Tech Roundup: IBMs Predictions; Cheaper, greener cement alternativ; Cold plasma surgery

IBM predicts five innovations will have impact over the next five years:

– Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
– You will have a crystal ball for your health, from cheap genome sequencing
– You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back, through the use of Voicesites
– You will have your own digital shopping assistants
– Forgetting will become a distant memory, video and audio recordings on far larger hard drives and memory devices

Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a new structural material based on leftovers (fly ash, bottom ash) from coal burning. Known as Cenocell, the material offers attributes that include high strength and light weight – without the use of cement, an essential ingredient of conventional concrete. Specific densities range from 0.3 to 1.6, and the material can be manufactured to withstand pressures of up to 7,000 pounds per cubic inch. Estimates suggest the material could be manufactured for an average cost of $50 per cubic yard. Cenocell, produced from either fly ash or bottom ash in a reaction with organic chemicals, requires none of the cement or aggregate – sand and rock – used in concrete. And unlike concrete, it emerges from curing ovens in final form and does not require a lengthy period to reach full strength.

So Cenocell potentially a lot cheaper and more energy efficient than cement.

A group at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. is studying the effects of using a cold plasma atmospheric jet on tissue using fibroblast cells. “We were able to see several effects without damage to the tissue,” Michael Keidar, a member of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. The results of the experiment can be found in Applied Physics Letters: “Living tissue under treatment of cold plasma atmospheric jet.”

One of the problems with laser surgery is that the heat produced can damage tissue, and even lead to cell death. Attempts are being made to replace laser surgery with non-thermal plasma interaction, potentially allowing for the possibility of single cell removal without affecting the surrounding cells and tissue