Arctic Ozone Hole is Comparatively Tame
Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.
But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/arctic-ozone-hole-comparatively-tame
Ecologists Research Fish-safe Dams
Think of the pressure change you feel when an elevator zips you up multiple floors in a tall building. Imagine how you’d feel if that elevator carried you all the way up to the top of Mt. Everest — in the blink of an eye.
That’s similar to what many fish experience when they travel through the turbulent waters near a dam. For some, the change in pressure is simply too big, too fast and they die or are seriously injured. In an article in Fisheries, ecologists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and colleagues from around the world explore ways to protect fish from the phenomenon, known as barotrauma.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/ecologists-research-fish-safe-dams
Material Stores Sun’s Heat for Power When It’s Cloudy
It’s an obvious truism, but one that may soon be outdated: the problem with solar power is that sometimes the sun doesn’t shine.
Now a team at MIT and Harvard Univ. has come up with an ingenious workaround — a material that can absorb the sun’s heat and store that energy in chemical form, ready to be released again on demand.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/material-stores-suns-heat-power-when-its-cloudy
Body Heat Charges Generator
Wearable computers or devices have been hailed as the next generation of mobile electronic gadgets, from smart watches, to smart glasses to smart pacemakers. For electronics to be worn by a user, they must be light, flexible and equipped with a power source, which could be a portable, long-lasting battery or no battery at all but a generator. How to supply power in a stable and reliable manner is one of the most critical issues to commercialize wearable devices.
A team of The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) researchers headed by Byung Cho, a professor of electrical engineering, proposed a solution to this problem by developing a glass fabric-based thermoelectric (TE) generator that is extremely light and flexible and produces electricity from the heat of the human body. In fact, it is so flexible that the allowable bending radius of the generator is as low as 20 mm. There are no changes in performance even if the generator bends upward and downward for up to 120 cycles.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/body-heat-charges-generator
Filter Recover 80 Percent of Gold in Cell Phone Scrap
Cell phone scrap can contain precious metals, such as gold and copper. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a biological filter made of mushroom mycelium mats enabling recovery of as much as 80 percent of the gold in electronic scrap. Extraction of copper from circuit board waste, on the other hand, can be enhanced significantly by floating the crushed and sieved material.
Although research into the biological methods is active, these are still rarely used in metal recovery chains. In a European “Value from Waste” project, VTT developed both biological and mechanical pre-treatment methods for more efficient recovery of precious metals from electronic waste. Other methods developed by researchers included recovery of gold from dissolved materials by biosorption and extraction, using as few harmful chemicals as possible.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/filter-recover-80-percent-gold-cell-phone-scrap
Sunlight Generates Hydrogen in Silicon
Porous silicon manufactured in a bottom up procedure using solar energy can be used to generate hydrogen from water, according to a team of Penn State mechanical engineers, who also see applications for batteries, biosensors and optical electronics as outlets for this new material.
"The surface area of this porous silicon is high," says Donghai Wang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. "It is widely used and has a lot of applications."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/sunlight-generates-hydrogen-silicon
Process Turns Cellulose into Energy Storage Devices
Based on a fundamental chemical discovery by scientists at Oregon State Univ., it appears that trees may soon play a major role in making high-tech energy storage devices.
OSU chemists have found that cellulose – the most abundant organic polymer on Earth and a key component of trees – can be heated in a furnace in the presence of ammonia, and turned into the building blocks for supercapacitors.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/process-turns-cellulose-energy-storage-devices
Solar Cells More Efficient When Molecules Face Each Other
New research from North Carolina State Univ. and UNC-Chapel Hill reveals that energy is transferred more efficiently inside of complex, three-dimensional organic solar cells when the donor molecules align face-on, rather than edge-on, relative to the acceptor. This find may aid in the design and manufacture of more efficient and economically viable organic solar cell technology.
Organic solar cell efficiency depends upon the ease with which an exciton – the energy particle created when light is absorbed by the material – can find the interface between the donor and acceptor molecules within the cell. At the interface, the exciton is converted into charges that travel to the electrodes, creating power. While this sounds straightforward enough, the reality is that molecules within the donor and acceptor layers can mix, cluster into domains or both, leading to variances in domain purity and size which can affect the power conversion process. Moreover, the donor and acceptor molecules have different shapes, and the way they are oriented relative to one another matters. This complexity makes it very difficult to measure the important characteristics of their structure.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/solar-cells-more-efficient-when-molecules-face-each-other
Find May Help Extend Solar Cells’ Lifetime
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate Univ.’s Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit has made a surprising discovery about the degradation of solar cells that could help pave the way to creating a longer lifetime for these cells. Key factors for creating cost-efficient solar cells to compete with conventional energy sources like fossil fuels include fabrication cost, efficiency and lifetime of the cells. Prof. Yabing Qi and members of his unit have investigated the cause of degradation of a high efficiency solar cell. This discovery, published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, can help move various forms of solar cell technology forward now that researchers know what is causing degradation and shortening the lifespan.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/find-may-help-extend-solar-cells%E2%80%99-lifetime
Model WWII Craft Takes Flight With Seawater-based Fuel
Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrate proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel.
Fueled by a liquid hydrocarbon — a component of NRL’s novel gas-to-liquid (GTL) process that uses CO2 and H2 as feedstock—the research team demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled (RC) P-51 replica of the legendary Red Tail Squadron, powered by an off-the-shelf (OTS) and unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/model-wwii-craft-takes-flight-seawater-based-fuel
Method Uses Sun to Create Solar Energy Materials
In a recent advance in solar energy, researchers have discovered a way to tap the sun not only as a source of power, but also to directly produce the solar energy materials that make this possible.
This breakthrough by chemical engineers at Oregon State Univ. could soon reduce the cost of solar energy, speed production processes, use environmentally benign materials and make the sun almost a “one-stop shop” that produces both the materials for solar devices and the eternal energy to power them.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/method-uses-sun-create-solar-energy-materials
Researchers ‘Design’ Greener Trees
Researchers have genetically engineered trees that will break down to produce paper and biofuel more easily. This breakthrough will mean using fewer chemicals, less energy and creating fewer environmental pollutants.
“One of the largest impediments for the pulp and paper industry as well as the emerging biofuel industry is a polymer found in wood known as lignin,” says Shawn Mansfield, a professor of Wood Science at the Univ. of British Columbia.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/researchers-design-greener-trees
Fuel Cell Runs on Spit
Saliva-powered micro-sized microbial fuel cells can produce minute amounts of energy sufficient to run on-chip applications, according to an international team of engineers.
Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor and Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, Penn State, credits the idea to fellow researcher Justine Mink. “The idea was Justine’s because she was thinking about sensors for such things as glucose monitoring for diabetics and she wondered if a mini microbial fuel cell could be used,” Logan says. “There is a lot of organic stuff in saliva.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/fuel-cell-runs-spit
Sandy Soil Deforestation is Greater Climate Threat
Deforestation may have far greater consequences for climate change in some soils than in others, according to new research led by Yale Univ. scientists. This find could provide critical insights into which ecosystems must be managed with extra care because they are vulnerable to biodiversity loss and which ecosystems are more resilient to widespread tree removal.
In a comprehensive analysis of soil collected from 11 distinct U.S. regions, from Hawaii to northern Alaska, researchers found that the extent to which deforestation disturbs underground microbial communities that regulate the loss of carbon into the atmosphere depends almost exclusively on the texture of the soil. The results were published in the journal Global Change Biology.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/sandy-soil-deforestation-greater-climate-threat
Legume Research Sheds Light On Nitrogen Uptake
Increased nitrogen-use efficiency of plants and an associated reduced need for nitrogen-based fertilizers may be a step closer following Univ. of Adelaide research on legumes. The research, published in the prestigious journal PNAS, has uncovered a unique process by which legumes regulate the transport of nitrogen.
Legumes, which include plants such as beans, peas, soybeans, chickpeas and many pasture species, are known for their “nitrogen-fixing” abilities. They develop a partnership with soil bacteria called rhizobia, which live inside small sac-like structures on their roots called nodules. The bacteria take nitrogen from air and turn it into ammonium — a form of nitrogen the plant can readily use.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/legume-research-sheds-light-nitrogen-uptake