Zeleros has gone from being a competition-winning university team to becoming a cutting-edge start-up bringing the exciting Hyperloop concept to market.
OpenGov Asia recently had to the opportunity to speak with Luiz Navarro, Chief Operating Officer, Zeleros. Watch the whole interaction on OpenGov TV here!
Mr Navarro explained how the hyperloop concept is not a new concept, but in fact, it dates back to almost over 200 years when a connection was sought to make a trading route from the UK to India. There were many ideas and early-stage concepts for this but a lot of them failed as they did not have the technology to deploy them.
But fast forward 200 years to the age of Elon Musk and SpaceX – he took this concept and rebranded the Hyperloop idea. He came up with this worldwide concept under the umbrella SpaceX and invited start-ups and universities to come up with ideas and technology proposals for the Hyperloop.
He went on to tell us that one of those working hard on this concept at the time was the Zeleros Founders and former University graduates in Valencia. They had competed in various competitions and won many awards in this field of expertise.
They were team leaders at “Hyperloop UPV”, University project awarded at SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2015, an event organized by Elon Musk, competing against world’s most prestigious engineering universities. Recently, the team achieved top 10 at the SpaceX competition in Los Angeles from among more than 300 teams worldwide. Their prototype “The Atlantic II” became the first Spanish hyperloop in history, combining autonomous propulsion with a new passive levitation system.
From the success and recognition of the technology at the research stage and in the competitive arena, they have decided to take a step forward and launch a new start-up to revolutionise ground transportation: Zeleros
Now a few years later, they have 25 people working full time collaborating with first-class collaborators internationally. This business started with three guys being courageous and having the passion to take the leap from research and competitions to bringing their business to market. Zeleros is one in six companies in the world that are working on deploying Hyperloop into the market.
The aim of Zeleros is to design and develop new hyperloop technologies to achieve a more efficient and sustainable transportation, which will allow to travel at 1000 km/h with renewable energies, combining the best from the aeronautics and the railway industries by means of a system of depressurized tubes.
The Future – leading the way in the development of hyperloop technologies
The Zeleros vision is to bring this to the next stage. By simplifying systems bring the power onboard the vehicle and reducing the cost of infrastructure call staff they are looking at taking away the complexity from the track
With this cutting-edge technology, there is a lot of work to do before realising the finished product. Currently, they are prototyping each subsystem which includes propulsion, levitation, braking etc.
By 2021 they hope to have a prototype ready which is 1/3 of the scale, 10 metres in length and running on a 3-kilometre test run at approximately 500 kilometres per hour so that they are able to validate the technology.
By 2024 they hope to start construction and by 2030 they hope to have the first fully operational Hyperloop working. In order to reach this final stage, there is a lot of fine-tuning and validation involved and they need to meet standards be certified.
They have partnered with countries such as Canada and France and they are working closely with the EU. They are involved in a technical committee in the EU dedicated to the Hyperloop and falls under the umbrella of the railway industry. The creation of this technical committee has given Hyperloop its own identity.
Regional hotspots for Hyperloop development and deployment
At the moment they are working closely with key players in Europe. This is what they consider where core development takes place. call star it is logical as they are unable to integrate more in terms of infrastructure. Once considered safe in the EU it opens the opportunity to roll out quickly to the rest of the world.
Other hotspots identified are routes in the Middle East. This region is ideal to roll out the technology, where financial support is readily available, which in turn could accelerate the deployment of Hyperloop in this region.
In Asia, Japan has its own technology with the bullet and has invested billions into this national infrastructure so it would not make sense for them to look at investing in the Hyperloop technology.
But in China where they have over more than 35,000 kilometres of real which is more than the rest of the world combined opportunities in this country would really accelerate past to market.
Another great option to consider is to deploy Hyperloop to connect Singapore and Kuala-Lumpur. The potential is great, shortening the travel time until 30 minutes (35 including boarding).
The Hyperloop is an innovative solution in terms of connectivity around the world, mobility, and timesaving travel.
In terms of sustainability, it a real viable alternative to aviation. It presents an opportunity to reduce air traffic congestion which doubles every 15 years. The Hyperloop will reduce 7 million tonnes of CO2 per year compared to air transport.
Mr Navarro jokingly concluded they are “just crazy people trying to change the paradigm of long-distance travel and with the Hyperloop it will be there to serve that purpose”
The company have already won multiple awards but because they are working so hard and so fast on this project, Mr Navarro said they sometimes have little time to appreciate the things that they have achieved so far.
Watch the whole interaction on OpenGov TV here!
An anticipated change in food consumption patterns during the post-pandemic recovery period is pushing the Indonesian government to try innovations in ramping up existing food and beverage production methods.
The Indonesian government in a statement encouraged agencies and key figures in the food and beverage industry to prepare for an increase in public demand by developing more technologies. The announcement comes as this strategic sector is expected to recover and bolster growth in the coming months.
Abdul Rochim, Director General of Agro-Industry of the Ministry of Industry, explained that the health crisis has made a huge dent in the economy and also stirred a substantial change in people’s consumption patterns. For one, fewer people are lining up to shop and shift towards getting their needs through online delivery services. He added, “meanwhile, people who are used to eating food in restaurants prefer to pack food or order food online.”
Because of these changes in consumer behaviour, the food and beverage sector needs to be more proactive in utilising innovation to cater to consumer demands in a modern way. The adoption of innovative tools also allows consumers to pay more attention to health and safety protocols during the new normal. The Director General noted that this sector which is closest to society should be able to take advantage of the benefits of tech to provide ease and convenience to customers.
Some of the proposed changes are not mainly in the delivery phase but are found also in the marketing, logistics and production systems of the industry. He mentioned that in marketing, digitalisation tools are key in reaching out to both producers and consumers. Hence, new digital tools must be implemented in this sector.
The vision of the Ministry of Industry is in keeping with efforts set forth under the Industry 4.0 concept in online marketing. The logistics sector can also be able to reap the benefits of using modern systems. To explain, the Director General noted that, “marketing that was previously carried out conventionally has shifted to using online marketing innovations. Meanwhile, the logistics sector also needs to be introduced to contactless logistics or a system that reduces human interaction so that consumers feel safe.”
In the production industry, the Ministry admitted that this industry needs new digital solutions, particularly in processed food technology and product diversification. Innovations in the production of frozen food and packaging methods to ensure item durability should receive an upgrade from tech. Food manufacturers also have a lot on their plate in ensuring that they improve finished products that are readily processed at home.
To support manufacturers, the Ministry announced that it has teamed up with the Association of Indonesian Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs (GAPMMI), Under the partnership, the Ministry shall help in compiling a book called ‘Guidebook for the Adaptation of New Habits in the Food Industry’. The project is expected to help manufacturers and other players in the food industry as they embrace their digital transformation.
These developments are all part of government efforts to boost economic growth on the back of significant contributions from the food sector. This is in line with directives laid out under the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap, where, In addition to the food and beverage sector, the government aims to foster economic growth by strengthening the electronics and manufacturing industries.
The results of such efforts were seen in the third quarter of 2020 when the food industry was recorded to be the biggest contributor to Indonesia’s gross domestic product, locking in an increase of 7.02%. Food and beverage also had the highest export value in manufacturing, as it reached US$ 27.59 billion in the January-November period last year.
To further ramp up food production techniques, the government has earlier said in a statement that the Agricultural Research and Development Agency is on the lookout for technological advances in agricultural methods to drive an increase in food production.
ANSTO contributed to a large international collaboration on advanced sodium-ion batteries led by French researchers, which provides a direction for the design of high-performing sodium-ion electrodes. Advanced sodium-ion batteries could be used for large scale energy storage.
A new type of electrode material with a high energy density that is also moisture stable was synthesised and characterised by the researchers using a range of techniques. The material, O3-NaLi1/3Mn 2/3O2, is a sodium-rich layered oxide that did not show voltage fading on cycling.
ANSTO Instrument scientist Dr Max Avdeev, who is also affiliated with the University of Sydney, has expertise in the characterisation of materials for lithium and sodium-ion batteries and other advanced energy materials, was a co-author of the paper published in Nature Materials.
Avdeev collected neutron diffraction data using the Echidna high-resolution diffractometer operated at ANSTO’s Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering to elucidate the distribution of metals in the structure. The data, which reveals the position of the metal atoms during cycling, was combined with other experimental and computational techniques.
“Neutron diffraction is highly sensitive to light elements, such as lithium and sodium, which provides crucial insights into the crystal structure of functional materials,” said Avdeev.
As well as ANSTO/University of Sydney, other collaborating organisations included the College of France, Research Network on Electrochemical Energy Storage (France), Sorbonne University (France), Renault Technocentre (France), Paul Scherrer Institute (France) Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia), Advanced Light Source Berkeley National Laboratory (US) University of Orleans (France), University of Pau and Pays (France), the University of Illinois at Chicago (USA), and the University of Montpellier (France).
According to the paper’s abstract, sodium-ion batteries, because of their sustainability attributes, could be an attractive alternative to Li-ion technology for specific applications. However, it remains challenging to design high energy density and moisture stable Na-based positive electrodes.
In the paper, the team report an O3-type NaLi1/3Mn2/3O2 phase showing anionic redox activity, obtained through a ceramic process by carefully adjusting synthesis conditions and stoichiometry. This phase shows a sustained reversible capacity of 190 mAh g−1 that is rooted in cumulative oxygen and manganese redox processes as deduced by combined spectroscopy techniques.
Unlike many other anionic redox layered oxides so far reported, O3-NaLi1/3Mn2/3O2 electrodes do not show discernible voltage fade on cycling. This finding, rationalized by density functional theory, sheds light on the role of inter- versus intralayer 3d cationic migration in ruling voltage fade in anionic redox electrodes.
Another practical asset of this material stems from its moisture stability, hence facilitating its handling and electrode processing. Overall, this work offers future directions towards designing highly performing sodium electrodes for advanced Na-ion batteries.
About ANTSO’s Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering
The Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering is the home of neutron science in Australia and a leading facility in the Asia Oceania region.
It is part of an international network of organisations with neutron sources that deliver world-competitive neutron scattering science from Australian and international users. Research at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering been used to determine the internal structure of many types of materials, helping scientists understand why materials have the properties they do, and helping tailor new materials, devices and systems.
For almost three quarters of 2020, the world was battling a pandemic of a magnitude that has never been witnessed in the history of humankind. Not only individual citizens, but large organisations and governments were caught off guard.
Apart from being surrounded by the threat of getting infected by the virus, citizens’ liberty to move freely in the community was completely lost due to national lockdowns and social distancing measures. There was a colossal drop in the volume of domestic and international air travel, starting in the first months and continuing to the present.
Distressed and perturbed by this captivity and the fast-changing – and sometimes contradictory movement restrictions – got Mohit Sagar, founder and CEO of Access Anywhere, thinking how he could address this problem. He envisioned a solution that would empower citizens to take responsibility for their wellbeing in their own hands.
Taking further steps to convert his vision into reality, Mohit Sagar partnered with industry leaders Microsoft, SAS and Confluent to create a cloud-based solution that gives people real-time risk assessment of their health: Liberty and Passage.
Liberty and Passage is a total outbreak management system application that offers users the ability to continue routine activities like going to work and socialising with friends without compromising their own or the health of those around them.
Mohit acknowledged that the application is based on a give and take relationship where the user gets the gift of liberty by willingly giving up personal health-related information to the app’s database. But significantly, in the current environment of scepticism, he highlighted something which is incredibly unique to this app and makes it more trustworthy – all information received from the user is anonymised at the source.
Mohit was firm in maintaining the privacy of the app’s users and ensuring that their information is secure is a non-negotiable for the team.
Taking about the structure of the app, Mohit shared that the app has three main pillars Liberty Open, Liberty Corporate and Liberty Passage.
Liberty Open in for individual citizens to help them monitor and manage personal risk.
Liberty Corporate offers corporate leadership an opportunity to share the government’s burden by taking the responsibility of their employees’ health. It is designed with the flexibility to be compatible with an organization’s existing infrastructure to check the COVID-19 spread.
Liberty Passage is a solution for travellers and the travel industry that can offer real-time alerts against infections, an immunity passport of sorts for travellers and assistance in immigration processing.
Elaborating on how this app stands out against the plethora of track and trace apps losing trust amongst citizens all around the world, Mohit shared that they are helping citizens retain their freedom during the pandemic by having a very transparent relationship with them. Mohit said “We are not here to police. We anonymise all information at source and make sure that our users are in control of what they want to do.”
He added, “We are not competing with governments but complementing what they are doing.”
About the app hitting the marketing and be available to the users, Mohit shared that they have successfully finished few rounds of Proof of Concept (PoC) with the Vagabond Club, Singapore at two of their locations while a third is underway. With the current success, Mohit is confident that they will be able to make the app available in the market by February 2021.
“Keeping our hotel operating during the pandemic has meant we have had to put in place measures to ensure the safety of our staff and that of our guests that stay here. Liberty Corporate has given us the added confidence and assurance, through its health logs, location software, data insights and risk notifications, that we are doing our utmost to prevent transmission in our hotel.”
Ms Harpreet Bedi, CEO and General Counsel at The Garcha Group
Mohit reiterated, in light of the still increasing number of infections, the discovery of new strains and the absence of an effective cure, the pandemic is here to stay. Their objective is to empower citizens and assist governments in making sure that an individual’s ability to move and mingle freely – the very essence of social beings – is not compromised by any this pandemic nor any future ones.
A Western Australia-based solar glass developer has begun installing the company’s transparent solar PV integrated glass units (IGU) on-site at the $7.45m grains research precinct at Perth’s Murdoch University. The greenhouse will utilise the company’s transparent solar glass technology which is designed to preserve glass transparency while generating electricity.
Data supplied by the company indicates the technology delivers a minimum of 30 watts per sqm while maintaining 70% transparency. The IGUs feature solar PV cells around the edges of each unit. The units incorporate a nanoparticle interlayer and spectral-selective coating on the rear external surface which allow much of the light to pass through but redirects infrared and UV light to the edge of the IGU where it is harvested by solar cells.
The company’s CEO stated that the company expects the greenhouse, when operational, will generate greater market awareness of its building-integrated PV (BIPV) technology. They are starting to see strong interest globally for the firm’s product from greenhouse suppliers, growers and other protected cropping end-users, he said. They expect the fully constructed greenhouse to lead to even greater market awareness of the technology and product.
The main construction of the supporting greenhouse structure was completed in December 2020 and the installation of glazing is expected to be finished within the coming weeks ahead of commissioning with plant trials due to start in March or April 2021.
The greenhouse is being built adjacent to two recently completed polycarbonate research greenhouses that form part of a larger research precinct. The project is the first commercial-scale demonstration of the company’s PV IGU technology in a protected-cropping agriculture setting and the company is confident it will perform well.
The solar glass developer’s datasheet indicates traditional greenhouses experience a temperature range of +/-6° from optimum temperature while its technology delivers a temperature range of +/-2° from the optimum temperature, providing an increased growth rate of up to 20-30%.
The CEO stated that the company looks forward to updating the market once the greenhouse is commissioned in the next few months, and as the larger research aspects of the project progresses.
When work began on the greenhouse in December, the CEO noted that the project marked a “major milestone for the company”. The trial results would not only help facilitate the commercial application of the technology across protected-cropping agriculture markets but also across high-rise commercial buildings.
While BIPV is yet to enjoy the same widespread deployment as building-applied PV (BAPV), it has been identified by the Australian PV Institute (APVI) as one of five key avenues for increased market penetration of PV. The APVI said the multi-functionality of BIPV meant it had huge potential.
More on the transparent solar glass technology
According to another article, the company’s proprietary transparent luminescent solar concentrator is a spectrally selective polyvinyl butyral interlayer sandwiched between two panes of glass. Most visible light is transmitted through the glass, but infrared light is deflected by inorganic particles in the interlayer to solar cells in the frame. UV light is converted to infrared and also deflected to cells on the window perimeter via total internal reflection.
A luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) is made from plastic or glass with fluorescent materials or quantum dots in or on it. The hope for the LSC is that cheap dyes or phosphors can make the system inexpensive as well as tolerant of defects or angle.
The luminescent ingredients can be dialled-in to absorb and re-emit at selected wavelengths. Luminophores used in LSCs can be quantum dots, rare-earth ions, nanoclusters and organic molecules. There has been a recent move away from organic dyes towards more stable inorganic phosphors.
The Housing Development Board, Singapore launched the HDB Flat Portal. The one-stop online platform will make it easier for prospective buyers and sellers streamline the process. The Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee announced, “This new portal will make it more convenient for home buyers and sellers to gather information on the purchase or sale of a flat through a single integrated platform”.
Some of the salient features of the portal include a customised financial calculator for buyers to check their budget and payment plan and sellers to estimate sales proceeds, and flat listings collating information on current and upcoming Build-to-Order (BTO) launches.
The website will also have loan listings for buyers to get information on housing loans offered by HDB and participating financial institutions, said Mr Lee. He added that HDB is looking to include resale flat listings in subsequent phases of the portal’s rollout. The HDB Flat Portal is the second phase of the HDB Resale Portal launched in January 2018.
Its launch took place after a series of engagement sessions with industry players and stakeholders, he said. “The HDB Resale Portal has halved the time needed for resale flat transactions from 16 weeks to around 8 weeks and reduced the number of appointments with HDB from two to one,” said Mr Lee. “We will continue to look into ways to further improve the transaction process for HDB home buyers and sellers.”
Buyers can use the suggested payment plan in the portal as a benchmark when talking to property or bank consultants before purchasing a resale flat, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie. The section on upcoming Build-to-Order (BTO) flats is also helpful as buyers can view information on upcoming launches and subscription rates of previous launches in one website, speeding up the search process, she added.
Features of the online portal:
The portal has provisions for every buyer and seller to have a profile which requires a login via SingPass. The website also has a “My Flat Dashboard” which tracks the number and category of the application you want to make.
Another fascinating feature is called “Finding a Flat”. Using this feature a buyer can input his/her price, location, flat type, waiting time, and mode of sale preferences and can get suitable results based on them.
Apart from making the transactions move twice as fast, the portal significantly reduces the amount of previously required administrative work and the number of appointments. Documentation and formalities like Submitting a resale checklist, applying for flat valuation, HDB loan application letter which earlier had to be done on independent websites can now be done in a single place.
This portal will also enable less reliance on property agents. All their functions like linking the buyer and seller, driving the schedule on transactions and formalities are managed effectively by the portal itself without any charge or fee.
The HDB Online portal is a boon for the Lion City’s citizens helping them realise the dream to own a house by simplifying and accelerating the process.
Singapore government is taking steps towards expanding the commercial use of drones to manage air traffic in future skies. In the first of such trials which are scheduled for March this year, multiple drones will take to the skies near Marina South Pier to test the effectiveness of an unmanned air traffic management system. If the trial is successful, it could be used to safely and efficiently manage drone traffic at scale.
The drones are built-in with a technology that makes sure that it does not collide with other drones using an automated system. This system can deconflict and monitor multiple drones flying in Singapore’s limited air space.
Sanjay Suresh, Head, Business Development, Nova Sytems Asia shared that first, the system lays out the flight plan for the drone after checking the flight schedule and path of other drones. The system also can alert the done through multiple channels in case there is a change in other drone’s direction or flight time.
The team at Nova Sytems has run numerous tests with more than 500 drones at the same time in a virtual setting. The live test that is scheduled for the second week March is the final milestone before the project is launched. Up to 6 drones will fly above the waters in the Maritime Drone Estate near the Marina South Pier. This minimises the risk to people and property while simulating real-time marine use cases.
“We want to fully stress test the system to make sure that a package needs to be delivered from the shore to a ship is fully aware that there are other drones performing rescue operations and doing vessel checks. We want to do this as we see it as a very possible future scenario” says Ryan Lee, Managing Director, Nova Systems Asia.
Data like the ship positions and scheduled movements will be included to help drones avoid them during the trial. The operators can also add weather conditions and flight patterns of migratory birds in future so that the drones can respond to these situations
The trial is also pivotal for the authorities as it will help them set in place the regulations with drone use likely to be ubiquitous in the near future. Ryan shares that the days are not far when people might have their own drones fetching them meals and goods from the market. Therefore, it is important to set regulations in place on time.
In trying to understand an unmanned traffic management system and the need to test it we found out that aircraft are guided safely by air traffic controllers communicating with pilots via radio, a system known as air traffic management (ATM). This direct, point-to-point, line-of-sight communication between an operator and an aircraft is the industry’s standard mode of operation. But estimates show that the growth of commercial air traffic is will ultimately exceed the capacity of a human-centred system—and this is just for human-piloted flights.
As unmanned and self-piloted operations continue to multiply, ATM systems will need to shift to a more scalable model: a digital system that can monitor and manage increased activity. This system is called Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), or a networked collection of services that communicate together based on common rules. Rather than relying on centralised control, UTM frameworks around the world will use the principle of distributed authority, which opens up the system to more service providers who can adapt as the market evolves and needs change.
In practice, UTM means aircraft will no longer have to speak to a single entity, such as an assigned air traffic controller. Instead, it will be able to communicate freely with multiple service suppliers. These suppliers will be held to relevant safety, security and performance standards by authorities, and will be able to coordinate with the rest of the network to make efficient decisions based on specific flight objectives. The transition will be gradual, but one that is important for the global aviation system’s future viability.
A team of physicists, engineers and chemists from across local institutions, led by Chair Professor Wang YAO of Research Division for Physics & Astronomy under Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), working on the research of fundamentals and emerging technologies of two-dimensional (2D) materials, has recently been awarded funding of over HK$80 million from the Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme 2020/21 (Ninth Round) under the University Grants Committee (UGC).
This will facilitate the exploration of fundamental physics in the new realm of two-dimensional atomic crystals and their van der Waals heterostructures with the abundant quantum degrees of freedom (e.g., spin, valley); and to explore quantum engineering of materials and devices in the unprecedented atomically thin 2D geometries, to revolutionise electronics, optoelectronics and photonics.
The team of leading experts of 2D materials in Hong Kong were assembled to capitalise on this great opportunity. This AoE project is an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary one covering physics, applied physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, comprising 17 scientists from HKU, City University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Professor Yao stated that the team is grateful to UGC for the recognition of their past achievements through the award of this funding, and most importantly for this opportunity to work together as a team to achieve something bigger in this exciting area.
Dean of Science Professor Matthew EVANS extended his congratulations to the Project Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigators of this inter-institutional research project. He said, “I am most delighted to see the concerted efforts of our top-notch physicists and their collaborators in diverse disciplines on developing fundamental research on 2D materials, outracing other cutting-edge research and being recognised through the award of funding in this vigorous exercise.”
The development of 2D materials and beyond
The rapid development of information technology has been based on the continuous scaling down of microelectronic devices that improves cost, performance and power. This trend, empirically summarised as Moore’s law, is coming to an end because of the intrinsic scale limit of silicon microelectronics.
The new era of innovation will be profoundly different, calling for new material systems to host even smaller devices under new geometry, new heterogeneity, new quantum degrees of freedom to carry information, and new physical principles to process and store information.
Two-dimensional materials have a great potential to revolutionise microelectronics and information technology. The variety of 2D materials feature a wide range of material properties from metal, semiconductors, insulators to magnets and superconductors, as well as exotic physics associated with electrons’ quantum degrees of freedom (spin & valley) that could be exploited to encode and process information more efficiently.
Their extreme thinness – which is just a few atoms at most – promises the ultimate miniaturisation of devices and unparalleled control of materials and device functions. Moreover, 2D materials feature unprecedented flexibility in their assembly into heterostructures, through which new materials and device functionalities may emerge.
This project aims to explore these exciting opportunities for revolutionising electronics, optoelectronics and photonics, through a concerted effort addressing the fundamental issues from physics, materials synthesis to device engineering based on 2D materials.
Led by pioneers in the field of 2D materials, the team will seek to sustain Hong Kong’s edge in the field through basic and applied research, with a long-term goal of developing new prototype devices that will have application and commercialisation potentials for Hong Kong.