A Society Grows Great When…


Old Men Plant Trees Whose Shade They Know They Shall Never Sit In

Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works for the US Army Corps of Engineers repeated that Greek proverb in closing his remarks at the recent CG/LA North American Infrastructure Forum in Washington DC. While the Director was preaching to a rather large choir, it was clear that (outside the Hotel) the gospel he was preaching was Greek to most of the executive & legislative officials populating the district.

Speaker Takeaways:

Andres Gluski – CEO of AES Corp.

  1. US Infrastructure is losing versus major competitors.
  2. The private sector has to be involved due to the size of the US debt and our spending on entitlement programs.

Susan Grey – Global Head of Infrastructure at S&P (Regarding consumer perceptions of public/private partnerships and infrastructure)

  1. The #1 concern for the public is roads & bridges.
  2. The #2 concern is public transportation.

Mark Freedman – Boston Consulting Group (On the construction industry globally and nothing really groundbreaking)

  1. Rebound in North America (strongest in the US / Canada a little slower) with some strengthening in Europe.
  2. Expect depressed oil prices going forward.
  3. Overall for infrastructure, O&M spend is well above capital projects spend (no surprise there).

Best P3 Infrastructure Projects That Presented (my personal opinion)

  1. Virginia & Various Utilities: Atlantic Coast Pipeline (they are leveraging the Marcellus Shale intelligently). Link
  2. Virginia: Transurban (The I-495 & I-95 Toll Lanes are things we in the Bay State only dream of even if they do get a little pricey with dynamic tolling). Link
  3. Anbaric Holdings – Maine & Vermont Greenlines (High Voltage Transmission of Canadian Hydropower via underground lines). Link
  4. Honorable mentions to the Ports of New Orleans and South Louisiana.

The best conference takeaway is still the hope that a staggering debt load won’t be the only legacy we leave to those coming after us. There are lots of folks who understand the economic multipliers that modern infrastructure offers (even in congress) and their number is growing.

If infrastructure is of interest to you or your business, this is a very well run, and well attended, conference. Tell Norm I sent you.

Let’s Make Our Infrastructure Dollars Carry Their Weight

Corrosion copy

Graphene beats polymer coatings in preventing microbially induced corrosion

Super-slick material makes steel better, stronger, cleaner

Just back from the 7th CG/LA North American Infrastructure Forum (Here) and I’ll be sharing more thoughts soon but, if we are going to continue spending next to nothing on infrastructure lets spend it on a next-to-nothing material (graphene) that will make stuff last.

Not just re-bar, concrete too!


When Lightspeed Just Isn’t Fast Enough!


Light goes infinitely fast with new on-chip zero-index metamaterial

Best Quote – “Although this infinitely high velocity sounds like it breaks the rule of relativity, it doesn’t. Nothing in the universe travels faster than light carrying information — Einstein is still right about that. But light has another speed, measured by how fast the crests of a wavelength move, known as phase velocity. This speed of light increases or decreases depending on the material it’s moving through.”

Who Knew!

Is Steel Ready For A Makeover ?

Old Steel copy

Longer lasting knees, hips, bridges, maybe even razor blades!

Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium

Best Quote – “This new metal has a strength-to-weight ratio that matches even our best titanium alloys, but at one tenth the cost, and can be created on a small scale with machinery already used to make automotive-grade steel.”

Super-slick material makes steel better, stronger, cleaner

Best Quote #2 – “The material could have far-ranging applications and avenues for commercialization, including non-fouling medical tools and devices, such as implants and scalpels, nozzles for 3D printing and, potentially, larger-scale applications for buildings and marine vessels.

A Head Spinner In Microscopic Energy Storage – Really!

How a Microscopic Supercapacitor Will Supercharge Mobile Electronics

Best Quote – “The hybrid device is only one-fifth the thickness of a sheet of paper; its footprint can vary from a few square micrometers up to the centimeter scale. The centimeter-scale devices would have capacitances in the range of 400 to 1,000 millifarads—easily enough to power an LED flashlight for an hour.”