New conversion process turns biomass ‘waste’ into lucrative chemical products

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets.A team of researchers from a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. —> Read More Here

Arctic Losing Snow And Ice, Absorbing More Heat, Federal Report Says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Arctic and its future are looking dimmer every year, a new federal report says.

In the spring and summer of 2014, Earth’s icy northern region lost more of its signature whiteness that reflects the sun’s heat. It was replaced temporarily with dark land and water that absorbs more energy, keeping yet more heat on already warming planet, according to the Arctic report card issued Thursday.

Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.

Overall, the report card written by 63 scientists from 13 countries shows few single-year dramatic changes, unlike other years. It illustrates instead a relentless decline in cold, snow and ice conditions and how they combine with each other. And several of those have to do with how the Arctic reflects sun heat

The Arctic’s drop in reflectivity is crucial because “it plays a role like a thermostat in regulating global climate,” said report lead editor Martin Jeffries, an —> Read More Here

Actually, There Were Many Paleo Diets

Paleoanthropologists are pretty amused by the faddish Paleo Diet. And now a review of studies on hominid evolution is using environmental and chemical evidence to prove, once and for all, that there was no such thing as “clean eating” during the Stone Age.

The research, published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, pretty clearly establishes that early humans didn’t have any one eating pattern. Instead, diet in the era of early hominids was catch as catch can — and, of course, regionally specific.

While hunter-gatherer groups in northern climates likely ate a diet heavy in animals, reported the researchers, those in more growth-friendly southern climes were probably plant eaters. Very few had what we might call “optimal” diets and instead ate for survival rather than performance. In other words, little virtue was likely ascribed to eating and food choice.

“Everyone would agree that ancestral diets didn’t include Twinkies, but I’m sure our ancestors would have eaten them if they grew on trees,” study author Ken Sayers, Ph.D., said in a statement. “They were simply acquiring enough calories to survive and reproduce.”

Since these people only lived until about age 30, food’s effect on health was likely not a concern — —> Read More Here

1 2 3 992