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Research could improve nuclear power plant safety

December 4, 2014 11:08 am | by Univ. of Leeds | Comments

Taking inspiration from nature, researchers have created a versatile model to predict how stalagmite-like structures form in nuclear processing plants, as well as how lime scale builds up in kettles. The main aim of the research, which is published in Computers & Chemical Engineering, is to reduce the number of potentially harmful manual inspections of nuclear waste containers.

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Thin, strong bond for vacuum seal

December 4, 2014 10:09 am | by Patrick Egan, NIST | Comments

An ultra-stable, ultra-thin bonding technology has been adapted by researchers for use as a super-strong vacuum seal. Though it is less than 100 nm thick, the bond can withstand pressure up to 2 megapascals, and its drift, or how much it shifts over time, is on the order of less than 3 trillionths of a meter per hour.

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New tool tweaks rainbows of x-ray laser light

December 4, 2014 9:30 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | Comments

The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has teamed up with Santa Monica-based RadiaBeam Systems to develop a device known as a dechirper, which will provide a new way of adjusting the range of energies within single pulses from SLAC’s x-ray laser. The dechirper will enable scientists to narrow or broaden the spectrum of each x-ray pulse—similar to the spectrum of colors in visible light—up to four-fold.

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Studies look at long-term aging of electronics in nuclear weapons

December 4, 2014 9:09 am | by Sue Holmes, Sandia National Laboratories | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories is studying how environments, including radiation that originates from a nuclear weapon itself, could affect the performance of electronics in the W76-1 warhead as they age. Sandia is helping replace W76 warheads in the U.S. stockpile with a refurbished version under the W76-1 Life Extension Program (LEP). The ballistic missile warhead is carried on the Trident II D5 missile aboard Ohio-class Navy submarines.

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Smaller lidars could allow UAVs to conduct underwater scans

December 4, 2014 8:06 am | by Rick Robinson, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Bathymetric lidars are used today primarily to map coastal waters. At nearly 600 lbs, the systems are large and heavy, and they require costly, piloted aircraft to carry them. A team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute has designed a new approach that could lead to bathymetric lidars that are much smaller and more efficient than the current full-size systems.

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Novel approach to treating asthma

December 4, 2014 7:51 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Current asthma treatments can alleviate wheezing, coughing and other symptoms felt by millions of Americans every year, but they don’t get to the root cause of the condition. Now, for the first time, scientists are reporting a new approach to defeating asthma by targeting the trigger—the allergen—before it can spark an attack. They describe their new compound, which they tested on rats, in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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Nanoparticle network could bring fast-charging batteries

December 4, 2014 7:46 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A new electrode design for lithium-ion batteries has been shown to potentially reduce the charging time from hours to minutes by replacing the conventional graphite electrode with a network of tin-oxide nanoparticles. Batteries have two electrodes, called an anode and a cathode. The anodes in most of today's lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite.

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Buckyballs enhance carbon capture

December 4, 2014 7:37 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have discovered an environmentally friendly carbon-capture method that could be equally adept at drawing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial flue gases and natural gas wells. The Rice laboratory of chemist Andrew Barron revealed in a proof-of-concept study that amine-rich compounds are highly effective at capturing the greenhouse gas when combined with carbon-60 molecules.

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Geckos are sticky without effort

December 3, 2014 4:56 pm | by Iqbal Pittalwala, Univ. of California, Riverside | Comments

Geckos, found in places with warm climates, have fascinated people for hundreds of years. Scientists have been especially intrigued by these lizards, and have studied a variety of features such as the adhesive toe pads on the underside of gecko feet with which geckos attach to surfaces with remarkable strength.

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Laser sniffs out toxic gases from afar

December 3, 2014 4:45 pm | by Robin Anne Smith, Duke Univ. | Comments

Scientists have developed a way to sniff out tiny amounts of toxic gases from up to one kilometer away. The new technology can discriminate one type of gas from another with greater specificity than most remote sensors and under normal atmospheric pressure, something that wasn’t thought possible before.

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Low-grade waste heat regenerates ammonia battery

December 3, 2014 3:49 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | Comments

An efficient method to harvest low-grade waste heat as electricity may be possible using reversible ammonia batteries, according to Penn State Univ. engineers. Low-grade waste heat is an artifact of many energy-generating methods. In automobiles, waste heat generated in winter is diverted to run the vehicle heating system, but in the summer, that same waste heat must be dissipated to the environment.

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“Mirage Earth” exoplanets may have burned away chances for life

December 3, 2014 11:21 am | by Peter Kelley, News and Information, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars are prime targets in the search for extraterrestrial life. But new research led by an astronomy graduate student at the Univ. of Washington indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.

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Small volcanoes make a dent in global warming

December 3, 2014 11:04 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

New research shows that relatively small volcanic eruptions can increase aerosol particles in the atmosphere, temporarily mitigating the global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The impact of such smaller eruptions has been underestimated in climate models, the researchers say, and helps to account for a discrepancy between those models and the actual temperatures observed over the last 15 years.

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CO2 warming effects felt just a decade after emitted

December 3, 2014 10:54 am | by Institute of Physics | Comments

It takes just 10 years for a single emission of carbon dioxide to have its maximum warming effects on the Earth. This is according to researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science who have dispelled a common misconception that the main warming effects from a carbon dioxide emission will not be felt for several decades.

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Ability of HIV to cause AIDS is slowing

December 3, 2014 10:02 am | by Oxford Univ. | Comments

The rapid evolution of HIV, which has allowed the virus to develop resistance to patients' natural immunity, is at the same time slowing the virus's ability to cause AIDS. The Oxford Univ.-led study also indicates that people infected by HIV are likely to progress to AIDS more slowly—in other words the virus becomes less “virulent”—because of widespread access to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

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