Sci/tech

"Super sponge" promises effective toxic clean-up of lakes and more
March 22, 2017 11:43 AM - University of Minnesota

Mercury is very toxic and can cause long-term health damage, but removing it from water is challenging. To address this growing problem, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences (CFANS) Professor Abdennour Abbas and his lab team created a spongethat can absorb mercury from a polluted water source within seconds. Thanks to the application of nanotechnology, the team developed a sponge with outstanding mercury adsorption properties where mercury contaminations can be removed from tap, lake and industrial wastewater to below detectable limits in less than 5 seconds (or around 5 minutes for industrial wastewater). The sponge converts the contamination into a non-toxic complex so it can be disposed of in a landfill after use. The sponge also kills bacterial and fungal microbes.

"Geofencing" Shows Promise in Tracking Chronic Care
March 21, 2017 04:53 PM - Scott Maier via University of California - San Francisco

Location-tracking apps on smartphones could be used to help track and manage care for thousands of patients who suffer from chronic diseases, and possibly even provide feedback to them on lifestyle changes that could help, according to an initial assessment by researchers at UC San Francisco.

In the study, researchers provided a smartphone app to 3,443 participants age 18 and older from all 50 states. The app, which was developed by app developer Ginger.io in collaboration with study investigators, used “geofencing,” a location-based program that defines geographical boundaries. This app tracked participants when they entered a hospital and triggered a questionnaire when they were located in the hospital for more than four hours.

Futuristic Clock Prepared for Space
March 21, 2017 03:47 PM - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

No one keeps time quite like NASA.

Last month, the space agency's next-generation atomic clock was joined to the spacecraft that will take it into orbit in late 2017.

That instrument, the Deep Space Atomic Clock was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. On Feb. 17, JPL engineers monitored integration of the clock on to the Surrey Orbital Test Bed spacecraft at Surrey Satellite Technology in Englewood, Colorado.

A new, gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries
March 21, 2017 03:35 PM - Jim Shelton via Yale University

Yale scientists have developed an ultra-thin coating material that has the potential to extend the life and improve the efficiency of lithium-sulfur batteries, one of the most promising areas of energy research today.

In a study published online March 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe the new material — a dendrimer-graphene oxide composite film — which can be applied to any sulfur cathode. A cathode is the positive terminal on a battery.

"Flying saucer" quantum dots hold secret to brighter, better lasers
March 21, 2017 08:31 AM - University of Toronto

A research team led by University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering ‘squashes’ the shape of nanoparticles, enabling inexpensive lasers that emit light in a customized rainbow of colours

Sustainable Mineral Supply
March 20, 2017 03:32 PM - Karen B. Roberts via University of Delaware

International research team warns of mineral supply constraints as demand increases for green technologies

An international team of researchers, led by the University of Delaware’s Saleem Ali, says global resource governance and sharing of geoscience data is needed to address challenges facing future mineral supply.

Specifically of concern are a range of technology minerals, which are an essential ingredient in everything from laptops and cell phones to hybrid or electric cars to solar panels and copper wiring for homes. However, base metals like copper are also a matter of immense concern.

Running Delivery Trucks on Trolley Wires Isn't as Crazy as It Sounds
March 20, 2017 02:07 PM - Jack Stewart via Wired

ELECTRIC TRUCKS OFFER all the advantages of electric cars, namely, they’re greener. Trucks are a big source of the noxious emissions linked to smog and climate change. Minimizing the number of stinky, dirty diesels rumbling through town carries obvious public health benefits. But powering delivery trucks, let alone an 18-wheeler, with a big honkin’ battery simply isn’t practical. So engineers are taking another look at a century old solution: Stringing electrical cables over the road.

Chemists at FAU develop a method for utilising nitrogen oxides
March 20, 2017 09:19 AM - Friedrich-Alexander-Universit├Ąt

Chemists at FAU have developed a process in which nitrogen oxides generated during industrial processes can be used in the manufacture of colourants and medicines. Using the method, businesses will in future be able to combine the decontamination of exhaust fumes with the production of new substances.

Nitrogen oxides are a major environmental pollutant. Nitrogen and oxygen compounds are primarily formed during combustion, for example in automobile engines and coal and gas power plants, but also through other thermal and chemical techniques employed by industry. In order to clean these waste gases, the methods of post-combustion capture or catalytic reduction are employed – both of which are relatively complex and are also associated with certain disadvantages. But nitrogen oxides are not just unwanted toxins. In fact, recent research has shown that they can be used in the chemical synthesis of high-value products.

China's Severe Winter Haze Tied to Climate Change
March 17, 2017 03:40 PM - Georgia Institute of Technology

China's severe winter air pollution problems may be worsened by changes in atmospheric circulation prompted by Arctic sea ice loss and increased Eurasian snowfall – both caused by global climate change.

Wi-fi on rays of light: 100 times faster, and never overloaded
March 17, 2017 10:17 AM - Eindhoven University of Technology

Slow wi-fi is a source of irritation that nearly everyone experiences. Wireless devices in the home consume ever more data, and it’s only growing, and congesting the wi-fi network. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with a surprising solution: a wireless network based on harmless infrared rays. The capacity is not only huge (more than 40Gbit/s per ray) but also there is no need to share since every device gets its own ray of light. This was the subject for which TU/e researcher Joanne Oh received her PhD degree with the ‘cum laude’ distinction last week.

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