Tuesday March 20, 2018
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Forget global warming, Artificial Photosynthesis breakthrough is here to save us



By NewsGram Staff Writer

With increasing levels of harmful gases being released into the environment, the future, indeed, looks bleak.

Well, what about if we could ‘revamp’ those harmful gases into some highly useful things, like biofuels  or plastics?

The good thing is that a group of researchers have essentially taken cues from Mother Nature itself, and thus accomplished the impossible!

By the way, how have the scientists managed to achieve such a remarkable feat?

Here’s how:

The researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed the revolutionary system which essentially mimics photosynthesis.

The system collects Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases before they are let loose into the atmosphere and converts them into acetate, a basic building block for organic compounds.

Then, the acetate can be used to manufacture a diverse array of chemicals, drugs and alternative fuels.

All this is done through creation of an ‘artificial forest’ of Silicon and Titanium Dioxide nanowires, which are seeded with bacterial populations.

Scientists believe that system has the potential to revolutionize the chemical and oil industry. The system can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground.

So, is it time to say goodbye to greenhouse gases?

As of now, the system boasts of an efficiency of 0.38 per cent, close to the natural process of photosynthesis. However, researchers believe that soon they would manage to increase it to 3 per cent. And, the system would be embraced on a large scale once it begins to gain traction.

“Once we can reach a conversion efficiency of 10 per cent in a cost-effective manner, the technology should be commercially viable,” said Christopher Chang, a chemist and biosynthesis expert.

The environment can hopefully breathe easy now.

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Report: Narcotics Consumption, Production Up Significantly Worldwide

“Poppy harvest that you see in so many countries throughout South America, as you do in Mexico, en route to the United States has increased by a significant amount as registered in the report,”

Posters comparing lethal amounts of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil are on display during a news conference about the dangers of fentanyl at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Va., June 6, 2017. VOA

Illegal heroin and fentanyl exports from Mexico to the United States are on the rise, according to World Drug Report 2017 compiled by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and backed by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Speaking in Mexico City, as the report, which tracks narcotics consumption and production throughout the world, was released Thursday, INCB President Raul Martin del Campo noted the significant increase of drug use around the world, highlighting the harvest and trafficking of illicit drugs in and from South America.

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“Poppy harvest that you see in so many countries throughout South America, as you do in Mexico, en route to the United States has increased by a significant amount as registered in the report,” he said. “Fentanyl precursors have also been detected as entering the country, and that is having a consequence with respect to the composition of these drugs that are being exported illegally.”

Three-quarters of the cocaine consumed in Mexico comes from Mexico and Central America, the report noted. Pixabay

Fentanyl interceptions skyrocket

Seizures of fentanyl, a significant contributor to the epidemic of overdose deaths, by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection increased from less than 1 kilogram in 2013 to about 200 kilograms in 2016, the INCB said.

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Mexico is under increasing pressure to combat drug trafficking after more than 25,000 homicides were recorded last year across the country as rival drug gangs increasingly splintered into smaller, more violent groups. (VOA)