Effects of carbon-based nanomaterials on seed germination

Bioenergy crops are an attractive option for use in energy production. A good plant candidate for bioenergy applications should produce a high amount of biomass and resist harsh environmental conditions. Carbon-based nanomaterials (CBNs) have been described as promising seed germination and plant growth regulators. In this paper, we tested the impact of two CBNs: graphene and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) on germination and biomass production of two major bioenergy crops (sorghum and switchgrass). The application of graphene and CNTs increased the germination rate of switchgrass seeds and led to an early germination of sorghum seeds. The exposure of switchgrass to graphene (200 mg/l) resulted in a 28% increase of total biomass produced compared to untreated plants. We tested the impact of CBNs on bioenergy crops under salt stress conditions and discovered that CBNs can significantly reduce symptoms of salt stress imposed by the addition of NaCl into the growth medium. Using an ion selective electrode, we demonstrated that the concentration of Na+ ions in NaCl solution can be significantly decreased by the addition of CNTs to the salt solution. Our data confirmed the potential of CBNs as plant growth regulators for non-food crops and demonstrated the role of CBNs in the protection of plants against salt stress by desalination of saline growth medium.

The use of fossil fuels has accelerated since the dawn of the industrial revolution and demand will increase dramatically in response to an ever-increasing population and by a higher need for energy by mechanization [1]. It is reported that the energy demand will be increased by more than 50% due to rapid progress in all sectors including infrastructure development by the year 2025 [2]. However, the predominant fossil fuel power source is restricted [3]. Limited resources, controversy, environmental concerns and frequently increasing prices associated with the fossil fuels underscore the need to develop an alternative source of energy [4]. For this reason, scientists are looking to bioenergy as a complement to fossil fuels. The concept of bioenergy refers to new alternate renewable energy from biological materials that can generate heat, electricity and transportation fuels [5]. Any plant materials that are used to produce energy are referenced as bioenergy crops. Bioenergy crops are mainly cultivated for power generation including electricity, heat, and liquid fuels for transportation of motor vehicle [6]. Moreover, growing practice of bioenergy crops helps to reduce our dependence on existing fossil energy, reduce global warming by lowering the greenhouse gas, as well as creates job opportunities for thousands of people globally [7]. Bioenergy crops can be cultivated in marginal soils as an energy source due to their potential for a higher amount of biomass production [8] with a low requirement for fertilizers and irrigation. Currently, many countries (mainly Europe, USA, Brazil and Australia) have implemented policies to encourage energy production from plants. It is estimated that about 273–1381 EJ/energy is provided by bioenergy [9]. Early seed germination with higher germination rate, fast growth, and development, larger biomass yield, and tolerance to stresses are pivotal features of potential bioenergy crops [10].

The productivity of plants, including bioenergy crops, is limited by several critical factors such as genetic potential, biotic, abiotic, and nutritional stress. Thus, the search for new technologies that can lead to the enhancement of plant productivity is a constant task. It was demonstrated recently that certain nanomaterials may regulate productivity by the enhancement of plant growth [11]. Our laboratory discovered that a wide range of CBNs in low doses can activate seed germination [11], plant growth, and development of model plants as well as crop species such as barley, corn, and soybean [11–17]. The uptake and accumulation of CBNs in exposed plant tissues was confirmed using microscopy (TEM) and spectroscopy (Raman Spectroscopy) [12, 15, 17]. Recently, the exact concentration of CBNs absorbed by exposed plants including carbon nanotubes and carbon nanohorns was measured by the microwave induced heating (MIH) technique in different plant organs [16, 18]. The documented presence of nanomaterials used as plant growth regulators can be taken as an alarming sign of a possible transfer of CBNs in the food chain by consumption of crops contaminated with nanomaterials. Thus, the potential toxicity of CBN-contaminated food derived from agricultural crops exposed to CBNs has to be investigated experimentally. However, concern about the safety of use of CBNs for plant growth regulation can be less significant if nanomaterials will be applied to non-food plant species such as bioenergy crops which are not subject to food consumption. Here, we describe the efficiency of two types of CBNs, graphene and multi-walled CNTs, for regulation of seed germination and activation of biomass production of two different bioenergy crops Sorghum bicolor L. Moench and Panicum virgatum L. We also made an attempt to understand how the application of CBNs will affect the abiotic stress response of exposed bioenergy species. It was previously reported that carbon nanotube membranes are efficient for desalination of salty water [19, 20]. It is well known that salt stress is one of the major abiotic factors that limits sustainable crop production throughout the world [21]. A higher level of soil salinity limits seed germination as well as growth and development of plants [22]. Salt stress is responsible for the reduction of the tremendous amount of biomass accumulation of energy crops (Miscanthus × giganteus) [23]. Salinity not only adversely affects plant productivity but also quality. More than 20% of agricultural land is already damaged by salinization due to poor drainage system and irrigation of salty water [24]. Here, we demonstrated that CBNs (CNTs) added to growth medium can significantly reduce symptoms of salt stress in bioenergy crops exposed to salt stress by removal of toxic Na+ ions from salt solution. Fig 1 illustrates the experimental design for a study focused on the effects of CBNs on germination, growth and stress response of sorghum and switchgrass.

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The effects of CBNs in seed germination, growth, and development of bioenergy crops. The seeds of sorghum and switchgrass were exposed to graphene or multi-walled CNTs by addition to the growth medium. Germination and plant growth between CBN-treated and control bioenergy crops were calculated. The quantification of multi-walled CNTs inside the shoots of matured bioenergy crops was performed using the microwave induced heating (MIH) technique. For salt stress experiments, seeds were exposed to growth medium supplimented with NaCl and different concentration of CNTs or graphene (50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 μg/ml) and germination and seedling growth was monitered. The physical interaction between multi-walled CNTs and ions (Na+ or Cl¯) presented in salty solutions supplemented with CNTs was confirmed by measuring the electrode potential using ion-selective electrodes.

Read more at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202274.

Graphene Wheel Chair

küschall employs formula 1 to perfect ‘world’s lightest wheelchair’ made from graphene

küschall has designed and developed what is claimed to be the ‘world’s lightest wheelchair‘. the switzerland-based company utilizes aerospace materials to create the ‘superstar’ which features a 1.5kg frame – 30% lighter and 20% stronger compared to classic carbon models.

the küschall superstar is built using a semi-metal known as graphene, the strongest material known to man. graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and 10 times tougher than diamond, but still incredibly flexible and ultra-lightweight. it is made up of a single layer of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal lattice.

the design aims to combat the 50-70% of wheelchair users who end up with upper extremity injuries after the first 10-15 years. in order to ease these chances the wheels have been positioned in closer proximity to the user which helps to increase propelling efficiency.

industrial designer and project leader for the company, andre fangueiro, worked with formula 1 manufacturers to perfect the driving performance of the superstar. the wheelchair features an X-shape geometry with road dampening properties that provides an increase in performance and agility by responding rapidly to every movement. it also features a bespoke backrest with the possibility for a tool less adjustment, and a tailor made seat with an integrated seat cushion to also help optimize propelling performance.

Content retrieved from: https://www.designboom.com/design/kuschall-superstar-worlds-lightest-wheelchair-graphene-09-14-2018/.

Introduction to Graphene Science and Technology Course Offered Online

Hello Graphene Learners,

The next run of ChM001x Graphene Science and Technology begins on October 31! We are glad to share this news with you, the students who made the earlier run of ChM001X so successful.

For this run we’ve updated some of the content, as well as gone through the assignments, but you will recognize most of it from the previous time. Also, you now have the opportunity to earn a Verified certificate from the course!

Perhaps you want to share the Graphene experience with a friend or colleague, earn an ID-verified certificate of achievement, or work through course content that you weren’t able to complete before. When ChM001x is offered in 6 weeks, we welcome you to join the community of learners again.

To learn more and to enroll, visit the Graphene Science and Technology page.

We hope to see you in the course,

Jie Sun, Associate Professor, and the course staff
Chalmers University of Technology

P.S. Also check out our other upcoming courses:
Starting October 31System Design for Supply Chain Management and Logistics,
Starting November 1Computer System Design: Improving Energy Efficiency and Performance.

$20M Contest for Solution to Convert Carbon Emissions into Usable Products – 47 Entries from 7 Countries

[ed. at least one of the teams is working on a graphene solution, we’ll follow that story in future articles]

47 Entries from 7 Countries Compete to Convert CO2 into Valuable Products; World Leading Chemical, Biomolecular and Energy Experts to Advise in Global Innovation Challenge

LOS ANGELES (July 27, 2016) XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and managing incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, today announced a total of 47 entries from seven countries will contend to win the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, a global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that convert the most CO2 into one or more products with the highest net value. Competing teams hail from Canada, China, India, Finland, Switzerland, Scotland and the United States. An Advisory Board of nine leading experts in the fields of chemical and biological engineering, energy and sustainability and public policy, also announced today, will advise the Carbon XPRIZE.

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, launched in September 2015, addresses global CO2 emissions by incentivizing innovative solutions to convert CO2 from a liability into an asset. The 4-½ year competition will include two tracks, with the new technologies tested at either a coal power plant or a natural gas facility. Among the teams competing are leading carbon capture technology companies, top-tier academic institutions, non-profits, new startups and even a father and son team. A complete listing of teams competing in Round 1 is posted on the XPRIZE site.

“These teams, as well as our advisory board, represent an exciting mix of talent with expertise across a broad spectrum of sciences that will be applied to create technologies that mitigate CO2 emissions globally,” said Paul Bunje, Ph.D., principal and senior scientist, Energy and Environment group at XPRIZE. “Such widespread interest and support demonstrates an unwavering global commitment to take a radical leap forward to address climate change.”

“NRG’s sponsorship of XPRIZE accelerates the development and use of carbon capture technologies that help to address climate change,” said Ben Trammell, SVP, Engineering & Construction at NRG. “By crowdsourcing the best minds, XPRIZE and its sponsors are transforming a waste product and cleaning the planet. This prize gets a much-needed dialogue started with experts from around the world, with diverse backgrounds, all to help turn CO2 into a positively viewed byproduct.”

“The Carbon XPRIZE is harnessing global innovators to reimagine carbon and change it from a liability into a resource, from a waste into a valuable product. As a scientist, I know from experience that when you focus a challenge and incentivize smart people to think about how to address that challenge from different angles and different perspectives, good things happen,” said Dan Wicklum, COSIA chief executive. “COSIA is excited about what’s going to come out of this challenge – good things are going to happen.”

The $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE features three rounds of competition. In Round 1, each team submitted project documents surrounding technical and business viability assessments of its approach, and independent panel judging underway. Up to 15 semi-finalist teams in each track are scheduled to be announced on Oct. 15, 2016. Round 2 enables teams to demonstrate their technologies in a controlled environment using a simulated power plant flue gas stream, with up to five teams in each track moving forward and sharing a $2.5 million milestone purse. The third round entails larger scale technology demonstration under real world conditions, with access to two test centers adjacent to existing power plants. In each track, the winner will be awarded a $7.5 million grand prize.

In addition to finalizing the overall competitor pool, the Carbon XPRIZE announced the formation of an advisory board of academic and industry experts that bring diverse expertise in their fields. The advisory board includes:

  • Lynden A. Archer, William C. Hooey Director of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor at Cornell University, and the co-director of the KAUST-Cornell center for energy and sustainability.
  • Michele Aresta, professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of Bari, Italy and the Isaac Manasseh Meyer Chair Professor, National University of Singapore;
  • Jason Blackstock, department head and senior lecturer in the Science and Global Affairs Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy at the University College London;
  • Subodh Gupta, chief of research and development at Cenovus Energy;
  • Eddy Isaacs, co-chair of the Energy Technology Working Group of the Canadian Council of Energy Ministers and former chief executive officer for Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions;
  • Janet Peace, senior vice president of policy and business strategy at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), who also manages the center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC);
  • Peter Styring, chair of the CO2Chem Network, director of research for chemical and biological engineering, professor of chemical engineering and chemistry, and professor of public engagement at the University of Sheffield;
  • Ben Trammell, senior vice president of engineering and construction for NRG;
  • Jennifer Wilcox, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

For more information, visit carbon.xprize.org and read Dr. Bunje’s latest blog post here.

About XPRIZE
XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE and the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.

About the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE
Few challenges are greater and more critical than ensuring access to clean, affordable and abundant energy. As the global energy supply remains primarily derived from fossil fuels – the leading contributor to climate change – the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE will challenge the world to reimagine what we can do with CO2 emissions by incentivizing and accelerating the development of technologies that convert CO2 from a liability into valuable products. For more information, visit: carbon.xprize.org.

About NRG
NRG is the leading integrated power company in the U.S., built on the strength of the nation’s largest and most diverse competitive electric generation portfolio and leading retail electricity platform. A Fortune 200 company, NRG creates value through best in class operations, reliable and efficient electric generation, and a retail platform serving residential and commercial businesses. Working with electricity customers, large and small, we continually innovate, embrace and implement sustainable solutions for producing and managing energy. We aim to be pioneers in developing smarter energy choices and delivering exceptional service as our retail electricity providers serve almost 3 million residential and commercial customers throughout the country. More information is available at www.nrg.com/. Connect with NRG Energy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @nrgenergy.

About COSIA
COSIA (Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance) is an alliance of 13 oil sands producers, representing 90 percent of production from the Canadian oil sands. COSIA’s vision is to enable responsible and sustainable development of Canada’s oil sands as a global energy source while delivering accelerated improvement in environmental performance through collaborative action and innovation in the areas of greenhouse gases, land, tailings and water. Since COSIA’s inception in 2012, COSIA member companies have shared 814 distinct environmental technologies and innovations that cost almost $1.3 billion to develop. For more information, please visit www.cosia.ca.

 

Click here to view original web page at carbon.xprize.org

Graphene Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester Open Until June 2017

What’s invisible to the human eye, thinner than a human hair and 200 times tougher than steel? Graphene.

First isolated by scientists at the University of Manchester back in 2004, graphene is made from a single atom layer of carbon. It is super lightweight, super conductive and super strong.

This 21st century wonder material has the potential to radically reshape the way we think, design and manufacture in a host of areas – from racing cars to rust-free paint, from mobile phones to medical science.

In this groundbreaking exhibition, discover the history of graphite and graphene, journey with scientists and artists exploring the cutting edge of material technology and immerse yourself in the wonders of a two dimensional world.

Join us from 23 July to set your mind free, imagine the future and discover why bigger isn’t always better.

Wonder Materials: Graphene and Beyond is a world premiere, created by the Museum of Science and Industry, in partnership with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester.

Suitable for ages 5+, free entry.

23 July 2016 – 25 June 2017, 10am to 5pm
Recommended for ages 5 and older
Temporary Exhibition Space, First Floor,
Great Western Warehouse

Read more about the design of the exhibit at wallpaper.com

Graphene oxide sheets to transform dirty water into drinking water

Graphene oxide has been hailed as a veritable wonder material; when incorporated into nanocellulose foam, the lab-created substance is light, strong and flexible, conducting heat and electricity quickly and efficiently.

Now, a team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has found a way to use graphene oxide sheets to transform dirty water into drinking water, and it could be a global game-changer.

“We hope that for countries where there is ample sunlight, such as India, you’ll be able to take some dirty water, evaporate it using our material, and collect fresh water,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

The new approach combines bacteria-produced cellulose and graphene oxide to form a bi-layered biofoam. A paper detailing the research is available online in Advanced Materials.

“The process is extremely simple,” Singamaneni said. “The beauty is that the nanoscale cellulose fiber network produced by bacteria has excellent ability move the water from the bulk to the evaporative surface while minimizing the heat coming down, and the entire thing is produced in one shot.

“The design of the material is novel here,” Singamaneni said. “You have a bi-layered structure with light-absorbing graphene oxide filled nanocellulose at the top and pristine nanocellulose at the bottom. When you suspend this entire thing on water, the water is actually able to reach the top surface where evaporation happens.

“Light radiates on top of it, and it converts into heat because of the graphene oxide — but the heat dissipation to the bulk water underneath is minimized by the pristine nanocellulose layer. You don’t want to waste the heat; you want to confine the heat to the top layer where the evaporation is actually happening.”

The cellulose at the bottom of the bi-layered biofoam acts as a sponge, drawing water up to the graphene oxide where rapid evaporation occurs. The resulting fresh water can easily be collected from the top of the sheet.

The process in which the bi-layered biofoam is actually formed is also novel. In the same way an oyster makes a pearl, the bacteria forms layers of nanocellulose fibers in which the graphene oxide flakes get embedded.

“While we are culturing the bacteria for the cellulose, we added the graphene oxide flakes into the medium itself,” said Qisheng Jiang, lead author of the paper and a graduate student in the Singamaneni lab.

“The graphene oxide becomes embedded as the bacteria produces the cellulose. At a certain point along the process, we stop, remove the medium with the graphene oxide and reintroduce fresh medium. That produces the next layer of our foam. The interface is very strong; mechanically, it is quite robust.”

The new biofoam is also extremely light and inexpensive to make, making it a viable tool for water purification and desalination.

“Cellulose can be produced on a massive scale,” Singamaneni said, “and graphene oxide is extremely cheap — people can produce tons, truly tons, of it. Both materials going into this are highly scalable. So one can imagine making huge sheets of the biofoam.”

“The properties of this foam material that we synthesized has characteristics that enhances solar energy harvesting. Thus, it is more effective in cleaning up water,” said Pratim Biswas, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering.

“The synthesis process also allows addition of other nanostructured materials to the foam that will increase the rate of destruction of the bacteria and other contaminants, and make it safe to drink. We will also explore other applications for these novel structures.”

Singamaneni may be reached for interviews at singamaneni@wustl.edu; Biswas at pbiswas@wustl.edu.

 

Source: https://source.wustl.edu/2016/07/dirty-to-drinkable/

Growing graphene – blue sky research attempts to replicate nature

Growing graphene – blue sky research attempts to replicate nature

A ground-breaking experiment at The University of Nottingham could herald the production of high-purity, large-area graphene and boron nitride layers in a controlled way. If successful this research could unlock the full potential of graphene in electronics and optoelectronics.

Ten years after the discovery of graphene by the Nobel Prize winning research team at The University of Manchester, Sergei Novikov, Professor of Physics and his co-investigators at Nottingham secured funding to build a custom made Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) machine capable of the high temperatures required to grow graphene and boron nitride layers on an industrial scale.

Over £2m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, The University of Nottingham and the Leverhulme Trust, has been invested in the design, purchase and running costs of the world’s hottest MBE machine. The new facility in the School of Physics and Astronomy will be officially opened at 11am on Thursday 8 January 2015.

 

Invest In Graphene

Invest In Graphene

Graphene is perhaps the single most exciting material known to man. It is, so to speak, a material full of promise. It is likely to transform the world in which we live and it is likely to make many people very rich. Those who invest in graphene in the earliest phases of the development cycle stand to make the most from this modern wonder; and so, to invest in graphene now has to be an absolute no-brainer.

For those who want more than just an idle speculation written on the back of a napkin I suggest you consider a recent report from IdTechEx, which forecasts that sales of graphene will reach the 100 million dollars mark by 2018; this from a product that has, at the time of writing, hardly reached the High Street.

What are the benefits of investing in graphene?

Such sales forecasts are based on the versatility of the material and the potential for its incorporation into almost anything. It has already been used to make conductive inks, sports equipment and the hulls of boats, but its true potential is inexcusably vast. Expect to see graphene featuring in smart packaging, super capacitors, composites, ITO replacement, sensors, as well as in the energy industry. Graphene is absolutely set to transform our world.

In which graphene companies should you invest?

So, for those people wishing to invest in graphene, where is the best place to turn? Well, a number of companies are very prominently involved in the development of the nano-material and in researching its capabilities. Many of the big technology companies have a vested interest in the material, as few can afford to be left behind, and some lesser known specialists operating within the nanotechnology field, largely start-ups that have grown out of university research units, are also developing a presence. Choosing which  to invest in is, however, no easy thing.

To make things slightly easier it is possibly worth deciding upon a sector of the industry and researching the companies that operate within it. Knowing a little about the science can also help to uncover those companies likely to adopt graphene technology in the future. For now, however, it is perhaps enough to think about the production phase of the industry.

When considering production it is worth knowing that graphene is produced by a number of methods, the two most developed being exfoliation and chemical vapour deposition (hereafter referred to as CVD). Each method produces a slightly different form of the material and each form has the potential to be used for different things. Exfoliating graphene, the cheaper of the two production methods, results in small islands of bilayer product that can be incorporated into energy storage devices, composite building materials,etc. Higher grade CVD graphene is much more expensive to produce but has the potential for use as a replacement for indium tin oxide in the manufacture of smart phones and electronic devices. As someone looking to invest in graphene it would be wise to research each production method and explore the opportunities therein.

A good place to begin your research would be Grafoid, GrafTechCVD Equipment Corporation and Oxford Instruments. These companies all have an involvement in the graphene industry whether it be in the direct production of the material or in the supply of the specialist technology required for its production.