Friday, 13 December 2019

Breakthrough: NTU scientists devise method to turn plastic waste into valuable chemicals using sunlight

Asst Prof Soo Han Sen, from NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, holds a vial with a mixture that dissolves plastic when combined with sunlight. Source: todayonline
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have devised a way to turn non-biodegradable plastic waste into valuable chemicals using sunlight.

The technique uses a low-toxicity “catalyst” to dissolve the plastic molecules through exposure to sunlight, said Assistant Professor Soo Han Sen, who led a team of five scientists on the project.

At a press conference on Wednesday (Dec 11), Asst Prof Soo said the process resulted in formic acid – a highly versatile natural chemical that can be used as a food preservative, antibacterial cleaning agent or in fuel cells for hydrogen energy.

“The market for formic acid is millions of tonnes every year,” said the chemist from NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

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Obituary: Ann Elizabeth Wee, 'founding mother' of social work in Singapore, dies aged 93

Mrs Ann Elizabeth Wee, often described as the founding mother of social work in Singapore, died on Wednesday (Dec 11), aged 93.

Tributes have flooded in for Mrs Wee, who for more than six decades championed social work and advocated for those less fortunate.

Described as an “inspiration to social workers and women everywhere” by the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame, Mrs Wee — the longest-serving head of the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore (NUS) — was also recognised for her work with children and young people.

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My photo - waterhen flying

A public domain photo by me

Air pollution tied to hospitalizations for wide range of illnesses

Older adults who are exposed to tiny particles in air pollution for just a day or two are more likely to be hospitalized for a wide variety of common health problems, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers focused on so-called PM 2.5, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke. They confirmed previously-known links between short-term exposure to PM 2.5 and an increased risk of hospitalization and death from heart and lung diseases, diabetes, and clots in the large veins of the legs. They also found new links between short-term exposure and increased hospitalizations for conditions ranging from sepsis to kidney failure.

The study team examined hospital data for Medicare patients nationwide from 2000 to 2012. They focused on 214 different health conditions, and looked at data on average air pollution levels the day before and the day of each hospitalization based on patients' home zip codes.

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