Monday, December 28, 2009

Nanotechnology is the discipline of convergence

Nanotechnology is the discipline of convergence
Interview with Prof T Pradeep. IIT Madras.

December 29, 2009, will mark the golden jubilee of nanotechnology, informs Mr T. Pradeep, Professor, DST unit on Nanoscience, Department of Chemistry and Sophisticated Analytical Instrument Facility, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai.

The celebrated talk of Richard P. Feynman, ‘There's plenty of room at the bottom' delivered 50 years ago (on December 29, 1959, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology) envisaged the era of nanotechnology – the technology of nanometre scale objects, Mr Pradeep tells Business Line.

It is a Sunday afternoon, and we are sitting in the lawn adorned by the campus inaugural plaque, again dating back to 1959. A banyan serves as the backdrop, the deer freely roam about, assorted birds chirp around, and our conversation continues over the email…

Excerpts from the brief interview.

What were Feynman's predictions?

He talked about the possibility of a new kind of technology, by assembling things atom by atom. Such a technology would make everything – all that technology has done till now – small.

Feynman suggested that the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica could be written on the tip of a needle. He talked about small objects moving around the body through blood vessels which would do surgeries. When things are shrunk at atomic levels, many new possibilities come about, as reflected in the emphasis on the word, ‘plenty'.

Where are we now?

We have been assembling atoms the way we need, and creating nanometre scale structures, since 1991. Through a technique discovered in 1981, called the scanning electron microscopy and its modifications, this atom manipulation is routine today.

Despite this capability, molecules by themselves are not made today by arranging atoms. This is because the methods of chemistry to assemble atoms to create molecular structures are much more powerful in creating designed structures, especially in large scale.

Tiny diagnostic and therapeutic objects can get into the body. These are not ‘surgeons', however, as of now. Electronic storage is possible in pieces of matter of nanometre length as well as in molecules. Information contained in libraries can be stored in hand-held devices. Simple machines of hundreds of nanometre in length have been made.

Where are we going?

Nanotechnology is the power to manipulate matter at the atomic level. This power is that of the creator as He assembles biological matter atom-by-atom to create structures. This implies that all that matter can do will be achievable with that capability. Our technologies are far away from that right now.

Currently, nanomaterials can be used for increasing performance of already established technologies. For example, a structure can be made tougher by incorporating desired nanostructured matter. In the long term, new capabilities can be obtained with additional efforts. Completely futuristic possibilities such as linking biological objects with machines are being investigated.

However, atom manipulations are going on in Nature everyday. The food we eat is cooked in plants, atom by atom, using carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. Plants fix energy in this fashion and we consume that. Automobiles use that energy.

How about fixing sunlight in a reaction vessel? Look at Nature filtering and storing water in watermelons. This happens through a series of molecular processes. How about adapting that to solve our water crisis?

In Nature, all these happen in a clean and green manner, so that life is sustainable. This shows that biology is nanotechnology in perfection. The best chemistry is also that. Physics ultimately is processes at the nanometre scale.

This shows that nanotechnology is the discipline of convergence. Current problems of the world demand that convergence.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Algae biomass

A report of the Wind Sea Algae Workshop held in April 2009 at Lolland,
Denmark is available at .

Wind Sea Algae is working on the OMEGA project - Offshore Membrane
Enclosures for Growing Algae (OMEGA).

"To put algae in a global perspective, the algae consists of less than
1% even less than 0.5% of global biomass, however this tiny biomass
generates about 40% of our oxygen and removes about 40% of the total
carbon dioxide. The small amount of algae in the oceans are doing a
great job." Pg 33.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Silica Depletion and Lake Regulation

Mr. Roger Wheeler's blog Friends of Sebago Lake has a few interesting comments about role of dams, silica and diatoms on water quality and red tides.

Very few people are making this connection that decline in silica in water reduces diatom population and this causes a bloom of Cyanobacteria and Dinoflagellates.

Silica Depletion and Lake Regulation
Everything in Nature is Connected

It turns out that one key factor associated with harmful algal blooms is dissolved silica; intense red tides tend to occur in coastal waters where dissolved silica is low. We are all familiar with nitrogen and phosphorus as nutrients fueling algae growth, but silica is also an essential nutrient for one of the most abundant algae called diatoms. Without adequate dissolved silica, diatoms can't grow and reproduce. Much of the dissolved silica found in our State's coastal waters can be traced back to weathering processes of Maine rocks and soils. Silica, along with other minerals, slowly dissolves and is then carried from the watersheds by rivers to the ocean. With the continuous input of silica from rivers, along with other nutrients, diatoms grow in sufficient numbers and serve to suppress harmful algae that cause “red tides”. Healthy diatom populations in the Gulf of Maine also supply the nutrient foundation for one of the historically richest fisheries in the world.
I suggest that our current management strategies of Maine dam hydrology may be an unwitting, but important factor, contributing to silica depletion, increased harmful algal blooms and the present coastal ecosystem decline.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Farmers say Chesapeake Bay rules will bankrupt some farms

Farmers and Water pollution experts are losing track of a basic issue.

N and P are used as fertilizers in agriculture, even aquaculturists use small quantity to cause algae blooms in fish ponds.

So why should N and P be regarded as pollutants.

All thats needed is to use then productively even in water, even on a large scale.
This is possible using Nualgi and Diatom Algae.
Ponds in each farm can be used to grow fish.


Farmers say Chesapeake Bay rules will bankrupt some farms

The Virginian-Pilot © December 14, 2009

Farmers nationwide are gearing up for a battle against the federal government over plans to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

It's not that farmers are against a bay cleanup, said Greg Hicks, communications director for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

But he says the new directives could put small dairy farmers and cattle producers out of business because of the expense of the regulations.

"They want to mandate what has been voluntary in the past," Hicks said. "If it's passed, commodity experts are saying there will cease to be Virginia milk. All of our small dairy farmers will be out of business within two years."

Hicks said small cattle producers with herds of less than 200 would suffer, and that even grain producers in the Hampton Roads region would be affected by the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act of 2009. House and Senate versions of the measure were introduced in October and are currently in committee.

Under the proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency essentially would take over many of the environmental regulations dealing with the Bay that previously have been handled by state regulators. Also, under President Barack Obama, the EPA is preparing a new Bay cleanup plan that should be ready late next year.

"We've had a good working relationship with Bay people in the state," Hicks said. "Farmers have already spent a lot of their own money on this problem, and they've gotten no credit for it."

The problem mostly has to do with the nutrient buildup in the Bay, considered hazardous to fish, shell fish and water plants.

The measure is a reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program, according to Farm Bureau officials. But it would take policing of the Bay out of the hands of state officials and put it in the hands of federal officials. The extent of the regulations the EPA would be implementing is still questionable, Hicks said. The American Farm Bureau will also be battling against the measure, Hicks said.

Ann Jennings, Virginia executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said that the Virginia Farm Bureau and farmers in general are confused about the new legislation. "We're desperately trying to work with the farmers," Jennings said. "We want to help improve the water quality. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation can guide farmers to funding resources."

Wilmer Stoneman, associate director of governmental relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, said: "The Chesapeake Bay's current condition is from 400 years of contact from humans. We can't overcome that in 30 years or 15 years or even two years. It's going to take time and effort from everyone."

Donna Kerr, a third-generation Amelia County dairy farmer, said she already has voluntarily implemented conservation practices on her 200-head dairy farm. She has planted riparian buffers and cover crops to protect water quality and prevent soil erosion. She also has fenced her cows out of the streams on her land.

Hicks said that Kerr's actions are likely good examples of what the new regulations will require, but it could also mean daily monitoring of nutrients being released into the Bay from things such as fertilizer and manure piles.

Stoneman said farmers are accused of being one of the largest contributors of nutrients in the Bay and are being unfairly blamed.

A ccording to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and the Virginia office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, state farmers used 269,000 fewer tons of fertilizer in the years since the Bay cleanup efforts started in 1987. The cost of fertilizer has risen steadily in the last few years.

Jennings, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said that everyone, including developers, municipalities and home owners, needs to work together to reduce the nutrient footprint.

Proponents of the regulatory move say farmers could make money with the new way of regulating Bay pollution in the "nutrient trading" element of the package. The system works similar to wetlands banks set up to preserve environmentally sensitive land. Farmers not using as much of the allowed nutrient allocation could "sell" the difference.

"The trading provision of the proposed legislation and the federal Farm Bill are components of federal strategies that will benefit the agricultural community," according to a news release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The measure also includes at least $96 million, and possibly substantially more, for technical assistance to farmers, as well as $75 million for 'Stewardship Grants' to fund pollution reduction activities."

Stoneman said there's no real "new" money on the horizon.

T here are so many uncertainties to the new proposals, said Gary Cross, a Southampton County farmer. "I don't think anybody understands it," Cross said.

McClatchy News Service contributed to this report.

Mumbai: man dies in water protest

India, Mumbai: man dies in water protest
December 18, 2009 · 1 Comment

One man died in a violent protest against water shortages held outside the headquarters of Mumbai’s municipal corporation BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) on 3 December 2009. Insufficient rains have forced the BMC to impose steep water cuts until at least July 2010.

About 1,500 activists from the NGO Swabhimaan, led by its president Nitesh Rane, son of Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, raised slogans for clean and adequate water supply and tried to enter the BMC building. They were met by 500 police.

In the scuffle, 43-year-old Viral Dholakia, state co-ordinator of Swabhimaan, fell to the ground. He was taken to the state-run GT Hospital, where doctors said that he complained of chest pain and breathlessness.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Evolution of Plants and Oxygen in Atmosphere

Interesting graphic of evolution of plants and increase in oxygen level in atmosphere.
Prokaryotes (Cyanobacteria,etc.) do not seem to have contributed much to the O2, its only after evolution of Eukaryotes (Green Algae, Diatom Algae, etc.) that the O2 in air started to increase and land plants have contributed the most.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fish Kills in Queensland, Australia

Summer has set in in Queensland, Australia and fish kills too have started to take place.

A few reported so far -

Fish kill in Beachmere, north of Brisbane.

"There is a very high water temperature at a shallow depth of the lake - it's not very well shaded, it's not flushed, [there are] low dissolved oxygen levels in the lake and this is all contributing to this fishkill," he said. "

Beachmere fish kill Update -

Dundowarn Lagoon fish kill north of Brisbane.

Burrum Heads Fish Kill -
The Queensland Government says low oxygen levels in a lake seem to be the cause of another fish kill on the Fraser Coast.

Moneys Creek fish kill near Bundaberg.
"The chairman of the Moneys Creek Rehabilitation group, Mike Rennie, says the fish kill has been caused by an algae bloom."

Fish Kills in USA – 2009.

A list of a few of the Fish Kills in USA in 2009 are given below.
There were many more but I saved the links of only a few.,0,2090997.story - LAKE ELSINORE: Fish kill strikes Lake Elsinore once again


Big Eau Pleine Reservoir -

Black River - - High heat causes fish kill at Baldwin Lake,0,183607.story – Cherry Creek, Denver.

Yadkin River, North Carolina. -

Apollo Beach's Southshore Falls -

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Phosphorus pollution

A very interesting court case over phosphorus pollution.

Poultry defense grills witness: A state expert says there's no practical way to ban all sources of phosphorus.

By Susan Hylton, Tulsa World, Okla.

Dec. 11--A defense attorney caused a state's expert to admit that there's not a practical way to ban all sources of phosphorus coming into and polluting the Illinois River watershed.

Nor is there a provision in place that would allow scientists to pinpoint where all the sources of phosphorus are coming from, said Todd King, an environmental engineer, in testimony Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Thursday ended the 12th week of the state's lawsuit against 11 companies including poultry giant Tyson Foods of Springdale, Ark., it blames for polluting the Illinois River watershed with chicken waste.

The ongoing trial picks up again Monday when the state plans to rest after submitting phosphorus soil test samples taken from 50 chicken growers since 1998.

King was hired by the state to prepare a report on remediation alternatives designed to reduce the amount of phosphorus in impaired waters.

Perhaps the most strongly worded recommendation was to cease the application of poultry waste, which the state blames for the poor water quality of the Illinois River, Lake Tenkiller and surrounding rivers and streams. The three main contaminants in poultry waste the report names are phosphorus, bacteria and nitrogen.

According to his report, "Without cessation, the effectiveness of any reasonable remediation action will be compromised and the primary injuries will continue."

Defense attorneys Scott McDaniel and John Tucker spent the morning picking apart King's report, noting mathematical errors, and questioning how thought-out some of King's phosphorus remediation re- commendations are.

King said his report did not look at what effect the remedies, such as banning chicken litter, which is less expensive for farmers to use, would have on the agricultural economy.

One of the most expensive remedies recommended was treating drinking water to address algae and associated disinfection by-products. King said he didn't use Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality records to determine if the facilities actually need an upgrade.

King said there is no established criteria for U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell to use in determining if any of the pollution remedies will solve the problem. He said the goal would be met when Lake Tenkiller is no longer eutrophic, which means it is oxygen deficient due to excessive nutrients.

King described his report as an "identification and evaluation of remediation alternatives in the Illinois River watershed."

Susan Hylton 581-8381


To see more of the Tulsa World, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2009, Tulsa World, Okla.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Domoic Acid

If phytoplankton capable of making DA are common in open ocean phytoplankton blooms, do they express this gene and make DA? There have been few measurements published related to the expression of the gene for DA in open ocean phytoplankton. Wells and coworkers [Wells et al., 2005] are one of the few groups who have studied Pseudonitzschia in the open ocean. They indicate that DA plays an important role, together with copper, in ensuring that Pseudonitzschia can survive under very low iron conditions in the open ocean. “This system may explain why Pseudonitzschia spp. are persistent seed populations in oceanic HNLC regions, as well as in some neritic regions. Our findings also indicate that in the absence of an adequate copper supply, iron-limited natural Pseudonitzschia populations will become increasingly toxic.” (p. 1998). We know from studies of Pseudonitzschia strains from coastal waters that they are more likely to make DA when iron-stressed than when growing under iron-replete conditions: “Our findings suggest that DA production during exponential growth of these two toxigenic Pseudonitzschia species is directly induced by Fe-deficient or Cu stress conditions and that 95% of this DA is actively released into the medium.” (p.
515) [Maldonado et al., 2002].

Nualgi contains both Iron and Copper

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ocean Fertilization

26-30 October 2009
Report dated - 30 November 2009



0.1 Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention) and the Contracting Parties to the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention 1972 (London Protocol) met from 26 to 30 October 2009 at IMO Headquarters, London, for their 31st Consultative Meeting and 4th Meeting of Contracting Parties, respectively.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fish kills in Australia

Summer has set in Queensland, Australia and this is resulting in fish kills due to low Dissolved Oxygen.

Burrum Heads, Fraser Coast, Queensland.

Dundowarn Lagoon, north of Brisbane, Queensland.

Beachmere, Queensland.

Biodiesel from Diatoms

"Note that an algal oil slick has now appeared on top of the water, as the oil-laden diatoms begin to leak oils. Oily foams, are now forming in this oil-production photobioreactor.

Note the large oily bubble that has formed at the water line at the lower right corner."

Mr Patrick Ward of Richmond, VA, USA has also obtained some biofuel from Diatoms.
He has been working on this since 2006.

Biodiesel from Diatoms

Academician Jawkai Wang is one of the few people working on biodiesel from Diatoms.
The Chinese website can be translated using Google Translate.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Biofuels: Hope or Hype?

"Biofuels aren’t new. Henry Ford designed his 1908 Model T to run on ethanol from corn, but Standard Oil and its fossil fuel cohorts, seeing the threat biofuels presented to their business, lowered their prices and drove biofuels out of the marketplace."

Now we know why petrol has been so cheap all these years.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Carbon must be sucked from air, says IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri

From The Times
December 1, 2009
Carbon must be sucked from air, says IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri


"Dr Pachauri raised the prospect of so-called geo-engineering, whereby carbon dioxide is actively stripped from the atmosphere. A range of techniques have been proposed including seeding artificial clouds over oceans to reflect sunlight back into space, sowing the oceans with iron ore to boost plankton growth and using carbon capture and storage technology to fix emissions from power stations."


Nualgi is a superior form of providing iron and other micro nutrients to Diatom Algae.