Enn Original News

Is Thorium the Energy Panacea We Have Been Waiting For?
November 29, 2011 09:57 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Thorium is a naturally-occurring, radioactive, and amazingly abundant metal that was discovered in 1828 by Swedish chemist, Jons Jakob Berzelius. The mineral, named after the Norse god of thunder, has languished in relative obscurity for many years as opposed to its much more recognized cousin, uranium. However, conversations have been popping up about thorium in recent years and how it can be a game-changer in the energy industry. Thorium has incredible potential as an ultra-safe, clean, and cheap nuclear energy source which can power the world for millennia.

New Chemical Hazard Studies
November 29, 2011 08:06 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Some chemical information is considered confidential for a variety of reasons. Periodically these reasons are reviewed and the in time confidentiality protection can be dropped. Since 2009, 577 formerly confidential chemical identities are no longer confidential and more than 1,000 health and safety studies are now accessible to the public that were previously unavailable or only available in limited circumstances. In 2010 EPA issued new guidance outlining the agency’s plans to deny confidentiality claims for chemical identities in health and safety studies under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that are determined to not be entitled to CBI status. EPA has been reviewing CBI claims in new and existing TSCA filings containing health and safety studies.

A Better Nano Battery
November 28, 2011 10:35 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Renewable energy such as solar has a basic problem: No sun , no power. In order to make it more usable the Power must be stored for off peak use when the sun does not shine. Batteries though die when repeatedly recharged. Stanford researchers have developed part of better battery, a new electrode that employs crystalline nanoparticles of a copper compound. In laboratory tests, the electrode survived 40,000 cycles of charging and discharging, after which it could still be charged to more than 80 percent of its original charge capacity. For comparison, the average lithium ion battery can handle about 400 charge/discharge cycles before it deteriorates too much to be of practical use.

Corals' Environmental Premonition
November 28, 2011 09:51 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

As Earth's climate has warmed, one group of species that has not fared well has been corals, the sedentary marine species which lives symbiotically with algae. Warmer waters cause the algae to become heat-stressed, causing them to die or be expelled by the coral. This causes coral bleaching, a fatal phenomenon that has occurred worldwide with increasing frequency. A team of researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University have now revealed the complex molecular signals that lead to the coral's self-inflicted death.

Snow Shoveling
November 28, 2011 09:08 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

When one shovels snow one thinks of back problems and slipping. Another urban legend tells of heart attacks. Urban legend warns shoveling snow causes heart attacks, and the legend seems all too accurate, especially for male wintery excavators with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease. However, until recently this warning was based on anecdotal reports. Two of the most important cardiology associations in the US include snow -shoveling on their websites as a high risk physical activity, but all the citation references indicate that this warning was based one or two incidents.

Mars Science Laboratory launches, on its way to Mars
November 27, 2011 08:16 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Yesterday, NASA began a historic voyage to Mars with the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:02 a.m. EST. "We are very excited about sending the world's most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we'll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we've never been." The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012. During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life. "The launch vehicle has given us a great injection into our trajectory, and we're on our way to Mars," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive."

Contest Challenges Youth to "Get to Know" Their Wild Neighbors
November 23, 2011 02:35 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Renowned wildlife artists Robert Bateman and Wyland are challenging American youth to get outdoors and "get to know" their wild neighbors of other species by entering the Get to Know Contest. Youth age 5-18 are invited to create art, writing photography and video entries based on first-hand experiences with nature, which they can submit at www.gettoknow.ca until November 30, 2010. Bateman and Wyland hope the Get to Know Contest will inspire youth to build meaningful connections with nature. "The investment we are making by connecting youth with nature is the most important one we can make for this generation," says Wyland. Youth disconnection from nature stems from the trend of young Americans spending progressively more time indoors, to the detriment of healthy outdoor activity. As of 2010, American school-aged youth are packing a staggering 53 hours a week in front of entertainment media screens — up from 44 hours per week in 2004. And while they are aware of global environmental issues like climate change and deforestation in the Amazon, they often cannot name ten different plants and animals in their own backyard. "Caring for this planet begins with getting to know our neighbours of other species", reiterates Robert Bateman, who started the Get to Know Contest in Canada in 2000.

Silk Versus Synthetic Fibers
November 23, 2011 11:07 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Scientists at Oxford University and The University of Sheffield have demonstrated that natural silks are a thousand times more efficient than common plastics when it comes to forming fibers. A report of the research is published this week in the journal Advanced Materials. The finding comes from comparing silk from the Chinese silkworm to molten high density polyethylene (HDPE) - a material from which the strongest synthetic fibers are made. The researchers used polarized light shining through a disk rotating over a plate to study how the fibers are formed as the two materials are spun.

Can Soup and BPA
November 23, 2011 08:12 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications. As it has been known to be estrogenic since the mid 1930s, concerns about the use of bisphenol A in consumer products were regularly reported in the news media in 2008, after several governments issued reports questioning its safety, prompting some retailers to remove products containing it from their shelves. A new study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has found that a group of volunteers who consumed a serving of canned soup each day for five days had a more than 1,000% increase in urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations compared with when the same individuals consumed fresh soup daily for five days. The study is one of the first to quantify BPA levels in humans after ingestion of canned foods.

The Chevrolet Carbon Stories, Part 3 Metrolina Greenhouse
November 22, 2011 04:50 PM - R Greenway, ENN

It's no secret that all buildings, whether residential or business, need energy for heat. No building is a better example than a greenhouse, which traditionally uses fossil fuels to create enough heat to grow plants. That's a lot of energy expended. But what if we can substitute fossil fuel for biomass, especially waste wood or tree trimmings / waste from forests in place of fossil fuels? As part of its Carbon Reduction Initiative, Chevrolet is supporting Metrolina Greenhouse in North Carolina. Metrolina grows over 70 million plants a year and is one of four greenhouse projects from the same developer that is utilizing biomass burners for heating the greenhouse instead of fossil fuel burners. The greenhouses grow plant materials that are shipped all over the U.S. The biomass fuel is mostly wood that would otherwise be destined for the landfill, or low value wood from forest thinnings. This type of biomass meets the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism’s "Definition of Renewable Biomass." This project will reduce fossil fuel consumption, divert waste from landfills and improve the quality of air for the community surrounding it.

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