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Filipinnovation Talk of Dr. Greg Tangonan - COMSTE Initiatives

Green energy research targets hydrogen, photosynthesis

R. Colin Johnson (08/27/2008 10:39 AM EDT) URL:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Green energy initiatives are striving to replace fossil fuels with renewable resources like hydrogen and photosynthesis.

The U.S. Energy Department (DoE?) is funding university research on near-term applications for hydrogen power in order to demonstrate its feasibility while drumming up public support for the technology. Meanwhile, medium-term applications for commercial fuel cell technology are still gearing up.

For the long-term, the European Science Foundation (ESF) is developing artificial photosynthesis technologies to harness solar energy to produce cheap fuels, including hydrogen, alcohol and even the hydrocarbons from natural gas and oil.

"We are investigating early market applications of hydrogen for the Department of Energy," said professor Scott Grasman of the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla), where hydrogen is already powering campus shuttle buses using converted internal combustion engines. "We are identifying applications where the cost and technology curve are such that we can get fuel cells into the hands of users now."

According to Grasman, short-term applications for fuel cells should be implemented now. Not only will early applications demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen technologies, they will also educate the public about painful, but needed, infrastructure changes such as hydrogen refueling stations.

"Fuel cell vehicles and power generation in residential settings are further down the road, so we are looking are near-term applications such as materials handling equipment . . . as well as near-term consumer electronics applications," said Grasman.

As is often the case with fledgling technologies, Grasman expects the U.S. military to fund many early applications.

"The military is especially interested in materials handling equipment as an early adopter for fuel cell technology," said Grasman. "Hydrogen will help with the military's battlefield readiness, because it avoids the big logistical issues of getting gasoline onto the battlefield."

The Missouri school has built hydrogen refueling stations on campus. The university has also completed a pilot study on how hydrogen power can be used at airports, not only to save energy with renewable resources but also to educate the public about the coming hydrogen economy (see video below).

The school also plans to enter EcoCAR?: The NeXt? Challenge, a contest sponsored by DoE?, General Motors, Natural Resources Canada and Argonne National Laboratory. Researchers plan to convert a GM Saturn View to be powered by fuel cells.

Separately, ESF is funding long-term research to develop artificial photosynthesis that mimics the ability of plants to directly convert sunlight to biofuels. Research is focusing on cyanobacteria, which the foundation claims predates the green leaf by 3.7 billion years in its ability to convert sunlight into biofuels.

Cyanobacteria use water molecules as a source of electrons to transport energy from sunlight while converting carbon dioxide into oxygen in the process. This light-harvesting ability was sequestered by early proto-plants, which ingests the cyanobacteria for use in photosynthetic conversion of sunlight energy. In the process, oxygen is produced as a byproduct.

ESF scientists claim that by mimicking the actions of cyanobacteria, different useful fuels can be synthesized from water and sunlight, including hydrogen, alcohols and hydrocarbons of natural gas and oil.

So far, small-scale demonstrations have proven the feasibility of artificial photosynthesis, but Euoropean scientists predict that the higher efficiencies required to commercialize the technology will take from 10 to 20 years to develop.

ESF scientists are pursuing two parallel tracks: genetically engineered plants and bacteria that perform the desired conversions; and electronic devices that mimic photosynthesis.

Electronic devices could be mass produced, but genetically engineered plants and bacteria could rival them through biological reproduction. The largest remaining engineering hurdle to both approaches, according to ESF scientists, is a precise understanding of how plants produce complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats from the splitting of water into hydrogen, oxygen and electrons.

All materials on this site Copyright 2008 TechInsights?, a Division of United Business Media LLC. All rights reserved.

* MIT CLAIMS 24 HOUR SOLAR POWERING * EETimes.com_-_MIT_claims_24hour_solar_power_system.pdf: MIT claims 24 hours solar power system -- Hydrogen
* WHAT IS NEXT FOR APPLE ? THE SPECULATION IS RAMPANT -- SMALL LAPTOP WITH TOUCH SCREEN ? * Whats_next_for_Apple.pdf: What is next for Apple ?
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Brain Drain, Brain Gain or Brain Circulation: Which Way?

By Theodore T. Hodge

The Perspective

Atlanta, Georgia

April 28, 2006

Africans have come to the New World (the Americas) since the 1500’s. Since the era of the Middle Passage, when Africans were exported from their homelands to sustain plantation agriculture and to work in the mines of South America, much has changed, while much has remained the same. The biggest change is from involuntary to voluntary movement; while the first waves of Africans were involuntarily exported to these shores as indentured servants and slaves, the tides have changed. Africans now do come voluntarily in search of economic and social betterment.

The era of mass immigration is not limited to Africans. Immigration across national borders has become a modern phenomenon, especially where the concept of “globalization” has added to its attractiveness and ease. People are moving from their original countries mostly for economic and social betterment. In the case of Africa, an added element, war, has become a major factor; many people who leave their native continent to seek opportunities elsewhere come as refugees, especially within the last two decades.

Whether they come as students seeking educational opportunities, migrants seeking economic opportunities, or as refugees escaping war and instability, one thing is clear: This cross-border immigration results in a net loss of labor, skills and knowledge to the continent. It also mostly benefits the developed countries. The phenomenon is generally referred to as “brain drain”.

Should the movement of human capital across borders always result in a zero-sum game or can countries, both rich and poor, mutually benefit from the exchange? Are there instances where brain drain is a mutually beneficial affair? There is abundant literature which points to this conclusion; that what precipitates brain drain could also produce brain gain. One author, Anna Lee Saxenian, interestingly refers to the net result as “brain circulation” But the outcomes do not emerge haphazardly; countries will gain or lose depending on how well they plan or fail to plan.

How to be successful in the “brain drain/gain” game

Again, depending on how well they plan, some countries gain considerably in other ways while losing human capital, thereby offsetting the losses or even turning them into gains. For example, in an article titled, “Brains Abroad”, by Janamitra Devan and Parth S. Tewari, several key approaches were recommended and reproduced below:

International remittances and other contributions

Here is an example from the article: “In 1999, 70 percent of China’s $50 billion in foreign direct investment came from Chinese people living abroad”, and “Indians abroad deposited $5.5 billion at the state bank of India”. Yes, citizens abroad do remit monies to their respective home countries. But that is not enough. Some of the monies sent home must be earmarked for strategic purposes such as facilitating foreign direct investment, venture funding, financial investments, and commercial and educational exchanges.

To achieve these strategic goals, governments and the emigrants must work and plan together. Individuals sending money home to family members who use the money to purchase consumer goods, for example, create an important source for foreign exchange but add little to an economy’s productive capacity.

In addition to these financial remittances, emigrants should share their business knowledge and intellectual capital. They can advise governments on issues ranging from crafting appropriate venture capital laws to deregulating a country’s telecommunication sector. Emigrants can also provide financing for elite schools (such as engineering) and set up internships and education exchanges, for example.


Developing countries need to develop methodical plans to harness the knowledge and capital in the Diaspora by (a) creating networks of emigrants, (b) creating information exchange with people in home country, and (c) targeting incentives that generate productive business investment.

Networks will create significant contributions or investments. These networks must go beyond social and cultural exchanges; they are more productive when they are organized on the basis of professional association. Having a lot in common, members of professional associations tend to make more and better joint investments. Dr. Sakui Malakpa outlines such a cause in a paper titled, “Countering the Effects of Brain Drain Through Education: Suggestions for Liberia”.

Information exchange is a crucial element in today’s world. Infrastructure must be built to facilitate the exchange because it is necessary to share information instantly and cheaply. The Internet is a useful tool. Websites could contain useful information to list resources and provide detailed information about emigrants and the projects at home; linking resources and opportunities.

Incentives by government to capture the potential economic contributions of emigrants must be thoughtful and innovative. For example, emigrants could be allowed to maintain foreign-currency deposits in the home country; laws are streamlined to protect these deposits and to allow for their withdrawal in the same currency. These savings can be funneled directly into productive business investments through bank loans.

It must be reiterated that a lot to be accomplished depends on proper planning. South Korea has become Asia’s new “High-Tech Tiger”. Within the last decade, its “universities have been the driving force behind the country’s ambitious plan to become a high-technology powerhouse in the next 20 years”, writes Alan Brender.

We’ve also noted India’s and China’s efforts to become giants in other areas of technology and research by methodically building the learning institutions and exporting brains abroad who return to boost the home country economy. Planning is key.

Africa must join the revolution of benefiting from the era of globalization. Government, academia, business industries and those living and training abroad must work together to end the phenomenon of brain drain. We must now consider the alternative phenomena of brain gain and brain circulation through appropriate planning. The future depends on it.

Found this cool blog which aggregates all related press releases on Algae as an alternative energy source.

-Allan Espinosa

Social Innovation Conversations

Stanford Discussions

Stanford Social Entrepreneurship Day

Text messaging from your laptop Text message failure in US

From Technology Review 12/19/2007

Zipit WiFi messaging devices adds cell-phone text messaging. Instant messaging and text messaging added to WiFi devices.

Why make text messaging available to WiFi users ? Why not ? Why can't we text message to landlines from our cells or text from laptop with WiFi to cell phones ?

Maybe we can have a higher level of service this way - priority delivery, guaranteed delivery in limited time.

Not sure what to make of this.

Network Overload in the US causes text messaging to fail.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Network overload: Happy New Year, your text message has failed By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Geeta Citygirl just figured something was wrong with her phone when she realized the greetings she was sending as the ball dropped New Year's Eve were not getting through.

In Los Angeles, a half-dozen New Year's text messages bounced back to Reggie Cameron on Wednesday, more than 24 hours after he thought he sent them out.

In fact, so many people tried to send text messages on New Year's Eve that networks got jam-packed and many of the missives arrived hours later -- or not at all.

''Think of any traffic artery during rush hour: You have a large number of people who are trying to access it at the same time,'' said Joe Farren, assistant vice president of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, a wireless industry group. ''It's really no different with regard to wireless networks.''

Millions and millions of messages did get through New Year's Eve, and a minor delay in a holiday wish is hardly the end of the world. But there have been multiple occasions in recent years when getting in touch with loved ones was more vital -- the Sept. 11 attacks, the 2003 blackout, Hurricane Katrina.

''What happens where there is an emergency?'' asked Scott Midkiff, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. ''This has been a big problem with the voice cellular system. It will probably become more of a problem with text messaging.''

This is really funny cause, we in the Philippines have texting on steroids. In next week's updates our student will show recent results on text message clogging in our networks.

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
pdfpdf EETimes.com_-_MIT_claims_24hour_solar_power_system.pdf manage 395.5 K 02 Aug 2008 - 09:51 GregTangonan MIT claims 24 hours solar power system -- Hydrogen
pdfpdf Filipinnovation_talk-Tangonan.pdf manage 8018.4 K 31 Dec 2008 - 20:02 GregTangonan Tangonan talk at Filipinnovation
pdfpdf Whats_next_for_Apple.pdf manage 467.4 K 02 Aug 2008 - 09:52 GregTangonan What is next for Apple ?
Topic revision: r11 - 31 Dec 2008 - 20:04:52 - GregTangonan
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