turbines offer 35% more efficiency
Creating more efficient turbine blades is a difficult task. Most blades today are engineered and refined through advanced computer simulations to calculate the optimal shape to maximise performance.
Until now, most blades featured rigid designs with some flexibility. Now, researchers are improving on the design by implementing a rubber-like blade inspired by insects.
The extremely flexible design enables the blades to store some energy and redirect it in another direction. The blades are also more adjustable, allowing the turbine to be more efficient at variable wind speeds.
Scientists develop drones to pollinate plants just like real bees
Engineers in 2017 developed an artificial pollinator that can pollinate flowers with the help of a drone. A team of researchers attached horse hair to the underside of a drone to brush off the pollen from the plants. A specially designed ionic material was used to extract pollen from a plant without damaging the cellular structure.
The drones will not be able to replace natural pollinators like bees and butterflies. However, the drones may offer a viable addition to help farmers pollinate their crops.
2017 has been an incredible year in engineering so far. Now we are half way through, and there is still another six months for many more innovative technologies to emerge and develop.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2017/07/18/five-biggest-engineering-innovations-2017so-far/Mechcomputing,innovation,solar,space,wind