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Brownwood Clay Holdings announces successful testing of new ceramic proppant using natural resources available near active shale plays

Brownwood Clay Holdings, LLC (BCH) announced a revolutionary development that will significantly expand source minerals from which ceramic proppants can be produced and the locations in which they can be manufactured. With the introduction of formulations for TEXFloat, TEXLite, TEXRes, and TEXProp ceramic proppant—which is used in hydraulic fracturing— can now be manufactured near the shale plays where it is used, increasing availability and decreasing the time and expense associated with transporting the product. Working in partnership with proppant consultants OPF Enterprises, BCH has created and successfully tested various formulations of a ceramic proppant that is produced with predominately natural mineral resources available near oil and gas shale plays. In addition, third-party testing conducted by Stim-Lab, Inc., of Duncan, Okla., and PropTester Inc., in Houston, Tex., concluded that BCH proppants perform comparably to other proppants in the market. Previously, successful ceramic proppant materials have only been produced out of clay minerals classified as kaolin or bauxitic clays, or by sintering bauxite, all of which are costly. The BCH innovation has now overcome this barrier by utilizing suitable clay minerals for manufacturing ceramic proppant that are in closer proximity to shale deposits.

PPG to acquire AkzoNobel North American architectural coatings business

PPG Industries announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire the North American architectural coatings business of AkzoNobel, N.V., Amsterdam, in a deal valued at $1.05 billion. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close in early second quarter 2013, subject to regulatory approvals. The acquired business had 2011 revenues of about $1.5 billion and notably expands customer reach in all three major North American architectural paint distribution channels. The acquisition includes the addition of about 600 AkzoNobel-owned paint stores creating a combined network of about 1,000 company-owned stores serving the North American market. The acquisition includes all AkzoNobel North American architectural coatings manufacturing and distribution facilities, paint stores, product lines and employees related to the production, sale and distribution of architectural coatings in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Leading brands included are Glidden, Flood, Liquid Nails, Sico and Cil. PPG also will license the following brands: Dulux, Devoe architectural coatings, and Sikkens architectural wood products.

Optical communications make data centers more efficient

Gigantic data centers of cloud providers consume energy at an extraordinary rate. For example, Google’s server farms process many petabytes of data and they consume 260 million watts, enough power for a city of 200,000 households. The need to save energy is equally powerful. These facts led the European Union to initiate the PhoxTroT project, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin. The goal is to cut the energy consumption by at least 50 per cent, while simultaneously doubling the capacity of data connections to 2 terabits per second (Tb/s). This would also significantly reduce costs. Data transmission using light consumes only a fraction of the energy that conventional methods need. The technologies for photonic transmission already exist and have been thoroughly researched. “The novelty of the PhoxTroT project is that we are now researching the synergies between the various technology components and are combining them with each other in a new research plan based on the ‘mix-and-match’ principle,” explains project coordinator Dr. Tolga Tekin from IZM.

North America leads shift in global energy balance, IEA says in latest World Energy Outlook

The global energy map is changing in dramatic fashion, the International Energy Agency said as it launched the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook. The agency’s flagship publication, released today in London, says these changes will recast expectations about the role of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system over the coming decades. “North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” says IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.” The WEO also predicts that renewables will become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. However, this rapid increase hinges critically on continued subsidies.

IBM integrates optics and electronics on a single chip

(GizMag) IBM researchers have managed to shrink optical components to fit alongside their electrical counterparts on a single chip. This advance in the realm of “silicon nanophotonics” paves the road to much higher-performance servers, data centers and supercomputers in the years to come. The idea behind it is to increase the throughput of data communication between chips by switching from copper to optical signaling. In much the same way integrated circuits bundle an increasing number of transistors into a single die, IBM is shrinking optical componentry into far smaller and more powerful form factors. As part of its research, IBM has now announced it has managed to shrink the optical components down to the 90 nm scale. This is of crucial importance, because it means that optical components can for the first time be built using the familiar, well-oiled manufacturing processes used to create electronics, and then embedded side by side with them on a single chip. The development is expected to bring costs down considerably, to less than a cent per Gbit/s. IBM has already demonstrated optical transceivers exceeding 25 Gbit/s per channel, and showed that multiplexers embedded in the chip can feed parallel streams of optical data into a single fiber to reach much higher speeds.

Top 10 (free) apps for scientists

(Berkeley Science Review) Like so many other scientists out there, I feel guilty when I am not working. Even that minute waiting for the bus or in line for lunch. I should be reading papers and thinking about science for those precious moments I’m not physically in lab. When I need my science fix, my iPhone keeps me company. These are the 10 best science-centric apps I have found. They keep me up to date on what papers are coming out, where the public discourse is going, and tickle my general interest in science. 1. Twitter. As app that most of you probably have already, Twitter is a tremendous resource for science. Follow the prolific science tweeters; they will tweet not only their own science and publications . . .