Plants start work as metal miners

Mustard plantsScientists at the University of York are to lead an international team that will explore the use of plants to recover precious metals from mine tailings around the world.
Researchers in the University’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) aim to develop ways to extract platinum group metals (PGM) discarded during mine processing which might then be used in catalysis. The research will investigate “phyto-mining,” which involves growing plants on mine waste materials to sponge up PGM into their cellular structure.

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Arctic sea ice literally halved – September 2012 smashes old record, 3.29 million km2 ice gone

As the days shorten and the summer sun is slowly setting under the horizon, the frost is returning to the Arctic and American scientists make up the balance of what has turned out to be an unprecedented melting season. The … Continue reading

The Big Melting Record that did not shake the world

Do you recall the big Arctic melting records of 2005 and 2007? Probably you do. Scientists had noticed the Arctic ice was on a declining trend and predicted this would continue under expected climate change. But no one expected the … Continue reading

Sea squirt enables production of greener and faster computer chips

Sea squirt

Sea squirt Ascidia (Source: Wikipedia).

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen’s Marine Biodiscovery Centre and the University of St Andrews last week presented their work on the components of a new type of computer chip created using molecules from a sea squirt sourced from the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, at the British Science Festival 2012.

Their research – which is the first of its kind in the world – could lead to the development of a computer which is greener to produce, processes information faster and is more compact in size. Continue reading

Worlds first 3D solar cell is surprisingly efficient

3D photovoltaic

Scanning electron microscope image of initial prototype of light trapping 3D photovoltaic structures on a thin silicon wafer.

Solar3D, Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, today announced the successful fabrication and operation of a working 3-dimensional silicon solar cell that produces at least 250% of the power of a basic silicon solar cell.

Dr. Changwan Son, Solar3D’s Director of Technology, commented, “When measured relative to a conventional solar cell design, our working prototype produces electricity beyond our previous expectations. First, we fabricated our working prototype. Then we created a simple cell based on the conventional design, using the same fabrication environment, to serve as a control sample. By measuring the side-by-side power output of both cells, we were able to determine the relative performance under a number of conditions, ranging from bright sunlight to lower, diffuse light. In each test, our 3D Solar Cell consistently outperformed the control cell and produced at least 2½ times the amount of electricity under the same conditions.”

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