December 2004 Issue

NATIONAL NEWS

CANADA NEEDS MORE CANADIANS, AND EVEN MORE BIG IDEAS
by Anna Smith

Canadian inventors are responsible for some of the most important discoveries ever made – discoveries that have changed the lives of people all over the world.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

YOUNG GAME INVENTORS CONTEST
by Anna Smith

In keeping with its commitment to help children learn and interact while having fun, University Games is sponsoring its annual National Young Game Inventors Contest (NYGIC) for 2004. In this one-of-a-kind contest, kids invent their own board game and have the chance to have it produced! Created by University Games in 1993, the NYGIC encourages imagination, critical thinking, deductive reasoning, creativity, and education through the process of board game invention.

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NEW MEDICAL IMAGING TECHNIQUE
by Anna Smith

Researchers at Rensselaer are working to develop a new medical imaging technique designed to determine the relative stiffness of soft tissue for the diagnosis of injury and disease.

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ORANGE COUNTY WATER DISTRICT ONE-OF-A-KIND INVENTION
by Anna Smith

While the rest of the world continues to use old technology to clean percolation lakes, Orange County Water District (OCWD) is now using four full-scale versions of its patented Basin Cleaning Vehicle (BCV) hood technology. OCWD’s cleaning method is unique in that a BCV hood—similar to a swimming pool cleaner—cleans the lake while it is full of water. Traditional methods involve emptying the lake, drying it out, and scraping the bottom with heavy equipment to remove one-quarter to one-inch thick clogging layer. The four new barge-like BCV’s cost $4 million and are projected to help increase the amount of water available for Orange County residents.

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ORANGE COUNTY WATER DISTRICT ONE-OF-A-KIND INVENTION
by Anna Smith

While the rest of the world continues to use old technology to clean percolation lakes, Orange County Water District (OCWD) is now using four full-scale versions of its patented Basin Cleaning Vehicle (BCV) hood technology. OCWD’s cleaning method is unique in that a BCV hood—similar to a swimming pool cleaner—cleans the lake while it is full of water. Traditional methods involve emptying the lake, drying it out, and scraping the bottom with heavy equipment to remove one-quarter to one-inch thick clogging layer. The four new barge-like BCV’s cost $4 million and are projected to help increase the amount of water available for Orange County residents.

“In a tight urban environment like Orange County, we have been forced to push the envelope to find new ways to put more water into our groundwater basin,” said Board President Denis R. Bilodeau. “Since it is difficult and expensive to obtain additional land to build more percolation lakes, developing the BCV significantly increases the efficiency of our existing lakes and is a very innovative and remarkable achievement.”

OCWD’s percolation lakes act as both a filter and funnel to replenish Orange County’s deep groundwater basin with Santa Ana River water and imported water from the Colorado River or Northern California. The groundwater stored beneath Orange County is later pumped out by retail water agencies that provide that water to more than half of Orange County’s citizens.

As the water is filtered by the sand and gravel at the bottom of the lake, the clay and silt in the water collects at the bottom. Under the pressure of millions of gallons of water in the lake, the silt is compacted to form a thin “clogging layer”—similar to concrete—that stops or slows percolation into the groundwater basin below.

“We started a six-month percolation study in January of this year to document the specific impact of operating the new shallow lake BCVs on groundwater percolation rates,” said OCWD General Manager Virginia Grebbien. “Previous full-scale tests in 2001 and 2002 in another basin not only showed a 30 percent increase in percolation, but also that a basin can operate perhaps twice as long before needing cleaning in the conventional way.”

After ten years of research and development, OCWD is now using two models of the BCV—one to clean deep lakes and one for shallow lakes. The shallow lake version—recently installed in four different lakes and currently being tested—are towed along the lake bottom by a cable system, while the deep lake model, still under development, can actually drive itself back and forth along the lake bottom using a global positioning system (GPS).

Both versions of the BCV stir up the clogging layer at the bottom of the lake and pumping the clay and silt ashore. Since percolation lakes are used to replenish many groundwater basins around the world, this new, patented BCV technology has potential global application.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
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INTERNATIONAL PATENT FILINGS EXCEED 110,000 FOR 2004
by Anna Smith

The number of international patent applications filed in 2003 using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), exceeded 110,000 for the third consecutive year, with users from the United States of America topping the list. Applicants from Japan clinched the second place over Germany, for the first time in over a decade. The PCT is the cornerstone of the international patent system and offers a rapid, flexible and cost-effective route to obtain patent protection in the 123 countries that have signed up to the system.

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CELL PHONE EDGES ALARM CLOCK AS MOST HATED INVENTION, YET ONE WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
by Anna Smith

Nearly one in three (30%) adults say the cell phone is the invention they most hate but cannot live without, according to the eighth annual Lemelson-MIT Invention Index study. The cell phone narrowly beat the alarm clock (25%) and television (23%) for the distinction in the survey, which gauges Americans’ attitudes toward invention. Shaving razors, microwaves, coffee pots, computers and vacuum cleaners were also cited as essential, yet despised, inventions.

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ALION INVENTION PROVIDING GREATER SAFETY TO MILITARY PERSONNEL WINS ARMY AWARD
by Anna Smith

Alion Science and Technology was recognized for contributions to developing one of the “Army’s Greatest Inventions” of the past year. The award was presented to Alion's customer, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), National Automotive Center, where a team of engineers helped develop a new weapons mount that can vastly increase the safety of troops traveling in “Humvees”. The weapons mount is now being used by the US military in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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