New advances in biofuels
A team of researchers at the US department of energy's (DOE) BioEnergy science centre, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been congratulated by Steven Chu, the US energy secretary, for using bacteria to convert plant matter directly into isobutanol. The alcohol has a heat value similar to that of petrol and can be used to power regular cars, without the need to convert the engine.
Researcher Luke Van Parijs, who worked on RNA interference, was fired from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the US, in 2005, after admitting fabricating data. He has now pleaded guilty in the US District Court in Boston, to making a false statement on a federal grant application. MIT started an investigation after questions were raised about his research by his students and post docs.
Nuclear power stress tests
European Union commissioner GŁnther Oettinger made a special appearance before the EU parliament's energy committee to discuss stress tests on nuclear reactors in Europe, after the ongoing nuclear accident in Japan. The Commission will prepare EU-wide assessment criteria by June, and should include risk assessments of possible damage by earthquakes and high water. The tests themselves are hoped to be concluded by the end of the year.
22 million tonnes
The amount of phosphorus estimated to flow from the land to the marine environment every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme's 2011 year book.