Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Groundbreaking theory about surface tension

I am very interested in Biodiesel from algae.  Who wouldn't be?  It has many benefits to use:

1) fast to produce
2) absorbs CO2 from the air
3) very cost effective when it can be refined

So I have looked into the technology for using in the biodiesel industry.  For example some scientists have invented a single seperation process for the oils and the bulk cellulose.  Other scientists have created tanks to absorb light so algae can be grown in more than a single layer.  Biomat has applied a theory of water to develop a new container based algae growth system. “We focus on the water, not the algae,” said Miguel Cizin, CEO and co-founder of Biomat.  To do that, the Biomat process attempts to induce a form of energy in the water—possibly infrared light—that charges the water to create the exclusion zone compartments, which Cizin said provides an atmosphere that helps algae grow faster and without the need for chemicals.

So what is this theory of water and what are exclusion zones?  The Pollack laboratory in Washington State whose website heading says, 'Unlocking natures deeply held secrets,' has a theory about water that is groundbreaking.  Pollack believes that water molecular levels (near the surface of water) are not limited to one to two solid levels as the common belief holds.  The water could be layered to some 2 to 3 million strata rather.  Our current belief is that the water is ordered by two to three tightly bound surface-level layers then water molecules in the bulk water are random.   The water he says, 'is supposed to act more like a liquid crystal,'  He explains this explanation with the clouds which are composed mostly of water but are stable in the air somehow.  Clouds have nearly 100% humidity but have air right next to it at 0% humidity.  How is this possible?   An exclusion zone (the liquid crystal) consisting of several hundred micrometers may contains layers below the surface that can be changed by photons from ordinary sunlight.  Then water separates the charge and can builds the charged ordered exclusion zone.  Pollack relates light-induced charge separation to resemble the first steps of photosynthesis which Biomat would like to use in their algae production.  Hopefully with that we can lower our reliance on fuel. 

Further reading:

Yoo, H, Baker, DR, Pirie, CM, Hovakeemian, B, and Pollack, GH: Characteristics of water adjacent to hydrophilic interfaces.  Water: the Forgotten Molecule, pp 123-136.  Ed: D LeBihan, and H Fukuyama, Pan Stanford, 2011. link
● Yoo, H, Paranji, R, and Pollack, GH: Impact of hydrophilic surfaces on interfacial water dynamics probed with NMR spectroscopy.  J Phys Chem Letters 2: 532- 536, 2011.
● Pollack, GH, Figueroa, X, and Zhao, Q: The minimal cell and life's origin: role of water and aqueous interfaces. The Minimal Cell: The Biophysics of Cell Compartment and the Origin of Cell Functionality.  Ed: PL Luisi, and P Stano, Springer, 2011.
● Safronov, AP, Shakhnovich, M, Kalganov, A, Kamalov, IA, Shklyar, TF, Blyakhman, FA, and Pollack, GH: DC electric fields produce periodic bending of polyelectrolyte gels. Polymer 52: 2430-2436, 2011.
● Bhalerao, A, and Pollack, GH: Light-induced effects on Brownian displacements.  J Biophotnics 4(3): 172-177, 2011.
● Nhan, DT, and Pollack, GH: Effect of particle diameter on exclusion-zone size.  In press Int'l J Design Nature, 2011.
● Figueroa, X, and Pollack, GH: Exclusion-Zone formation from discontinuous Nafion surfaces. In press Design and Nature, 2011.