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Reinvent House Painting Using Christmas Trees

Fresh trees and older, abandoned Christmas trees can both be used, according to the researchers.

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The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is lit up during a ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 6, 2016. VOA

The use of a Christmas tree could soon go beyond the festive period as researchers have found that useful products such as paint and food sweeteners can be made from the chemicals extracted from pine needles used in the tree.

“The tree that decorated your house over the festive period could be turned into paint to decorate your house once again,” said researcher Cynthia Kartey from the University of Sheffield in Britain.

Christmas trees have hundreds of thousands of pine needles which take a long time to decompose compared to other tree leaves. When they rot, they emit huge quantities of greenhouse gases which then contribute to the carbon footprint.

CHristmas Tree
The process is sustainable and creates zero waste Pixabay

The major component (up to 85 per cent) of pine needles is a complex polymer known as lignocellulose. The complexity of this polymer makes using pine needles as a product for biomass energy unattractive and useless to most industrial processes.

“My research has been focused on the breakdown of this complex structure into simple, high-valued industrial chemical feedstocks such as sugars and phenolics, which are used in products like household cleaners and mouthwash,” said Cynthia.

The new research showed that with the aid of heat and solvents such as glycerol, which is cheap and environmentally friendly, the chemical structure of pine needles can be broken down into a liquid product (bio-oil) and a solid by-product (bio-char).

Christmas Tree
These chemicals are used in many industries. Pixabay

The bio-oil typically contains glucose, acetic acid and phenol. These chemicals are used in many industries — glucose in the production of sweeteners for food, acetic acid for making paint, adhesives and even vinegar.

The process is sustainable and creates zero waste as the solid by-product can be useful too in other industrial chemical processes, the University of Sheffield said in a statement on Thursday.

Also Read: Paint, Varnish Exposure may Increase Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

Fresh trees and older, abandoned Christmas trees can both be used, according to the researchers. (IANS)

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Hazardous Chemicals Detected in Plastics Threaten Seabirds

Our previous researches showed that these additives in plastics are transferred from ingested plastics and unfortunately accumulated

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Chemicals, Plastics, Seabirds
"We uncovered that four kinds of UV stabilisers and two brominated flame retardants at detection frequencies of 4.6 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively," said Hideshige Takada, Professor at Tokyo University. Pixabay

Researchers found that hazardous chemicals were detected in plastics eaten by seabirds.

“We uncovered that four kinds of UV stabilisers and two brominated flame retardants at detection frequencies of 4.6 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively,” said Hideshige Takada, Professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

“Our previous researches showed that these additives in plastics are transferred from ingested plastics and unfortunately accumulated in some tissues of seabirds,” Takada added.

For the study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, the researchers carried out non-target survey of additives in 194 pieces of plastics ingested by seabirds, such as Northern Fulmar and Albatross.

Chemicals, Plastics, Seabirds
Researchers found that hazardous chemicals were detected in plastics eaten by seabirds. Pixabay

These additives, which are often hazardous chemicals, are generally blended into most plastics in order to make plastics better, for instance to stabilise polymers against UV degradation or oxidation, to simply add colours and so on.

The findings imply that any of these additives can be detected in the tissue of seabirds which ingest 15 pieces of plastics with probability of 73 per cent.

The study found that ingestion of 15 pieces of plastics per one individual is actually happening in the real-world case of the Albatross.

Also Read- IITians Develop Affordable and Easy to Use Products to Help Boost Woman Hygiene

“We could foresee in the near future that 90 per cent of the individuals would accumulate additives derived from ingested plastics if the number would increase double, that is 30 pieces per individual,” Takada added. (IANS)