Sci/Tech

New process turns biomass 'waste' into chemical products
December 17, 2014 03:13 PM - Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue University

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets. A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. Lignin is a tough and highly complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure.

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An app to save 400 million animals
December 15, 2014 09:57 AM - Alex Rodriguez, MONGABAY.COM

Brazilian biologist Alex Bager has been leading a crusade to raise awareness of a major but neglected threat to biodiversity in his country.

Every year over 475 million animals die in Brazil as victims of roadkill, according to an estimate by Centro Brasileiro de Ecologia de Estradas (the Brazilian Centre for the Study of Road Ecology) or CBEE, an initiative funded and coordinated by Bager. This means 15 animals are run down every second on Brazilian roads and highways.

"The numbers are really scary and we need people to know about them," Bager said.

To register cases of roadkill throughout the country, Bager came up with the idea of an app, now used by thousands of citizen scientists. And a national day of action in November saw hundreds of volunteers participate in events to highlight the impact of roadkill on biodiversity. 

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SPOTLIGHT

Burlington, Vermont - Now 100% Powered by Renewable Energy

Kevin Mathews, Care2
Burlington, Vermont, already considered to be one of the United States's most environmentally progressive cities, has added another line to its impressive green resume. Just recently, the city finalized its transition to relying 100% on renewable resources for its energy. Burlington is Vermont's large city, though that in itself is no big feat — the city has a population of just 42,000. Then again, very few communities of even this size have managed to disassociate themselves from fossil fuels. In order to adequately tackle climate change, cities — big and small — need to prioritize finding and utilizing alternative energy solutions. Burlington had expressed a desire to commit to 100% renewable energy for more than a decade, but it became a real possibility when analysts discovered that it was not only a smart environmental choice, but financially viable, too. In the long run, both the city and residents will not be paying more for clean energy than they were when buying fossil fuels.

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Eco Friendly Gift Guidelines

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