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How the U.S. Navy will turn seawater int

How the U.S. Navy will turn seawater into fuel

Navy destroyers burn through a thousand gallons of fuel an hour. No wonder researchers have been feverishly working towards alternatives.
the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has spent years researching the possibility of extracting liquid hydrocarbon from seawater to power its ships.

In addition to H20 and salt, ocean water is rich in carbon dioxide. (Make that very rich: Navy scientists say the CO2 concentration is 140 times that of air.) So the Navy built a large system including a catalytic converter that extracts hydrogen and carbon dioxide from the water with 92 percent efficiency and then — via a reaction with a metal catalyst — transforms those gases into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel that the ship’s existing engines can burn. In a proof-of-concept test held last week, naval researchers made enough of the stuff to fly the model plane with its small off-the-shelf engine.

With the test flight a success, the Navy now must prove it can produce sea-based fuels in mass quantity. Researchers will start by setting up test production facilities on land. Eventually, the goal is to turn the catalytic converter into something no larger than a car that can live aboard a ship and supply its fuel by processing seawater.

N.H. city alderman sees need for Wellness Coordinator

N.H. city alderman sees need for wellness coordinator

As city health costs soar, ‘wellness’ post pushed in Manchester

A member of the Board of Mayor and Alderman says he thinks the city can spend less on health coverage for employees by hiring a $48,000-per-year wellness coordinator to make sure municipal workers eat right, exercise and receive preventive medical care.

Alderman Garth Corriveau will renew his bid Tuesday to convince colleagues to create the position of city health and wellness officer in the Health Department.

The city is self-insured for most health claims and contracts; reinsurance companies cover excess coverage claims.

Corriveau said the goal for the new city job is to move city worker health plans from a system that pays fees for health care services to one that rewards good health. The wellness officer will try to teach city workers about the importance of good health practices and assist employees in working with the health insurance system.

”I believe with $40 million in annual spending, we can find massive amounts of savings; we can be more cost-effective,” Corriveau said. “I now believe this is an initiative we can’t afford not to do.”

The original 2010 proposal from Corriveau came soon after city Public Health Director Tim Soucy issued a “concept paper” on creation of an Employee Health and Wellness Program.

Soucy said at the time that a city wellness program could be constructed to look into “evidence-based practices that demonstrate reductions in municipal health care costs and improved health outcomes of city employees.”

Can Cities and Suburbs Work Together?

Can Cities and Suburbs Work Together?
One Arizona mayor argues it makes more sense to fund cities and their suburbs as large metro areas, rather than as politically separate entities.

The federal government has all the money, states have all the power and cities have all the problems. This is a favorite saying of former District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi (now a Governing Institute senior fellow) and the complaint has been getting louder recently among big city officials. They say cities can no longer function well in a financial model that pits them against their surrounding counties.

Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa, Ariz., argues that it makes more funding sense to think of cities and their neighbors as part of metropolitan areas, rather than as separate entities. The post-World War II model for cities as self-enclosed economic centers is outdated, he said.

“They’re no longer suburbs – they’re more like villages in this entire metro area,” Smith said of his region during a recent visit with Governing’s editorial staff in Washington, D.C. “Those systems have not caught up with reality and now there’s a frustration among cities that other levels of government have sort of been dinosaurs.”

Smith said that in an ideal world, federal funding for programs wouldn’t filter through states, metro areas would instead have a direct line to the source. It’s a longshot – distributing such funds to 50 states is much easier than distributing them to hundreds of metro areas.

And that sort of mentality would also require a more unified effort between cities and their suburbs – perhaps an even longer shot.

“We haven’t done a great job of conveying that message,” said Smith. “It’s always been about us, us, us.”

The Bugs In Your Stomach Define You As Much – If Not More – Than Your Genes

The Bugs In Your Stomach Define You As Much–If Not More–Than Your Genes

Every creature on earth has their own microbial community. This internal ecology determines how we digest food and resist disease and can even affect behavior or how often mosquitoes bite us. Rob Knight, a microbial ecologist, has concluded that microbes are as critical as the brain–they make each of us who we are.

“The three pounds of microbes [we carry] may be more important for some health conditions than every gene in our genome,” Knight says. We share 99.9% of our DNA with the people around us, but our microbes share only 10% similarity. The diversity in our microbial communities is astonishing and can help us differentiate health based on our genetic makeup from our health based on the way in which we developed as children.

Knight’s most recent project is called American Gut, an initiative to map the unique microbe makeup of individuals around the country to discover how our lifestyle and diet affect our health. But his discoveries have already unfurled exciting possibilities in understanding our bodies. This “microbial GPS” has the potential to transform human health from the early stages of life onward.

Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative – Resilience & economic empowerment one bicycle at a time

Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative – Resilience and economic empowerment sustainably built one bicycle at a time.

Founded by a female entrepreneur, the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative trains and employs women with limited access to education to manufacture bicycles out of bamboo. In one fell swoop, this remarkable organization is providing Ghanaian women with a sustainable source of income while addressing wider challenges like traffic congestion, migration between urban and rural areas, and ever-increasing carbon emissions

How to survive the Windows XP apocalypse

How to survive the Windows XP apocalypse

Windows is ending its support of its XP operating system. The move will compromise the security of many computers worldwide. Here’s what to do if your computer is still running XP:

National Roadway Work Zone Awareness Week – April 7-11, 2014

National Roadway Work Zone Awareness Week runs Monday, April 7–Friday, April 11.

NWZAW began in 1999 with a partnership between the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Federal Highway Administration, and the American Traffic and Safety Services Association to promote work zone safety. Since then, state DOTs and transportation groups have joined the effort each April to reduce fatalities and promote safer driving practices.

This year’s theme “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake” through National Work Zone Awareness Week, bringing attention to the various fines and jail time that accompany work zone speeding.

“It is not unusual to see drivers with a cell phone to their ear, trying to maneuver through traffic cones and construction equipment,” said AASHTO President and KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock in a statement. “We’re asking drivers to consider work zones as ‘no phone zones’ in order to keep everyone safe on our roadways.”


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