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New medical and other biotechnologies

Turning Offshore Wind Farms into Real Farms

Written by , on March 20, 2012

A Dutch company, Ecofys, is investigating the possibilities of integrating seaweed cultivation into offshore wind farms.  The project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Ecofys and several partners are creating a test module for seaweed cultivation in an offshore environment. The test module consists of nets a few metres […]  Read more »

Common Plastics from Plants

Written by , on February 18, 2012

Dutch scientists from Utrecht University and the Dow Chemical Company have found a way of turning plant matter into the building blocks of common plastics using a catalyst made from iron nanoparticles, that offers an alternative to oil-based production. Existing bioplastics, which are made from crops such as corn and sugar, have only limited use […]  Read more »

Solar Power from Grass Clippings

Written by , on February 4, 2012

In the video below, MIT researcher Andreas Mershin describes advances in producing photovoltaic cells based on waste plant material, such as grass clippings. The work is an extension of a project begun eight years ago by Shuguang Zhang, associate director at MIT’s Center for Biomedical Engineering. Zhang extracted the tiny structures within plant cells that […]  Read more »

Turning Seaweed into Fuel

Written by , on January 31, 2012

Seaweed would seem to an ideal source of biomass for making renewable fuels. Kelp has a high sugar content; it doesn’t need farmland or fresh water and large quantities can be sustainably harvested. Harvesting the kelp which is already growing along 3% of the world’s coastlines could potentially produce 60 billion gallons of ethanol. The […]  Read more »

Renewable Carbon Dioxide “Sponge”

Written by , on November 18, 2011

Scientists at Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago have reported the development of a strong and reversible sponge-like material to capture and store gaseous carbon dioxide. The main component, gamma-cyclodextrin, is a naturally occurring biorenewable sugar molecule that is derived from cornstarch. These sugar molecules are held in place by […]  Read more »

Breakthrough Towards Bio-batteries

Written by , on June 4, 2011

A team of scientists from England’s University of East Anglia have announced in the in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. that they have discovered "the exact molecular structure of the proteins which enable bacterial cells to transfer electrical charge." With this knowledge, scientists can start working on technology for tethering bacteria […]  Read more »

Huge Algal Oil Potential – But Not Yet

Written by , on March 26, 2011

A report from the Energy Biosciences Institute in Berkeley projects that, while algal oil production technology has the potential to produce several billion gallons of renewable fuel annually, development of cost-competitive algae biofuel production will require much more long- term research, development and demonstration. In the meantime, several non-fuel applications of algae could serve to […]  Read more »

Floating Islands Clean Waterways

Written by , on March 12, 2011

In 2000, Bruce Kania’s black dog, Rufus, jumped into a pond and came out red. Concerned for his dog and wondering what was going on, Bruce also saw a tremendous opportunity for invention, if he could develop a new and natural stewardship tool which could clean water and, in the process, improve life for all […]  Read more »

Styrofoam Substitute from Milk and Clay

Written by , on November 20, 2010

Styrofoam is made from petroleum and is said to make up 25% of landfills. We recently wrote about a biodegradable styrofoam substitute made from mushrooms (see Are Mushrooms the New Plastic?). Now, scientists have created another biodegradable styrofoam-like material using mostly milk and clay. The research began with an accidental discovery at Case Western Reserve […]  Read more »

Baking Soda Dramatically Boosts Oil Production from Algae

Written by , on November 16, 2010

Montana State University researchers have discovered that common baking soda, when added at a particular time in the growing cycle, can dramatically increase algae’s production of the key oil precursors for biodiesel. According to the scientists, the search for a chemical trigger to boost oil production in algae was a long and sometimes torturous journey. […]  Read more »