Category Archives: Chemical & Engineering News

Synthetic Stones Capture Carbon

While scrubbers in smokestacks at coal plants can pull out toxic gases like sulfur dioxide, scientists haven’t yet developed a cost-effective technology to remove carbon dioxide from industrial exhaust. Now European researchers have tinkered with the chemical composition of limestone to produce a material that absorbs almost twice as much CO2 as the natural mineral can (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es2034697).

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Greening Mortar With Olive Waste

The cement industry is one of the world’s largest producers of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The reason is that cement’s calcium carbonate releases the greenhouse gas. Now researchers have shown that they can replace up to 10% of the cement in mortar mixtures without harming the strength of the widely used masonry paste. The cement’s replacement is environmentally friendly, to boot: a waste product from olive oil production (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es200968a).

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Sewer Sampling Reveals Patterns Of Drug Use

While high school graduates in Oslo, Norway, partied hard for two weeks last spring during the so-called Russ graduation festivities, levels of the drug ecstasy spiked about 10-fold in the city’s sewer system, according to new research. In the past few years, water quality specialists have monitored such illicit drug use through sewage sampling there and in other cities, including London and San Diego, to observe the effects of drug control policies.

However, current analytical methods require expensive equipment to collect water samples and don’t allow for continuous sampling of wastewater. Now researchers demonstrate that so-called passive filters provide an efficient and inexpensive means to measure drug use over weeks in municipal wastewater. With the samplers, they studied the ebbs and flows of 11 drugs in Oslo’s sewers for a year, including during the Russ celebrations (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es201124j).

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