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Membrane

Materials

Nanometer-thick membrane a new contender in the quest for more efficient desalination

Engineers from the University of Illinois have used nanotechnology to model a new membrane that can filter salt from seawater at higher volumes than ever before. The membrane is made from a nanometer-thin layer of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) studded with tiny holes called nanopores. By "pulling" clean water through itself while filtering out salt and other compounds, the membrane has the potential to make desalination plants much more energy-efficient.
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Aircraft

Thin rubber membrane keeps a lid on cabin noise

In modern airliners, much of the structural paneling used in the cabin and wings has a honeycomb-like structure. Although this helps keep the weight down while maintaining strength, it does a poor job at blocking noise within the aircraft. That's why researchers from North Carolina State University and MIT have developed a membrane that helps the panels to do so. Read More

Science

Fraunhofer developing polymer test to ward off skunky beer

There's nothing quite as refreshing as a glass of beer on a hot day and nothing more disgusting than discovering that the beer has gone off in the bottle, leaving a sour, cloudy mess. To save innocent palates and Sunday barbecues, the Fraunhofer Institute is developing a new polymer powder that can quickly detect pathogens in beer before they can ruin the brew. Read More

Science

MIT study could slash the cost of renewable osmotic power

A new study conducted at MIT has examined the potential of pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), a technique that generates electricity from the difference in salinity between two pools of water separated by a membrane. According to the researchers, tweaking the size of the membrane could help generate electricity much more cheaply than ever before.Read More

Science

Electric "thinking cap" helps people learn from their mistakes

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has become a widely used technique for reaching into a person's brain and altering the way in which it functions. Vanderbilt psychology Professor Geoffrey Woodman and graduate student Robert Reinhart have just published the results of a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience in which they found that tDCS stimulation of the mediofrontal cortex for a period of minutes can change one's ability to recognize and learn from error for a period of several hours. Read More

Environment

Nanotubes boost potential of salinity power as a renewable energy source

In November 2009, Norwegian state owned electricity company Statkraft opened the world’s first osmotic power plant prototype, which generates electricity from the difference in the salt concentration between river water and sea water. While osmotic power is a clean, renewable energy source, its commercial use has been limited due to the low generating capacities offered by current technology – the Statkraft plant, for example, has a capacity of about 4 kW. Now researchers have discovered a new way to harness osmotic power that they claim would enable a 1 m2 (10.7 sq. ft.) membrane to have the same 4 kW capacity as the entire Statkraft plant. Read More

Science

Synthetic cell membrane marks another step towards creation of fully artificial life forms

The cell membrane is one of the most important characteristics of a cell because it separates the interior of all cells from the extracellular environment and controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell. In a move that brings mankind another step closer to being able to create artificial life forms from scratch, chemists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Harvard University have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes using a novel chemical reaction. The chemists hope their creation will help shed light on the origins of life. Read More

Science

Graphene reveals yet another extraordinary property

Ever since University of Manchester scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov first isolated flakes of graphene in 2004 using that most high-tech pieces of equipment - adhesive tape - the one-atom sheet of carbon has continued to astound researchers with its remarkable properties. Now Professor Sir Andre Geim, (he's now not only a Nobel Prize winner but also a Knight Bachelor), has led a team that has added superpermeability with respect to water to graphene's ever lengthening list of extraordinary characteristics.Read More

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