A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on Asia.
General Motors claimed the top prize in both the car and truck categories at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the first time it has won both awards in the same year. The company’s redesigned Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was named 2014 North American car of the year, while its redesigned full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup was named 2014 North American truck/utility of the year.
Russia’s nuclear power company Rosatom will expand Hungary’s only nuclear power plant, doubling its capacity, in what is said to be the biggest construction project in Hungary since the fall of Communism. The Paks power plant, covering about 40 per cent of Hungary’s electricity needs, is already running a Russian-manufactured VVER reactor built in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia’s national airline ordered up to 26 new aircraft from Bombardier Aerospace in a deal worth at least $1.2bn (£733m). The newly-launched carrier SaudiGulf Airlines has agreed to buy 16 CSeries planes, becoming the third CSeries customer from the Middle East, and an additional 10 jetliners could follow bringing the total investment to almost $2bn.
Michael Fallon, who currently holds ministerial posts in the Departments for Business and Energy, has been named Minister for Portsmouth to help the city recover from the loss of Royal Navy shipbuilding, after BAE Systems announced plans to close its shipyard in the city later this year and move Navy shipbuilding to Scotland, with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs.
Conservationists working with Russian firm Sakhalin Energy Investment showed safeguards on seismic testing technology for an oil and gas project in the Pacific helped protect endangered Western Grey whales. Seismic testing, which can be so loud that it can sometimes be detected 2,500 miles away, can harm whales and other animals that rely on sound for their primary form of communication.
Scotland’s iconic Forth Bridge was put forward as the UK’s latest nomination for World Heritage status and will be considered by the Unesco World Heritage Committee. The 124-year-old bridge carries trains more than a mile and a half across the Firth of Forth and was the first major British construction to be made of steel. At the peak of construction more than 4,500 workers laboured on it.
Hackers broke into an Israeli defence ministry computer using an email attachment containing malicious software, pretending it had been sent by the country’s Shin Bet security service. Computer security company Seculert said the hackers temporarily took over about 15 computers, one of which was being used to monitor Palestinian movements in Israeli-occupied territory, and remained in control of them for at least several days.
Egypt has teamed up with Italy to turn the Red Sea holiday resort El Gouna into the first carbon-neutral city in Africa. Egypt hopes the project, in partnership with Italy’s Ministry of Environment, will help boost interest of foreign tourists in the city and will serve as an example for other Egyptian municipalities to follow.
Algeria announced it has nearly completed repairs of the In Amenas gas plant, damaged a year ago in an attack by Islamist terrorists last January that killed 40, and said the plant will be operating at full capacity within weeks. The gas plant used to produce about 11.5 per cent of Algeria’s natural gas prior to the attack.
Turkey said it is still open to bids to build a missile defence system, despite agreeing a $3.4bn (£2.1bn) deal with the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation last September.
The Chinese firm fended off competition from Russian, American and European bidders largely due to the guarantee of joint production but Ankara said it has not yet reached a final decision and is still open to bids from other companies.