Saturday, August 30, 2014

New solutions needed to recycle fracking water, experts say

Scientists have produced a detailed analysis of water produced by hydraulic fracturing of three gas reservoirs and suggested environmentally friendly remedies are needed to treat and reuse it.



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Friday, August 29, 2014

Nanoscale assembly line: Nanoscale production line for assembly of biological molecules created

Researchers have realized a long-held dream: inspired by an industrial assembly line, they have developed a nanoscale production line for the assembly of biological molecules.



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Simpler process to grow germanium nanowires could improve lithium-ion batteries

Researchers have developed what they call “a simple, one-step method” to grow nanowires of germanium from an aqueous solution. Their process could make it more feasible to use germanium in lithium-ion batteries.



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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Global warming pioneer calls for carbon dioxide to be taken from atmosphere and stored underground

Wally Broeker, the first person to alert the world to global warming, has called for atmospheric carbon dioxide to be captured and stored underground.



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Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

A fortuitous collaboration has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world.



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Spot light on tailor-made multicyclic type of polymers

Scientists have synthesized multicyclic type of polymers for the first time offering insights for tailoring polymer properties as well as the mathematics of complex geometries.



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Materials: Cubic cluster chills out

A gadolinium-based material that can be cooled by varying a magnetic field may be useful for cooling low-temperature sensors.



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A touching story: Ancient conversation between plants, fungi and bacteria

The mechanical force that a single fungal cell or bacterial colony exerts on a plant cell may seem vanishingly small, but it plays a heavy role in setting up some of the most fundamental symbiotic relationships in biology, according to a new study. It's known that disease-causing fungi build a structure to break through the plant cell wall, "but there is growing evidence that fungi and also bacteria in symbiotic associations use a mechanical stimulation to indicate their presence," says one researcher. "They are knocking on the door, but not breaking it down."



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nanodiamonds are forever: Did comet collision leave layer of nanodiamonds across Earth?

A comet collision with Earth caused abrupt environmental stress and degradation that contributed to the extinction of most large animal species then inhabiting the Americas, a group of scientists suggests. The catastrophic impact and the subsequent climate change also led to the disappearance of the prehistoric Clovis culture, and to human population decline. Now focus has turned to the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, one type of material produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million square kilometers across the Northern Hemisphere.



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Novel 'butterfly' molecule could build new sensors, photoenergy conversion devices

Exciting new work has led to a novel molecular system that can take your temperature, emit white light, and convert photon energy directly to mechanical motions. And, the molecule looks like a butterfly.



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Rubber meets the road with new carbon, battery technologies

Recycled tires could see new life in lithium-ion batteries that provide power to plug-in electric vehicles and store energy produced by wind and solar, say researchers. By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, a substance recovered from discarded tires, a team is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries.



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Breaking benzene selectively, at relatively mild temperatures

Scientists have demonstrated a way to use a metallic complex, trinuclear titanium hydride, to accomplish the task of activating benzene by breaking the aromatic carbon-carbon bonds at relatively mild temperatures and in a highly selective way.



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Detecting neutrinos, physicists look into the heart of the sun

Using one of the most sensitive neutrino detectors on the planet, physicists have directly detected neutrinos created by the 'keystone' proton-proton fusion process going on at the sun's core for the first time.



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Leading scientists call for a stop to non-essential use of fluorochemicals

A number of leading international researchers recommend that fluorochemicals are only used where they are absolutely essential, until better methods exist to measure the chemicals and more is known about their potentially harmful effects. Fluorochemicals are synthetically produced chemicals, which repel water and oil and are persistent towards aggressive physical and chemical conditions in industrial processing. These characteristics have made the fluorochemicals useful in numerous processes and products, such as coatings for food paper and board.



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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Glucose meter of a different color provides continuous monitoring

Engineers are bringing a touch of color to glucose monitoring. The researchers developed a new continuous glucose monitoring material that changes color as glucose levels fluctuate, and the wavelength shift is so precise that doctors and patients may be able to use it for automatic insulin dosing -- something not possible using current point measurements like test strips.



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Existing power plants will spew 300 billion more tons of carbon dioxide during use

Existing power plants around the world will pump out more than 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, significantly adding to atmospheric levels of the climate-warming gas, according to scientists.



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Lignin: New process helps overcome obstacles to produce renewable fuels and chemicals

There's an old saying in the biofuels industry: 'You can make anything from lignin except money.' But now, a new study may pave the way to challenging that adage. The study demonstrates a concept that provides opportunities for the successful conversion of lignin into a variety of renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials for a sustainable energy economy.



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Monday, August 25, 2014

Physics research removes outcome unpredictability of ultracold atomic reactions

A physics model helps scientists accurately predict the likely outcome of a chemical reaction as well as sheds new light on mysterious quantum states, including the Efimov effect.



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Removing odor from wastewater using bacteria

EcoVerde removes odor and other contaminants through a biological process based on bacteria that feed on hydrogen sulfide. Air is extracted from sewage or industrial wastewater and sent to system called bioscrubber EG. There a mechanism evaporates it and directs contaminants (ammonia, mercaptan and hydrogen sulfide) that cause odor to the filter were bacteria eliminate them, designers report.



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Friday, August 22, 2014

Water splitter runs on an ordinary AAA battery

Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most fuel cell vehicle run on hydrogen made from natural gas. Now scientists have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in this device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.



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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nanoparticle research could enhance oil recovery, tracing of fracking fluid

Researchers are examining how nanoparticles move underground, knowledge that could eventually help improve recovery in oil fields and discover where hydraulic fracking chemicals travel.



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Novel recycling methods: Fluorescent fingerprint of plastics

A new process has been developed that will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants. The method enables automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation of plastics for re-use.



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Physicists have chilled the world's coolest molecule

Physicists have chilled the world's coolest molecules. The tiny titans in question are bits of strontium monofluoride, dropped to 2.5 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero through a laser cooling and isolating process called magneto-optical trapping. They are the coldest molecules ever achieved through direct cooling, and they represent a physics milestone likely to prompt new research in areas ranging from quantum chemistry to tests of the most basic theories in particle physics.



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Your toothpaste's fluorine formed in the stars

The fluorine that is found in products such as toothpaste was likely formed billions of years ago in now-dead stars of the same type as our sun, according to new research by astronomers.



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Water and sunlight: The formula for sustainable fuel

Scientists have replicated one of the crucial steps in photosynthesis, opening the way for biological systems powered by sunlight which could manufacture hydrogen as a fuel.



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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Water leads to chemical that gunks up biofuels production

Trying to understand the chemistry that turns plant material into the same energy-rich gasoline and diesel we put in our vehicles, researchers have discovered that water in the conversion process helps form an impurity which, in turn, slows down key chemical reactions.



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–°alculations with nanoscale smart particles: Important step towards creating medical nanorobots

Researchers in Russia have made an important step towards creating medical nanorobots, discovering a way of enabling them to produce logical calculations using a variety of biochemical reactions.



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Organic photovoltaic cells of the future: Using charge formation efficiency to screen materials for future devices

Organic photovoltaic cells -- a type of solar cell that uses polymeric materials to capture sunlight -- show tremendous promise as energy conversion devices, thanks to key attributes such as flexibility and low-cost production, but have complex power conversion processes. To maneuver around this problem, researchers have developed a method to determine the absolute value of the charge formation efficiency. The secret of their method is the combination of two types of spectroscopy.



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Using physics to design better drugs

Researchers are working to develop drugs by considering the dynamics -- including specific atomic motions -- of the enzymes that those drugs target.



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New 'invisibility cloak': Octopus-inspired camouflage systems automatically read surroundings and mimic them

Researchers have developed a technology that allows a material to automatically read its environment and adapt to mimic its surroundings. Cunjiang Yu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston and lead author of the paper, said the system was inspired by the skins of cephalopods, a class of marine animals which can change coloration quickly, both for camouflage and as a form of warning.



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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Solar energy that doesn't block the view

Researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.



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Nuclear magnetic resonance experiments using Earth's magnetic field

Earth's magnetic field, a familiar directional indicator over long distances, is routinely probed in applications ranging from geology to archaeology. Now it has provided the basis for a technique which might, one day, be used to characterize the chemical composition of fluid mixtures in their native environments. Researchers have carried out nuclear magnetic resonance experiments using an ultra-low magnetic field comparable to Earth's magnetic field.



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Exporting US coal to Asia could drop emissions 21 percent

Under the right scenario, exporting US coal to power plants in South Korea could lead to a 21 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions compared to burning it at less energy-efficient US plants. Other emissions, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, could also drop. But this success, researchers say, depends on which fuel source the coal replaces in South Korea, and which fuel is used to replace it in the US.



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Hybrid laminate material with magnetic and photoactive properties

Researchers confirm for the first time the possibility of modulating the magnetic properties of an inorganic material through organic photoactive molecules activated by light.



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Monday, August 18, 2014

Ocean warming could drive heavy rain bands toward poles

In a world warmed by rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, precipitation patterns are going to change because of two factors: one, warmer air can hold more water; and two, changing atmospheric circulation patterns will shift where rain falls. According to previous model research, mid- to high-latitude precipitation is expected to increase by as much as 50 percent. Yet the reasons why models predict this are hard to tease out.



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Friday, August 15, 2014

Chemists uncover powerful new click chemistry reactivity

Chemists have used click chemistry to uncover unprecedented, powerful reactivity for making new drugs, diagnostics, plastics, smart materials and many other products.



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Thursday, August 14, 2014

New test reveals purity of graphene: Scientists use terahertz waves to spot contaminants

A new test using terahertz waves can check graphene for atmospheric and other contaminants that affect its electronic performance.



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Ebullition causes methane emissions in tropical reservoirs

Methane emissions by ebullition from tropical reservoirs have been accurately quantified for the first time, revealing that this emission pathway depends on both the water level in the reservoir, which is dependent on the monsoon, and on daily variations in atmospheric pressure. Although tropical reservoirs probably emit over 10% of anthropogenic methane, their emissions are still poorly quantified. In this study, a new automatic system for the continuous measurement of methane fluxes was deployed on the reservoir of the largest hydroelectric dam in Southeast Asia.



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A new look at what's in 'fracking' fluids raises red flags: Some compounds toxic to mammals

As the oil and gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing proliferates, a new study on the contents of the fluids used raises concerns over several ingredients. The scientists say out of nearly 200 commonly used compounds in “fracking,” there’s very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals.



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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Foam favorable for oil extraction: Experiments visualize methods for enhanced recovery from wells

Researchers demonstrate that foam may be a superior fluid to displace and extract tough-to-reach oil. In tests, foam pumped into an experimental rig that mimicked the flow paths deep underground proved better at removing oil from formations with low permeability than common techniques involving water, gas, surfactants or combinations of the three.



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Copper foam turns carbon dioxide into useful chemicals

Scientists have discovered that copper foam could provide a new way of converting excess carbon dioxide into useful industrial chemicals.



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Insights into a new class of semiconducting materials

A new paper describes investigations of the fundamental optical properties of a new class of semiconducting materials known as organic-inorganic 'hybrid' perovskites.



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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stinky gases emanating from landfills could transform into clean energy

A new technique transforming stinky, air-polluting landfill gas could produce the sweet smell of success as it leads to development of a fuel cell generating clean electricity for homes, offices and hospitals, researchers say. The advance would convert methane gas into hydrogen, an efficient, clean form of energy.



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Sniffing out billions in U.S. currency smuggled across the border to Mexico

Criminals are smuggling an estimated $30 billion in U.S. currency into Mexico each year from the United States, but help could be on the way for border guards, researchers report. The answer to the problem: a portable device that identifies specific vapors emitted by U.S. paper money, to be described by researchers.



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Monday, August 11, 2014

Nanocubes get in a twist

Nanocubes are anything but child's play. Scientists have used them to create surprisingly yarn-like strands: They showed that given the right conditions, cube-shaped nanoparticles are able to align into winding helical structures. Their results reveal how nanomaterials can self-assemble into unexpectedly beautiful and complex structures.



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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Carbon dioxide 'sponge' could ease transition to cleaner energy


A plastic sponge that sops up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) might ease our tranisition away from polluting fossil fuels to new energy sources like hydrogen. A relative of food container plastics could play a role in President Obama’s plan to cut CO2 emissions. The material might also someday be integrated into power plant smokestacks.



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Water's reaction with metal oxides opens doors for researchers

A long-unanswered question about how two of the world’s most common substances interact has been answered by researchers. In a new paper, chemical and biological engineers report fundamental discoveries about how water reacts with metal oxides.



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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Solid-state chemistry: Safer and much cheaper methods for extracting metals

A team of researchers is developing new approaches to chemical synthesis and mineral processing based on solid-state chemistry -- and inspired by examples from nature. The unconventional approaches promise better, safer and far less expensive methods for extracting metals from mineral ores as well as for the scalable synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs.



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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Synthesis of structurally pure carbon nanotubes using molecular seeds

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in "growing" single-wall carbon nanotubes (CNT) with a single predefined structure -- and hence with identical electronic properties. And here is how they pulled it off: the CNTs "assembled themselves", as it were, out of tailor-made organic precursor molecules on a platinum surface. In future, CNTs of this kind may be used in ultra-sensitive light detectors and ultra-small transistors.



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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Novel process for creation of fuel and chemical compounds

Scientists have identified the genes and enzymes that create a promising compound -- the 19 carbon furan-containing fatty acid (19Fu-FA). The compound has a variety of potential uses as a biological alternative for compounds currently derived from fossil fuels.



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