China said Thursday it would offer $20 billion in new loans to Africa, underscoring the relationship’s growing importance, as Chinese companies agreed to operate more responsibly on the resource-rich continent.
Beijing has poured money into Africa over the last 15 years, seeking to tap into its vast natural resources, and China became the continent’s largest trading partner in 2009.
But its aggressive move into the continent has at times caused friction with local people, with some complaining Chinese companies import their own workers, flout labour laws and mistreat local employees.
Addressing African leaders including South African President Jacob Zuma and Kenya Premier Raila Odinga, President Hu Jintao said the loans would focus on supporting infrastructure, manufacturing and the development of small businesses.
A $25 million federal grant will speed the construction of a solar manufacturing plant in San Diego, in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness.
Semiconductor maker Soitec Solar, recipient of the Department of Energy grant, will pour the funds into equipment at its Rancho Bernando-area plant. Production is set to start before the end of the year on concentrated photovoltaic modules that use optical lenses to focus sunlight on tiny, highly efficient solar cells.
A publicly traded company based in Bernin, France, Soitec entered the concentrated photovoltaics business in 2009 with the purchase of Concentrix Solar, a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institutes, a network of publicly funded research centers in Germany.
Soitec received the largest share of $37 million in Energy Department grants designed to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing over the next two years.
More about Soitec’s CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) modules:
Soitec’s CPV modules are built on Concentrix technology. They use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. This technology has helped us achieve world-leading AC system efficiency increases of 25% in actual operating conditions. This is almost twice as high as the efficiency increases achieved using conventional silicon systems.
The art of hand-shaping surfboards is being threatened by machines. Shaper Studios is changing that. The Mission Valley shaping school is allowing everyday surfers the chance to glass and paint what they ride. We drop in on owner Chris Clark, who says the studio is luring everyone from pros to groms to surf companies and bands like Foster the People.
“It’s impossible to compare surfboard shaping to anything else,” says Clark, an SDSU MBA grad student and entrepreneur who is creating a unique blend of retail and DIY manufacturing at Shaper Studios.
“Surfing is only half of surfing. The other half is making your own surfboard. When people leave here with a board they can ride, that they make with their own hands, it changes surfing and their experience with the sport forever.”
But what about people who are power-tool-phobic?
We are with you the whole time. We just taught a 12-year-old girl to use a planer (a power tool with sharp blades).
So it’s not just a bro-fest?
No way! We just did a series with French pro Margaux Arramon-Tucoo. We entered a film of her shaping at a local film fest.
Surfboards are some of the most toxic toys.
We use Marko recyclable EPS foam. We also use epoxy resins, which are odorless and have zero VOCs. It doesn’t smell in here so you can even glass your board without wearinga mask.
Hiring continued its slow pace in April as employers added a modest 115,000 jobs to their payrolls.
The jobless rate inched down to 8.1% last month, the Labor Department said Friday, but that wasn’t because more people were employed. Rather, the rate fell as more workers dropped out of the labor force (about 342,000 workers).
The April jobs report was highly anticipated because job growth slowed sharply in March after three strong winter months of payroll gains averaging 252,000.
Job growth last month was bolstered by continued strength in manufacturing, which added 16,000 jobs to payrolls, and professional services such as architecture, engineering and computer systems design also increased staffing.
Wages overall were subdued; average earnings for all private-sector employees went up by a mere penny from March, to $23.38 an hour.
The race is on to replace steel cars with carbon-fibre cars. All of the major automakers have inked deals to make the switch. The reason being that carbon-fibre is:
“10 times stronger than regular-grade steel and one-quarter of steel’s weight.”
“Using carbon fiber in lieu of conventional steel can lower the weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cutting a car’s weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by as much as 8 percent.”
Weight is a big deal in cars. The heavier the car, the bigger the engine and, typically, the lower the fuel economy. This is especially true for electric cars who face limited mileage on one charge, reduce that weight by 10% and you can go an extra 50 miles.
Currently, carbon-fibre is expensive to make and only really used in racing cars. BMW, the first company to invest heavily in carbon, has already found ways to cut production costs.
“The carbon fiber fabric is placed in a mold, and resin is injected under high pressure and temperature. The process, which once took 20 minutes per part, now requires less than 10 minutes. Robots cut and handle the material and components, which previously were made by hand.
The robots will help BMW achieved big savings. A pound of carbon fiber now costs only a third as much as a pound used in the M3 CSL coupe’s roof when the limited-edition car was introduced in the 2004 model year.”
It’s exciting to think what this technology can do, not only for cars, but trucks, planes, boats, etc.
Energy researcher Amory Lovins, in this TED talk, thinks that when we fully start using carbon-fibre vehicles fuel economy in cars will shoot up to 200 miles/gallon. He says that halving the weight of the car creates compound effects: lighter car, requires a lighter engine, which makes the car even lighter.