Faecal sludge, a material derived from human waste, can be difficult to dispose of and causes significant disease and pollution worldwide. However, it also shows potential as a fuel, fertiliser and even a building material, if properly treated. Dr Santiago [san-tee-ah-go] Septien [sep-tee-uhn] Stringel and his team at the WASH R&D [wash R and D] Centre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal [kwah-zoo-loo-nay-taal], in Durban, South Africa, have been investigating the process for drying faecal sludge, towards developing new ways of transforming it into sustainable products.
Over the past few decades, astronomers have learnt more and more about the planets, moons, and asteroids of our Solar System – but we still have much to learn about the materials they are made from. For hundreds of years, we have used chemistry to study such materials on Earth, but there is no guarantee that they will behave in the same way in space – where they can exist in environments ranging from harsh, airless vacuums, to strange and exotic atmospheres.
The engine of a typical passenger vehicle is made up of hundreds of mechanical parts. These parts require lubrication to prevent them from overheating and to keep them working efficiently. Ken Hope and his team at Chevron Phillips Chemical, headquartered in Texas, have analysed the extent to which different types of lubricant oils reduce friction. They then used this data to estimate how an optimised oil mixture can achieve an overall improvement in engine efficiency.
Interstellar space may seem like the last place you would look when searching for the chemical origins of life. Yet on the surfaces of tiny dust grains within this vast expanse, complex chemical reactions are continually occurring, which likely played a key role in establishing the rich diversity of complex molecules we observe in the solar system today. In a new study, astrochemists in Spain and Italy, led by Albert Rimola at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, examine how advanced simulation techniques can be used to study these important processes on atomic scales.
Reinventing the Capacitor: The Topological Route of Electricity – Professor Valerii Vinokur | Professor Anna Razumnaya | Professor Igor Lukyanchuk
Modern microelectronics is currently facing a profound challenge. The demand for even smaller and more closely packed electronics has hit a stumbling block: the power emitted in these devices releases more heat than can be efficiently removed. Now, Professors Valerii Vinokur, Anna Razumnaya, and Igor Lukyanchuk propose a solution based on the seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon of ‘negative capacitance’. The effect is surprisingly linked to an intriguing topological structure, which is found time and again across a broad range of scientific fields.
Although nuclear power is a clean alternative to fossil fuel combustion, this industry often causes uranium pollution in the local environment. The generation of metatorbernite, a solid material containing uranium, is one promising way to remove dissolved uranium atoms from industrial wastewater. However, before this remediation technology can be widely applied, we need a deeper understanding of the properties of metatorbernite, such as its long-term stability, to ensure that uranium will not be re-released from its structure. Dr Caroline Kirk, Ms Fi MacIver-Jones and their colleagues at the University of Edinburgh have been working to establish the structure and stability of this material, so that it can be applied for uranium remediation in the near future.