Energy's Future: Flying & Floating Wind Farms

Offshore wind farms have access to stronger, more consistent winds and new technology will allows them to float in the sea. Next, wind farms may fly to capture atmospheric winds. 

What's the Latest Development?


An ongoing experiment in the rough North Sea could make new, floating wind farms a reality in a variety of difficult locations including US coastal areas. The Hywind project, set to finish later this year, has generated 15MWh of energy since 2010 and could help promote new offshore power projects. "Though turbines on land still dominate the field, offshore sites are expected to grow rapidly, especially if floating turbines can make electricity cheaply enough to compete." The economics of offshore wind favour fewer, larger turbines.

What's the Big Idea?

A German company is currently working on an ambitious flying wind farm which would capture the energy of wind high in the Earth's atmosphere, where there is enough energy to potentially power the planet. "The firm SkySails has drawn on its experience of designing enormous kites to tow cargo ships, to develop offshore wind systems that generate electricity as the kite pulls cable from a drum." After the kite is fully extended and has collected wind energy from the air, it will be steered into a quiet area and reeled in again. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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