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Gizmorama - May 10, 2017

Good Morning,

Here's some great news for the environment! A new device has been developed that has the ability to generate power while cleaning polluted air. Remarkable!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- New device turns dirty air into energy --*

A team of Belgian scientists have developed a new device capable of generating power while cleaning polluted air.

The device, which must be exposed to sunlight to function, features two chambers separated by a single membrane. The air is cleaned on one side, while contaminants are converted into hydrogen gas on the other.

"This hydrogen gas can be stored and used later as fuel, as is already being done in some hydrogen buses, for example," Sammy Verbruggen, a professor at the University of Antwerp, said in a news release.

The membrane is the device's most novel and essential component. It's comprised of a combination of special nano materials, the scientists say.

"These catalysts are capable of producing hydrogen gas and breaking down air pollution," Verbruggen said. "In the past, these cells were mostly used to extract hydrogen from water. We have now discovered that this is also possible, and even more efficient, with polluted air."

Researchers say their device functions similarly to a solar panel. Both use sunlight to trigger energy-generating chemical reactions.

Verbruggen and his colleagues are currently working to scale up their technology for industrial use. They are also working to improve the device's efficiency. Researchers described their device in the journal ChemSusChem.

*-- World's largest X-ray laser produces first laser light --*

The world's largest X-ray laser won't begin conducting research until September, but the European XFE has reached its last major milestone before it comes online. This week, the laser created its first beam of laser light.

The initial beam featured a wavelength of 0.8 nanometers. The laser produced a pulse per second. Once the European XFE is running at full capacity, the laser will generate 27,000 pulses per second.

"This is an important moment that our partners and we have worked towards for many years," Robert Feidenhans'l, managing director of the European XFEL, said in a news release. "The European XFEL has generated its first X-ray laser light. The facility, to which many countries around the world contributed know-how and components, has passed its first big test with flying colors."

The underground laser facility, featuring an accelerator and a series of tunnels and mirrors, stretches more than two miles in length. Scientists will be able to generate a range of unique laser flashes for a variety of research purposes.

"The first laser light produced today with the most advanced and most powerful linear accelerator in the world marks the beginning a new era of research in Europe," said Helmut Dosch, board chairman at DESY. "The European XFEL will provide us with the most detailed images of the molecular structure of new materials and drugs and novel live recordings of biochemical reactions."

After the streams of electrons are produced by the accelerator, magnets with alternating poles, called undulators, drive the beams through a lengthy series of mirrored tunnels. At each turn, the beams release X-ray radiation which magnify over the course of each beam's trip through the "slalom course."

Once in operation the superconducting linear accelerator will generate the fastest, most powerful laser pulses on the planet. The laser facility will also be extremely versatile, capable of conducting biological, chemical and physical experiments.

Among other research efforts, the laser will be used to catalyze chemical processes, study biochemical processors and measure molecules structures.


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