Bubble Sense (Day 174)

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Many chemical engineers will be familiar with bubbles and foams. They are used widely in foods, drinks, cosmetics, cleaning products… just to name a few.

The benefits of bubbles in products like these are generally self-evident, but, remarkably, they are also being used to help us understand how the very first living cells on Earth might have survived billions of years ago.

If this wasn’t significant enough, the ability of some bubbles to sense their environment to deliver drugs to the right place is being developed at the University of California – Davis (UC Davis), US, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The video above demonstrates how tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment. Billions of years ago, such emergent behavior could have allowed the earliest living cells to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Continue reading Bubble Sense (Day 174)

The next generation of ultra-fast charging batteries (Day 171)

Associate professor Chen holding the ultra-fast rechargeable batteries. Image courtesy of Nanyang Technological University
Associate professor Chen holding ultra-fast rechargeable batteries. Image courtesy of Nanyang Technological University

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have been in the situation where our phone batteries have run out of power at the most inconvenient time. And waiting for it to recharge takes longer than expected; it can be one of the most frustrating things in modern day life.

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) from the School of Materials Science and Engineering have tackled this problem by developing new fast-charging, next generation lithium-ion batteries.

Continue reading The next generation of ultra-fast charging batteries (Day 171)

Innovation for water for life (Day 152)

Arid groundThe World Health Organisation’s (WHO) prediction that over two thirds of the world’s population will face living with severe water shortages by 2050 is daunting.

The combination of population growth, climate change and dwindling resources make this a complex problem.

As someone who lives in the UK, this is something that has not really affected us. There have been summers when the water companies impose bans on using hose pipes to water gardens and wash cars. It makes the news headlines and interrupts daily lives, but a dirty car is nothing compared to the problems experienced elsewhere.

In other areas of the world, water scarcity is a daily reality – it’s not just areas of famine hit Africa, but the Middle East and Singapore too. We will all have to address this challenge, in our homes and in the industries that we work in.

Continue reading Innovation for water for life (Day 152)