Posts Tagged ‘energy’


The new super compressed wood is nearly nine times stronger than its natural counterpart. (Photo: University of Maryland)

Researchers at the University of Maryland have re-designed wood to make it entirely impervious to visible light, while only absorbing the slightest levels of near-infrared light.

Rather than absorbing sunlight, the new wood could bounce it right back into the environment. In effect, homes made from this material would be able to prevent virtually all heat from seeping indoors, potentially easing our reliance on air conditioning in summer months.

“When applied to building, this game-changing structural material cools without the input of electricity or water,” noted Yao Zhai, one of the study authors, in a press release.

We know that air conditioning saves lives, especially in climates where heat takes a deadly toll on air quality. But we also know that as we dial up the AC, we also dial up demand on fossil fuel-burning power plants. And emissions from those plants stir up an atmospheric cocktail that can be just as toxic.

“Reducing human reliance on energy-inefficient cooling methods such as air conditioning would have a large impact on the global energy landscape,” the researchers note in the study abstract.

To make that kind of “cooling” wood, scientists used hydrogen peroxide to strip away the lignin, a support element in the cell walls of trees. That process exposed only the wood’s cellulose, which is a powerful building block of plants and trees. It’s also incredibly impervious to the sun’s energy.

What’s more, the lignin-free wood allows heat produced indoors to escape. That’s because indoor heat occupies a slightly different wavelength than your garden variety sunlight — a wavelength that doesn’t get repulsed by the new wood variant. So by day, the sun’s heat is kept at bay, and at night, indoor heat dissipates into the environment, although the team admits this could be an issue when it comes to actually retaining heat indoors.

Another benefit to wood made entirely of cellulose? It’s incredibly strong. In a previous study, researchers noted that cellulose nanofibers outperform steel and spider silk as the “strongest bio-material” on Earth.

The University of Maryland team claims the new wood packs a tensile strength of around 404 megapascals, or more than eight times that of natural wood. That puts it somewhere in the neighborhood of steel.

“Wood has been used for thousands of years and has emerged as an important sustainable building material to potentially replace steel and concrete because of its economic and environmental advantages,” the authors note.

https://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/cooling-wood-reflects-heat-sun?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=9bbb9aca6f-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_WED0529_2019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fcbff2e256-9bbb9aca6f-40844241

Advertisements

by Ryan F. Mandelbaum

A paper published Monday in a well-known science journal begins with the following sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pair of grape hemispheres exposed to intense microwave radiation will spark, igniting a plasma.” A universally acknowledged truth indeed… but what causes this microwave marvel?

If you’re not familiar, putting grapes into a microwave to make sparks has become a popular YouTube trick. This new research from Canadian scientists shows that worthwhile advances can come from anywhere, even by studying something sort of silly.

“This is a regime that hasn’t been significantly studied before,” one of the paper’s authors, Pablo Bianucci from Concordia University in Montreal, told Gizmodo.

The trick usually shows two grape halves connected by a thin sliver of skin. After a few seconds of being microwaved, they begin to spark. Though various explanations exist online, researchers wanted to study the phenomenon more rigorously.

The researcher imaged both sliced grapes and hydrogel beads—made from a material that absorbs lots of water—as they sparked in the microwave. They realized quickly that the grape skin wasn’t required in order to get the sparks, as evidenced by the sparking in the hydrogel beads, held together only by their weight and the shape of the dish they sat in, according to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The specific geometry of two touching water-filled circular objects in an electromagnetic field creates resonances concentrated at the point where the spheres or half-spheres intersect. This becomes a very small hotspot with a high energy density, enough to create plasma out of the ions in the region where the objects touch.

Is the research worth publishing in a journal as high-profile as PNAS? The paper’s editor, University of Illinois chemistry professor Catherine Murphy, certainly thought so. “The fact that they were rigorous enough to pass through the process of peer review is a testament that they’re doing a good job on the technical end,” she told Gizmodo.

But the paper is far more than a gimmick, Murphy said. This sort of research on directed energy could find important use in other directed-energy systems, such as explosives or high-intensity laser pulses. Additionally, the paper presents a way to image electric fields in these sorts of physical setups, and could lead to advances in photonics more generally.

https://gizmodo.com/scientists-produce-rigorous-study-of-why-grapes-spark-i-1832660386

Oceanographer Penny Chisholm tells the story of a tiny ocean creature you’ve probably never heard of: Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic species on the planet. A marine microbe that has existed for millions of years, Prochlorococcus wasn’t discovered until the mid-1980s — but its ancient genetic code may hold clues to how we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

By Alina Bradford

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in blood. The body gets glucose from the food we eat. This sugar is an important source of energy and provides nutrients to the body’s organs, muscles and nervous system. The absorption, storage and production of glucose is regulated constantly by complex processes involving the small intestine, liver and pancreas.

Glucose enters the bloodstream after a person has eaten carbohydrates. The endocrine system helps keep the bloodstream’s glucose levels in check using the pancreas. This organ produces the hormone insulin, releasing it after a person consumes protein or carbohydrates. The insulin sends excess glucose in the liver as glycogen.

The pancreas also produces a hormone called glucagon, which does the opposite of insulin, raising blood sugar levels when needed. The two hormones work together to keep glucose balanced.

When the body needs more sugar in the blood, the glucagon signals the liver to turn the glycogen back into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. This process is called glycogenolysis.

When there isn’t enough sugar to go around, the liver hoards the resource for the parts of the body that need it, including the brain, red blood cells and parts of the kidney. For the rest of the body, the liver makes ketones , which breaks down fat to use as fuel. The process of turning fat into ketones is called ketogenesis. The liver can also make sugar out of other things in the body, like amino acids, waste products and fat byproducts.

Glucose vs. dextrose
Dextrose is also a sugar. It’s chemically identical to glucose but is made from corn and rice, according to Healthline. It is often used as a sweetener in baking products and in processed foods. Dextrose also has medicinal purposes. It is dissolved in solutions that are given intravenously to increase a person’s blood sugar levels.

Normal blood sugar
For most people, 80 to 99 milligrams of sugar per deciliter before a meal and 80 to 140 mg/dl after a meal is normal. The American Diabetes Association says that most nonpregnant adults with diabetes should have 80 to 130 mg/dl before a meal and less than 180 mg/dl at 1 to 2 hours after beginning the meal.

These variations in blood-sugar levels, both before and after meals, reflect the way that the body absorbs and stores glucose. After you eat, your body breaks down the carbohydrates in food into smaller parts, including glucose, which the small intestine can absorb.

Problems
Diabetes happens when the body lacks insulin or because the body is not working effectively, according to Dr. Jennifer Loh, chief of the department of endocrinology for Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii. The disorder can be linked to many causes, including obesity, diet and family history, said Dr. Alyson Myers of Northwell Health in New York.

“To diagnose diabetes, we do an oral glucose-tolerance test with fasting,” Myers said.

Cells may develop a tolerance to insulin, making it necessary for the pancreas to produce and release more insulin to lower your blood sugar levels by the required amount. Eventually, the body can fail to produce enough insulin to keep up with the sugar coming into the body.

It can take decades to diagnose high blood-sugar levels, though. This may happen because the pancreas is so good at its job that a doctor can continue to get normal blood-glucose readings while insulin tolerance continues to increase, said Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH Labs), a nonprofit that provides health care education and tools. She also wrote “Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy” (Proactive Health Labs, 2016).

Health professionals can check blood sugar levels with an A1C test, which is a blood test for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This test measures your average blood glucose, or blood sugar, level over the previous three months.

Doctors may use the A1C alone or in combination with other diabetes tests to make a diagnosis. They also use the A1C to see how well you are managing your diabetes. This test is different from the blood sugar checks that people with diabetes do for themselves every day.

In the condition called hypoglycemia, the body fails to produce enough sugar. People with this disorder need treatment when blood sugar drops to 70 mg/dL or below. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of hypoglycemia can be:

Tingling sensation around the mouth
Shakiness
Sweating
An irregular heart rhythm
Fatigue
Pale skin
Crying out during sleep
Anxiety
Hunger
Irritability


Keeping blood sugar in control

Stephenson-Laws said healthy individuals can keep their blood sugar at the appropriate levels using the following methods:

Maintaining a healthy weight

Talk with a competent health care professional about what an ideal weight for you should be before starting any kind of weight loss program.

Improving diet

Look for and select whole, unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables, instead of highly processed or prepared foods. Foods that have a lot of simple carbohydrates, like cookies and crackers, that your body can digest quickly tend to spike insulin levels and put additional stress on the pancreas. Also, avoid saturated fats and instead opt for unsaturated fats and high-fiber foods. Consider adding nuts, vegetables, herbs and spices to your diet.

Getting physical

A brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can greatly reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

Getting mineral levels checked

Research also shows that magnesium plays a vital role in helping insulin do its job. So, in addition to the other health benefits it provides, an adequate magnesium level can also reduce the chances of becoming insulin-tolerant.

Get insulin levels checked

Many doctors simply test for blood sugar and perform an A1C test, which primarily detects prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Make sure you also get insulin checks.

https://www.livescience.com/62673-what-is-blood-sugar.html#?utm_source=ls-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=05272018-ls


Adipose Connective Tissue Stores Fat in Our Body. Credit: Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library

A new technique to study fat stores in the body could aid efforts to find treatments to tackle obesity.

The approach focuses on energy-burning tissues found deep inside the body – called brown fat – that help to keep us warm when temperatures drop.

Experts are aiming to find it this calorie-burning power can be harnessed to stop weight gain, but little is known about how the process works.

Previous studies have mainly relied on a medical imaging technique called PET/CT to watch brown fat in action deep inside the body. But the method is unable to directly measure the chemical factors in the tissue.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh developed a technique called microdialysis to measure how brown fat generates heat in people.

The approach involves inserting a small tube into an area of brown fat in the body and flushing it with fluid to collect a snapshot of the tissues’ chemical make-up.

The team tested the technique in six healthy volunteers, using PET/CT to guide the tube to the right location.

They discovered that in cold conditions, brown fat uses its own energy stores and other substances to generate heat.

Brown fat was active under warm conditions too, when the body does not need to generate its own heat, an outcome that had not been seen before.

Researchers hope the technique will help them to analyse the specific chemicals involved, so that they can better understand how brown fat works.

Most of the fat in our body is white fat, which is found under the skin and surrounding internal organs. It stores excess energy when we consume more calories than we burn.

Brown fat is mainly found in babies and helps them to stay warm. Levels can decrease with age but adults can still have substantial amounts of it, mainly in the neck and upper back region. People who are lean tend to have more brown fat.

The study, published in Cell Metabolism, was funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome.

Lead researcher Dr Roland Stimson, of the British Heart Foundation Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Understanding how brown fat is activated could reveal potential targets for therapies that boost its energy-burning power, which could help with weight loss.”

This article has been republished from materials provided by the University of Edinburgh. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Reference: Weir, G., Ramage, L. E., Akyol, M., Rhodes, J. K., Kyle, C. J., Fletcher, A. M., … Stimson, R. H. (2018). Substantial Metabolic Activity of Human Brown Adipose Tissue during Warm Conditions and Cold-Induced Lipolysis of Local Triglycerides. Cell Metabolism, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.020

https://www.technologynetworks.com/proteomics/news/how-brown-fat-keeps-us-warm-304351?utm_campaign=Newsletter_TN_BreakingScienceNews&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=63228690&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9oqDIw3te1NPoj51s94kxnA1ClK8Oiecfela6I4WiITEbm_-SWdmw6pjMTwm2YP24gqSzRaBvUK1kkb2kZEJKPcL5JtQ&_hsmi=63228690

By JON AUSTIN

Scientist Semir Osmanagić claims a series of triangular-shaped hills in his native Bosnia, are artificial pyramids that are bigger and older than those in Egypt.

Despite mainstream archaeologists saying they are just natural rock formations, Mr Osmanagic has made another bold claim that he has found Nikola Tesla’s so-called “torison fields of standing energy” at the Bosnian Pyramids site, which means we could now “communicate with aliens”.

Mr Telsa was a Serbian-American inventor, physicist, and futurist, who contributed to the design of the AC electricity supply system in 1888.

His ideas became more left-field and experimental towards the end of the 1800s, and he devised the theory of “standing waves” of energy coming from Earth that meant electricity could be transmitted wirelessly over long distances.

Mr Osmanagić has claimed the alleged discovery at one of the “34,000 year old” pyramids he calls the Pyramid of the Sun “changes the history of planet” and could lead to intergalactic communication.

He wrote: “The discovery of Tesla’s standing waves at the top of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun— which are believed to travel faster than the speed of light, while not losing strength as they pass through cosmic bodies—prove the existence of something referred to as a cosmic web or cosmic internet which allow for a immediate intergalactic communication throughout the universe.

“Recorded energetic phenomena above the Pyramid of the Sun at Visoko seek a different definition of a pyramid compared to conventional, dogmatic explanations.

“The pyramids are energy boosters that send and receive information through the Sun.”

Tesla devised a theory of standing waves saying they travel faster than light, meaning they could “move through other cosmic bodies without wasting energy.”

Mr Osmanagić claims on the surface of and underneath the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun, archaeological digs have found quartz crystals. The crystal is present in the underground tunnels as well, a mineral he says receives then amplifies energy.

He claims there are seven levels of tunnels inside the pyramid and that this amplifies the intensity of the energy.

Osmanagić also supports the ancient aliens theory that advanced beings came to Earth thousands of years ago to help build the pyramids.

He added: “Life originated thanks to an intervention on our planet, species on Earth change in the long term through experiments where evolution plays a minor role, and homo sapiens is the result of genetic engineering.

“And, of course, we are not the first nor the most advanced civilisation in the history of the planet.”

Boston University’s archaeological professor, Curtis Runnels, has been one of many to attempt to put the Bosnian Pyramid claims to bed.

He said: “Early prehistoric cultures, including village farmers of the Neolithic period [back to 9,000 years ago], and before them Stone Age hunters and gatherers, did not have populations large enough or social structures organised in ways that would have permitted the creation of pyramids on a large scale.

“Pyramidal shapes offer the least resistance to such forces, and are common forms in nature.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/773789/Bosnian-Pyramid-Nikola-Tesla-standing-waves-aliens


Sweden’s waste incineration plants generate 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating.

When it comes to recycling, Sweden is incredibly successful. Just four percent of household waste in Sweden goes into landfills. The rest winds up either recycled or used as fuel in waste-to-energy power plants.

Burning the garbage in the incinerators generates 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating, a system of distributing heat by pumping heated water into pipes through residential and commercial buildings. It also provides electricity for a quarter of a million homes.

According to Swedish Waste Management, Sweden recovers the most energy from each ton of waste in the waste to energy plants, and energy recovery from waste incineration has increased dramatically just over the last few years.

The problem is, Sweden’s waste recycling program is too successful.

Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said the country is producing much less burnable waste than it needs.

“We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration,” Ostlund said.

However, they’ve recently found a solution.

Sweden has recently begun to import about eight hundred thousand tons of trash from the rest of Europe per year to use in its power plants. The majority of the imported waste comes from neighboring Norway because it’s more expensive to burn the trash there and cheaper for the Norwegians to simply export their waste to Sweden.

In the arrangement, Norway pays Sweden to take the waste off their hands and Sweden also gets electricity and heat. But dioxins in the ashes of the waste byproduct are a serious environmental pollutant. Ostlund explained that there are also heavy metals captured within the ash that need to be landfilled. Those ashes are then exported to Norway.

This arrangement works particularly well for Sweden, since in Sweden the energy from the waste is needed for heat. According to Ostlund, when both heat and electricity are used, there’s much higher efficiency for power plants.

“So that’s why we have the world’s best incineration plants concerning energy efficiency. But I would say maybe in the future, this waste will be valued even more so maybe you could sell your waste because there will be a shortage of resources within the world,” Ostlund said.

Ostlund said Sweden hopes that in the future Europe will build its own plants so it can manage to take care of its own waste.

“I hope that we instead will get the waste from Italy or from Romania or Bulgaria or the Baltic countries because they landfill a lot in these countries. They don’t have any incineration plants or recycling plants, so they need to find a solution for their waste,” Ostlund said.

In fact, landfilling remains the principal way of disposal in those countries, but new waste-to-energy initiatives have been introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.

It is also important, Ostlund notes, for Sweden to find ways to reduce its own waste in the future.

“This is not a long-term solution really, because we need to be better to reuse and recycle, but in the short perspective I think it’s quite a good solution,” Ostlund concluded.