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- Paul Youchak
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Melanin to absorb Ionizing Radiation from Nuclear Wastes
After learning about a fungi that grows inside the Chernobyl reactor research was done to consider the viabilty of using melanin to absorb radiation from Nuclear wastes, much in the way that plants absorb light through photosynthesis. After intial ambiguity through research I have found some good data. Melanin is a pigment with high molecular weight, found in humans and many other organism, they seem to be able to absorb light of shorter wavelengths.
After trying to discover why or how this melanin is able to absorb wavelengths, I came across mathematical descriptions of extiction coefficients, whichentually led to learning about Attenuation coefficient which determine a materials ability to absorb wavelenths and light through a given density. I will place a very interesting quote from said patent summary here, "This is better than plastic, since to stop a β-particle 7 mm of plastic (e.g., Lucite) are needed and the density of Lucite is higher than the density of the 1.33 g/cm3 melanin pellet made of Sepia melanin. Measurement of the bulk melanin shielding effect towards gamma radiation of 122-140 keV energies showed that 4 mm of melanin cut the dose by -33%. Using these data, the linear attenuation coefficient (μ) for bulk melanin was calculated to be 1.01 cm"1. For comparison, at 140 keV lead has a higher μ=27.1 cm"1 but its density is 11.34 g/cm3; and aluminum has μ=0.386 cm" and a density of 2.7 g/cm . It is obvious from these measurements, that melanin nanoparticles possess several orders of magnitude better radiation shielding properties than bulk melanin." Therefore melanin obviously on a molecular scale is much more efficient at shielding radiation than other materials, on a larger thicker scale it is unclear...
Therefore in conclusion it is perfectly viable idea to be explored further.
Using Nature to Create Electrical Energy
The goal here is to create a system by which we can use nature to create energy and remove C)2 from atmosphere at once. This mean we msut utilize both the light dependent part of photosynthesis and the light independent, so that we can crete chemical energy which takes up carbon dioxide. The challenge is not so much creating a survivable natural system it is rather find a way to create electrical energy from the chemical energy produced without releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. There seems to be a development under the direction of Princeton which does not seem to utilize the light independent reaction, therefore we are losing one of our goals in doing this. How do we degrade the chemical energy produced by photosynthesis and use it to create electrical or mechanical energy, is there some other sort of natural system to do this, for isntance can we put the energy under specific conditions without doing to much work. Also will the by products be toxic, for isntance will it produce CO2 again or could we get it to produce for instance carbon monoxide.
Ionizing Radiation References
Patent http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/wo.jsp?wo=2006124056&IA=WO2006124056&DISPLAY=DESC Attenuation Coefficient http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attenuation_coefficient Fungi in Chernobyl http://www.wtnrradio.com/story.php?story=262 PLos One Article concerning melanin and Ionizing Radiation http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0000457 Melanin Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin
Artificial Photosynthesis References
Project Development Notebook
February 27th Some initial ideas and brainstorming. I proposed idea of finding some natural organism which can absorb the Ionizing Radiation from nuclear wastes so that spent fuel can be less dangerous and therefore make Nuclear Energy more viable. Roshini commented about a fungi she had read about which survived inside the Chernobyl reactor, web site found looks promising. Another idea all of us seem happy to look towards is making a filter for water, we were thinking we could use or create a semi-permeable membrane from organic material. Other ideas we thought we should give further thought were using nature and photosynthesis to not only remove CO2 from atmosphere but in order to make it economically viable to harness the energy produced. We also discussed finding a means to break down organic wastes so that people in the poorer parts of the world can better deal with their sewage and wastes.
March 4th/5th First discussed concernes about each idea we would need to adress, and then got to work. Found some reference to aquaporins which we now beleive will be instrumental for our design of a filter. Also it seems making a filter out of a membrane will be difficult when done in a planer shape, Roshini suggest we think about other shapes and tells us to not defeat any idea yet, study into how the kidney works and if its possible we can model our project after it. On the nuclear wste front not much progress except towards end find information about an extinction coefficient. Kiran beleives her research towards solar panel out of organic material is going well. Spent days researching information and discussing things further. Hope to meet later in the week so that we can discuss presentation and decide upon our final three ideas.
March 15th This last week was the presentation of our three ideas, which I felt went very well. We intially met on Sunday to narrow down the choices to three. We decided on: using melanin to shield radioactive wastes, using biology in photovoltaics and using aquaporins to filter water. I felt the groupwork was excellent so far for our three ideas and we could easily discuss and criticize ides among eachother without any reservations. After giving the three presentations we were given some input in order to help us narrow down the field to one. First it seemed the class felt the aquaporin idea was the best, though i have to beleive much of this was simply becasue Benji gave the msot entertaining and clear presentation. On Thursday Natalie and Drew gave us some insight, they beleived the melanin idea was cool is used for other applications, they also felt that the aquaporin and photosynthesis idea could be used in conjuction for a better purpose. After hearing this our group had a good discussion and untimately decided not to do the melanin idea becasue we felt some of the science was not something we were familiar with, as well as the fact that a patent had been made having a very similar idea. Therefore we decided to do the photosynthesis and aquaporins to drive water purification. I feel this take will be more complicated and have more problems than the group realizes but I look forward to working on it.