Month: April 2020

A new solvent system: Hydrothermal molten salt

In a new report on Science Advances, T. Voisin and a research team in the Scientific Research National Center and the Institute of Technology and Energy Management in France, proposed a new solvent system. The hydrothermal molten salt (HyMoS) system, is composed of a molten salt in pressurized water and is able to change the solubility of inorganics in supercritical water. The scientists used sodium hydroxide (NaOH); a low melting temperature salt, and showed the ability to precipitate it at a temperature above its melting point, to instantly form HyMoS. The molten salt could then dissolve a large amount of inorganic salt including sodium sulfate (Na2SO4). The solvent system opens a new path in diverse fields including materials synthesis, biomass conversion, green chemistry, recycling, catalysis and sustainable manufacture. The work offers opportunities beyond hydrothermal dynamics to investigate the chemistry and insights of innovative salt precipitation.

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NASA’s Webb Telescope to unravel riddles of a stellar nursery

A bustling stellar nursery in the picturesque Orion Nebula will be a subject of study for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2021. A team led by Mark McCaughrean, the Webb Interdisciplinary Scientist for Star Formation, will survey an inner region of the nebula called the Trapezium Cluster. This cluster is home to a thousand or so young stars, all crammed into a space only 4 light-years across—about the distance from our Sun to Alpha Centauri.

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Study shows our sun is less active than similar stars

By cosmic standards the sun is extraordinarily monotonous. This is the result of a study presented by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in the upcoming issue of Science. For the first time, the scientists compared the sun with hundreds of other stars with similar rotation periods. Most displayed much stronger variations. This raises the question whether the sun has been going through an unusually quiet phase for several millennia.

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Study on firms’ return policies offers guidance on pricing, returns, refunds

Because customers who shop online cannot try on their purchases, a third of all Internet sales get returned. But handling these returns is costly, giving retailers that have both physical stores and digital sales a clear advantage over retailers that operate only online. A new study examined the decisions around the pricing and return policies of a retailer with both stores and online sales to help explain why some firms opt to fully refund customers for their returns while others charge a fee for online returns. The findings offer guidance to retailers about pricing and policies on returns and refunds.

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Half of water and sediment samples from Bay of Biscay contain microplastics

The scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin has just published “Microplastics in the Bay of Biscay: an overview,” a piece of work by the Materials+Technologies research group (GMT) of the Faculty of Engineering—Gipuzkoa. It is the first scientific paper that analyzes all the research studies conducted until now about the presence of microplastics in the Bay of Biscay. It includes the results obtained in various marine compartments (water bodies, marine sediments and biota) highlighting the limitations and challenges to knowledge that have been found.

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