Producing steel without emitting CO2 is perhaps possible thanks to hydrogen

Producing steel also means emitting a lot of CO2 into the environment. It is estimated, in fact, that the steel industry itself generates between 7 and 9% of CO2 emissions among all those generated through the use of fossil fuels, as noted in a new statement published on the CORDIS website.

Of course, several studies are underway to limit CO2 production when steel is produced, but not many of them have achieved results that suggest real applications. Now a new project, called H2Future and funded by the European Union, aims to discover new energy sources to achieve, albeit gradually, a real decarbonisation of steel production. In this regard, it is planned to use hydrogen as a renewable electricity source.

A pilot plant has already been set up in Linz, Austria, which has a capacity of 6 MW of electricity from renewable sources to produce up to 1200 m³ of green hydrogen. The press release on the launch of this new plant speaks of “an important milestone for the industrial application of electrolysis” in the steel industry, refineries, fertiliser production and other industrial sectors.

The new plant is based on the technique of electrolysis, a phenomenon in which water is divided into hydrogen and oxygen by electric current, as explained in the press release on the project website: “PEM technology works using a proton exchange membrane as the electrolyte. This membrane has a special property: it is permeable to protons but not to gases such as hydrogen and oxygen. This means that in a PEM-based electrolyzer the membrane acts as an electrolyte and separator to prevent the mixing of gaseous products.”

Heartburn medication useful to fight labial herpes according to study

A new combination of drugs that could be helpful in treating lip herpes more effectively has been developed by a team of researchers at the University of Kent.
The study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, explains how researchers tested different drugs by applying them to various cell cultures and discovered how some drugs used for heartburn improve the effectiveness of antiviral acyclovir. The latter is the drug used to fight the Herpes simplex virus.

The drugs used by researchers in combination with acyclovir are drugs treated for heartburn and are included in the category of proton pump inhibitors. They also include omeprazole.
Herpes simplex can be very worrying for people with weak or suppressed immune systems. In these people it can cause life-threatening conditions or even blindness as the infected person can transfer the virus from the lips to other parts of the body including the eyes (a process also called self-inoculation). It can lead to conjunctivitis or keratitis in the eyes and this can worsen, especially if the patient continues to rub the eye at the point of injury.

The drugs to treat heartburn were combined by researchers, led by Professor Martin Michaelis of the School of Biosciences, with acyclovir on cell cultures. The researchers found that they reduced the spread of the aforementioned virus in cells and the maximum effect was caused by omeprazole.
“The combination of these two drugs could significantly improve the broader treatment of the herpes simplex virus,” says Martin Michaelis of the University of Kent.

Bacteria engineered to save bees from viruses and pests

Bacteria genetically modified to protect bees from the deadly tendency that is characterizing them and that is worrying not only the scientific world. Even in the United States, honey bee colonies are decreasing so much that, during last winter, beekeepers had to give up more than 40% of their colonies, the highest rate since surveys began 13 years ago.

Nancy Moran, Professor of Integrative Biology, is working with colleagues to engineer particular strains of bacteria to be introduced into the bowels of honeybees. These bacteria act as “biological factories”: they trigger the immune system of bees to protect themselves from the deformed wing virus, one of the two main causes of their collapse together with varroa mites, parasites of bees. These two conditions very often come together: the more the mites feed on bees, the more the virus spreads, which makes bees increasingly vulnerable to various pathogens in the environment.

This is a method that is not as complex as it might appear: the engineering of bacteria in the laboratory, once the method is completed, is not at all prohibitive, just as it is not prohibitive to inoculate them into the body of bees by causing them to spread into colonies. The implication of such a method is direct, as Moran herself states. It is also the first time that the bee microbiome has been genetically engineered to improve bee health.

During the tests, bees with the engineered bacterium in their bodies showed a 36.5% higher probability of surviving after 10 days than control bees. At the same time, Varroa mites feeding on bees treated with the engineered bacterium were about 70% more likely to die by day 10 than mites feeding on control bees.

BTW, on the topic of bees, please check out this article:

Why Vegans Don’t Eat Honey (And You Shouldn’t Either)