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Student-devised process would prep Chinese shale gas for sale

May 1, 2012 7:18 am | News | Comments

A team of Rice University students recently fulfilled a challenge to economically turn shale gas produced in China into a range of useful, profitable and environmentally friendly products. In building its plan, the team had to deal not only with processing what's known as "sour gas" straight out of the wellhead, but also had to come up with a solid budget for the construction and profitable operation of the plant as well as a strategy to protect the environment.

Solar panels cause clashes with homeowner groups

April 25, 2012 8:37 am | by Ray Henry, Associated Press | News | Comments

The government wants you to install solar panels at your house, and will even give you a tax break to do it. But your neighbors? Maybe not. Homeowners associations around the country have banned or severely restricted the installation of solar panels, and the solar industry has pushed back to halt the practice.

A divided Congress confronts a rising cyberthreat

April 23, 2012 8:44 am | by Donna Cassata and Richard Lardner, Associated Press | News | Comments

As cyber attacks worsen and the tactics employed by hackers grow more nefarious, Congress is being asked to consider legislation to improve defenses for government, municipal, and corporate networks. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are applying pressure from the other side, saying the rules would cost money without improving risk.

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FDA issues draft guidance on nanotechnology

April 22, 2012 1:41 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. government has issued its initial draft guidelines on the use of nanotechnology, particularly nanoparticles, in food and cosmetic products. These recommendations, intended to help guarantee consumer safety within these two industries, do not extend to the other products that fall under Food and Drug Administration oversights, such as drugs and medical devices.

As ice cap melts, militaries vie for Arctic edge

April 16, 2012 7:22 am | by Eric Talmadge, Associated Press | News | Comments

To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.

NASA collecting ideas on new strategy for exploring the Red Planet

April 16, 2012 3:36 am | News | Comments

Starting Friday, NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group began accepting ideas and abstracts online from the worldwide scientific and technical community as part of NASA's effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. They hope to develop a new strategy for the exploration of Mars.

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.

FDA wants limits on antibiotics given to animals

April 11, 2012 11:23 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Antibiotics are mixed with animal feed to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns. Scientists have warned that this routine use leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs that can be passed to humans. Now the Food and Drug Administration is weighing in on the matter, calling on drug companies to help limit the use antibiotics.

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China sets up rare earths industry group

April 9, 2012 8:39 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

With about a third of the world's rare earth reserves and supplying 90% of what is consumed, China has come under fire for imposing limits on rare earths production and exports. In response, the country has begun an industry association designed fend off these complaints and administer greater regulation of the sector.

Study: Replacing coal the least expensive way to reduce emissions

April 3, 2012 1:22 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study using SWITCH, a highly detailed computer model of the electric power grid, University of California, Berkeley researchers have learned that goals for decarbonization of the electric power sector are most easily achieved using renewable or nuclear energy sources in lieu of coal.

FDA rejects call to ban BPA from food packaging

April 3, 2012 10:27 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Despite concern from some scientists who believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems of humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has turned down a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.

Japan experts warn of future risk of giant tsunami

April 2, 2012 5:27 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press | News | Comments

A panel of experts in Japan recently said that any tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan's main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 m (112 ft) at its highest. This is a significant elevation of risk from an earlier forecast in 2003 that put the potential maximum height of such a tsunami at less than 20 m.

Panel backs sharing studies of lab-made bird flu

April 2, 2012 5:24 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

On Friday, the U.S. government's biosecurity advisers said they support publishing research studies showing how scientists made new easy-to-spread forms of bird flu because the studies, now revised, don't reveal details bioterrorists could use. The announcement could end debate sparked by the government’s request last December that scientists refrain from publishing all the details of their work.

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Feds, five states to push for Great Lakes wind farms

April 1, 2012 3:18 pm | by John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer | News | Comments

The Great Lakes currently have no offshore wind turbines, but several plans to install them are in the works. Both federal and state governments are about to announce an agreement to speed up approval of the farms, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition.

Japan, U.S., EU discuss rare earth supply security

March 29, 2012 4:10 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

China holds about a third of the world's rare earth reserves but supplies about 90% of what is consumed. In the past two years it has imposed limits on its exports, citing a need to impose order on an unruly domestic market and to reduce environmental damage. Officials from the U.S. the European Union, and Japan met recently to propose ways to ensure secure supplies of strategically vital rare earths and other critical materials.

High court throws out human gene patents

March 27, 2012 12:07 pm | News | Comments

The Supreme Court this week threw out a lower court ruling allowing human genes to be patented. The court overturned patents belonging to Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt Lake City on two genes linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

U.S. announces deal to ensure medical isotope supply

March 26, 2012 9:54 am | News | Comments

Medical isotopes are used to treat cancer and heart disease worldwide, but have been typically been made using highly enriched uranium. This material can also be used to create nuclear bombs, which has prompted a recent agreement between several countries to ensure its future supply while improving security.

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.

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.

Eight national labs streamline partnership agreements

February 27, 2012 5:43 pm | News | Comments

Intended to help cut red tape for business and startups wanting to do business with the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s research laboratories, the new Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT) program was recently launched as a third alternative to the two preceding options: signing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) or a Work For Others (WFO) Agreement.

Scientists see red on NASA cuts of Mars missions

February 27, 2012 5:06 pm | by Alicia Chang and Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writers | News | Comments

Earlier this month, the president's budget canceled joint U.S.-European robotic missions to Mars in 2016 and 2018. Now top science officials say they are scrambling to come up with a plan by the end of the summer for a cut-rate journey to the red planet in 2018. That's when Mars passes closest to Earth, something that only happens once every 15 years.

Radio conference approves bandwidth for ocean current tracking

February 27, 2012 3:10 am | News | Comments

The International Telecommunication Union, which coordinates global radio spectrum use, recently came to an agreement that provides specific radio frequency bands for ocean radars, which until now operated only on an informal basis and were subject to immediate shut-down if they caused interference with other radio systems. The new technology may eventually make real-time detection of tsunamis and oil spills possible.

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.

Ethanol mandate not the best option

February 13, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

Many people are willing to pay a premium for ethanol, but not enough to justify the government mandate for the corn-based fuel, a Michigan State University economist argues. Soren Andersen studied the demand for ethanol, or E85, in the United States. He found that when ethanol prices rose 10 cents per gallon, demand for ethanol fell only 12% to 16% on average.

NASA says Russian space woes no worry

February 7, 2012 3:20 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

NASA says it still has confidence in the quality of Russia's manned rockets, despite an embarrassing series of glitches and failures in the Russian space program. The Soyuz is still consider by NASA officials to be the world’s most reliable space system.

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