Monthly Archives: October 2018
Norway is known as a world leader in exporting oil and gas — but it’s also a leading fish exporter. However with global demand growing, feeding all these fish is getting more expensive and challenging. In the first half of this year Norway’s salmon export value reached the highest ever recorded and the value of exported Norwegian salmon to Asia during that time period was up 30 percent year-over-year.
At the same time that demand for farmed fish is growing, the aquaculture industry is facing a shortage of omega-3: the fatty acids used in fish feed. This process could be made more economical and sustainable with a little help from creative technological innovation.
In a new take on the concept of carbon capture, engineers in Norway are now trying to harness the carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and use it to grow fish food. The pilot project by Norway’s Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) is using captured CO2 to grow omega-3 fatty acid-rich algae for fish feed. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for fish growth and are added to feed, are running low in global stocks and finding a sustainable, affordable source is crucial to the industry. The demand for omega-3 fatty acids in the nutrition supplement industry is also causing demand to rise.
The project, which received $1 million in funding from the Norwegian government, will grow algae in tanks in a 300-meter test facility using captured CO2 and heat from a gas-fired power plant. CO2Bio, a collaboration of industrial and research stakeholders including Salmon Group and Grieg Seafood, will operate the plant during the five-year pilot phase. The backers of the project told BBC that a metric ton of CO2 will produce a metric ton of algae, which they believe can yield 300–400kg of fish oil — a figure they hope to improve on by the end of the five-year test to determine economic viability.
“The need is approximately 100,000 tonnes, and that’s a large scale,” Svein Nordvik, from CO2BIO, told the BBC. “The reason for the test center is to develop the techniques and optimize the production line so we can have a decision on large scale production.”
From a greenhouse gas emission perspective, while pumping the CO2 underground would be better, using it for economically productive industrial practices is better than pumping it out into the atmosphere. The food will feed fish, which will nourish people and the refuse could be composted.
The Israeli company ParaSonic is developing a revolutionary home-use ultrasonic device that kills lice and their eggs in a single 5-minute combing treatment. Head lice infestations are a global problem, with 12 million infestations in children and adults every year in the United States alone. It can be very difficult to completely eradicate head lice, and re-infection occurs easily.
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ParaSonic’s revolutionary home-use comb, XlicerTM kills lice and their eggs in a single combing treatment that takes about 5 minutes. Ultrasound waves generated by the teeth of the wide-toothed comb destroy lice and lice eggs after exposure of about one second. XlicerTM simultaneously sprays a natural solution onto the hair, to augment the efficacy of the the ultrasound and significantly increase the lice and eggs’ mortality. Because there is no use of pesticides, there is no possibility of the lice developing resistance. The comb’s wide-tooth design means no discomfort to the person being treated.
For a decade, Roy Palmer had no control of his legs. The man from Gloucester, England, had the BBC reports. The dad first heard of the treatment, called HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplantation), on the BBC program, “Panorama.”which results in eating away at the protective covering of nerves, disrupting communication between the brain and the body. Palmer had no feeling in his legs and used a wheelchair. But last year, he received a life-changing treatment that restored his ability to walk — and dance — again,
“Two people on that program went into Sheffield Hospital in wheelchairs and they both came out walking,” Palmer said. “As soon as we saw that, we both cried,” Palmer’s wife told the BBC. According to the National MS Society, HSCT still considered experimental, but Palmer decided it was worth a try.
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“If they can have that done, on a trial, why can’t I have it done?” Palmer said. So last year, the 49-year-old started the grueling treatment, which is potentially risky, the BBC reports. HSCT doesn’t always work and there is a long-term risk of infection and infertility. “They take the stem cells out of your body. They give you chemotherapy to kill the rest of your immune system,” Palmer told the BBC. The stem cells are then used to reboot the immune system. “Let’s hope it works,” Palmer adds in a home video taken just before the treatment. It did. After HSCT, he regained feeling in his left leg within two days. “I haven’t felt that in 10 years,” comments Palmer. “It’s a miracle.” Eventually, he regained feeling in both of his legs and began to walk.
NanoRobots no bigger than a cell could be mass-produced using a new method developed by researchers at MIT. The microscopic devices, which the team calls “syncells” (short for synthetic cells), might eventually be used to monitor conditions inside an oil or gas pipeline, or to search out disease while floating through the bloodstream.
The key to making such tiny devices in large quantities lies in a method the team developed for controlling the natural fracturing process of atomically-thin, brittle materials, directing the fracture lines so that they produce miniscule pockets of a predictable size and shape. Embedded inside these pockets are electronic circuits and materials that can collect, record, and output data. The system uses a two-dimensional form of carbon called graphene, which forms the outer structure of the tiny syncells. One layer of the material is laid down on a surface, then tiny dots of a polymer material, containing the electronics for the devices, are deposited by a sophisticated laboratory version of an inkjet printer. Then, a second layer of graphene is laid on top.
This photo shows circles on a graphene sheet where the sheet is draped over an array of round posts, creating stresses that will cause these discs to separate from the sheet. The gray bar across the sheet is liquid being used to lift the discs from the surface
People think of graphene, an ultrathin but extremely strong material, as being “floppy,” but it is actually brittle, Strano explains. But rather than considering that brittleness a problem, the team figured out that it could be used to their advantage. “We discovered that you can use the brittleness,” says Strano, who is the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. “It’s counterintuitive. Before this work, if you told me you could fracture a material to control its shape at the nanoscale, I would have been incredulous.”
The novel process, called “autoperforation,” is described in a paper published today in the journal Nature Materials, by MIT Professor Michael Strano, postdoc Pingwei Liu, graduate student Albert Liu, and eight others at MIT.
Nikola Motor Company is welcoming everyone to Phoenix April 16-18, 2019 for a new blockbuster event, Nikola World. The first two days, April 16 and 17, are devoted to invite-only Nikola reservation holders, suppliers, media and investors while April 18 will be reserved for the public. On April 16, Nikola will unveil the pre-production hydrogen electric semi-truck, 2.3 megawatt hydrogen station and the Nikola NZT 4X4. April 17 will be dedicated to demonstration drives and hydrogen filling. On April 18, the public is invited to see the latest trucks and NZT in action.
“Not only will our team be unveiling the most advanced production semi-truck the world has ever seen, but we will also be revealing the Nikola NZT all-electric 4×4 vehicle and a massive 2.3 megawatt hydrogen station. This is why we named it Nikola World – we want to create a better place to live where emissions are eliminated,” said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Motor Company.
Nikola World registration will open on December 3, 2018 at www.nikolamotor.com. All the activities will be free. Milton added: “The largest fleets and customers in the world will attend this event and they will see what no other OEM could deliver – a production-ready, zero emission semi-truck, with over 1,000-mile range, 20 percent less operating costs per mile, more horsepower, torque and safety features than any other diesel ever built, and a startup did it. Remember that!”
While diesel engines require high RPM’s to reach peak torque, the Nikola Two™ electric motors hit peak torque almost instantly.
Instant torque combined with all wheel drive give Nikola Two™ the ability to accelerate nearly 2x faster than a stock diesel tractor. There are several factors that give Nikola Two™ the advantage when it comes to fuel economy:
- Better aerodynamics
- Using energy only when needed (no idling)
- Charging batteries via regenerative braking
- 6X4 four-wheel drive – pulling and pushing at the same time
- Up to 95% efficient electric motors
- Up to 70% efficient fuel cell
- When pulling at max capacity, every pound counts. With nearly 2,000 lbs of weight savings on the chassis, owners can throw more goods on each load.
Every pound after max load may be worth as much as $.50. By saving up to 2,000 lbs, owners could earn approximately $1,000 in extra revenue from every load, every day. Owners that run at full load could see up to $30,000 or more each month in revenue straight to the bottom line.
- Nikola‘s Complete Lease Program includes hydrogen fuel, warranty and scheduled maintenance. We get asked about the cost of ownership more than anything else. For this reason the Nikola™ Complete Leasing Program has been created.
- Nikola Motor Company wants to create the largest hydrogen network in the world that will cover over 2,000 miles and include 16 stations. Nikola has already kicked off two of the 16 stations and 14 more will follow immediately after installation.
How to create nanocages, i.e., robust and stable objects with regular voids and tunable properties? Short segments of DNA molecules are perfect candidates for the controllable design of novel complex structures. Physicists from the University of Vienna, the Technical University of Vienna, the Foschungszentrum Jülich in Germany and Cornell University in the U.S.A., investigated methodologies to synthesize DNA-based dendrimers in the lab and to predict their behavior using detailed computer simulations.
Nanocages are highly interesting molecular constructs, from the point of view of both fundamental science and possible applications. The cavities of these nanometer-sized objects can be employed as carriers of smaller molecules, which is of critical importance in medicine for drug or gene delivery in living organisms. This idea brought together researchers from various interdisciplinary fields who have been investigating dendrimers as promising candidates for creating such nano-carriers. Their tree-like architecture and step-wise growth with repeating self-similar units results in dendrimers containing cavities, hollow objects with controllable design.
The researchers found a way to create dendrimers rigid enough to prevent back-folding of outer arms even in the case of high branching generations, preserving regular voids in their interior. The nanocages they created, in the lab and studied computationally are DNA-based dendrimers, or so-called, dendrimer-like DNAs (DL-DNA).
Their results are published in the journal Nanoscale.
Antibody-based imaging* of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer is undergoing clinical trials worldwide, but the path from trial to application is being hampered by a major obstacle: safety. Concerns stem from inefficient tumor targeting, which can result in accumulation in the bone marrow, liver and kidneys of the radioactive material necessary for the imaging. Recent efforts have focused on nanoscale delivery vehicles with immune components, but these vehicles are often still too large (20 nanometers or larger) for renal clearance after imaging.
Ulrich Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering in materials science and engineering, in collaboration with Dr. Michelle Bradbury of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Weill Cornell Medicine, has proposed a novel approach using ultrasmall silica nanoparticles – better known as “Cornell dots” (or C dots) – invented in his lab more than a dozen years ago. Their team – including researchers at pharmaceutical company MedImmune – have equipped the C dots with antibody fragments. Because the resulting conjugates are smaller than 8 nanometers, these C dots allow for renal clearance while achieving the specificity needed for efficient tumor targeting.
They report their discovery in in Nature Communications. Feng Chen, senior research scientist at MSKCC, and Kai Ma, postdoctoral researcher in the Wiesner lab, are co-lead authors. Wiesner said this research creates “a whole new runway” to employ antibody fragments for a number of diseases, cancer in particular, and for diagnostics as well as drug delivery – when combined in a single entity also known as “theranostics.”
A rendering of the Cornell prime dot (left) with an attached antibody fragment (center) binding to a HER2 cancer cell receptor (right). The dot and antibody attachment combined are less than 8 nanometers in diameter, the limit for renal clearance.
“This is the first time we’ve worked with these antibody fragments,” Wiesner said, “thereby harnessing the power of antibodies in the fight against cancer.”
* Cancer imaging is an umbrella term that covers the many approaches used to research and diagnose cancer. Originally used to diagnose and stage the disease, cancer imaging is now also used to assist with surgery and radiotherapy, to look for early responses to cancer therapies and to identify patients who are not responding to treatment.
Computers used to take up entire rooms. Today, a two-pound laptop can slide effortlessly into a backpack. But that wouldn’t have been possible without the creation of new, smaller processors — which are only possible with the innovation of new materials. But how do materials scientists actually invent new materials? Through experimentation, explains Sanket Deshmukh, an assistant professor in the chemical engineering department of Virginia Tech whose team’s recently published computational research might vastly improve the efficiency and costs savings of the material design process.
Deshmukh’s lab, the Computational Design of Hybrid Materials lab, is devoted to understanding and simulating the ways molecules move and interact — crucial to creating a new material. In recent years, materials scientists have employed machine learning, a powerful subset of artificial intelligence, to accelerate the discovery of new materials through computer simulations. Deshmukh and his team have recently published research in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters demonstrating a novel machine learning framework that trains “on the fly,” meaning it instantaneously processes data and learns from it to accelerate the development of computational models. Traditionally the development of computational models are “carried out manually via trial-and-error approach, which is very expensive and inefficient, and is a labor-intensive task,” Deshmukh explained.
“This novel framework not only uses the machine learning in a unique fashion for the first time,” Deshmukh said, “but it also dramatically accelerates the development of accurate computational models of materials.” “We train the machine learning model in a ‘reverse’ fashion by using the properties of a model obtained from molecular dynamics simulations as an input for the machine learning model, and using the input parameters used in molecular dynamics simulations as an output for the machine learning model,” said Karteek Bejagam, a post-doctoral researcher in Deshmukh’s lab and one of the lead authors of the study.
This new framework allows researchers to perform optimization of computational models, at unusually faster speed, until they reach the desired properties of a new material.