Stories tagged air

Aug
06
2010

The air around us is not as clean as it could be. Scientists are looking for ways to remove toxins, like nitrogen oxide, from the air we breathe. One of the main sources of nitrogen oxide is automobile traffic. A solution to this problem might be found under our very wheels.
Pavers: Pavers, like these, coated with nanoscale particles of Ti02 can help clean the air.
Pavers: Pavers, like these, coated with nanoscale particles of Ti02 can help clean the air.Courtesy Pacificpavingstone

How does it work? Concrete pavers are coated with nanoscale particles of titanium dioxide (TiO2). Kicked off with the energy from sunlight, TiO2 converts nasties, like nitrogen oxides, into much less harmful nitrates via a chemical reaction. Nanoscale particles have lots of surface area where a chemical reaction can occur. Also good? It seems that this coating remains stable. Tests conducted almost two years later show no change.

My favorite part of this article...they did not stop there. They asked "What about the nitrates we are introducing into the system? Where's that going?" Rain sweeps the nitrates off the road, into ditches and on to waste water treatment facilities.

Sep
28
2007

Old air: We're used to seeing oxygen in tanks like this, but some 2.5 billion years ago it was locked up in the Earth's rocks. New studies show that the element is 50 to 100 million years older than previously thought. (Flickr photo by jzawodn)
Old air: We're used to seeing oxygen in tanks like this, but some 2.5 billion years ago it was locked up in the Earth's rocks. New studies show that the element is 50 to 100 million years older than previously thought. (Flickr photo by jzawodn)
Did you know that we can trace the origins of an important element in our air in today’s rocks?

The current issue of the journal Science is reporting that a rock formation recently found in Australia is turning back the origination date of oxygen on Earth.

The new data shows that oxygen was on the planet about 50 to 100 million years before previously thought. It’s not a huge time difference when you consider the previous early indications of oxygen date back 2.3 billion to 2.4 billion years ago.

That’s the time range that researchers like to call the "Great Oxidation Event," and believe me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be around then. Earth’s air was composed primarily of methane and ammonia at that time. The origins of the "Great Oxidation Event" aren’t understood yet, but that was the start of the process that has led to 21percent of our atmosphere being made up of oxygen. And of course, without oxygen living beings like us wouldn’t be able to breath.

The rock core found in Australia is a 3,000-foot-long chunk found in western Australia. The new discovery fuels further speculation that there are strong links between changes in the Earth’s geology and its biology, researchers say. That’s the big question that researchers have to delve into next.