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Physical Sciences

What is on the horizon for global carbon emissions?

On Dec. 5, the Global Carbon Project published the Global Carbon Budget 2018, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain was among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. Jain talked about the carbon budget and this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian.

Team converts wet biological waste to diesel-compatible fuel

In a step toward producing renewable engine fuels that are compatible with existing diesel fuel infrastructure, researchers report they can convert wet biowaste, such as swine manure and food scraps, into a fuel that can be blended with diesel and that shares diesel’s combustion efficiency and emissions profile.

They report their findings in the journal Nature Sustainability.

Can we talk about the Illinois climate?

Jim Angel, the Illinois state climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with him about his career, climate change and the National Climate Assessment released on Black Friday.

Nine Illinois researchers rank among world’s most influential

Nine faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2018 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.

Four Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows

Four professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are: mechanical science and engineering professor Narayana Aluru, computer science professor William Gropp and plant biology professors Andrew Leakey and Ray Ming.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health

Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health – lower obesity rates. A new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign compares data from two years to find that a single percentage-point increase in mass transit ridership is associated with a 0.473 percentage-point lower obesity rate in counties across the United States.

Diagnostic tool helps engineers to design better global infrastructure solutions

Designing safe bridges and water systems for low-income communities is not always easy for engineers coming from highly industrialized places. A new discipline called contextual engineering helps engineers think beyond personal values, expectations and definitions of project success when tackling global infrastructure problems.

Monster hurricanes: Why have recent storms been so huge?

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as the first Category 4 storm in recorded history to reach shore in the northeast Gulf Coast. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with Illinois atmospheric sciences professor Deanna Hence about the storm’s size, strength and path, and the impact of global climate change on future hurricanes. 

New, highly stable catalyst may help turn water into fuel

Breaking the bonds between oxygen and hydrogen in water could be a key to the creation of hydrogen in a sustainable manner, but finding an economically viable technique for this has proved difficult. Researchers report a new hydrogen-generating catalyst that clears many of the obstacles – abundance, stability in acid conditions and efficiency.

Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilms

Stiff microbial films often coat medical devices, household items and infrastructure such as the inside of water supply pipes, and can lead to dangerous infections. Researchers have developed a system that harnesses the power of bubbles to propel tiny particles through the surfaces of these tough films and deliver an antiseptic deathblow to the microbes living inside.

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