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La Niña winters could keep on coming

New research led by the University of Washington offers a possible explanation. The study, recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that climate change is, in the short term, favoring La Niñas. “The Pacific Ocean naturally cycles between El Niño and La Niña conditions, but our work suggests that climate change could currently be weighing …

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Scientists crack upcycling plastics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

“The world needs more and better options for extracting the energy and molecular value from its waste plastics,” said co-lead author Susannah Scott, Distinguished Professor and Mellichamp Chair of Sustainable Catalytic Processing at UC Santa Barbara. Conventional plastic recycling methods result in low-value plastic molecules and, thus, offer little incentive to recycle the mountains of …

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Key breakthrough links changes in length-of-day with climate prediction

A team of scientists, led by Professor Adam Scaife from the University of Exeter, has used state-of-the-art mathematical modelling to show how fluctuations in the length of the day can be predicted more than a year in advance — significantly longer than currently possible. The team suggest this long-range forecasting also originates from a new …

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Success in synthesizing biodegradable plastic materials using sunlight and CO2

The research team led by Professor Yutaka Amao from the Research Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Osaka Metropolitan University has successfully synthesized 3-hydroxybutyrate, a raw material for poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) — a strong water-insoluble polyester used for packaging materials — from acetone and CO2. With a visible light-driven catalytic system utilizing sunlight and two biocatalysts, the …

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Process converts polyethylene bags, plastics to polymer building blocks

But a new process developed at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) could change all that. The process uses catalysts to break the long polyethylene (PE) polymers into uniform chunks — the three-carbon molecule propylene — that are the feedstocks for making other types of high-value plastic, such as …

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Exquisitely thin membranes can slash energy spent refining crude oil into fuel and plastic

The global production of crude oil is currently around 80 million barrels per day. Hydrocarbons extracted from crude oil are the main ingredients for manufacturing fossil fuels, plastics, and polymers. The process by which they are extracted is extremely energy intensive. Most refineries process crude oil using atmospheric and vacuum distillation, in which crude oil …

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System to create bioplastics

Published Sept. 28 in Chem, the research was a collaboration of Susie Dai, Ph.D., associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and Joshua Yuan, Ph.D., formerly with the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology as chair for synthetic biology and renewable products and now Lopata professor and chair …

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Ozone pollution threatens plant health and makes it harder for pollinators to find flowers

“There is much noise about the direct effects of agrochemicals on pollinators, a subject of profound societal attention, but it now emerges that ozone is a silent threat to pollinators and thus pollination,” says lead author Evgenios Agathokleous, an ecologist at Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology. “These impacts of ozone have long been …

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Water fleas as ‘canaries in a coal mine’ offer key to managing chemical pollution

In addition, where prevention to pollute has failed, Daphnia could work as a bioremediation agent to help reduce hazards. Researchers, led by the University of Birmingham, have devised a new framework using high throughput ‘omics’ technologies to detect the effects of ambient chemical mixtures — of the type and concentration typically found in the environment …

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