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Biotech

Bacteria To Protect Against Quakes 81

Roland Piquepaille writes "If you live near the sea, chances are high that your home is built over sandy soil. And if an earthquake strikes, deep and sandy soils can turn to liquid with disastrous consequences for the buildings built above them. Now, US researchers have found a way to use bacteria to steady buildings against earthquakes by turning these sandy soils into rocks. 'Starting from a sand pile, you turn it back into sandstone,' the chief researcher explained. It is already possible to inject chemicals into the ground to reinforce it, but this technique can have toxic effects on soil and water. In contrast, the use of common bacteria to 'cement' sands has no harmful effects on the environment. So far this method is limited to labs and the researchers are working on scaling their technique. Here are more references and a picture showing how unstable ground can aggravate the consequences of an earthquake."
Power

Storing Wind Power In Cold Stores 242

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to Nature, a European-funded project has been launched to store electricity created from wind in refrigerated warehouses used to store food. As the production of wind energy is variable every day, it cannot easily be accommodated on the electrical grid. So the 'Night Wind' project wants to store wind energy produced at night in refrigerated warehouses and to release this energy during daytime peak hours. The first tests will be done in the Netherlands this year. And as the cold stores exist already, practically no extra cost should be incurred to store as much as 50,000 megawatt-hours of energy. Here are additional details and a picture illustrating this brilliant idea."

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