Small homes made of Maine materials could boost economy, aid climate, council says

The Maine Climate Council has suggested a strategy that draws on the potential for constructing fuel efficient, modestly priced homes with locally sourced wood to help address the state’s affordable housing shortage while boosting the economy.



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Sustainably harvested wood – particularly when transport is minimal – is more sensible when compared with steel and concrete, which have a denser carbon footprint, Stephen Shaler, associate director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, told the Maine Monitor.

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Using locally sourced wood to build homes could expand job opportunities in construction, design and forest products, revitalize former mill towns, help trade school programs and strengthen university research and development, the climate council reported.

While Maine is known for producing traditional hardwood from spruce and pine, engineered wood like laminated strand lumber is a newer industry. Wood fiber

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Machine learning homes in on catalyst interactions to accelerate materials development

chemical
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A machine learning technique rapidly rediscovered rules governing catalysts that took humans years of difficult calculations to reveal—and even explained a deviation. The University of Michigan team that developed the technique believes other researchers will be able to use it to make faster progress in designing materials for a variety of purposes.


“This opens a new door, not just in understanding catalysis, but also potentially for extracting knowledge about superconductors, enzymes, thermoelectrics, and photovoltaics,” said Bryan Goldsmith, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, who co-led the work with Suljo Linic, a professor of chemical engineering.

The key to all of these materials is how their electrons behave. Researchers would like to use machine learning techniques to develop recipes for the material properties that they want. For superconductors, the electrons must move without resistance through the material. Enzymes and catalysts need to broker exchanges of electrons, enabling

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Evonik says preparing diaper materials business for potential sale

By Matthias Inverardi

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – German chemicals maker Evonik <EVKn.DE> on Tuesday said it would prepare its superabsorbents business, which makes materials for diapers and hygiene products, for a possible sale in about six to nine months.

After an organisational carve-out, Evonik would put the business up for sale, seek a partner or restructure it further, a spokesman told Reuters.

The division competes with BASF <BASFn.DE>, Nippon Shokubai <4114.T>, Sanyo Chemical <4471.T> and LG Chem <051910.KS> and Evonik has said it is the third-largest supplier of superabsorbents.

Analysts at Bernstein Research on Tuesday estimated a sale could generate 400-450 million euros in proceeds.

The company has been pursuing deals to boost margins and growth prospects. Evonik this year wrapped up the $625 million takeover of PeroxyChem to bolster its bleaching agents business and in August agreed to buy U.S. process catalyst maker Porocel for $210 million.

Last year

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