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A Path to Carbon-Free Ammonia?

With more than 7 billion people on the planet, one of the most critical molecules manufactured industrially is also one of the simplest, NH3, ammonia. If the industrial synthesis of ammonia were to stop tomorrow, billions of people would undoubtedly...

Posted August 14, 2014    

Better Chemistry, Better Biofuels? The Glycerol Glut, Solketal, and Other Floating Ideas

Along with other forms of so called “renewable energy,” I have come to hold a jaundiced view of biofuels, largely because of their inevitable competition with food supplies, as well as some concern about land use and the pressure placed on natural...

Posted April 3, 2014    

Is the World Health Organization Underestimating the Annual Deaths from Biomass by Two Million?

While browsing the news and comments portion of an issue of Nature I came upon a note by two scientists, Ambuj D. Sagar of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India, and Kirk R. Smith of the University of California, Berkeley, USA, [...

Posted September 5, 2013    

Technetium: Dangerous Nuclear Energy Waste or Essential Strategic Resource?

Technetium, which has the chemical symbol Tc, is the 43rd element in the periodic table.  All of its known isotopes are radioactive.   One isotope – one that is actually quite difficult to obtain – 98Tc, has a half-life of 4.2 million...

Posted June 24, 2013    

Are Electric Cars Green? The External Cost of Lithium Batteries

One of the more fashionable concepts that one hears among people who regard themselves as environmentalists, is that the world would be much better off if only we could make the electric car mainstream.   Without having engaged in any kind...

Posted May 15, 2013