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Happy Friday, everyone!
This week's edition features pieces on Stuart, FL taking on 3M, robotic innovations in the steel industry, renewable energy in Nevada, and more. The data visualization presents information on various college financing programs being offered by large companies in America.
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DOE Funds $87M of EV Projects from GM, Deere, Others; Details Additional $99.5M Opportunity
The U.S. Department of Energy announced recently its $87 million fund for projects through its Vehicle Technologies Office including projects from General Motors and others. The selected projects range from expanding charging options, workforce development, and development of key technology to assist in the electrification of the future of transportation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration electric transportation could add more than 130 billion kWh of demand to the grid nationally by 2050. Read More.
Stuart, FL Takes on 3M
The small coastal city in Florida is one of over 300 cities seeking damages for the cost to clean up its drinking water supply from PFAS contamination. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is an umbrella term for wide range of chemicals used in many products; in the case of Stuart, FL, 3M’s fire-fighting foam is allegedly to blame for the PFAS in their drinking water supply. Stuart is seeking damages only for remediation costs: $5 million spent to build a PFAS filtration system, plus $80 million in O&M for the next 40 years, and $30 million to clean up contaminated soil. There are hundreds of cases like this in the queue, and Stuart was selected to go first in what many experts think will set the tone for the cases that follow. Read More.
T&I Committee Approves Package of Bills to Strengthen America's Supply Chain
Last week, the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee approved a slate of measures aimed to strengthen the Nation’s supply chain. For instance, the committee approved a 10% axle variance for dry bulk, without any increase in the overall federal gross vehicle weight limit, so that trucks don’t have to unnecessarily reduce their loads. Additionally, a bill to establish a voluntary 10-year pilot program for states to increase truck weights on federal interstates up to 91,000 lbs. on six axles was also approved. Both rail and trucking organizations have opposed these measures. The complete list can be found here.
Robotic Innovations in Steel Industry Advanced Construction Robotics introduced TyBOT in 2018, a machine that ties reinforcing steel at a rate of over 1,100 ties per hour, compared to an average of 150 and 250 ties per hour that can be completed by construction workers. Besides boosting productivity, the innovation improves worker health and safety. TyBOT has been used to successfully complete 12 jobs in different states including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Another similar product introduced this year, IronBOT, can lift, carry, and install a 5,000-pound bundle of rebar in one hour. Read more from Construction Dive.
Interior Department Advances Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in Nevada
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has advanced two transmission projects with the public utility NV Energy. These projects will help facilitate more renewable energy. Named the Greenlink West and North projects, they will span over 450 miles and 232 miles, respectively. They will connect 8 gigawatts of clean energy to the western power grid. Transmission projects entail expanding high-voltage lines that transport renewable energy to populated areas. This infrastructure will help the transition to green energy sources as 35 other clean energy projects have been approved over the past few years. Read More.
Neuralink Brain Chip Wins United States' Approval for Human Study
Neuralink, a firm that is majority owned by Elon Musk, recently received approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to begin conducting tests on humans. This testing is for brain microchips, which intend to restore mobility and sight. The chips can do this through Bluetooth, connecting brains to computers. The firm initially planned to start planting chips in 2020 but has dealt with numerous setbacks. According to experts, testing will be an extensive process, and there are notable ethical and technical concerns about the implants. There have recently been breakthroughs in this area, as a paralyzed man from the Netherlands regained his ability to walk through implants. Read More.
Data Visualization of the Week
Expansion of Tuition Assistance Programs from American Companies
As many Americans continue to feel priced out of a college education, businesses begin to add and expand several college assistance programs. Several big corporate names have these programs that will help pay for college and/or offer tuition reimbursement. Companies such as Walmart, McDonald’s, T-Mobile, and others. Additionally, these programs are often expanded to the employee’s spouses and children. While programs like this are not brand new, what is new is the expansion of these programs to front-line and blue-collar workers. Below you can see a select few of the expansion of several programs. Read and look at more data here.