From Autoblog: Rumormill: Next Subaru WRX to use electric turbocharger?

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2011 Subaru WRX

Subaru has been trying to figure out the direction for its three-headed monster, as the Impreza and its WRX and WRX STI variants have grown increasingly at odds over the past two generations. Now this gets thrown into the mix: When the new WRX gets released in late 2013, it may ditch the traditional exhaust-gas powered turbocharger for a new, electric design.

That’s right, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, Subaru is working on an electric turbo, shades of those computer-fan-sourced “power adders” you used to see advertised in the back pages of Sport Compact Car a decade ago. Except we would assume Subie-parent Fuji Heavy Industries is developing a design that actually works. According to the report, heat from the exhaust would be captured, but instead of using the exhaust pressure to turn the turbocharger’s turbine, the heat energy would be converted to electricity, which would then spin the impellers. This could be more efficient, as well as eliminating the piping and turbo lag.

While that sounds neat and all, we’re not so sure we want to see an unproven technology like this applied to one of our favorite affordable performance cars. Unless, of course, it allows for BMW M3-like performance in a $30,000 car.


from Autoblog

From Gizmodo: Ketchup Used to Be Made of Fish: The Crazy History of The World’s Greatest Condiment

Here’s something that might just blow your mind: ketchup—the national condiment of 1896, according to the New York Tribune—wasn’t always tomato based. In fact, if it had remained in its early form, we might be spreading fish paste on our burgers (gulp) instead of the tangy tomato-y goodness we presently rely on. More »

from Gizmodo


From Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now: In Successful Test, Microsubmarines Help Clean Up Oil Spills

Oil-Cleaning Microsubs Guix et al/ACS Nano
These microsubs could also patrol your bloodstreamTiny, self-propelled microsubmarines could pick up and tote droplets of oil away from contaminated waters, according to a new study. The cone-shaped objects are extremely water-repellent, improving their oil-grabbing capabilities, and could serve as simple helpers in oil spills.

Joseph Wang at the University of California−San Diego and colleagues in Spain note that small tubular micro-machines have already proven useful in biology, with their ability to work as receptors or drug delivery systems. But they’re the first team to test them as environmental helpers.

The cone-machines are made from self-assembled monolayers and have special chemical properties that encourage them to pick up oil. They move quickly through the water and require very little fuel, so they could work efficiently. In lab tests, Wang and colleagues proved the machines could move through water and pick up both olive oil and motor oil, transporting collections of droplets around.

Their water-repellency could also pave the way for new drug-delivering molecules or for transferring liquids in otherwise immiscible environments, the authors say.

The devices are about 10 times thinner than a human hair, so presumably you would need epic fleets of them to make a difference in massive oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Large-scale cleanup operations would also require different types of motors, perhaps driven by magnetic fields or electrical current, the authors note. Still, the machines could be more environmentally friendly than new types of soaps or other absorbent material.

The study appears in the journal ACS Nano.

from Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now