Ok, you probably won’t hear that one around the lab (taste-testing the nano-gold is a strict no-no), but researchers have discovered a way to replace the toxic chemicals typically used to make gold nanoparticles with cinnamon.
“The procedure we have developed is non-toxic,” Kannan said. “No chemicals are used in the generation of gold nanoparticles, except gold salts. It is a true ‘green’ process.”
The cinnamon takes the place of the toxic agents that remove the gold particles from gold salts, explains Popular Science:
There are several ways to produce gold particles, but most involve dissolving chloroauric acid, also called gold salts, in liquid and adding chemicals to precipitate gold atoms. Common mixtures include sodium citrates, sodium borohydride (also used to bleach wood pulp) and ammonium compounds.
Beef, butter sculptures, and people byproducts have made for some good biofuels. Now Scottish researchers are looking to whisky. Processing whisky waste–pot ale, the liquid in copper stills, and draff, leftovers from grain–researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have created butanol which they claim can provide 25 percent more energy per unit volume than ethanol, a more typical biofuel.
Martin Tangney, project director, told The Guardian that every country should use its own particular brand of waste instead of growing crops for biofuels:
“What people need to do is stop thinking ‘either or'; people need to stop thinking like for like substitution for oil. That’s not going to happen. Different things will be needed in different countries.”
In Scotland’s case those things include the leftovers from a stiff drink. The country’s estimated six billion dollar whisky industry produces 1,600 million liters of pot ale and 187,000 tons of draff annually. In America’s case, perhaps we should instead turn to human fat?
Sugar fermentation makes the conversion from leftovers to butanol possible, and researchers say cars could use the fuel without modifying their engines by using a mixture of butanol and gasoline.
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Image: flickr / foxypar4
Pokeberries, whose red dye was famously used by Civil War soldiers to write letters home, may enable the distribution of worldwide solar power. Researchers at Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials are using the red dye from this weedy plant’s berries to coat their high-efficient, fiber-based solar cells, licensed by FiberCell, Inc.
These fiber cells are composed of millions of tiny fibers that maximize the cell’s surface area and trap light at almost any angle–so the slanting sun rays of morning and evening aren’t wasted. The dye’s absorbent qualities enhance the fibers’ ability to trap sunlight, allowing the fiber cells to produce nearly twice the power that flat-cell technology produces.
Because pokeberries can grow in almost any climate, they can be raised by residents in developing countries “who can make the dye absorber for the extremely efficient fiber cells and provide energy where power lines don’t run,” said David Carroll, the center’s director.
It was a green idea that boogied straight off the dance floor and onto the city streets. Residents in the French city of Toulouse are testing out a special stretch of pavement in the city center that produces energy every time someone walks across it.
The pavement is embedded with special sensors that convert energy from motion into electricity. It’s an idea that was first implemented in a Rotterdam nightclub by the Dutch company Sustainable Dance Club (SDC), where the company installed special modular dance floors that harvested the dancers’ energy.
City authorities in Toulouse hope to replicate that system in the city center; as people walk across the special pavement, they’ll help generate between 50 and 60 watts of electricity. Energy captured during the day would be stored in a battery that could be used to power a nearby street lamp at night.
French authorities are powering ahead with the testing despite concerns about the system’s high cost, and have already overcome several problems along the way. The Guardian reports:
The prototype of the modules, said [City deputy mayor Alexandre] Marciel, was unsuitable for street use as “at that stage they only worked if you jumped on them like a kangaroo. So a model was developed on which you can walk normally and still produce enough energy to power the lights,” he said.
When it comes to packaging a precious TV or even a pricey vase, mushrooms aren’t the first things that pop to mind as a durable alternative to Styrofoam or cardboard. But a company called Ecovative Design has used mushroom roots, the part of the fungus that’s called the mycelium, as a sturdy material that can be used for packaging. The creators say that the process is so simple, they grew the first samples under their beds.
The first step in creating the packaging, called the “Eco Cradle,” is to grow the thin, hair-like mycelia by feeding them agricultural waste like buckwheat hulls, rice hulls, or cotton burrs.