Scientists at the University of Plymouth have been developing methods to `close the loop` on waste and pollution, by finding waste products that can be used to improve soil / plant-growth conditions. At the Society for Experimental Biology conference in Swansea Dr Stuart Lane presented ways in which garden and industrial waste could be recycled to benefit the environment.
In collaboration with Ecological Sciences Limited, Dr Lane`s group investigated a horticultural growth substitute for peat, derived from garden waste products. Because the mining of peat bogs is both unsustainable and ecologically destructive, given that peat bogs take hundreds of years to form and provide a specialised habitat, horticulturalists are seeking to replace traditional methods based on peat with more environmentally friendly alternatives. The EcoSci research project headed by Stephen Bullock experimented with green waste derived compost (GWC) made up of garden waste (such as hedge trimmings and lawn clippings) collected from civic refuse sites. The waste was carefully composted and mixed with coir - coconut husks, another industrial waste product - and composted bark. The GWC was tested against a well-known peat-based commercial product for ten plant species and was found to out-perform the peat product in almost all the parameters tested. GWC is organically accredited and the company is now looking to develop an organic multi-purpose compost.
Dr Lane`s group also investigated a waste product of horticulture. Hydroponics - growing plants without soil - frequently uses rockwall, a loft insulation material that cannot be recycled. Dr Lane set up a hydroponics study where the rockwall was replaced with zeolite, a cystalline solid that acts like a molecular sieve and is used in industrial catalysts and in products such as washing powders. Zeolite effectively retains and exchanges ions, so can be used to `channel` nutrients to plant roots and retain toxic minerals. Dr Lane found that the zeolite provided a good growth medium, regulating minerals and aerating the roots properly, and could be re-used for a number of growth cycles. The group also investigated the safest way of disposing of the zeolite once its ion exchange capacity was spent, by mixing it into soil at concentrations where it would not interfere with the flow of beneficial minerals to plants or release high levels of harmful metals.
Jenny Gimpel | alphagalileo
Finding plastic litter from afar
19.11.2018 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.11.2018 | Information Technology
19.11.2018 | Life Sciences