Month: September 2019

Strain-engineered bacterial consortium drives fuel cell

A group at the Institute of Microbiology of CAS has described a novel microbial fuel cell. Genetically modified cyanobacteria assimilate CO2 in visible light to form D-lactic acid, which they cannot utilize and excrete into the medium. A second microorganism, Shewanella bacteria, oxidises the D-lactic acid and conducts the electrons formed via a membrane protein complex to an electrode. In this way, the bacterial consortium produced an unprecedented average energy density of 135 mW.m2 for 40 days. Nature

Silk-based composite membrane designed for salinity-gradient power plants

“Osmosis power plants” could use the potential difference between salt water and fresh water, e.g. in the estuaries of large rivers, to generate electrical energy by reverse electrodialysis. Liping WEN and colleagues from the Institute for Physics and Chemistry at CAS in Beijing investigated suitable composite membranes for this purpose. They produced a nanoporous composite membrane from silk nanofibrils and aluminium oxide as carrier substrate. The negatively charged surface of the fibroin ensures ion transport, while the amphoteric aluminum oxide allows for current flow over a wide pH range. Depending on the salt concentration, energy densities of up to 2.86 W.m2 were achieved. Nature

Shanghai: AI-directed „customized bus” service for commuters

In an attempt to provide better commuting services for office workers, Shanghai residents in some places can now reserve a seat in a  customized bus, with a one-click reservation on their mobile phone via Alipay. The price is 18 ¥, about 1/10 the prize of a taxi. The bus route is calculated by AI according to the homes and destinations of the passengers, and the bus does not stop during the journey, only at the gate of the customer and the  sites of the office building, which greatly improves the running speed compared to traditional lines. The “Traffic Brain” software developed by Alipay automatically simulates the route, station and departure schedule. The attendance rate of the line is reportedly above 80% since the launch. A representative of Alipay claims that such kind of customized bus will cover all China within three years. People’s Daily, September 17, 2019

More than 300 traditional medicinal plants recorded in the Wuliang Mountains, Yunnan

In the course of an ethnobotanical study, a team under CAI Chuantao as the principal investigator assessed the utilization of traditional medicinal plants by local people in Jingdong, Yunnan Province. The team from CAS Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden recorded a total of 302 traditional medicinal plant species belonging to 117 families and 252 genera. The local Yi community has no porticular wordage for these plants. CAS news release, September 11, 2019

Cybersecurity in China improves, but slowly

Acording to a talk at Beijing Cyber Security Conference, around 48.5 percent of China’s government agencies and 56.3 percent centrally-administered state-owned enterprises have deployed security operation centers, and the response time to security events has been reduced to less than one hour from about three days in 2016. In the first half of 2019, more than 100 million enterprises’ computers had security software installed, while the number in 2016 was around 60 million. The repair cycle for computer system vulnerabilities has dropped to 16 days from 35 days in 2016. In a special campain, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and State Administration for Market Regulation evaluated more than 400 popular apps on the collection of personal data, and around 100 apps were asked to make improvements in data protection. Xinhua-net news release, September 10, 2019

China was largest investor in renewable energy in the past 10 years

According to a summary of Japan’s Agency of Science and Technology (JST) of the “Renewables 2019 – Global Status Report” investments over the past 10 years in renewables were as follows  China  758 billion USD USA   356 Japan   202 Germany 179 UK      122 (Europe as a whole: 698 billion USD) The world’s renewable energy production capacity (excluding large hydropower plants) in the past 10 years increased from 414GW to 1650GW. Solar energy investment amounted to 1.3 trillion dollars, accounting for half of the world’s total renewable energy investment of 2.6 trillion dollars. In 2018, the world’s renewable energy generation accounted for 12.9% of the world’s total electricity generation. Japan JST China news, Sept. 6, 2019

China’s R&D expenditure for basic science exceeded 100 billion RMB in 2018

According to the Statistical Bulletin on Annual Government R&D Expenditure (2018), China spent almost 2 trillion yuan on research and development (R&D) in 2018, up 11.8 percent year-on-year, of which 109.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) went to basic research. Universities and state-owned research institutions spent 59 and 42.3 billion ¥, respectively, whereas enterprises accounted for only 3 percent. Xinhua net news release, Sept. 4, 2019

China launches polar satellite

The satellite called “Ice Pathfinder” (Code: BNU-1) was developed and built by Aerospace Dongfanghong Development in Shenzhen weighs 16 kilograms and carries three experimental payloads-a multispectral camera, a high-resolution visible-light camera and an automatic identification system receiver, a device for ship identification. The satellite is tasked with observing and monitoring the climate and environment in the Antarctic and Arctic. It is expected to work in a sun-synchronous orbit more than 730 km above Earth for up to two years. CAS news release, September 16, 2019

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