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Method for High-Yield Chemical Recycling of Plastic Waste

Professor Matthew Conley from the University of California, Riverside has discovered that catalysts used to generate polyolefin plastics also perform well in hydrotreatment reactions of plastic waste. This method works by treating plastic materials with known catalysts at 200⁰C to degrade  polymers into smaller alkanes in the presence of hydrogen. This technology is advantageous compared to existing methods since it does not require high temperatures​, has a relatively high yield (+80%)​, and can be applied to a variety of plastics to generate a feedstock of smaller polymers and monomers for further processing.  

Long Term Isochoric Freezing To Inhibit Biological Contaminants

There are many applications in which there is the need for storage of matter prone to biological contamination for extended period, from days to years. These applications include food, agricultural products, biological matter, and biotechnological matter.  Isobaric (constant pressure) freezing is one method of food preservation, however, freezing causes the deterioration of the quality of the preserved matter. High pressure processing followed by sterilization by refrigerating it at 4 ºC is common, but microorganisms can grow at 4 ºC and the product is sterile for limited periods of time of days. Thus, there is still a need for good preservation technologies that inhibits or reduce growth of microbial contaminants while maintaining their fresh-like characteristics and nutritional value.  UC Berkeley inventors and others have developed a device and methods for long term preservation of matter that inhibits or eliminates biological contaminants with isochoric freezing. 

Continuous Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production By Perchlorate Respiring Microorganisms

Plastics are essential for the modern world but are also non-sustainable products of the petrochemical industry that negatively impact our health, environment, and food chain. Natural biogenic plastics, such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), are readily biodegradable, can be produced more sustainably, and offer an attractive alternative. The global demand for bioplastics is increasing with the 2019 market value of $8.3B expected to reach a compound annual growth rate of 16.1% from 2020-2027 ( However, current PHA production is constrained by the underlying physiology of the microorganisms which produce them, meaning bioplastic production is currently limited to inefficient, batch fermentation processes that are difficult to scale.To address this problem, UC Berkeley researchers have developed a new system for PHA production wherein the PHA are generated continuously throughout microorganism growth lifecycles. The invention allows these sustainable bioplastics to be produced via precision continuous fermentation technology, a scalable and efficient approach.

Scalable Temperature Adaptive Radiative Coating With Optimized Solar Absorption

For decades, researchers have been developing “cool roof” materials to cool buildings and save on energy usage from air conditioning. Cool roof materials are engineered to maximize infrared thermal emission, allowing heat to be effectively radiated into outer space and the building to cool down. Conventional cool roof materials emit heat even when it is cold outside, which exacerbates space heating costs and can outweigh energy-saving benefits. A temperature adaptive radiative coating (TARC) material was developed in 2021 that adapts its thermal emittance to ambient temperatures using metal-insulator transitions in vanadium oxide. TARC is projected to outperform existing roof materials in most climate areas, but the complicated structure required high-cost fabrication techniques such as photolithography, pulsed laser deposition, and XeF2 etching, which are not scalable.To address this problem, UC Berkeley researchers have developed a new scalable temperature-adaptive radiative coating (STARC). STARC has the same thermal emittance switching capability as TARC, allowing the thermal emittance to be switched between high- and low- emittance states at a preset temperature. However, STARC can be produced using high-throughput, roll-to-roll methods and low-cost materials. The STARC material also has an improved lifetime. As an added benefit, while cool roof materials are often engineered with uniformly low solar-absorption, the color and solar absorption of STARC can be tuned for aesthetic purposes or to meet local climate-specific needs.

Camellia Sinesis Rapid Growth Platform

Researchers at the University of California Davis have developed a rapid growth platform that aims to decrease crop production time, allow for tunable sensory attributes, and decrease carbon emissions.

(SD2022-133) Methods to monitor guanitoxin cyanobacterial blooms

Freshwater is essential for drinking and agriculture, yet potable watersheds are increasingly impacted by the undesirable high-density growth of algae and/or cyanobacteria. Understanding, monitoring, and remediating harmful algal/cyanobacterial blooms (HABs/cyanoHABs) and their associated toxins are essential to reducing their societal impact. Recent scientific and technological advances continue to improve environmental cyanoHAB detection and prediction;  however, the vast cyanotoxin structural chemodiversity creates challenges in their comprehensive detection and quantification using standard analytical chemistry assays. In contrast, quantitative molecular biological detection of biosynthetic genes via PCR provides a multiplexable and cost-effective monitoring strategy to identify the toxic potential of blooms independent of active toxin synthesis. The biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) for important freshwater cyanotoxins like microcystin, cylindrospermopsin,  saxitoxin,  and anatoxin-a have been defined and applied toward detection over the past decades. However, the biosynthetic pathway and genes for guanitoxin, the only known natural organophosphate neurotoxin, have yet to be described.Previously known as anatoxin-a(s),  guanitoxin is an irreversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase, sharing an identical mechanism of action with organophosphates like the synthetic chemical warfare agent sarin and the banned pesticide parathion. Guanitoxin induces acute neurological toxicity that can lead to rapid death, showing comparable lethality (LD50 = 20 μg/kg i.p.) to saxitoxin, the most potent known cyanotoxin. Sporadic detection in the Americas, Europe, and Middle East coupled with bloom-related animal deaths consistent with guanitoxin exposure suggests that this toxin could be an under-recognized threat in global watersheds. 

Microchannel Polymer Heat Exchanger

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a highly efficient microchannel polymer heat exchanger in a compact and lightweight design.

Synergistic Enzyme Mixtures to Realize Near-Complete Depolymerization in Blends

In this technology, the inventors introduce additives to purposely change the morphology of polycaprolactone (PCL) by increasing the bending and twisting of crystalline lamellae. These morphological changes immobilize chain-ends preferentially at the crystalline/amorphous interfaces and limit chain-end accessibility by the embedded processive enzyme. This chain end redistribution reduces the polymer-to-monomer conversion from >95% to less than 50%, causing formation of highly crystalline plastic pieces including microplastics. By synergizing both random chain scission and processive depolymerization, it is feasible to navigate morphological changes in polymer/additive blends and to achieve near complete depolymerization. The random scission enzymes in the amorphous domains create new chain ends that are subsequently bound and depolymerized by processive enzymes. Present studies further highlight the importance to consider host polymer morphological effects on the reactions catalyzed by embedded catalytic species.This is part of a patent family in compostable plastics.  

Spray Coated Paint Based on Glass Bubbles for Buildings

Developing optical materials with a high solar reflectivity and high mid-infrared emissivity is important for coating the outdoor buildings. The authors proposed a spray coated paint based on glass bubbles which can be used to maintain the thermal environment of constructions.

Portable Cyber-Physical System For Real-Time Daylight Evaluation In Buildings

In developed countries, buildings demand a large percentage of a region's energy-generating requirements. This has led to an urgent need for efficient buildings with reduced energy requirements. In office buildings, lighting takes up 20% to 45% of the total energy consumption. Furthermore, the adoption of smart lighting control strategies such as daylight harvesting is shown to reduce lighting energy use by 30% to 50%.For most closed-loop lighting control systems, the real-time data of the daylight level at areas of interest (e.g., the office workbench) are the most important inputs. Current state-of-the-art solutions use dense arrays of luxmeters (photosensors) to monitor the daylight environment inside buildings. The luxmeters are placed on either workbenches, or ceilings and walls near working areas. Digital cameras are used in controlled laboratory environments and occasionally in common buildings to evaluate glare resulting from excessive daylight. The disadvantage of these sensor-based approaches is that they're expensive to install and commission. Additionally, the sample area of these sensors is limited to either the area of the luxmeters or the view of the cameras. Consequently, many sensors are needed to measure the daylight in a large office space.To address this situation, researchers at UC Berkeley developed a portable cyber-physical system for real time, daylight evaluation in buildings, agriculture facilities, and solar farms (collectively referred to as "structures").

Optimizing Bipolar Membrane Interfaces to Catalyze Water Dissociation

Researchers at UCI have modified current commercial membranes to enhance efficiency of water dissociation at varying conditions for electrochemical technologies geared towards renewable fuel generation.

Wave-Powered Desalination System Using A Multi-Cylinder Rotary Crankshaft Pump

 This invention is a wave powered desalination system and, in particular , a wave powered desalination systems with a low speed, high pressure rotary pump.

High Fidelity 3D Printing Through Computed Axial Lithography

The inventor has developed novel algorithms and metrology methodologies, including real-time in-situ imaging of part formation, in computed axial lithography printing (CALP). CALP is a form of continuous 3D roll-based additive manufacturing which is distinct from roll-based micro/nanomanufacturing methods such as imprint lithography, gravure printing, and photo-roll lithography because it enables production of high aspect ratio reentrant features and voids in a single step that are difficult or even impossible with the existing methods.

Multi-Phase Hybrid Power Converter Architecture With Large Conversion Ratios

The power demands on data centers are large and increasing rapidly. This is straining data center economic and environment impacts, and in turn driving improvements in data center power efficiencies. Data centers have been widely adopting 48 V intermediate bus architectures due to higher efficiency, good flexibility, and reduced cost. However, a major challenge in such systems is the conversion from the 48 V bus to the extreme low voltage and high current operating levels of server CPUs and GPUs.To address this challenge, UC Berkeley researchers developed a multi-phase hybrid power converter architecture. The Berkeley design uses hybrid converter topologies. A switched-capacitor network is smartly merged with a switched-inductor network, resulting in circuit component number reduction and soft-charging operation of the capacitors. Furthermore, the Berkeley architecture integrates a multi-phase control technique to achieve a higher conversion ratio of the switched-capacitor network, which can further improve the overall system efficiency without increasing the circuit size.  

Separation System Using Integrated Microwave-Infrared Technology to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Potential Pathogen Impacts Associated with Cow Manure

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a separation system using microwave-infrared technology to effectively eliminate pathogens and reduce both the moisture content and potential greenhouse gas emissions of cow manure.

Structured "Meat" Processes and Products from Cells Grown in Suspension Culture

Producing meat products using cells grown in culture (instead of via animal husbandry farming) has many benefits and great potential. Current cell-cultured approaches either: (1) use suspension culture to produce homogenous products that don't meet consumer taste expectations for a substitute meat, or (2) organ culture methods to create products that meet consumer taste expectations, but at unacceptably high prices. To address this situation, researchers at UC Berkeley have been developing a process by which cells are grown in free suspension, making possible the economies of scaling that result from using large stirred tanks. After growth, the cells can be assembled into desirable macroscopic structures by controlling the conditions under which the desired multiple cell types and scaffolds are mixed and dewatered. The macroscopic structures include features such as fat marbling and muscle fiber orientation as expected by meat consumers.

Non Intrusive Workflow Assessment (NIWA) for Manufacturing Optimization

The invention is a smart non-intrusive workflow assessment platform for monitoring and optimizing manufacturing environments. The platform monitors environmental and energy metrics, and provides learning models to classify workers’ activities and relate them to the equipment utilization and performance. Correlating both stream of data enables both workers and supervisors to improve the efficiency of the whole manufacturing process and at an affordable price.

A Novel Catalyst for Aqueous Chlorate Reduction with High Activity, Salt Resistance, and Stability

Inspired by biological systems, Prof. Jinyong Liu’s lab at UCR has developed a novel heterogeneous, bimetallic catalyst MoOx-Pd/C. The catalyst contains earth-abundant molybdenum (Mo) and the carbon support of Pd/C has a high capacity to accomodate MoOx species. The incorporation of a MoVI yields a highly active and robust catalyst. The porous carbon mimics the enzyme protein pocket (of microbes) to accommodate the oxygen atom transfer metal site. The representative figures shown below demonstrate the high activity and robustness of the catalyst for both chlorate and perchlorate reduction. The effect of concentrated salts on the reduction of 1 mM ClO3− by the MoOx-Pd/C catalyst at a loading of 0.2 g/L. The reactions were conducted at 25 oC and under 1 atm H2. Chlorine balance for ClO4- reduction Fig. 3 shows the profiles of the reduction of 0.18M ClO3− spikes in a multiple-spike reaction series. The decrease of activity was only caused by the gradual build-up of concentrated Cl− (see details in the publication).  

Novel Phage CRISPR-Cas Effectors and Uses Thereof

UC Berkeley researchers have discovered a novel family of proteins denoted Cas12L within the Type V CRISPR Cas superfamily distantly related to CasX, CasY and other published type V sequences.  These Cas12L proteins utilize a guide RNA to perform RNA-directed cleavage of DNA.

Single Conjugative Vector for Genome Editing by RNA-guided Transposition

The inventors have constructed conjugative plasmids for intra- and inter-species delivery and expression of RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas transposases for organism- and site-specific genome editing by targeted transposon insertion. This invention enables integration of large, customizable DNA segments (encoded within a transposon) into prokaryotic genomes at specific locations and with low rates of off-target integration.

Improved Cas12a Proteins for Accurate and Efficient Genome Editing

Mutated versions of Cas12a that remove its non-specific ssDNA cleavage activity without affecting site-specific double-stranded DNA cutting activity. These mutant proteins, in which a short amino acid sequence is deleted or changed, provide improved genome editing tools that will avoid potential off-target editing due to random ssDNA nicking.

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