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University of Southern California


— Energy

Carbon dioxide from the air converted into methanol

The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require almost counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way to take CO2 directly from the air and convert it into methanol using much lower temperatures and in a correspondingly simpler way.

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— Health & Wellbeing

Researchers discover hormone that mimics diabetes-preventing effects of exercise

All manner of weird and wonderful exercise contraptions pushed on late night infomercials are testament to people's desire for faster and easier ways to get the benefits of exercise – whether said contraptions are effective or not. But now researchers have discovered a hormone that could provide some of the benefits of exercise, without working up a sweat doing stomach crunches or bicep curls. Read More
— Science

Protein that regulates protein production could also control fat levels

Research around how the body's fat levels are regulated and ways in which they might be manipulated has uncovered numerous potential fat switches. The latest is a particular protein that has long been known to regulate protein synthesis and has now been demonstrated to also control fat levels in worms. This has lead researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) to believe that the version found in the human body could provide a new target for fat-fighting pharmaceuticals. Read More
— Science

Building lab-on-chip devices could soon be like playing with Lego

With their ability to guide and analyze tiny quantities of liquid, microfluidic "lab-on-chip" devices have found use in everything from seawater desalination to explosives detection to the viewing of viruses. Each time a new type of device is created, however, it must be built from scratch. This can be time-consuming and costly, as the fabrication of multiple prototypes is a traditional part of the trial-and-error development process. Now, however, building them may be as simple as mixing and matching prefabricated Lego-like modules. Read More
— Electronics

New water-based organic battery is cheap, rechargeable and eco-friendly

Lithium-ion batteries have made portable, rechargeable electronics commonplace. Unfortunately, they do have some glaring drawbacks, including heat issues, being made with rare, toxic elements, and the fact the technology doesn't scale up very well, which limits applications. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) is working on an alternative in the form of a water-based organic battery that is not only cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but also holds the potential for scaling up for use in wind and solar power plants as a means to store large amounts of energy. Read More
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