Category Archives: Plants & Technology

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Autumn leaves, The Untapped Industrial Resource?

Very little use has been made of fallen leaves so far. They are either left on the ground, composted or burned resulting in full landfills and a growing carbon dioxide load. Autumn leaves derive their colour from orange and yellow carotenoids and red anthocyanins. In addition to pigments, autumn leaves contain many beneficial compounds, such as phenols, lignin, carbohydrates and protein. There is a fast-growing need for natural pigments in various industries around the world – for example, these natural pigments can even have health-promoting effects and use as nutraceuticals. (Click on title for full story.)

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Turning Plants Into Machines: Spinach Becomes Explosives Sensor

Spinach is no longer just a superfood: By embedding leaves with carbon nanotubes, MIT engineers have transformed spinach plants into sensors that can detect explosives and wirelessly relay that information to a handheld device similar to a smartphone. This is one of the first demonstrations of engineering electronic systems into plants, an approach that the researchers call “plant nanobionics.” (Click on title for full story.)

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Coffee Can Remove Lead And Mercury From Water

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the U.S., which makes for a perky population — but it also creates a lot of used grounds. Scientists now report an innovative way to reduce this waste and help address another environmental problem. They have incorporated spent coffee grounds in a foam filter that can remove harmful lead and mercury from water. (Click on title for full story.)

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Can Algae Fill Our Voracious And Destructive Appetite For Shrimp?

A technique for making fake, plant-based shrimp out of algae. The algae turns the shrimp red and is a powerful antioxidant. The srimp are shaped like regular shrimp, and even have the rubbery texture and faintly fishy taste of real shrimp. They are vegan, kosher, have zero cholesterol, and are safe to eat for people with shellfish allergies. (Click on title for full story.)

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Taking Guesswork Out Of Using Native Plants In Highway Verge Plantings And Maintenance

There’s no question that regional vegetation is a better ecological choice, but now it can also be a better economical one (Click on title for full story)

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If You Live On Mars, Get Used To GMO Plants

Unlike the Earth situation, controversy does not surround the question of whether the highly concentrated perchlorate in the Mars dirt would be a health issue for humans. It certain would be, and that’s one reason why biotechnology will be key to Martian colonies. (Click on title for full story.)

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Can Date Seeds Cleanse Toxic Environments?

But what if, rather than throw these pits away, we could use them to address a very modern issue, solving a serious problem that plagues people around the world and especially those in countries ravaged by conflict such as Iraq and Syria? What if we could use them to remove toxins from the environment? )Click on title for full story.)

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Roses Teach Engineers How To Improve Solar Cells

A team led by engineers has taken its cue from the botanical world, and incorporated transparent replicas of a rose petal’s epidermal cells into an organic photovoltaic structure. (Click on title for full story.)

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Someday Sunscreen May Contain Trees

The researchers showed that out of five types of lignin tested, organosolv lignin improved the sun protection factor (SPF) of sunblock the most. Sunscreen containing just one percent of this compound had double the lotion’s original SPF — it went from 15 to 30. (Click on title for full story.)

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Plant Can Remove Heavy Metals From Water

While still early, the researchers think that their findings add to solving the problem of water pollution by using cheap but effective and fully natural-derived adsorbents to remove heavy metal ions from water; an urgent problem for developing countries which struggle with drinking water shortages. (Click on title for full story.)