University presents sustainable energy plans

first_imgAs part of Notre Dame’s Energy Week, senior director of utilities and maintenance Paul Kempf discussed the University’s approach to sustainability at a presentation Wednesday afternoon. “The strategy the University has had is to reduce our carbon footprint, and there are a lot of ways to do that,” Kempf said. “It’s putting new infrastructure in place, and we’re trying to do that. Our long term goal is to decrease our carbon footprint by 83 percent [from 2005 levels] by 2050. I hope I’m not here in 2050, but it’s important to be setting those goals.”Kempf said that, as the Notre Dame campus grows, the focus on sustainability is becoming increasingly important. “This campus is growing, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” he said. “I think it will continue.”Currently, 80 percent of buildings on campus are heated by the power plant at the heart of campus, Kempf said. “There’s about 8.3 miles of tunnels around campus that pass through steam and such to the buildings,” he said. “The benefits of a central plant is that you have a lot of facilities right here on campus. It’s very efficient.”While the current system of heating campus is efficient and effective, Kempf said the University is starting to try and move away from some of its less environmentally-friendly practices — for environmental, social and economic reasons.“Oftentimes when we come to the table to look at conservation, we see it as a cost,” he said. “It’s like you want to buy that shiny new car instead of insulating your house, as an example.”The conversations Kempf and his team were having with engineers and scientists led to a discussion with the administration about moving towards more sustainable energy. “We said, ‘You know, this is an investment. We see more sustainable energy coming down the line, you should see it coming too,’” he said.So, as a result, the University has started to shift some of its energy practices, working to align with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, Kempf said.“We have nine buildings that are LEED certified, which is about 8.2 percent of campus square footage,” he said. “We’ve got seven buildings that we’re trying to get LEED certified — so that number is going to grow.”Additionally, Kempf said the University is trying to diversify the types of fuel used on campus. “We have always had that fuel diversity, so we’ve taken advantage of that without actually modifying much of our equipment,” he said. “So we’ve gone from using coal and natural gas, to using about 80 percent natural gas. … As Fr. John [Jenkins] said, we’re going to be completely off coal by 2020.”Fortunately, the location of Notre Dame is well-suited to sustainable energy use, Kempf said.“We’re lucky when you think about where Fr. Sorin thought to set us up,” he said. “We’ve used the lakes more than I think anyone could have predicted. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking that in the 1840s, but sometimes you just get lucky.”Tags: coal, divestment, Energy Week, fossil fuels, natural gas, sustainabilitylast_img read more

Gophers lose two straight, aim to rebound

first_imgGophers lose two straight, aim to reboundMinnesota fell 4-3 to Tulsa on Friday and 4-3 to Harvard on Saturday. Lisa PerssonMinnesota doubles partners Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg celebrate after a victory in a match against Tulsa at Baseline on Friday. Dane MizutaniFebruary 10, 2014Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintWhile his team just dropped its final two matches before its first Big Ten match of the season next weekend, Minnesota head coach Geoff Young said he isn’t too concerned.“You never want to lose, but this is the perfect opportunity to learn from our mistakes,” he said. “We need to fix those before next weekend.”The Gophers came into the weekend winners of four straight matches, but they faltered with a 4-3 loss to Tulsa on Friday and a 4-3 loss to Harvard on Saturday.“We played two really good teams, and we competed very well with those teams,” junior Jack Hamburg said. “We know we’re right there with top-ranked opponents in the country.”Minnesota took the doubles point in each match, but it could not overcome a less-than-stellar performance from the bottom of its lineup.The Gophers didn’t win a set all weekend at No. 4 singles, No. 5 singles or No. 6 singles.“We need to get better at the bottom of lineup,” Young said. “It will come for guys with time, but that needs to improve for us to compete.”Young said a silver lining on the weekend was the doubles play in both matches.Minnesota swept all three doubles matches against Tulsa and took two of three matches against Harvard. “We’re playing some pretty good doubles,” Hamburg said. “We’re starting to develop some cohesiveness with all our teams in the lineup.”Hamburg and his doubles partner, junior Mathieu Froment, teamed together last season and have an evident chemistry on the court — a trait the other two doubles pairings seemed to flash at times.Young said he saw some of those flashes, but he said he wants his team to stay aggressive on the court. He said at times, his players would tense up during a crucial point.“I can handle missing shots,” he said, “but being too passive and missing points is not a way we want to lose points.”Hamburg agreed that the team needs to stay aggressive on the court, but he said some of the kinks in the lineup could stem from the younger players’ lack of experience.“It’ll all come around in time,” he said. “It can be hard to adjust to college tennis, and with more matches, it will get better and better.”While Hamburg said he never likes to lose a match, he said the nonconference schedule has served a clear purpose.“We’re getting matches under our belt,” Hamburg said. “We are working to be ready for Big Ten play, which starts next week with Iowa. We’ll be ready.”last_img read more

Researchers build brain-machine interface to control prosthetic hand

first_imgLinkedIn Pinterest Share Share on Twitter A research team from the University of Houston has created an algorithm that allowed a man to grasp a bottle and other objects with a prosthetic hand, powered only by his thoughts.The technique, demonstrated with a 56-year-old man whose right hand had been amputated, uses non-invasive brain monitoring, capturing brain activity to determine what parts of the brain are involved in grasping an object. With that information, researchers created a computer program, or brain-machine interface (BMI), that harnessed the subject’s intentions and allowed him to successfully grasp objects, including a water bottle and a credit card. The subject grasped the selected objects 80 percent of the time using a high-tech bionic hand fitted to the amputee’s stump.Previous studies involving either surgically implanted electrodes or myoelectric control, which relies upon electrical signals from muscles in the arm, have shown similar success rates, according to the researchers.center_img Email Share on Facebook Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, a neuroscientist and engineer at UH, said the non-invasive method offers several advantages: It avoids the risks of surgically implanting electrodes by measuring brain activity via scalp electroencephalogram, or EEG. And myoelectric systems aren’t an option for all people, because they require that neural activity from muscles relevant to hand grasping remain intact.The results of the study were published March 30 in Frontiers in Neuroscience, in the Neuroprosthetics section.Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH, was lead author of the paper, along with graduate students Harshavardhan Ashok Agashe, Andrew Young Paek and Yuhang Zhang.The work, funded by the National Science Foundation, demonstrates for the first time EEG-based BMI control of a multi-fingered prosthetic hand for grasping by an amputee. It also could lead to the development of better prosthetics, Contreras-Vidal said.Beyond demonstrating that prosthetic control is possible using non-invasive EEG, researchers said the study offers a new understanding of the neuroscience of grasping and will be applicable to rehabilitation for other types of injuries, including stroke and spinal cord injury.New University of Houston research has demonstrated that an amputee can grasp with a bionic hand, powered only by his thoughts. Photo credit: University of HoustonThe study subjects – five able-bodied, right-handed men and women, all in their 20s, as well as the amputee – were tested using a 64-channel active EEG, with electrodes attached to the scalp to capture brain activity. Contreras-Vidal said brain activity was recorded in multiple areas, including the motor cortex and areas known to be used in action observation and decision-making, and occurred between 50 milliseconds and 90 milliseconds before the hand began to grasp.That provided evidence that the brain predicted the movement, rather than reflecting it, he said.“Current upper limb neuroprosthetics restore some degree of functional ability, but fail to approach the ease of use and dexterity of the natural hand, particularly for grasping movements,” the researchers wrote, noting that work with invasive cortical electrodes has been shown to allow some hand control but not at the level necessary for all daily activities.“Further, the inherent risks associated with surgery required to implant electrodes, along with the long-term stability of recorded signals, is of concern. … Here we show that it is feasible to extract detailed information on intended grasping movements to various objects in a natural, intuitive manner, from a plurality of scalp EEG signals.”Until now, this was thought to be possible only with brain signals acquired invasively inside or on the surface of the brain.Researchers first recorded brain activity and hand movement in the able-bodied volunteers as they picked up five objects, each chosen to illustrate a different type of grasp: a soda can, a compact disc, a credit card, a small coin and a screwdriver. The recorded data were used to create decoders of neural activity into motor signals, which successfully reconstructed the grasping movements.They then fitted the amputee subject with a computer-controlled neuroprosthetic hand and told him to observe and imagine himself controlling the hand as it moved and grasped the objects.The subject’s EEG data, along with information about prosthetic hand movements gleaned from the able-bodied volunteers, were used to build the algorithm.Contreras-Vidal said additional practice, along with refining the algorithm, could increase the success rate to 100 percent.last_img read more

Psychedelic brew called ayahuasca could enhance creative thinking abilities

first_imgShare on Twitter Email Pinterest Share on Facebook A psychedelic brew known as ayahuasca may help people “think outside the box,” according to a new study published in the journal Psychopharmacology. But more research is needed.Ayahuasca has been used in the healing ceremonies of indigenous Amazon tribes for centuries. The psychoactive drink is traditionally prepared using plants which contain beta-carbolines such as harmaline and tryptamines like DMT.Researchers led by K. P. C. Kuypers of Maastricht University visited two spiritual ayahuasca-using groups to investigate the drug’s effect on divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking describes the process of generating many possible solutions to a problem. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, refers to the process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer.center_img “Creative divergent thinking can enhance and strengthen psychological flexibility by allowing individuals to generate new and effective cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies on their own which helps them to adopt adaptive interpretations and coping styles,” the researchers explained.Kuypers and his colleagues recruited 26 participants for their study. These volunteers had all consumed ayahuasca previously.The participants first completed two creativity tasks designed to measure divergent and convergent thinking. About 3 hours later, they consumed ayahuasca in a dimly lit room while music played in the background. After waiting 2 hours for the drug to reach its peak, the participants completed the two creativity tasks again.Only one of the tests, the Picture Concept Task, indicated that ayahuasca produced changes in divergent and convergent thinking. The task required participants to find associations between a number of pictures that were aligned into rows.The researchers found that after consuming ayahuasca, the participants had a harder time finding the one correct association but were better at providing as many alternative answers as possible. Ayahuasca appeared to cause a decrease in conventional convergent thinking but enhance creative divergent thinking.There has been a renewal of interest in the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. The authors cautioned that their findings were preliminary, but said their study could have some implications for this line of research.“The present study has shown that ayahuasca promotes divergent thinking, an ability which has been shown to be an important aspect in cognitive therapy,” Kuypers and his colleagues concluded. “It can therefore be suggested that ayahuasca possesses qualities that can promote a therapeutic process. However, since convergent thinking is also a critical aspect in therapy, and the current findings show that ayahuasca impairs this facet during the acute phase, future studies have to investigate whether this effect profile changes over time.”They added: “Additional research utilizing a placebo-controlled experimental design, including additional creativity measures, is warranted, before results can be generalized.” Share LinkedInlast_img read more

News Scan for Oct 19, 2017

first_imgMadagascar’s plague total climbs to 849The number of confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in Madagascar’s plague outbreak has climbed to 849, 67 of them fatal, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in an update. The totals reflect increases of 165 cases and 10 deaths since the WHO’s last report on Oct 12.Of the country’s new plague cases, 94 are pneumonic, putting that total at 568. The case-fatality rate also decreased again, dropping from 8.3% to 7.9% over the past few days, the WHO said. Two more of Madagascar’s 114 districts reported plague cases, bringing the total to 37, though hardest hit is Antananarivo Renivohitra District, a large urban area surrounding the country’s capital.So far, 39 health workers have been infected with plague. Four plague treatment centers are in operation, and efforts are scaling up to train and equip medical teams with personal protective equipment. The WHO said the risk of spread within Madagascar is very high, while the threat to the region is moderate, and global risk low.Oct 18 WHO situation update Oct 13 CIDRAP News story “Plague total grows in Madagascar as response builds” Uganda reports fatal Marburg virus casesUganda’s health ministry is investigating as many as two deaths from Marburg hemorrhagic fever, according to media and official reports.A report from The Ugandan, a local news web site, said the health ministry sent a team of epidemiologists to Kween district in the eastern part of the country, based on reports that two people had recently died from the disease.In a related development, the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) said in a statement on its Facebook page that two deaths from Marburg had occurred.Meanwhile, Reuters, citing health minister comments at a media briefing, reported today that one fatal case has been confirmed, that of a 50-year-old woman who died on Oct 11 at a hospital in eastern Uganda. She had recently cared for her 42-year-old brother, who died on Sep 25 after having similar symptoms. She also helped prepare his body for burial, according to the report, which said the man was a hunter who had been near caves where bats, thought to harbor the virus, were present.A WHO spokesperson told Reuters that staff have been deployed to help Uganda curb the outbreak. Uganda’s last Marburg virus outbreak occurred in 2014.Oct 19 Ugandan story Oct 19 UVRI statement Oct 19 Reuters story CDC updates guidance for babies born to mothers with possible Zika exposureThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that it has updated its clinical guidance for caring for babies born to mothers who may have been infected with Zika virus during pregnancy. The update, which appears today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, includes the latest scientific information since the August 2016 release of earlier guidance.Though Zika illnesses have declined since 2016, cases are still being reported, and the CDC urged clinicians to remain alert to the threat and to closely monitor babies who had possible congenital exposure to the virus.CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, said in a statement today, “There’s a lot we still don’t know about Zika, so it’s very important for us to keep a close eye on these babies as they develop.”New guidance defines three groups of infants, based on their symptoms or lack of symptoms, plus the mother’s exposure and lab findings. The recommendations also contain new information on follow-up care. For example, some types of screening (ie, thyroid and hearing at 4 to 6 months) are no longer recommended, due to a lack of data on whether they are needed. On the other hand, guidance expands the list of potential problems in babies already known to have birth defects, to include breathing difficulty, swallowing difficulty, and hydrocephaly.The CDC emphasized that because complex services are needed to care for infants with Zika-related birth defects, care should be given by a multidisciplinary team and an established medical home.Oct 19 MMWR report Oct 19 CDC press release Blue Ribbon Panel tackles increasing animal agriculture threatsA privately funded bipartisan panel that provides expert analysis on biodefense issues yesterday warned of increasing threats to US animal agriculture and said more efforts are needed to reduce risks to the food and agricultural sectors.The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense said the rate of emerging and reemerging animal diseases is increasing, along with the threat of those intent on attacking food or agriculture. In a 62-page report, the team pointed to the 2015 avian influenza outbreak in the United States that affected 21 states and cost $3.3 billion in poultry losses and outbreak response.In a press release, Tom Daschle, panel member and former Senate majority leader, said every year there are new threats that could severely impact animal agriculture. “Whether these threats arise here or abroad, we need to ensure that both domestic and international agrodefense efforts occur in concert,” he added.The report emphasizes the broad range of US government agencies with responsibilities for agricultural biodefense. The panel recommends increased coordination between the US Department of Agriculture and the FBI.Though the nation has made great strides in biosurveillance, it still falls short on the development of new ways to detect wildlife diseases, the panel said. One of its suggestions for improving disease response is to increase funding for the National Veterinary Stockpile to boost countermeasure purchases, similar to what’s done on the human health side with Project BioShield. The panel included a list of proposals for the Executive Branch and for Congress.The panel, which was formed in 2014 and published an extensive biodefense blueprint the following year, said the new report is the first in a series of special-focus reports. The group is sponsored by the Hudson Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC.Oct 18 Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense press release Oct 18 Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense report WHO, CDC establish gonococcal antimicrobial surveillance systemGlobal surveillance of antimicrobial-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae is challenging, especially in countries that carry the greatest disease burden, but a new collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may help, representatives of the two agencies reported yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.The goal of the new Enhanced Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Program is to keep tabs on trends in antimicrobial susceptibilities in N gonorrhoeae through standard sampling and lab protocols and to improve the timeliness and comparability of data across multiple countries, they wrote. Also, the system is set up to assess resistance patterns in highest-risk populations to help shape country-specific guidance.Oct 18 Emerg Infect Dis reportIn a related development, Danish researchers writing in Eurosurveillance today described a single rare case detected this year of multidrug-resistant N gonorrhoeae infection that involved ceftriaxone resistance and intermediate resistance to azithromycin.The illness, treated successfully with dual antimicrobial therapy, was reported to national health authorities, but it didn’t lead to a wider public health response.Oct 19 Eurosurveill reportlast_img read more

US posts largest single-day jump in new COVID-19 cases

first_imgPresident Donald Trump held a White House press briefing today in which he said the 4.8 million jobs added in June prove that the economy is “roaring back” from the impact of COVID-19 and that more signs of the recovery will be apparent before the general election on Nov 3. “This is the largest monthly jobs gain in the history of our country,” he said.Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported a record of 54,357 new coronavirus cases over yesterday—a record single-day jump that presses the United States further than what some thought was the peak this spring. For reference, as CNN reported, it took the United States a little more than 2 months to report its first 50,000 cases. Total US cases were at 2,679,230, including 128,024 deaths, according to the CDC.The infection curve is rising in 40 of 50 states, and 36 states are seeing an increase in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests, AP reported today. Some public health officials and governors are blaming bars for the increase in cases, the New York Times reported today, while others are pointing to hasty business reopenings, according to Politico.Without directly acknowledging the recent surge of new cases, Trump said that, along with governors, the White House was working at “putting out the flames or the fires, and that’s working out well.”‘Keep opening up America’Trump said that states will decide how quickly to reopen their economies but that “we’d like to see churches open quickly.” He did not take questions, but Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the administration does not rue the decision to urge states to reopen quickly.”Absolutely not,” he said. “I think we’ve had a very careful plan, again, working with the states. This is primarily the states’ responsibility.”However, economists caution that the situation isn’t nearly as rosy as it might seem, with at least 10 million more jobless Americans than before the pandemic, and millions are still applying for unemployment benefits weekly, CNBC reported.At the same time, Vice President Mike Pence said that the White House would “keep opening up America” despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, according to CNBC.Mnuchin said that the White House plans to negotiate with Congress to secure additional assistance for businesses coping with pandemic fallout and that it is working with schools and colleges in preparing for students’ safe return in the fall. “I think most schools will be able to open safely,” he said, adding that the next stimulus package for schools will support those that need additional equipment and other resources to allow physical distancing.Downward trends in only 2 statesToday, Florida set a state record for daily new coronavirus cases when it passed the 10,000 mark, Reuters reported. Florida infections increased 168% in June when it recorded more than 95,000 news cases. Since the end of May, positive test results have risen to 15%, a 9% increase.Only one other state, New York, has recorded more than 10,000 cases in a single day, at 12,847 on Apr 10, 3 weeks after the state issued stay-at-home orders. In fact, no European country reported more new daily cases than Florida at the peak of their outbreaks.Arizona reported 4,878 cases, including 88 deaths, for a total of 87,425 cases and 1,757 deaths, with Governor Doug Ducey calling for an additional 500 healthcare workers yesterday, Yahoo News reported.In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott today issued an executive order that requires face coverings in counties with 20 or more positive cases and limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people. Also, the Texas Tribune reported that more than 300 kids in childcare centers and 460 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19; more than 8,100 new cases were recorded on Wednesday.In California, where some businesses are again being shut down amid rising cases, new cases were at 7,600, according to the New York Times.North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas all set single-day records on Wednesday, and the formerly stable-appearing states of Ohio, Kansas, and Louisiana reported some of their highest single-day tallies in weeks. Only Nebraska and South Dakota were reporting a downward trend in cases, according to the AP.’Disturbing’ week, new concern loomingIn a JAMA Q&A today on YouTube, Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called this week “disturbing” and said “I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re not going in the right direction.”And although states with substantial surges make up about 50% of new cases in the United States “what we need to emphasize to people is that even in those areas that are not showing a substantial surge, once you get surges like that in some areas of the country, other areas become vulnerable, because even though we are a very heterogeneous country, we are not without connection to each other, so the whole enterprise could be at risk,” he said.Fauci also noted that the surge could at least partly be attributed to lax lockdown measures in the United States, compared with more strict policies in European countries that have managed to contain their outbreaks.Now The Hill reports that public health officials have a fresh worry on the horizon: the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when crowds traditionally gather to celebrate the country’s freedoms.last_img read more

Putting Auntie’s house in order

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Thermo Fisher Scientific drives innovation at ACHEMA

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img

C-Capture appoints new CEO

first_imgWhite holds a strong technical foundation in carbon capture and storage (CCS), and joins C-Capture from BadrEOR, an oilfield services company based in Oman, where he served as CEO for three years.“Tom’s expertise in chemical engineering perfectly complements the development of C-Capture’s technology and the strength of Tom’s business development expertise will help in C-Capture’s rapid expansion,” said Tristan Fischer, Chairman of C-Capture.As a former officer in the Corps of Royal Engineers, White also serves as Vice-President Regions of the Board of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, responsible for the governance of overseas entities and for representing its 20,000 non-UK members.“I am incredibly excited to be joining C-Capture at this pivotal time; its award-winning carbon capture solution is exactly what UK and global industry need to achieve cost-effective decarbonisation,” said White.“C-Capture’s novel solvent technology is viable on a large scale and offers a safe, low-cost way to remove carbon dioxide from emissions sources such as power stations, cement and steel works.”“When coupled with sustainably sourced biofuels, C-Capture is able to achieve carbon-negative power, which is revolutionary. The time for large scale deployment of CCS is now and C-Capture’s solution represents a step change in performance and existing technologies.” Source: C-Capture“As C-Capture enters the next exciting phase of company growth and with the need for CCS at a large scale increasingly urgent with the climate crisis unfolding before us, we are delighted to have Tom join the C-Capture team,” Fischer concluded.Read more like this – subscribe todayEnjoyed this story? Subscribe to gasworld today and take advantage of even more great insights and exclusives in industrial gases.Visit to access all content and choose the right subscription for you.last_img read more

Important Milestone for Koopmanspolder

first_imgThe Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, has recently visited the Koopmanspolder in Andijk.The Minister turned on the low-energy water link between the IJsselmeer and the Koopmanspolder, which consists of a windmill and a fish-friendly outlet through which water and fish poured from the IJsselmeer into the polder.The polder was restructured in 2012 as a nature area and a testing ground for water management. Over the next three years, experiments will be conducted with water-level management to determine the impact on the safety of the dike and the land behind it, water quantities, water quality, nature and the living environment. Deltares will play a central role in monitoring and evaluation.The Koopmanspolder is the first-ever application of the ‘inland shore’ concept, which was co-developed by Deltares. An inland shore is an area to the landside of a dike that is linked to the main water system and where there is room for additional water storage using changes in water level and reservoir formation.The Koopmanspolder is a joint project of the Provincial Authority of North Holland, the Hollands Noorderkwartier water authority, Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and the municipal authority of Medemblik.[mappress mapid=”19493″]Press Releaselast_img read more