Science Round-Up: 2050 goal for all energy to be sustainable a realistic target, conclude universities

Researchers say we need to take advantage of the technology already available to us

University researchers from 14 worldwide institutions believe that we can completely switch to sustainable energy by 2050.

Researchers from Aarhus University, along with 13 other international universities, make the claim in an energy plan article published in IEEE Access.

Working together
The researchers have stated that the technology to make this possible is already in place.

Poul Alberg Østergaard from Aarhus University believes that companies and NGOs need to come together to implement the necessary energy systems in order for this goal to be met, which means taking advantage of the resources already available.

The secret behind humankind’s ability to speak clearly
There are no other animals on Earth that can speak as clearly as mankind, and this is thanks to a critical moment in human evolution, contends Ole Næsbye Larsen from the Biological Institute at the University of Southern Denmark. The removal of a vocal cord commonly found among apes simplified the larynx, enabling the clear, stable speech typical of human discourse.

Excess soil could be a handy alternative to noise reduction screens
The Capital Region and DTU are researching how excess soil from building projects could be used to block out the noise of motorways. If proved to be successful, the soil could be used instead of the screens currently favoured – a handy convenience as every year Denmark is left with millions of tonnes of soil from construction project. DTU is testing whether the soil can withstand changes in weather and wind.

Heart attack survivors face increased risk of psychological and neurological damage
Heart attack survivors need to receive regular check-ups after leaving hospital according to new research carried out by Aarhus University. Survivors have a higher risk of suffering neurological and psychiatric damage, including blood clots in the brain, epilepsy, dementia, depression and anxiety. The study compared 12,000 patients sent home from hospitals after having a heart attack during the period 1996-2016 with 118,332 patients who had blood clots in the heart in the same period. The study concludes that the first year is when the survivors are most at risk. Should they survive, the risk will fall to more or less the same level faced by those who suffered blood clots.

Encouraging results suggest kidney disease treatment can be radically improved
Lysine, an amino acid that affects the metabolism, is able to affect kidney disease both in humans and animals, according to research carried out by Aarhus University. Lysine can be easily purchased and consumed via tablets to help prevent any further damage to the kidneys. Initial testing on rats, with both high blood pressure and a kidney disease, were encouraging, although the side-effects are still unknown. Furthermore, because the human metabolism is far more complex than a rat’s, more research is needed on other animals to detect the main mechanism behind the result.

Simple chemistry can help break polyurethane down
A new and cheaper way of breaking down polyurethane (PUR), a plastic material, to its original state has been developed at Aarhus University. This process can then cause the material to be recycled and used instead of being disposed of. The process involves heating alcohol to 225 degrees Celsius and mixing it with potassium hydroxide to break the plastic down. In 2021, the market contained 24.7 million tonnes of PUR and it is expected that this will reach 29 million tonnes by 2029. Researchers have been surprised by the simplicity of the solution. The result has been published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

Billion euros in funding for quantum computer research
The European Commission has put aside 1 billion euros over the course of the next 10 years to meet the EU’s goal of being a leader in the field of quantum computers by 2030, and Danish researchers are playing a key role in co-ordinating the steps necessary for this goal to be met. It is unknown when quantum computer will come into play, but when it happens the EU wants to be prepared, and the progress has already started. Jabob Sherson, a professor at Aarhus University, wants to take advantage of the knowledge accumulated from previous IT revolutions and how this caused different industries to change.

DTU Space develops radar system to detect drones
DTU Space has developed a new type of radar with a higher resolution, which can look in several different directions. There is currently a large market for detecting drones, especially in the military and at airports. At the beginning of 2022 several drones were detected in military areas, airports and royal castles – most notably in Sweden – which has only increased the demand. The new radar uses 16 antennae to detect drones a a 100-metre distance. It is hoped that the radar will eventually be able to operate at much longer distances.

Our expectations of dogs are often unrealistic, concludes study
The life of a dog has changed drastically over the last 200 years to the extent they are now expected to be able to handle being home alone for the most part of the day, despite being highly social animals. On top of the increased risk of separation anxiety, when the dogs are in the company of their owners, there are high expectations to socialise with other dogs and be petted by strangers. These expectations may not always be realistic, especially when compared to street dogs who choose which dogs they socialise with and when they want to be social, concludes a University of Copenhagen study. To make life easier for dogs who live their lives as companion animals, it is important to have a routine and lifestyle that is realistic and compatible.