There is something new under the sun
How many times have you bashed a tomato sauce bottle to force the last dollop onto your plate? Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have a solution, an ultra-thin material that coats the inside of a bottle and allows gluggy liquids such as tomato sauce and shampoo to slide right out. The material, called LiquiGlide, is plant-based. The team, led by engineer Kripa Varanasi, hopes the product will be on the market within three years.
Within the next year, Japanese carmaker Nissan will introduce next-generation steering technology into some of its cars that does away with the mechanical rack-and-pinion set-up. In the new system, known as steer-by-wire, sensors detect when a driver turns the wheel, sending electrical signals to the tyres so they respond faster and with more accuracy.
Imagine if every outdoor surface of a building could generate electricity. That could soon be a reality thanks to a team at the University of Newcastle, which has invented a solar paint. The water-based lacquer contains tiny plastic particles that absorb sunlight to produce electricity. The project leader, Paul Dastoor, says the ultimate goal is a paint that can be applied directly to a roof or wall, but early versions will paint the material on plastic sheets containing wires to transmit the electricity.
A new strain of yeast could revolutionise global fuel production. Two Australian brothers, Geoff and Phil Bell, have developed a yeast that can convert waste biomass, such as sugarcane by-products, into ethanol. The pair hope to turn the first sod at a Microbiogen plant within two to three years.