Hyperloop project goes to China

Hyperloop tubes are displayed during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (File photo AFP)
Updated 19 July 2018
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Hyperloop project goes to China

BEIJING: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies said Thursday it will team up with a southwestern Chinese city to build a new 10-kilometer (six-mile) test track for its high speed hyperloop transportation system.
California-based HyperloopTT is one of several ventures to take Elon Musk’s idea for a new type of transport system propelling capsules through vacuum-sealed tunnels and attempt to make it a reality.
It has struck similar agreements with several other countries, with construction of its first capsules — intended to magnetically levitate in low friction tubes — underway at its innovation center in France.
The remote city of Tongren in China’s impoverished Guizhou province will host the latest demonstration project, according to the plans.
“China leads the world in the amount of high-speed rail constructed by far, and now they are looking for a more efficient high speed solution in hyperloop,” HyperloopTT chairman Bibop Gresta said in a press release.
“We have spent the past few years finding the right partners to work with in China and now, with a strong base network of relationships in place, we are ready to begin work to create the system,” he added.
Financing for the project may be hard to come by as Beijing takes aim at local government spending and a growing mountain of debt.
HyperloopTT said financing would come from a public-private partnership, with Tongren directly contributing 50 percent of the funds.
“HyperloopTT will be responsible for providing technology, engineering expertise, and essential equipment,” the company said, without providing further details.
Local Chinese media, citing the agreement, said Tongren and HyperloopTT would invest in the new local joint-venture building the demonstration track on a one-to-one basis.
State-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), a major aerospace company, is also looking to pioneer the next generation of high-speed train technology in China, and last year announced a similiar hyperloop project in the city of Wuhan.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.