Sunny changemaker and heating up our waste – IMPRESSO #42

In this IMPRESSO edition: Sunny changemaker to solve a global problem , a sweet revolution, and heating up our waste.


Sunny changemaker

As the human population continues to increase alongside the average consumption of resource-intensive animal products, researchers search for solutions in food innovation. Microbes, which traditionally played a peripheral role in foods such as cheese and beer, have taken the center stage of a research team from the University of Göttingen. Through solar panels in the production of microbial protein, the researchers have discovered an alternative protein source that is not only rich in other nutrients but compared to the most efficient plant crop, soy, which requires 90% less land area. The large-scale production of this energy efficient protein source could reduce the carbon footprint of meat, by providing an alternative source of food for livestock. A potential changemaker for one of our most pressing global issues! Read more


A sweet revolution

Insulin management is a consistent task for people with diabetes. However, a breakthrough study by a team of Indiana University may change this approach for the better. The team’s concept is for the insulin itself to respond to the blood glucose levels in the body and adjust accordingly. Through a synthetic switch that is opened and closed automatically through a sugar sensor, glucose would be managed independently, freeing the patient from constant observation their blood glucose levels. The approach already works using fructose as a model. By replacing the fructose sensor with a glucose sensor, a novel therapy may be just around the corner! Read more


Heating up our waste

Today, more than 65% of the energy produced from fossil fuels is lost as waste heat. There already exist thermoelectric devices that turn heat into useful energy, however, their conversion efficiency currently lies at around 4-5% (!!!). Now, a team of scientists from Northwestern University and Seoul National University demonstrated a high-performing thermoelectric material, purified selenide in polycrystalline form, that outperforms all currently used materials! And this material could one day pave the way for the widespread use of thermoelectric devices, capturing waste heat from power plants, the automobile industry, and glass or brick-making factories. Read more