3 inspiring innovations this week

4 August 2017 Kingspan Group
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Technology is constantly changing the ways we compose, construct and create.

Problems of the past are unrecognisable as innovation takes the lead. Products and projects we once thought were pipe dreams are now making their way into everyday life.
 
Here are three innovations that caught our eye this week.

1. Small but mighty solar panels

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Research is constantly being conducted to help develop smaller, more efficient commercial solar panels. However, this typically leads to a reduction in quality.
 
However, the electrical engineers over at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a new nanoscale light detector which could overcome these obstacles.
 
It consists of nanocavities, which are made up of a series of interconnected molecules which reflect light, essentially sandwiched between an ultra-thin top layer of semi conductive germanium and a bottom reflecting layer of silver.
 
According to Qiaoqiang Gan, an associate professor at the university, the nanocavities allow photons to be “recycled” so light absorption is increased.

2. Hypersonic ceramic

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Imagine that you could board a plane in Europe and arrive in the US in less than two hours. Unbelievable? Well, that thought could soon be made a reality.
 
A team of scientists from Britain and China have developed a new form of ceramic material which could hold the key to hypersonic air travel. This ceramic carbide coating which would coat the outside of such a vehicle can withstand the drastic temperatures of flying at speeds five times faster than the speed of sound.
 
This new ceramic was made using a method called Reactive Melt Infiltration (RMI) and involves the penetration of boron, zirconium and titanium. Similar to high performance materials used in areas of extreme weather, this new ceramic would prove to be instrumental in the construction of Mach 5 passenger airplanes.

3. Capturing carbon

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Climeworks has recently opened its first commercial carbon-capture plant in Switzerland which is capable of sucking in 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year.
 
This carbon dioxide is then packaged and supplied as a raw material to consumers across a variety of sectors, such as agriculture where it is used in fertiliser.
 
Climeworks has claimed that by using this recycled CO2, a company can dramatically reduce their carbon output as well as lowering their dependence on fossil fuels.
Kingspan started over 50 years ago with a simple mission – to always work to make buildings better. Problem solving is at the heart of our innovative design and manufacturing processes.

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