A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on Scotland.
London may play host to the all-electric Formula 1-style Formula E race after Mayor of London Boris Johnson gave his blessing to the idea. The FIA-backed series will feature cars powered exclusively by electric energy and organisers have announced eight cities to stage its debut championship next year.
Construction giant JCB secured a £40m order from the Brazilian government for more than 1,000 backhoe loaders, the world-renowned digger which made the company famous. The contract will be handled at JCB’s new factory in Sao Paulo and the machines will be put to work improving rural roads to ensure farm produce gets to market quicker.
Ukraine received a €600m loan to upgrade its nuclear power plants to bring them into compliance with international safety standards. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will provide a €300m loan with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) making up the other €300m. The total upgrade will cost €1.4bn and is scheduled for completion by late 2017.
Centrica announced a £10bn deal to import gas from the United States. The 20-year contract with Chieniere Energy Partners will deliver 89 billion cubic feet of annual liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes from the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant in Louisiana, the first time the UK has entered into a formal gas import agreement with the US.
North Korea said it would restart a nuclear reactor closed since 2007, a blow to China’s stated aim of restarting de-nuclearisation talks on the Korean peninsula. The restart of the 5MW reactor at Yongbyon could produce more plutonium for nuclear weapons as well as for domestic electricity production. North Korea said a uranium enrichment plant would also be put back into operation, a move that could give it a second path to the bomb.
Baidu, China’s largest search engine, said it was developing prototype digital eyewear similar to Google Glass. The company said the ‘Baidu Eye’ device would be mounted on a headset with a small LCD screen, allowing users to make image and voice searches as well as conduct facial recognition matches. It was not clear whether the product would ever be commercialised.
Scientists in Japan developed technology capable of predicting people’s dreams. Using data from a brain scanner to map neural activity and train a computer programme to recognise image ‘signatures’, researchers from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto were able to identify broad categories of what were seen in dreams with 60 per cent accuracy.
India’s defence ministry said its planned $15bn deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter-jets from Dassault Aviation could be delayed. The two sides were struggling to reach an agreement over the manufacture of the jets, as the Indian government wanted state-run Hindustan Aeronautics to assemble some of the jets, while Dassault argued that HAL does not have the capacity or capability to assemble the aircraft.
Iran said it planned to build more nuclear power reactors in an earthquake-prone coastal area, just a day after a 6.3-magnitude quake that killed 37 people. The tremor hit 89km south-east of Bushehr, but Iranian officials said the nuclear power station 18km south of the port was unaffected and the head of the Islamic state’s Atomic Energy Organisation said more reactors would be built there.