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Category: Chemical Engineering

Researchers discover that surface polarization in mixed media increases attraction among elements — ScienceDaily

Despite their name, rare earth elements actually aren’t that rare. Abundant in mines around the world, rare earths are used in many high-tech products, including visual displays, batteries, super conductors, and computer hard drives. But while they aren’t necessarily tricky to find, the elements often occur together and are extremely difficult to separate and extract. “Having the ability to recover rare earths is important because they are finite but in high demand,” said Northwestern University’s Monica Olvera de la Cruz.…

A fashionable chemical and biological threat detector-on-a-ring

A first-of-its kind ring sensor can detect chemical and biological threats. Credit: American Chemical Society Wearable sensors are revolutionizing the tech-world, capable of tracking processes in the body, such as heart rates. They’re even becoming fashionable, with many of them sporting sleek, stylish designs. But wearable sensors also can have applications in detecting threats that are external to the body. Researchers now report in ACS Sensors a first-of-its kind device that can do just that. And to stay fashionable, they’ve…

Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life — ScienceDaily

The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth. A recent international report examines observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) of massive deposits in a basin on southern Mars. The authors interpret the data as evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet’s crust entering the bottom of a large sea…

Project reveals benefits of communicating with industry when conducting research

A new paper describes the importance of doing detailed economic analysis and having in-depth conversations with people using the technology that a research project is focused on. Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT. Left background image by Shreya Dave When Shreya Dave was an MIT doctoral student working on a new kind of filter for desalination plants, she paid a visit to a working reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Spain. She quickly learned an important lesson that she now says she would likely have…

Printed meds could reinvent pharmacies, drug research

Graduate student research assistant Siddharth Suresh Borsadia prints fluorescein crystals onto a cooled glass plate using organic vapor jet printing. Credit: Levi Hutmacher, Michigan Engineering A technology that can print pure, ultra-precise doses of drugs onto a wide variety of surfaces could one day enable on-site printing of custom-dosed medications at pharmacies, hospitals and other locations. The technique, which was developed at the University of Michigan, can print multiple medications into a single dose on a dissolvable strip, microneedle patch…

Cancerous Toxins Linked to Cannabis Extract — ScienceDaily

Researchers at Portland State University found benzene and other potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the vapor produced by butane hash oil, a cannabis extract. Their study raises health concerns about dabbing, or vaporizing hash oil — a practice that is growing in popularity, especially in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Dabbing is already controversial. The practice consists of placing a small amount of cannabis extract — a dab — on a heated surface and inhaling the resulting vapor.…

The impacts of a chemical reaction known to cause structural problems in concrete dams

Researchers from the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, the University of New Brunswick, and Oregon State University visited the Mactaquac Dam in New Brunswick, Canada, in August. Credit: Jeremy Gregory/MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub When the Mactaquac Dam opened in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1968, it was expected to have a service life of 100 years, but a chemical reaction occurring within the concrete used to build the dam has drastically shortened that timeline. “Concrete is a mix of cement, crushed rock,…

Engineering Ethics Blog: Arkema’s Crosby Nightmare: The Price of Ignorance

If you lived within three miles of a chemical plant where dangerous substances were being made or handled, maybe you wouldn’t want to know all the details.  But I bet you’d like first responders in the area to know what was there so they could take appropriate actions if anything went wrong.  Well, Texas is a good place to live in many ways, but about 3,800 people living within a 3-mile radius of the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas…

Energized fabrics could keep soldiers warm and battle-ready in frigid climates — ScienceDaily

Soldiering in arctic conditions is tough. Protective clothing can be heavy and can cause overheating and sweating upon exertion. And hands and feet can grow numb despite wearing such gear. To keep military personnel more comfortable and battle-ready in bitterly cold climes, scientists are now conducting research aimed at creating high-tech fabrics that heat up when powered and that capture sweat. These fabrics could also conceivably make their way to consumer clothing in the future. The researchers are presenting their…