Category Archives: Construction

Keeping a city-by-the-sea from becoming a city in it


By James Sanders and Jesse M. Keenan – Unlike the great capitals of Europe, New York does not sit snugly inland along a winding river. Instead it opens directly onto one of the world’s great oceans, a geographic advantage that helped propel the city to pre-eminence. Even by the 1820s, when Frances Trollope [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] was writing, the city’s proximity to the Atlantic had made it by far the busiest port in the nation.

New York is also Amsterdam — holding back the sea. Since its founding in the early 17th century as New Amsterdam, New York has shared with its namesake the distinctive Dutch instinct to create land by reclaiming it from the sea. more>

Updates from GE

French Landfill is Using Remains of the Past to Illuminate the Future
GE – The giant Plessis-Gassot landfill has gobbled up millions of tons of refuse thrown out by generations of Parisians. That trash is now playing a bright role in France’s renewable energy future. It supplies the country’s largest landfill power plant with enough methane-rich biogas (also called landfill gas) to generate electricity for more than 40,000 French homes.

The plant also gives off enough heat to make the nearby town of Plessis-Gassot the first French municipality with a district heating system fueled by landfill gas. The town hall, church, community hall and residences connected to its heat pipes could see their heating bills fall by a whopping 92 percent as a result.

France plans to generate 23 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020. They include solar and wind power, but also biomass and landfill gas.

The gas is produced when anaerobic bacteria decompose organic waste in an airless environment, like deep inside a compact mountain of trash. Landfill gas contains mostly energy-rich methane mixed with impurities like carbon dioxide and nitrogen. It is similar in composition to natural gas, but dirtier.

The Plessis-Gassot power plant is using 10 advanced Jenbacher gas engines to produce the heat and electricity. Using landfill gas to make electricity is not a new idea, but the engines, which are manufactured by GE in Austria, can be up to 42 percent efficient in converting gas to power. (The system total efficiency including heat is 85 percent.) They replace an older boiler system that was 22 percent efficient. more>

Updates from GE

These Lights Will Make Les Bleus Look Blue and the Canarinho Look Canary

GE – The lights that GE installed at the stadiums use electric metal halide lamps that emit light very close to the near-perfect white light produced by incandescent light bulbs. But they are much more efficient and durable.

Each fixture holds a reflector with a mirror-like aluminum coating and a special glass lens that trains the light beam on a specific point on the pitch.

“The lamp and the optics are the secret sauce,” lighting engineer Sergio Binda, who works as a marketing director at GE Lighting Latin America, says. “We use special software to achieve the best geometry and increase the intensity of the lamp.”

The lighting team worked closely with scientists at GE Global Research to develop precise and highly efficient flood lights that make colors look natural.

“Light is electromagnetic radiation and each color corresponds to a specific wavelength,” Binda says. “We see colors when those wavelengths bounce off a specific surface, like a jersey. But if your light source does not generate, say, a true red wavelength, then it can’t bounce off and you won’t see that color on the jersey.” more>

Space Launch System (20)

Orion Comes Together

NASA – The Orion crew module for Exploration Flight Test-1 is shown in the Final Assembly and System Testing (FAST) Cell, positioned over the service module just prior to mating the two sections together. The FAST cell is where the integrated crew and service modules are put through their final system tests prior to rolling out of the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Technicians are in position to assist with the final alignment steps once the crew module is nearly in contact with the service module. In December, Orion will launch 3,600 miles into space in a four-hour flight to test the systems that will be critical for survival in future human missions to deep space.

Image Credit: NASA/Rad Sinyak

Space Launch System (19)

Orion Heat Shield Attached

NASA – The world’s largest heat shield, measuring 16.5 feet in diameter, has been successfully attached to the Orion spacecraft. The heat shield is made from a single seamless piece of Avcoat ablator. It will be tested on Orion’s first flight in December 2014 as it protects the spacecraft from temperatures reaching 4000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The uncrewed flight, dubbed Exploration Flight Test-1(EFT-1), will test the spacecraft for eventual missions that will send astronauts to an asteroid and eventually Mars. EFT-1 will launch an uncrewed Orion capsule 3,600 miles into space for a four-hour mission to test several of its most critical systems. After making two orbits, Orion will return to Earth at almost 20,000 miles per hour, before its parachutes slow it down for a landing in the Pacific Ocean.