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5th September 2019
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News

BP and Bunge create ethanol JV

Anna Jagger , 05/09/2019

UK-based energy group BP and US agricultural trader Bunge have agreed to form a 50:50 biofuels joint venture in Brazil. The new company will be an integrated sugarcane ethanol producer, with 11 biofuels mills in Brazil located across the southeast, north and midwest regions.

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Business digest

05/09/2019

Glasgow-based scientific software company DeepMatter, which focuses on big data and digitising chemistry, has launched DigitalGlassware, an online portal at https://public.deepmatter.tech, which allows scientists to interact with data originated from chemistry lab experiments using the company’s proprietary cloud-based technology.

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Cleaner methanol manufacture

Anthony King , 05/09/2019

A new catalyst to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen directly to methanol has been unveiled – potentially paving the way towards a more sustainable method of manufacture.

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Cooler electronics

Anthony King, 05/09/2019

Ever smaller and more powerful electronics can accentuate problems of heat generation and lead to devices like phones and computers over-heating.

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Enigma machine for cells

Anthony King , 05/09/2019

Cells deliver biological signals to their neighbours via membrane-bound sac-like structures called extracellular vesicles (EVs), containing a cocktail of DNA, RNA and proteins. Now, scientists in Australia have devised a new method for characterising EVs, which vary mostly from 30 to 300nm in diameter (Nanoscale Horiz., 2018, 3, 430). Their method has been compared to a biological Enigma machine since it could decipher crucial biological messages and help diagnose and even treat diseases.

 

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Fewer tests on animals

Maria Burke , 05/09/2019

The number of procedures involving living animals in Great Britain continues to fall, last year reaching the lowest number recorded since 2007, according to Home Office records.
In 2018, 3.52m procedures were carried out, a decrease of 7% on 2017. Experiments using mice, rats, fish and birds make up 97% of animal research. Half of all procedures were to create or breed genetically altered animals, a 10% fall on 2017. Ten organisations account for nearly half of all animal research in Great Britain, including the Medical Research Council, the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Oxford.

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Innovating in plastic

Neil Eisberg, 05/09/2019

The UK 2019 Design Innovation in Plastic student award was presented to Daniella Kaligorsky, a product design student from the Technical University Dublin, on 5 July at the Painters’ Hall, London. The award was given for her Checkkit kit, which shows how to conduct a self-examination for breast cancer. In addition to a model simulating the breast and physical cancer symptoms, produced from materials including silicones and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), the kit contains an explanatory brochure covering 12 possible symptoms and a notebook to log results.

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Investment needed in US chemical recycling

Shruthi Vangipuram, 05/09/2019

A recent push for more investment in US chemical recycling would allow recycled material to return to the value chain at the same level from which it started. However, multi-pronged investment is needed to improve comprehensive collection, sorting and recycle process technology.

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Legacy pollution in rivers

Maria Burke , 05/09/2019

Toxic chemicals left over from decades ago could be hindering the recovery of urban rivers in the UK, concludes a recent study by scientists from Cardiff University, the University of Exeter, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

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Low carbon cransport

Anna Jagger, 05/09/2019

When it comes into force in January 2020, Brazil’s new low carbon transport policy will mandate fuel distributors to gradually increase the amount of biofuels they sell. The policy, named RenovaBio, could result in national ethanol production doubling by 2030 from current levels of about 26bn litres, according the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy.

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Musical molecules

Cath O'Driscoll, 05/09/2019

Ever wondered what cinnamic acid might sound like? Or caffeine, and water and a host of other common molecules? Now, scientists at Bradford University have got together with students from Ilkley Grammar School in Yorkshire to make music from molecules – by converting the vibrations of the constituent atoms into sound waves and using them to make musical tunes.

Nano trap for CO2

Anthony King , 05/09/2019

A novel high-performance membrane of nanoporous graphene could facilitate the capture of carbon dioxide from industrial waste streams. The 2D graphene structure, just 20nm thick, allows gas to transit easily through the membrane (Energy & Environmental Science, doi: 10.1039/c9ee01238a).

Nanotubes from waste plastic

Cath O'Driscoll, 05/09/2019

Researchers claim to have hit on a way to transform end-of-life plastics into valuable carbon nanotubes (CNTs), so potentially helping to reduce the burden of future plastic waste.

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New targets for brain diseases

Anthony King , 05/09/2019

A US start-up is looking inside the brain to identify novel protein targets for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Identifying a protein involved in the biology of a disease is often the first step in uncovering a new treatment, leading ultimately to the development of small molecules or other strategies to boost or suppress its activity – and so hopefully improve a patient’s condition.

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Pedalling for improved agriculture

Anthony King , 05/09/2019

British cyclists won half of all cycling gold medals during the last two Olympic Games, and six of the last seven Tours de France while competing for Team Sky. The success has been pinned on the concept of ‘marginal gains,’ whereby multiple small changes add up to significant overall improvements.

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Reprogramming biology

Maria Burke , 05/09/2019

A novel artificial protein – designed on a computer and synthesised in the lab – could be used to build new biological circuits inside living cells. These ‘smart’ cells operate like autonomous robots, which could be used to detect damage and disease – and deliver help as and when needed.

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Semiconductor chemical restrictions

Xiaozhi Lim, 05/09/2019

On 1 July 2019, Japan announced export restrictions on three key chemicals for semiconductor chip manufacturing bound for South Korea.

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Switching to electric

Cath O'Driscoll, 05/09/2019

The UK government will become the first government ambassador for non-profit organisation The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative to spur electric vehicle (EV) uptake. With businesses owning over half of all registered vehicles on the road, The Climate Group says it is crucial they lead the shift to electric vehicles.

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Tougher wheat crops

Maria Burke , 05/09/2019

Plants have evolved numerous defences against pests. Resistance-based defence involves physical and chemical traits that deter and harm bugs, whereas tolerance-based defences minimise the effects of the pests on the plant, often by growing extra leaves or roots.

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