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Scientific American

Researchers at MIT have developed a silk-based biodegradable substitute for microplastics, reports Ysabelle Kempe for Scientific American. “This type of research is urgent for companies that face tightening regulations on deliberate use of microplastics,” writes Kempe.

Fortune

This summer’s heat waves and droughts have brought forth a series of issues including disruption of crop production, further inflation, and electrical issues, reports Colin Lodewick for Fortune. “I think it’s too early to quantify, but I have no doubt that these extreme events are contributing to high prices,” says Sergey Paltsev, deputy director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. “In the future, if we don’t change the course of action, it’s going to be worse.” 

Nature

Nature reporter Neil Savage spotlights Prof. Michael Strano’s work developing a new technique to use nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants. Savage writes that the new technique can allow for "the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance,” writes Savage.

Salon

Researchers at MIT have developed a silk-based substitute that could be used to replace microplastics, reports Matthew Rozsa for Salon. Prof. Benedetto Marelli and postodoctoral associate Muchun Liu explain that they have demonstrated that “silk protein can be used as a technological material in agricultural products and cosmetics – it can protect and control the release of active ingredients, and it can be biodegraded.”

The Boston Globe

Institute Prof. Emeritus Peter Diamond speaks with Boston Globe reporter Scot Lehigh about the Fed’s attempts to control inflation. “My message to the Fed would be, yes, we need to cool the economy, but we need to go slowly in doing so, and see how this plays out, because we shouldn’t have confidence in our predictions,” says Diamond.

TechCrunch

Research affiliate Jason Prapas founded Fyto, a company dedicated to developing hardware and software to automate and scale the production of aquatic plants, reports Christine Hall for TechCrunch. Prapas says that “Fyto’s technology taps into a farm’s waste streams as inputs to enable farmers to increase productivity and improve nutrient management while reducing production costs, water usage and greenhouse gas emissions, in some operations by over 50%.”

AccuWeather

Prof. Desiree Plata speaks with AccuWeather senior on-air meteorologist Geoff Cornish about her research in using zeolite clay to control and remove methane emissions from the air.  “So, the really interesting thing about zeolite is it has these cool pore spaces so when you drop copper into those pore spaces it can grab onto a methane molecule and attach an oxygen atom to it and that helps convert that methane into carbon dioxide which is a much less potent greenhouse gas and so the net benefit to the climate can be quite dramatic,” explains Plata.

Gizmodo

MIT researchers have found that zeolite, a material used to soak up odors in kitty litter, can be used to grab methane out of the air, reports Angely Mercado for Gizmodo.  “Zeolite has tiny pores that act like sponge, and the clay is pretty multifunctional: It can help improve water retention in soil, and it’s found in natural kitty litter,” explains Mercado.

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Ryan Dezember visited Prof. Desiree Plata’s lab to learn more about her group’s work developing a new tool to help address climate change. Plata and her colleagues “soaked an odor-eating clay used in cat boxes in a copper solution to create a compound that they say snatches methane from passing air and turns it into carbon dioxide, a much less harmful greenhouse gas.” The new technique has the “potential to greatly reduce the amount of methane in the atmosphere and slow warming temperatures on the planet.”

Wired

Wired reporter Gregory Barber spotlights Prof. Desirée Plata’s work developing a new process for removing methane emissions using zeolite. Plata’s team is currently working on converting their system to a filter that air can be pushed through. “Plata wants to install the filters in places where methane is concentrated, but there’s not enough of it to burn,” Barber explains.

The Engineer

MIT researchers have developed an approach to control methane emissions by using zeolite clays with small amounts of copper, reports The Engineer. “The systems’ ideal location, the team concluded, would be in places with a concentrated source of methane such as dairy barns and coal mines,” according to The Engineer. “These already tend to have air-handling systems in place since a buildup of methane can be a safety hazard.”

Fast Company

MIT researchers have developed a new approach to removing methane emissions from the air using zeolite, an inexpensive material used in cat litter, reports Adele Peters for Fast Company. Prof. Desiree Plata explains that compared to carbon dioxide, “methane is actually much worse, from a global warming perspective. What this allows us to do is bring immediate climate benefit into the Earth system and actually change global warming rates in our lifetime.”

Bloomberg

Prof. Carlo Ratti has proposed a 51-story skyscraper for China’s technology hub of Shenzhen that would produce crops to feed populations of up to 40,000 per year, reports Bloomberg News. “Ratti envisions his farmscraper as a self-contained food supply chain, where the crops can be cultivated, sold and eaten all within the same building.”

BBC News

Graduate student Ashley Beckwith speaks with BBC Radio 5 about her work developing a new concept for growing wood in the lab, as part of an effort to supplement traditional forestry methods. "We dedicate a lot of resources to growing whole plants, when all we use really is a very small portion of the plant,” says Beckwith. “So somehow we needed to figure out a more strategic way to reproduce materials that isn't so reliant on the land."

Wired

Writing for Wired, Keith Gillogly spotlights how MIT researchers have devised a new technique that could lead to the development of lab-grown wood and other biomaterials. “The hope is that, if this becomes a developed process for producing plant materials, you could alleviate some of [the] pressures on our agricultural lands. And with those reduced pressures, hopefully we can allow more spaces to remain wild and more forests to remain in place,” says graduate student Ashley Beckwith,