Gas leaks can be potentially life threatening in the home, but the presence of gas stresses out plants too. Professor Mike Steven and colleagues from the University of Nottingham have found that changes in the physical properties of plants can act as an early warning of leaks in natural gas pipelines. “Our study was about testing the ability of satellite remote systems to monitor gas leaks via the spectrum of reflected light from plants, which changes when the plants are stressed”, says Steven. “A satellite image of the stress responses in vegetation should identify gas leaks at least as well as a visual report from a helicopter, which is the current method, and would be safer and possibly cheaper.” Steven will present his research on Thursday 6th April at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Main Meeting in Canterbury [session P3]
Satellite image of gas leaks from a pipe supplied by Prof. Mike Stevens
In the UK in 2001, emission of methane from the gas distribution system was 16% of the total UK methane emissions; such losses are not only costly to the gas distributors, but can contribute to global warming since methane has a global warming potential about 8 times that of CO2. When plant roots are starved of oxygen the stress caused to the plant can be quantified from the spectral quality of light reflected from the leaves, even before the plant looks to be stressed. In the area surrounding a gas leak the escaping methane means the plant roots cannot get enough oxygen and so aerial parts of the plant appear stressed in satellite images detecting reflected light.
This remote-sensing technology can be used to detect any type of stress that causes asphyxiation of the plant roots. Steven and his colleagues are already considering other uses for the detection system. One such application may be to detect carbon dioxide leaking from underground stores used in proposed carbon capture and storage schemes. These stores are intended to help to prevent global warming: the argument is that if CO2 is sequestered indefinitely in underground reservoirs then it can’t be acting to absorb heat in the earth’s atmosphere. “Our own research attempts to address some of the issues related to public acceptability and safety: Will there be leaks? What environmental effects will any leaks have? Can we detect leaks?” says Steven.
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15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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