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Through a glass clearly

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GREETINGS! Well, I thought we’d dip into the technology file today. We haven’t been there for a while and there’s actually some good news.

Although it isn’t the dangerous problem it can be in the temperate zones in winter, it’s still a hassle when your glasses fog up when you go from an air-conditioned building into Guam’s humid air. And if you aren’t lucky enough to have AC in your car, your windshield can fog up dangerously when it’s raining hard and you can’t roll down the windows.

So news from the Universite Laval in France is welcome indeed. Researchers there have published news of an innovation that could eliminate the fog on eyeglasses, windshields, goggles, camera lenses, and any other transparent glass or plastic surface. Fog forms on a surface when water vapor in the air condenses in fine droplets. It’s not a continuous film, and a good anti-fog coating should prevent the formation of such droplets.

The researchers use polyvinyl alcohol, a hydrophilic (water-loving) compound that allows water to spread uniformly. The challenge is to firmly attach the compound to the glass or plastic surface. To accomplish this, researchers constructed a layered base and then added the anti-fog compound. The result is a thin, transparent, multilayered coating that doesn’t alter the optical properties of the surface. In addition, the chemical bonds that join the different layers ensure the hardness and durability of the entire coating.

Two patents already protect this invention, which has numerous potential applications, including vehicle windshields, camera lenses, binoculars, and corrective lenses. Negotiations are already underway with a major eyewear company interested in obtaining a license for this technology.

Well, I’m certainly all for this innovation! It’s a real pain to walk outside and have everything go blurry!

And now for some new technology that could have an impact locally.

Your next new car hopefully won't be a lemon, but it could be a pineapple or a banana. That's because Brazilian scientists are using fibers from these plants to make new plastics for cars that are stronger, lighter, and more eco-friendly than plastics now in use.

The scientists are using these plants to produce "nano" cellulose fibers, which are so tiny that 50,000 could fit across the width inside a single strand of human hair. Like fibers made from glass, carbon, and other materials, nano-cellulose fibers can be added to raw material used to make plastics, producing reinforced plastics that are stronger and more durable.

The researchers are using pineapple stems and leaves, banana leaves, coconut shell fiber, cattails, and sisal fibers produced from the agave plant. To prepare the nano-fibers, the scientists insert the plant material into a device like a pressure cooker. Then they add just the right chemicals and heat the mixture over several cycles, to produce a fine material that resembles talcum powder. The process is costly, but just 1 pound of nano-cellulose produces 100 pounds of super-strong, lightweight plastic.

The new plastics are very strong but much lighter than traditional plastics. The researchers believe that many car parts like dashboards, bumpers and side panels will be made of nano-sized fruit fibers in the future. They’ll reduce a car’s weight, and that improves fuel economy.
Clear glasses and cars made from locally grown plants. Sounds good to me!

Cruise on over to The Deep website at www.thedeepradioshow.com to learn more about technology and many other topics. Enjoy!

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