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12th October 2009
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Aerosol secret to bubbly’s smell

Patrick Walter, 12/10/2009

The sparkling bubbles that result from pouring a glass of champagne are responsible for releasing the molecules that give it its characteristic smell, French and German researchers have found.

Algae could be fuel of the future


Algae are attracting a lot of interest as a potential source of biofuel, as they do not compete with food crop plants for arable land. According to Chris Howe, at the department of biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK, the algae can be used as a direct source of fuel lipids, and they also have the potential to clean up other wastes. ‘Algae can be used to sequester CO2 from power stations and other industrial processes,’ he says. ‘They can also, potentially, be used as a way of treating wastewater.’

Asylum tests to identify origin cause controversy

Patrick Walter, 12/10/2009

The UK Border Agency (UKBA), in an effort to clamp down on asylum seekers who abuse the system, is piloting a controversial scheme that will use a range of chemical and analytical techniques to try to ascertain the nationality of a person.

BASF: Organic apples less sustainable

Jon Evans, 12/10/2009

Organic apples are not only more expensive than conventionally grown apples, they also have a greater overall impact on the environment. 

Bid to delay US action on climate change fails

Cath O'Driscoll, 12/10/2009

A bid to delay the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, oil refineries and factories has been blocked in the US Senate. 

Bioplastic is a different ‘banana sandwich’

Patrick Walter, 12/10/2009

Thousands of tonnes of banana plant waste could be incorporated into plastics moulded into panels for cars, water tanks and even boat hulls.

Chemical 'time bomb' threat

Patrick Walter, 12/10/2009

As many as 7m people in Ukraine and Moldova are being put at risk by poor storage of a stockpile of the chemical hexachlorobenzene (HCB), the International HCH and Pesticides Association (IHPA) has warned. 

Designing better batteries using Li NMR


Many electronic devices, such as laptops, would benefit greatly from batteries that lasted longer and recharged more quickly.

Fixing bones with a glass

Anthony King, 12/10/2009

Recovering from serious injury could become less traumatic with the invention of a metallic material that can hold broken bones together and then be absorbed by the body.

HIV vaccine breathrough


The announcement that for the first time an HIV vaccine has proven effective at reducing infection rates has raised hopes of further progress in tackling the disease that has killed more than 25m people worldwide.

Mixed mesh cell scaffolds

Lou Reade, 12/10/2009

German researchers have devised a technique that could allow the creation of improved ‘biological scaffolds’ for tissue engineering. They have optimised the electrospinning process – which creates tiny polymeric fibres – to make a mesh that combines fibres of two distinct sizes. Electrospun meshes usually contain fibres of a single size.

Nanotubes could beat batteries

Andrew Turley, 12/10/2009

Scientists have made energy storage devices from tiny carbon nanotube (CNT) springs that are more efficient than larger steel equivalents. The springs even have the potential to be better than the best Li ion batteries available today, they say.

New materials may lead to printed solar cell production


One of the major drawbacks of fitting solar panels to the roof is the expense.

No cancer link to Ernest Rutherford’s old lab


An investigation of the health risks posed by Ernest Rutherford’s old lab at the University of Manchester concluded that chance is the ‘mostly likely explanation’ for the cluster of cancers in people who worked in the building.

Paper biosensor for DNA detection

Cath O’Driscoll, 12/10/2009

Scientists in Canada have developed a paper-based biosensor that promises to make it easier and cheaper to detect DNA.

Pharma in brief


Cancer Research UK is to invest up to £16m in two new drug discovery programmes at the Paterson Institute for Cancer in Manchester and the Beatson Institute for Cancer in Glasgow, Scotland.

Science in brief


German small molecule drug discovery company Evotec has entered into a research agreement with US biopharmaceutical company Biogen Idec.

Tough times for EU chemicals

Patrick Walter, 12/10/2009

Christian Jourquin, ceo of Solvay and European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) president, told delegates at the Cefic Global Chemical Industry European Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, that the EU chemical industry is ‘facing an unprecedented challenge’.