Chemistry

Current carbon capture schemes are not really ready for prime time, plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency, but a team of chemists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping "sponges" that could lead to increased use of the technology.

Used in natural gas and coal-burning plants, the most common carbon capture method today is called amine scrubbing, in which post-combustion, carbon dioxide-containing flue gas passes through liquid vats of amino compounds, or amines, which absorb most of the carbon dioxide. The carbon-rich gas is then pumped away - sequestered - or reused. The amine solution is extremely corrosive and requires capital-intensive containment.



When looked at the right way, even cement can be beautiful. This is the crystal structure of tricalcium aluminate, a vital mineral in cement.

By Helen Maynard-Casely, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

Dietary masochists say you should endure the most difficult brown bread imaginable because 1,000 years ago people had no choice. It's vaguely healthier, we are all told, though if you read more than a few epidemiology studies and saw the lack of methodology you know it casts on doubt almost every health claim made by matching populations to specific foods, not to mention the bizarre beliefs promoted by prominent nutrition 'experts'.

Researchers using a new chemical process have converted the cellulose in sawdust into hydrocarbon chains, building blocks for gasoline.

 Cellulose is the main substance in plant matter and is present in all non-edible plant parts of wood, straw, grass, cotton and old paper.  These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline or as a component in plastics. 

"At the molecular level, cellulose contains strong carbon chains. We sought to conserve these chains, but drop the oxygen bonded to them, which is undesirable in high-grade gasoline. Our researcher Beau Op de Beeck developed a new method to derive these hydrocarbon chains from cellulose," explains Professor Bert Sels. 


Want to improve tomato crop yields without using more fertilizer? Try  verimcompost leachate. That is a soil ameliorant, which is basically a fertilizer but made of an organic liquid produced by earthworm poop. If you are really organic, you can even make tea from it. 

A research project recently studied the effects of vermicompost leachate on tomato seedlings subjected to various temperatures and levels of water stress. 


New findings about carbon deep beneath the Earth's surface suggest it might have influenced the history of life on the planet - and diamonds.

There is little understanding of how carbon behaved deep below the Earth's surface so researchers have created a model to try and calculate how much carbon and what types exist in fluids at 100 miles below the Earth's surface at temperatures up to 2,100 degrees F. 


For many years, scientists around the world have been intensely interested in bisphenol A (BPA)

In the fight against HIV, microbicides, which are chemical compounds applied topically to the female genital tract to protect against sexually transmitted infections, are touted as an alternative to condoms.

There's just one problem. They don't work outside a petri dish. Clinical trials using microbicides have failed and a new study from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of Ulm finds that this may be due to the primary mode of transportation of the virus during sexual transmission, semen.


In hydraulic fracturing - fracking - a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is injected into deep wells to release fossil fuels. This has led to environmental corporation claims that the reduced emissions from natural gas are being offset environmentally by surfactants.

A surfactant is basically a detergent. It reduces the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground. 

 A University of Colorado Boulder study has found there is little to fear. The surfactant chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes - including organic products.