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By Roberta Rampton and Timothy Gardner
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump will use fast-growing supplies of U.S. natural gas as a political tool when he meets in Warsaw on Thursday with leaders of a dozen countries that are captive to Russia for their energy needs.

In recent years, Moscow has cut off gas shipments during pricing disputes with neighboring countries in winter months. Exports from the United States would help reduce their dependence on Russia.

Trump will tell the group that Washington wants to help allies by making it as easy as possible for U.S. companies to ship more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to central and eastern Europe, the White House said.

Trump will attend the “Three Seas” summit – so named because several of its members surround the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas – before the Group of 20 leading economies meet in Germany, where he is slated to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time.

Among the aims of the Three Seas project is to expand regional energy infrastructure, including LNG import terminals and gas pipelines. Members of the initiative include Poland, Austria, Hungary and Russia’s neighbors Latvia and Estonia.

Trump’s presence will give the project a lift, said James Jones, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

Increased U.S. gas exports to the region would help weaken the impact of Russia using energy as a weapon or bargaining chip, said Jones.

“I think the United States can show itself as a benevolent country by exporting energy and by helping countries that don’t have adequate supplies become more self-sufficient and less dependent and less threatened,” he said.

Trump’s Russia policy is still taking shape, a process made awkward by investigations into intelligence findings that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Russia denies the allegations and Trump says his team did not collude with Moscow.

Lawmakers in Trump’s Republican Party, many of whom want to see him take a hard line on Russia because of its interference in the election and in crises in Ukraine and Syria, support using gas exports for political leverage.

“It undermines the strategies of Putin and other strong men who are trying to use the light switch as an element of strategic offense,” said Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Kremlin relies on oil and gas revenue to finance the state budget, so taking market share would hurt Moscow.

“In many ways, the LNG exports by the U.S. is the most threatening U.S. policy to Russia,” said Michal Baranowski, director of the Warsaw office of think-tank the German Marshall Fund.

COMPETITIVE ARENA

The U.S. is expected to become the world’s third-largest exporter of LNG in 2020, just four years after starting up its first export terminal. U.S. exporters have sold most of that gas in long-term contracts, but there are still some volumes on offer, and more export projects on the drawing board.

Cheniere Energy Inc (LNG.A), which opened the first U.S. LNG export terminal in 2016, delivered its first cargo to Poland in June. Five more terminals are expected to be online by 2020.

Tellurian Inc (TELL.O) has proposed a project with a price tag of as much as $16 billion that it hopes to complete by 2022, in time to compete for long-term contracts to supply Poland that expire the same year and are held by Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM).

“We would like to be a supplier that competes for that market,” Tellurian Chief Executive Meg Gentle told Reuters.

A global glut in supply may, however, limit U.S. LNG export growth, regardless of Trump’s support.

The glut has depressed prices and made it difficult for LNG exporters to turn a profit, said Adam Sieminski, an energy analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Russia has the advantage in Europe due to its proximity and pipeline connections.

“Europe is going to be the great competitive arena between Russian gas and LNG,” said Daniel Yergin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice-chairman with IHS Markit analysis firm.

NORD STREAM

Europeans will be watching to see whether Trump clarifies his administration’s position on a new pipeline to pump Russian gas to Germany, known as Nord Stream 2.

The U.S. Senate in June passed a package of sanctions on Russia, including provisions to penalize Western firms involved in the pipeline. The new sanctions have stalled in the House of Representatives.

The U.S. State Department has lobbied against the pipeline as a potential supply chokepoint that would make Europe more vulnerable to disruptions.

The threat of sanctions adds to tensions between Washington and Berlin. Germany’s government supports the pipeline, and Trump’s position on it is a concern for European diplomats.

(Additional reporting by Jan Pytalski in Washington, Alissa de Carbonnel and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels, Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Simon Webb and Marguerita Choy)


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Heart valve models created with advanced 3-D printers could soon assist cardiologists in preparing to perform life-saving heart valve replacements.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and the Piedmont Heart Institute are using standard medical imaging and new 3-D printing technologies to create patient-specific heart valve models that mimic the physiological qualities of the real valves. Their aim is to improve the success rate of transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR) by picking the right prosthetic and avoiding a common complication known as paravalvular leakage.

“Paravalvular leakage is an extremely important indicator in how well the patient will do long term with their new valve,” said Zhen Qian, chief of Cardiovascular Imaging Research at Piedmont Heart Institute, which is part of Piedmont Healthcare. “The idea was, now that we can make a patient-specific model with this tissue-mimicking 3-D printing technology, we can test how the prosthetic valves interact with the 3-D printed models to learn whether we can predict leakage.”

The researchers, whose study was published July 3 in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, found that the models, created from CT scans of the patients’ hearts, behaved so similarly to the real ones that they could reliably predict the leakage.

“These 3-D printed valves have the potential to make a huge impact on patient care going forward,” said Chuck Zhang, a professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech.

Tens of thousands of patients each year are diagnosed with heart valve disease, and TAVR is often considered for patients who are at high risk for complications with an open-heart surgery to replace the valve.

The prosthetic valves are made in a variety of sizes from multiple manufacturers. Leakage occurs when the new valve doesn’t achieve a precise fit and blood flows around the prosthetic rather than through it as intended. Reducing the chances for leakage is key to patient outcome for the procedure.

“In preparing to conduct a valve replacement, interventional cardiologists already weigh a variety of clinical risk predictors, but our 3-D printed model gives us a quantitative method to evaluate how well a prosthetic valve fits the patient,” Qian said.

The models are created with a special metamaterial design and then made by a multi-material 3-D printer, which gives the researchers control over such design parameters as diameter and curving wavelength of the metamaterial used for printing, to more closely mimic physiological properties of the tissue.

For example, the models can recreate conditions such as calcium deposition — a common underlying factor of aortic stenosis — as well as arterial wall stiffness and other unique aspects of a patient’s heart.

“Previous methods of using 3-D printers and a single material to create human organ models were limited to the physiological properties of the material used,” Zhang said. “Our method of creating these models using metamaterial design and multi-material 3-D printing takes into account the mechanical behavior of the heart valves, mimicking the natural strain-stiffening behavior of soft tissues that comes from the interaction between elastin and collagen, two proteins found in heart valves.”

That interaction was simulated by embedding wavy, stiff microstructures into the softer material during the 3-D printing process.

The researchers created heart valve models from medical imaging of 18 patients who had undergone a valve replacement surgery. The models were outfitted with dozens of radiopaque beads to help measure the displacement of the tissue-mimicking material.

The researchers then paired those models with the same type and size prosthetic valves that interventional cardiologists had used during each patient’s valve replacement procedure. Inside a warm-water testing environment controlled to maintain human body temperature, the researchers implanted the prosthetics inside the models, being careful to place the new valves in the exact location that was used during the clinical procedure for each case.

Software was used to analyze medical imaging showing the location of the radiopaque beads taken before and after the experiment to determine how the prosthetics interacted with the 3-D printed models, looking for inconsistencies representing areas where the prosthetic wasn’t sealed well against the wall of the valve.

Those inconsistencies were assigned values that formed a “bulge index,” and the researchers found that a higher bulge index was associated with patients who had experienced a higher degree of leakage after valve placement. In addition to predicting the occurrence of the leakage, the 3-D printed models were also able to replicate the location and severity of the complication during the experiments.

“The results of this study are quite encouraging,” Qian said. “Even though this valve replacement procedure is quite mature, there are still cases where picking a different size prosthetic or different manufacturer could improve the outcome, and 3-D printing will be very helpful to determine which one.”

While the researchers found that another variable — how much calcium had accumulated on the patient’s natural valve — could also predict with high accuracy whether there would be a higher degree of leakage, the new method using 3-D printed valves was a better predictor in certain cases where balloons are used during the procedure to expand the prosthetic valve for a better fit.

The researchers plan to continue to optimize the metamaterial design and 3-D printing process and evaluate the use of the 3-D printed valves as a pre-surgery planning tool, testing a larger number of patient-specific models and looking for ways to further refine their analytic tools.

“Eventually, once a patient has a CT scan, we could create a model, try different kinds of valves in there, and tell the physician which one might work best,” Qian said. “We could even predict that a patient would probably have moderate paravalvular leakage, but a balloon dilatation will solve it.”


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Construction Videos – Mack Trucks at World of Concrete 2016 – #Construction #Videos



Take a tour of the Mack Trucks booth at World of Concrete 2016. Check out the great lineup of products in the booth from pumpers to mixers to multiple application setups. Also, GuardDog Connect is now standard on all TerraPro Models.

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Please watch: “Building America – TransPremier LLC expands I-4 Highway”

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