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Concept: Natural gas


Room temperature operation, low detection limit and fast response time are highly desirable for a wide range of gas sensing applications. However, the available gas sensors suffer mainly from high temperature operation or external stimulation for response/recovery. Here, we report an ultrasensitive-flexible-silver-nanoparticle based nanocomposite resistive sensor for ammonia detection and established the sensing mechanism. We show that the nanocomposite can detect ammonia as low as 500 parts-per-trillion at room temperature in a minute time. Furthermore, the evolution of ammonia from different chemical reactions has been demonstrated using the nanocomposite sensor as an example. Our results demonstrate the proof-of-concept for the new detector to be used in several applications including homeland security, environmental pollution and leak detection in research laboratories and many others.

Concepts: Gas sensors, Ammonia, Hydrogen, Gas leak, Sensor, Nitrogen, Natural gas, Chemical reaction


Dietary choices drive both health and environmental outcomes. Information on diets come from many sources, with nationally recommended diets (NRDs) by governmental or similar advisory bodies the most authoritative. Little or no attention is placed on the environmental impacts within NRDs. Here we quantify the impact of nation-specific NRDs, compared with an average diet in 37 nations, representing 64% of global population. We focus on greenhouse gases (GHGs), eutrophication, and land use because these have impacts reaching or exceeding planetary boundaries. We show that compared with average diets, NRDs in high-income nations are associated with reductions in GHG, eutrophication, and land use from 13.0 to 24.8%, 9.8 to 21.3%, and 5.7 to 17.6%, respectively. In upper-middle-income nations, NRDs are associated with slight decrease in impacts of 0.8-12.2%, 7.7-19.4%, and 7.2-18.6%. In poorer middle-income nations, impacts increase by 12.4-17.0%, 24.5-31.9%, and 8.8-14.8%. The reduced environmental impact in high-income countries is driven by reductions in calories (∼54% of effect) and a change in composition (∼46%). The increased environmental impacts of NRDs in low- and middle-income nations are associated with increased intake in animal products. Uniform adoption of NRDs across these nations would result in reductions of 0.19-0.53 Gt CO2 eq⋅a-1, 4.32-10.6 Gt [Formula: see text] eq⋅a-1, and 1.5-2.8 million km2, while providing the health cobenefits of adopting an NRD. As a small number of dietary guidelines are beginning to incorporate more general environmental concerns, we anticipate that this work will provide a standardized baseline for future work to optimize recommended diets further.

Concepts: Natural gas, Environmental impact assessment, Agriculture, Sovereign state, Nation, Nutrition, Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gas


Countries export much of the harm created by their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because the Earth’s atmosphere intermixes globally. Yet, the extent to which this leads to inequity between GHG emitters and those impacted by the resulting climate change depends on the distribution of climate vulnerability. Here, we determine empirically the relationship between countries' GHG emissions and their vulnerability to negative effects of climate change. In line with the results of other studies, we find an enormous global inequality where 20 of the 36 highest emitting countries are among the least vulnerable to negative impacts of future climate change. Conversely, 11 of the 17 countries with low or moderate GHG emissions, are acutely vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change. In 2010, only 28 (16%) countries had an equitable balance between emissions and vulnerability. Moreover, future emissions scenarios show that this inequality will significantly worsen by 2030. Many countries are manifestly free riders causing others to bear a climate change burden, which acts as a disincentive for them to mitigate their emissions. It is time that this persistent and worsening climate inequity is resolved, and for the largest emitting countries to act on their commitment of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Concepts: Ozone, Carbon dioxide, Atmosphere, Attribution of recent climate change, Earth, Natural gas, Climate change, Greenhouse gas


In plastic surgery, skin damage induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) is a multifactorial process that often occurs. Methane gas has been reported to be a new therapeutic gas for attenuating I/R injury. In this study, we assessed the effects of methane-rich saline (MRS) in regulating apoptosis on skin flap I/R injury.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Microsurgery, Reconstructive surgery, Petroleum, Carbon, Natural gas, Plastic surgery, Surgery


To investigate the spatial distribution of microbial communities and their drivers in petroleum reservoir environments, we performed pyrosequencing of microbial partial 16S rRNA, derived from 20 geographically separated water-flooding reservoirs, and two reservoirs that had not been flooded, in China. The results indicated that distinct underground microbial communities inhabited the different reservoirs. Compared with the bacteria, archaeal alpha-diversity was not strongly correlated with the environmental variables. The variation of the bacterial and archaeal community compositions was affected synthetically, by the mining patterns, spatial isolation, reservoir temperature, salinity and pH of the formation brine. The environmental factors explained 64.22% and 78.26% of the total variance for the bacterial and archaeal communities, respectively. Despite the diverse community compositions, shared populations (48 bacterial and 18 archaeal genera) were found and were dominant in most of the oilfields. Potential indigenous microorganisms, including Carboxydibrachium, Thermosinus, and Neptunomonas, were only detected in a reservoir that had not been flooded with water. This study indicates that: 1) the environmental variation drives distinct microbial communities in different reservoirs; 2) compared with the archaea, the bacterial communities were highly heterogeneous within and among the reservoirs; and 3) despite the community variation, some microorganisms are dominant in multiple petroleum reservoirs.

Concepts: Natural gas, Eukaryote, Ribosomal RNA, Water, Microorganism, Microbiology, Bacteria, Archaea


We present new evidence for the existence of a large pockmark field on the continental slope of the Santos Basin, offshore southeast Brazil. A recent high-resolution multibeam bathymetric survey revealed 984 pockmarks across a smooth seabed at water depths of 300-700 m. Four patterns of pockmark arrays were identified in the data: linear, network, concentric, and radial. Interpretation of Two-dimensional multi-channel seismic reflection profiles that crosscut the surveyed area shows numerous salt diapirs in various stages of development (e.g. salt domes, walls, and anticlines). Some diapirs were exposed on the seafloor, whereas the tops of others (diapir heads) were situated several hundreds of meters below the surface. Extensional faults typically cap these diapirs and reach shallow depths beneath the seafloor. Our analysis suggests that these pockmark patterns are linked to stages in the development of underlying diapirs and their related faults. The latter may extend above salt walls, take the form of polygonal extensional faults along higher-level salt anticlines, or concentric faults above diapir heads that reach close to the seafloor. Seismic data also revealed buried pockmark fields that had repeatedly developed since the Middle Miocene. The close spatio-temporal connection between pockmark and diapir distribution identified here suggests that the pockmark field extends further across the Campos and Espírito Santo Basins, offshore Brazil. Spatial overlap between the pockmark field topping a large diapir field and a proliferous hydrocarbon basin is believed to have facilitated the escape of fluid/gas from the subsurface to the water column, which was enhanced by halokinesis. This provides a possible control on fossil gas contribution to the marine system over geological time.

Concepts: Drainage basin, Petroleum, Evaporite, Atlantic Ocean, Reflection seismology, Natural gas, Diapir, Salt dome


Policy makers have generally agreed that the average global temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 2 °C above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times. It has been estimated that to have at least a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 °C throughout the twenty-first century, the cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 need to be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2). However, the greenhouse gas emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this, and so the unabated use of all current fossil fuel reserves is incompatible with a warming limit of 2 °C. Here we use a single integrated assessment model that contains estimates of the quantities, locations and nature of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves and resources, and which is shown to be consistent with a wide variety of modelling approaches with different assumptions, to explore the implications of this emissions limit for fossil fuel production in different regions. Our results suggest that, globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2 °C. We show that development of resources in the Arctic and any increase in unconventional oil production are incommensurate with efforts to limit average global warming to 2 °C. Our results show that policy makers' instincts to exploit rapidly and completely their territorial fossil fuels are, in aggregate, inconsistent with their commitments to this temperature limit. Implementation of this policy commitment would also render unnecessary continued substantial expenditure on fossil fuel exploration, because any new discoveries could not lead to increased aggregate production.

Concepts: Natural gas, Petroleum, Methane, Coal, Greenhouse gas, Global warming, Carbon dioxide, Fossil fuel


Carbon monoxide-fermenting microorganisms can be used for the production of a wide range of commodity chemicals and fuels from syngas (generated by gasification of, e.g., wastes or biomass) or industrial off-gases (e.g., from steel industry). Microorganisms are normally more resistant to contaminants in the gas (e.g., hydrogen sulfide) than chemical catalysts, less expensive and self-regenerating. However, some carboxydotrophs are sensitive to high concentrations of CO, resulting in low growth rates and productivities. We hypothesize that cultivation of synthetic cocultures can be used to improve overall rates of CO bioconversion. As a case study, a thermophilic microbial coculture, consisting of Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans and Methanothermobacter thermoautotrophicus was constructed to study the effect of cocultivation on conversion of CO-rich gases to methane. In contrast to the methanogenic monoculture, the coculture was able to efficiently utilize CO or mixtures of H2/CO/CO2 to produce methane at high efficiency and high rates. In CSTR-bioreactors operated in continuous mode, the coculture converted artificial syngas (66.6% H2:33.3% CO) to an outflow gas with a methane content of 72%, approaching the 75% theoretical maximum. CO conversion efficiencies of 93% and volumetric production rates of 4 m3methane/m3liquid/day were achieved. This case shows that microbial cocultivation can result in a significant improvement of gas-fermentation of CO-rich gases.

Concepts: Scientific method, Hydrogen, Methane, Carbon monoxide, Gasification, Natural gas, Coal, Anaerobic digestion


Several viable but conflicting explanations have been proposed to explain the recent ~8 p.p.b. per year increase in atmospheric methane after 2006, equivalent to net emissions increase of ~25 Tg CH4 per year. A concurrent increase in atmospheric ethane implicates a fossil source; a concurrent decrease in the heavy isotope content of methane points toward a biogenic source, while other studies propose a decrease in the chemical sink (OH). Here we show that biomass burning emissions of methane decreased by 3.7 (±1.4) Tg CH4 per year from the 2001-2007 to the 2008-2014 time periods using satellite measurements of CO and CH4, nearly twice the decrease expected from prior estimates. After updating both the total and isotopic budgets for atmospheric methane with these revised biomass burning emissions (and assuming no change to the chemical sink), we find that fossil fuels contribute between 12-19 Tg CH4 per year to the recent atmospheric methane increase, thus reconciling the isotopic- and ethane-based results.

Concepts: Carbon, Hydrogen, Fossil fuel, Petroleum, Greenhouse gas, Carbon dioxide, Natural gas, Methane


Food production is a major driver of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water and land use, and dietary risk factors are contributors to non-communicable diseases. Shifts in dietary patterns can therefore potentially provide benefits for both the environment and health. However, there is uncertainty about the magnitude of these impacts, and the dietary changes necessary to achieve them. We systematically review the evidence on changes in GHG emissions, land use, and water use, from shifting current dietary intakes to environmentally sustainable dietary patterns. We find 14 common sustainable dietary patterns across reviewed studies, with reductions as high as 70-80% of GHG emissions and land use, and 50% of water use (with medians of about 20-30% for these indicators across all studies) possible by adopting sustainable dietary patterns. Reductions in environmental footprints were generally proportional to the magnitude of animal-based food restriction. Dietary shifts also yielded modest benefits in all-cause mortality risk. Our review reveals that environmental and health benefits are possible by shifting current Western diets to a variety of more sustainable dietary patterns.

Concepts: Coal, Carbon dioxide, Water vapor, Environment, Natural gas, Ecological footprint, Natural environment, Greenhouse gas