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Science

Submission + - Using Ionic Liquids to Enable Cellulosic Biofuel

reverseengineer writes: Chemists from the University of Wisconsin report a process for hydrolyzing cellulose into sugars that can be fermented to produce ethanol. In a recently published paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ronald Raines and Joseph Binder report that the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([EMIM]Cl) can dissolve cellulose, and that by carefully controlling the water present in an acid hydrolysis reaction conducted in [EMIM]Cl, they achieved a "90% yield of glucose from cellulose and 70–80% yield of sugars from untreated corn stover. " The authors go on to note, "This simple chemical process, which requires neither an edible plant nor a cellulase, could enable crude biomass to be the sole source of carbon for a scalable biorefinery. "
Space

Satellites Collide In Orbit 456

DrEnter writes "According to this story on Yahoo, two communications satellites collided in orbit, resulting in two large clouds of debris. The new threat from these debris clouds hasn't been fully determined yet. From the article, 'The collision involved an Iridium commercial satellite, which was launched in 1997, and a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be nonfunctioning. Each satellite weighed well over 1,000 pounds.' This is the fifth spacecraft/satellite collision to occur in space, but the other four were all fairly minor by comparison."

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