The wearable and nanotechnology being used to help prevent skin cancer

In a bid to help reduce the levels of skin cancer, scientists have developed a suncream that reduces the impact of UV rays and a wearable that lets you know if you’ve been in the sun for too long.

The Skin Cancer Foundation in the US says that more than 3.5m skin cancers, in more than 2m people, are diagnosed each year.

It is such a major risk to people’s health that figures from the Foundation show that over the past 30 years more people have had skin cancer than all of the other cancers combined.

Needless to say scientists and those working with technology have been working to develop preventative measures and ways to try and stop the cancer from taking lives.

One scientist from Mexico has incorporated nanotechnology into a suncream that can reduce the effects of UV rays. While another group, from Scotland, have created a wearable that helps to show the person with it on if they have been out in the sun for too long.

2million

The scientists from Scotland have created a waterproof wristband that changes colour according to the amount of exposures the wearer has to UV radiation.

It starts yellow but turns pink as exposures increases. The colour change is caused by an acid-release agent that detects the light and a dye which responds to the pH levels in the indicator.

The wristband’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light allows it to alert the wearer to danger before it is visible on the skin.

This could be of particular benefit to those from the UK who seem to easily get sun burned while on holiday – as well as reducing the chances of skin cancer.

The wristband was developed at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

30years

Scientist Joel Antonio Gutierrez from Mexico has developed a suncream that helps to reduce the effects of UV rays.

The cream, which is trying to infiltrate the highly competitive cosmetic industry, incorporates nanoparticles of titanium dioxide.

The key for the titanium dioxide product was to develop a technique to disperse the particles and avoid them collecting together.

The advantage in the formula is that using titanium dioxide nanoparticles increases the photo protective efficacy.

Since then it has been proved that the lower the particle size the better the protective UV efficiency.


Featured image courtesy of the University of Strathclyde 


Megawatts for microgrids: eco-friendly nuclear battery bringing power to remote areas

A “nuclear battery” that is designed to bring emission-free energy to remote areas and operations, as well as providing always-on power for data centres, hospitals and metal refineries, is being hailed as a key technology in the move towards environmentally friendly energy solutions.

Developed by a group of graduate students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), UPower is known as a battery because of its self-contained design; it doesn’t have external pumps, power sources or cooling systems. It is, however, quite a bit larger than your average battery, taking up two shipping containers.

“It does not require external power or makeup cooling water, and is cooled using a proprietary technology,” explained the company on its website, upowertech.com.

“This means it is “walk-away safe” and immune to Fukushima-type accidents.  In addition, the cooling technology is robust against even military attack.”

upower-unit

UPower has a continuous, always-on output of 2 megawatts, which is enough power for 2,000 homes. This is also equivalent to a large hospital, a data centre, an oil rig, a mine or a military base.

This has led to the company promoting the technology for use across high-tech and heavy industries, as well as for the military, all of which could benefit from the technology due to its high reliability, low cost and environmental credentials.

However, it could also be adopted to power microgrids for remote areas and small communities looking for energy independence.

The global microgrid market is estimated to be worth a whopping $300bn, and with energy prices increasing in many areas a growing number of communities are looking to microgrids to end their reliance on big power companies.

microgrid

UPower also has some impressive environmental features, which makes it an appealing option over more expensive rival diesel systems.

In addition to being both carbon and emission-free, saving more than 200,000 tons of CO₂ per unit, UPower provides 12 years of always-on power, after which the fuel can be recycled for another 12 years. Even once this is over the waste product is minimal, with the company describing it as “almost enough waste to fit in a basketball”.

Nuclear power is increasingly being seen as playing a vital role in the fight against climate change.

In November 2013 a group of prominent climate scientists wrote an open letter calling on policy makers to support nuclear power in light of the need to move away from fossil fuels.