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Category: Chemical Engineering

A hard material engineers hope to make harder

For thousands of years, people have built civilizations with concrete made from readily available local materials. Just mix and heat, add some sand, stone and water and put it where you want it. Of course, give it time to harden – that is, after you have left your hand print or initials. So it’s no surprise that concrete is the world’s most widely used building material. Twice as much concrete has been used to build Pittsburgh – and everything else…

Engineering Ethics Blog: What Price Medicine?

Last week I had the privilege of attending the American Physical Society Texas Section’s annual regional meeting, held this year at the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas.  Among several invited speakers was a professor of radiology who spoke about the latest medical imaging techniques being developed for observing biological activity on the molecular level.  As interesting as that was, I want to focus on an offhand remark the speaker made.  He has many friends in the medical…

Is 3-D printing living up to the hype?

Credit: CC0 Public Domain The growth in 3-D printing is allowing manufacturers to reduce production time and save money. Metal fabrication shops, industrial firms and engineers are also capitalizing on the technology. But the predicted mass production of 3-D printed products for consumers has not yet come to pass. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explains how industry is using the technology. Over the past decade, 3-D printing has been…

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.…