Gas: A Real Knockout

Some researchers have found that stinky sewer gas can really knock you out. They found that they could put mice into a state of near suspended-animation by exposing them to the smell.

“Hydrogen sulphide, a toxic gas that smells of rotten eggs, occurs naturally in swamps, springs and volcanoes.

But in mice, it was found to slow down heart rate and breathing and decrease body temperature, while keeping a normal blood pressure.”

A New Way to Produce Coal From Biomass

Good news from Germany!
Markus Antonietti from Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces has devised a chemical process that converts biomass like leaves, pine cones and other plant residue into wet coal (coal + water). Biomass goes into the autoclave, a kind of pressure cooker, water goes in, too, along with a citric acid catalyst. A chemical reaction takes place and coal is produced.

The single major by-product of the reaction is water, which can be filtered off. In contrast to other biomass techniques this reaction does not generate carbon dioxide. It also gives a higher energy product, which even smells acceptable.

We underestimated this when we started. We could calculate how much energy was stored in the sugar – in the leaf material. But the first time – as you see – we had a runaway reaction, which is obviously dangerous, so we need to carry it out under safe conditions.

-Markus Antonietti

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