Saturday, September 24, 2016

FLIR ONE IR camera for Android and iOS

Flir One reflected IR image off of glass in an office - N. Carlson

The FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android uses the USB input from the camera to take infrared photos with visual light outlines.  Without the outlines it is sometimes difficult to orientate to the objects that are being photographed. An iphone version is also available FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for iOS.

Pros: The cost is reasonable. It varies around $200 to $250 USD. from Amazon or other retailers. Stand alone units cost 2 to 10 times as much.   The camera charges in one hour using a standard android USB charger.  The cable is included, but the plug in is not. A small case with a lanyard is provided.  Instructions are online.  Two additional connections are included to allow the FLIR ONE to be connected to the camera at different orientations.  The infrared images are clear and the spot temperature reading in both Celsius and Fahrenheit is useful.  It also shoots videos.

Cons: The infrared camera app interface is a bit buggy. The initial USB interface often displays an error message before working.  The camera image also sometimes freezes.  The camera works best when the temperature cross hairs are turned on.  It worked on my Samsung 5 SM-G900A camera Android version 5.1.1.  It did not work on my LG Leon with running on Android version 5.1.1.

Interesting features:  After taking a photo, the image can be reviewed in the FLIR ONE app.  If the image is finger swiped up or down the natural light image is revealed below.

Heat left over on sofa seats after the people have left - N. Carlson
The image of the photographer is reflected in the window opened at the bottom - N. Carlson
A device is hooked up to a power strip pulling phantom power.  I unplugged it after taking this picture. - N. Carlson

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Paecilomyces spp.

Paecilomyces spp. growing in a malt extract agar culture plate - N. Carlson
Paecilomyces spp. microscopic photo - N. Carlson

Paecilomyces spp. in culture - N. Carlson

The organism, Paecilomyces spp. is structurally similar to Glocladium spp.(Trichoderma spp.), Penicillium spp. and Scopulariopsis spp.  The tendency of the conidia to be produced in chains and angle off at a 45 degree angle from the phialide separates it from the other three.  Even though the tan flat colonies of Paecilomyces spp. and Scopulariopsis spp. colonies appear to be similar on culture plates, the round rough spores of Scopulariopsis spp. differ substantially from often smooth oval shaped Paecilomyces spp. spores.  

This organism is less frequently picked up in culturable air samples then Penicillium spp. It grows well in compost and rotting food. According to EMLab P&K, it can cause both allergies and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.  The organism is rarely pathogenic individuals even though it can grow at 37 degrees Celsius.  There is a potential for hospital acquired (nosocomial) infections in immune compromised individuals. 

On a spore trap sample the Paeciliomyces spp. spores would be classified as Asp/Pen like. 

Paecilomyces spp. - Mold 2 min.

Torula spp.

Torula spp. from air sample - N. Carlson

From my experience, the yeast Torula spp. is occasionally found in outdoor air samples.  The spores will typically be in chains of three or more with one of the cells broken in half at one end. 

The organism can be identified using tease tapes or a spore trace sample (Air-o-Cell).  It grows on cellulose material (oats, straw, and wicker etc.)  and is reported by EMLab P&K to be allergenic and not pathogenic to humans.

Bagpipes cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis

Mold species in Bagpipes photo from

From the Washington Post, a British bagpipes player died from hypersensitivity pneumonitis (wikipedia) after suffering gradually deteriorating health for seven years. Doctors never made the connection with his love for bagpipes and his chronic respiratory problems.  His health improved briefly during a three month trip to Australia as he left his bagpipes behind.  It declined upon his return home.

Tests of his bagpipes found three genera of molds including Rhodotorula spp., Penicillium spp., and Fusarium spp. This case raises the importance of proper cleaning of musical instruments after use and the importance of getting a proper medical history for a person's occupation and outside recreational interests.

Lung problems with musical instruments - Adam Fleming BBC news - 2 min. 

Hypersenitivity Pneumonitis Bagpipes - 2 min. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sisyphus Railroad renewable energy storage by ARES North America

ARES North America - The Power of Gravity

ARES technology

One of the challenges for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is the episodic nature of the power generation when the wind stops blowing and the sun sets or there is cloud cover.  There are several options for energy storage that include batteries, compressed gas, flywheel, water pumping up a gradient, and conversion to hydrogen through electrolysis.

ARES technology is working on a rail system that converts the potential energy of a change in height elevation into electricity.  Electrical energy from wind or solar is used to send rail weighted cars up a steep gradient.  When the cars are released back down the gradient the change from potential to kinetic energy is captured by regenerative braking on the cars with an efficiency of around 75%.  ARES currently has a pilot project in Bakersfield California and hopes to set up similar projects around the world where the topography is favorable.

Silent video on ARES technology as clouds move over a solar array - 2 min.

News report on the process - 3 min.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Minnepura - Using bacteria in silica beads to clean water contaminated with chemicals

The National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2) listed Minnepura Technologies Inc. as one of the "Best University Startups 2016."  Minnepura uses bacteria inside silica beads to break down dangerous chemicals in water into non hazardous byproducts.  The bacteria are specifically selected for the chemicals that need to be decontaminated.

The technology is based on published research by Alptekin Aksan, Ph.D.  Mechanical Engineering and Larry Wackett, Ph.D. Professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics who also serve as technical advisors.

In December of 2013, Larry Wackett, Ph.D. presented information about this process to our departmental retreat. He discussed using this process to decontaminate water used in the oil fracking process.

Minnepura CEO Paul R. Hansen - 3 min.