What's the buzz


Using a simulation tool that models the future global climate, researchers predict that the carbon that is released into the atmosphere from the loss of natural vegetation will be paid back by Miscanthus x giganteus within 30 years.
Previous estimates for other liquid biofuels, such as corn ethanol, were estimated to take 167-420 years to pay back their carbon debt.
The global concern over climate change has challenged researchers to explore ways to mitigate the damage we are doing to our environment.
They are looking more closely at energy crops, like Miscanthus, to replace our need for fossil fuels like natural gas and oil, which raise atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
John Hughes, UK Met Office Research Scientist, said: “Our study demonstrates the huge potential of energy crops, in particular of Miscanthus. Also, by scaling the results up to the global scale as we do in this study we are developing a new set of tools for evaluating energy crops”.

‘X-ray’ cameras to look through objects
A team of scientists have come up with a new class of man made materials that can be used to create x-ray cameras to look through walls, and even clothes.
These substances, called metamaterials, could harness terahertz radiation, light with energies between infrared waves and microwaves. Terahertz waves are essentially low-level heat created by the movement of molecules.
“Terahertz can do things like see through cardboard, styrofoam, or clothes, which is unique compared to infrared, visible, or microwave,” said researcher Richard Averitt.
When stimulated by terahertz radiation, many molecules absorb and re-emit the energy in specific ways, creating a spectral fingerprint that researchers can use to identify them.
A library of distinct spectral signatures for water, explosives, and compounds such as cocaine and saccharine is already in development and will someday be used to identify substances, he added.
They will be a path-breaking find for medicine, because they can detect tumours and vibrating proteins without the destructive, ionising effects of x-rays.

A leaf-like car that absorbs CO2 and spews oxygen
Taking cue from the plants’ ability to photosynthesise, Chinese automaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation has developed a new concept car that could take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
SAIC, which has a partnership with General Motors in China, showed designs for the photosynthesising YeZ Concept Car recently at Expo 2010 in Shanghai.
YeZ (pronounced ‘yea-zi’) is Mandarin Chinese for ‘leaf’, and it is the apt title for the open buggy-like vehicle, which has a roof shaped like a leaf.
The technical details haven’t been articulated, but according to a report in Xinhua, YeZ designer Ma Zhengkun has said that the roof “absorbs solar energy and transforms it into electricity while spinning rotors on the four wheels generate power from the wind”.
According to CNET Asia blogger Juniper Foo, the two-seater car would have a “metal-organic framework”, which would work to absorb CO2 and water, turning them into electricity that would get stored in a lithium-ion battery.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)