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Geologists have found something that could change the engineer’s approach in developing solar panels. While solar panels have often been made of silicon photovoltaic cells, this is likely to change to Perovskite rock. Perovskite rock is in the family of naturally-occurring crystalline minerals.

Perovskite-based cells are not only easy to manufacture at low expenses but are with a power conversion efficiency of 19.3%.

These solar cells are usually built using processed ‘organo-metal halide’ perovskite, that are first crystallized and then attached to a top electrode. Production involves simple and cost-efficient printing of the solar cells, which makes perovskite a much cheaper alternative to the traditional photovoltaic cells in the market.

Altering the component elements of the ABX3 (Perovskite’s chemical formula) structure can lead to changes in chemical properties, an added advantage that opens up doors to a number of fascinating possibilities. For instance, the perovskite crystal can be made partially transparent enough to be used as solar powered window panes.

Scientists believe that with further improvements in technology, the power conversion efficiency of perovskite will soon surpass the 20.8% of CIGS and 25% of the commercially available crystalline silicon solar cells.

To curd the toxic effects of lead -a metal that occurs in most minerals- tin-based (lead-free) perovskite solar cell versions have successfully been developed.This could be the future of solar energy.

Extracts from Hexapolis

 

 

 

China is set to reveal Gaofen-2, a high-definition Earth observation satellite to space this year. This is in regard to the state of Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND).

The satellite will assist in giving geographic and resource surveys, environment and climate change monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster relief and city planning.

As reported by a local daily “Gaofen-2 is equipped with better technology and has the ability to see a one-meter-long object in full colour to enhance development of China’s remote sensing industry.

Gaofen -1 released in April 2013 ,provides data on Lushan earthquake in Sichuan, floods in northeast China and smog in north and east China during the test period.

Gaofen-1 was the first of five or six satellites to be launched for high-definition Earth observation before 2016. It is also the first low-orbit remote-sensing satellite designed to be in use for longer than five years.

Athi Water Services Board hopes that the construction of Sh 7 billion pipeline from Murang’a will increase the supply of water for Nairobi residents to 140,000 cubic meters per day.

The company chief executive officer Mr. Malaquen Milgo said that the project, which is set to take two years, will significantly raise supply of water to residential and industrial establishments.

Mr. Milgo said that a contractor for the 11.7 kilometer pipeline financed by the World Bank had been picked and is expected on site once the deal is signed.
The pipeline, measuring 3.2 meters in diameter, will take about 40 months to complete, paving way for another mega project that will completely bridge the water deficit by 2030.

The pipeline will discharge raw water from Mragua, Gikire and Irati rivers to Githika river, which drains its water to Ndakaini dam, a major water source for Nairobi. From Ndakaini, a Ksh 4.8 billion water treatment plant financed by the French Development Agency will be constructed at Kigoro to process the extra water supply.

The plant, which was initially set to be built in Ngororo, 44 kilometers from Ndakaini, was shelved after it emerged that it would cost Ksh3 Billion to acquire the pipeline's way-leave. The treated water will then be pumped to Ng'ethu Water works for onward supply to the city.

                   

Samsung and Apple’s top smartphone series have a new challenger. A China smartphone domineer, Xiaomi on Monday unveiled a new smartphone, Mi4.The smartphone which some refer to as the “iPhone of the East” is considered a Galaxy and iPhone hybrid.

The Mi4 has a 5-inch full-HD screen and runs a special modified version of Android that Xiaomi uses in all of its phones. Like the iPhones,Mi4 is all-metal with smoothly-cut edge perimeter.It features a quad-core 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and 16GB of 64GB of internal memory.

To beat Samsung’s android phones, the device will run Xiaomi’s custom MIUI operating system – a skinned version of Android that allows for more customization and that removes the Android app drawer in favour of putting all the programs on the home screen (just like an iPhone).

Xiaomi also unveiled an fitness tracker dubbed the MiBand which tracks the wearer’s sleep and steps and can be used also to unlock Xiami’s phones.

Xiaomi however sells its phones only in China and other few emerging markets. It is said to have sold more phones than Apple in China.

Their Mi3 smartphone is ranked seventh in top selling Smartphones by Counterpoint Technology Research Firm as of May this year. Apple is rumored to be working on iPhone 6 which could be released before end of this year.

 

 

 

Sunswift, a team of engineering students from University of New South Wales have designed and built a fast solar-powered vehicle known as eVe. The vehicle has broken the 20-year -old electric vehicle record for the highest average speed over a 500 km (310 mi) distance.

The vehicle which goes at a speed of 140 kilometers per hour will be replaced with a fully charged battery instead of solar panels this week.

Car features
The design of the car is more conventional with a two-door and two passenger car making it almost street legal.

It is powered by a Li-ion battery pack that drives a pair of custom-designed motors with an astounding 97 per cent efficiency. The solar panel array has high efficiency flexible thin slim silicon PV cells providing 800 watts of power on a sunny day.

Regenerative braking replenishes the batteries, recovering up to 80% of the braking energy.

The TeXtreme carbon fiber body keeps the car’s weight at a trim 300 kg (661 lbs). Its wheels are made of carbon fiber (front) and aluminum (rear).

Lastly, the  vehicle has been recorded in the Guinness World Record for its uniqueness in design unlike past spaceship vehicles.


Safaricom has released the second edition of the Appwiz challenge, the contest. The challenge will target new app developers working in the mobile technology firms.
It aims at identifying and developing successful early stage mobile technology companies and come up with developing solutions to problems affecting the current Kenyan market.

As reported by a local daily “this edition will harmonize government’s efforts in achieving a middle-income economy by 2030 and boost ICT start-ups that will develop into profitable enterprises.”

Safaricom has invested Sh 7 million in the competition and the participants with the most successful mobile technology based solution will get the chance to expand their start-ups through financial support from the prize money and partnerships from government and private sector.

Applicants will be required to develop    solutions from five categories such as Mobile for Good and Community Development, Smart Business and Cloud Innovation, Financial Inclusion, Youth, Entertainment, Games and Media and Infrastructure and Utilities.

The statement added that the developers will be taught on how to attract investments through their solutions, how to manage and marketing techniques of their businesses in addition to training and mentorship.

              

The general public is being invited to a validation workshop on the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Master Plan (NUIPLAN).The workshop organized by the Nairobi City Council and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) is scheduled for 22nd July  (tomorrow) from 9:00am-4:00pm at Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

“This follows successful and highly participatory plan preparation and SEA process that have involved a broad spectrum of local and international stakeholders”, notes the NUIPLAN secretariat in a statement.

The draft NUIPLAN and draft Strategic Social & Environment Assessment (SEA) reports will be subjected to public inspection and the final plans will be made.

The plan is aimed at providing a guiding framework to manage urban development in Nairobi City County from this year (2014) to 2030.It will also help integrate all urban development sectors and realize the goals of Kenya Vision 2030 for the city county of Nairobi.

 

 

 

                              

Kenyans with project ideas that can positively affect lives of ten to thirty people have a chance to receive funds to fund their projects. The funds totaling up to Ksh1.653B will be made available via the Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies (REACT) funding window of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF).

“The AECF is now accepting applications in the third round of the renewable energy and adaptation to climate technologies (REACT R3) window.”, notes REACT in a statement.

REACT provides grants and interest free loans to businesses with innovative and transformative climate change solutions. The fund seeks those businesses with ideas that are profit driven, have the potential to go scale and that by doing so will have a deep social impact throughout the region.

The projects on target are mainly under solar energy, power generation from agricultural waste, draught-resistant crops, small irrigation projects and weather insurance for small farmers.

REACT goes on to add, “The overall driving forces for REACT are that the business idea must show an environmental benefit and that it must demonstrate a positive impact on the rural poor through either increased incomes, employment and productivity or reduced costs.”

The application is open until 23rd September this year. Applicants can apply on the AECF website. The best ideas are awarded up to US$1.5m in grants and interest free loans while the least amount awarded is Ksh250, 000.
REACT is currently investing in 32 companies across East Africa and 12 in Mozambique, with an overall portfolio size of approximately US$34 million. So far, 179 grantee businesses around Africa have been selected for funding through various competitions out of over 8,000 applications received in six years.

Among the beneficiary projects under REACT so far are; Mkopa, MicroEnergy Credits, Mobisol,Cummins Cogeneration, Ecosmart Energy SolarNow, Off Grid Electric Tanzania Ltd among many others.

The AECF is a Sh18 billion challenge fund capitalised by multilateral and bilateral donors to stimulate private sector entrepreneurs in Africa. The AECF is supported by the governments of Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).



 

 

 

                          

Local internet providers will now save up to $1.5 million a year on international connectivity charges thanks to growth in internet exchange traffic in the country.

This announcement was made yesterday as the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) officially launched the East Africa Data Centre. KIXP whose traffic capacity has grown four times since 2011 will own the first Tier 3 data centre in East and Central Africa.

Research conducted by Independent Strategy and Research Consultancy, Analysis Mason, found that the IXPs in Kenya and Nigeria had saved millions in telecommunications costs, raised additional revenues, accelerated local data exchange and encouraged the development of locally hosted content and services.

Improved access to local content has led to increased usage, subsequently helping increase the mobile data market by at least $6m per year in Kenya.

The report also revealed that KIXP has drastically reduced latency of local traffic, speeding data from 200-600ms (milliseconds) to 2-10ms on average.

There are four tiers of data storage worldwide but Africa has no dedicated Tier 4 facilities yet. The Tier 4 facilities provide the highest level of data security. EADC however, guarantees 99.98 per cent availability of data in order to qualify for its grading and becomes the first to reach these standards in East and Central Africa.

KIXP was previously hosted at Bruce House in the Nairobi CBD.

Counties going Smart
Elsewhere, since 2013 when the government decentralised its functions to the county governments,
efforts have been made to enhance efficiency of the county government by enrolling ICT in service delivery.

In a move to accelerate counties efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery, the ICT Authority secured funding to support ICT readiness and deployment in identified projects. A total of $30 million from the World Bank has been secured to support the initiative, Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project (KTCIP).

 

 

 

 

China Road and Bridge Corporation, contracted firm to construct the Standard Gauge Railway has been constrained by Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure to buy all local materials from the local industries in Kenya. A move that will see the economic status of the country rise.

Some of the materials they will buy include sand, steel, galvanized iron, electric cables and cement costing Ksh 327billion from the contract price.

Standard Gauge railway will be one of Kenya‘s achievements in achieving vision 2030 and is set to begin in September and completed in June 2017. It will bring major changes into the transport sector as there will be cheaper means of transport and regional integration.


Read also http://www.kenyaengineer.co.ke/index.php/columns/powertrains/1852-an-open-letter-from-an-engineer-to-the-president

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Parliament has cleared the multi-billion-shilling security surveillance contract that the government awarded telecoms operator Safaricom, removing a major hurdle from its path. The parliamentary committee that investigated the award of the Sh14.9 billion integrated security surveillance tender to the telecoms firm on Thursday said it had not found any irregularities in the deal. Instead, the Administration and National Security committee said it had come to the conclusion that the proposed communication and surveillance system “would greatly help security agencies face up to the rising wave of security challenges in the country.”

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Remaking the Highways of Nairobi

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The notorious traffic jam along the Uhuru Highway could be a thing of the past if the newly released proposal for the upgrade of the road is implemented. The project to be financed by the government and World Bank has the design of an elevated highway to run above the existing Mombasa Rd-Uhuru Highway from Likoni road junction at Ole Sereni Hotel to James Gichuru junction off Waiyaki Way.

The design done by Otieno Odongo Engineering Consultants will get rid of the roundabouts between Nyayo stadium and Westlands which are considered a main cause of the traffic along the route. The Nyayo Stadium roundabout will be replaced with single point diamond interchange. An elevated roadway-viaduct will be constructed towards Haile Selassie roundabout and end past the University Way roundabout.Haile Selassie road, Kenyatta Avenue and University way will all pass below the elevated roadway viaduct.

The 12km road upgrade project is set to start in January next year and be ready for use in 2015. It is part of Kenya National Highway Authority’s (KeNHA) larger plan to improve the thoroughfare from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Rironi. Other improvements will include proper pedestrian pavements, service roads and a functional storm water drainage system.

 

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