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August 04, 2017: Finding underground methane gas leaks is now as easy as finding a McDonalds, thanks to a combination of Google Street View cars, mobile methane detectors, some major computing power and a lot of ingenuity.
When a city’s underground gas lines leak, they waste fuel and release invisible plumes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. To find and measure leaks, Colorado State University biologist Joe von Fischer decided to create “methane maps,” to make it easier for utilities to identify the biggest leaks, and repair them.
“That’s where you get the greatest bang for the buck,” he pointed out, “the greatest pollution reductions per repair.”
Knowing that Google Maps start with Google Street View cars recording everything they drive by, along with their GPS locations, von Fischer’s team thought they would just add methane detectors to a Street View car. It turned out, it was not that simple.
The world’s best methane detectors are accurate in an area the size of a teacup, but methane leaks can be wider than a street. Also, no one had ever measured the size of a methane leak from a moving car.
“If you’ve ever seen a plume of smoke, it’s sort of a lumpy, irregular object,” von Fischer said. “Methane plumes as they come out of the ground are the same, they’re lumpy squirrelly objects.”
The team had to develop a way to capture data about those plumes, one that would be accurate in the real world. They set up a test site in an abandoned airfield near campus and brought in what looked like a large scuba tank filled with methane and some air hoses. Then they released carefully measured methane through the hose as von Fischer drove a specially equipped SUV past it, again and again.
They compared readings from the methane detectors in the SUV to readings from the tank.
“We spend a lot of time driving through the plumes to sort of calibrate the way that those cars see methane plumes that form as methane’s being emitted from the ground,” von Fischer explained.
With that understanding, the methane detectors hit the road.
Turning data into maps
But the results created pages of data, “more than 30 million points,” said CSU computer scientist Johnson Kathkikiaran. He knew that all those data points alone would never help people find the biggest leaks on any map. So he and his advisor, Sanmi Peracara, turned the data into pictures using tools from Google.
Their visual summaries made it easy for utility experts to analyze the methane maps, but von Fischer wanted anyone to be able to identify the worst leaks. His teammates at the Environmental Defense Fund met that challenge by incorporating the data into their online maps. Yellow dots indicate a small methane leak. Orange is a medium-sized one. Red means a big leak – as much pollution as one car driving 14,000 kilometers in a single day.
Von Fischer says that if a city focuses on these biggest leaks, repairing just 8 percent of them can reduce methane pollution by a third.
“That becomes a win-win type scenario,” he said, “because we’re not asking polluters to fix everything, but we’re looking for a reduction in overall emissions, and I think we can achieve that in a more cost effective way.”
After analyzing a methane map for the state of New Jersey, for example, the utility PSE&G has prioritized fixing its leakiest pipes there first, to speed the reduction of their overall pollution.
“To me that was a real victory, to be able to help the utility find which parts were leakiest, and to make a cost effective reduction in their overall emissions,” von Fischer said.
Von Fischer envisions, even more, innovation ahead for mapping many kinds of pollution… to clean the air and save energy. (VOA)
Canadian researchers have discovered an overlooked gene that plays a major role in the development of antibodies, which help the immune system recognize and fight viruses including SARS-CoV-2, bacteria and other causes of infectious disease. The gene -- FAM72A -- facilitates production of high-quality antibodies by enabling the effect of an enzyme called AID (for Activation-Induced Deaminase), the researchers showed.
Immunologists have known for two decades that AID is essential to produce antibodies capable of clearing infections, but the full mechanism of its effect has remained unknown. "Our findings answer the long-standing question of how AID does its work," said Alberto Martin, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine. "FAM72A helps AID to promote mutations in antibody genes that are essential for the development of effective antibodies," he added.
Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. | Pixabay
Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. In the context of antibody development, mutagenesis unfolds largely through the AID-driven mechanisms called somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination -- both of which help antibodies gain the diversity and potency they need to counter a wide range of pathogens.
The results published in the journal Nature will help researchers better understand antibody development broadly, but they also have implications for cancer. Uncontrolled mutagenesis in B cells that produce antibodies is linked to B cell lymphoma, and FAM72A is present at very high levels in other cancers such as gastrointestinal, breast, lung, liver and ovarian cancers.
"Our data show that high levels of FAM72A promote mutations in antibody genes, so increased levels of FAM72A could spur cancer development, progression or drug resistance by increasing mutagenesis,a Martin said. Martin's team is now exploring those possibilities. Intriguingly, unlike other mammals, humans have four gene versions of FAM72A and their roles in cancer and antibody production are still unknown. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: researchers, cancer, mutagenesis, antibody, development, antibodies, canada, COVID
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur at a total cost of Rs 301.92 crore, moving steadily towards its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. MCL has placed a turnkey order to set-up a 50 MW solar power plant with a Chennai-based firm M/s Hild Energy Ltd, which will establish this green energy project within a timeline of 10 months, the MCL said in a statement on Saturday.
This solar plant would cater to the captive power requirement of MCL. The Central PSU had successfully set-up a 2MW solar power plant in Sambalpur in 2014. The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024 in order to become a net zero energy company, aligning itself to use cleaner forms of energy for coal production.
The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024. | Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash
This 50 MW solar power project will reduce CO2 emission by 91,020 tonnes per annum and carbon offsets of around 24,824 tonnes per annum, claimed the MCL. MCL is the leading production subsidiary of Coal India, having mining operations in Angul, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts of Odisha. Having achieved the highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 2,419 crore in the financial year 2020-21, the company has coal production and dispatch targets of 163 million tonnes and 182 million tonnes, respectively.
MCL was the coal mining company to introduce environment-friendly surface miner technology, which contributes over 95 per cent in coal production. As another environment-friendly initiative, the company has successfully introduced vertical rippers for blast-less over-burden removal in Hingula and Kaniha opencast projects. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: solar plant, carbon neutrality, Odisha, Sambalpur, Coal India, subsidiary, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, solar energy
As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.
Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,
"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."
He then posted the picture followed by elaborate paragraphs. The megastar wrote,
"Those rare moments when one would find himself rushing against the winds to prevent the distance between us and to close it down as soon as it can be. The day of my wedding and his expression of fulfilment to not just be in congratulation but instead to be in the face of a belief, a chime, an ultimate season of love and great passion, of the quarries of the fears and conditionings of these deprived gym routines kart ..(sic)". "This could have been unknown for long facilitating years, to give not expected versions and lastly large scale informations of the insides ; but as time passed by, as does now , they explained purposely, the values of education and similarity .. Be in peace and love .. (sic)",
the veteran actor concluded his note. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Amitabh Bachchan, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, actor, blog, birth anniversary, 114th birthday