A lot of things are happening in regards to tech and development of new materials, techniques and approaches. How do we stay on top of it all? Fret not, today we bring you bite-size capsules of the research and reports of the bioeconomy.
Researchers from MIT, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Harvard developed a new method to deliver molecular therapies to cells. The system, called SEND (Selective Endogenous eNcapsidation for cellular Delivery), can be “programmed” to encapsulate and deliver different RNA messages. At the core of SEND is a protein called PEG10, which normally binds to its own messenger RNA (mRNA) and creates a protective capsule around it. In their study, the team engineered PEG10 to selectively package and deliver other RNA. Read more here.
Dr. Yu Zhu –a professor in the University of Akron’s School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering– in collaboration with scientists in Pacific Northwestern National Laboratory led by Dr. Wei Wang, has successfully developed a new technique for large-scale energy storage. Electric power stations need storage for the electricity that electric vehicles use. However, redox flow batteries (RFB) –the low cost technology used right now– use electrolytes, an environmentally hazardous active material. The alternative is using water-soluble organic materials (namely aqueous organic RFBs, or AORFBs), but their instability makes them not-so-viable. Now, Dr. Zhu and Dr. Wang created the most stable catholyte to date in AORFBs. They demonstrated cells that kept “more than 90% of capacity over 6,000 cycles, projecting more than 16 years of uninterrupted service at a pace of one cycle per day.” Read more here.
A team of international scientists led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) devised a new method to make “urea”, a key compound in fertiliser, that may pave the way to a more sustainable agricultural practice as global food demand rises. The current Haber-Bosch process used to make urea is energy-intensive: it needs 500 degrees Celsius and pressures of two hundred times sea-level atmospheric pressure. As you can imagine, this creates significant CO2 emissions. The team came up with a more sustainable solution, using electricity to cause chemical reactions in a solution. The new process formed urea five times more efficiently than previously reported attempts using electrocatalysis. Read more here.
Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) suggest that there may be an easier approach to capturing light indoors through photovoltaic cells. A silicon module only absorbed light from an LED, and supplied more power than what the sensor consumed while operating. The team made some experiments in order to see if devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) could be charged using the LED absorbed through PV. Their discovery could pave the way to the end of wasting light energy. Read more here.