Carbon dioxide Scientists have found a way to make their asphalt-based sorbents better at capturing carbon dioxide from gas wells: Adding water.

The lab of chemist James Tour, a chair in chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice University, discovered that treating grains of inexpensive Gilsonite asphalt with water allows the material to adsorb more than two times its weight in the greenhouse gas. The treated asphalt selects carbon dioxide over valuable methane at a ratio of more than 200-to-1.

The material performs well at ambient temperatures and under the pressures typically found at wellheads. When the pressure abates, the material releases the carbon dioxide, which can then be stored, sold for other industrial uses, or pumped back downhole.

Natural gas at the wellhead typically contains between 3 and 7 percent carbon dioxide, but at some locations may contain up to 70 percent. Oil and gas producers traditionally use one of two strategies to sequester carbon dioxide: physically through the use of membranes or solid sorbents like zeolites or porous carbons, or chemically through filtering with liquid amine, a derivative of ammonia.

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Leah Ellis Student AwardEach year, the ECS Canada Section recognizes a deserving PhD student from a Canadian university for academic achievements in our multi-disciplinary fields though the Canada Section Student Award. The award was established in 1987 to recognize promising young engineers and scientists and to promote careers in electrochemistry and solid state science and technology. Recipients receive a $1,500 (CAD) prize.

Leah Ellis’ broad academic interests include surface analysis, materials science, and green chemistry. She obtained her Bachelor’s (2011) and Master’s (2013) degrees in chemistry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, studying alloy-based anode materials for sodium-ion batteries with Dr. Mark Obrovac. During this period, she was awarded an internship at Tesla’s research facility in Palo Alto, California.

Upon completion of her M.Sc., Leah spent one year as an intern at E-One Moli Energy in British Columbia, Canada, working on lithium-ion cell testing and development. Before commencing her PhD, she crossed the continent of Africa on a bicycle. Presently, Leah is completing her PhD, under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Dahn at Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on increasing the energy density, extending the lifetime, and reducing the cost of lithium-ion batteries, especially for automotive and grid storage applications.

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Transforming Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxideCarbon dioxide accounts for over 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. For many, carbon dioxide emissions account for significant environmental issues, but for researchers like Haotian Wang of Harvard University, carbon dioxide could be the perfect raw material.

According to a new study, Wang and his team are well on the way to developing a system that uses renewable electricity to electrochemically transform carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide could then be used in a host of industrial processes, such as plastics production, creating hydrocarbon products, or as a fuel itself.

This from Harvard University:

The energy conversion efficiency from sunlight to CO can be as high as 12.7%, more than one order of magnitude higher than natural photosynthesis.

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Carbon NanotubesThe introduction of purified carbon nanotubes appears to have a beneficial effect on the early growth of wheatgrass, according to scientists. But in the presence of contaminants, those same nanotubes could do great harm.

The Rice University lab of chemist Andrew Barron grew wheatgrass in a hydroponic garden to test the potential toxicity of nanoparticles on the plant. To their surprise, they found one type of particle dispersed in water helped the plant grow bigger and faster.

They suspect the results spring from nanotubes’ natural hydrophobic (water-avoiding) nature that in one experiment apparently facilitated the plants’ enhanced uptake of water.

The lab mounted the small-scale study with the knowledge that the industrial production of nanotubes will inevitably lead to their wider dispersal in the environment. The study cites rapid growth in the market for nanoparticles in drugs, cosmetics, fabrics, water filters, and military weapons, with thousands of tons produced annually.

Despite their widespread use, Barron says few researchers have looked at the impact of environmental nanoparticles—whether natural or human-made—on plant growth.

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ORCID Requirement to Take Effect

ORCIDAs of January 1, 2018, ECS will require all corresponding authors to have an ORCID iD in order to submit to the Journal of The Electrochemical Society or the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology.

This requirement comes as part of ECS’s enduring commitment to open science. In addition to streamlining documentation processes for authors and publishers, ORCID facilitates trusted connections that advance scientific discovery, collaboration, and innovation. Learn more about this requirement.

How can you prepare? All you have to do is register! Registration is free, takes 30 seconds, and provides you immediate benefits. ECS recommends that all authors register, regardless of whether or not they will serve as a corresponding author.

ORCID iDs will be published in accepted articles and included in articles’ metadata to improve content discoverability and citation. See where.

Contributing authors who would like their ORCID iDs displayed along with the corresponding author’s iD will need to update their profiles in ECSxPress with their ORCID iDs prior to their paper’s acceptance.

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Why Exhibit with ECS?

Exhibit FloorAt the 2017 ECS biannual meetings, we had a total of 4,340 attendees from all over the world. Besides listening to the over 3,503 talks, and taking in 941 posters they were presented with the latest available electrochemistry and solid state science and technology products and services.

At each of the ECS biannual meetings we have an exhibition that brings together about 30 business at each meeting. The exhibit hall becomes a showcase for each company’s offerings to ECS constituents.

During the 232nd ECS Meeting this past fall, we met with a few of our long time exhibitors to ask them why they come to ECS meetings. They told us that ECS meetings allow them to connect with current customers and to form new relationships. Exhibitors use the opportunity to answer questions and gain feedback from the scientists and engineers who are actually using their products in labs around the globe. And, in some cases, they have formed lasting friendships. More than one exhibitor described each meeting as a family reunion.

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A new article from The Scholarly Kitchen provides a good summary (and a short read) of a recent action against a particular predatory publisher (OMICS) and why that’s important. As the last, independent nonprofit publisher in the top-ranked journals in our field, ECS lives up to its obligations to the community to maintain very high standards: dedication to mission, rigorous peer review, and transparency in our open access publishing practices.

Commercial publishers represent a major challenge for a scholarly society like ECS to uphold those standards and meet our mission; but the open access environment has created even more challenges. Authors have these same challenges. So it bears repeating that there are some “best practices” to which we should all do our best to adhere: carefully vet journals where we are submitting; create awareness with our various constituents (members, students, colleagues) that there are “good” and “not good” places to publish; and do a periodic Web scan of own own names from time to time to make sure we have not been added to an editorial or advisory board without our knowledge, which can compromise our personal identity and standing in the community.

ECS will continue to work toward its Free the Science goals to create a more open, but responsible, scholarly communications ecosystem.

Researchers have developed a prototype device that mimics natural photosynthesis to produce ethylene gas using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.

The novel method, which produces ethylene at room temperature and pressure using benign chemicals, could be scaled up to provide a more eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to the current method of ethylene production.

Ethylene, which is the building block of polyethylene, is an important chemical feedstock produced in large quantities for manufacturing plastics, rubber, and fibers. More than 170 million tons of ethylene were produced worldwide in 2015 alone, and the global demand is expected to exceed 220 million tons by 2020.

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BiofuelNew research stitches together the best parts of several different bacteria to synthesize a new biofuel product that matches current engines better than previously produced biofuels.

“My lab is interested in developing microbial biosynthetic processes to make biofuels, chemicals, and materials with tailored structures and properties,” says Fuzhong Zhang, associate professor at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis. “Previously, we engineered E.coli to produce a precursor compound that leads to the production of advanced biofuels. In this work, we took the next step toward the actual manufacture.”

Zhang’s research focuses on engineering metabolic pathways that, when optimized, allow the bacteria to act as a biofuel generator. In its latest findings, recently published in Biotechnology for Biofuels, Zhang’s lab used the best bits of several other species—including a well-known pathogen—to enable E. coli to produce branched, long-chain fatty alcohol (BLFL), a substance that can be used as a freeze-resistant, liquid biofuel.

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Ask ECS Anything!

On Thursday, December 14, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST, ECS President Johna Leddy and ECS Transactions Editor Jeffrey Fergus will answer your questions about open science, the Free the Science initiative, and the Society’s forthcoming preprint server, ECSarXiv, during ECS’s second Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA).

The online discussion will take place as part of the /r/Science community’s Science AMA Series. All are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the discussion.

Any questions related to the topics listed above are fair game. Start preparing yours!

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