Working together against COVID-19

This post was prepared by Anna Pellizzone, a science writer and an independent researcher at the Bassetti Foundation.

Makers

As many of us face lockdown and restricted movement, it is certainly worth thinking about what we ourselves might be able to do from our homes to help in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plenty of initiatives around that are pushing technology into new fields, with 3D printing certainly one of the most prominent technologies.

News of respirator valves produced using 3D printers has spread across the world. Thanks to the meeting of three minds, a journalist (Nunzia Vallini, Giornale di Brescia), a Maker from Milan (Massimo Temporelli, FabLab Milano) and an entrepreneur (Cristian Fracassi from Isinnova), pieces required for the machines used in the Intensive Care Department of Chiari Hospital (Italy) are being produced in the hospital itself.

The “3D Printing Unite for COVID-19” forum is another interesting collaboration. Through the forum, makers from across the world share ideas aimed at responding to the emergency. You can read more about the Chiari story there. This is an open-source initiative headquartered in Ireland which aims to resolve the problem of the shortage of  ventilators, learn more here in Forbes.

And there is plenty more. João Nascimento runs the OpenAir project, with the aim of finding new, fast, open-source and accessible ways to produce much-needed medical equipment. Lots of interesting stuff here too.

If you are the competitive type (and well set up), the UBORA project, has launched the UBORA design competition 2020, with the title “Open source medical technologies for integral management of COVID-19 pandemia and infectious disease outbreaks”.

Play Your Part

You too can play a role though without technical expertise and home technology by participating in Coronaselfcheck, a platform that works to map data on the spread of COVID-19 through a personal self-check. Check out the privacy and descriptions of aims before you make a decision, but everything is anonymous and helps through mapping contagion.

And of course fold.it, a platform many of you will know, where users who play have been able to help researchers to discover new antiviral drugs that might be able to stop the coronavirus. The most promising solutions will be tested at the Institute for Protein Design of the University of Washington. We are all citizen scientists at heart.

Remaining in the area of protein folding, another contribution that we can all make is to offer our own PC’s computational capacity by downloading and running folding@home – similar to BOINC projects.

There is also a lot of open-source software available that allows the sharing of useful research data. Nextstrain is an open-source application that works to track the evolution of viruses and bacteria, while GISAID is a free open-access platform that promotes the sharing of the genetic sequences of virus genomes such as influenza, bird flu and COVID-19.

And finally check out this article from Wired and you will be in self-isolation heaven.

Keep us informed if you find any others please: anticovid19(at)fondazionebassetti.org
Replace the (at) with an @

Let’s all push and show them what we can do if we all work together.

How many miles per gallon do electric cars get?

Electric cars aren’t powered by diesel or petrol, so they don’t have an official miles per gallon figure. That said, there are ways of working out how efficient they are and even give them a rough miles per gallon.

How Many Kilowatt Hours is in a Gallon of Petrol? ⛽

The US governments fueleconomy.gov website calculates 1 (US) gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt hours of energy – or kWh.

A US gallon is 3.785 litres, whereas in Canada and the UK a gallon is 4.546 litres. This means a (UK/Canadian) gallon of petrol is equivalent to 40.5 kWh of electricity.

Each litre of petrol is equivalent to 8.9 kWh.

Toyota Prius vs Nissan Leaf MPG

The Toyota Prius was once regarded as the sustainable choice for environmentally conscious drivers, but in recent times its crown has slipped a little. This might be partly because of Toyota’s inaccurate branding, claiming that it sells “self-charging cars”, when in reality a (very small) battery is charged by recovering motion which was achieved by burning petrol or diesel. That’s how most cars charge their 12-volt battery, it’s not self-charging! 😂 It’s also because electric cars are now more viable and mainstream.

The Nissan Leaf is currently the top-selling electric vehicle of all time (at least until the Model 3’s first quarter sales are released) so let’s use that for the comparison. An “efficient” hybrid vs an electric vehicle, how do they compare?

The Nissan Leaf

The Totoya Prius achieves 62.4mpg (UK/Canada) using 4.5 litres to travel 100 miles. The Nissan Leaf by comparison achieves the equivalent of 129.7mpg (UK/Canada) taking just 2.2 litres to travel 100 miles.

This highlights the efficiency of electric vehicles.

The Leaf uses less than half the energy of the Prius (the previous “gold standard”) to travel the same distance.

Efficiency

Internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars convert around 12-30% of the petrol or diesel they consume into forward motion powering the wheels. This is because an ICE car loses over two-thirds of its energy through heat 🔥 and the transmission of power through the drivetrain.

Even the most inefficient electric vehicles translate at least 60% of the electricity stored in the battery into forward motion. If driven using regenerative braking (to re-capture energy, rather than scrubbing it off via breaking) EVs can be around 90% efficient!

How Big is an Electric Car’s Fuel Tank?

Electric car battery and powertrain

Here’s another interesting question, if an electric car had a fuel tank, how big would it be?

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a 50kWh battery, so if one US gallon of gasoline/petrol is equivalent to 33.7kWh, then the Tesla Model 3s equivalent petrol fuel tank would be 1.48 US gallons – or 5.62 litres.

That’s right, an electric car can achieve a range of 200 miles (275 if driven carefully in warm weather) on less than the equivalent of 6 litres of petrol!

You can also compare cars on a cost per mile basis, which is what I’m going to write about next, with the help of the new electric Mini!

Webinar on technology, legal issues and human rights challenges 5 March 2020

This week I want to let you know about a webinar that might well be of interest, hosted by the EU funded SIENNA project.

The SIENNA project addresses ethical issues in three new and emerging technology areas: human genomics, human enhancement and human-machine interaction. As we know, these areas all come with major socio-economic impact but they also raise issues related to human rights. The project aims to identify and assess ethical issues and risks and produce three ethical frameworks related to the areas named above. 

The SIENNA project has recently produced a legal analysis of issues and human rights challenges for these areas, and studies of how they are handled in different jurisdictions. They are presenting the results in a webinar on 5 March 2020, at 2PM Central European Time.

The analysis looked at how the law responds to challenges in these different fields, and identified the limitations, challenges and gaps. They also identified key human rights norms and regulatory approaches that can help shape legal responses to new and emerging technologies in these domains. 

Interested participants can register here. I will certainly be following.