News Service


Skip Derra, News Service (515) 294-4917

News about Science, Technology and Engineering at Iowa State University

AMES, Iowa --

Virtual historic tours

Using immersive projection technology, people can walk through the Parthenon, a temple built in Greece more than 2,000 years ago which now lies in ruins. Carolina Cruz-Neira, ISU's Litton assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, used C2, Iowa State's virtual reality room, to create a virtual library for teaching architectural history. "We also developed models of the Queen Hatshepstat mortuary temple, the Speyer cathedral, the Pantheon, the Tempeitto and the Notre Dame cathedral," she said. "We reconstructed the interiors and exteriors with as many features as we could document, based on existing literature."

Cruz-Neira, who is working with ISU architecture professors Chiu Shui Chan and John Maves, said students around the world will be able to access a permanent web page and conduct interactive explorations of the ancient buildings. Virtual reality devices, such as the C2 and head-mounted displays, will enable students to do "interactive" walk-throughs inside full-scale models of the buildings as they were originally built. Contact Cruz-Neira at (515) 294-4192, Maves at (515) 294-8194, Chan at (515) 294-8326, or Mitch Mihalovich, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-4344.

Biomass technology heats up

Researchers Iowa State University's Center for Coal and the Environment (CfCE) have developed a new biomass gasifier with an energy content high enough for use in internal combustion engines, gas turbines and fuel cells.

"What we have discovered is a way to improve the quality of gas produced from biomass that is far less expensive and complicated than existing methods," says Robert Brown, CfCE director. Many developing countries are particularly interested in small-scale, local power generation based on area agriculture, and Brown is discussing demonstration projects with companies and provincial governments in China. Contact Brown at (515) 294-8733, or Anita Rollins, IPRT Communications, (515) 294-1113.

NDE federation unites centers worldwide

A worldwide federation of centers that specialize in nondestructive evaluation (NDE) will be located at Iowa State University. The World Federation of Nondestructive Evaluation Centers will initially include NDE centers from 10 countries. "Nondestructive evaluation crosses into economic, safety and reliability issues around the globe," said Donald Thompson, chair of the World Federation organizing committee and former director of Iowa State's Center for Nondestructive Evaluation. "Our push is to grow NDE into a worldwide quantitative technology that will match the push in globalization."

NDE allows the inspection of a structure or product in a non- invasive manner. Through the use of NDE methods, the flight worthiness of airplanes can be assured, the integrity of bridges can be inspected and the reliability of products can be tested.

The federation will focus on projects that improve the overall quantitative aspects of NDE technologies, and those that could have a global impact, such as development of NDE techniques to detect land mines, Thompson said. Countries initially involved in the federation are Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Ukraine and the U.S. The focus of the federation will be on collaborative NDE research projects and applications; faculty and student exchanges to aid the worldwide NDE educational/training process; and outreach programs with national and international industries that promote worldwide safety, product quality, and economic growth. Contact Thompson at (515) 294-8152, or Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917.

Lead-free solder to Asian markets

Nihon Superior Co., a Japanese solder manufacturer, is the third company to sign an agreement to make, use and sell lead-free solder based on alloy compositions patented by Ames Laboratory. "Nihon's clients include some of the industrial giants in Japan," says Iver Anderson, director of the Ames Lab Metallurgy and Ceramics Program and leader of the team that developed the alloy.

Previous licensing agreements were signed with Johnson Manufacturing, an Iowa-based company that produces solder wire and ingots for industrial applications, and Multicore Solders Inc., which sells solder to electronics and automotive industries. Anderson and a team of scientists from Ames Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory developed the solder alloy of tin, silver and copper. It is as easy to use as tin-lead solder, the current industry standard, but is stronger and performs better in high-heat conditions, and it avoids the use of lead and its toxic properties. Contact Iver Anderson at (515) 294-4446, or Susan Dieterle, Ames Lab Public Information, (515) 294-1405.

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