On a lazy day some years ago, Czech inventor Miroslav Sedlacek was relaxing by a Moravian brook when a swirling current of water suddenly caught his attention. \nIt was a gentle whirlpool, spinning slowly in an eddy. \nAs the water turned, Sedlacek's mind drifted until he began wondering whether the energy in that little brook -- and thousands of other brooks worldwide -- could be converted into electricity. \nNow, 15 years on, Sedlacek and his Slovak engineer colleague Stanislav Hostin have received patents and international recognition for a unique hydroelectric power machine. \nThe two garage-shop inventors tinkered for years and received EU assistance to develop the Setur turbine -- a small machine that converts the energy flowing down babbling brooks, creeks and streams into electricity. \nIn a recent interview, Sedlacek predicted that the invention may one day revolutionize life in third-world communities, from African villages to Asian rice farms, where electricity is either too expensive or non-existent. \nA Setur turbine resting in the current of a small stream can generate about 10 kilowatt-hours per day -- enough to meet the daily needs of five energy-guzzling European families or an entire African village. \n"The world won't be building any more big, hydroelectric power plants," Sedlacek explained. "We're convinced that in a few years people will have to start using these small water sources for energy." \nThe energy in small streams "has always been there," he added. "But it's not used." \nThe device resembles a buoy and generates power from a stream's natural flow. Water entering the bottom of the Setur chamber exerts upward pressure on a cup fixed to a generator shaft. \nThe cup rotates, the shaft turns and the generator makes electricity. Unlike most hydropower machines, Setur has no blades. \nAn early version of the device boasted a maximum efficiency rate of 50 percent, but Sedlacek said the latest Setur is 70 percent efficient. \nAnd although electricity can be produced in a brook moving as slowly as 2 liters per second, water flowing between 22 liters and 33 liters per second produces the best results. \nSedlacek and Hostin envision their machine going to work in rural parts of the third world. Units could be used to charge batteries for family homes or run irrigation pumps on farms. \nSetur operates according to a hydrodynamic principle that is still not fully understood, Sedlacek said. But he and Hostin have received European and US patents, and they won prizes for the discovery at European engineering fairs in 2002 and last year. \nSo far, a limited version of Setur is produced only by a small Czech company. However the device is being actively promoted for wider, private-sector production by the Czech Academy of Sciences' Technology Centre as well as through the EU's Phare program. \nSedlacek said he is "not waiting for a big profit," even if the invention becomes popular. But he would like to see people benefit from the years of effort behind Setur. \nSo-called "microenergy" power sources will become increasingly important as electric demand rises and outstrip traditional sources of energy, Sedlacek said. \nCurrently, Sedlacek said, 10 Setur models are being tested by researchers across Europe. \nIt is hoped the tests will lead to business agreements that eventually make the invention available to anyone who appreciates the energy potential of a babbling brook.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official