Chemistry, Green Living, News, Renewable Energy

Jet Fuel and Enzymes power Fuel Cell for the First Time

800px-Boeing_Fuel_Cell_Demonstrator_AB1

Researchers at University of Utah have demonstrated for the first time a working biological fuel cell that uses enzymes to convert jet fuel into electricity; all at room temperature. Fuel cells are much cleaner and efficient at producing energy than internal combustion engines – theoretically, fuel cells can be up to four times more efficient since the energy conversion is electrochemical…

Biology, Chemistry, News

Of Yeast and Flies: The Science of why Beer is so Delicious

Delicious beers - image via Cottage Life.

Whether you enjoy a strong malty taste, or a fruity savor, or even just a subtle aroma in your beer – you have yeast to thank for. Yeast imbues beer with aromatic molecules that account for most, if not all of the final flavor. But why is it that they create all this wide array of flavors? Kevin Verstrepen, a yeast geneticist…

Astronomy, Chemistry, News, Science, Space

All Solar Systems likely have Water (just like ours!)

This flowchart picture shows the evolution of water as it starts out in the Sun's birth cloud, survives the destructive formation of the early solar system, and continues to exist to this day.Credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO

We live in a solar system filled with water. Not only does liquid water cover 72% of our planet Earth, we have also found ice water in asteroids and comets, on the Moon, on Mars, and even in the shadows of craters on Mercury; while Europa and other moons of Jupiter and Saturn almost certainly harbor liquid oceans beneath their…

Chemistry, Videos

The Pharaoh’s Snake: This Chemical Reaction looks like a Portal to Hell

Image credits.

Many chemical reactions are quite shocking, but this one is definitely something else. Take a look at the decomposition of Mercury(II) thiocyanate (Hg(SCN)2): Mercury thiocyanate is a white powder that looks pretty inconspicuous when you look at it. However, when you introduce heat (burn it), it produces a blue flame and creates a solid snake-like mass which seems to stem straight…

Biology, Chemistry, News

Scientists use yeast to create Morphine

Yeast could reduce the need to grow poppy fields for opiates. Image via Geograph.org

Yeast is already used to create two substances widely used to kill pain – beer and wine. Jokes aside, researchers have shown that genetically modified yeast can create morphine, which would remove the need for poppy crops – something which is currently causing widespread issues (including war) in some areas. “Opiates and related molecules are medically essential, but their production…

Chemistry, News

Ultrathin diamond-like thread could help build elevator to space

Artist impression of a possible space elevator - the image in question show the new diamond-like nanomaterial in action, though.

For the first time, scientists at Penn State University have coaxed carbon-containing molecules to form a  strong tetrahedron shape, then linked each tetrahedron end to end to form a long, thin nanothread. The resulting materials is stronger than carbon nanotubes, while the thread is only a few atoms across thick, hundreds of thousands of times smaller than an optical fiber. This sort…

Chemistry, News

Nuclear battery that uses water-based solution lasts longer and is more efficient

Nuclear batteries might soon prove to be important in generating energy for isolated systems where longevity is a key factor. Note: image is not an actual representation of the system outlined in this articles. Image credit: Dreamstime

Though betavoltaics – battery technology that employs radiation as a means of power generation – has been around since the 1950s, developments thus far haven’t been the most promising. This may set to change after researchers at University of Missouri reported they’ve devised a nuclear-assisted battery, which works in a watery environment, that both lasts longer and is more efficient. The…

Chemistry, Tech, Videos

What chemical elements are inside your new iPhone

apple-6

It’s only been recently that Apple released its new iPhone 6, and like every year zealots are lining up in front of Apple stores. In fact, the company reports that some 4 million iPhone 6 preorders were placed within the first 24 hours, yet again showing how powerful a cult brand can be. Aside from being a nifty gadget, the iPhone, and…

Chemistry, News, Pollution

US drinking water contaminated with gas because of faulty wells, but not fracking

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Stanford researchers traced back methane leaks from contaminated drinking water in Pennsylvania and Texas to shale gas wells. However, they note that they did not find a link between the contamination and the technique used to drill for shale gas itself, called hydraulic fracturing or more commonly known as fracking. Instead, the researchers concluded that well integrity is the main…

Biology, Chemistry, Diseases, News

Skin-penetrating ionic liquids mixed with antibiotics provide better way of killing microbes

Staphylococcus_aureus_biofilm_01

As microbes become more and more resistant to antibiotics and cleaning products, it’s crucial that we find better, more efficient way of fending them off. Dr. Samir Mitragotri from the University of California at Santa Barbara has led a team which showed that ionic liquids (ILs), also known as liquid salts, dramatically improve the treatment of microbial biofilm skin infections, while also…