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Tech Transformations, One Tech at A Time

– Contributed content –

Networked earth

(geralt, Pixabay)

26 May 2020. As time passes, tedious tasks become easier to perform, and technology is one of the significant contributors. The world has made extensive progress with regards to technology, and more advancements are welcome. There is a reason why many groups of people believe that digital technology can solve world problems and there is plenty of evidence to show for it.

In this article, you’ll gain a better understanding of how technology is changing the world by helping to resolve serious global challenges. In the end, you’ll also see why technology should be embraced to make the world a better place for all.

World challenges that technology can tackle

1. Sustainability and climate change

World sustainability is about preserving the existence of the earth and everything on it, with climate change as the greatest challenge. The rise in temperature puts various ecosystems at risk, and hence it has become a threat. This rise in atmospheric temperature is due to the carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions mostly caused by human activities.

Actions like deforestation, intensive farming and mining, over-consumption, excessive use of fossil fuels, and waste disposal all contribute to the 0.8°C increase in temperature since the 19th century. The solution to this problem includes creating sustainable energy, infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, consumption, and recycling, and that’s where technology comes in.

Technology has been developed to exploit other sources of renewable energy, including the sun and the wind, to reduce the emission of toxic gases into the atmosphere. Also, new ways to convert the harmful carbon gases in the atmosphere into useful products such as concrete and fuel is being explored. This way, the toxins no longer possess the power to cause harm to the environment.

Technology can also help in developing structures to store these greenhouse gases that are extracted from the atmosphere before being converted into more helpful products. These contributions of technology to sustainability will help save the weather, biodiversity, the oceans, and, indeed, the human race.

2. Global health issues

Disease is bound to affect the inhabitants of the earth, and so it is paramount that the most efficient solutions are found to combat them. Generally, technology helps with health issues like diagnosis, and analysis of disease. The way of handling disease treatment has significantly improved since the introduction of technology, and many more lives have been spared due to the high accuracy of technological systems. Also, access to healthcare has become much easier with the various equipment that can connect patients and doctors that are miles apart.

Medical equipment used in the treatment of health issues could also not be possible without the involvement of technology. MRI machines, operation devices, and even robot surgeons have all made it easier and even less invasive to handle medical issues. These days, with these technological advancements, patients recover faster with less visible scars from their illnesses.

Technology has also made it easier to conduct research into diseases and their causal agents to come out with solutions. Public health issues such as pandemic cases of flu have become more manageable, although still very tough, to handle. Technology has made it easier to identify causing agents of these illnesses to come up with interventions for their control, and then, a cure.

The outcome of the research facilitated by technology brings about the vaccines and drugs used in curing these diseases. Technology in healthcare also makes it easier to keep records to enhance the healthcare providers and enhance the experience for patients.

3. Education and learning

Indeed, a lot of barriers still exist when it comes to education, but you cannot ignore the contribution technology makes. One of the immense contributions is the introduction of the internet. The internet has gradually become a significant force in teaching and learning, providing endless resources to both educators and students to increase their knowledge of any subject matter.

Even outside of the classroom, anyone can have access to education, and they can still graduate whether or not they have classroom experience. Students can now gain the knowledge they need at their own pace, and assessments are more reliable when technology is involved. The internet in itself has evolved with regards to speed, and with the introduction of 5G, things are going to be ten times easier. At the moment, locating 5G cell towers may be a bit of a challenge as they are still quite scarce in many locations, but soon enough, they will be everywhere.

Technology also helps to close the existing gap between students living with disabilities and those who aren’t, in order to give everyone a fair chance to education. More disability-friendly learning materials are developed so that no one is left behind. With education being a factor in socio-economic status, you can say it’s one way that technology can close the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

4. Reducing poverty

Ending poverty is one of the sustainable development goals, and technology is one way to go. Firstly, apart from education, technology also helps to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor by providing jobs in sustainable activities. For example, farming is an industry that provides basic needs and has its by-product in high demand. Technology has contributed to this industry with machinery to carry out its activities. Technology also helps when it comes to finding the best fertilizer for crops and other advanced methodologies for profitable farming. The introduction of geospatial technology, which includes the use of drones and satellites, helps farmers to monitor their farming activities more precisely.

Mobile banking is another way that the poor are protected from the cost accompanied by the traditional banking system. With the introduction of mobile phones, the poor can protect their assets without any fear of loss. Technology also serves the poor when it comes to transportation, especially for transporting the ill to medical facilities. The introduction of bicycle trailers helps with these problems as well as for transporting things like water and food and other short distance activities.

With developing countries facing serious sanitation issues, technology also helps when it comes to waste management. Technology can transform the lives of the poor with better waste management systems to reduce illness and hence improve the quality of life. Small businesses can also use technology to enhance their provision of service and reach a much broader market with their skills.

5. Effective conflict resolution and decision-making

This is one of the non-obvious aspects that technology can be applied. Now, due to connections, it is easier to resolve conflict and instigate peace. The presence of social media, and hence the internet, promote peace-building by bringing out different opinions and perspectives. People are more understanding when they get to know what others are thinking and why, and it makes it easier to find common ground then. Technology allows for open discussions on an issue and also gives everyone a chance to voice their opinion. Eventually, everybody knows the stands of everyone else, and then a consensus is reached.

Technology, as a conflict resolution channel, works in small group conflict like in the workplace, as well as larger disputes. Technology has also contributed to providing the data that decision-makers need to come to accurate conclusions on several issues. Technology provides the resources for quality reviews and hence speedy decision-making as well.

Technology has played a considerable role in how far the world has come, but there is still a long way to go. While things are better than before, it will take some more time before all the world’s problems are entirely solved. That is because the existing technology is always being reviewed to find a better solution, while new ones are also developing for other issues. The future is optimistic once the innovation is involved, and there is an opportunity for everybody to benefit.

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Put Innovation at the Heart of Your Business

– Contributed content –

Business growth graphic


25 May 2020. Innovation is a buzz word in many industries. But if you are balancing your business on the scales of scientific research and development, innovation isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a way of life. Putting innovation at the heart of your business is essential if you want to show off your skills and develop something totally new to wow the market.

The problem is that being innovative is expensive. For every amazing idea you have, there will be countless failures, disasters and non-starters. So, how do you fund your innovative practice and ensure that you are getting the most from your experimentation?

The key is to plan in detail but also to allow some breathing room so that you can develop, change tack and grow. Unlike other businesses, innovative businesses must always look to the next thing and plan well beyond their current project. This means that you need to be ready at all times and be prepared to think on your feet!

So, where should you start?

Factor innovation into your business plan

Innovation is key so it should feature heavily in your business plan. This means that you need to budget for your experiments and ideas, including the time you predict you will need, the space, the equipment and the people too. While you might be tempted to just jump in and start playing, the worst thing that can happen is that you run out of money halfway through, so budgeting properly is key.

Because innovation is so important, it’s likely that you will have to eke out the rest of your budget to cover the other fundamentals of running a business. For example, you will need to make sure that you have enough cash to pay for marketing, accountancy and wages – to name a few! Outsourcing is often a good way to save money so you could outsource marketing to The Digital Lion to get great results and you could outsource other services like IT, accountancy and legal too.

When innovation is accounted for within your business plan, you should then look in more detail to decide where best to spend your budget. Naturally, this depends on what your project is and how you want to approach it but planning ahead will really help to prioritize your spending. So, while you might be able to make do with pens and paper, it might be worth investing in a laser cutter. Think really carefully about what is necessary and what is a luxury in this case.

On that note, you should consider the challenges of building your own research facilities. While you might be able to design your space around your projects and the way you like to work, building yourself can be extremely expensive. If you do decide to build, it is imperative that you don’t just build for now – you also need to look to the future and create a space that can evolve with your business ambitions.

Apply for funding… and keep applying

Applying for funding is one of the best ways to ensure that you are able to keep your business afloat and explore new avenues within your industry. There are always options to explore such as seed funding, crowdfunding, government funding and private investments too. Indeed, some companies have a dedicated member of staff looking for funding options and filling out the application forms – something you might like to consider if you move quickly from project to project.

One good way to get the funding you need is to partner with another company. A great recent example of this is Avantium, a sustainable technology solutions company, which is partnering with numerous drinks companies to develop new plant-based packaging. Their website is well worth a look too because they encourage investors of all sizes to help fund their work. Working like this ensures that the company is conducting relevant research that is commercially viable and appealing to investors all the way along. Very smart!

If your work is particularly relevant to one industry, it is always worth making some friends so that you can work together. Networking is essential for all businesses and innovation, in particular, relies on being in the right place at the right time. Discussing your ideas and projects is also a brilliant way to refine your ideas and think more clearly about an industrial application. While coming up with a new material or design is always great, if you want to make money, you need to make sure that someone wants to use it!

Plan, experiment, evaluate, refine 

At the heart of all good science is the ability to plan, experiment, evaluate and refine. But when this is part of your business, you need to think about how this suits your financial model and strategy for success. So, how long do you expect your experimentation stage to take, how many people do you need to hire to perform this stage, what resources do you need?

Of course, how you progress will largely depend on what happens in each experiment. You might have an idea of what will happen but ultimately, the whole point of an experiment is to see what actually happens. Because of this, you should allow some wiggle room in your plans. Make sure you set aside a contingency plan to account for a longer experimentation process and any extra equipment or staff you might need as well as the many other things that can go wrong!

Evaluating your project effectively is also really important. If you are relying on staged funding or you need a new cash injection, you need to be able to show what you have done and explain what you are going to do next. With this in mind, your evaluation shouldn’t be limited to your scientific process, it should also include the financial implications and business viability.

How you refine your designs and experiments is really important. When you are innovating, it is tempting to complicate ideas and incorporate as many different facets as possible. But we know that simple solutions are often the most effective and sell best. Remember that when you are refining an idea, you aren’t just making something that works, you are making something that other people want and will pay for!

Hire the best team and nurture them

In any business, the team is what makes the magic happen. The same is true in innovative businesses but who you hire and how they think is probably even more important. Hiring the right team is essential and you need to ensure that you provide a creative environment for them to thrive.

Diversity is a common theme among blogs discussing team building and when you are combining science and business, you need to have a good idea of the mix of skills you need. The best way to ensure you get the right team together is to analyze the needs of your project and then hire accordingly. But, don’t just hire the person who has the qualifications. During your interview process, you should also test how each candidate thinks creatively so that you have a range of different approaches to problem-solving.

Part of the fun of innovation is that everyone is learning all the time. This is why you need to make sure that your team is made up of enthusiastic people who are willing to explore the unknown. Nurturing your team is really important, especially if your project isn’t going quite to plan! Make sure you have regular team meetings to bring everyone together and welcome everyone’s opinions. Allowing your team to blossom together is vital to your overall success.

Look to the future

The future is constantly changing but what most businesses don’t realize is that they can influence it. When innovation is at the heart of your business, you must always keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening around you and how your business fits in. At the moment, some of the most pressing issues are the environment and climate change, population increases and technological change. Regardless of what your business intends to do, the most successful entrepreneurs read everything and you should do the same.

Looking to the future must incorporate every aspect of your business. Your plan must leave room for development as you move from project to project; your team should have space to grow and develop their skills; your funding applications should begin well in advance and give you time to plan and prepare. The more you plan and project your ambition forwards, the easier it will be to manage your business and ambition together.

When you put innovation at the heart of your business, it can be difficult to manage your finances, ambition and team too. However, putting innovation front and center is also the best way to stretch your team and push your business to the cutting edge of your industry. The future is always in the making and it is the innovators who get to shape what it looks like. So be ambitious, take on the big challenges and allow your creativity to take the lead. Is it risky? Yes, but that is also what makes it so exciting.

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Depression Therapy Licensed for Online Distribution

Man with depression

(TypographyImages, Pixabay)

25 May 2020. A therapy program for depression designed to reduce spirals of repeated negative thinking is licensed to a digital mental health company for online use. The treatments known as rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or RFCBT were developed by psychologists at University of Exeter in the U.K., and licensed to Minddstrict in London.

RFCBT’s developers say the treatment addresses repeated cycles of worry and overthinking, called ruminations, a key risk factor for anxiety and depression. The program, developed by Exeter clinical psychology professor Edward Watkins, applies principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to the condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to identify negative or false patterns of beliefs, then test and restructure them. Addressing these patterns, say therapists, allows the individual, working with the therapist, to develop healthier ways of thinking that replace negative beliefs.

In RFCBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to guide people with high levels of ruminations, characterized by repetitive, negative thoughts, to more concrete and specific actions.  A team from Watkins’s Smart Lab, short for study of maladaptive to adaptive repetitive thought, configured the therapy for online administration. In a clinical trial published in May 2019, undergraduate students in the U.K. with high levels of repeated negative thinking and given online RFCBT sessions guided by a therapist, show more reductions in rumination, worry, and depressive symptoms, as well as a lower risk of depression, than those receiving face-to-face psychotherapy alone.

The findings also offer preliminary evidence that participants using only the online program, even without a therapist, benefited from the treatments, indicating the therapy could be a feasible way to help much larger numbers of people deal with repeated ruminations. As a result, the Exeter Smart Lab packaged its online RFCBT into six sessions for self-administration with education, questionnaires, and audio exercises to develop and practice more productive behaviors.

“The goal,” says Watkins in a university statement, “is for the client to learn about the patterns of their worry, rumination and overthinking and to find ways to tackle them, as a means to reduce and prevent stress, anxiety and depression. The client learns about the warning signs for worry and rumination, and useful helpful alternative behaviors to disrupt worry and rumination.”

The university licensed the package to Minddistrict, a digital platform that offers mental health training to individuals, but also to companies as part of their employee assistance programs. The company expects to offer Exeter’s RFCBT package under the brand name MindResolve, to join two other modules already in its catalogue dealing with repeated ruminations. MindResolve is designed for individuals age 15 and over, for use on their own or as part of professional therapy. Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

More from Science & Enterprise:

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Infographic – Largest Ever U.S. Manufacturing Decline

Manufacturing output chart

Click on image for full-size view (Statista)

23 May 2020. One of the topics we cover regularly on Science & Enterprise is manufacturing, but that sector of the economy is taking a particularly hard knock right now. Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, released statistics showing in April 2020, manufacturing output dropped 13.7 percent from March, the single largest month decline the bank ever recorded.

The chart from business research company Statista released this week shows rather dramatically this abrupt drop. The Federal Reserve calculates changes in production output compared to 2012, an arbitrary base year. Declines of 10 percent or more were also recorded during the Great Depression in the 1930s and during the two world wars in the 20th century. In December 2008, during the economic meltdown that year, manufacturing dropped 3.5 percent.

Detailed data show car and truck makers took the largest hit in April, with reductions of 72 percent. But other industries also experienced substantial declines including textiles (-21%), apparel and leather goods (-24%), aerospace and miscellaneous transportation (-22%), and furniture (-21%). Computer and electronic products are among the fortunate few to show a sizable increase of 26 percent.

More from Science & Enterprise:

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Covid-19 Forced Businesses to Take Disaster and Business Continuity Plans Seriously

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Business desktop

(Rawpixel, Pixabay)

23 May 2020. There’s no going around it. COVID-19 will be here for a while and dealing with it in the best possible way is key to ensuring that small businesses (perhaps like yours) can remain not just operational but successful regardless of the situation.

Of course, the virus in and of itself won’t shut down your company, but it directly impacts how your business functions, especially if any number of staff have been quarantined or too ill to work. The same goes for power disruption or network outage.

Businesses seldom get widely affected by the pandemic, but natural disasters and man-made concerns such as hacking, or website issues, like lack of good domain name and network outages due to subpar web hosts are a reality. You need to make sure that a smooth recovery process and continuity of operations are in place.

Managing COVID-19’s business effects

So how can you organize and make sure that your business process will continue to recover? How can your business data loss recovery or backup plans? What safety procedures can you utilize for your employees?

Moreover, during these types of disasters, your vendor’s technical representatives may not be able to assist you on-site for maintenance and troubleshooting.  You may also face other business disruptions including network outages, data loss, revenue loss, security vulnerabilities, and threats, as well as stifled productivity, just to name a few.

A report by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sadly showed that “roughly 40% to 60% of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster.”

However, this can be avoided when proper disaster recovery and business continuity plan is put in place.

Businesses need to focus on IT redundancy multiple processing systems, backups, and adding a domain name(S) to ensure that your clients get to your website like they’re supposed to. Additionally, your business continuity plan needs to include provisions for your employees as well as systems.

Start preparing by investing time and money in the following resources to ensure that you can benefit from a smooth process following any type of business disaster:

Business continuity. Implement remote access infrastructure that supports your entire workforce This includes VPN devices, laptops/desktops, and high-speed internet lines to the organization.

Resources: Ensure access to required resources at the office although workers work remotely. This may include additional firewall rules to permit VPN users to access systems. These rules are typically separate from what exists on-site.

Keep staff online: If your employees don’t have internet access at home, provide mobile hotspots for remote internet access to ensure connectivity. Educate them on how to access company resources and make instructions available and contact information updated for them to request assistance. This material should be easily accessible even online in case they can’t connect to the company networks.

Your workers should also plan for any major disaster by following a couple of practices, including a quiet and comfy space to work from home, routine, periodic testing of remote access and security via changing of passwords as required, because nothing hampers business continuity efforts like a forgotten or expired password.

As we journey further into our current world situation, businesses can continue adapting and even thriving by ensuring that best practices are applied even outside the company bounds.

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Covid-19 Therapies Designed with Virtual Reality, A.I.

SARS-CoV-2 protease

Image of SARS-CoV-2 protease (Nanome Inc.)

22 May 2020. Two companies are using deep learning and virtual reality to design treatments for Covid-19 infections, attacking a different target than most drugs being developed. Insilico Medicine in Hong Kong that designs drugs with artificial intelligence and Nanome Inc., a virtual reality software developer in San Diego outline their process in an unedited paper posted 19 May on the pre-review site ChemRxiv.

In the paper, Insilico Medicine and Nanome describe 10 small molecule, or low molecular weight, therapies for Covid-19 infections addressing the protease in the virus, a different target than most treatments now in development. So far, new Covid-19 drugs focus mainly on the spike or S protein on the viral surface that penetrates cells and begins the infection process. The therapies designed from scratch by Insilico Medicine and Nanome, however focus on the protease, a protein the virus needs for replication. Many antiretroviral drugs treating HIV infections, for example, are protease inhibitors that block the virus’s replication.

Insilico Medicine discovers drugs with what the company calls generative chemistry that uses machine learning algorithms to design compounds addressing molecular targets with needed properties. This approach, says the company, allows for the structure of the target and desired properties to dictate the chemistry of new treatments.

Using massive databases for training algorithms with deep machine learning, Insilico says it can quickly design therapeutic candidates addressing specified targets and with specified properties. As reported by Science & Enterprise in September 2019, researchers from Insilico and colleagues designed new small molecule drugs that block an enzyme associated with cirrhosis, or scar tissue in the liver, ready for validation and lab animal tests in 21 days.

Insilico says it began in late January 2020 to discover new treatments for Covid-19 infections. The company says it focuses on blocking the protease, building on the experience of some treatments for SARS and MERS infections also designed as protease inhibitors. The design as well specified weaker, non-covalent bonds with the protease.

“Covalent inhibitors,” says Insilico’s CEO Alex Zhavoronkov in a company statement, “form a strong bond with a protein, but they aren’t very selective and usually cause severe side effects. To date, the most potent inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 protease are covalent. We set out to generate non-covalent drug candidates due to their higher levels of safety and efficacy.”

Insilico is partnering with Nanome to refine the proposed Covid-19 therapeutics. Nanome uses virtual reality or V.R. to visualize, measure, and analyze drug molecules as 3-D structural images. The V.R. sessions are also designed for online collaboration in 3-D, allowing for iterative testing of proposed molecules in real time and close inspection of results.

Zhavoronkov adds that “it is important for medicinal chemists to look at these molecules closely before placing a billion-dollar, life-or-death wager. V.R. enables medicinal chemists to do this while unleashing creativity and encouraging collaboration across both disciplinary and physical borders.”

This 10-minute video shows Nanome and Insilico scientists collaborating on proposed Covid-19 treatments addressing the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s protease. Nanome is also offering its services to the Covid Moonshot, an international group of scientists addressing the SARS-CoV-2 protease.

More from Science & Enterprise:

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The Right Steps to Make Your Business Better

– Contributed content –

Meeting around a conference table

(Christina Morillo,

22 May 2020. Now, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your business moving forward, and there are a lot of ways of being able to achieve this. You are going to need to focus on what you can do to take the business forward in the right way. Trying to look at what it takes to improve the business is important, and you have a lot you can achieve if you can take the right steps at the right times.

Running the best business you possibly can is really important because it is a great way of being able to take things forward to the next level. You have to consider how to make your business better, and what you can do to have greater success. Check out these ideas when it comes to moving forward and making the company better right now.

Provide the best products and services

There are a lot of things you can do that are going to help you make the most of running a modern business, and one of the key things is to ensure you are providing the best possible products and services. You need to take pride in what you do and focus on improving the quality of what you are providing to customers. This is an excellent way of being able to attract future business and give people what they want.

Protect your reputation

As a modern business owner, it is important that you do as much as possible to look after your reputation. This can make or break a modern brand, and it’s something you need to make sure you focus on. There are a lot of things you can do to boost your business, and protecting the reputation of the company is one of the best ways of achieving this.

Find financing

Modern companies need to constantly look for ways of being able to find financing and funding to help the company grow. There are different ways you can go about finding this financing, and approaching investors or taking out a business loan would be two options to consider. You have to do as much as possible to find adequate financing for the future of the company, and this is something to keep in mind.

Make your offices better

Making your offices as good as they can be is also massively important, and this is something you should be looking to improve as a business. Work on the layout and design of the office, bring in different furniture and consider working with CDS to improve office technology. These are all some of the best ways of being able to make your offices better, and you have to have ideas in mind to work on achieving this right now.

Now, there are a lot of things that play a massive part in taking things to the next level, and this is something your company should work toward. You have to make sure you get so many different components of the business as perfect as possible, and this is something to work on. Make sure you are doing as much as possible to take the company to the next level, and this is something that can bring you great success.

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Start-Up Gains Hydrogen Fuel Technology Funds

Fuel cell engine

Fuel cell engine in Hyundai Tucson (A. Kotok)

22 May 2020. A spin-off company from a university engineering lab received funds to build a device that efficiently splits water and creates hydrogen for fuel cell cars. National Science Foundation awarded $750,000 for a two-year project to develop the water-splitting device to Avium LLC in Lawrence, Kansas, a company licensing research from University of Kansas.

Avium is a three year-old enterprise founded by Joseph Barforoush, then a doctoral candidate in engineering at Kansas, and Kevin Leonard, a chemical engineering professor and adviser to Barforoush. Avium’s technology, based on Barforoush’s research, offers a simpler and less expensive process for splitting hydrogen atoms from water. This process is needed by makers of hydrogen fuel-cell cars that use hydrogen to generate electric power, but face a lack of hydrogen fueling stations, which limits vehicle sales. A particular problem is delivery of hydrogen to refueling stations, which can be difficult and hazardous.

Avium’s technology also offers a more sustainable process for hydrogen production. The company says 95 percent of today’s automotive hydrogen is made with fossil fuels, then delivered by trucks burning fossil fuels to refueling stations.

Leonard’s lab studies electrocatalysts, materials that increase the efficiency of chemical processes in energy, including the dividing of hydrogen from oxygen atoms in water. “What we want to do,” says Leonard in a university statement, “is develop an on-site hydrogen generator for fueling stations for fuel-cell electric vehicles. They can essentially just take water and electricity, which is already available there, and generate hydrogen on demand instead of having a truck in from a chemical plant.”

The key to an on-site hydrogen production system is the catalyst for splitting water to extract hydrogen. While catalysts are already in use for this process, they’re often made from rare or expensive materials like platinum. The Avium technology uses catalysts made with more readily available and inexpensive materials such as iron and nickel. In previous work, including an earlier NSF grant, Barforoush and Leonard identified the optimum mix and configuration of these materials in an early-stage prototype that matches or exceeds capacity and performance of conventional electrolyzer devices.

The new NSF award supports Avium’s building of a full-scale prototype electrolyzer device. The electrolyzer uses electrodes made with catalysts configured in a dual-element matrix containing iron and nickel. The project calls for Avium and Leonard’s lab to design and build electrodes for industrial-scale production of hydrogen in real-life quantities and meeting automotive industry quality standards for hydrogen fuel.

Barforoush and Leonard came away from interviews in California with hydrogen fuel cell car owners and people in the hydrogen industry convinced that their process could fill an immediate need and eliminate recurring shortages. “Hydrogen refueling stations are at the bottom of the supply chain because they have relatively low demand right now,” notes Barforoush, adding “Cost-effectively producing hydrogen on-site from electricity and water could eliminate the logistical issues of delivered hydrogen while also allowing for greater utilization of renewable electricity.”

The NSF award is made under the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research or SBIR program. Early-stage SBIR grants offer up to $256,000 to determine commercial and technical feasibility, while later-stage awards provide up to $1 million for working prototypes.

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Why Is the Power Going Out?

– Contributed content –

Power lines

(Nicole Köhler, Pixabay)

22 May 2020. It’s no surprising statement to say that all of us who enjoy the comforts of modern life are relying on electricity in a big way. As such, when we lose it, there’s no denying we can spiral into something of a panic. If you’re experiencing problems with your power supply, you want to know what’s going wrong as soon as possible and what you can do about it. There is a range of potential causes to be aware of, and here, we’re going to look at some of the most common.

It’s a local problem

The first thing you should do when the power in your home goes out is to look at whether or not the same problem is affecting other buildings in the area. If you have phone internet access, you may even be able to check your local grid online for power outage reports. Blackouts and brownouts can happen for a range of reasons, such as storms, earthquakes, and things hitting the power lines like tree branches and animals. If you need a constant power supply to protect the home, then you should look at the prospect of installing a generator.

You should also look at any local works that might be going on. Underground cables can be distributed by digging as well. In fact, you can accidentally disturb your own power supply by doing something as simple as digging an irrigation track in your backyard. Another reason for local blackouts is due to high power demand. The overburdened electric cables and transformers can have components melt, as the high demand for power causes their parts to overheat. In cases like these, there is nothing to do but wait for the electric company to fix it and get it things up and running again.

You’ve fallen behind

It might be a little embarrassing to not realize that you haven’t paid your power bill in some time, but it does happen. When it does, your supplier is, at some point, going to turn off your supply. You need to keep up your scheduled payments to your power supplier or else your home could be at risk. If you are experiencing some financial hardships or simply forgot to make a payment, the best thing to do is reach out to the power company. You are going to have to pay your bill and catch up before they will turn off your power in most cases. However, you may be able to negotiate to get them to help out while you get back to your regular financial health.

If you have fallen behind on your bills due to an inability to pay, you want to catch up and make sure you stay up-to-date form now on. Create a budget, tracking your spending to find where you can save money, and decrease your expenses. Plan your way to catch up with the bills. After you have caught up, make sure that it doesn’t happen again by creating a household budget that you stick to each and every month. If you accidentally forget to pay a bill, you might want to switch to automatic billing or set an alarm for days in advance of the bill payments to make sure you have and send the money.

An error on your supplier’s side

Sometimes, power suppliers will make mistakes that could lead to your power getting cut. For instance, they may have accidentally mixed your customer records up with another. As such, if another customer has been late on their bills or moved house and informed the electric company, they can end up accidentally shutting your power off. For that reason, be sure to call your electric company before you break out the torch and look at your own electrical system.

There are also other reasons that a power company may intentionally turn off your power, however. It’s not always due to late bill payments or the like. For instance, there have been records of companies shutting off the powers for thousands of customers in order to prevent starting fires if there are dangerous local weather events. For instance, if they are worried that high winds and droughts could lead to tree debris catching fire, then starting a wildfire, they may opt to turn off the power instead.

There has been a tripped fuse

If your home is only one in the area that doesn’t have power and you’ve definitely kept up with your power bills and checked with the power company, then it’s likely to be an internal problem. However, it might not actually be a problem with the electric system in itself. The first place to look is at your fuse box. If the power goes off immediately after you turn on an appliance or device that takes electric power, then it’s likely that you have tripped a fuse. Fuse boxes are designed to cut the power when they sense something wrong in the supply chain. It’s a safety feature to keep you and your home protected. You might want to unplug the appliance that caused the issue to see if there’s a problem with it (it might just have been plugged in incorrectly.)

Otherwise, you can just flip the fuse switch back on and everything should be good. If it keeps tripping randomly, that’s something else you should take the time to investigate, however. The cause might something like a ground fault or something internal, like the issues we will go into below.

Your circuit breaker has gone bad

If it’s not one of the issues mentioned above, then it’s more likely that the problem is going to be with your own electrical system in the home. The most likely place to find these issues is going to be in your own circuit breakers. A bad circuit breaker can cut off the power and lead to real hazards in the home. Most of the time, circuit breakers go bad to general wear and tear over time. As such, it’s important to have your breakers inspected around once a year if possible and to clean the dust around the breakers once in a while. Otherwise, you can end up paying for an expensive replacement.

If your circuit breaker has gone bad beyond repair, then it may be time to look into replacing it. With some qualified help, this isn’t as difficult as you might expect. You don’t need to replace the whole system in most cases, just the breaker.

You have way too many power strips with way too many things plugged in

If you’re looking to power more appliances, especially in a home that doesn’t have too many power outlets, then you are likely to use power strips (also known as a power adapter or power boards) to increase the number of objects you can power at once. However, there is a limit to how many power boards you can use. They’re not designed to be used in every room of the house and every socket in every room. That’s going to overload your power supply and, when that happens, this can lead to a power outage.

When overloading happens, the electrical current is increased, which can increase the heat of the wiring that goes through the electrical system. The temperature can increase to a dangerous level. It might simply cause the power to go out, but it can also be a significant fire hazard. This is especially true of when the heat causes surrounding insulation to melt.

So, what should you do in the event of a blackout?

If your power is going out, then you need to systematically go through the checklist of potential causes and tick them off one by one. If you start fussing around with your circuit breaker before you’re sure that it’s a problem with the home’s electrical system, it can result in a costly call-out for no reason.

The first thing to do is to look around the local neighborhood, if you can, to see if other homes and buildings have been affected. If there are no homes you can see around you, then you should go online or phone to report a power cut. If you call your electric provider during a power cut, you are likely to spend a long time on hold, as other customers are likely to be doing the same. If it’s only affecting your home, then you should get in touch to see if it’s a billing problem or an error. After that, you should inspect the causes within the home. It’s best to do it with the help of a professional, of course.

In short: if your power goes out, you should wait a while to make sure it’s an area problem and not a problem centralized in your own home. If it is your home at issue, however, then you should act to fix it as quickly as possible. Electrical issues can lead to fire hazards, so they must be solved ASAP with the help of a professional.

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Using Cryptocurrency In Your Business

– Contributed content –



21 May 2020. Cryptocurrency can offer many benefits to your business. With its quick processing times, low transaction fees, and access to an international customer base, cryptocurrency is rapidly becoming an acceptable form of currency in the world of business.

People all over the world are buying and selling cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, using a secure BTC wallet. Before long, it could be one of the main ways of paying for goods and services, so being prepared for that is helpful.

In this post, we will look at three ways to help you to start to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment from your clients and customers.

Find a payment processor

You will need access to a merchant account before you can start taking cryptocurrency payments. Cryptocurrency is kept in protected digital wallets to preserve the integrity of your deposits. While standard wallets are easy to access, you will need a merchant wallet if you want to accept and receive payments.

Search for a payment processor that can easily transition your cryptocurrency funds to real monetary value. This will protect your funds from market fluctuations and ensure that your capital is available when you need it. Other features to take into consideration include a good level of security and low transaction fees.

Offer it as a payment option

Once you have set up a merchant wallet, start applying cryptocurrency payment options to your standard points of sale. Your payment processor should be able to help you incorporate payment methods in your store and on your website. If you work with larger clients, discuss how to integrate cryptocurrency into your current billing system.

Inform the relevant authorities

This is where it can potentially get a little complicated. At the moment, the IRS sees cryptocurrency as an asset and not as a form of capital. Because of this, it needs careful consideration when reporting it on your tax return.

Any changes to the value of cryptocurrency need to be reported – if $50 of Bitcoin turns into $65, which is quite possible, it needs to be noted down as a gain; losses also need to be reported.

Because of this, it is a good idea to convert your Bitcoin or chosen form of cryptocurrency into cash as soon as you possibly can.

Get professional advice

Because cryptocurrency is relatively new, there is still some uncertainty about how it all works, so getting professional advice from someone who understands it inside out is essential. Also, even though cryptocurrency is an entirely legitimate payment system, there may be legal issues surrounding sending and receiving payments in this form.

An STO – security token offerings – attorney will know the ins and outs and can make sure that you are doing everything above board and reporting your takings and expenses correctly, as well as knowing the best way to handle any payment disputes.

Accepting cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin as a form of payment is an excellent way to widen your customer base and bring your business into the modern age.

Editor’s note: The views in this post are the contributors and not those of Science & Enterprise.

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