1. An MIT spinout aims to use X-rays to melt rock and repurpose coal and gas plants into deep geothermal wells - effectively transforming dirty fossil-fuel plants into clean ones. The brain behind the concept is a research engineer in MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center, Paul Woskov. The engineer has spent the last 14 years developing a method that may bring an abandoned coal power plant back online, entirely carbon-free, within a decade. And his method, which is being commercialized by a company named Quaise Energy, could work on nearly every coal and gas power plant on our planet, according to a press release. Ultimately, the company intends to up the ante by vaporizing enough rock to create the world's deepest holes and capture geothermal energy on a scale large enough to meet human energy needs for millions of years. Imagine that. (Sources: news.mit.edu, interestingengineering.com, quaise.energy)
2. The environment ministers from the European Union's 27-member states struck a deal to approve a raft of measures to combat climate change in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The agreement came after over 16 hours of negotiations in Luxembourg over proposed climate laws — and included a compromise on phasing out new fossil fuel car sales as of 2035. "The Council also agreed to introduce a 100% CO2 emissions reduction target by 2035 for new cars and vans," the ministers said in a statement. The agreement effectively means that no new cars with internal combustion engines will be allowed to be sold in the bloc starting from 2035. (Source: dw.com)
3. Global cement production accounts for 7% of annual greenhouse gas emissions in large part through the burning of quarried limestone. Now, a CU Boulder-led research team has figured out a way to make cement production carbon neutral—and even carbon negative—by pulling carbon dioxide out of the air with the help of microalgae. The CU Boulder engineers and their colleagues at the Algal Resources Collection at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have been rewarded for their innovative work with a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E). The research team was recently selected by the HESTIA program (Harnessing Emissions into Structures Taking Inputs from the Atmosphere) to develop and scale up the manufacture of biogenic limestone-based portland cement and help build a zero-carbon future. (Source: colorado.edu)
4. The aging brains of people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are suffused with telltale aggregates of proteins in or around their neurons. How these protein clumps might be harming the neurons is often still unclear, but they are hallmarks of the conditions — and until now, they have been associated almost exclusively with elderly brains. But a recent study by a team of Stanford University researchers suggests that protein aggregation may be a universal phenomenon in aging cells and could be involved in many more diseases of aging than was suspected. Their discovery points to a new way of thinking about what goes wrong in cells as they age and, potentially, to new ways of staving off some consequences of the aging process. “This is widespread — it’s not just one specific tissue, it’s lots of different tissues,” said Della David, a researcher on aging at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, England, who was not part of the study. (Source: quantamagazine.org)
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