Researchers found that more than two-thirds of a running shoe’s carbon impact can come from manufacturing processes, with a smaller percentage arising from acquiring or extracting raw materials, according to a 22 May MIT media release. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Researchers found that more than two-thirds of a running shoe’s carbon impact can come from manufacturing processes, with a smaller percentage arising from acquiring or extracting raw materials, according to a 22 May MIT media release. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Tech tidbits: Fire ants, robots and Shoes’ carbon footprint

A research that finds shoes generate 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, to how fire ants can help in robot research

Shoes have a carbon footprint

A typical pair of running shoes generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to keeping a 100-watt light bulb on for one week, according to a new MIT-led lifecycle assessment. The researchers found that more than two-thirds of a running shoe’s carbon impact can come from manufacturing processes, with a smaller percentage arising from acquiring or extracting raw materials, according to a 22 May MIT media release. The researchers found that much of the carbon impact came from powering manufacturing plants: A significant portion of the world’s shoe manufacturers are located in China, where coal is the dominant source of electricity. The group’s results, Kirchain says, will help shoe designers identify ways to improve designs and reduce shoes’ carbon footprint.

RFID tags in paper too

Researchers at the North Dakota State University, Fargo, have developed a method to embed RFID tags in paper that could help combat document counterfeiting, and antennaless RFID tags for use on metal, according to a media release by Science Daily. Val Marinov’s team developed a method to embed ultra-thin, ultra-small RFID chips on paper, which could lead to ways to reduce counterfeiting of a wide variety of items such as pharmaceuticals, currency and legal papers. The patent-pending process, known as Laser Enabled Advanced Packaging or LEAP, uses a laser beam’s energy to precisely transfer and assemble chips with dimensions well below those possible using conventional methods.

Pune-Mumbai expressway to be RFID-monitored

The 96-km Pune-Mumbai Expressway will soon get a new RFID system to monitor lane cutting and overspeeding. The proposal has received in-principle approval from the state highway police, the Indian Express reported on 13 May. A Mumbai-based non-governmental organization, Fulora Foundation, developed the RFID-based system and had submitted its proposal to the State Highway Police and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corp., which maintains the expressway.

Fire ants to help robot research

By studying fire ants—a variety of the insects—in the laboratory using video tracking equipment and X-ray computed tomography, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have uncovered fundamental principles of locomotion that robot teams could one day use to travel quickly and easily through underground tunnels, according to a 20 May media release. Among the study’s surprises was the first observation that ants in confined spaces use their antennae for locomotion as well as for sensing the environment. The researchers hypothesized that the ants are creating their environment in just the right way to allow them to move up and down rapidly with a minimal amount of neural control, which “can teach us some remarkably effective tricks for manoeuvring (robots) in subterranean environments".

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