June 2013

Researchers Focus on Dairy’s Carbon Footprint

One of the largest contributors to liquid milk’s carbon footprint is enteric methane – gas emitted by the animal, research has found.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas are attempting to help the U.S. dairy industry decrease its carbon footprint as concentrations of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere reach record levels.

In 2007, Americans consumed approximately 17.4 million metric tons of fluid milk – milk consumed as a drink or with cereal, rather than milk used in dairy products such as

cheese, yogurt and ice cream. The dairy industry has set a goal of 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

The U of A researchers’ “cradle-to-grave” life-cycle analysis of milk will provide guidance for producers, processors and others in the dairy supply chain and will help these stakeholders reduce their environmental impact while maintaining long-term viability.

“Based in part on growing consumer awareness of sustainability issues in our food supply chain, the U.S. dairy industry is working to further improve the environmental performance of its production processes and supply chain in a way that is also economically sustainable,” said Greg Thoma, professor of chemical engineering. “Our analysis provides a documented baseline for their improvement efforts. It is a source for understanding the factors that influence environmental impact.”

The researchers – Rick Ulrich, professor of chemical engineering; Darin Nutter, professor of mechanical engineering; Jennie Popp, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness; and Marty Matlock, professor of biological and agricultural engineering, in addition to Thoma – partnered with researchers at Michigan Technological University.

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Discovery Furthers Knowledge of Superconductivity

 

Jak Chakhalian, University of Arkansas

Physicists at the University of Arkansas have collaborated with scientists in the United States and Asia to discover that a crucial ingredient of high-temperature superconductivity could be found in an entirely different class of materials.

“There have been more than 60,000 papers published on high-temperature superconductive material since its discovery in 1986,” said Jak Chakhalian, professor of physics at the University of Arkansas. “Unfortunately, as of today we have zero theoretical understanding of the mechanism behind this enigmatic phenomenon. In my mind, the high-temperature superconductivity is the most important unsolved mystery of condensed matter physics.”

Superconductors have the ability to transport large electrical currents and produce high magnetic fields, which means they hold great potential for electronic devices and power transmission.

Derek Meyers, a doctoral student in physics at the U of A, found that the way electrons form in superconductive material — known as the Zhang-Rice singlet state — was present in a chemical compound that is very different from conventional superconductors.

The recent finding is important to further understand superconductivity, Chakhalian said.

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Art Historian Awarded Eldredge Prize

Leo Mazow, University of Arkansas

Art historian Leo Mazow has received the 2013 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art for his book Thomas Hart Benton and the American Sound.

The prize is awarded each year by the Smithsonian American Art Museum “to honor those authors who deepen or focus debates in the field, or who broaden the discipline by reaching beyond traditional boundaries.” The honor includes a $3,000 prize.

“The Eldredge Prize is the most prestigious award in American art history scholarship and one of several awards Leo has won since joining our faculty in 2010,” said Jeannie Hulen, chair of the art department at the U of A. “It is exciting to have such an outstanding scholar of American art as a colleague and researcher in our department.”

Mazow will present the annual Eldredge Prize lecture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26.

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Research Improves Dry Lubricant

 

Min Zou, University of Arkansas

Nearly everyone is familiar with the polytetra-fluoroethylene (PTFE), otherwise known as Teflon, the brand name used by the chemical company DuPont. Famous for being “non-sticky” and water repellent, PTFE is a dry lubricant used on machine components everywhere, from kitchen tools and engine cylinders to space and biomedical applications.

Recently, engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas found a way to make the polymer even less adhesive. They treated thin films of PTFD with silica nanoparticles and found that the lubricating material significantly reduced wear of the polymer while maintaining a low level of friction. The researchers’ work will enable machinery to last longer and operate more efficiently.

“Polytetrafluoroethylene is a big, scary word,” said. Min Zou, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. “What we’re talking about here is a material layer or coating – a film – that essentially does not stick and is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water.”

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IN THIS ISSUE

Researchers Focus on Dairy’s Carbon Footprint

Discovery Furthers Knowledge of Superconductivity

Art Historian Awarded Eldredge Prize

Research Improves Dry Lubricant

IN OTHER NEWS

Warm is Cool

Study Indicates College Students Prefer Casual Dress

New Office Investigates Innovations in Education

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Grant Award Winners

The following is a sampling of faculty awards in May, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

— Janet Penner-Williams, $375,811, U.S. Department of Education
— Jesse J. Casana, $275,000, National Endowment for the Humanities
— Miaoqing Huang, $187,540, Arkansas Space Grant Consortium
— Chase E. Rainwater, $147,575, National Science Foundation
— Janet Penner-Williams, $134,000, Arkansas Department of Education

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