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Biotechnology

Energy Dense “Biobattery” Runs on Sugar

Written by , on March 18, 2014

A research team at Virginia Tech university, led by Professor Y.H. Percival Zhang, has developed a sugar-powered fuel cell that stores ten times as much energy as the equivalent-size lithium-ion battery. The new sugar-powered cell has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than previous “”biobatteries” – allowing it to run longer before needing to […]  Read more »

Discovery Could Eliminate Need for Nitrogen Fertilisers

Written by , on July 26, 2013

Professor Edward Cocking, at the University of Nottingham, has developed a process which enables all crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than from environmentally damaging fertilisers. Nitrogen fixation is the process by which plants convert nitrogen is ammonia which is vital for plants to survive and grow.The vast majority of plants obtain their […]  Read more »

Water Treatment Using Apple and Tomato Peel

Written by , on July 26, 2013

Tomato is the second most consumed vegetable in the world, with approximately 30% consumed as processed products. The disposal of the tomato skin and its other fibrous materials is a waste for many food processing industries. Ramakrishna Mallampati, at the National University of Singapore, has studied the structure of the tomato peel to assess its […]  Read more »

Batteries from Wood and Rice

Written by , on July 17, 2013

Wood Lithium-based rechargeable batteries are expensive and lithum is relatively scarce. On the other hand, sodium is abundant and cheap and can be used in place of lithium in batteries. The problem is that sodium ions are many times larger than lithium ones and they gradually damage a battery's anode as they diffuse during charging […]  Read more »

Nanocellulose – 1. Engineering Algae to Make a “Wonder Material”

Written by , on April 22, 2013

At the American Chemical Society Conference, Dr Malcolm J Brown Jr, a leading researcher on nanocellulose since the 1970s, has reported major advances in producing nanocellulose from blue-green algae. The great strength and light weight of nanocellulose have fostered interest in using it in everything from lightweight armour and ballistic glass to wound dressings and […]  Read more »

Fuel from CO2 in the Atmosphere

Written by , on March 27, 2013

Researchers at the University of Georgia say that they have found a way to take the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make useful industrial products, potentially including liquid fuels. The process uses a unique microorganism called a "rushing fireball" (Pyrococcus furiosus) which thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in the super-heated ocean […]  Read more »

CO2 Absorbing Street Lights

Written by , on May 19, 2012

French biochemist Pierre Calleja has developed a lighting system that draws CO2 from the atmosphere and uses micro-algae to produce light with oxygen as a byproduct.  The inventor claims that one of his street lights will absorb CO2 at the rate of one tonne a year – which is about as much as a typical […]  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 »