Researchers sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) have developed a modeling process designed to simulate atomic-level etching with chemicals that are effective alternatives to widely used perfluorocarbon (PFC) gases. The novel approach will identify and evaluate green plasma chemistries for processing emerging memory/logic devices and through-silicon-via (TSV)-enabled technologies for the semiconductor industry.
Chemical companies each year churn out billions of tons of acrylate, a valuable commodity chemical involved in the manufacture of everything from polyester cloth to disposable diapers. It is usually made by heating propylene, a compound derived from crude oil. Researchers at Brown and Yale universities have demonstrated a new “enabling technology” that could instead use excess carbon dioxide to produce acrylate.
For many coastal dwellers, seaweed washed up on the shore is nothing but a nuisance. But this raw material has proven itself capable of keeping buildings well insulated. Washed up on shore, it is generally regarded as a waste product and ends up as landfill. Together with industry partners, researchers in Germany have succeeded in turning it into insulation.
Fat worms confirm that researchers from Michigan State University have successfully engineered a plant with oily leaves—a feat that could enhance biofuel production as well as lead to improved animal feeds. The results show that researchers could use an algae gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids or vegetable oil in its leaves—an uncommon occurrence for most plants.
The latest Harvard University research in mesoscale atmospheric modeling suggest that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms has been overestimated. The research shows that the generating capacity of very large wind power installations (larger than 100 square kilometers) may peak at between 0.5 and 1 Watts per square meter. Previous estimates, which ignored the turbines' slowing effect on the wind, had put that figure at between 2 and 7 Watts per square meter.
The world's love affair with gadgets—many of which contain hazardous materials—is generating millions of tons of electronic waste annually. Now, Purdue and Tuskegee universities are leading an international effort to replace conventional electronics with more sustainable technologies and train a workforce of specialists to make the transition possible.
Researchers in Spain have mixed waste from the paper industry with ceramic material used in the construction industry. The result is a brick that has low thermal conductivity. Despite is good insulating properties, however, its mechanical resistance still requires improvement.
Sandia National Laboratories has launched a Sustainability Innovation Foundry that combines laboratories-wide resource conservation with efforts to turn research in fields related to sustainability into business opportunities. Sandia is on track to meet an ambitious goal of cutting energy intensity in buildings 30% by 2015, using a 2005 baseline, and it hopes that what it has learned as part of this effort will carry over into general industry practices.
In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.
In a report presented this week at the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia, researchers based in Hong Kong, in cooperation with Starbucks restaurant chain, described their work on development and successful laboratory testing of a new biorefinery designed to change food waste into a key ingredient for making plastics, laundry detergents and scores of other everyday products.
Current techniques for post-combustion carbon capture filter out carbon dioxide from a power plant’s flue gases as they travel up a chimney. These methods can prevent 80 to 90% of a power plant’s carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, but researchers in the U.K. are trying to improve on that, using their nation’s synchrotron to determine the mechanism for the use of calcium oxide-based material as carbon dioxide sorbents.
Researchers recently published a report that compared the future sustainability of California high-speed rail with that of competing modes of transportation, namely automobile and air travel. They determined that, in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, a mature high-speed rail system wins out when using greener electricity. This was true even after accounting for the emergence of more fuel-efficient airplanes and automobiles.
City officials in Medellín, Colombia, recently faced the difficult task of relocating an entire neighborhood off of a contaminated landfill they were using to grow food and collect water. Unable to pay for removal, officials may have found another way: Researchers at the University of Illinois have put together an experiment to see if biological agents could be used to neutralize the hydrocarbon contaminants at the site.
A recent study by two scientists reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information about carbon dioxide and nitrogen emissions that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels. They claim the life cycle analysis models of bioenergy production are flawed as a result.
IBM has been selected for a global research project to develop the world's first integrated environmental monitoring system aimed at helping oil and gas companies minimize the environmental impact of their operations.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory have successfully shown that they can replace useful little particles of monosodium titanate (MST) with even tinier nano-sized particles, making them even more useful for a variety of applications.
University of California, Davis, researchers have proposed a radical new way of thinking about the chemical reactions between water and metal oxides. The new paradigm could lead to a better understanding of corrosion and how toxic minerals leach from rocks and soil. It could also help in development of green technology.
Researchers from North Carolina State University and West Virginia University have developed a new technology that can reduce air pollutant emissions from some chicken and swine barns, and also reduce their energy use by recovering and possibly generating heat.
A Michigan State University researcher is using a $1.92 million Department of Defense grant to develop a portable wastewater treatment system that could improve the military's efficiency. The solar-bio-nano project also will generate energy and produce drinking water, providing a potential blueprint for future municipal/agricultural wasterwater treatment systems.
The editors of R&D Magazine have opened the nominations for the 2012 R&D 100 Awards competition, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the awards. If your organization introduced a new product this year, or is planning to, you can begin the entry process now.
University of Cincinnati researchers have developed the first lab-on-a-chip sensor to provide fast feedback regarding levels of the heavy metal manganese in humans. The low-cost, disposable invention is mercury-free and can deliver feedback within about 10 minutes.
While Berkeley Lab's third-generation synchrotron is better known as one of the world's brightest sources of ultraviolet and X-ray light, it's roof has been, until now, a prime attractor for the sun’s energy. The 70-year-old dome is being clad in a new cool roof, which will reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere. The project is part of a mandate by Stephen Chu for all Dept. of Energy facilities.
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a key metric for determining how green a data center is and it shows how effectively a data center uses power. Measured as a ratio of the total amount of power used in the data center divided by the amount of power to the computer equipment, the best score a data center can get 1.0. The National Renewable Energy Lab recently dropped its PUE from 3.3 to 1.15 in an effort to be a leader in this area, and to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In Europe, where there are an estimated 300,000 contaminated sites that require testing and treating before further development, a new portable tester that uses live bioluminescent bacteria to assess toxicity has proven popular. With tests taking only 12 to 15 minutes per sample, the device could be used to find out, in less than a day, whether a field contains carcinogenic toxins, and map precisely where the hot spots of the pollution are.
Scientists looking for possible ways to cut down on excessive methane emissions from livestock found a potential answer in an unlikely place: the gut of the Australian Tammar wallaby. This species releases 80% less methane per unit of energy than other animals, and researchers have isolated and grown cultures of the bacteria responsibly.