Autophaser improves sample analysis in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and oil spills


A new free software package allows researchers to vastly improve the performance of one of the key tools used to analyse medical and environmental samples.

Autophaser, developed by the University of Warwick and Aberystwyth University, enables researchers to make use of significantly more data when using Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometers (FT-ICR MS).

FT-ICR is a powerful tool for identifying chemicals and biochemical components in complex mixtures and is used by scientists analysing substances across a wide range of sectors including medical, environmental, and commercial areas such as the petroleum industry.

The software, which is free for academic purposes, will allow much greater confidence in interpreting results. For commercial purposes, the software is available to licence from Warwick Ventures, the commercial arm of the University of Warwick.

The normal method of processing data from FT-ICR MS – magnitude mode – effectively ignores half of the information generated, so mass accuracy and resolution are not as high as they could be.

However Autophaser allows researchers to make use of this otherwise discarded data by converting FT-ICR MS results to absorption mode. This gives an improvement in spectral resolution of up to three times and a 41% improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio.

Using Autophaser, researchers will see more peaks in the spectrum, get better sequence coverage in proteins and have more confidence in peak assignments.

Dr David Kilgour of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick said: “Major decisions are made every day in commercial, medical, and environmental settings on the basis of FT-ICR MS so it’s vital that researchers have access to the most accurate processing methods.

“Autophaser unleashes the full potential of this type of mass spectrometry and really pushes back the barriers to the kinds of problems it can tackle.

“By making this software available for free to academic researchers, we envisage its benefits will be felt across many biomedical areas, for example cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, the pharmaceutical and polymer industries, as well as in environmental analysis such as detecting pollution after oil spills.”

Read more . . .

via University of Warwick

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Wind technology design innovation would eliminate blades

What if you could make a wind turbine with no blades at all?

A Tunisian company called Saphon Energy says it has designed a turbine using Zero-Blade Technology inspired by a sailboat that is more efficient and safer for wildlife.

Those of us who love the idea that wind-generated power could help reduce some of the world’s fossil-fuels addiction are conflicted by stories of possible health side effects (headaches and worse) as well as the negative impact that some wind farms have had on bats and birds. Not to mention the noise and the aesthetics.

But what if you could make a wind turbine with no blades at all?

Yes, I know I just wrote about the world’s longest blade which is fascinating in and of itself, well I just read this item over at TreeHugger detailing a scheme by a company called Saphon Energy to redesign the turbine layout to eliminate blades. Not only will this help with some of the noise concerns and danger to wildlife, but it will help turbines be more efficient, according to the company.

On its Web site, Saphon says the concept was inspired by sailboat designs. The company writes:

“The blades are replaced by a sail-shaped body, while both hub and gearbox are removed. Instead of spinning the blades’ rotor, the wind is being harnessed by a sail, which follows a non-rotational back and forth motion. Such movement follows a knot path and allows the conversion of the majority of the kinetic energy into mechanical energy (using pistons). The same is then converted to a hydraulic pressure that could either be stored (in hydraulic accumulator) or instantly converted to electricity via a hydraulic motor and a generator. Thanks to the aerodynamic shape of the Saphonian, the drag force becomes the driving force of the system while the lift force becomes almost nil.”

The design would allow turbines to overcome Betz’ law, which limits how much kinetic energy a wind turbine can capture. Right now, most turbines can capture about 30 percent to 40 percent, but Saphon Energy believes its design will capture at least twice that amount, resulting in a more efficient turbine.

Read more . . .

via ZDNet –

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