Uranium from seawater could provide an "endless" supply of nuclear energy

February 21, 2017 by  
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No discussion of a post-carbon future can be complete without raising the specter of nuclear power. Although it’s a contentious subject, any concerns about large-scale adoption have been largely rendered moot by the fact that the world’s uranium deposits are finite—and dwindling. Stanford researchers are convinced, however, that the solution may lie in seawater, which contains trace amounts of the radioactive metal. “Concentrations are tiny, on the order of a single grain of salt dissolved in a liter of water,” said Yi Cui, a materials scientist who co-authored a paper on the subject in the journal Nature Energy . “But the oceans are so vast that if we can extract these trace amounts cost effectively, the supply would be endless.” Wind and solar power are gaining traction, but some experts say that they’re still too intermittent to be truly reliable in the long term. “We need nuclear power as a bridge toward a post-fossil-fuel future,” said Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and former U.S. secretary of energy who championed seawater extraction research before he left the Department of Energy for Stanford. A co-author of the paper, he noted that nuclear power currently accounts for 20 percent of U.S. electricity and 13 percent worldwide. A practical way of extracting uranium from seawater, he added, could go a long way to bolstering the energy security of countries that rely on nuclear power but lack uranium reserves of their own. “Seawater extraction gives countries that don’t have land-based uranium the security that comes from knowing they’ll have the raw material to meet their energy needs,” he said. Related: Uranium extracted from the oceans could power cities for thousands of years Although many have attempted to harness the oceans’ uranium before, previous efforts have failed to yield sufficient quantities in a fiscally meaningful way. Till now, anyway. Uranium doesn’t bob freely on the waves, of course. In seawater, the element combines chemically with oxygen to form positively charged ions called uranyl. Building on years of prior research, the Stanford team refined a technique that involves dipping plastic fibers containing a uranyl-attracting compound called amidoxime in seawater. When the strands become saturated with the ions, the plastic is chemically treated to free the uranyl, which can be refined for use in reactors – much like you would do with ore. By tinkering with different variables, the researchers were able to create a fiber that captured nine times as much uranyl as previous attempts without becoming saturated. Sending electrical pulses down the fiber collected even more uranyl ions. “We have a lot of work to do still but these are big steps toward practicality,” Cui said. + Stanford University Via Engadget Top photo by apasciuto

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Uranium from seawater could provide an "endless" supply of nuclear energy

Stanford scientist develop a blood-separating centrifuge out of paper

January 12, 2017 by  
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If you were a kid before the age of smartphones, you probably played with a whirligig at least once. The design for this simple toy, which will spin twine threaded through a button at rapid speeds with only a gentle pull, inspired Stanford University researchers to create a cheap and effective medical tool for countries in need. The “paperfuge” is, quite literally, a centrifuge made out of paper . The human-powered device can separate blood in just 90 seconds and costs only $.20 to make. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPePaKnYh2I There are still many parts of the world without access to the medical technology necessary to properly diagnose and treat disease. Stanford bioengineers hope to change that by providing a cost effective centrifuge to affected regions so medical professionals can detect deadly diseases , such as malaria, HIV, African sleeping sickness and tuberculosis. With the paperfuge, there is no need for electricity, as it is powered by human touch. Related: Shining lasers on human blood could help detect tumors The engineers behind the design say the device can spin at speeds up to 125,000 rpm. The paperfuge can also exert centrifugal forces of 30,000 Gs and separate blood in just a minute and a half. “To the best of my knowledge, it’s the fastest spinning object driven by human power,” said Manu Prakash, a Stanford bioengineering assistant professor. Prakash’s lab is also responsible for creating a “ foldscope ” miscroscopy instrument that costs lest than one dollar to produce and a tiny chemistry kit inspired by children’s music boxes. + Stanford University Via Stanford University Images via Youtube (screenshot)

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Stanford scientist develop a blood-separating centrifuge out of paper

This little black rectangle quickly and effortlessly disinfects water

August 17, 2016 by  
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Around the world, 663 million people lack access to clean drinking water. Unfortunately, disinfecting contaminated water can be an elaborate, costly and time-intensive procedure – for example, disinfecting water with UV rays can take up to 48 hours, limiting the amount of water that can be treated. A new device created by researchers at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory solves this problem: it’s a little black rectangle that harnesses the sun’s light to disinfect water in 20 minutes flat. While the rectangle looks like a simple block of black glass, it’s actually covered in nanostructured molybdenum disulfide . The thin flakes are staked together sideways so that their maze-like edges are exposed to the water. When the block is placed in water and then left in the sun, it reacts with the sunlight and the water, forming hydrogen peroxide and other antibacterial chemicals. Soon after, the chemicals dissipate and leave crystal clear water behind. Related: Cilantro Purifies Drinking Water in Developing Countries Cheaply and Sustainably The reason this device works is because molybdenum disulfide is a photocatalyst, releasing electrons which cause chemical reactions to take place in the water. While it’s a promising new development, it can only disinfect water , not filter it. So industrial pollutants would still need to be a concern in many parts of the world. The technology still requires more research before it can be used in the field, since it’s unclear exactly which strains of bacteria can be eliminated using this process. + Stanford University Via Treehugger

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This little black rectangle quickly and effortlessly disinfects water

Stanford students take on dangerous superbugs

August 10, 2016 by  
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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or “ superbugs ,” are one of the biggest challenges of the medical community. They are popping up at faster rates as antibiotic use increases, causing serious alarm among professionals familiar with their power. A few undergraduate students from Stanford University believe they may be on to a revolutionary idea that could kill off some of the most dangerous superbugs out there. Last fall, students Zach Rosenthal, Christian Choe and Maria Filsinger Interrante entered a Stanford University competition to provide solutions for major healthcare problems. Their idea of developing a set of proteins to annihilate antibiotic-resistant bacteria won them a $10,000 grant to test their hypotheses. “As soon as I started to read literature about multidrug-resistant bacteria, I decided it was a huge need area and interestingly neglected by the pharmaceutical industry,” said now-graduated Filsinger Interrante. She says that a smaller market size, lower profitability, and seeming inevitability of drug resistance lowers manufacturers’ enthusiasm about producing new antibiotics . Related: Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in food products for the first time The specifics of their project are being kept secret, yet Rosenthal explains the mechanism of their attack, “We target something that’s essential to bacterial survival.” Preliminary reports of their tests are successful and the team hopes to continue working toward finding the Achilles heel for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii , two of the most drug-resistant and fatal superbugs existing today. Via NPR , Stanford News Images via Pexels, Stanford University

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Stanford students take on dangerous superbugs

A giant reservoir of water has been discovered under drought-stricken California

July 1, 2016 by  
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Stanford University researchers have just found a potential new source of water deep underneath California’s Central Valley . While the thought of accessing 713 trillion gallons of fresh, untapped water might be tempting, the reality isn’t that simple and probably won’t save the state from either itself or the effects of climate change . A paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that the underground reservoir in question contains almost three times as much water as previous estimates . New light was shed on just how much is down there, thanks to technology that allowed researchers to dig deeper. The underground water reservoir lies between 1,000 and 3,000 feet underground. Related: Trump denies California drought Before anyone gets too excited, the water may not be entirely usable – even if it can be accessed. The same Stanford researchers found that 30 percent of the water has a chance of being contaminated by nearby oil and natural gas drilling sites. Digging that deeply could also cause the ground to sink, which is already happening in the surrounding area. Rob Jackson, lead author of the study, told Gizmodo , “We need to be careful about using [the water]. California’s groundwater pumping has been in overdraft for years, especially during the drought . Finding more water than expected doesn’t mean we should waste it.” The temptation is strong in a land where 63 trillion gallons of water were lost in just the last 18 months. However, finding more H2O to replace what we’ve used is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm. Combatting the effects of climate change and significantly changing the way humans use water resources should come first. Via  Gizmodo Images via  Wikimedia , Flickr

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A giant reservoir of water has been discovered under drought-stricken California

BONE Structure breaks ground on first net-zero residential project in California

June 13, 2016 by  
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Thanks to the off-site manufacturing process, the house is easy to outfit with all the electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems , which can be inserted into precut openings. An air-tight envelope ensures stable interior temperatures, with insulation panels clipped into place between steel columns and polyurethane foam insulation. Related: Stanford’s Start.Home is Built Around a Next-Gen Prefab Core at the Solar Decathlon 2013 The Jacobson Residence is only the beginning for BONE Structure. The firm plans to replicate the concept and build 50 new homes in California in 2016. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in visiting the Stanford house, the property will be available for tour on June, 24, 25 and 26. + BONE Structure

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BONE Structure breaks ground on first net-zero residential project in California

Brilliant Stanford invention makes hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars even greener

June 26, 2015 by  
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In the next few years hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars are going to become more readily available thanks to new models from Toyota, Honda and Hyundai. While automakers have labeled the fuel-cell vehicles as the ultimate green vehicle, since they only emit water, there’s a dirty secret that isn’t talked about. The process to produce hydrogen isn’t very green, but a new invention from Stanford University could change that. Read the rest of Brilliant Stanford invention makes hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars even greener Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: electric vehicle , fuel cell vehicle , green car , green transportation , Honda , hydrogen , hydrogen vehicle , HYUNDAI , stanford university , Toyota Mirai

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Brilliant Stanford invention makes hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars even greener

California poised to enact toughest mandatory vaccine bill in the nation

June 26, 2015 by  
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In California, an aggressive mandatory vaccination bill that passed the State Assembly is now headed to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. If the bill passes, it would make California the third state in the country to enact such a measure, which will require all incoming public school kindergarteners to have full schedule vaccines, regardless of their parents’ personal, religious, or philosophical objections. Read the rest of California poised to enact toughest mandatory vaccine bill in the nation Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: banning personal and religious vaccine exemptions , California , california state assembly , children’s health , governor jerry brown , mandatory vaccinations , mandatory vaccines , mandatory vaccines for children , mandatory vaccines for school attendance , medical decisions for children , parental rights , SB277

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Stanford researchers create a computer that operates on water droplets

June 10, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Come on in: the water is not only fine, it’s pretty amazing. Engineers at Stanford University have created the first step in a whole new class of computers that rely on the unique physics of moving water droplets. This computer wasn’t designed to rival your laptop or replace the processor in your smartphone, though. Unlike familiar computing devices which manipulate information, the Stanford computer is intended to create new ways to move physical matter. Read the rest of Stanford researchers create a computer that operates on water droplets Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bioengineering , computer moving water droplets , computers to manipulate physical matter , computers to move physical material , manu prakash , new class of computers , stanford university , synchronous computer , water based computer , water droplet computer

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Stanford researchers create a computer that operates on water droplets

Could super-insulated clothes eliminate need for indoor heat?

January 18, 2015 by  
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When you complained about the cold as a kid, Dad used to say, “Put on a sweater.” He might have be onto something. A research team at Stanford University has been working on textiles that actually radiate heat, which means that you could potentially throw on a layer of this ultra-insulated material and turn your thermostat down even further. Can you imagine a sweater that could help drastically cut your utility bills? Wow. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Clothes , cost-savings , eco textiles , heat , renewable energy , research , savings , stanford university , Sustainable , warmth , wearable technology , winter

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Could super-insulated clothes eliminate need for indoor heat?

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