Drones Launch Wildlife Research to New Heights

drone launching

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also called drones) can cover more ground and easily access hard-to-reach areas. (Photo credit: Sander van Andel/REX Shutterstock/Associated Press)

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—more familiarly known as drones—are quickly becoming a key piece of equipment for wildlife researchers. UAVs are safer, less costly, more efficient, and more precise than other, more traditional wildlife research methods. [Read more…]

A Ladybugs Boots Were Made for Walking

ladybug

A ladybug’s movements are way more complex then they might seem. (Photo credit: Radius Images/Alamy)

As insects go, the ladybug (or ladybird) is one of the more beloved. They’re not poisonous, they eat insects gardeners consider to be pests, and their red bodies with black dots are pleasingly colorful. Even if they infest your home, they pose more of an annoyance than a threat. [Read more…]

Burgers Made in the Lab

in vitro burger

Would you eat a burger that was made in a laboratory? (Photo credit: POOL/Reuters/Corbis)

A burger patty made in a laboratory sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. However, fiction became fact last month when Dr. Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands unveiled the first hamburger patty made from stem cells for a taste-test event held in London, England.

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Researchers Work to Combat Climate Change

Rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are a major cause of global climate change. Many scientists are tackling the problem from different angles — some work on policy changes while others develop technologies. They are all working to find ways to lower the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere. Here are a few examples of current research into lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Low-Swirl Injector (LSI) The low-swirl injector (LSI) is a combustion technology that burns many types of fuels at lower temperatures. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are released when fuel, especially fossil fuel, is burned at power plants. Fuels burned at a lower temperature release much less NOx. The LSI can also burn fuels that contain less or no carbon dioxide, including hydrogen, setting the stage for lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But it only gets better: The LSI can be used in existing power plants, so plants can upgrade their generators without replacing them. Hopefully the LSI will be out of the lab and into commercial power plants soon.

Cleaning Up Biodiesel Biodiesel is a promising alternative fuel that emits fewer greenhouse gases, but the glycerol by-product can ruin engines. A team at the University of Leicester in the Great Britain has found a greener way to clean glycerol from vegetable-oil biodiesel. Glycerol is now removed from biodiesel through a variety of environmentally unfriendly ways. The team developed a solution of vitamin B4 and glycerol to wash out glycerol from the fuel. Their new method is not only greener, but is also sustainable.

Reducing Fuel Emissions Experts from the University of California have a plan to fight global warming by reducing carbon emission from transportation fuels by 10 percent. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, LCFS, will be in effect in California by 2020, and will probably set the bar for other emission standards in the United States and beyond. LCFS will affect all stages of a fuels life cycle, so industries and consumers will be responsible for lowering fuel emissions. “[LCFS] will likely transform the energy industries. And the 10 percent reduction is just the beginning. We anticipate much greater reductions after 2020,” says Dan Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.

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