Tag Archives: Plastics

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Nov 24, 2022

Volume 611 Issue 7937

nature – November 24, 2022 issue:

Research Highlights

Science Podcasts: Covid-19 Vaccine Ethical Issues, Upcycling Plastic Bags

First up, host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Jon Cohen about some tricky ethical questions that may arise after the first coronavirus vaccine is authorized for use in the United States. Will people continue to participate in clinical trials of other vaccines? Will it still be OK to give participants placebo vaccines? 

Next, producer Meagan Cantwell talks with Bert Weckhuysen, a professor at Utrecht University, about a process for taking low-value plastic like polyethylene (often used for packaging and grocery bags) and “upcycling” it into biodegradable materials that can be used for new purposes. 

Top New Science Podcasts: Hiroshima Radiation Rules & Ocean Plastic Pollution

science-magazine-podcastsContributing Correspondent Dennis Normile talks about a long-term study involving the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Seventy-five years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the two cities in Japan, survivors are still helping scientists learn about the effects of radiation exposure. 

Also this week, Sarah talks with Winnie Lau, senior manager for preventing ocean plastics at Pew Charitable Trusts about her group’s paper about what it would take to seriously fight the flow of plastics into the environment. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.

Technologies: New Plant-Based Plastics & Waste Plastic Into Hydrogen

Plastic has become a malevolent symbol of our wasteful society. It’s also one of the most successful materials ever invented: it’s cheap, durable, flexible, waterproof, versatile, lightweight, protective and hygienic.

During the coronavirus pandemic, plastic visors, goggles, gloves and aprons have been fundamental for protecting healthcare workers from the virus. But what about the effects on the environment of throwing away huge numbers of single-use medical protection equipment? How are we to balance our need for plastic with protecting the environment?

Delayed as a result of the pandemic, the film is being released now because it considers how society might ‘reset the clock’ when it comes to living better with a vital material.

We hear how Cambridge University’s Cambridge Creative Circular Plastics Centre (CirPlas) aims to eliminate plastic waste by combining blue-sky thinking with practical measures – from turning waste plastic into hydrogen fuel, to manufacturing more sustainable materials, to driving innovations in plastic recycling in a circular economy.

“As a chemist I look at plastic and I see an extremely useful material that is rich in chemicals and energy – a material that shouldn’t end up in landfills and pollute the environment,” says Professor Erwin Reisner, who leads CirPlas, funded by UK Research and Innovation.

“Plastic is an example of how we must find ways to use resources without irreversibly changing the planet for future generations.”

Explore more: CirPlas: https://www.energy.cam.ac.uk/Plastic_…

 

Top New Science Podcasts: Plastic-Busting Enzymes, Man’s Curiosity & ‘Coolest’ Molecules (Nature.com)

nature-podcastsThis week, a new enzyme speeds up the breakdown of plastic bottles, and a method to cool molecules to a fraction above absolute zero.

In this episode:

01:18 A PET recycling enzyme

Researchers have engineered an enzyme that effectively breaks down the plastic PET into its constituent monomers. This could allow for more complete recycling of bottles and clothes. Research Article: Tournier et al.

06:41 Research Highlights

The shocking lengths humans will go to to satisfy their curiosity, and the reasons for elevated methane emissions at Oktoberfest. Research Highlight: Humans opt to brave electric shock to satisfy their curiosityResearch Highlight: Munich’s Oktoberfest is a real gas

09:15 Supercool molecules

Researchers have used a technique called ‘collision cooling’ to chill molecules to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, which could allow observations of difficult-to-study quantum mechanics. Research Article: Son et al.

14:46 Research Highlights

Neither supermassive, nor super small, the mystery of the elusive intermediate sized black-hole has been solved. Research Highlight: Elusive middle-weight black hole is caught shredding a star