A new process that could turn concentrated brine into useful chemicals, making desalination more efficient has been developed by the researchers at MIT. The rapidly growing desalination industry produces water for drinking and for agriculture in the world’s arid coastal regions. But it leaves behind as a waste product a lot of highly concentrated brine, which is usually disposed of by dumping it back into the sea, a process that requires costly pumping systems and that must be managed carefully to prevent damage to marine ecosystems. Now, engineers at MIT say they have found a better way. In a new study, they show that through a fairly simple process the waste material can be converted into useful chemicals - including ones that can make the desalination process itself more efficient.
The United Nations estimates that more than 8 million tons of plastics flow into the oceans each year. A new chemical conversion process could transform the world’s polyolefin waste, a form of plastic, into useful products, such as clean fuels and other items. The strategy is to create a driving force for recycling by converting polyolefin waste into a wide range of valuable products, including polymers, naphtha (a mixture of hydrocarbons), or clean fuels. The leader of the research team is Linda Wang, the Maxine Spencer Nichols Professor in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. She believes that conversion technology has the potential to boost the profits of the recycling industry and shrink the world’s plastic waste stock.
Lithium-sulfur batteries (LSBs) are gaining a great deal of attention as an alternative for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) because they have a theoretical energy density up to six to seven times higher than that of LIBs, and can be manufactured in a more cost-effective way. However, LSBs face the obstacle of having a capacity reaching its theoretical maximum because they are prone to uncontrolled growth of lithium sulfide on the electrodes, which leads to blocking electron transfer. Nevertheless, s scientific team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a lithium-sulfur battery that realizes 92% of the theoretical capacity and an areal capacity of 4mAh/cm2.
A drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin, potentially replacing the injections that people with type 1 diabetes (lat. Diabetes Mellitus) have to give themselves every day has been developed by the researchers at MIT. About the size of a blueberry, the capsule contains a small needle made of compressed insulin, which is injected after the capsule reaches the stomach. In tests in animals, the researchers showed that they could deliver enough insulin to lower blood sugar to levels comparable to those produced by injections given through skin. They also demonstrated that the device can be adapted to deliver other protein drugs. This new type of capsule could someday help diabetic patients and perhaps anyone who requires therapies that can now only be given by injection or infusion.
University of Maryland researchers have created a fabric that can automatically regulate the amount of heat that passes through it. When conditions are warm and moist, such as those near a sweating body, the fabric allows infrared radiation (heat) to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. The researchers created the fabric from specially engineered yarn coated with a conductive metal. Under hot, humid conditions, the strands of yarn compact and activate the coating, which changes the way the fabric interacts with infrared radiation. They refer to the action as 'gating' of infrared radiation, which acts as a tunable blind to transmit or block heat.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes bones to become fragile and brittle. It is a major health problem worldwide, mainly affecting adults. However, children can also rarely be affected as a result of other diseases or genetic disorders. Adults are commonly treated for osteoporosis with drugs called bisphosphonates, which slow the activity of bone-absorbing cells called osteoclasts, allowing bone-building cells known as osteoblasts a better chance to work effectively. Since osteoclasts play an intrinsic role in the process of bone growth, there are concerns that bisphosphonates could negatively affect bone development in children. As of now, not enough research has been done to fully understand the potential consequences.