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Category: Chemical Engineering

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…

Magnetic resonance is used to evaluate food quality

The device performs physical and chemical analyses of fruit, grains, olive oil, milk and meat, among other products. Credit: Fine Instrument Technology The applications and benefits of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in medicine are well known, but the technology is also used in other areas, such as agribusiness, where its applications include quality analysis of seeds and other products of animal and plant origin. NMR has recently reached the retail commerce sector, where it expedites the assessment of meat and…

Researchers discover that fluorescence in ligand-protected gold nanoclusters is an intrinsic property of the gold particles themselves — ScienceDaily

With their remarkable electrical and optical properties, along with biocompatibility, photostability and chemical stability, gold nanoclusters are gaining a foothold in a number of research areas, particularly in biosensing and biolabeling. These gold nanoclusters are chemically protected by ligands, which also steer the binding to biological target molecules. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the luminescent properties of ligand-protected gold nanoclusters, including the origin of their fluorescence. An international research team from Switzerland, Italy, the United States…

Encapsulating cigarette butts cuts waste and reduces the heat island affect — ScienceDaily

Soon the footpath you walk on could be full of cigarette butts, instead of being littered with them. Trillions of cigarette butts are produced every year worldwide, with most discarded into the environment. They take ages to break down while their toxic chemical load is released into creeks, rivers and the ocean. Now a team at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, led by Dr Abbas Mohajerani has demonstrated that asphalt mixed with cigarette butts can handle heavy traffic and also…

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke — and social media — ScienceDaily

When people see smoke on the horizon, what do they do? Besides (hopefully) calling fire authorities, they post to social media, of course. The fact that people reliably flock to social media to discuss smoke and fire was the inspiration for a new study by Colorado State University atmospheric scientists. Driven to innovate ways to improve the air we breathe, the scientists have shown that social media, Facebook in this case, could prove a powerful tool. A study in Atmospheric…

New synthesis route for alternative catalysts of noble metals — ScienceDaily

Researchers have developed a new synthesis route for alternative catalysts of noble metals. Researchers have developed a new synthesis route for alternative catalysts of noble metals for versatile chemical reactions that could help address environmental concerns. Noble metals such as platinum are useful as catalysts for versatile chemical reactions including fuel cell vehicles and reduction of CO2 emission. However, they are too costly to be used for these purposes. As inexpensive alternatives, organic-based catalysts and carbonaceous catalysts were explored, but…

Crops that kill pests by shutting off their genes — ScienceDaily

Plants are among many eukaryotes that can “turn off” one or more of their genes by using a process called RNA interference to block protein translation. Researchers are now weaponizing this by engineering crops to produce specific RNA fragments that, upon ingestion by insects, initiate RNA interference to shut down a target gene essential for life or reproduction, killing or sterilizing the insects. The potential of this method is reviewed in Trends in Biotechnology‘s upcoming special issue on environmental biotechnology.…

Using magnetic resonance to evaluate food quality

The applications and benefits of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in medicine are well known, but the technology is also used in other areas such as agribusiness, where its applications include quality analysis of seeds and other products of animal and plant origin. NMR has recently reached the retail commerce sector, where it expedites the assessment of meat and fruit quality in supermarkets. Fine Instrument Technology (FIT), a Brazilian company based in São Carlos (São Paulo State, Brazil), has developed a…