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Adopting Better Science and Technology Key To Improving African Agriculture

by Txchnologist staff

In Kenya, a company called Solar Wind East Africa is building five solar-powered stations to pump water and make electricity for rural livestock farmers. In Benin and Tanzania, byproducts of making agricultural goods like palm oil and cocoa are being fed into new mini-grids that generate up to 50 kilowatts of electricity for homes and businesses. And in Uganda and Mozambique, the sun and biogas are fueling refrigeration systems desperately needed by small-scale farmers to bring crops and milk to market.

Across Africa, homegrown and international technology trials are sprouting up to help farmers make more income and grow more and better food. Which of these will end up being widely adopted is still anybody’s guess, but there can be no doubt that focused agricultural innovation and education efforts will unlock huge dividends around the continent.  

Africa holds about 60 percent of the world’s arable land, a natural resource that, if managed well, could easily provide the continent with enough food and more income from increased agricultural exports. Improving agricultural practices means a major upgrade in quality of life for many Africans due to the sector’s huge footprint around the continent. The World Bank says the typical farm economy for each country below the Sahara represents up to 40 percent of gross domestic product and 70 percent of the labor force. 

“Agriculture is a proven driver of transformational change,” said the World Bank’s Juergen Voegele, head of the organization’s new Agriculture Global Practice.

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Tiny Piezoelectric Generator Lights 100 LEDs With Flick Of A Finger

Researchers in South Korea have taken another step toward harvesting the energy in tiny movements and vibrations. They’ve built a piezoelectric generator that converts enough kinetic energy into electricity to briefly light more than 100 LED bulbs. 

Keon Jae Lee, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, said his team’s work showed “a high-output performance of ~250 V from the slight mechanical deformation of a single thin plastic substrate.”

They claim they attained conversion efficiency 40 times higher than previous attempts. They are now working on stacking the thin-film generators to up power output so the units can make enough electricity to operate machines like implants and other small devices in inaccessible places.

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U.S. Soil Grows Wind Power Garden
by Michael Keller
Wind farms have proliferated across the American landscape over the last four decades. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one wind farm existed California in 1975. It produced enough electricity to power around 4,100 homes. By 2012, 815 wind farms were pumping out enough power for 15 million homes. 
See the Department of Energy’s interactive version.[[MORE]]

U.S. Soil Grows Wind Power Garden

by Michael Keller

Wind farms have proliferated across the American landscape over the last four decades. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one wind farm existed California in 1975. It produced enough electricity to power around 4,100 homes. By 2012, 815 wind farms were pumping out enough power for 15 million homes. 

See the Department of Energy’s interactive version.

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Txch This Week: Flying Saucers from Earth and Medical Innovations

by Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we looked at innovations improving the medical field and the environment around us. First, MIT researchers have unlocked the mystery of what makes oyster shells so strong. Their discovery could make lightweight, translucent and extremely strong armor.

Medical devices continue to advance in leaps and bounds. The newest discovery can monitor the heart and perform other hospital-quality diagnostic functions with tiny wearable sensors. This marks a new step in miniature, flexible and wearable medical technology. Other diagnostic methods are getting an upgrade thanks to developments made with Google Glass. A new app developed for the hardware can scan samples and digitally send them out for analysis. This development by UCLA researchers reduces the need for nearby labs and might improve medical treatment in areas without large medical facilities.

Some optimistic news about U.S. air quality came out recently. Research shows that Americans are breathing air with fine fewer particulates. The new study shows that this measure of air quality has significantly improved over the last decade thanks to effective state emission control plans.

Buildings regularly suffer lightning strikes, offering a brilliant - and destructive - light show during storms. Scientists say they have devised a way to save buildings from Zeus’ wrath using laser beams. The high-intensity beams can guide lightning away from buildings.

And now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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