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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

It is a fabled place, the “island of stability” at the edge of the periodic table, where superheavy elements are thought to live long lives without decaying. Now, a trio of astrophysicists suggest the place to look for such elements is in certain unusual stars. Each element has an atomic number corresponding to the number of protons in its nucleus. Most elements heavier than lead, atomic number 82, are unstable and radioactive. But physicists have long speculated that there might be long-lived elements with 114 or more protons in their nuclei. To create these superheavy elements, we smash atoms together to form larger nuclei. But particle accelerator technology, pushed to its limits, has so far only built atoms that decay in as little as a fraction of a microsecond. Stars are natural nuclear reactors, and most heavy elements are forged in supernovae, whose explosions spread them to the next generation of stars. Now, Vladimir Dzuba at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and his colleagues think an oddball star called Przybylski’s star (HD 101065) could be harbouring superheavy elements. The star’s discoverer, Antoni Przybylski, who found it in 1961, saw that it was chemically weird from the get-go. A variable star some 370 light years away in the constellation Centaurus, it has little iron or nickel, but a lot of heavy elements. It is the only star believed to contain short-lived radioactive elements called actinides, with atomic numbers ranging from 89 to 103, such as actinium, plutonium, americium and einsteinium. Only one other star, HD 25354, has even come close, but its hints of americium and curium are on shakier footing. It’s hard to explain how these heavy elements could form there in the first place. One possible explanation was that Przybylski’s star had a neutron star companion, which could bombard it with particles and create heavy elements in its atmosphere. But no companion was ever found. “If such elements are indeed confirmed, it will remain a great challenge for nucleosynthesis models to explain their origin,” says astrophysicist Stephane Goriely at the Free University of Brussels (ULB). Dzuba suggests that the actinides are a sign that the predicted island of stability elements exist there, and that actinides are in fact the products of their slow decay. The half-lives are a clue: the observed elements all decay quickly relative to a star’s lifetime. After millions of years, they ought to be gone unless there is some mechanism to replenish them. “We can say that we already have indirect indication,” Dzuba says. To find out if they are right, Dzuba’s team suggests searching the star’s spectrum for five elements with atomic numbers of 102 or more: nobelium (102), lawrencium (103), nihonium (113) and flerovium (114). These could be intermediate steps in the radioactive decay chain between an island of stability element and the actinides. It sounds simple enough, but it is hard to work out what the spectral signatures of superheavy elements would look like, because their half-lives are so short. Nobelium’s most stable isotope’s half-life is under an hour, for instance. That means some spectra aren’t well defined yet. “If and when such [spectral] lines are found, that would be very strong evidence for the existence of the long-living superheavy elements somewhere in our universe,” Dzuba says. But Goriely doesn’t think the evidence for actinides is that strong. “Przybylski’s stellar atmosphere is highly magnetic, stratified and chemically peculiar, so that the interpretation of its spectrum remains extremely complex,” he says. “The presence of such nuclei remains to be confirmed.”


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Solar power can cover up to 40% of the electricity needs of a typical Belgian household. Going beyond that level becomes really expensive: using batteries coupled with solar panels would be twice as expensive as using the power grid. It is one of the conclusions from a research by ULB researchers recently published in Applied Energy. Electricity production from solar panels is a recurrent subject in Belgium, especially when it comes down to costs and efficiency. In a new study published in the scientific journal Applied Energy, Guilherme de Oliveira e Silva and Patrick Hendrick, researchers from the École polytechnique de Bruxelles of the Université libre de Bruxelles, bring a new perspective on these questions. The researchers started by crunching a large amount of data, ranging from meteorology conditions to energy use, and then ran the numbers through advanced simulators. The results show that, in Belgium, households equipped with solar panels can get a maximum of about 40% of their required electricity. Going beyond this value is not possible, no matter how many panels one adds up, given the time mismatch between electricity use and sunshine. Going over that 40% level would be possible by storing energy with batteries, but with a heavy price tag: for an average household with an annual consumption of 3500kWh, an installation able to cover 70% of the electricity needs would cost about 15000€, almost the double of using the power grid. Even the future reduction of battery prices will not be enough to make such installations profitable, given that they only represent a fraction of the total installation cost. Covering more than 40% of one's electricity needs with batteries coupled to solar panels is then more expensive than using the grid. To avoid overbearing costs, the researchers indicate that households with solar panels should resort to switching heating and hot water systems to electricity, with a large enough storage tank: a mature technology that can inexpensively absorb excess electricity from the solar panels. Smart appliances, that can switch their consumption to more favourable hours, are also a good option. On the other hand, electric vehicles are not expected to be of much benefit since most will be out of home during the more sunny hours. Guilherme de Oliveira e Silva and Patrick Hendrick also analysed the impact on the grid of electricity production from photovoltaics. The power grid is dimensioned assuming that users have somewhat different use patterns, which end up balancing each other, resulting in a smoother load. On the other hand, solar energy producers can overload the grid given their simultaneous production for a given region, but do not bear the economic consequences of such overload. Therefore, the researchers also introduced in their simulations new grid tariffs, which better reflect the current cost structure of the power grid. The results not only emphasize the advantage of large installations over smaller ones but also pose problems in terms of energy equity: if grid access starts being charged on a mostly fixed basis, households with a worse financial situation, which tend to consume less energy, will be the ones paying a higher average electricity price. The results also show the existence of an indirect subsidy from the typical consumer to those with solar panels, a problem that had already been exposed by the European Commission. The problem is such that Flanders, faced with a growing amount of solar panels, decided to charge producers instead of changing grid tariffs. The conclusion is that electricity generation from solar panels has a certain impact on the grid which should be minimised. The researchers defend that setting limits on the amount of electricity that can be injected on the grid, as already happens in Germany, is a sound strategy. Storage could also mitigate the impact on the grid but, nowadays, grid tariffs present no economic incentive for homeowners to do so.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

The annual public opinion survey gauges attitudes towards humanitarian issues worldwide, the effectiveness of humanitarian intervention, and individuals' motivations to intervene on behalf of others. A bright spot in the 2017 Index showed youth outpacing their older counterparts, showing greater openness toward and support of refugees, and willingness to take humanitarian action. "The sense of apathy towards humanitarianism today highlights an urgent need for engagement in every sector," said Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) and United World College at Dilijan. "However, this negativity is counter-balanced by the incredibly positive attitudes of youth towards humanitarianism and the individual impact on the refugee crisis. All of us need to educate and motivate the young people around the world so they not only understand their capacity for meaningful impact, but are inspired to act upon it." Key findings from the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index commissioned by the AHI, a non-profit organization committed to building a global humanitarian movement to empower modern-day saviors, include: The global survey, led by research partner Kantar Public and interpreted by academic partner Université Libre de Bruxelles, was fielded between February 21 and March 19, 2017. Interviews were conducted with 6,466 individuals in 12 markets, up from six markets surveyed in the inaugural 2016 Index. "The results from this year's Aurora Humanitarian Index compel the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to continue its mission to celebrate and empower those who offer life and hope to those in need, inspire those individuals who have been saved to become saviors themselves, and rekindle hope in humanity," said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of the AHI. "Each of the five 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity finalists are brilliant examples of the deep and meaningful impact a single person can have on the world." The 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index will be presented on Sunday, May 28 in Yerevan, Armenia during the Aurora Dialogues, a platform for the world's leading humanitarians, academics, philanthropists, business leaders and civil society to bring awareness to today's most pressing humanitarian challenges. The Aurora Dialogues weekend of events will culminate with the presentation of the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a global humanitarian award that recognizes modern-day heroes and their exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes in the face of adversity. A panel discussion featuring Aurora Prize Selection Committee Members Gareth Evans, Hina Jilani and Mary Robinson, Kantar Public Methods Director Hayk Gyuzalyan, American University in Cairo Professor of Global Affairs and Center for Migration and Refugee Studies Ibrahim Awad, and RefugePoint Founder and Executive Director Sasha Chanoff will be live-streamed at www.auroraprize.com. For more information about the survey results and the Aurora Humanitarian Index, visit the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index page here. For media inquiries, please contact auroraprizemedia@edelman.com. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) is a group committed to building a broad, global humanitarian movement rooted in inspiring stories of courage and survival that emerged during the Armenian Genocide. Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviors to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid and continue the cycle of giving internationally. The Initiative seeks to inspire global expansion and amplification to continue a cycle of giving. By embodying a concept of "Gratitude in Action", AHI hopes to involve the entire world in this important movement. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is an eight-year commitment that dates 2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide, which took place 1915-1923. It is intended to support people and promote projects that tackle the needs of the most helpless and destitute, and do so at great risk. The Initiative's various programs include: The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the Gratitude Projects and the 100 LIVES Initiative. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have been joined by several dozen new donors and partners. The Initiative welcomes all who embrace a commitment to our shared humanity. The Aurora Humanitarian Index is a special survey that examines public perceptions of major humanitarian issues. It explores the international public's attitudes toward both responsibility and effectiveness of humanitarian intervention, as well as the motivations that urge people to intervene on behalf of others. The annual survey is conducted across multiple countries and its findings are presented each year during the Aurora Dialogues, an international platform for discussions among leading experts in the humanitarian community, as part of a weekend of events culminating with the presentation of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Further information is available at www.auroraprize.com Kantar Public is a research company which improves decision-making in the public realm through the application of data, insight and strategic consultancy. Kantar Public works with governments, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, institutions and corporations around the world, to help them deliver more effective policy, services and communications to the public. Kantar Public teams blend the expertise in public policy, service design, behavioral insight, and election research, and draw upon world class research design capability and data collection infrastructure. Kantar Public drives methodological innovation to deliver public value to the clients. For further information, please visit www.kantar.com/public/. Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is a French-speaking cosmopolitan university situated in Brussels Belgium. ULB bases its teaching and research on the principle of free inquiry. This postulates, in all domains, independence of judgement and the rejection of an authority-based conception of knowledge. Within ULB, the Group for Research on Ethnic Relations, Migration and Equality(GERME), was involved in this research project. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-study-reveals-state-of-humanitarian-morass-worldwide-300463658.html


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

YEREVAN, Armenia, May 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A new international study released today, the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index, revealed support for humanitarian action is on a steep decline and there is an overwhelming lack of confidence in world leaders to address the refugee crisis. Results from the Index, which surveyed nearly 6,500 people in 12 countries, were compounded by the fact that only nine percent of individuals believe their actions can make a difference in solving the global refugee crisis. For the second year in a row, terrorism is cited as the undisputed top humanitarian issue at 63 percent, followed by the widening gap between the rich and poor, hunger, climate change and forced migration. The annual public opinion survey gauges attitudes towards humanitarian issues worldwide, the effectiveness of humanitarian intervention, and individuals' motivations to intervene on behalf of others. A bright spot in the 2017 Index showed youth outpacing their older counterparts, showing greater openness toward and support of refugees, and willingness to take humanitarian action. "The sense of apathy towards humanitarianism today highlights an urgent need for engagement in every sector," said Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) and United World College at Dilijan. "However, this negativity is counter-balanced by the incredibly positive attitudes of youth towards humanitarianism and the individual impact on the refugee crisis. All of us need to educate and motivate the young people around the world so they not only understand their capacity for meaningful impact, but are inspired to act upon it." Key findings from the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index commissioned by the AHI, a non-profit organization committed to building a global humanitarian movement to empower modern-day saviors, include: The global survey, led by research partner Kantar Public and interpreted by academic partner Université Libre de Bruxelles, was fielded between February 21 and March 19, 2017. Interviews were conducted with 6,466 individuals in 12 markets, up from six markets surveyed in the inaugural 2016 Index. "The results from this year's Aurora Humanitarian Index compel the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to continue its mission to celebrate and empower those who offer life and hope to those in need, inspire those individuals who have been saved to become saviors themselves, and rekindle hope in humanity," said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of the AHI. "Each of the five 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity finalists are brilliant examples of the deep and meaningful impact a single person can have on the world." The 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index will be presented on Sunday, May 28 in Yerevan, Armenia during the Aurora Dialogues, a platform for the world's leading humanitarians, academics, philanthropists, business leaders and civil society to bring awareness to today's most pressing humanitarian challenges. The Aurora Dialogues weekend of events will culminate with the presentation of the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a global humanitarian award that recognizes modern-day heroes and their exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes in the face of adversity. A panel discussion featuring Aurora Prize Selection Committee Members Gareth Evans, Hina Jilani and Mary Robinson, Kantar Public Methods Director Hayk Gyuzalyan, American University in Cairo Professor of Global Affairs and Center for Migration and Refugee Studies Ibrahim Awad, and RefugePoint Founder and Executive Director Sasha Chanoff will be live-streamed at www.auroraprize.com. For more information about the survey results and the Aurora Humanitarian Index, visit the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index page here. For media inquiries, please contact auroraprizemedia@edelman.com. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) is a group committed to building a broad, global humanitarian movement rooted in inspiring stories of courage and survival that emerged during the Armenian Genocide. Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviors to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid and continue the cycle of giving internationally. The Initiative seeks to inspire global expansion and amplification to continue a cycle of giving. By embodying a concept of "Gratitude in Action", AHI hopes to involve the entire world in this important movement. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is an eight-year commitment that dates 2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide, which took place 1915-1923. It is intended to support people and promote projects that tackle the needs of the most helpless and destitute, and do so at great risk. The Initiative's various programs include: The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the Gratitude Projects and the 100 LIVES Initiative. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have been joined by several dozen new donors and partners. The Initiative welcomes all who embrace a commitment to our shared humanity. The Aurora Humanitarian Index is a special survey that examines public perceptions of major humanitarian issues. It explores the international public's attitudes toward both responsibility and effectiveness of humanitarian intervention, as well as the motivations that urge people to intervene on behalf of others. The annual survey is conducted across multiple countries and its findings are presented each year during the Aurora Dialogues, an international platform for discussions among leading experts in the humanitarian community, as part of a weekend of events culminating with the presentation of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Further information is available at www.auroraprize.com Kantar Public is a research company which improves decision-making in the public realm through the application of data, insight and strategic consultancy. Kantar Public works with governments, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, institutions and corporations around the world, to help them deliver more effective policy, services and communications to the public. Kantar Public teams blend the expertise in public policy, service design, behavioral insight, and election research, and draw upon world class research design capability and data collection infrastructure. Kantar Public drives methodological innovation to deliver public value to the clients. For further information, please visit www.kantar.com/public/. Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is a French-speaking cosmopolitan university situated in Brussels Belgium. ULB bases its teaching and research on the principle of free inquiry. This postulates, in all domains, independence of judgement and the rejection of an authority-based conception of knowledge. Within ULB, the Group for Research on Ethnic Relations, Migration and Equality(GERME), was involved in this research project.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

Former ice sheets occupying Scandinavia and North America left numerous landforms on today's surface that witness of their hydrological system underneath them. However, most landforms have, so far, never been observed under contemporary ice sheets - not least because they are relatively small and buried under kilometer thick ice. A team of scientists led by the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium) and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (Germany) have now discovered an active hydrological system of water conduits and sediment ridges below the Antarctic ice sheet. Their study reveals that the scale of these subglacial features is five times bigger than those seen in today's deglaciated landscapes. The newly discovered, oversized sediment ridges actively shape the ice hundreds kilometers downstream, by carving deep incisions at the bottom of the ice. This is of interest for the stability of the floating ice shelves, as numerous studies show that ice shelf thinning has major consequences for ice sheet stability. Subglacial conduits form under large ice sheets as part of their basal hydrological system. These tunnels have a typical diameter of several meters to tens of meters, and they funnel the subglacial melt water towards the ocean. However, new geophysical observations by the Laboratoire de Glaciologie of the ULB show that these conduits widen considerably the closer they come to the ocean. A new mathematical model explains this widening with the vanishing overburden pressure at the location where the ice becomes afloat on the ocean. As the conduits widen, the outflow velocity of the subglacial water decreases, which leads to increased sediment deposition at the conduit's portal. Over thousands of years, this process builds up giant sediment ridges - comparable in height with the Eiffel tower - below the ice. Active sedimentation in subglacial water conduits seems to drive the formations of Eskers - elongated ridges of gravel which are commonly observed today in areas where former ice sheets have retreated. However, the remainders of today's Eskers are considerably smaller in size than those now discovered in Antarctica. Giant conduits that can sap the ice from below The evolving sediment ridges leave scars at the bottom of the ice as the ice flows over them. These scars are transmitted to the floating ice shelves farther downstream forming ice-shelf channels. Ice in these channels is up to half as thin as their surroundings, making them a weak spot when exposed to melting from the warmer ocean. It was originally thought that ice-shelf channels are carved by melting due to the ocean only, but this seems only part of the story: "Our study shows that ice-shelf channels can already be initiated on land, and that the size of the channels significantly depends on sedimentation processes occurring over hundreds to thousands of years" indicates Reinhard Drews, lead author of the study. The novel link between the subglacial hydrological system, sedimentation, and ice-shelf stability, offers new opportunities to unravel key processes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, and also improves our ability to reconstruct the ice-sheet extent in the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice ages.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Former ice sheets occupying Scandinavia and North America left numerous landforms on today's surface that witness of their hydrological system underneath them. However, most landforms have, so far, never been observed under contemporary ice sheets - not least because they are relatively small and buried under kilometer thick ice. A team of scientists led by the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium) and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (Germany) have now discovered an active hydrological system of water conduits and sediment ridges below the Antarctic ice sheet. Their study reveals that the scale of these subglacial features is five times bigger than those seen in today's deglaciated landscapes. The newly discovered, oversized sediment ridges actively shape the ice hundreds kilometers downstream, by carving deep incisions at the bottom of the ice. This is of interest for the stability of the floating ice shelves, as numerous studies show that ice shelf thinning has major consequences for ice sheet stability. Subglacial conduits form under large ice sheets as part of their basal hydrological system. These tunnels have a typical diameter of several meters to tens of meters, and they funnel the subglacial melt water towards the ocean. However, new geophysical observations by the Laboratoire de Glaciologie of the ULB show that these conduits widen considerably the closer they come to the ocean. A new mathematical model explains this widening with the vanishing overburden pressure at the location where the ice becomes afloat on the ocean. As the conduits widen, the outflow velocity of the subglacial water decreases, which leads to increased sediment deposition at the conduit's portal. Over thousands of years, this process builds up giant sediment ridges - comparable in height with the Eiffel tower - below the ice. Active sedimentation in subglacial water conduits seems to drive the formations of Eskers - elongated ridges of gravel which are commonly observed today in areas where former ice sheets have retreated. However, the remainders of today's Eskers are considerably smaller in size than those now discovered in Antarctica. The evolving sediment ridges leave scars at the bottom of the ice as the ice flows over them. These scars are transmitted to the floating ice shelves farther downstream forming ice-shelf channels. Ice in these channels is up to half as thin as their surroundings, making them a weak spot when exposed to melting from the warmer ocean. It was originally thought that ice-shelf channels are carved by melting due to the ocean only, but this seems only part of the story: "Our study shows that ice-shelf channels can already be initiated on land, and that the size of the channels significantly depends on sedimentation processes occurring over hundreds to thousands of years" indicates Reinhard Drews, lead author of the study. The novel link between the subglacial hydrological system, sedimentation, and ice-shelf stability, offers new opportunities to unravel key processes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, and also improves our ability to reconstruct the ice-sheet extent in the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice ages.


Lhernould M.S.,ULB
Microsystem Technologies | Year: 2013

Microneedles as a means of transdermal drug delivery is a very promising technology that has been under development in recent years. Much research has been undertaken on the subject, but the quantity of available information makes determining crucial factors for their optimization difficult. This review article gathers available information concerning the mechanics and fluidics of microneedles and provides the reader with important summarized information to take into consideration when designing microneedles systems intended for transdermal drug delivery. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

IBA Selected to Install New Proton Therapy Center in Charleroi, Belgium New Proteus®One installation to be dedicated to research and development in collaboration with the Wallonia Region government and four leading Belgian universities Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, February 20, 2017 - IBA (Ion Beam Applications SA), the world's leading provider of proton therapy solutions for the treatment of cancer, announces today that it has been selected as the preferred vendor by four leading universities of Brussels (ULB), Liège (Ulg), Mons (UMons) and Namur (UNamur), alongside the Wallonia Region government, to install a Proteus®ONE* solution, IBA's single-room compact proton therapy system, in Charleroi, Belgium. IBA was selected following a comprehensive European public tender process and expects to sign a final contract in the coming weeks, after expiration of the applicable waiting period. The new center will be dedicated primarily to the research and development of new proton therapy applications and techniques in order to extend the range of proton therapy used in the treatment of cancer. The center, which will also treat patients, will be located in Charleroi and is expected to be operational in 2020. The Wallonia Region will invest a total of EUR 47 million in this research project, which will include the IBA technology, research program, maintenance contract as well as related equipment. Olivier Legrain, Chief Executive Officer of IBA commented: "We are delighted to have been selected to build a proton therapy center dedicated to R&D, demonstrating that Belgium has all the scientific, clinical and technological expertise required to advance this significant technology in the fight against cancer. Not only will this research and development center enable IBA and the Belgian universities to test and develop new generation technologies to fight cancer, it will also develop and anchor industrial expertise shared by a network of local companies. We are committed to supporting these universities in providing high-quality cancer treatment to more patients in Belgium." About IBA IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.) is a global medical technology company focused on bringing integrated and innovative solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The company is the worldwide technology leader in the field of proton therapy, considered to be the most advanced form of radiation therapy available today. IBA's proton therapy solutions are flexible and adaptable, allowing customers to choose from universal full-scale proton therapy centers as well as compact, single room solutions. In addition, IBA also has a radiation dosimetry business and develops particle accelerators for the medical world and industry. Headquartered in Belgium and employing about 1,500 people worldwide, IBA has installed systems across the world. IBA is listed on the pan-European stock exchange NYSE EURONEXT (IBA: Reuters IBAB.BR and Bloomberg IBAB.BB). More information can be found at: www.iba-worldwide.com *Proteus®ONE is a brand name of Proteus 235 For further information, please contact:


Currently, in Belgium, photovoltaic systems coupled with lead-acid batteries do not ensure the electrical self-sufficiency of a residence at a reasonable cost. This is the summary conclusion of the study two ULB researchers: their simulations reveal that the maximum rate of self-sufficiency of solar panels would only be about 40%, while the addition of complementary lead-acid batteries would result in a considerable increase of the energy prices. Today, the use of solar panels and energy storage in homes is a much discussed subject. As countries push for renewables and new technologies such as solar panels or electric cars become ever more accessible, it seems as if the house of the future is set to be self-sufficient, independent from the grid, feeding its inhabitants' needs with green energy from the sun. At the Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculty of Sciences, Aero Thermo Mechanics, researchers led by Guilherme Silva and Patrick Hendrick have been focusing on the problematic of home energy self-sufficiency for a long time and have come up with interesting results, recently published on the Applied Energy journal under the title "Lead-acid batteries coupled with photovoltaics for increased electricity self-sufficiency in households". They started by crunching up-to date Belgian data from the Royal Meteorological Institute, energy suppliers and installers and then ran these numbers through their simulation models. The conclusion is that energy self-sufficiency in homes with solar panels and batteries may come with an expensive price tag and that there may be better solutions out there to go green. The problem starts with the bad timing of solar energy and energy consumption: while the sun shines at its maximum around midday, most homes consume the most in the morning and in the evening. Add to that the fact that in many countries most of the solar energy is available in the summer months and you're set for dark times. No matter how many solar panels are added up, the maximum attainable self-sufficiency will be around 40%. The good news is that 40% self-sufficiency is achievable at prices close to the grid ones, given the recent strong reduction in the cost of solar panels and their long lifetime. To go beyond 40% self-sufficiency, energy storage seems the natural answer. The researchers coupled the solar panels with lead-acid batteries and the results are striking: all of a sudden, the energy consumed becomes really expensive. Trying to reach a self-sufficiency of 60% can easily cost twice as much as using the grid. And the batteries' short lifetime and high price are not the only ones to blame: installation costs and extra required electrical equipment also play an important role. The lack of a long term energy policy keeps homeowners and installers cautious, afraid to invest and bear all the risks, a problem that recently granted Belgium a public reprimand from the International Energy Agency. The researchers also took a look at the impact on the power grid of solar panels and home energy storage and the results seem grim. Homes equipped with such systems place a greater strain on the power grid. Also, power plants will need to be able to answer to quicker variations in demand. All this will impact power grid prices, a field where research is still lacking. Fortunately, all is not lost. The paper points out that a hybrid approach must be taken for a sustainable energy use. Using several energy sources helps to balance out each one's disadvantages. Consumption can also be adapted through intelligent appliances that can adjust to the conditions available, as can the energy storage system work in a more intelligent way. Recent energy storage technologies, such as li-ion batteries, continue to enjoy strong price reductions while the share of electric vehicles continues to increase. The field is evolving fast and research continues but, in the meanwhile, there is no magic bullet, the best option is to keep some solar panels and continue to play along with the grid. Explore further: Some suggest it's time to rethink which direction we point our solar panels More information: Guilherme de Oliveira e Silva, Patrick Hendrick. Lead-acid batteries coupled with photovoltaics for increased electricity self-sufficiency in households. Applied Energy 178: 856-867 (2016)


News Article | November 9, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Enzymes called kinases manage a wide range of cell processes, from metabolism, cell signaling, nutrient transport, and many others. Because they can affect so many different cell activities, kinases are tightly regulated within cells to make sure that the enzymes only act when necessary. Improperly activated kinases are linked to illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. A group of scientists from VIB, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) led by Prof. Tom Lenaerts (VUB-ULB) and prof. Nico van Nuland (VIB-VUB) has uncovered a new mechanism for controlling the activation of a kinase implicated in Alzheimer's disease, generating novel insights into how to control this protein's activity. The research was published in the high-profile journal Structure, a Cell Press periodical. To make sure that the activities of kinase proteins are well-managed, proteins have evolved different methods to toggle them on and off by disrupting their interactions on a molecular level. Side chains are chemical groups directly attached to a protein's main chain or backbone that affect both the shape and function of a protein. In their new research on the activation of a specific enzyme called Fyn, Prof. Lenaerts and his team were able to identify the specific toggling mechanism that this protein uses to ensure its own regulation, revealing for the first time the role that side chains play in the process. Their observations may be important to the development of Alzheimer-treatment therapies, as Fyn interacts with the protein Tau, which has been identified as a cause of the disease. How cells switch their enzymes on and off Just like the thermostats in our homes, which turn the heat on and off based on temperature changes, changes in the interactions between the modules defining protein structures activate and deactivate kinases. Using both experimental and predictive techniques, the multidisciplinary team uncovered a network of communicating protein residues inside cells that control Fyn's activation. Research has shown that toggling off Fyn in mice with Alzheimer's disease reduces memory problems in these mice. Prof. Tom Lenaerts (VUB-ULB) said, "The insights presented by our research may provide important mechanistic knowledge of kinase regulatory systems, which could be used to develop new drugs that regulate Fyn's activity in Alzheimer's patients." This research is especially poignant to the Belgian scientific community, as Prof. Nico van Nuland, co-author and a pioneer in this research field, was diagnosed only a few years ago with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He has been fighting this disease with courage and optimism, providing crucial support to the entire research team. He possesses expert knowledge of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which was crucial in the reported research. "Without his contributions, these results would have never been realized," says Prof. Lenaerts.

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