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KAIST’s On-line Electric Vehicle Project Recognized as One of 10 Emerging Technologies

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced today that its research project, On-line Electric Vehicle (OLEV), was included in the ten most promising technologies in 2013.

This is an OLEV shuttle bus that provides ride services to students and faculty at KAIST campus in Daejeon, Korea. (Credit: Hyung-Joon Jeon, KAIST PR Office)

The selection was made by the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies, one of 88 global agenda councils under the World Economic Forum.

OLEV technology uses inductive coupling and wireless electromagnetic transmission to power electric vehicles (cars, buses, vans, etc.) during operation. Under the bottom floor of an on-line electric vehicle is attached with a pickup system that receives electromagnetic fields from power cables installed under the road surface. The power is also used to charge an on-board battery which is used to power the vehicle when it is off the power line.

Currently, two commercial models of OLEV are up and running: buses and trams. The buses are in daily use by students at the KAIST campus in Daejeon, and the trams are in an amusement park for passengers' ride in Seoul.

Other emerging technologies listed by the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies are 3-D printing, self-healing materials, energy efficient water purification, CO2 conversion and use, enhanced nutrition to drive health at the molecular level, remote sensing, nano-designed effective drug delivery, organic electronics and photovoltaics, and 3rd and 4th generation nuclear reactors and waste recycling.

Below is the full list of the ten technologies:

Top Ten Emerging Technology Trends in 2013 from the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies, World Economic Forum

On-line Electric Vehicle (OLEV):

OLEV technology uses inductive coupling and wireless electromagnetic transmission to power electric vehicles (cars, buses, vans etc) during operation. This is achieved by attaching pick-up coil sets under the bottom floor of an electric vehicle in order to receive electromagnetic fields from power cables installed under the road surface. The power is also used to charge an on-board battery which is used to power the vehicle when it is off line. These vehicles use one fifth of the battery of a normal electric vehicle. With a ground height of 20cm and a 75kW power capacity, an OLEV can achieve a transmission efficiency of 83%. These vehicles are currently undergoing road tests in Seoul.

3-D Printing:

A fabrication process to create 3-dimensional solid structures from a digitally originated design. The key distinction of this process as compared with other, more conventional lithography techniques, is that it is *additive* rather than subtractive. That is, the additional material is deposited on top of the underlying layer to create a free-standing structure from the bottom up. In standard patterning techniques, the material is commonly removed to effectively carve out the feature of interest. Specialized instruments, aka 3D printers, are generally required to be able to print the features of interest. In such a 3D printing process, an object can be made from scratch by following a computer aided design, CAD, file. 3D printers are mostly used as prototyping tools because the process is still time-consuming, expensive, and not 100% reliable.

Self-healing Materials:

The ability of materials to heal stems from structural elements, which are capable of repairing damage caused by repeated (thermo) mechanical exposure, often arranged hierarchically like in hard biological systems. Initiation of cracks and damage on a microscopic level commonly leads to a change in thermal, electrical, and acoustical properties. A man-made self-healing material (some polymers, composites, ceramics, etc.) must have the ability to heal itself without human or machine intervention. The process of healing typically requires the application of either heat or electrical bias or some other stimulus. The process of healing is not repeatable forever, because the material(s) in the crack plane from previous healings would build up over time.

Energy Efficient Water Purification:

Increasing water scarcity has led to the widespread use of reverse osmosis, evaporation and other energy intensive techniques. Energy-efficient technologies for water desalination such as those based on Forward Osmosis can now be deployed modularly at large scale. Such approaches have been shown to reduce energy consumption by over 50% and can utilize steam or heat from a variety of renewable sources such as solar-thermal, geothermal and industrial co-generation heat. Applications ranging from municipal and industrial to recovered water in oil & gas applications can benefit from such innovations.

CO2 Conversion and Use:

Large investments in CO2 capture and sequestration motivated by greenhouse gas emission concerns have yielded no economically viable large scale approaches to date. New technologies that consume/convert CO2 into saleable goods can better address the need for carbon mitigation. Specifically, the use of engineered photosynthetic bacteria producing secreted liquid fuels or chemicals in modular, solar-converter systems offer a path for CO2 emitters to generate revenues where they once had costs. These systems operate today at the acre scale and are expected to reach 100's of acres during the next 18-24 months, with land productivities that are 10-100 fold greater than comparable biofuels based on agricultural or algal feedstock. The same platforms are now also being deployed to produce nutritional ingredients such as pure human dietary proteins meant to augment or replace whey or soy proteins.

Enhanced Nutrition to Drive Health at the Molecular Level:

The adverse health effects of human malnutrition are mainly modulated through changing the composition and quantity of foods consumed. Modern Genomic technologies have been applied broadly to the human diet in order to identify at the sequence level the vast number of naturally consumed proteins that are therefore Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) for human consumption. Among them are proteins that individually have advantages over current protein supplements/ingredients such as greater percentage of essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids, solubility, taste, texture and nutrition/calorie. Large-scale production of pure, human dietary proteins tailored for health benefits such as in muscle development, diabetes and obesity are underway based on applications of biotechnology to molecular nutrition.

Remote Sensing (self-drive cars, for monitoring and communicating health, etc.):

The more widespread use of sensors that allow often passive responses to external stimulae will continue to change the way we respond to the environment. Examples include increased uses of sensors to monitor bodily function (heart rate, blood oxygen and sugar levels) which trigger a medical response, whether it be insulin or simply a monitoring of a person throughout their day. Advances rely on wireless communication between devices, low power sensing technologies and sometimes active energy harvesting. Other examples include vehicle-to-vehicle sensing for improved safety.

Nano-designed Effective Drug Delivery:

The molecularly localized delivery of pharmaceuticals only where needed offers unprecedented opportunities for more effective treatments while dramatically reducing their side effects. Targeted nanoparticles that adhere to diseased tissue allowing for the delivery of potent therapeutic compounds while minimizing their impact on healthy tissue, are now advancing in clinical trials. After almost a decade of research, these new approaches are finally showing early signs of clinical utility, increased local concentration and exposure time of the drug and in some cases showing effectiveness not seen with the drug compound alone. These recent advances in nanomedicine promise to improve the effects of current drugs as well as rescuing others that cannot otherwise be developed due to dose limiting toxicity.

Organic Electronics and Photovoltaics:

Organic, also known as printed electronics, means the use of organic materials such as polymers to create electronic circuits and devices. In contrast to traditional silicon based semiconductors, organic electronics can be printed using ink jet techniques making them extremely cheap compared with silicon devices, both in terms of the cost per device and the capital equipment required to produce them. While organic electronics are unlikely to compete with silicon in terms of speed and density, the availability of low cost devices, from sensors to displays is a key step in enabling the 'Internet of Things.

3rd and 4th Generation Nuclear Reactors and Waste Recycling:

Current-generation once-through nuclear power reactors only utilize 1% of the potential energy available in uranium, leaving the rest radioactively contaminated as nuclear 'waste'. Whilst the technical challenge of geological disposal is manageable, the political challenge of nuclear waste is considerable. Recycling and breeding uranium-238 into new fissile material would extend current uranium resources for centuries, allowing nuclear power to make a major contribution to the world's low-carbon energy production. The resulting fission product waste is radioactive for hundreds of years, not tens of thousands, making eventual disposal less of a challenge even than most conventional hazardous waste from other industries. Fourth-generation metal-cooled fast reactors are now close to deployment in several countries and are offered by established nuclear engineering companies.

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