From floating nuclear power plants to super silkworms – a world of innovation

25 November 2016

Supply Management takes a look around the globe to highlight where supply chains are making a difference...


Researchers at Beijing’s Tsinghua University are making silk’s gossamer threads stringer and tougher by feeding silkworms carbon nanotubes. The new silks, which can stand 50% more stress before breaking, could be used in durable creative fabrics, biodegradeable medical implants and ecofriendly wearable electronics.


Underwater gliders could help track hurricanes and tropical storms more accurately. Scientists believe the oceans can help us understand the strength and duration of storms and deployed several data-collecting gliders to help predict the course of Hurricane Ermine.


Phone repair company Lovefone are renovating 35 old red British phone boxes in London over the next 18 months turning them into spaces where people can get their phones and tablets fixed, access free charging and free WiFi.


A new technique to allow ships to power their engines with plant-based fuel is being developed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen and several large Danish companies:. They are close to patenting a chemical that can transform lignin, an organic molecule found in plants and algae, into diesel oil.


Leonardo-Finmeccanica is working on a project to prevent collisions between manned and unmanned aircraft. The company’s sense and avoid feature, which draws on electro-optics and radar, could enable unmanned vehicles to use conventional aviation routes.


In Pevek, Russia’s northernmost city, work has started on the world’s first floating nuclear power plant. The new plant, designed to supply much of the power to the region’s many mining companies, should be operational by the end of 2019.


Start up fund Innovate Venture has chosen 12 young tech companies for its accelerator programme. Three of the firms – which cover such sectors as payment systems, web hosting and wedding planning – will win funding from Innovate.


Founded in 2003, Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus now submits more than four patents a day, half of all those submitted in the Netherlands. It is home to 150 companies, all within a five-minute walking distance.


Crunching the numbers


The minimum number of gallons of milk that US farmers have dumped in the first eight months of this year, as supply continues to far exceed demand. That is enough to fill 66 Olympic-sized swimming pools.


The share of Italy’s GDP accounted for by the underground and black economy. In 2014, it is estimated that this ‘sector’ was worth €211bn. The biggest chunk (46%) was accounted for by companies undeclaring income.


Orders placed with Japan’s 81 shipyards in 2016. The slowdown has prompted Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the country’s fourth largest shipyard, to stop making general cargo and large cruise ships and focus on smaller vessels and marine engines.

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