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Environment

The hungry little bacterium that could hold the key to the world's plastic waste problem

Hundreds of millions of tons of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic are produced each year to package everything from sodas to shampoo. That only a fraction of this is recycled leaves much of it to rest in landfills and the ocean. But efforts to deal with this monumental mess may soon receive a much-needed boost, with scientists in Japan discovering a new bacterium with the ability to completely break down PET plastics in a relatively short space of time.Read More

Sin City going green: Las Vegas to use solar and pedestrian power for street lights

Cities consume a considerable amount of energy per year on lighting. And if that city happens to be Las Vegas, you can expect the bill to be a doozy. But a recently announced partnership with a New York City-based start-up is set to bolster Las Vegas' commitment to renewable energy sources. Soon enough, some of "Sin City's" sidewalks will be illuminated by EnGoPLANET's innovative, sun- and people-powered street lights.Read More

Random vibrations turn tiny trees into power plants

Step aside windmills, there's a new way to harvest kinetic energy in the works. A research team at the Ohio State University has created electromechanical devices that look like tiny leafless trees and can generate electricity when they are moved by seismic activity, the slight swaying movements of a tall building, or the vibrations from traffic on a bridge.Read More

Cyberforests help scientists predict the effects of climate change

Considering that it takes hundreds of years for forests to grow, it can be difficult to assess how they'll be affected by climate change in the long term. To address that problem, researchers at Washington State University have created the world's first computer simulation capable of growing realistic forests, using the model to predict how things like frequent wildfires or drought might impact forests across North America.Read More

E. coli bacteria produce a "green" blue dye

In its traditional form, the textiles industry isn't exactly a poster child for eco-friendliness – this is largely due to the widespread use of toxic synthetic dyes. That's why there's an increasing demand for less harmful, natural alternatives. Just such an alternative has recently been developed by scientists at Utah State University, who discovered that E. coli bacteria can produce a deep blue dye known as indigoidine.Read More

A green process for extracting gold

A research team at the University of Saskatchewan has found what may be an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly way of recycling gold from jewelry and electronics. Using a solution of what is essentially reusable table vinegar, the team has shown that for CAD$66 (about US$47) it can produce one kilogram (2.2 lb) of gold with 100 liters (26 gal) of reusable waste water – this is as compared to current methods that can cost over CAD$1,500 (US$1,070) and create 5,000 liters (1,321 gal) of toxic, non-reusable waste. Read More

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