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Pollution

Drought bites deeply – this year's corn crop in Missouri Valley, Iowa (Photo: USDA and Dav...

Recently, drought seems to be a fact of life. As the lead photograph poignantly illustrates, most of the U.S. has been struggling with serious levels of drought for the past several years. Worldwide, drought affected areas include Europe, India and Pakistan, Russia, much of Africa, South America – the list goes on. But when the rains start again, everyone expresses great relief, not realizing that long-term depletion of groundwater reserves is part of the price for surviving drought. It was with this in mind that GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), a joint U.S. and German space project, was designed a decade ago.  Read More

The oil and water separation technique uses permanent magnets immersed in a reservoir cont...

Possibly the only good thing to come out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the subsequent increase in research into finding more effective ways to clean up oil spills, including such initiatives as the X PRIZE Foundation's Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. Joining the list is a new method devised by researchers at MIT who propose separating oil and water using magnets. The new technique would allow the oil to be recovered to help offset the costs of the cleanup operation.  Read More

The tiny hairs on the 'nano-velcro' particles trap heavy metal ions in their grasp allowin...

While progress has been made in reducing the amount of heavy metal pollution, the very nature of heavy metal contamination means it continues to be a problem in waterways around the world. Conventional heavy metal contamination detection methods require sending samples off to a lab for analysis on expensive equipment. Now a Swiss-American team has developed a cheap way to immediately ascertain the levels of heavy metals in lakes and rivers and the fish pulled out of them.  Read More

A new additive based on glycerol helps reduce pollution in marine bunker fuel used in crui...

The bunker fuel used in cruise liners and freighters is some of the cheapest, crudest fuel available. It’s also among the dirtiest. Scientists from the Maine Maritime Academy and SeaChange Group LLC led by George N. Harakas, Ph.D announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that they have developed what they call "Bunker Green" fuel. This fuel uses an ingredient commonly used in food and medicine to reduce sulfur and other emissions in ocean vessels.  Read More

A newly developed 'artificial photosynthesis' system from Panasonic could be used to turn ...

Panasonic has recently developed an artificial photosynthesis system that, using a simple and straightforward process, can convert carbon dioxide into clean organic materials with what it says record efficiency. This development may lead to the creation of a compact way of capturing pollution from incinerators and electric power plants and converting them into harmless – even useful – compounds.  Read More

The Fuel Nozzle Drip Retainer is said to virtually eliminate the wasted drops of fuel that...

For most of us, it’s simply one of life’s little annoyances ... those last few drops of fuel that dribble out of the nozzle at the gas station. For the guys at Canada’s Dram Innovations, however, that run-on is a serious problem – and one that they’re addressing, with their Fuel Nozzle Drip Retainer.  Read More

Scientists have created nanoscale submarines, for use in gathering up oil droplets in the ...

If anything good came out of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it was that it got people thinking about technologies for cleaning up future spills. While things like magnetic soap, nanosponges, and autonomous robots are all in the works, a group of scientists recently announced the results of their research into another possibility – oil droplet-gathering microsubmarines.  Read More

A high-magnification photo of a sand grain containing titanium dioxide in the form of ruti...

Last week that giant multinational of aluminum production Alcoa announced its new "smog-eating" architectural panels - in other words cladding stuck to a building's exterior that can remove pollutants from the surrounding air. The aluminum panels, branded Reynobond with EcoClean technology, have a titanium dioxide coating which breaks down pollutants in direct sunlight.  Read More

The MicroPEM measures air pollution, along with its wearer's activity level

For decades now, scientists have been monitoring air pollution in order to better understand how atmospheric contaminants affect our health. The gathered data can tell us the amount and type of pollutants that are in the air, which can in turn sometimes be linked to health problems in the area. What that data doesn’t tell us, however, is the effect that different types of physical activities can have on the amount of pollutants that are breathed in – if a smog warning is issued, for instance, does that mean we shouldn’t go outside at all, or just that we shouldn’t go jogging outside? A new personal exposure monitoring device, known as the MicroPEM, has been designed to answer such questions.  Read More

Newly-developed earplug-sized air samplers are said to offer several advantages over tradi...

The monitoring of air quality can be a tricky business. Gases may be blown into the sampling site from another area, they may leak out of an air sample before it can be analyzed, or the sampling container itself may introduce compounds, emitted through off-gassing. If samples are being gathered in remote areas, it can also be difficult getting bulky equipment to and from the sampling site. Now, scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have announced a tiny new type of air sampler, that addresses these and other challenges.  Read More

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