Air pollution affects brain development – but when does the damage start?

90% of brain development happens by the age of four, so scientists want to understand the effects of air pollution at the earliest stages of life. Image credit - Unsplash/Pixabay, licenced under Unsplash licence

by Ian Le Guillou The emergency rooms in Barcelona were collapsing under the pressure. Hundreds of patients were arriving in desperate need as they struggled to breathe, while intensive care units struggled to cope with the sudden influx of respiratory problems. Epidemiologists scrambled to trace the source of the outbreak.  This epidemic in the 1980s might … Read more

Quiet and green: Why hydrogen planes could be the future of aviation

Hydrogen-powered planes are still in their infancy but the first commercial versions could enter the European market by 2035 according to a new report. Image credit - DLR/CC BY-3.0

by Jonathan O’Callaghan Today, aviation is responsible for 3.6% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Modern planes use kerosene as fuel, releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if there was another way? One possible solution is to use a new type of fuel in planes that doesn’t produce harmful emissions – hydrogen. Long-touted as a sustainable … Read more

How Europe’s city façades and pavements are being used to harvest clean energy

A coat of special green paint used on panels at a school gym in Almere, the Netherlands, helps the panels absorb sunlight for heating and for hot water. Image credit - Emergo

Building façades and pavements in Dutch and Italian cities are being turned into smart, energy-harvesting surfaces and equipped with sensors to power, heat and cool spaces and even monitor roads. Europeans have become used to seeing solar panels on the roofs of buildings. But there are plenty of other man-made surfaces in our cities and … Read more

Making coal from food waste, garden cuttings – and even human sewage

Millions of tonnes of organic waste are currently dumped in landfill, where it decomposes and gives off greenhouse gases. Image credit - Pixabay/Ben_Kerckx, licenced under Pixabay licence

Food waste, garden cuttings, manure, and even human sewage can be turned into solid biocoal for energy generation, and, if scaled up, could help match the industrial demand for carbon with the need to get rid of organic waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Europe has a biowaste problem. Rather than using the carbon-rich material … Read more

How hard-to-recycle plastic is being made as good as new

The packaging of fresh foods such as meat and cheese often uses a variety of layers of different plastic types which need to be separated before recycling. Image credit - Pixabay/ photosforyou, licenced under pixabay licence

New recycling technologies currently being tested may allow plastics such as single-use food packaging, fibre-reinforced car parts and mattress foam – polymers which often wind up in landfills or are incinerated – to have more than just a second life: they can become as good as new. Plastic waste is a growing environmental concern. About … Read more