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Scientists have turned cooking oil into a material 200 times stronger than steel. Researchers have found a way to turn cheap, everyday cooking oil into the wonder material graphene - a technique that could greatly reduce the cost of making the much-touted nanomaterial.

Scientists have turned cooking oil into a material 200 times stronger than steel

Graphene is a single sheet of carbon atoms with incredible properties - it's 200 times stronger than steel, harder than diamond, and incredibly flexible. Under certain conditions, it can even be turned into a superconductor that carries electricity with zero resistance. That means the material has the potential to make better electronics, more effective solar cells, and could even be used in medicine. Last year, a study suggested that graphene could help mobile phone batteries last 25 percent longer, and the material has the potential to filter fuel out of thin air. But these applications have been limited by the fact that graphene usually has to be made in a vacuum at intense heat using purified ingredients, which makes it expensive to produce. Plastic bags made from shrimp shells might help Egypt's trash problem.

Metal Foam Obliterates Bullets – and That’s Just the Beginning. Composite metal foams (CMFs) are tough enough to turn an armor-piercing bullet into dust on impact.

Metal Foam Obliterates Bullets – and That’s Just the Beginning

Given that these foams are also lighter than metal plating, the material has obvious implications for creating new types of body and vehicle armor – and that’s just the beginning of its potential uses. Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, has spent years developing CMFs and investigating their unusual properties. The video seen here shows a composite armor made out of her composite metal foams. The bullet in the video is a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor piercing projectile, which was fired according to the standard testing procedures established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

And the results were dramatic. “We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters,” Rabiei says. Hemp waste fibers form basis of supercapacitor more conductive than graphene. Wonder Material Mimics Desert Beetles and Cacti To Suck Water Out of Thin Air. Inspired by a beetle's shell, a cactus spine, and the skin of a carnivorous plant, this slick, bumpy coating is a material straight out of Dune or Star Wars.

Wonder Material Mimics Desert Beetles and Cacti To Suck Water Out of Thin Air

Put this water-saving coating into a rain of steady droplets it condenses airborne water vapor into liquid 10 times faster than any other known material. "Imagine this kind of condensation system being used simply for water collection on a moisture farm, such as the one on Tatooine where Luke Skywalker was raised" Advertisement - Continue Reading Below Mechanical engineer Kyoo-Chul Park led the team of researchers that developed this new coating, which is outlined in a study in the journal Nature this week. Such a material would be quite useful in any machine with a heat exchanger that relies on water collection for heat transfer. Time-lapsed images of droplets condensed on slippery surfaces.

Kyoo-Chul Park and Joanna Aizenberg Namib Desert Beetle. Scientists grow high-quality graphene from tea tree extract. (—Graphene has been grown from materials as diverse as plastic, cockroaches, Girl Scout cookies, and dog feces, and can theoretically be grown from any carbon source.

Scientists grow high-quality graphene from tea tree extract

However, scientists are still looking for a graphene precursor and growth method that is sustainable, scalable, and economically feasible, since these are all requirements for realizing widespread commercialization of graphene-based devices. In a new study, researchers have grown graphene from the tea tree plant Melaleuca alternifolia, the same plant used to make essential oils in traditional medicine. Scientists Invent a New, Lighter Steel That's as Strong as Titanium. From shipping containers to skyscrapers to turbines, good old steel is still the workhorse of our modern world.

Scientists Invent a New, Lighter Steel That's as Strong as Titanium

Now, scientists are discovering new secrets to make the material better, lighter, and stronger. Today a team of material scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea announced what they're calling one of the biggest steel breakthroughs of the last few decades: an altogether new type of flexible, ultra-strong, lightweight steel. This new metal has a strength-to-weight ratio that matches even our best titanium alloys, but at one tenth the cost, and can be created on a small scale with machinery already used to make automotive-grade steel. The study appears in Nature. "Because of its lightness, our steel may find many applications in automotive and aircraft manufacturing," says Hansoo Kim, the researcher that led the team. Scientists turn sand to stone. Research from Murdoch University could one day turn sandcastles into livable homes using the new technology.

Scientists turn sand to stone

Image: iStockphoto Imagine being able to make spray-on roads across the desert, or being able to take a sandcastle home from the beach in the form of a solid rock sculpture. Microbial CaCO3 precipitation for the production of biocement. Whiffin, Victoria S. (2004) Microbial CaCO3 precipitation for the production of biocement. PhD thesis, Murdoch University. The hydrolysis of urea by the widely distributed enzyme urease is special in that it is one of the few biologically occurring reactions that can generate carbonate ions without an associated production of protons.

When this hydrolysis occurs in a calcium-rich environment, calcite (calcium carbonate) precipitates from solution forming a solid-crystalline material. The binding strength of the precipitated crystals is highly dependent on the rate of carbonate formation and under suitable conditions it is possible to control the reaction to generate hard binding calcite cement (or Biocement). The objective of this thesis was to develop an industrially suitable cost-effective microbial process for the production of urease active cells and investigate the potential for urease active cells to act as a catalyst for the production of Biocement.

From sandcastles to solid rock. Research from Murdoch University could one day turn sandcastles into livable homes / Image: Istockphoto These are just two possibilities presented by a new treatment for sand pioneered by Murdoch University’s Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch.

From sandcastles to solid rock

The treatment alters the consistency of sand, doing anything from solidifying it slightly to changing it into a substance as hard as marble. It blends a calcium solution, bacteria and other inexpensive compounds, forcing the bacteria to form carbonate precipitates with the calcium. This creates calcium carbonate, also called calcite, identical to limestone. “Hopefully it will be civil engineering technology,” says Dr Cord-Ruwisch. “We can say ‘this sand is too soft’, and then we can make it harder.