Monday, September 17, 2018

A mushroom that recycles plastic

A group of students of Biochemistry at Yale University have discovered a fungus, called Pestalotiopsis microspora, which can break down plastic. The finding may be a "breakthrough" for the recycling sector, experts say.



The discovery occurred when students Pria Anand, Jeffrey Huang and Jonathan Russell conducted a study in the Ecuadorian Amazon collecting bodies -Mushrooms endophytes or bacteria that live at least part of their lives in symbiosis in plant tissues without causing sickness and They found the species. After the finding, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Anand decided to investigate whether the endophytes he had collected had biological activity in the presence of plastic, while Huang investigated the ability of organisms to break chemical bonds. In this way they were able to identify the most efficient enzymes in the decomposition of polyurethane, a plastic widely used in the manufacture of synthetic fibers, parts for electronic devices and foams for thermal insulation.

Experts point out that several species of fungi can decompose plastic at least partially, but "Pestalotiopsis is the only one that can do it without the presence of oxygen", something that they consider "fundamental" for future landfill applications.

Yale students have also indicated that, with the help of this fungus, objects such as plastic bags, "which take years to decompose," could have "a shorter life." However, they have also warned that transforming a laboratory finding into an industrial-scale tool will be a long process.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Recycle diapers to create energy, fertilizer and new materials

The "Happy Nappy" program of the French company Suez Environnement, recently launched, aims to make use of the thousands of used diapers that babies generate every year. Thanks to various treatments could be achieved to generate energy, fertilizer for plants and new materials from reused plastic.



Each baby needs about 6,000 diapers in its first 24 months of life, which means every year, in our country, hundreds of thousands of dirty diapers are thrown away. What if we could recycle them? It is precisely what this French company is carrying out through its subsidiary Sita.

The first thing to analyze is the composition of the diaper used. Of the total, most (between 50 and 70 percent) are organic waste, followed by plastics and fibers with between 10 and 20 percent and finally the absorbent polymers, which represent between 5 and 10 percent of the total.



For its recycling the first thing that is done is the crushing to separate the different parts, to later treat them independently.

Once separated each material receives a treatment. The organic waste goes to a purification system and sludge that will produce biogas and fertilizers for future use in agriculture. For its part, plastics would function as the raw material for the manufacture of new compounds.

As explained by Jean-Louis Chaussade, CEO of Suez Environnement, "the creation and positive results of this pilot project perfectly illustrate the synergies that exist between garbage and the water business, and how our technologies and capabilities can lead to creation of a new waste valorization scheme ".


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tests for a fiber package dedicated to precooked meals

The world is facing a steady increase in the consumption of precooked dishes. Beyond the consequences of this "diet" for human health, the packaging of such meals is very harmful to the environment. The black plastic used in pre-cooked packaging generates enormous problems of waste management since the lasers that process the waste to be recycled can not easily identify what type of material it is.



Consumers and producers, concerned about the impact of this type of packaging, agree to use more sustainable materials. The supermarkets have also agreed to gradually eliminate this type of packaging, a task in which a team of researchers and scientists financed by European funds will work.

A new tray designed by the Finnish container manufacturer Huhtamaki offers a viable alternative to black plastic. Developed in collaboration with the partners of the FRESH, Södra and SaladWorks project, the product is part of an effort to sell biological packaging for ready meals in the UK market.

The company tested its fiber-based packaging in May and June in two pre-cooked dishes of Italian cuisine. "We are confident that the new proposal will be well received and that it will be a turning point for the adoption of biological packaging in this segment," said Steve Davey de Huhtamaki in an article in the magazine "Packaging Europe". Recognizing the need for alternatives based on renewable materials, Huhtamaki is confident that the tests will lead to the adoption of biological packaging in this segment.

In a notice published on the website of the Finnish company it is explained that the new material has the texture of the board and is created with fiber derived from sources certified by the Forest Management Council. Created in 1993, this council works to ensure that forests around the world are managed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.



Developed by Södra, partner of FRESH, this renewable material is called Durapulp and is a biocomposite based on a mixture of cellulose and polylactic acid (PLA) that does not include genetically modified organisms in its raw material. "It is a renewable and adequate alternative for storing sensitive products such as food," said Catrin Gustavsson, Senior Vice President of Innovation and New Business Opportunities in Södra.

The FRESH project (FRESH - Fully bio based and bio degradable ready meal packaging), which will last three and a half years until 2020, aims to generate innovative alternatives based on high quality cellulose to the trays of plastics derived from fossil fuels through a new lamination technology. The objectives of the project are to achieve a much lower environmental footprint (a CO2 reduction of more than 80%) during the life cycle of the project compared to other packaging materials based on fossil fuels. Its general objective is to offer a complete value chain, from the production of materials to the end user, in which the technical and economic feasibility of an alternative to the containers for pre-cooked meals is fully biological and biodegradable.

The final product of FRESH could offer important environmental, economic and even job creation advantages. It would also demonstrate that it is an element of change for the distributors, the catering companies -for example, airlines and home food services for the elderly- and missions in remote areas that cover both civilian and military needs.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Six sentences about biodiversity




We collect six sentences about the importance of conserving the planet's biodiversity:

"It is a basic error to treat the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman Daly, economist.

"The species are like bricks in the construction of a building, we can lose one or two dozen bricks without the house wobbling, but if 20% of the species disappears, the entire structure is destabilized and collapses. ecosystem". Donald Falk, ecologist at the University of Arizona (USA).

"Natural species constitute the library with which genetic engineers work." Thomas E. Lovejoy, conservationist.

"Every time we lose a species we break a chain of life that has evolved over 3,500 million years." Jeffrey McNeely, IUCN scientist.

"Destroying the rainforests for money is like using a Renaissance artwork to make a fire to prepare dinner." E.O. Wilson, biologist.

"Once a species is extinguished, no law can make it return: it has left forever." Allen M. Solomon, ecologist.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

What is responsible or sustainable tourism



Sustainable tourism is one that is committed to having a low impact on the environment and local culture. According to the World Tourism Organization, it is defined as "that fully takes into account the current and future economic, social and environmental impacts to meet the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and the host communities."

For some years, an accrediting body linked to UNESCO and called the Global Council of Sustainable Tourism has awarded the "Biosphere World Class Destination" certificate, which recognizes companies, destinations, products and tourist establishments that have made sustainable tourism the central axis of Your activities. Barcelona was the first urban destination in the world to obtain this certification in 2011.

In Europe, according to a recent report from Voyageprive.com, Spain offers 50% of the offer of all the ecological tourist destinations of the continent.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Do the plants recycle?



The answer is yes. How do they do that? The recycling process of plants is called endocytosis and is based on the movement of molecules into the cell. Now, thanks to a team of scientists led by the Institute VIB (The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology), the University of Ghent (Belgium), and the Max Planck Institute (Germany) has managed to identify a new complex of adapter proteins, essential in this process and found only in the plants. The results of the study have been published in the journal Cell.

The new complex, called TPLATE, is part of a small number of adapter proteins that confirms a great discovery in evolutionary terms, since research focused on the endocytosis of plants, animals and yeast has been carried out for decades and it is the first time In the history we discover a protein complex that exists exclusively in plants.

The complex is made up of the TPLATE protein and seven other proteins not described so far. This protein complex has proved to be essential for plant endocytosis since it is the first to reach the area of ​​the membrane where endocytosis must begin, since the cell has to constantly adjust the lipid and protein composition of its membrane; and, for this, old proteins are eliminated or recycled when new proteins are incorporated in the process.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Videogames to learn history, economics and environment



Current video games not only entertain. Some such as Age of Empires, Caesar and even Sim City have become effective information and training tools, as confirmed by researchers at the University of Huelva (UHU) in an article published in the magazine Computers & Education.

According to the experts of the UHU, videogames have a proven utility for the teaching of Social Sciences. His research project, directed by José María Cuenca López and Miriam Martín Cáceres, had as fundamental axis the analysis of 35 programs with different themes (Politics, Geography and History ...) among more than 400 Primary and Secondary School students from centers of Huelva

Experts believe that new technologies have led to the emergence of dynamic games with different levels of interaction, in which huge amounts of data, information, procedures and values ​​are intimately linked. "We have been able to appreciate not only an improvement in the teaching process, but a better predisposition of the student to access this information", underlines José María Cuenca. Cuenca López and Martín Cáceres divided the essay into several disciplines. To analyze the History, they used the Age of Empires video games and the Empire Earth. For Town Planning and Territory, they did the same with Caesar and Sim City. And the teachings related to Democracy and Citizen Participation, Economy and Business, and Environment were resolved with Sim City, Wall Street Trader and The Settlers, respectively.

Those that had greater acceptance were those of historical content - "by the spectacularity of the images and the dynamism of the development of the game" - and those related to the territory. However, he says, "it would be interesting to narrow the content filters to offer greater rigor over what is published."

"Video games have become laboratories for social experiments, especially because they reproduce scenarios, conditions and situations that affect a specific human phenomenon," he says. In this way, the researcher intends to break a spear in favor of "good use" of this technology, both in classrooms and in homes. "It requires, on the other hand, efforts of the teachers, it is a complementary technique," he says.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Plocan, a boost to the Blue Economy

The objective of the future multifunctional ocean complexes will be to promote and optimize the management of maritime space in coherence with the Blue Economy concept promoted by the European Commission.





Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) is a marine research and technology laboratory funded by the EU, the Spanish Government and the Government of the Canary Islands. Installed 1.5 kilometers from the northeast coast of the island of Gran Canaria, it welcomes teams of scientists working in fields such as biotechnology, renewable energy, and in the study and observation of the ocean.

This initiative contributes to the Blue Economy promoted by the European Commission, which seeks to create employment and wealth in the marine and maritime sectors, in a way that respects the environment. Thus, the research and technologies developed in PLOCAN will eventually reach society in the form of sustainable products and businesses.


One of the new initiatives of PLOCAN is the REDSUB project, an electrical network to support experimentation and testing of new technologies that use marine energy resources to generate electricity and connect technologies for observation at increasing depths. The system consists of predominantly submarine wiring capable of transporting energy to earth up to 15 MW.





TROPOS, the ocean of tomorrow

PLOCAN has led the TROPOS project, co-financed by the European Commission and developed over 36 months in three regions: a tropical one, Taiwan; a subtropical, Canary Islands; and a Mediterranean, Crete.

This initiative has consisted of the design of a multifunctional oceanic complex that integrates the exploitation of oceanic energy resources -especially the wind-, aquaculture, maritime transport related to both sectors and leisure, in three regions.

The TROPOS project was chosen by the European Commission within the framework of The Ocean of Tomorrow program, which proposes "joining research efforts to face the challenges of ocean management" through the development of multifunctional complexes.

TROPOS aims to optimize the use of maritime space, in anticipation of the perspective of global population growth and the current limitation of land space in coastal areas and their subsequent degradation. The program had a financing of 14 million euros, of which 4.9 were for TROPOS.

The objective of these future multifunctional ocean complexes would be to combine different sectors of activity to promote and optimize maritime space management in coherence with the Blue Economy concept promoted by the European Commission.

The complexes would be adapted to deep waters and would allow the exploitation of the oceanic resources and their interrelation with the economy and the environment. TROPOS, promoted by PLOCAN, in addition to energy, aquaculture and transport, introduced leisure as a differentiating element, proposing recreational activities (floating restaurants, sailing, diving ...) and observation of cetaceans and birds.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ecological hotels, the best bet to attract millennial tourism

Forests are one of the great gifts of nature: they are not only a symbol of life, but they offer quiet spaces where the guest can relax, disconnect and recover energy and inspiration. Millennials are increasingly committed to a healthy lifestyle and green hotels are gaining more and more followers. Nature regains prominence, so designing a hotel in rural and forested areas has turned into a winning bet.

Booking.com proposes as an example these seven ecological hotels surrounded by lush forests. These paradisiacal accommodations, with their beautiful surroundings, can offer future entrepreneurs ideas of success for future projects.


Planet Zero Retreat, Anji, China

This resort, located in Anji and 5 kilometers from the Anji Zhongnan Scenic Gardens Area, has reduced the carbon footprint to its minimum expression. It offers rooms in the shape of a sphere surrounded by a beautiful bamboo forest. Travelers can use the free bicycles offered by the resort to explore the unspoiled nature of the surroundings of the Planet Zero Retreat or relax on the terrace while enjoying a drink.


Treehotel, Harads, Sweden

The iconic Treehotel is located in a pine forest in northern Sweden and is a unique accommodation that combines the most modern architecture and design with all the amenities you need to feel at home. Its ecological rooms were built with the environment in mind, and the kitchen serves typical game dishes with ingredients from the area.


Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Oak Beach, Australia

Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a place of retirement respectful with the environment and is located on the coast, in an area with more than 56 hectares of native tropical forest. It has a private beach and stunning views of the Coral Sea.

This eco-friendly accommodation features boutique-style bungalows made of wood, an organic coconut plantation and natural granite pools with waterfalls. Take the opportunity to live in full virgin nature in an area full of trails to enjoy the flora and fauna, and with a wide range of bird watching tours.



Whitepod, Monthey, Switzerland

This exclusive accommodation offers several capsules anchored to a wooden platform and surrounded by a virgin forest located at 1,400 meters above sea level. Each capsule has a pellet stove, windows overlooking the valley and a small terrace from where you can enjoy nature and the incredible views of the wooded mountain range.


A Walden's Pond, Soldotna, USA

Walden's Pond is an ideal place for those looking for a beautiful cabin in the middle of the forest, to be surrounded by nature and receive a friendly treatment from their friendly hosts. According to Booking.com travelers, this accommodation is a hidden treasure in the middle of nature in Alaska, where you will have the feeling of living a great adventure in a remote area of ​​dense boreal forest.


Casa Luna Hotel & Spa, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The Casa Luna Hotel & Spa is located on the outskirts of the Arenal Volcano National Park. It is an ecological accommodation with infinite views of the volcano and the virgin forest. If you want to connect with nature, here you will be surrounded by lush forests and you will have the Fortuna Waterfall just 2 km away.



Marataba Safari Lodge, Hartbeestfontein, South Africa

The Marataba Safari Lodge awaits you with its elegantly decorated shops, made of stone and fabric. It is located in the Marakele National Park, located at the foot of the Waterberg Mountains. This beautiful lodge offers guided safaris to see wildlife, hiking trails and river trips. You can enjoy meals outdoors under an African acacia, or relax on their lounge chairs by the pool, and even enjoy a good book in its spacious living room with fireplace.


Mas Salagros EcoResort, Spain

Just 20 minutes from Barcelona, ​​in the middle of a natural reserve, Mas Salagros EcoResort is found, surrounded by beautiful views of the protected park of the Serralada Litoral. Submerged in a slow philosophy, it is an ideal place to enjoy 100% ecological gastronomy. It also has Roman baths and endless sustainable activities. The Mas Salagros project was created with the intention of offering something more than a hotel, betting on responsible and sustainable tourism.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Giant solar power plant in Africa could power up Europe

At the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, the efforts to move towards more sustainable energies are also felt, with one of the largest solar plants in the world, that of Noor in Uarzazate.

One of the objectives of this solar power plant is the energy transition, exemplifying the path open to Africa, which places the hope in having a new source of income that drives the development of the most impoverished continent.

This is a very ambitious renewable energy plan, since Morocco is located in a continent that seeks to reduce its energy dependence and at the same time, sees in the exploitation of energy to the developed countries an option that takes off from the Magred (northern region of the continent African) to the Middle East and from there to Sub-Saharan Africa based on this Solar Power Plant.


Morocco hopes that by 2030, half of the country's energy consumption by 52% will come from clean energy.

To achieve these objectives, much depends on the sun, air and water, part of them have already been incorporated thanks to the installation of the Uarzazate thermo solar plant, a desert door that is a cradle of adaptation of energy from the sun, which shines in this place for 330 days a year. Producing for three hours once the sun goes down, with its storage of energy in reserves with molten salts based on sodium and potassium nitrates.

The solar plant will continue to grow once Noor II and Noor III are completed, which are the two phases that are underway with an investment of 1,800 million euros. The authorities estimate that after they finish construction of the plant in 2020 approximately, it will provide up to 2000 megawatts (unit of measurement of electrical energy).

The impulse of the Moroccan government to clean energy is spread throughout Africa, with plants under construction in the Middle East and in South Africa, as well as in Rwanda, Uganda or Ghana; countries that can find in the sun an alternative for the supply, to produce energy for the exterior and, with it, to find a new income channel for the continent.