Science & Research

Science & Research Roundup: Nov. 6, 2013

By
Science & Research Editor
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nanoparticle research may spur development of alternative fuels

University researchers have found that gold nanoparticles can help convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, according to a University press release.

The research was led by Professor of Chemistry Shouheng Sun and Wenlei Zhu GS, a PhD candidate in the chemistry department and was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society Oct. 24.

Carbon monoxide is more useful than carbon dioxide in that it can play a part in the development of alternative fuels, according to the release.

Previous research found that gold could play a role in converting carbon dioxide, but University researchers discovered that by reducing the size of the gold into tiny particles of eight nanometers, they could most efficiently catalyze carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide.

“Because we’re using nanoparticles, we’re using a lot less gold than in a bulk metal catalyst,” Sun said in the release. “That lowers the cost for making such a catalyst and gives the potential to scale up.”

 

Fifth graders come to campus for volcano demonstration

Students from Vartan Gregorian Elementary School descended on campus on Halloween to learn about geology.

The fifth graders spent the morning hearing from students and professors in Brown’s geological sciences department.

“They loved it,” said Shannon Barata, a teacher at the elementary school, in a University press release. “Lessons like this really fill the gaps in our science curriculum.”

The day ended with a demonstration of a volcanic explosion, led by Associate Professor of Geological Sciences Alberto Saal and Bill Collins, a technician in the geological sciences department, according to the release.

Saal and Collins filled a trash can with water before dropping a bottle filled with liquid nitrogen into it, causing water to erupt in a volcano-like explosion.

“Our goal is to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Karen Haberstroh, assistant professor in the School of Engineering, in the press release.

 

Solar Decathlon team designs ‘Techstyle Haus’

A team of students from Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt in Germany have designed an eco-friendly dwelling they have dubbed “Techstyle Haus” as part of the international Solar Decathlon competition.

The team was selected to compete last December after submitting a proposal, The Herald previously reported.

Since then, team members have been using their €100,000 seed money to create a livable, energy-efficient building they can display in France in July, according to a University press release.

In order to create a house light enough to ship to France, the team decided to craft it out of synthetic fabric. More than 50 Brown and RISD students are involved in creating the house’s design and materials, according to the release.

“We want our exhibition site to teach people about all the different parts of the house and what their functions are,” said Eliza Brine ’15, a team member, in the release. “This is about educating people and moving the building industry in a direction we want it to be going.”