Nanoscale Control of Desalination Membranes Could Lead to Cheaper Water Filtration

Producing clean water at a lower cost could be on the horizon after researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and Penn State solved a complex problem that has baffled scientists for decades, until now. Desalination membranes remove salt and other chemicals from water, a process critical to the health of society, cleaning billions of gallons of water for agriculture, energy production and drinking. The idea seems simple — push salty water through and clean water comes out the other side — but it contains complex intricacies that scientists are still trying to understand. The research team, in partnership with DuPont Water Solutions, solved an important aspect of this mystery, opening the door to reduce costs of clean water production. The researchers determined desalination membranes are inconsistent in density…
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Desalination Breakthrough Maximizes Flow for Cheaper Water Filtration

Biological membranes let the right stuff into cells while keeping the wrong stuff out. And, as researchers noted in a paper just published by the journal Science, they are remarkable and ideal for their job. But they’re not necessarily ideal for high-volume, industrial jobs such as pushing saltwater through a membrane to remove salt and make fresh water for drinking, irrigating crops, watering livestock or creating energy. Can we learn from those high-performing biological membranes? Can we apply nature’s homogenous design strategies to manufactured, polymer membranes? Can we quantify what makes some of those industrial membranes perform better than others? Researchers from Iowa State University, Penn State University, the University of Texas at Austin, DuPont Water Solutions and Dow Chemical Co. — led by Enrique Gomez of Penn State and…
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Cold Bending: New Tool Enables Economic Curved Glass Design

Curved glass façades can be stunningly beautiful, but traditional construction methods are extremely expensive. Panes are usually made with “hot bending,” where glass is heated and formed using a mold or specialized machines, an energy-intensive process that generates excess waste in the form of individual molds. Cold-bent glass is a cheaper alternative in which flat panes of glass are bent and fixed to frames at the construction site. However, given the fragility of the material, coming up with a form that is both aesthetically pleasing and manufacturable is extremely challenging. Now, an interactive, data-driven design tool allows architects to do just that. Created by a team of scientists from IST Austria, TU Wien, UJRC, and KAUST, the software allows users to interactively manipulate a façade design and receive immediate feedback…
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UK Scientists to Produce Low-Cost, High-Performance Ventilators

UK scientists have been awarded funding to develop a robust, low-cost ventilator to help patients in low and middle-income countries suffering from severe respiratory problems due to Covid-19. Mechanical ventilation is a small but important part of the management of pandemic virus infections that affect the lungs, including SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), and influenza. Ventilators are typically expensive to purchase and maintain, and need considerable training to use. Most also rely on the provision of high-flow oxygen and medically pure compressed air, which are not readily available in many countries around the world. Affordable, reliable and easy to useA team of researchers, co-ordinated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory, aim to produce and test plans for the creation of an affordable, reliable, and easy-to-operate ventilator that does…
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See Inside Living Cells in Greater Detail Using New Microscopy Technique

Experts in optical physics have developed a new way to see inside living cells in greater detail using existing microscopy technology and without needing to add stains or fluorescent dyes. Since individual cells are almost translucent, microscope cameras must detect extremely subtle differences in the light passing through parts of the cell. Those differences are known as the phase of the light. Camera image sensors are limited by what amount of light phase difference they can detect, referred to as dynamic range. “To see greater detail using the same image sensor, we must expand the dynamic range so that we can detect smaller phase changes of light,” said Associate Professor Takuro Ideguchi from the University of Tokyo Institute for Photon Science and Technology. The research team developed a technique to…
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