Piglet-killing Virus to Drive Up Bacon Price
A virus never before seen in the U.S. has killed millions of piglets in less than a year and, with little known about how it spreads or how to stop it, it’s threatening pork production and pushing up prices by 10 percent or more.
Scientists think porcine epidemic diarrhea, which does not infect humans or other animals, came from China, but they don’t know how it got into the country or spread to 27 states since last May. The federal government is looking into how such viruses might spread, while the pork industry, wary of future outbreaks, has committed $1.7 million to research the disease.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/piglet-killing-virus-drive-bacon-price
An innovative hepatitis C drug that was only recently hailed as a breakthrough treatment is facing skepticism from some health care providers, as they consider whether it is worth the $1,000-a-pill price set by manufacturer Gilead Sciences Inc.
A panel of California medical experts voted that Gilead’s Sovaldi represents a “low value” treatment, considering its cost compared with older drugs for the blood-borne virus.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/experts-question-price-new-hep-c-drug
Cost of Fruits, Vegetables Linked to Kids’ BMI
High prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) in young children in low- and middle-income households, according to American Univ. researchers in the journal Pediatrics.
“There is a small, but significant, association between the prices of fruit and vegetables and higher child BMI,” says Taryn Morrissey, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of public administration and policy at AU’s School of Public Affairs.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/02/cost-fruits-vegetables-linked-kids-bmi
As Ores Get Poorer, Mines Must Cut Costs
Dealing with mineral ores is rapidly becoming more complex: as ore grade is decreasing, mines are getting deeper and the cost of energy and labor increases.
The minerals industry has seen an increase in production costs of 70 percent since the mid-1980s and ore quality has, on average, declined by 50 percent.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/ores-get-poorer-mines-must-cut-costs
Sensor Stops Use of Excess Salt on Roads
Engineers at Carlos III Univ. have designed an optical sensor that detects how much salt is on road surfaces in real time. This avoids the need to spread the substance excessively, because although this prevents ice from forming on roads, it can also harm vehicles, infrastructure and the environment.
It is common to spread salt on roads to prevent ice and the hazards it can entail for traffic. This preventive treatment is based on weather forecasts, but does not take into account that the road can already have enough salt, scattered during previous frost and snowfall.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/sensor-stops-use-excess-salt-roads
Even Believers Don’t Put High Value on Climate Protection
People are bad at getting a grip on collective risks. Climate change is a good example of this: the annual climate summits have so far not led to specific measures. The reason for this is that people attach greater value to an immediate material reward than to investing in future quality of life. Therefore, cooperative behavior in climate protection must be more strongly associated with short-term incentives such as rewards or being held in high esteem.
Would you rather have €40 or save the climate? When the question is put in such stark terms, the common sense answer is obviously: “stop climate change!” After all, we are well-informed individuals who act for the common good and, more particularly, for the good of future generations. Or at least that’s how we like to think of ourselves.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/even-believers-dont-put-high-value-climate-protection
Ethanol Doesn’t Meaningfully Reduce Gas Prices
If you have stopped at a gas station recently, there is a good chance your auto has consumed fuel with ethanol blended into it. Yet the price of gasoline is not substantially affected by the volume of its ethanol content, according to a paper co-authored by an MIT economist. The study seeks to rebut the claim, broadly aired over the past couple of years, that widespread use of ethanol has reduced the wholesale cost of gasoline by $0.89 to $1.09 per gallon.
Whatever the benefits or drawbacks of ethanol, MIT’s Christopher Knittel says, price issues are not among them right now.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/ethanol-doesnt-meaningfully-reduce-gas-prices
Scientists Rig Blood Flow Imager on the Cheap
Tracking blood flow in the laboratory is an important tool for studying ailments like migraines or strokes and designing new ways to address them. Blood flow is also routinely measured in the clinic, and laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) is one way of measuring these changes; however, this technique requires professional-grade imaging equipment, which limits its use.
Now, using $90 worth of off-the-shelf commercial parts including a webcam and a laser pointer, researchers at the Univ. of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) have duplicated the performance of expensive, scientific-grade LSCI instruments at a fraction of the cost. The work is the first to show that it is possible to make a reliable blood flow imaging system solely with inexpensive parts, the authors say.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/scientists-rig-blood-flow-imager-cheap
Wetlands are Cheaper than Treatment Plants But May Have Social Costs
Removing nitrogen from the environment “the natural way” by creating a wetland is a long-term, nutrient-removal solution, more cost effective than upgrading a wastewater treatment plant, but it isn’t necessarily socially beneficial to offer landowners multiple payments for the environmental services that flow from such wetlands, according to a study conducted at the Univ. of Illinois.
"In the areas we studied in Bureau County with small wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), it was much cheaper to do pollution control by installing just a few wetlands than it was to have the WWTPs do the upgrades that would be necessary to achieve the same thing," says U of I environmental economist Amy Ando.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/wetlands-are-cheaper-treatment-plants-may-have-social-costs
It’s less costly to get electricity from wind turbines and solar panels than coal-fired power plants when climate change costs and other health impacts are factored considered, according to a new study published in Springer’s Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.
In fact — using the official U.S. government estimates of health and environmental costs from burning fossil fuels — the study shows it’s cheaper to replace a typical existing coal-fired power plant with a wind turbine than to keep the old plant running. And new electricity generation from wind could be more economically efficient than natural gas. The findings show the nation can cut carbon pollution from power plants in a cost-effective way, by replacing coal-fired generation with cleaner options like wind, solar and natural gas.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/clean-energy-cheaper-when-all-factors-are-considered
U.S. Faces Cancer Care Crisis
The U.S. is facing a crisis in how to deliver cancer care, as the baby boomers reach their tumor-prone years and doctors have a hard time keeping up with complex new treatments, government advisers report.
The caution comes even as scientists are learning more than ever about better ways to battle cancer, and developing innovative therapies to target tumors.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/us-faces-cancer-care-crisis
Scientists Calculate Energy Needed to Store Wind, Solar Power
Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution, but a new study from Stanford Univ. suggests that might not always be the case.
"We looked at batteries and other promising technologies for storing solar and wind energy on the electrical grid," says Charles Barnhart, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). "Our primary goal was to calculate their overall energetic cost – that is, the total amount of fuel and electricity required to build and operate these storage technologies. We found that when you factor in the energetic costs, grid-scale batteries make sense for storing surplus solar energy, but not for wind."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/scientists-calculate-energy-needed-store-wind-solar-power
Large-Scale Manufacturing Keeps Chinese Solar Panels Cheap
WikimediaA study of the photovoltaic industries in the U.S. and China shows that China’s dominance in solar panel manufacturing is not driven solely by cheaper labor and government support, but by larger-scale manufacturing and resulting supply-chain benefits.
But the researchers say a balance could be achieved through future innovations in crystalline solar cell technology, which have the potential to equalize prices by enhancing access to materials and expanding manufacturing scale across all regions.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/large-scale-manufacturing-keeps-chinese-solar-panels-cheap
Australian Renewables Will Be Cheaper than Coal by 2030
Coal-fired electricity may have little or no economic future in Australia, even if carbon capture and storage becomes commercially available, a new analysis has found. Univ. of New South Wales researchers modeled a range of fossil fuel scenarios with carbon capture and storage, and then compared them with a 100 percent renewable electricity scenario based on commercially available wind, solar and biomass technologies.
They used hourly electricity demand and solar and wind data from 2010 to determine the appropriate technology mixes for each scenario that would balance electricity demand and supply to achieve the same reliability as the existing Australian National Electricity Market. Government estimates of the prices for different generation technologies and fuels in 2030 were used in the analysis, along with a wide range of possible future carbon prices and carbon capture and storage prices.
The results show that coal with carbon capture and storage scenarios are likely to struggle to compete economically with 100 percent renewable electricity in a climate-constrained world, even if carbon capture and storage is commercialized by 2030.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/australian-renewables-will-be-cheaper-coal-2030
An operator of TGI Fridays restaurants in New Jersey, which was raided as part of Operation Swill, has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine for serving customers cheap booze when they paid for top shelf.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says that the fine levied against Livingston-based Briad Group should send a message to every bar and restaurant in the state that customers should always get what they pay for.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/08/tgi-fridays-fined-500-k-cheap-alcohol