Green Gadgets

Gadgets and green aren’t exactly words that most people would associate. When people hear gadget they immediately think of little boxes that …

Applying Green Science

Wherever you watch, you can see information on how to go green. No need to go to extremes though, since every little …

Methane Levels Have Increased in Marcellus Shale Region Despite a Dip in Well Installation

Despite a slow down in the number of new natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region of Northeast Pennsylvania, new research led by Drexel University finds that atmospheric methane levels in the area are still increasing. Measurements of methane and other air pollutants taken three years apart in the rural areas of Pennsylvania that have been the target of natural gas development over the last decade, revealed a substantial increase from 2012 to 2015.

Real-time feedback helps save energy and water

Those who take long showers use a great deal of water and energy. Yet people who enjoy taking long showers do not usually realize to what extent they are damaging the environment. However, if a clever measuring system shows current consumption, this immediately leads to increased efficiency. The consumption information available on the display is incentive enough to reduce water and energy consumption when showering on average by 22 per cent. This was shown by a study conducted by the Universities of Bonn and Bamberg, as well as ETH Zurich. The results have initially been published online in the journal Management Science. The print edition will be published soon.

What Happened to the Sun over 7,000 Years Ago?

An international team led by researchers at Nagoya University, along with US and Swiss colleagues, has identified a new type of solar event and dated it to the year 5480 BC; they did this by measuring carbon-14 levels in tree rings, which reflect the effects of cosmic radiation on the atmosphere at the time. They have also proposed causes of this event, thereby extending knowledge of how the sun behaves.When the activity of the sun changes, it has direct effects on the earth. For example, when the sun is relatively inactive, the amount of a type of carbon called carbon-14 increases in the earth's atmosphere. Because carbon in the air is absorbed by trees, carbon-14 levels in tree rings actually reflect solar activity and unusual solar events in the past. The team took advantage of such a phenomenon by analyzing a specimen from a bristlecone pine tree, a species that can live for thousands of years, to look back deep into the history of the sun.

Flipping the switch on ammonia production

Nearly a century ago, German chemist Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a process to generate ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases. The process, still in use today, ushered in a revolution in agriculture, but now consumes around one percent of the world’s energy to achieve the high pressures and temperatures that drive the chemical reactions to produce ammonia.Today, University of Utah chemists publish a different method, using enzymes derived from nature, that generates ammonia at room temperature. As a bonus, the reaction generates a small electrical current. The method is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Change in astronaut's gut bacteria attributed to spaceflight

Northwestern University researchers studying the gut bacteria of Scott and Mark Kelly, NASA astronauts and identical twin brothers, as part of a unique human study have found that changes to certain gut “bugs” occur in space.The Northwestern team is one of 10 NASA-funded research groups studying the Kelly twins to learn how living in space for a long period of time — such as a mission to Mars — affects the human body. While Scott spent nearly a year in space, his brother, Mark, remained on Earth, as a ground-based control.

Controlling electron spin makes water splitting more efficient

One of the main obstacles in the production of hydrogen through water splitting is that hydrogen peroxide is also formed, which affects the efficiency stability of the reaction and the stability of the production. Dutch and Israelian researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology and the Weizmann Institute have succeeded in controlling the spin of electrons in the reaction and thereby almost fully suppress the production of hydrogen peroxide. They published these findings this week in the Journal of the American Society. The efficient production of hydrogen paves the way towards water splitting by solar energy.

A Better Way to Farm Algae

Scientists have long known of the potential of microalgae to aid in the production of biofuels and other valuable chemicals. However, the difficulty and significant cost of growing microalgae have in some ways stalled further development of this promising technology. Bendy Estime, a biomedical and chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate, has devoted his research to this area, and developed a new technology for energy efficient cultivation and harvesting of microalgae.Estime’s research has been published as a peer-reviewed article in Scientific Reports on Jan. 19. He and his research advisors, Distinguished Professor Radhakrishna Sureshkumar, chair of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, and Professor Dacheng Ren, have secured a provisional patent for the technology.

Globe-trotting pollutants raise some cancer risks four times higher than predicted

A new way of looking at how pollutants ride through the atmosphere has quadrupled the estimate of global lung cancer risk from a pollutant caused by combustion, to a level that is now double the allowable limit recommended by the World Health Organization.The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online, showed that tiny floating particles can grow semi-solid around pollutants, allowing them to last longer and travel much farther than what previous global climate models predicted.