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Oil Detection Methods Miss Important Class of Chemicals

MTorrice Re:Oxidized stuff (46 comments)

Really? How do they know it wasn't just raw sewage, or industrial chemicals if they didn't even identify the chemical, or even prove it came from the oil spill?

The PNAS paper that looked at the SF Bay spill ruled out sewage and other chemicals found in the Bay. They suggest sunlight transformed crude compounds into toxic ones. The PNAS paper is in front of a paywall, I believe: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/2/E51.full

Its not that the oil is "missed", its just that the oil once degraded to the point that it is not oil anymore is hard for them to measure with current methods, so they can't figure out where it went.

The main point, is that the oil is gone, degraded, oxidized, etc. The most dangerous (to marine life) part of the spill is gone.

But where degraded oil goes is a question scientists want to know, mainly because they don't fully understand what those compounds do to wild life. So even if the chemicals aren't the ones that originally spilled into the ocean, what they become is still of interest to researchers, because they know less about them.

about a year ago
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Oil Detection Methods Miss Important Class of Chemicals

MTorrice Re:Oxidized stuff (46 comments)

They haven't identified specific compounds yet--sounds like that is next on their to-do list. The scientists definitely think the compounds arise after the oil spills out of the well and sits out in the sun for a bit. Basically you're right: They're talking about the end results of oil degradation. But the big question is what do these chemicals do to marine life. Are they toxic? Or do they just sit around and living things ignore them.

about a year ago
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Silicon Nanoparticles Could Lead To On-Demand Hydrogen Generation

MTorrice Re:The key question becomes (163 comments)

The particles get used up in the process, producing silicon oxides.

about a year ago
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Silicon Nanoparticles Could Lead To On-Demand Hydrogen Generation

MTorrice Re:The key question becomes (163 comments)

They make the nanoparticles from silane gas. The process is very energy intensive and produces CO2. So a pretty long tailpipe on this technology. You probably need more energy than you can create. Also it's unclear if these particles are better than magnesium hydride, which is the material of choice in many prototype fuel cells.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Sulfur Polymers Could Enable Long-Lasting, High-Capacity Batteries

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a month and a half ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Lithium-sulfur batteries promise to store four to five times as much energy as today’s best lithium-ion batteries. But their short lifetimes have stood in the way of their commercialization. Now researchers demonstrate that a sulfur-based polymer could be the solution for lightweight, inexpensive batteries that store large amounts of energy. Battery electrodes made from the material have one of the highest energy-storage capacities ever reported"
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Hard Silicon Wafers Yield Flexible Electronics

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 2 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "By shaving off an ultrathin layer from the top of a silicon wafer, researchers have transformed rigid electronic devices into flexible ones. The shaving process could be used to fabricate parts for wearable electronics or displays that can roll up. Compared to similar techniques to make bendable silicon electronics, the new method is more cost-effective and produces more flexible devices, its developers say."
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Green-Building Labels Trigger A Race To The Top

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 3 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Rib eye steaks, washing machines, and even buildings can don labels signaling their environmental sustainability. As the number of organizations that hand out these ecolabels grows, some researchers wonder if the tags are merely window dressing or if they actually push producers to improve the sustainability of their goods. In a new study, economists looked at the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program (LEED), which certifies buildings that use resources efficiently and are built with sustainable materials. The researchers show, for the first time, that this ecolabel provides a marketing bonus that pushes firms to construct buildings that are more sustainable than they would have otherwise."
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Plastic Films Pin Water Droplets Like Rose Petals Do

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 3 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Materials scientists often turn to the plant kingdom for ideas on how to design surfaces that trap or repel water. Some have mimicked the surfaces of rose petals to engineer nanoscale patterns that cling to water droplets. Now researchers report a simple method to print large-area, water-pinning plastic films. They etch the nanoscale patterns onto a metal or silicon drum, heat the drum, and then press it against sheets of plastic to emboss the sheets with the nanoscale features. With a practical manufacturing method, water-trapping plastics could find commercial applications, such as controlling condensation in greenhouses or liquid flow in microfluidic devices."
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Carbon Nanotubes and Spongy Polymer Help Transistors Stretch

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 3 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "To make future displays that roll, bend, and stretch, electronics makers need the circuits that control the pixels to be elastic. In particular, they need flexible transistors. Now researchers have combined a carbon nanotube mesh with a spongy ionic polymer to build super stretchy transistors. The scientists can pull the devices to lengths 57% greater than their resting length without disrupting performance."
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Electrochemical Cell Generates Hydrogen While Cleaning Up Arsenic

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 3 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Arsenic taints drinking water in many parts of Asia, and the element can be abundant in industrial wastewaters or acidic drainage from mines. Typically engineers clean up the tainted water by oxidizing the arsenic to a less toxic form that is easy to pull out of the water. Now researchers report an electrochemical device that generates hydrogen as it oxidizes the arsenic. The hydrogen produced could be used as fuel, making the remediation process more cost effective."
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Multidrug Resistance Gene Released By Chinese Wastewater Treatment Plants

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 4 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "In recent years, increasing numbers of patients worldwide have contracted severe bacterial infections that are untreatable by most available antibiotics. Some of the gravest of these infections are caused by bacteria carrying genes that confer resistance to a broad class of antibiotics called beta-lactams, many of which are treatments of last resort. Now a research team reports that some wastewater treatment plants in China discharge one of these potent resistance genes into the environment. Environmental and public health experts worry that this discharge could promote the spread of resistance."
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Particles Filled with Spice Compound Boost Memory in Rats with Alzheimer's

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 4 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Curcumin, a natural compound found in turmeric, has shown promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease but delivering it to the brain has been a challenge. Now researchers have packaged the compound inside polymer nanoparticles to help it get into the brain. For the first time, they’ve shown that this encapsulated curcumin can stimulate the production of neurons and improve memory in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease."
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Detecting Chemicals Through Bone

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 4 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "To understand the brain and its chemical complexities, researchers would like to peer inside the skull and measure neurotransmitters levels as the brain at work. Unfortunately, research methods to measure levels of chemicals in the brain require drilling holes in the skull, and noninvasive imaging techniques, such as MRI, can’t detect specific molecules. Now, as a first step toward a new imaging tool, chemists report they can detect molecules hidden behind 3- to 8-mm-thick bone."
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Gymnasts Exposed To High Levels Of Flame Retardants During Workouts

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 5 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Competitive U.S. gymnasts can be exposed to high levels of flame retardants through the polyurethane foam padding used in gyms, according to a new study. Dust from these gyms contain concentrations of the chemicals that are one to three orders of magnitude greater than in homes. Also researchers drew blood from 11 college-level gymnasts and found levels of a potentially toxic brominated flame retardant in the athletes’ blood that were almost three times higher than those in the general population."
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Scientists Fabricate Tough Batteries On Polyester Fabric

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 5 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "As wearable electronics move from abstract concepts to tangible products, engineers want to find ways to integrate flexible, powerful textile-based batteries into people's clothing to power the devices. Now researchers have built one of the most durable wearable batteries to date on polyester fabric. They electroplated nickel onto the polyester to produce electrodes that have high conductivity and can withstand repeated mechanical stress. The whole battery, which the researchers sewed into a hoody, can be folded 10,000 times without losing function."
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Sunlight Helps Turn Salty Water Fresh

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 5 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "With energy-efficient desalination techniques, water-starved communities could produce fresh water from salty sources such as seawater and industrial wastewater. But common methods like reverse osmosis require pumping the water, which uses a substantial amount of energy. So some researchers have turned to forward osmosis, because in theory it should use less energy. Now a team has demonstrated a forward osmosis system that desalinates salty water with the help of sunlight. The method uses a pair of hydrogels to absorb and squeeze out freshwater."
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Carbyne Predicted To Be Strongest Known Material

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 6 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "According to theoretical calculations, one-dimensional strings of carbon atoms called carbyne should be stronger than any known material—if experimentalists can figure out how to make it in bulk. Its tensile stiffness, for example, should be twice that of graphene and carbon nanotubes. The researchers predict that the carbon allotrope also could have novel electrical and magnetic properties that would be useful in computing systems."
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Accelerating Diabetic Wound Healing

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 7 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Each year, tens of thousands of people with diabetes in the U.S. have a lower limb amputated because a small foot wound failed to heal. With diabetes rates on the rise, scientists are eagerly searching for effective treatments for the ulcers that develop from these unhealed wounds. Now, researchers have identified an enzyme that’s rampant in diabetic wounds and may interfere with healing. Inhibiting the enzyme accelerated wound healing in diabetic mice, suggesting a path to new drugs."
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New Headphones Generate Sound With Carbon Nanotubes

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 7 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "A new type of headphone heats up carbon nanotubes to crank out tunes. The tiny speaker doesn’t rely on moving parts and instead produces sound through the thermoacoustic effect. When an alternating current passes through the nanotubes, the material heats and cools the air around it; as the air warms, it expands, and as it cools, it contracts. This expansion and contraction creates sound waves. The new nanotube speaker could be manufactured at low cost in the same facilities used to make computer chips, the researchers say."
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Turning A Smart Phone Into A Microscope

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 7 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "By attaching a lightweight, inexpensive device to the back of a smart phone, scientists can convert the phone into a sensitive fluorescence microscope. The attachment allows the phone’s camera to take pictures of single nanoparticles and viruses, possibly providing a portable diagnostic tool for health care workers in developing countries. For example, doctors in remote regions could use the technique to measure HIV viral loads in patients’ blood samples, allowing the doctors to easily monitor disease progression and determine the best course of treatment."
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Fracked Shale Could Sequester Carbon Dioxide

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 7 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "The same wells that energy companies drill to extract natural gas from shale formations could become repositories to store large quantities of carbon dioxide. A new computer model suggests that wells in the Marcellus shale, a 600-sq-mile formation in the northeastern U.S. that is a hotbed for gas extraction, could store half the CO2 emitted by the country’s power plants from now until 2030."
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Bringing Nanocrystal-Based Electronics Closer To Commercial Applications

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 8 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "To build components for flexible electronics, some engineers have turned to thin films made from semiconductor nanocrystals. Unfortunately, many of these nanomaterials lose their unique electronic properties when exposed to air or solvent, making them incompatible with large-scale fabrication methods. Now researchers report that treating the films with indium can fix the problem. The treatment could move nanocrystal-based electronics out of the lab and into commercial applications, the researchers say, leading to low-cost, flexible electronics such as solar cells and displays."
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Spongy Material Puts The Squeeze On Waterborne Disease

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 7 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Natural disasters often leave survivors without access to safe drinking water. Now researchers have made a cheap, lightweight material that could help survivors get that water fast. It’s a porous gel embedded with silver nanoparticles that works like a bacteria-killing sponge. The gel absorbs tainted water, kills bacteria in seconds, and releases drinkable water with just a squeeze."
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Harvesting Energy From Carbon Dioxide Emissions

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 9 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "An electrochemical cell could someday generate electricity from carbon dioxide emitted by power plants as the gas wafts into the atmosphere. Researchers demonstrate that the cell harvests energy released by the entropy created when CO2 mixes with fresh air. The device could help power plants increase electricity output without producing additional CO2."
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