Sci/tech

A uranium-based compound improves manufacturing of nitrogen products
July 19, 2017 06:03 PM - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Nitrogen is abundantly available in nature and forms the basis for many valuable products, both natural and artificial. This requires a reaction known as “nitrogen fixation”, whereby molecular nitrogen is split into two atoms of nitrogen that can then be connected to other elements like carbon or hydrogen. But performing nitrogen fixation to make ammonia on an industrial scale requires harsh conditions with very high temperature and pressure. EPFL scientists have now developed a uranium-based compound that allows nitrogen fixation to take place in ambient conditions. The work, published in Nature, forms a basis for the development of more efficient catalysts, while it highlights new concepts that can be expanded to metals beyond uranium.

Fresh Water Below the Seafloor?
July 19, 2017 05:49 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

In some places, water is dangerously scarce. In the African Sahel, generations of severe droughts have claimed millions of lives and have turned fertile pastures into swaths of desert. In Brazil, residents of the water-starved city of São Paulo have been frenetically digging homemade wells to mine fresh water, while schoolkids skip brushing their teeth as a conservation measure. And in California, devastating drought conditions in recent years idled nearly a half-million acres of crops and triggered the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

New algorithm, metrics improve autonomous underwater vehicles' energy efficiency
July 19, 2017 04:52 PM - Oregon State University

Robotics researchers have found a way for autonomous underwater vehicles to navigate strong currents with greater energy efficiency, which means the AUVs can gather data longer and better.

AUVs such as underwater gliders are valuable research tools limited primarily by their energy budget – every bit of battery power wasted via inefficient trajectories cuts into the time they can spend working.

Conserve intact forest landscapes to maximize biodiversity, reduce extinction risk
July 19, 2017 02:30 PM - Oregon State University

A new global analysis of forest habitat loss and wildlife extinction risk published today in the journal Nature shows that species most at risk live in areas just beginning to see the impacts of human activities such as hunting, mining, logging and ranching.

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA's HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber
July 19, 2017 02:26 PM - NASA/Johnson Space Center

After 45 days in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the four-man crew can hardly hold their eyes open. This mission was the first of its kind to last 45 days, as well as incorporate sleep reduction for research purposes.

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA's HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber
July 19, 2017 02:26 PM - NASA/Johnson Space Center

After 45 days in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the four-man crew can hardly hold their eyes open. This mission was the first of its kind to last 45 days, as well as incorporate sleep reduction for research purposes.

Satellite Shows a Weaker Hurricane Fernanda
July 19, 2017 02:22 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Hurricane Fernanda appears to be weakening on infrared satellite imagery. NOAA's GOES-West satellite imagery on July 19 showed a more disorganized hurricane nearing the Central Pacific Ocean.    

Treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater may pollute area water sources for years
July 19, 2017 12:10 PM - Penn State

Given Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources, it’s no surprise that the Commonwealth has become a mecca for hydraulic fracturing. Researchers, however, have recently discovered that releasing millions of gallons of treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater each year into area surface waters may have longer-lasting effects than originally thought.

Soil filters out some emerging contaminants before reaching groundwater
July 19, 2017 11:59 AM - Penn State

There is considerable uncertainty surrounding emerging contaminants in aquatic ecosystems and groundwater, and a recent Penn State study of compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal care products didn't add much clarity. But it did provide insight into the transport of the chemicals, according to researchers in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Soil filters out some emerging contaminants before reaching groundwater
July 19, 2017 11:59 AM - Penn State

There is considerable uncertainty surrounding emerging contaminants in aquatic ecosystems and groundwater, and a recent Penn State study of compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal care products didn't add much clarity. But it did provide insight into the transport of the chemicals, according to researchers in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

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