The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as many as 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to adequate toilet facilities.
Poor sanitation results in contaminated drinking water and the spread of infectious diseases including Cholera and Dysentery, which cause severe diarrhoea, dehydration and if left untreated, death (see my blog, ‘Everyone should have a human right to water’).
Every year, around 1.5 million people – mostly children under five years old – die from diarrhoea. Drastic action is needed in order to make safe sanitation accessible to all.
Maple syrup can render bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics.
The syrup, which is produced by concentrating the sap from North American maple trees, is a rich source of phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties.
And it is these antioxidant properties that prompted the team, led by Professor Nathalie Tufenkji, investigate the potential of maple syrup.
The team began by removing a concentrated extract from the syrup. They tested this extract on several infection-causing strains of bacteria, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection).
The syrup was mildly effective combating the bacteria on its own. However, once mixed with the antibiotics the maple syrup was particularly effective; seemingly synchronising its assault with the pharmaceutical ingredient.
For most girls, their first menstrual cycle is awkward and embarrassing, but seen as a natural transition towards womanhood. However, in Ethiopia it can be an incredibly taboo subject. As a consequence, misinformation, negative beliefs and myths hold sway.
In the rural Tigray region of Ethiopia, where chemical engineer Freweini Mebrahtu grew up, young girls found out about their menstrual cycle through overheard rumour and myth; often leaving them shocked, confused and afraid.
In the UK this week, it is Parkinson’s Awareness Week. The aim is to raise awareness of the disease by doing a good deed and tweeting about it using #upyourfriendly.
We can all get involved; just by being nice to the people we meet. You can make new friends and maybe someone’s life a little easier without even knowing it. Check out the campaign to learn more.
With this strategy in mind, I thought I’d raise awareness of the work of some chemical engineers who are definitely ‘up-ing their friendly’ by working behind the scenes to help combat the symptoms of this debilitating disease.
Parkinson’s disease affects one in every 500 people. That’s an estimated 127,000 people in the UK – or around 8.5 million globally.
It is a progressive neurological condition that affects nerve cells in the brain, causing them to die. This results in lower dopamine levels in the body with serious implications for mobility and emotional behaviour.
At a first glance, some products only have one function. For example, the loose-fill packing peanuts that make shipping fragile items easier.
Packing peanuts normally end up in landfill sites where they remain intact for decades and as they’re difficult to breakdown, only around 10 per cent are recycled in the US.
So, researchers from Purdue University, US, did some clever thinking and found a way to convert packing peanuts into carbon electrodes that can outperform the conventional graphite electrodes found in lithium ion batteries.
It all started when Professor Vilas Pol, an associate professor of chemical engineering, and his postdoctoral researcher, Vinodkumar Etacheri, were unpacking boxes filled with instruments for Vilas’ new lab. After emptying the boxes, they had great new lab full of instruments and a surplus of packing peanuts.
The UN General Assembly designated 2015 as the International Year of Light. A global initiative to highlight the importance of light and lighting technologies to societal development.
It provides an opportunity to inspire, educate, and connect people on a global scale. It is anticipated that the International Year of Light will inspire people to think of new ideas, new solutions and new products for the future.
Which brings me rather neatly to a solar project that caught my eye recently.
In my blog, ‘the sweet smell of success‘, I discussed the use of ionic liquids – salt in a liquid state as a result of poor ionic co-ordination – in perfumes and alluded to other fields of research where they are used. Today I’m delving a little further and shining a light on the use of ionic liquids in biofuels.
Researchers at North Carolina State University, US, (NCSU) are investigating the use of ionic liquids to strip lignin from plant cells. Their aim is to find a cost-effective method of processing biomass for biofuel production.
Lignin is a complex phenolic polymer that is found in plant cell walls. It plays an important structural role, providing the plant with strength and rigidity due to a cross-linked structure that is difficult to break down. After cellulose, it is the most abundant source of renewable carbon on earth.
A project that highlights their novel way of thinking involved working with Severn Trent to upgrade their Strensham water treatment works in Worcestershire, UK. Severn Trent, a leading utility company, had set challenging efficiency targets.
However, all this needed to be done without disrupting the water supply to 350,000 customers. And they wanted the project completed in less than 88 weeks, which is pretty demanding for the water industry.
We all want to make a good first impression, but when we feel anxious our body responds by sweating and this can result in an unappealing body odour.
When we want to make the right impact at an interview or on a date, we need a little help to make sure we are smelling fresh.
So fear not. There’s now a perfume that improves its performance the more we sweat.
Researchers at the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre in Belfast have developed a unique perfume. It releases its aroma the more it comes into contact with moisture. So the more you sweat, the better you smell!
As one industry cuts back on jobs due to the recession, another blooms. Last year $8.5 billion was spent in US nail bars. That’s a $1 billion increase since 2012.
So why are more people visiting nail bars now, than when times weren’t so tight and we had more cash in our pockets?
One explanation is the ‘lipstick effect’. When our budgets are squeezed, rather than losing the taste to splurge we simply trade large extravagancies for cheaper luxuries to cheer ourselves up. Cue the nail bar, manicures and chemical engineering.
They are one of only a handful of companies involved in every aspect of pharmaceutical production from start to finish; from research to supply. So next time you pick up a prescription, there’s a good chance that AstraZeneca might have been involved.