Online resources and casual learners

Andrew Maynard has a new article in Nature Nanotechnology on using the internet to provide casual learners with science education resources, as part of his regular Responsible Nanotechnology slot:

Is nanotech failing casual learners?

Andrew D. Maynard
Nature Nanotechnology 11, 734–735 (2016) doi:10.1038/nnano.2016.167
(Link to article)

… there are indications that increasing numbers of casual learners are turning to online educational resources. As of February 2014, the Khan Academy — a ground-breaking initiative in user-directed learning — was attracting around 10 million unique users per month. And at the time of writing, the TED Talks YouTube channel had received over half a billion views, and the educational YouTube channel Crash Course had received nearly as many (as well as having over 4.5 million subscribers).

These numbers are impressive, and they suggest that large numbers of casual learners are actively seeking out online educational material. Yet none of the websites above have substantial nanotechnology content.

Read more at Nature Nanotechnology

Remediating hydrocarbon-contaminated land using nanoparticles and microiwaves

Risk Innovation Lab Scholar Justin Webb is co-author on a new paper that looks at a novel way to decontaminate land contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons.

From the paper’s summary:

Remediating soils contaminated with heavy hydrocarbons from petrochemical exploration activities is a major environmental challenge across the globe. Because, long chain, heavy petroleum hydrocarbons in soils create a persistent environmental liability and these heavier fractions are less prone to natural weathering processes. This study demonstrates that carbonaceous nanomaterials because of their favorable dielectric properties show extraordinary heating performances when mixed with soil and microwave irradiated. As a result, adding these nanomaterials to contaminated soils remove more petroleum hydrocarbons than macro-scale carbonaceous additives. These findings can pioneer a novel nanotechnology because large scale microwave systems are available and hold promise for remediating soils when used in conjunction with carbon nanomaterials.

The paper is published in the journal Environmental Science nano:

Apul, O. G., A. G. Delgado, J. Kidd, F. Alam, P. Dahlen and P. Westerhoff (2016). “Carbonaceous nano-additives augment microwave-enabled thermal remediation of soils containing petroleum hydrocarbons.” Environmental Science: Nano. DOI: 10.1039/c6en00261g