Environment Current Affairs

Earth’s bedrock: New source of global nitrogen discovered

According to recently published study, over quarter of nitrogen on Earth comes from weathering of planet’s bedrock. For centuries, prevailing science indicated that all of nitrogen on Earth available to plants comes from atmosphere. This study could greatly improve climate change projections.

Key Facts

The study has found that up to 26% of nitrogen in natural ecosystems is sourced from weathering of rocks, with remaining fraction from atmosphere. But input of this nitrogen source in global land system is unknown.

This study shows that nitrogen weathering is globally significant source of nutrition to soils and ecosystems worldwide. Ecosystems need nitrogen and other nutrients to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution and there is limited amount of it available from plants and soils.

Geology and carbon sequestration: Rock-derived nitrogen may fuel growth of forests and grasslands, and allow them to sequester more CO2 than previously thought. However, according to this study not just any rock can leach nitrogen. Rock nitrogen availability is determined by weathering, which can be physical, such as through tectonic movement or chemical i.e. when minerals react with rainwater.

Significance: The discovery will greatly improve climate change projections, which rely on understanding carbon cycle. It will also feed carbon cycle on land, allowing ecosystems to pull more emissions out of the atmosphere. Mapping nutrient profiles in rocks for their carbon uptake potential can help drive conservation efforts.

The work also helps solve case of the missing nitrogen. For decades, scientists had recognized that more nitrogen accumulates in soils and plants than can be explained by input from atmosphere alone, but they couldn’t pinpoint what was missing.

Month: Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2018

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Indian origin scientist develops world’s first microfactory for e-waste

IIT-trained Australian scientist of Indian origin Veena Sahajwalla has launched world’s first microfactory that can transform components from electronic waste items into valuable materials for re-use.

Key Facts

The e-waste microfactory uses green manufacturing technologies to turn many types of consumer waste such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products. It is modular micro factory that can operate on site as small as 50 square metres and can be located wherever waste may be stockpiled. It has one or series of small machines and devices that uses patented technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products into new and usable resources.

Working: The e-waste microfactory has number of small modules for processing e-waste and fits into small site. The discarded devices are first placed into module to break them down. The next module involves special robot for identification of useful parts. Another module then involves using small furnace which transforms these parts into valuable materials by using precisely controlled temperature process developed via extensive research.

Use of e-waste: These transformed materials from the micro-factory includes metal alloys and range of micromaterials. These can be used in industrial-grade ceramics and specific quality plastics from computers, printers and other discarded sources can be used to produce filaments suitable for 3D-printing applications. The metal alloys can be used as metal components for new or existing manufacturing processes, she said.

Significance

The e-waste microfactory has the potential to reduce the rapidly growing problem of vast amounts of e-waste causing environmental harm and going into landfill. It offers a cost-effective solution to one of the greatest environmental challenges of our age. The microfactory presents solution to burning and burying waste items that contain valuable materials that can be transformed into value-added substances and products to meet existing and new industry and consumer demands

Month: Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2018

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