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World News

A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on The United States.

12 December

Swiss scientists created a new material that could be used to build wearable electronic devices. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich came up with a stretchy material made from polyurethane that mimics the ways tendons connect to bones. Stretchable electronics could revolutionise devices like smartphones, solar cells and medical implants.

13 December

A satellite launched by North Korea was observed to be orbiting the Earth normally, although it was not known what mission it was performing. The launch of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket was condemned by South Korea and the US as a cover for testing banned ballistic missile technology, although North Korea said it was an observation satellite studying crops and weather patterns.

21 December

BAE Systems won a £2.5bn deal to sell 20 aircraft to Oman, helping to sustain 6,000 high technology and engineering jobs across the UK. The defence contractor said the order for 12 Typhoon and eight Hawk aircraft was an important export contract and supported its strategy to grow international markets and export business. The Omani ministry of defence has become the seventh operator of Eurofighter Typhoon and the third export customer after Saudi Arabia and Austria.

2 January

An energy consortium announced it was buying 32 operating wind farms in France from Iberdrola. The consortium made up of EDF Energies Nouvelles, GE Energy Financial Services, and MEAG - the asset management arm of Munich Re and ERGO - plan to re-power some of the wind farms to improve their efficiency and reliability. The onshore wind farms, spread across France, feature 160 turbines and have a combined capacity of 321.4MW.

3 January

Hutchison completed its £1.05bn takeover of Orange Austria to become the country’s third-biggest mobile operator. The deal reduced the number of mobile operators in Austria from four to three, with Hutchison and Orange Austria having a combined market share of about 24 per cent. Hutchison said it was looking forward to building a nationwide LTE network in the country within the next two years.

7 January

A 1,000-tonne compressor in western Norway was hailed as the key to making platform-free offshore oil and gas production a reality within the next ten years. The compressor was a prototype for Royal Dutch Shell’s Ormen Lange natural gas field in the Norweigian Sea as the company plans to build the world’s first subsea gas compression unit, which would all but eliminate the need for many platforms.

9 January

EU lawmakers planned to limit the ability of Internet companies like Facebook and Google to sell and use personal data. The European Parliament, the European Commission and the bloc’s 27 countries will seek an agreement on rules for tougher data protection in coming months. However Internet companies and other data-reliant sectors such as health services, rail and smart-meter makers have raised concerns that data curbs would not support a thriving European digital market.

9 January

Iceland planned to build the world’s longest subsea power cable to act as a “green battery” for the UK. State-run electricity producer Landsvirkjun said the country’s abundant geothermal energy from its volcanic formations could be harnessed to provide green power to the UK. The project has become more viable after rising demand for low-carbon energy and regulations favouring renewable power.

10 January

Despite a third consecutive year of record sales, Rolls-Royce sales growth slowed after demand from wealthy Chinese customers dropped off. Car sales for Rolls-Royce, owned by German carmaker BMW, rose 1 per cent in 2012, well below the 31 per cent and 150 per cent growth rates delivered in 2011 and 2010 respectively. The US regained its position as Rolls’ biggest market, with mainland Europe including Russia its third biggest.

16 January

Two people were killed and nine others injured after a helicopter crashed into a crane in Vauxhall, central London. The aircraft exploded into flames after it struck the crane on top of a building called the Tower in the St George Wharf development, one of Europe’s tallest residential towers, and then plunged to the street below. The aircraft was an AgustaWestland AW109, a lightweight, twin-engine helicopter with eight seats.

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