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« Global Bioenergies widens cooperation with Audi; new agreement to broaden feedstocks for bio-isobutene to isooctane process | Main | US files civil complaint against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche for alleged Clean Air Act violations » Scientists at Indiana University have created a highly efficient self-assembling biomaterial that catalyzes the formation of hydrogen. A modified hydrogenase enzyme that gains strength from being protected within the protein shell (capsid) of a bacterial virus, this new material is 150 times more efficient than the unaltered form of the enzyme. The material is potentially far less expensive and more environmentally friendly to produce than other catalytic materials for hydrogen production. The process of creating the material was recently reported in the journal Nature Chemistry. The genetic material used to create the enzyme, hydrogenase, is produced by two genes from the common bacteria Escherichia coli, inserted inside the protective capsid using methods previously developed by these IU scientists. The genes, hyaA and hyaB, are two genes in E. coli that encode key subunits of the hydrogenase enzyme. The capsid comes from the bacterial virus known as bacteriophage P22. The resulting biomaterial, called “P22-Hyd,” is not only more efficient than the unaltered enzyme but also is produced through a simple fermentation process at room temperature. In addition, P22-Hyd both breaks the chemical bonds of water to create hydrogen and also works in reverse to recombine hydrogen and oxygen to generate power. The material can be used either as a hydrogen production catalyst or as a fuel cell catalyst. The form of hydrogenase is one of three occurring in nature: di-iron (FeFe)-, iron-only (Fe-only)- and nitrogen-iron (NiFe)-hydrogenase. The third form was selected for the new material due to its ability to easily integrate into biomaterials and tolerate exposure to oxygen. NiFe-hydrogenase also gains significantly greater resistance upon encapsulation to breakdown from chemicals in the environment, and it retains the ability to catalyze at room temperature. Unaltered NiFe-hydrogenase, by contrast, is highly susceptible to destruction from chemicals in the environment and breaks down at temperatures above room temperature. These sensitivities are some of the key reasons enzymes haven’t previously lived up to their promise in technology, Professor Douglas said. Another is their difficulty to produce. The development is highly significant according to Seung-Wuk Lee, professor of bioengineering at the University of California-Berkeley, who was not a part of the study. Professor Lee’s work has been cited in a US Congressional report on the use of viruses in manufacturing. Beyond the new study, Douglas and his colleagues continue to craft P22-Hyd into an ideal ingredient for hydrogen power by investigating ways to activate a catalytic reaction with sunlight, as opposed to introducing elections using laboratory methods. Other IU scientists who contributed to the research were Megan C. Thielges, an assistant professor of chemistry; Ethan J. Edwards, a Ph.D. student; and Paul C. Jordan, a postdoctoral researcher at Alios BioPharma, who was an IU Ph.D. student at the time of the study. This research was supported by the US Department of Energy.

Hartenberger U.,Parliament | Lorenz D.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Lutzkendorf T.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Building Research and Information

Unlike the medical profession, traditional built environment professional education and training may not foster the development of a shared cross-professional identity. However, such a shared identity is a prerequisite for successfully integrating sustainable development principles along the built environment value chain, as it would help to overcome the existing level of fragmentation amongst professionals and the industry in general. Furthermore, a shared identity could support the definition of a shared goal: the creation, operation, preservation and development of a sustainable built environment. A set of common values based on a firm commitment (such as the Hippocratic Oath in medicine) is argued as being central to built environment professional practice, education and training because it will facilitate the development of such a shared professional identity: a built environment fellowship. Elements of recent educational reforms within the medical profession are considered for their ability to reinforce the shared professional commitment among medical professionals and to assess their potential adaptability for built environment professional education and training. © 2013 Taylor &Francis. Source

Atashbar T.,Parliament
Journal of Policy Modeling

This study attempts to demonstrate how a government launched an economic structural reform plan that previous governments, fearing a serious social backlash, had been unable to implement over the course of 30 years. The findings show that the Iranian government used " illusion therapy" , a package of econo-psychological techniques, to implement IMF-backed " shock" economic reforms to long-standing energy and food subsidies, without facing the expected social reaction. © 2011 Society for Policy Modeling. Source

The present world crisis is not a mere financial crisis, but the crisis of the liberal-productivist model of development, dominant from 1980. This article analyses the crisis - an over-accumulation crisis stemming from the weakness of labour-share, combined with a double ecological crisis (food, energy/climate) - in its social and ecological dimensions, according to the concepts of regulation theory. Due to its ecological aspects, the exit from the crisis could not be a globalised reproduction of the Roosveltian New Deal. This paper proposes a 'blueprint for a Green Deal' to answer the challenges of the complex social, ecological and financial crisis. © The Author(s) 2013. Source

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2013.4.1 | Award Amount: 3.75M | Year: 2013

The goal of METALOGUE is to produce a multimodal dialogue system that is able to implement an interactive behaviour that seems natural to users and is flexible enough to exploit the full potential of multimodal interaction. It will be achieved by understanding, controlling and manipulating systems own and users cognitive processes. The new dialogue manager will incorporate a cognitive model based on metacognitive skills that will enable planning and deployment of appropriate dialogue strategies. The system will be able to monitor both its own and users interactive performance, reason about the dialogue progress, guess the users knowledge and intentions, and thereby adapt and regulate the dialogue behaviour over time.\n\nThe metacognitive capabilities of the METALOGUE system will be based on a state-of-the-art approach incorporating multitasking and transfer of knowledge among skills. The models will be implemented in ACT-R, providing a general framework of metacognitive skills.\n\nMETALOGUE research focuses on educational and coaching situations where negotiation skills play a key role in the decision-making processes. Components and algorithms will be developed, tested and integrated into a prototype platform, which will provide learners with a rich and interactive environment that will help to develop metacognitive skills, support motivation, and stimulate creativity and responsibility in the decision making and argumentation process. The METALOGUE system will produce virtual agents capable of engaging in natural interaction through combinations of English, German and Greek, using gestures, mimicry and body language. It will be deployed in two use-case scenarios: in social educational contexts for training young entrepreneurs and active citizens (Youth Parliament), and in a business education context for training call centre employees to successfully handle their customers. Respectively, METALOGUE will have a strong impact on both economic and social levels.

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