SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Hydrogen

514

It is often suggested that coffee causes dehydration and its consumption should be avoided or significantly reduced to maintain fluid balance. The aim of this study was to directly compare the effects of coffee consumption against water ingestion across a range of validated hydration assessment techniques. In a counterbalanced cross-over design, 50 male coffee drinkers (habitually consuming 3-6 cups per day) participated in two trials, each lasting three consecutive days. In addition to controlled physical activity, food and fluid intake, participants consumed either 4×200 mL of coffee containing 4 mg/kg caffeine © or water (W). Total body water (TBW) was calculated pre- and post-trial via ingestion of Deuterium Oxide. Urinary and haematological hydration markers were recorded daily in addition to nude body mass measurement (BM). Plasma was analysed for caffeine to confirm compliance. There were no significant changes in TBW from beginning to end of either trial and no differences between trials (51.5±1.4 vs. 51.4±1.3 kg, for C and W, respectively). No differences were observed between trials across any haematological markers or in 24 h urine volume (2409±660 vs. 2428±669 mL, for C and W, respectively), USG, osmolality or creatinine. Mean urinary Na(+) excretion was higher in C than W (p = 0.02). No significant differences in BM were found between conditions, although a small progressive daily fall was observed within both trials (0.4±0.5 kg; p<0.05). Our data show that there were no significant differences across a wide range of haematological and urinary markers of hydration status between trials. These data suggest that coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar hydrating qualities to water.

Concepts: Urine, Water, Hydrogen, Coffee, Dehydration, Caffeine, Deuterium, Drink

403

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are transforming energy production, but their potential environmental effects remain controversial. We analyzed 141 drinking water wells across the Appalachian Plateaus physiographic province of northeastern Pennsylvania, examining natural gas concentrations and isotopic signatures with proximity to shale gas wells. Methane was detected in 82% of drinking water samples, with average concentrations six times higher for homes <1 km from natural gas wells (P = 0.0006). Ethane was 23 times higher in homes <1 km from gas wells (P = 0.0013); propane was detected in 10 water wells, all within approximately 1 km distance (P = 0.01). Of three factors previously proposed to influence gas concentrations in shallow groundwater (distances to gas wells, valley bottoms, and the Appalachian Structural Front, a proxy for tectonic deformation), distance to gas wells was highly significant for methane concentrations (P = 0.007; multiple regression), whereas distances to valley bottoms and the Appalachian Structural Front were not significant (P = 0.27 and P = 0.11, respectively). Distance to gas wells was also the most significant factor for Pearson and Spearman correlation analyses (P < 0.01). For ethane concentrations, distance to gas wells was the only statistically significant factor (P < 0.005). Isotopic signatures (δ(13)C-CH4, δ(13)C-C2H6, and δ(2)H-CH4), hydrocarbon ratios (methane to ethane and propane), and the ratio of the noble gas (4)He to CH4 in groundwater were characteristic of a thermally postmature Marcellus-like source in some cases. Overall, our data suggest that some homeowners living <1 km from gas wells have drinking water contaminated with stray gases.

Concepts: Statistics, Hydrogen, Petroleum, Hydrocarbon, Natural gas, Methane, Ethane, Shale gas

255

The permanent ice cover of Lake Vida (Antarctica) encapsulates an extreme cryogenic brine ecosystem (-13 °C; salinity, 200). This aphotic ecosystem is anoxic and consists of a slightly acidic (pH 6.2) sodium chloride-dominated brine. Expeditions in 2005 and 2010 were conducted to investigate the biogeochemistry of Lake Vida’s brine system. A phylogenetically diverse and metabolically active Bacteria dominated microbial assemblage was observed in the brine. These bacteria live under very high levels of reduced metals, ammonia, molecular hydrogen (H(2)), and dissolved organic carbon, as well as high concentrations of oxidized species of nitrogen (i.e., supersaturated nitrous oxide and ∼1 mmol⋅L(-1) nitrate) and sulfur (as sulfate). The existence of this system, with active biota, and a suite of reduced as well as oxidized compounds, is unusual given the millennial scale of its isolation from external sources of energy. The geochemistry of the brine suggests that abiotic brine-rock reactions may occur in this system and that the rich sources of dissolved electron acceptors prevent sulfate reduction and methanogenesis from being energetically favorable. The discovery of this ecosystem and the in situ biotic and abiotic processes occurring at low temperature provides a tractable system to study habitability of isolated terrestrial cryoenvironments (e.g., permafrost cryopegs and subglacial ecosystems), and is a potential analog for habitats on other icy worlds where water-rock reactions may cooccur with saline deposits and subsurface oceans.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Water, Hydrogen, Redox, Oxidizing agent, Nitrogen, Carbon

219

We have developed an implantable fuel cell that generates power through glucose oxidation, producing 3.4 μW cm(-2) steady-state power and up to 180 μW cm(-2) peak power. The fuel cell is manufactured using a novel approach, employing semiconductor fabrication techniques, and is therefore well suited for manufacture together with integrated circuits on a single silicon wafer. Thus, it can help enable implantable microelectronic systems with long-lifetime power sources that harvest energy from their surrounds. The fuel reactions are mediated by robust, solid state catalysts. Glucose is oxidized at the nanostructured surface of an activated platinum anode. Oxygen is reduced to water at the surface of a self-assembled network of single-walled carbon nanotubes, embedded in a Nafion film that forms the cathode and is exposed to the biological environment. The catalytic electrodes are separated by a Nafion membrane. The availability of fuel cell reactants, oxygen and glucose, only as a mixture in the physiologic environment, has traditionally posed a design challenge: Net current production requires oxidation and reduction to occur separately and selectively at the anode and cathode, respectively, to prevent electrochemical short circuits. Our fuel cell is configured in a half-open geometry that shields the anode while exposing the cathode, resulting in an oxygen gradient that strongly favors oxygen reduction at the cathode. Glucose reaches the shielded anode by diffusing through the nanotube mesh, which does not catalyze glucose oxidation, and the Nafion layers, which are permeable to small neutral and cationic species. We demonstrate computationally that the natural recirculation of cerebrospinal fluid around the human brain theoretically permits glucose energy harvesting at a rate on the order of at least 1 mW with no adverse physiologic effects. Low-power brain-machine interfaces can thus potentially benefit from having their implanted units powered or recharged by glucose fuel cells.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Enzyme, Hydrogen, Redox, Electrochemistry, Carbon, Electrochemical cell, Electrolysis

197

Perchlorates have been identified on the surface of Mars. This has prompted speculation of what their influence would be on habitability. We show that when irradiated with a simulated Martian UV flux, perchlorates become bacteriocidal. At concentrations associated with Martian surface regolith, vegetative cells of Bacillus subtilis in Martian analogue environments lost viability within minutes. Two other components of the Martian surface, iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide, act in synergy with irradiated perchlorates to cause a 10.8-fold increase in cell death when compared to cells exposed to UV radiation after 60 seconds of exposure. These data show that the combined effects of at least three components of the Martian surface, activated by surface photochemistry, render the present-day surface more uninhabitable than previously thought, and demonstrate the low probability of survival of biological contaminants released from robotic and human exploration missions.

Concepts: DNA, Oxygen, Human, Ultraviolet, Sun, Hydrogen, Mars, Electromagnetic spectrum

182

The emergence of oxygen-producing (oxygenic) photosynthesis fundamentally transformed our planet; however, the processes that led to the evolution of biological water splitting have remained largely unknown. To illuminate this history, we examined the behavior of the ancient Mn cycle using newly obtained scientific drill cores through an early Paleoproterozoic succession (2.415 Ga) preserved in South Africa. These strata contain substantial Mn enrichments (up to ∼17 wt %) well before those associated with the rise of oxygen such as the ∼2.2 Ga Kalahari Mn deposit. Using microscale X-ray spectroscopic techniques coupled to optical and electron microscopy and carbon isotope ratios, we demonstrate that the Mn is hosted exclusively in carbonate mineral phases derived from reduction of Mn oxides during diagenesis of primary sediments. Additional observations of independent proxies for O2-multiple S isotopes (measured by isotope-ratio mass spectrometry and secondary ion mass spectrometry) and redox-sensitive detrital grains-reveal that the original Mn-oxide phases were not produced by reactions with O2, which points to a different high-potential oxidant. These results show that the oxidative branch of the Mn cycle predates the rise of oxygen, and provide strong support for the hypothesis that the water-oxidizing complex of photosystem II evolved from a former transitional photosystem capable of single-electron oxidation reactions of Mn.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Evolution, Hydrogen, Redox, Oxidizing agent, Carbon

177

Fire whirls are powerful, spinning disasters for people and surroundings when they occur in large urban and wildland fires. Whereas fire whirls have been studied for fire-safety applications, previous research has yet to harness their potential burning efficiency for enhanced combustion. This article presents laboratory studies of fire whirls initiated as pool fires, but where the fuel sits on a water surface, suggesting the idea of exploiting the high efficiency of fire whirls for oil-spill remediation. We show the transition from a pool fire, to a fire whirl, and then to a previously unobserved state, a “blue whirl.” A blue whirl is smaller, very stable, and burns completely blue as a hydrocarbon flame, indicating soot-free burning. The combination of fast mixing, intense swirl, and the water-surface boundary creates the conditions leading to nearly soot-free combustion. With the worldwide need to reduce emissions from both wanted and unwanted combustion, discovery of this state points to possible new pathways for reduced-emission combustion and fuel-spill cleanup. Because current methods to generate a stable vortex are difficult, we also propose that the blue whirl may serve as a research platform for fundamental studies of vortices and vortex breakdown in fluid mechanics.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Hydrogen, Tornado, Fire, Combustion, Vortices, Fuel, Flame

176

The history of the Earth system is a story of change. Some changes are gradual and benign, but others, especially those associated with catastrophic mass extinction, are relatively abrupt and destructive. What sets one group apart from the other? Here, I hypothesize that perturbations of Earth’s carbon cycle lead to mass extinction if they exceed either a critical rate at long time scales or a critical size at short time scales. By analyzing 31 carbon isotopic events during the past 542 million years, I identify the critical rate with a limit imposed by mass conservation. Identification of the crossover time scale separating fast from slow events then yields the critical size. The modern critical size for the marine carbon cycle is roughly similar to the mass of carbon that human activities will likely have added to the oceans by the year 2100.

Concepts: Oxygen, Evolution, Earth, Hydrogen, Mass, Greek loanwords, Global warming, Extinction event

171

We report a novel approach to synthesize chemical vapor deposition-grown three-dimensional graphene nano-networks (3D-GNs) that can be mass produced with large-area coverage. Annealing of a PVA/iron precursor under a hydrogen environment, infiltrated into 3D-assembled-colloidal silicas reduces iron ions and generates few-layer graphene by precipitation of carbon on the iron surface. The 3D-GN can be grown on any electronic device-compatible substrate, such as Al2O3, Si, GaN, or Quartz. The conductivity and surface area of a 3D-GN are 52 S/cm and 1,025 m(2)/g, respectively, which are much better than the previously reported values. Furthermore, electrochemical double-layer capacitors based on the 3D-GN have superior supercapacitor performance with a specific capacitance of 245 F/g and 96.5% retention after 6,000 cycles due to the outstanding conductivity and large surface area. The excellent performance of the 3D-GN as an electrode for supercapacitors suggests the great potential of interconnected graphene networks in nano-electronic devices and energy-related materials.

Concepts: Earth, Hydrogen, Industrial Revolution, Carbon, Aluminium, Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide, Surface area

170

Studies of the interaction between hydrogen and graphene have been increasingly required due to the indispensable modulation of the electronic structure of graphene for device applications and the possibility of using graphene as a hydrogen storage material. Here, we report on the behaviour of molecular hydrogen on graphene using the gate voltage-dependent resistance of single-, bi-, and multi-layer graphene sheets as a function of H(2) gas pressure up to 24 bar from 300 K to 345 K. Upon H(2) exposure, the charge neutrality point shifts toward the negative gate voltage region, indicating n-type doping, and distinct Raman signature changes, increases in the interlayer distance of multi-layer graphene, and a decrease in the d-spacing occur, as determined by TEM. These results demonstrate the occurrence of dissociative H(2) adsorption due to the existence of vacancy defects on graphene.

Concepts: Oxygen, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Atom, Pressure, Gas, Liquid hydrogen, Hydrogen storage