Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Processed Foods will Kill ya

There's a great study out related to letting people eat processed foods, as much as they want, verses giving people healthy food... as much as they want.
Personally, I wonder if the salt alone is not part of the problem.
Those people who eat processed foods for the required 15 days, eat more and gained more weight.
This seemed like an exceptionally well designed study. One group did the 15 days healthy first, then junk-y food; the other group did the opposite.
NPR did a great go at the results of this study that was published in Cell magazine.
Looks like very good controls were used.
When on the ultra-processed foods diet, subjects eat more and eat more quickly. Really. The researchers thought that they might eat more rapidly because the processed foods required less chewing. All health and body weight markers sent along with the over-eating.
The supplement shows the menus each day for the ultra-processed foods and for the non-processed foods. Check out the pictures of 7-days of food each. Really interesting is the snacks in each case. Lay's potato chips, Planter's peanuts, Keebler's cheese 'n peanut butter crackers, etc. vs apples, almonds, etc.
As always in diet, the question is about organic vs. non-organic. First glance did not indicate organic on the healthy side?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Make your own fuel, while air conditioning (HVAC). Carbon Capture.

Imagine a great idea that is entirely possible with new technology coming down the pipeline from various sources. That is what an article in Scientific American by Richard Conniff envisions based on a paper published in the Nature Communications which proposes a partial remedy based on A/C units:  Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (or HVAC) systems move a lot of air. Dittmeyer, Klumpp, Kant and Ozin (2019) describe the idea of using renewable energy from solar, wind and water to produce immediate energy and also produce a portable fuel as the democratization of energy.

Basically, the idea is to take excess energy from the A/C condenser unit (heat dissipation in cooling mode) and extract hydrogen and carbon from the air and produce a hydrocarbon fuel. Sounds cool enough. And surprisingly not way-out there futuristic because some of the basic technologies are already developed. This is a great application of Carbon Capture and Sequester (CCS) technologies. It is extremely local, and would create a local fuel that could be portable (hydrogen and/or synthetic oil).

Personally, I like the fuel cell concept where the fuel cell uses hydrogen and can go basically instant-on, thereby serving as a backup generator. Energy (from any source) can be used to make hydrogen from air, water and other sources including methane and alcohol. As an example, a miniature fuel cell can be implanted into the human body with hydrogen as the fuel, and recharged through the skin (reversing the fuel cell process with hydrogen and oxygen on one side and water on the other); thereby creating a low toxic battery solution.

Implied in this article is the idea of using centralized power plants and then at the point of use, home or business, creating a CCS which also creates a local, portable fuel. This brings us back to industrial solutions where the CCS is done at the plant where about half of all the energy produced is lost (heat from turbines) and CO2 is intense vs the 410 (to 900) parts per million in the atmosphere (and in buildings).

Hidden in this whole discussion is that scenario that is here and now, not futuristic. Renewable energy is cheaper and massively cleaner than conventional energy, and it can be located anywhere. Storage, in some form, is really the bottleneck; and storage in the form of synthetic fuels is a really, really cool (partial) solution.


Dittmeyer, R., Klumpp, M., Kant, P., & Ozin, G. (2019, April 30). Crowd oil not crude oil. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09685-x

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Microplastics everywhere... Blow'n in the Wind...

Here is an article in ARS Technica about an article in Nature Geoscience (2019) that talks about microplastics in the French The Pyrenees Mountains, a pristine place, except for, well, plastic!

The researchers made extremely controlled efforts to assure that they were not contaminating the samples gathered. But the plastics are coming in on the wind, and coming down (mainly, it seems) in perpetration. 

If microplastics are everywhere, then our impacts on the planet are far more, and far more prevasive than anyone has predicted. The ARS Technica article by  -
original article, remember the whole biomagnification thing. That's where fish each plants and plankton with plastics, Bigger fish eat those fish, and BIGGER animals like sharks, bears and humans, eat the biggest fish. The heavy metals, plastics and more will build up and up as they go up the food chain. And they tend to be retained at the highest order.

Sources: Nature Geoscience, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0335-5  (About DOIs).