Hainan airlines biofuel flight airplane

Berlin, Germany - August 17, 2014: Hainan Airlines Airbus A330 arrives to the Tegel International Airport.

If you’ve never heard of Hainan Airlines, chances are good that you’ll be hearing more about them from the media in the future. That’s because this China-based airline – the fourth largest in the country – has just completed its first intercontinental flight in a Boeing 787-8 (from China to the U.S.) using biofuel produced from used cooking oil from restaurants in China! The flight travelled an astonishing 11,000+ kilometers (6,835 miles) using sustainable biofuel.

First reported by Xinhua New Agency, the flight is a milestone for the airline, which was established in 1989 under the name “Hainan Province Airlines”. (They’ve previously flown domestic biofuel passenger flights using a Boeing 737-800. The first of these was launched in 2015.) This latest International biofuel flight was part of a green aviation project between China and the U.S.

What is Biofuel?

Biofuel is an energy source produced directly or indirectly from organic material, also known as biomass. It can include both solids and liquids. Biofuels are derived from several different sources including:

  • food plants
  • forestry products
  • agricultural products
  • fisheries
  • municipal waste products
  • food industry by-products and waste (like the used cooking oil used by Hainan Airlines)

There are two types of biofuels – primary and secondary. Primary biofuels are things like wood, wood chips and pellets, manure, etc. These are used in their original, unprocessed form. Secondary biofuels are what result from the processing of biomass. They include liquid fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, which can be used to power vehicles and machinery. (The biofuel used in Hainan Airlines’ domestic – and first intercontinental – flights is, therefore, a form of secondary biofuel.)

Bio-energy, which is energy produced using biofuels, is mainly used in homes (80%), to a much smaller extent in industry (18%) and are currently used very infrequently in their liquid form in transportation (2%).*

What are its Benefits?

Biofuel’s true benefits lie in the fact that it’s produced from sustainable (replaceable) sources, unlike traditional fossil fuels which are finite. It’s also easy to transport, just as most fossil fuels are today, which is one of the advantages it has over other forms of sustainable energy such as solar power, which is difficult to distribute.

How Biofuel is Produced

Liquid biofuels used in transportation are produced by separating two substances found within the cells of plants. One of these is lignin and the other is cellulose (made from sugar molecules). In order to convert the cellulose into glucose, which can then be fermented to produce alcohol, which in turn produces bio-energy, the lignin must be removed because it hampers or restricts the extraction of cellulose. Unfortunately, the current methods of accomplishing this feat are energy-consuming and not environmentally-friendly at this point.

The Future of Biofuel

The good news is that scientists and researchers from several different countries are working in collaboration with one another to solve the problem of extracting the cement-like lignin from plants to make accessing cellulose easier without expending lots of energy to do it. In recent years, these scientists have identified a new enzyme lignin biosynthetic pathway, which they’ve dubbed caffeoyl shikimate esterase, or CSE for short. They’ve discovered that by removing this enzyme, they can significantly reduce the amount of lignin in the plant material. What’s more, doing so alters the structure of the remaining lignin, making the cellulose extraction process less energy-intensive.

There are still problems though. Scientists know that traditional crops used to produce biofuels — such as corn, which produces ethanol – take a lot of space to grow, and impact food production as well. They’re currently studying different plant sources that can result in more biofuel from less space and without interrupting or

Also read: UK driving hard to promote driverless cars

UK driving hard to promote driverless cars

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Britain is one of the leading nations in the drive towards creating a driverless car society. The benefits of automated vehicles are increased safety, more economical, and better for the environment. This is why the UK has decided to invest more in the whole idea.

In an article posted by the BBC, Chancellor Philip Hammond said in an interview that the plan is to have “fully driverless cars” in use by 2021. A fully driverless vehicle doesn’t need to be monitored by anyone on board and, in some cases, might not even have a human passenger at all, such as a delivery vehicle.

Hammond told the BBC, “Some would say that’s a bold move, but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution.” Additionally, he was asked the hard question that everyone everywhere seems to be posing when topics of automation come into the spotlight: “What about all those drivers losing jobs?” Answering quite honestly, he said that Britain cannot hide from change and the government would take up the responsibility to equip its citizens with the necessary skills “to take up new careers”.

What are some of the big benefits of driverless vehicles

When you really sit down and think about it, commercial airliners have been automated for decades now. As a matter of fact, commercial airliners can even land themselves when visibility is too low for the pilot to safely land the plane.

For the most part, aeroplanes have been getting us from A to B virtually 100 percent automated for a long time now. Even container ships and cruise boats propel themselves most of the way with very minimal assistance from a captain or crew.

If we can accept the fact that a computer is flying us 40,000 feet above the ground at 550mph in a 400 tonne Jumbo Jet, then isn’t it time we begin to accept driverless cars? Admittedly, it’s less frightening to think of.

Some of the most noteworthy benefits of driverless cars are:

  • The roads will be safer. Volvo’s Senior Technical Leader for Safety and Driver Support Technologies, Erik Coelingh, told Business Insider it’s pretty difficult to find any other way to make the roads safer other than through vehicle automation technology.
  • Fewer traffic problems. Driverless cars are inherently designed to be more efficient. This means they will not make the mistakes human drivers make, which in turn will help decrease traffic.
  • More fuel-efficient. Self-driving cars optimise acceleration and braking, which in turn makes for better traffic flow. These things added together equal less fuel consumption overall. It’s said that adopting driverless vehicles could reduce CO² emissions by 300 million tonnes per year.
  • More free time. Ever had one of those mornings when you’re late to work but you need to finish typing something up? You need to leave now! But you need to type this, too! Then you think, “Wish the car drove itself so I could finish this and be on the way.” Well, having a driverless car will solve such dilemmas

 
What About Driverless Car Morality

As of now, no one, not the car companies or the lawmakers, has decided who should be at risk if, let’s say, you walk in the middle of the street without looking and the car must decide who lives: you or its passengers. According to a study done by Jean-Francois Bonnefon from the University of Toulouse, it seems that most of the public unanimously choose to live and let you get mowed down. I’m sure you would be opposed to that.

Bonnefon said that setting regulations on automated vehicles from a government level may be the only way to solve this dilemma since it doesn’t matter which position you’re in, no one really wants to sacrifice their own life willingly, especially if there are loved ones in the vehicle. Nevertheless, he also warned that by starting such debates on the government level could mean stalling progress in the development of driverless cars.

Professor Toby Walsh, from the Australian data innovation group Data61, had this to say as well:  “The biggest ethical question then becomes: How quickly should we move towards full automation given that we have a technology that potentially could save a lot of people, but is going to be imperfect and is going to kill a few?”

Connected cars: transforming the automotive industry

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Connected car technologies are transforming the automotive sector, for both industry players and consumers alike.

The vehicle of today has the computing power of 20 computers, featuring 100 million lines of programming codes, and processes as much as 25 gigabytes of data an hour.

Unlike before where automotive digital technology focused on optimising a vehicle’s internal functions, attention is now moving towards developing a car’s potential to connect with the outside world and improve the in-car experience.

This is the connected car — a vehicle that can optimise its own operation and maintenance. The car can also control the convenience and comfort of passengers through onboard sensors and Internet connectivity.

It’s estimated that the sizable increase in connected cars will increase the value of the global market for connectivity components and services to €170 billion by 2020 from just €30 billion today.

Harman, a company long known for its high-end stereo equipment, is working with Samsung to make sure even more vehicles get connected.

“There will be more than 200 million connected vehicles on the road around the world by 2020,” said Shewchuk, a spokesman for Harman International.

The rapid acceleration of connectivity has the ability to change the competitive landscape, with companies from the software and telecommunications sectors already entering the automotive market

A report by McKinsey found that 13 per cent of car buyers are no longer willing to consider a new vehicle without Internet access, and more than a quarter already prioritise connectivity above features like engine power and fuel efficiency.

However, consumers are still unsure about digital safety and data privacy with an average of 37 per cent of respondents saying that they would not consider a connected car.

The below visual shows the concerns new-car buyers have when it comes to data privacy.

connected cars

While the future of the technology-enabled car points towards ever-greater connectivity, companies will face both hard and delicate decisions in the coming years.

Also read: Uber removes self-driving cars from San Francisco roads

 

 

Sources:

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/whats-driving-the-connected-car

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/13/robot-connected-cars-hacking-risks-driverless-vehicles-ross-now

Bloodhound Supersonic Car reaches 322kmh in under nine seconds

Bloodhound Supersonic Car reaches 322kmh in under nine seconds

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car has started its first public runs, reaching speeds of 338kmh.

Having completed two trial runs on a 2.7km long runway in England, the record-seeking Bloodhound Supersonic Car pulled a crowd of more than 3000 people.

The jet-powered car successfully reached its goal of 322km/h from a standstill position in just over 8 seconds, and went on to reach a top speed of 340kmh.

This was a breeze for the driver, Royal Air Force Wing Commander Andy Green, who holds the current world land speed record of 1227kmh, which was set in October 1997.

“We did two back-to-back 200mph runs in a five-tonne car. It felt like about eight seconds, which was what we were expecting,” Green told BBC News.

“It was a real hard work-out for the brakes. Probably up to somewhere close to a thousand degrees, the front brakes were smoking furiously after the second run. They just started to flicker with flame – very sort of Formula One, but in a proper high-speed car. And that was exactly what we were hoping for,” he added.

These high-speed runs are only a public shakedown, as the Bloodhound SSC hunts for a new land speed record in the next few years.

However, the Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine currently powering the car will only be able to reach a top speed 1050kmh – nearly 600kmh less than the target.

To achieve this goal, the team plans on upgrading the jet-powered engine with a hybrid rocket propulsion system built by Norwegian aerospace and defence company, Nammo.

Technical director of Bloodhound, Mark Chapman says: “the total thrust we think we need is about 20 tonnes. So that’s a thrust-to-weight ratio of about two-and-a-half. The car when we’re breaking records will weigh about eight tonnes.”

Other changes to the car may include replacing its Jaguar V8 powered fuel pump with an electric system that can distribute its weight more evenly.

Nammo’s technology, which will only be available by 2020, will take the car to a top speed of around 1610km/h and break the sound barrier with ease.

If all goes according to plan, Green will pilot the car and add his name in the record book for a third time.

The 2020 record attempt willneed an even longer stretch, and is likely to take place in the 19km wide Hakskeen Pan dry lake bed in South Africa.

Sources:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/98356699/bloodhound-supersonic-car-from-0-to-322kmh-in-under-nine-seconds

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-41747995

http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/

image source

5 future electric vehicles to look out for

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With the UK planning to ban petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2040 the future of electric vehicles is bright.

Electric cars have already established themselves as a popular pick on Britain’s roads, with a number of all-electric models being available to buy right now.

Many of these vehicles are simply electric versions of fuel-powered cars, but in the near future, we’re likely to see new designs on the road.

Here are 5 electric vehicles you can expect to see in the showrooms and when you’re out driving in the next few years.

Audi e-tron Quattro SUV

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The Audi e-tron Quattro SUV is likely to launch in 2018. It will go head-to-head with the Tesla Model X (which is on sale now).

Audi has said that its vehicle will be able to travel 300 miles on a single charge, can be fully recharged in 50 minutes, and can reach 0-60mph in under 5-seconds.

BMW i Vision Dynamics concept

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BMW’s Vision Dynamics concept coupe was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The car has been designed to sit between the i3 and i8, and is likely to be named the i5 when it launches in 2021.

The family car will be capable of reaching 60mph in less than four seconds, achieve a speed over 120mph and be able to last up to 372 miles on a single charge.

Jaguar I-PACE SUV

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Jaguar’s I-PACE SUV will officially be unveiled at the end of this year, and will be on roads in 2018. The electric vehicle features a 90kWh lithium-ion battery and can reach a 0-60mph time in 4-seconds.

It will take around 90 minutes to fully charge the battery, which will have a driving range of 311 miles.

Inside, the interior is futuristic with controls such as indicators and gear selector buttons found on a floating centre console. It also includes a 12-inch TFT touchscreen display, with a separate 5.5-inch display for climate controls.

Porsche Mission E

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Another electric vehicle unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2015 was Porsche’s Mission E.

The four-seater sports car will reach 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds. One of the vehicles biggest selling points though, is its recharge time of 15 minutes thanks to a 800 volt charging system.

Tesla Model 3

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Available later this year, the Model 3 will be the most affordable Tesla you can buy. You’re likely to see plenty of these vehicles on the road, as pre-orders surpassed 276,000 within the first three days – a number that will be much higher now.

The reason for its popularity is its starting price of £26, 500. Tesla also plans to have double the number of free-to-use Superchargers dotted around, so you’ll be able to recharge and drive for longer than ever before.

Sources:

http://careers2030.cst.org/articles/future-electric-cars/

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/140845-future-electric-cars-the-battery-powered-tech-cars-that-will-be-on-the-roads-within-the-next-5-years

Image sources: Electric Motors Club | CDN | Auto Car | Automobile | Tesla

Driverless trains are moving ahead

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A lot of the talk is around self-driving cars, but driverless trains are moving ahead and could overtake them.

While Silicon Valley tech companies and other car manufacturers compete to develop driverless cars, advances in driverless trains continue to evolve unhailed.

The trains that can operate without a supervising driver are able to regulate their own starting and stopping mechanisms and speed. Newer models are even fitted with advanced on-board computers and rechargeable batteries, and some don’t even require rails to run.

However, you cannot ignore the drawbacks. As a form of transportation, driverless trains are not versatile. They cannot navigate roads and are limited to elevated and unobstructed tracks.

Yet self-driving trains may become more and more relevant as municipalities look for greener transportation for last-mile routes between a main transport interchange, such as an airport, and a destination, like a city’s downtown area.

2getthere, a Dutch tech firm, is among the companies trying to evolve versions of driverless trains. Known as automated people movers, 2getthere is working to make these metros more accessible to commuters outside of downtown areas and more attractive to municipalities.

With driverless cars starting to interest urban dwellers, 2getthere saw an opportunity to attract people to its own automated vehicle technology.

“You have to convince people to leave their cars at home,” says Robbert Lohmann, chief operations officer at 2getthere and one of the company’s co-founders.

“The automated transportation system has to provide an added value to the passenger. Whether it’s a quicker trip time, a lower cost, or a combination of both, preferably,” he added.

In April this year, 2getthere announced a project with Dubai, where the world’s largest fleet of non-rail-guided automated people movers will be employed.

The people movers will connect Dubai’s inner-city metro system to one of the city’s planned waterfront developments, Bluewaters.

Each of the 25 automated people movers will carry as many as 24 passengers to complete the 2.5km journey in 4.5 minutes.

The people movers will not operate on a rail track, but rather on an elevated, bi-directional line. The vehicles will also have the ability to navigate public roads, however, this has not yet been specified in the project.

“The Bluewaters application demonstrates the capability of 2getthere’s systems to provide significant capacities, making them a financially attractive alternative for the expensive, traditional rail-guided APM systems at airports and campuses,” says 2getthere CEO and co-founder Carel van Helsdingen.

The line is set to run parallel to a road bridge, competing with ground transportation for traffic. Lohmann says the large fleet size and a new type of rechargeable battery will keep the automated system almost always accessible to its commuters.

The batteries of each vehicle will operate for 1.5 hours between charges, and recharging will only take 10 minutes, maximizing the system’s operating on-time. Additionally, the batteries will help decrease the vehicles’ strain on Dubai’s urban power grid.

If a success, the Bluewaters project may serve as an example to other cities to follow on how automation will bring value to their transportation grids.

“Cities and authorities at this time are still very much trying to come to grips with what automation and automated transit can mean for them,” Lohmann says. “Cities are actively working on getting experience to be able to answer that question better and quicker.”

Capelle aan den Ijssel, a town in Netherlands, already has an automated people mover system in place from 2getthere.

But next year, 2getthere is looking to build a new loop into the city’s line where 2getthere’s automated vehicles will drive alongside road vehicles, sharing public roads with other traffic.

If this trend continues to gain moment, it may overtake driverless cars.

Also read: Drone Taxis: Dubai announces passenger drone plans

Reference:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/forget-self-driving-cars-heres-how-driverless-trains-are-moving-ahead/

Image credit: 2getthere

Technology company putting ‘chip’ implants in employees

microchip placed in employees

A company based in the US has taken the unusual step of being one of the first in the world to implant chips in its employees.

Wisconsin company Three Square Market (32M) sells “micro market technology” running over 2,000 kiosks in break rooms and other locations worldwide.

The company has recently been offering to implant its employees with an RFID microchip the size of a grain of rice.

50 out of the 80 employees of the company reportedly took it up on this offer and accepted the implants voluntarily, which were built by a Swedish company, Biohax International.

The device containing an RFID chip can be used for basic functions such as opening doors around the building or paying for food at the company’s cafeteria.

“We see this as another payment and identification option that not only can be used in our markets but our other self-checkout/self-service applications that we are now deploying which include convenience stores and fitness centres,” said 32M COO Patrick McMullan.

The chip will also allow company employees to use copy machines, log into computers, share business cards and store health information.

“Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.” commented 32M CEO, Todd Westby.

However, this is an employer-owned chip in your body and while an RFID chip doesn’t provide a record of all your movements, such as, your smartphone can, it could easily provide enough data to a curious or unethical supervisor on any employees’ actions.

With this in mind, the implementation of this technology could, in the short-term harm the PR image of an organisation and damage its prospects for attracting high-end talent, at least until use of this tech is normalised.

But, it’s important to keep in mind that the company’s chip program is completely voluntary and directly related to its product offerings.

Still, this is not how technology should progress when becoming more integrated into our biology. Anyone who values their privacy and right to own everything that goes into their body will not agree with this procedure.

A future where employees are pressured to have chips like the ones 32M is offering, even if it’s technically voluntary, is not a step in the right direction.

This is why it’s highly important to establish a new standard as soon as possible, which should include individual ownership and control over all implants, as well as widespread literacy on what exactly they can do and how they work.

Also read: Unusual Staff Benefits: Puppy parental leave & covering wedding costs

References:

https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/implanted-employees-become-reality/

https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/implanted-employees-become-reality/

Image source: The African Exponent

Voyager 1: Reporting back from space 40 years after its launch

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Voyager 1, the only spacecraft ever to travel beyond the solar system, will mark its 40th anniversary next month.

On 5 September 1977, humanities Voyager 1 took to the far-flung corners of the universe, finally leaving the solar system five years ago.

Its twin, Voyager 2, which left Earth on August 20 1977, is expected to enter interstellar space in the next few years.

Both these crafts feature long-lasting nuclear-powered batteries and continue to communicate with the US space agency from billions of miles away.

Distance covered and findings so far

Now almost 13 billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 1 is currently travelling northward, in relation to our world, at over 30,000 mph.

Voyager 1 has told its controllers just how harsh the interstellar environment is, with cosmic radiation levels four times higher than they are around the Earth.

In roughly 40,000 years, the vessel is expected to fly past a star 17.6 light years away called AC+79 3888 in the constellation Ophiuchus.

Voyager 2 is nearly 11 billion miles away from Earth and travelling in the opposite direction, allowing scientists to compare the two regions of space.

You can follow the live Mission Status here.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate, said: “I believe that few missions can ever match the achievements of the Voyager spacecraft during their four decades of exploration.”

“They have educated us to the unknown wonders of the universe and truly inspired humanity to continue to explore our solar system and beyond.”

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have ever flown by all four outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Between them, Voyager 2 has made a number of discoveries, including:

  • The first active extra-terrestrial volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io
  • Hints of a subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europe
  • An Earth-like atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan
  • Icy geysers on Neptune’s moon Triton

 
What next for Voyager 1 and Voyager 2?

US controllers expect to have switched off the last Voyager science spacecraft by 2030, but even then the vessel will continue silently coasting on an endless odyssey that will see them complete an orbit of the Milky Way galaxy every 225 million years.

Voyager project scientist Ed Stone, based at the California Institute of Technology, said: “None of us knew, when we launched 40 years ago, that anything would still be working and continuing on this pioneering journey.

“The most exciting thing they find in the next five years is likely to be something that we didn’t know was out there to be discovered.”

Evolving technologies

Its astronauts have circled the world, walked on the moon, piloted the first winged spacecraft, and constructed the International Space Station.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Congress introduced newfound technologies to the public. Decades down the line, NASA continues to develop new technologies that have evolved immensely from those used in previous years.

Daring to challenge the impossible and brave new frontiers of exploration and technologies – has brought NASA, and indeed mankind, endless discoveries, revelations, and dramatic moments of pride and wonder.

Exploring the cosmos has transformed medicine, transportation, public safety, recreation, environmental monitoring and resource management, computer technology, industrial productivity, and our perception of the planet on which we live and the universe of which our Earth is one small part.

Also read: Space-based solar power: Powering the earth

 

References:

https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/pdf/spinoff2008.pdf

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2017/08/voyager-1-still-reporting-back-from-interstellar-space-40-years-after-its-launch/

https://www.nasa.gov/50th/50th_magazine/historyLetter.html

Image Source: Motherboard

Bringing back conversation in the Digital Age

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Phones. Tablets. Laptops. Ironically, are these obsessions hurting, not helping, real communication?

We live in a technological universe in which we’re always communicating. And yet we’ve sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

Leading author and researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying digital culture for more than thirty years.

She discusses how we behave at work, at home, in politics, and in love – finding ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves.

Along with affecting our social behaviour with family and friends, we also retreat to our screens in the workplace.

Business doesn’t happen face to face as often as some would like. Rather, today’s communication relies on conference calls and emails that make it challenging to get to know your colleagues and business partners.

With so many workers worldwide now working in virtual teams, many business relationships depend on technology. And that’s not a bad thing – just as long you’re using the right technologies in the right way.

Here are some innovative ways in which brands are helping bring back conversation.

The world’s most sociable shoe

Designer shoes company Anatomic & Co has created a shoe that helps you take a break from the digital world, allowing you to connect with those around you in person.

In a world addicted to smartphones and distracted by social media notifications, Anatomic and Co created the world’s first sociable shoe that doesn’t just connect you to the Internet – it disconnects you.

The ‘In Good Company’ shoe allows men to switch off their interfering mobile and social app notifications by simply wearing the shoe.

Anatomic & Co redefined the meaning of “smart shoes” by matching style, technology and connectivity in a meaningful way.

The shoe also allows you to personalise your preferences to make it work around your lifestyle with one simple app.

Unplug without missing out

A new app called Offtime doesn’t just identify your bad habits, it also helps you break them.

The app is designed to let you unplug without missing urgent matters. It lets you whitelist contacts who able to pierce through your downtime, like your spouse or children, but otherwise shuts down apps, calls, texts, and emails.

It can also auto-respond to incoming messages on your behalf, while maintaining a careful activity log of everything you missed while away so you can quickly catch up.

Offtime also provides similar insights about your usage of your phone, as its predecessors did, charting out hours spent on the device, and even detailing which individual apps are the largest time-sucks.

And while in Offline mode, the app is smart enough to identify certain patterns – like someone who dials you six times in a row probably has an emergency and needs to get through.

No emails day

Recently, the 7th annual global ‘No Email Day‘ took place on 7th July 2017.

The proposition is simple enough – avoid email for 24 hours so that you can be more productive, social and collaborative at work.

All other means of communication such as phone, text messages, face-to-face, social media, or handwritten notes are allowed. It’s just email that needs to be avoided.

Realistically not everyone is able to go a full 24 hours without checking their email. However, the main purpose of the campaign is to get people to think about how they are communicating and whether it’s the best way to work or if they are creating more work for themselves and recipients.

Innovating to disrupt the energy market

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Experts believe the world hit peak coal in the late 1990s. The consensus between industry experts and analysts is that we’ll hit peak oil any time between 2010 and 2030. However, at last week’s Energy News Live Future Energy event, I learned that the UK hit peak horse power in 1922.

It’s a quirky fact and I should credit it to Robert Llewellyn, of Red Dwarf legend and a true energy tech evangelist, who joined me on a panel to discuss the future of energy at the conference.

When discussing the future of energy, the word ‘innovation’ is used a lot. It’s a top answer in buzzword bingo, with ‘disrupter’ running a close second. It’s only natural for businesses to go after something which could transform how and what they do and there is no denying that innovation and energy tech is really changing the energy market. The clear trends I see are:

  • The energy market is moving from a centralised, planned world to a local model.
  • Businesses will move from monthly planning to real-time decisions.
  • There will be flexible two-way models, where users may consume or generate energy depending on market conditions.
  • The definition of an ‘energy supplier’ will become blurred – you could be a supplier to a local community one day, and customer the next.

british gas

There are massive opportunities for businesses to take control of their energy and become more efficient. British businesses are still spending around £20bn a year on energy and we believe that could be brought down by up to 20 per cent through energy efficiency improvements alone.

As part of Centrica, British Gas business is in a unique position in having access to an in-house team of distributed energy experts and traders that can help customers to navigate the complexities of the changing energy landscape and unlock real value from their assets.

A first step for many businesses is to understand exactly how they are using energy – to have better insight. Working with the Panoramic Power team, we can give customers real-time visibility of their electricity use – armed with this data they can identify opportunities to drive down their energy use and/or install new technologies.

With clear insight businesses can better optimise their assets –we want to help customers make the most of what they already have.

I often wonder how many companies and organisations which have back-up generators appreciate that instead of standing idle they could be earning money by exporting power back to the grid. 

We’re also working with the Distributed Energy & Power business to help UK businesses design energy solutions, install and maintain systems to help them generate their own energy on site such as solar, combined heat and power (CHP) and heat pumps.

Investing in on-site generation can reduce costs, generate income, improve resilience and reduce carbon emissions.

It’s clear that innovation and disruptive technology will be critical for the future of any business, and how they harness either new technologies or solutions will set successful organisations apart.

That’s why we joined together with Energy Live News at Leicester Space Centre, with some of the most forward thinking companies in the world, to showcase how the changes happening in the energy system are providing massive opportunities for businesses to take control of energy and become more efficient.