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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.

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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.

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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.

R & D caucus highlights NSF's tie to innovation

April 2, 2012 5:32 am | News | Comments

Last Friday, the National Science Foundation held a congressional briefing to call attention to its research successes, particularly the process of bringing relevant fundamental research from the laboratory to the marketplace. Particular attention was called to Small Business Innovation Research grant beneficiaries, some of whom shared their success stories at the briefing.

TTP Labtech Instrument Ends Manual Solvent Monitoring

March 16, 2012 8:37 am | Product Releases | Comments

By providing a safe, automated solution to solvent level monitoring, analytical chemists using TTP Labtech’s new aequus can easily keep track of both solvent use and waste overflow during the everyday running of their analytical equipment.

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President proposes national network for manufacturing innovation

March 10, 2012 6:49 am | News | Comments

After touring the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe jet engine disc manufacturing facility in Prince George, Va., on March 9, President Obama announced his intention to build a network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes to serve as regional hubs of manufacturing excellence. The move is intended to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive and encourage investment.

Building a beetle antifreeze

March 2, 2012 4:22 am | News | Comments

Animals and plants have evolved all sorts of chemical tricks that allow them to colonize extreme environments. For species that call Antarctica or the Arctic home, surviving sub-zero temperatures is an essential ability, and chemists have isolated many natural antifreeze compounds from these organisms. The antifreeze called xylomannan, which is produced by the freeze-tolerant Alaskan beetle Upis ceramboides , is being studied at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute.

Report examines what U.S. can learn from EU chemicals law

February 29, 2012 9:21 am | News | Comments

U.S. industry and environmental groups agree that the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 needs to be modernized to better protect public health and the environment. However, there is no consensus on what the reform should look like. A new report from Indiana University supplies a close examination of the European Union's reformed chemicals law REACH, which went into effect in 2006.

When (and where) work disappears

February 24, 2012 7:11 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that the rapid rise in low-wage manufacturing industries overseas has had a significant impact on the United States. The disappearance of U.S. manufacturing jobs frequently leaves workers unemployed for years, if not permanently, while creating a drag on local economies and raising the amount of taxpayer-borne social insurance necessary to keep workers and their families afloat.

Report: Oil sands pollution comparable to large power plant

February 23, 2012 6:22 am | News | Comments

Drillers require a lot of energy to recover and refine heavy, viscous bitumen from Canada’s oil sands. In the first look at the effect of air pollution from the excavation of oil sands, also called tar sands, scientists used satellites to measure nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The effects, they say, are equivalent of a large power plant or a medium-sized city.

Nanotechnology powers Next Alternative’s emulsion fuel

February 21, 2012 2:08 am | News | Comments

Next Alternative of Ottawa, Canada, has introduced carbon nanotubes into an emulsion-fuel mixture, allowing the dispersion of standardized nanoscale water particle inside a single drop of oil. The result is a more efficient combustion, and Next Alternative believes it now has one of the most powerful formulas available.

Mapping out the future of GPS technology

February 16, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

Ditching satellites and complex, powerful computers and opting for camera technology inspired by small mammals may be the future of navigation systems. A Queensland University of Technology faculty member is researching ways to make more reliable global positioning systems (GPS) using camera technology and mathematical algorithms, which would make navigating a cheaper and simpler task.

A natural solution for transportation

February 3, 2012 3:46 am | News | Comments

As the United States transitions away from a primarily petroleum-based transportation industry, a number of different alternative fuel sources—ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hydrogen—have each shown their own promise. Hoping to expand the pool even further, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have begun to investigate adding one more contender to the list of possible energy sources for light-duty cars and trucks: Compressed natural gas.

Biogas plant to let us run on rotten tomatoes

February 1, 2012 11:03 am | News | Comments

Tons and tons of old produce goes to waste each year, much of it simply thrown away. A new biogas plant near Stuttgart, in Germany, has been built specifically to convert this market waste into methane for commercial use

UOP selected by Dow to provide technology for petrochemical facility

January 13, 2012 6:45 am | News | Comments

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that it has been selected by The Dow Chemical Company to provide technology to produce propylene at a Dow production site in Texas. Dow Texas Operations will use the Honeywell UOP C 3 Oleflex technology in a new propane dehydrogenation unit to convert shale gas-derived propane to propylene.

Team to test ‘quad porosity’ shale gas model

January 11, 2012 5:09 am | News | Comments

A quad porosity model developed by Oklahoma State University researchers uses scanning electron microscopy to characterize up to four porosity systems for shale gas. The simulation model, which will offer better forecasting and potential cost savings, is about to be field-tested in gas reservoirs over the next few months.

Topography played key role in Deepwater Horizon aftermath

January 9, 2012 3:55 pm | News | Comments

When geochemist David Valentine and colleagues published a study in early 2011 documenting how bacteria blooms had consumed almost all of the deepwater methane plumes following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, some people were skeptical. A recent publication explains how they did it.

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