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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
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Listen to 05 July
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 05 July 2007
Canoeists in Pickering
Paddling in Pickering, Yorks; taken by John Knowles.

Flood Warning

The floods in Yorkshire and elsewhere are a reminder of how vulnerable we are to quirks of nature. An unusual pattern of storm clouds is all it takes to bring torrents into people’s front rooms. 10,000 homes are thought to have been affected, and insured losses are said to be at least a billion pounds. And with climate change, extreme storms are expected to become more common. Quentin hears from Professors Ian Cluckie and Anthony Illingworth about two major projects intended to give us fast and reliable early warning of impending floods.

Fuel Cells from Chocolate and Road Dust

Hydrogen fuel cells have been much touted as the major energy carrier in a post-fossil fuel economy. But, whilst they can generate clean electricity locally with only water vapour as exhaust, exactly how to source the ingredients sustainably is a subject of concern for many climate thinkers.

After a chance encounter, exploration geologist Dr Hazel Prichard of Cardiff University and Prof Lynne Macaskie of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences, combined forces to pursue a very unusual type of recycling.

Hazel tells Quentin about her work on tracking platinum in the dust left on roads by catalytic converters on cars and how it can be harvested by a strain of E. coli bacteria (not the famous, dangerous strain). And as Lynne describes - the bacteria are taken from a biosynthetic process that makes pure hydrogen from chocolate waste.

NEXT WEEK:   Tracking human migration - by following snails ...
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