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20th May 2013
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A quicker way to age whisky

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

A high quality whisky takes years to develop its distinctive colour and flavour profile. But now researchers in Kentucky, US have developed a new method of storing whisky that could potentially halve this time from an average six years to around three years for a good bourbon

Arsenic in the air

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

Arsenic in the environment may be responsible for a hidden burden of disease risk linked to various cancers and other health problems, according to researchers speaking at a special symposium on the topic at the ACS meeting in New Orleans in April 2013

Bean leaves and bed bugs

Anthony King, 20/05/2013

Bed bug infestations have surged in recent years and the insects are increasingly resistant to pesticides. But researchers report that the leaves of kidney bean plants may provide a useful weapon in the form of hook-like hairs

Bioproducts briefs


The UK innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has awarded a £150,000 grant to a consortium led by Biome Technologies to investigate a bio-based alternative for the oil-derived organic chemicals used in the production of bioplastics

Drug to ‘cure’ cravings

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

A compound found in the bark of an African bush may hold clues to the development of drugs for reversing a host of addictive behaviours from drug and alcohol abuse and even smoking and compulsive over-eating

Electric bacteria buzz

Anthony King, 20/05/2013

Bacteria can transfer electricity directly into minerals and metals though special proteins on their surfaces, scientists have found

Enzymes from horse faeces

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

First it was panda poo, and now it appears that horse faeces may hold the key to efficient biofuels production. US researchers have discovered that a gut fungus isolated from horse faeces contains hundreds of enzymes capable of attacking cellulose and lignin in plant cell walls

Explosive fertiliser facts

Anthony King, 20/05/2013

The explosion at a Texas, US, fertiliser plant in mid-April 2013 was stunning in its ferocity

Game of two halves

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

The global biotechnology industry is very much a game of two halves judging by the results of Ernst & Young’s latest annual Beyond borders report released in April 2013 at the BIO convention in Chicago

Lance’s lesson

Eric Johnson, 20/05/2013

In the worlds of marketing and corporate sustainability, reputational value is all the rage. True to the adage that ‘you don’t know what you got until it’s gone,’ reputation might be most obvious when lost

Leaf update


Artificial leaves that mimic the ability of real ones to produce energy from sunlight and water have become slightly more efficient thanks to the development of new water splitting catalysts

Mass spec for body fluids

Anthony King, 20/05/2013

A new mass spectrometry test to determine accurately a person’s body fluid type could prove crucial in rape and sexual assault cases

Move over graphene

Anthony King, 20/05/2013

Most people think that the electronic material of the future is graphene, but Joshua Goldberger and coworkers at Ohio State University, US, have made stable, single layers of germanium atoms predicted to conduct electrons 10 times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium

Murky business of smog control

Daniel S. Cohan, 20/05/2013

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) have long been a focus of emission control efforts, ranging from catalytic converters on cars to various technologies at power plants and factories

New bird flu threat

Emma Dorey, 20/05/2013

A new strain of bird flu is infecting humans. At the end of March 2013, Chinese authorities reported the death of two men from severe pneumonia bought on by avian influenza A (H7N9)

Pesticide ban debate

Maria Burke, 20/05/2013

The UK government is under increasing pressure to ban three pesticides linked to the decline of bees. As well as a ban, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee want pesticide manufacturers to open up their data to academic scrutiny

Ramping up nanocellulose

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

The ‘wonder material’ nanocellulose looks poised to become the starting point for a host of new products from switchable electronic wallpaper to tissue engineering scaffolds and ultra-efficient ultracapacitors

Smell receptors in blood

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

Scientists have discovered odour receptors, similar to those seen in the nose, in human blood, they reported at the ACS meeting in New Orleans in April 2013

Solar briefs


US researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University have developed solar cells based on natural substrate derived from plants and trees

US optimism at InformEx

Neil Eisberg, 20/05/2013

The US speciality and fine chemical sector is in better shape than might be expected, according to Larry Sloan, president and ceo of the US Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates

Waging war on bird flu

Cath O'Driscoll, 20/05/2013

French researchers have come up with a powerful new weapon in the fight against bird flu by producing anti-H5N1 antibodies in horses that could effectively wipe out the virus in humans almost as soon as the infection is suspected