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Research at Oregon State University by engineer Hong Liu has discovered improved ways to p...

In the latest green energy – or perhaps that should be brown energy – news, a team of engineers from Oregon State University (OSU) has developed new technology they claim significantly improves the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that can be used to produce electricity directly from wastewater. With the promise of producing 10 to 50 times the electricity, per volume, than comparable approaches, the researchers say the technology could see waste treatment plants not only powering themselves, but also feeding excess electricity back to the grid.  Read More

Researchers at the UK's Newcastle University have discovered an enzyme from a microbe on t...

From an early age, parents and dentists alike will continually stress the importance of effective dental hygiene into the consciousness of a child but for me, the message didn't really hit home until I met Pogues front-man Shane MacGowan backstage at Leeds University in the mid-1980s. I've been a dedicated twice daily brusher ever since and have noted all manner of decay-fighting ingredients finding their way into my choice of toothpastes, including extracts from cocoa, the neem tree, aloe vera and eucalyptus. New research from the UK suggests using microbes to fight microbes, or more precisely an enzyme from bacteria found on the surface of seaweed. Lab tests have shown that the enzyme is effective in fighting plaque and the researchers believe that the discovery could lead to more effective oral hygiene products.  Read More

The Dip Chip biosensor, with a key for scale

Once upon a time, tasters were employed by the well-to-do, in order to check that their food or drink wasn't poisonous. Today, there are electronic biosensors that can do more or less the same thing. Unfortunately, as was no doubt sometimes the case with the tasters, the biosensors can’t always give us immediate results. Additionally, they’re usually only able to test for specific substances, and not simply for “anything that’s toxic.” An experimental new device known as the Dip Chip, however, is said to address both of those problems.  Read More

A Harvard team is developing a microbial fuel cell-based mobile phone charger, that would ...

There's no doubt that residents of developing nations can benefit hugely from having mobile phones. This particularly applies to the field of medicine, as the phones allow people living in remote areas to contact health care practitioners, or to use health care apps. Given how unreliable the electrical grid can be in such countries, however, keeping those phones charged can be a challenge. That's why a team from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is working on a microbial fuel cell-based charger – a mobile phone charging system that gets its power from microbes in the soil.  Read More

The LCLS Atomic, Molecular and Optical instrument hutch where the experiments were perform...

An international team of scientists has obtained the world’s first single-shot images of intact viruses – a technology that could ultimately lead to moving video of molecules, viruses and live microbes. The team was also able to successfully utilize a new shortcut for determining the 3D structures of proteins. Both advances were achieved using the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser – the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) – which scientists hope could revolutionize the study of life.  Read More

A physicist has created 'biotic video games,' in which players manipulate the behavior of ...

A common criticism of single-player video games is that they isolate their players, shutting them off from anything or anyone that exists in the real world. Well, that certainly can’t be said of the lab-based “biotic games” created by Stanford University physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse – while they may be fashioned after arcade classics, his games require players to manipulate living microorganisms in real time. If you want to “kick” a soccer ball into a net, for instance, you have to get an actual paramecium to do it for you.  Read More

Fraunhofer's antibacterial food packaging film kills bacteria on food by releasing sorbic ...

Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging have developed a new type of food packaging film that kills food-inhabiting bacteria. While antimicrobial polymers in food packaging have been around for some time, the new material is unique in that it incorporates sorbic acid that has been dissolved into a lacquer, which is then deposited onto the film. When that lacquer first touches the food, a timed release of the acid begins, which neutralizes a significant number of the microorganisms on the food’s surface. The result, according to the researchers, is the ability to keep meat, fish and cheese fresher for longer.  Read More

A novel process uses rocket thrusters to clean up waste water and power treatment plants (...

Rocket engines are generally not thought of as being environmentally-friendly, but thanks to a newly-developed process, we may someday see them neutralizing the emissions from wastewater treatment plants. The same process would also see those plants generating their own power, thus meaning they would be both energy-neutral and emissions-free. Developed by two engineers at Stanford University, the system starts with the formation of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane gas - something that treatment plants traditionally try to avoid.  Read More

Most of the components in Paper Mate's biodegradable line will break down in the space of ...

According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) over three billion retractable ball point pens and over 500 million mechanical pencils were shipped in the US in 2007. Many have since been lost – try looking down the back of the sofa – and will probably find their way into landfill. To address this problem Paper Mate has introduced a line of biodegradable pens and pencils that feature components that break down in soil or home compost in the space of a year.  Read More

A population of Arizona State University's fatty acid-secreting cyanobacteria microbes

It seems like every day, a new way of producing biofuel is being discovered. Within the past few years, we’ve reported on technology that harvests biofuel from garbage, booze, crop waste, carbon dioxide and wood-munching marine isopods. Now, Arizona State University has announced a new development in the harvesting of biofuel from cyanobacteria microbes - ASU researchers Xinyao Liu and Roy Curtiss have genetically engineered bacteria that literally ooze the stuff out of their skins.  Read More

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