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Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: INCO-2007-3.1.2 | Award Amount: 2.86M | Year: 2009

Strategic Objectives Assessed: Strengthening the ERA by integrating national and European S&T schemes through International Cooperation in S&T with Korea, with a specific focus on existing Competency Networks.

News Article
Site: http://news.mit.edu/topic/mitnanotech-rss.xml

One of the main reasons for limiting the operating lifetimes of nuclear reactors is that metals exposed to the strong radiation environment near the reactor core become porous and brittle, which can lead to cracking and failure. Now, a team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere has found that, at least in some reactors, adding a tiny quantity of carbon nanotubes to the metal can dramatically slow this breakdown process. For now, the method has only proved effective for aluminum, which limits its applications to the lower-temperature environments found in research reactors. But the team says the method may also be usable in the higher-temperature alloys used in commercial reactors. The findings are described in the journal Nano Energy, in a paper by MIT Professor Ju Li, postdocs Kang Pyo So and Mingda Li, research scientist Akihiro Kushima, and 10 others at MIT, Texas A&M University, and universities in South Korea, Chile, and Argentina. Aluminum is currently used in not only research reactor components but also nuclear batteries and spacecraft, and it has been proposed as material for storage containers for nuclear waste. So, improving its operating lifetime could have significant benefits, says Ju Li, who is the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a professor of materials science and engineering. The metal with carbon nanotubes uniformly dispersed inside “is designed to mitigate radiation damage” for long periods without degrading, says Kang Pyo So. Helium from radiation transmutation takes up residence inside metals and causes the material to become riddled with tiny bubbles along grain boundaries and progressively more brittle, the researchers explain. The nanotubes, despite only making up a small fraction of the volume — less than 2 percent — can form a percolating, one-dimensional transport network, to provide pathways for the helium to leak back out instead of being trapped within the metal, where it could continue to do damage. Testing showed that after exposure to radiation, the carbon nanotubes within the metal can be chemically altered to carbides, but they still retain their slender shape, “almost like insects trapped in amber,” Ju Li says. “It’s quite amazing — you don’t see a blob; they retain their morphology. It’s still one-dimensional.” The huge total interfacial area of these 1-D nanostructures provides a way for radiation-induced point defects to recombine in the metal, alleviating a process that also leads to embrittlement. The researchers showed that the 1-D structure was able to survive up to 70 DPA of radiation damage. (DPA is a unit  that refers to how many times, on average, every atom in the crystal lattice is knocked out of its site by radiation, so 70 DPA means a lot of radiation damage.) After radiation exposure, Ju Li says, “we see pores in the control sample, but no pores” in the new material, “and mechanical data shows it has much less embrittlement.” For a given amount of exposure to radiation, the tests have shown the amount of embrittlement is reduced about five to tenfold. The new material needs only tiny quantities of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) — about 1 percent by weight added to the metal — and these are inexpensive to produce and process, the team says. The composite can be manufactured at low cost by common industrial methods and is already being produced by the ton by manufacturers in Korea, for the automotive industry. Even before exposure to radiation, the addition of this small amount of nanotubes improves the strength of the material by 50 percent and also improves its tensile ductility — its ability to deform without breaking — the team says. “This is a proof of principle,” says Kang Pyo So. While the material used for testing was aluminum, the team plans to run similar tests with zirconium, a metal widely used for high-temperature reactor applications such as the cladding of nuclear fuel pellets. “We think this is a generic property of metal-CNT systems,” he says. “This is a development of considerable significance for nuclear materials science, where composites — particularly oxide dispersion-strengthened steels — have long been considered promising candidate materials for applications involving high temperature and high irradiation dose,” says Sergei Dudarev, a professor of materials science at Oxford University in the U.K., who was not involved in this work. Dudarev adds that this new composite material “proves remarkably stable under prolonged irradiation, indicating that the material is able to self-recover and partially retain its original properties after exposure to high irradiation dose at room temperature. The fact that the new material can be produced at relatively low cost is also an advantage.” Sergei Kucheyev, a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who also was not involved in this research, says, “These results could have important technological implications. They also point to our still-limited understanding of the physics of radiation defects at interfaces in technologically relevant regimes.” The team also included researchers Sangtae Kim, Yang Yang, and Ziqiang Wang at MIT; Di Chen and Shao Lin at Texas A&M University; Jong Gil Park and Young Hee Lee at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea; Rafael Gonzalez and Miguel Kiwi at the University of Chile; and Eduardo Bringa at the National University of Cuyo, in Argentina. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: INCO-2009-5.1 | Award Amount: 766.29K | Year: 2009

Korea is one of the global leaders in Science and Technology, one of the most important RTD partners of Europe with well established legal frameworks for cooperation. At the same time, the level of public awareness of cooperative opportunities for European researchers in Korean RTD and Innovation Programmes (directly foreseen by the EU-Korea Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement) is still very low. Thus, the overall project goal is to widen and strengthen the RTD cooperation between Korea and the EU in the area of common research interests by opening up access opportunities for European research groups in Korean national research and/or innovation programmes. The project objectives will be attained by carrying out the following set of activities: - opportunities mapping study, which will provide information on existing access opportunities and policy recommendations to improve them - targeted dissemination to raise public awareness in Europe of Korean science system and its opportunities for doing joint research (incl. visibility at major European events, large-scale dedicated Conference, etc.) - facilitation and capacity building measures aiming at creating sustainable structures for bilateral cooperation fostering, monitoring and evaluation. The project consortium composed of major Korean RTD implementation agencies, largest European RTD umbrella organizations (DLR and CNRS), and headed by Korean Institute of Science and Technology in Europe has all capabilities to bring about the expected impacts.

The KONNECT project will strengthen STI cooperation between the EU and Republic of Korea, promoting innovation and the enhancement of communication for technology-related policy dialogue. This project brings together seven organizations from the EU and the Republic of Korea to improve and sustain communication between the two regions at the research and policy level and increase the expand the scope of STI networks and activities. The fulfilment of these objectives will improve the overall level of prosperity in both Europe and Korea and contribute to the resolution of natural and societal issues and threats facing the world. The main activities of the KONNECT project will work towards progressing research in four central fields of mutual interest: Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials, and New Production Technologies (NMP), Green Technology and Secure, Clean, and Efficient Energy (GT), and Biotechnologies (BT). The projects consortium will organise important activities within the set parameters of the project, and focus on key issues such as raising awareness for Horizon 2020, advancing innovation as well as R&D, and expanding joint activities under thematic areas. Due to the newly announced EU R&D Framework Programme (Horizon 2020) and Koreas upcoming government changeover in 2013, initiating new collaborative activities between the two sides takes on even greater importance. The KONNECT project will be committed to adhering to the following broad objectives: 1) Developing Knowledge-based Infrastructure, 2) Improving Strategic Communication, 3) Raising Awareness to Facilitate Cooperation between the EU and Korea, 4) Enhancing Networking between Science, Technology, and Innovation-focused Actors, and 5) Fostering Innovation-focused Joint Activities. This project will allow Korea to utilise its assets to assist the EU as it works towards achieving its goals for Europe 2020.

News Article | August 19, 2016
Site: http://www.chromatographytechniques.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

High-fructose corn syrup and sugar are on the outs with calorie-wary consumers. As a result, low- and no-calorie alternatives have become popular, and soon, there could be another option that tastes more sugar-like than other substitutes. Scientists report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry a step toward commercial production of a fruit protein called brazzein that is far sweeter than sugar — and has fewer calories. Brazzein first attracted attention as a potential sugar substitute years ago. Making it in large amounts, however, has been challenging. Purifying it from the West African fruit that produces it naturally would be difficult on a commercial scale, and efforts to engineer microorganisms to make the protein have so far yielded a not-so-sweet version in low quantities. Kwang-Hoon Kong and colleagues are working on a new approach using yeast to churn out brazzein. Working with Kluyveromyces lactis, the researchers coaxed the yeast to overproduce two proteins that are essential for assembling brazzein. By doing so, the team made 2.6 times more brazzein than they had before with the same organism. A panel of tasters found that the protein produced by this approach was more than 2,000 times sweeter than sugar. The authors acknowledge funding from the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Chung-Ang University Excellent Student Scholarship.

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