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Geoscientists cite need for basic research to unleash new energy sources

December 3, 2012 12:26 pm | News | Comments

Geological and environmental challenges facing developers of renewable energy and shale gas resources will be a dominant at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union this week in San Francisco. Experts on shale gas and hydraulic fracturing will be speaking about enhanced geothermal technology, which takes advantage of fracking techniques to access deep well thermal energy, delivered as steam.

Observations of “mechanochemical” synthesis could boost green chemistry

December 3, 2012 11:39 am | News | Comments

Solvents are omnipresent in the chemical industry, and are a major environmental and safety concern. “Mechanochemistry” offers a possible green, energy-efficient alternative that avoids using bulk solvents. The technique, now being researched at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, relies on high-frequency milling to drive reactions. Until now, however, the underlying chemistry of this method has eluded observation.

Study: Common flame retardant is an endocrine disruptor

October 25, 2012 9:19 am | News | Comments

Firemaster 550 is made up of four principal component chemicals and is used in polyurethane foam in a wide variety of products, ranging from mattresses to infant nursing pillows.  It was developed to replace a class of fire retardants being phased out of use because of concerns regarding their safety.

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U.S. research and development most prevalent in small number of regions

September 13, 2012 4:29 am | News | Comments

According to data from a 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey by the National Science Foundation, businesses perform the lion's share of their R&D activity in just a small number of geographic areas, particularly the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland area and the New York-Newark-Bridgeport area.

Gulf bacteria consumed a majority of the Deepwater oil spill

September 11, 2012 10:06 am | News | Comments

According to a new study that measured the rate at which bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico ate the oil and gas discharged by the broken Deepwater Horizon well, at least 200,000 tons of hydrocarbons were consumed by gulf bacteria over a five month period.

NC State signs research agreement with Eastman Chemical Co.

September 10, 2012 7:32 am | News | Comments

In a move signaling a new, innovative approach to multidisciplinary research with university partners, North Carolina State University has entered into a multiyear agreement with Eastman Chemical Co. to conduct joint cutting-edge research in chemistry, materials science, and other scientific disciplines.

Study finds how BPA affects gene expression

September 7, 2012 7:15 am | News | Comments

New research led by researchers at North Carolina State University shows that exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) early in life results in high levels of anxiety by causing significant gene expression changes in a specific region of the brain called the amygdala. The researchers also found that a soy-rich diet can mitigate these effects.

Photoacoustic technique 'hears' the sound of dangerous chemical agents

August 14, 2012 8:32 am | News | Comments

U.S. Army researchers have developed a new chemical sensor that can simultaneously identify a potentially limitless numbers of agents, in real time. The new system is based on a phenomenon discovered by Alexander Graham Bell known as the photoacoustic effect, in which the absorption of light by materials generates characteristic acoustic waves.

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Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science

July 23, 2012 4:58 am | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

Catalysts open green route to chemical products

July 9, 2012 4:16 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

California Institute of Technology chemists have developed a new class of catalysts that will increase the range of chemicals that can be synthesized using environmentally friendly methods. The new chemicals include the metal ruthenium and help drive a chemical reaction called olefin metathesis. The reaction has proven useful and efficient for making chemical products that involve pairs of carbon atoms connected by double bonds.

Exxon's CEO: Climate, energy fears overblown

June 27, 2012 12:58 pm | by Jonathan Fahey, AP Energy Writer | News | Comments

In a speech Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown. He acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt and dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain.

Nanopesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener agriculture?

June 20, 2012 7:22 am | News | Comments

Research is needed to evaluate the risks and benefits of nanopesticides to human and environmental health. Researchers from the University of Vienna recently performed an extensive analysis of this emerging field of research. The study presents the current state-of-art in nanopesticides and identifies direction priorities for future research.

Diversity Marks R & D 100 Awards in the 1990s

June 18, 2012 7:18 am | by R&D Editors | Articles | Comments

Information, environment, energy, and consumer products gain prominence as R&D 100 Award winners in the 1990s.

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Green fuel from carbon dioxide and hydrogen?

June 13, 2012 8:19 am | News | Comments

A research team at the Freiburg Materials Research Center in Germany has developed a new system for producing methanol that uses carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The key to helping make their process more efficient is the use of the metal oxides of copper, zinc, and zirconium dioxide as catalysts, enabling the reaction to happen at lower temperatures. Ionic salts may also play a role.

Chemical engineers devise a new way to split water

June 5, 2012 12:11 pm | News | Comments

Providing a possible new route to hydrogen-gas production, researchers at the California Institute of Technology have devised a series of chemical reactions that allows them, for the first time, to split water in a nontoxic, noncorrosive way, at relatively low temperatures.

Coalition to develop world’s cleanest passenger train

May 22, 2012 12:57 pm | News | Comments

Plans to create the world's first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive were unveiled this week by the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, which has the goal of proving the viability of solid biofuel—torrefied biomass—and modern steam locomotive technology. The first step in those plans is to break the world speed record for steam trains.

MRI offers preventive medicine for pipelines

May 22, 2012 12:50 pm | by Kate Rix | News | Comments

A team of engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a way to keep tabs on pipeline health by using a magnetic resonance imaging machine similar to the ones used in hospitals. Their technology is called the Magnetic Response Imaging System (MRIS), and it will be able to look at the state of underground pipelines.

First microsubmarines designed to help clean up oil spills

May 2, 2012 9:22 am | News | Comments

Different versions of microengines have been developed, including devices that could transport medications through the bloodstream. But until now no one has ever shown that these devices—which are about 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair—could help clean up oil spills. Scientists are reporting successful testing of the first self-propelled “microsubmarines” designed to pick up droplets of oil and transport them.

Engineers discover high-yield biomass-to-plastics method

May 1, 2012 6:35 am | News | Comments

A team of chemical engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found an inexpensive way to achieve a 75% yield from biomass for the formation of the chemical p-xylene, a key ingredient used to make plastic bottles. This chemical is normally made using petroleum.

Study: Fracking requires a minimum distance from sensitive rock strata

April 25, 2012 6:23 am | News | Comments

According to new research in the U.K. that looked at data from thousands of fracking operations in the United States, the chance of rogue fractures due to shale gas fracking operations decreases significantly beyond a certain distance from the injection source. This, the first analysis of its kind, could be used as a starting point for separating aquifers and fracking.

Compound from wild tomatoes is natural, effective herbicide

April 25, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

A naturally occurring compound derived from wild tomato plants is also a fast-acting, nontoxic herbicide, according to researchers at North Carolina State University. Previously working with the compound—known as 2-undecanone—as a natural replacement for the chemical DEET in insect repellents, the researchers decided to explore whether it could be used as an insecticide on plants, when they noticed an unexpected side effect: It killed the plants.

Acoustics could guide dispersant use during subsea oil spills

April 18, 2012 5:40 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are investigating whether sound waves can be used to determine the size of oil droplets in the subsea—knowledge that could help guide the use of chemical dispersants during the cleanup of future spills.

Report: Diesel technologies drastically cut emissions

April 18, 2012 5:34 am | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State University shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides—pollutants that have significant human health and environmental impacts.

Study: Learning-by-doing was important in reducing ethanol costs

April 13, 2012 8:53 am | News | Comments

A new study from the University of Illinois concludes that learning-by-doing, stimulated by increased ethanol production, played an important role in inducing technological progress in the corn ethanol industry. It also suggests that biofuel policies, which induced ethanol production beyond the free-market level, served to increase the competitiveness of the industry over time.

Study ties oil, gas production to Midwest quakes

April 9, 2012 8:28 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

According to findings by the U.S. Geological Survey, the rate of earthquakes in the United States’ midsection has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made." Most of the earthquakes resulting from drilling activities are relatively mold, falling into the magnitude 3 range on the Richter scale.

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