Tag Archives: Iran

Producing cellulose nanoparticles from waste cotton

This nanocellulose item comes courtesy of Iran, from a July 29, 2014 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),

Researchers from Amir Kabir University of Technology succeeded in the synthesis of cellulose nanoparticles by using two environmentally-friendly processes (“Spherical cellulose nanoparticles preparation from waste cotton using a green method”).

The use of waste cotton fibers for the production of cellulose nanoparticles is among the interesting points in this research.

In addition to biodegradability and the ability to be recovered and re-used, cellulose nanoparticles are light and cheap, and they have very desirable mechanical properties. Therefore, they have high potential to be used in pharmaceutics, foodstuff, cosmetics, paper production and composite manufacturing.

A July 29, 2014 Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) news release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the research,

Dr. Tayyebeh Fattahi Mei-abadi, one of the researchers, explained about the advantages of this method over the usual methods, and said, “In this project, spherical cellulose nanoparticles were produced from waste cotton fibers through enzyme hydrolysis and ultrasound methods. Acidic hydrolysis is usually used in the majority of the researches on the production of cellulose nanoparticles. This method is not in agreement with environmental issues, and it leaves byproducts. But in this research, enzyme hydrolysis method was used, which enables the production of nanoparticles under mild condition without any environmental damage, and it does not require specific equipment. In addition, ultrasonic process was carried out with low energy in a short period, which makes cost-effective the production of cellulose nanoparticles through this method.”

In the production of the nanoparticles, various parts of cellulose enzyme were attached to cellulose chains, and they started to hydrolyze crystalline and amorphous areas. As hydrolysis goes on, particles with average size of 520 nm are formed. Then, ultrasound energy converts the hydrolyzed fibers into nanoparticles at about 70 nm in size.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Spherical cellulose nanoparticles preparation from waste cotton using a green method by Tayebeh Fattahi Meyabadi, Fatemeh Dadashian, Gity Mir Mohamad Sadeghi, and Hamid Ebrahimi Zanjani Asl.Powder Technology Volume 261, July 2014, Pages 232–240 DOI: 10.1016/j.powtec.2014.04.039

This paper is behind a paywall.

 

Fewer silver nanoparticles washed off coated textiles

This time I have two complementary tidbits about silver nanoparticles, their use in textiles, and washing. The first is a June 30, 2014 news item on Nanowerk, with the latest research from Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) on silver nanoparticles being sloughed off textiles when washing them,

The antibacterial properties of silver-coated textiles are popular in the fields of sport and medicine. A team at Empa has now investigated how different silver coatings behave in the washing machine, and they have discovered something important: textiles with nano-coatings release fewer nanoparticles into the washing water than those with normal coatings …

A June 30,  2014 Empa news release, which originated the news item, describes the findings in more detail,

If it contains ‘nano’, it doesn’t primarily leak ‘nano': at least that’s true for silver-coated textiles, explains Bernd Nowack of the «Technology and Society» division at Empa. During each wash cycle a certain amount of the silver coating is washed out of the textiles and ends up in the waste water. [emphasis mine] Empa analysed this water; it turned out that nano-coated textiles release hardly any nano-particles. That’s quite the opposite to ordinary coatings, where a lot of different silver particles were found. Moreover, nano-coated silver textiles generally lose less silver during washing. This is because considerably less silver is incorporated into textile fabrics with nano-coating, and so it is released in smaller quantities for the antibacterial effect than is the case with ordinary coatings. A surprising result that has a transformative effect on future analyses and on the treatment of silver textiles. «All silver textiles behave in a similar manner – regardless of whether they are nano-coated or conventionally-coated,» says Nowack. This is why nano-textiles should not be subjected to stricter regulation than textiles with conventional silver-coatings, and this is relevant for current discussions concerning possible special regulations for nano-silver.

But what is the significance of silver particles in waste water? Exposed silver reacts with the (small quantities of) sulphur in the air to form silver sulphide, and the same process takes place in the waste water treatment plant. The silver sulphide, which is insoluble, settles at the bottom of the sedimentation tank and is subsequently incinerated with the sewage sludge. So hardly any of the silver from the waste water remains in the environment. Silver is harmless because it is relatively non-toxic for humans. Even if silver particles are released from the textile fabric as a result of strong sweating, they are not absorbed by healthy skin.

I’ve highlighted Nowack’s name as he seems to have changed his opinions since I first wrote about his work with silver nanoparticles in textiles and washing in a Sept. 8, 2010 posting,

“We found that the total released varied considerably from less than 1 to 45 percent of the total nanosilver in the fabric and that most came out during the first wash,” Bernd Nowack, head of the Environmental Risk Assessment and Management Group at the Empa-Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, tells Nanowerk. “These results have important implications for the risk assessment of silver textiles and also for environmental fate studies of nanosilver, because they show that under certain conditions relevant to washing, primarily coarse silver-containing particles are released.”

How did the quantity of silver nanoparticles lost in water during washing change from “less than 1 to 45 percent of the total nanosilver in the fabric” in a 2010 study to “Empa analysed this water; it turned out that nano-coated textiles release hardly any nano-particles” in a 2014 study? It would be nice to find out if there was a change in the manufacturing process and whether or not this is global change or one undertaken in Switzerland alone.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the Empa paper,

Presence of Nanoparticles in Wash Water from Conventional Silver and Nano-silver Textiles by Denise M. Mitrano, Elisa Rimmele, Adrian Wichser, Rolf Erni, Murray Height, and Bernd Nowack. ACS Nano, Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/nn502228w Publication Date (Web): June 18, 2014

Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

This paper is behind a paywall.

The second tidbit is from Iran and may help to answer my questions about the Empa research. According to a July 7, 2014 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),

Writing in The Journal of The Textile Institute (“Effect of silver nanoparticles morphologies on antimicrobial properties of cotton fabrics”), researchers from Islamic Azad University in Iran, describe the best arrangement for increasing the antibacterial properties of textile products by studying various structures of silver nanoparticles.

A July 7, 2014 news release from the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC), which originated the news item, provides more details,

By employing the structure presented by the researchers, the amount of nanoparticles stabilization on the fabric and the durability of its antibacterial properties increase after washing and some problems are solved, including the change in the fabric color.

Using the results of this research creates diversity in the application of various structures of nanoparticles in the complementary process of cotton products. Moreover, the color of the fabric does not change as the amount of consumed materials decreases, because the excess use of silver was the cause of this problem. On the other hand, the stability and durability of nanoparticles increase against standard washing. All these facts result in the reduction in production cost and increase the satisfaction of the customers.

The researchers have claimed that in comparison with other structures, hierarchical structure has much better antibacterial activity (more than 91%) even after five sets of standard washing.

This work on morphology would seem to answer my question about the big difference in Nowack’s description of the quantity of silver nanoparticles lost due to washing. I am assuming, of course, that something has changed with regard to the structure and/or shape of the silver nanoparticles coating the textiles used in the Empa research.

Getting back to the work in Iran, here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Effect of silver nanoparticles morphologies on antimicrobial properties of cotton fabrics by Mohammad Reza Nateghia & Hamed Hajimirzababa. The Journal of The Textile Institute Volume 105, Issue 8, 2014 pages 806-813 DOI: 10.1080/00405000.2013.855377 Published online: 21 Jan 2014

This paper is behind a paywall.

Overview of journal publications on topic of nanotechnology offers a surprise or two

The Iran National Nanotechnology Initiative (INIC) has released a report on the number of nanotechnology articles published in ISI (Institute for Scientific Information)-indexed journals, according to a May 28, 2014 news item on Nanowerk,

This report studies the number of nanotechnology articles published in ISI-indexed journals, and investigates the ascending or descending trend of the publication of such articles in ISI-indexed journals. The report then presents a list of conferences in which the highest number of nanotechnology articles have been presented.

A May 29, 2014 INIC news release offers some insight into the reasons for the report,

Scientific journals have always been among the most important tools in the development of science and technology, because by publishing scientific reports and articles, they demonstrate the movement of science borders. Like reliable references, the journals provide researchers with the latest scientific findings and help them achieve their research objects. The philosophy behind the publication of articles at the international level is to take out human discoveries from laboratories and scientific centers and to help the development of science by publishing them. Journals create an atmosphere to share scientific achievements and they prevent the loss or uselessness of the finding.

After less than two decades since the appearance of nanotechnology, this technology has penetrated all scientific aspects. Therefore, various journals in all sciences publish nanotechnology-related articles and reports. No comprehensive research has so far been carried out to determine the share of journals in the publication of nanotechnology articles. Introduction to nanotechnology penetration in the ISI-indexed journals is the main objective of the present study. Therefore, the following report studies the share of ISI-indexed journals in the publication of nanotechnology-related articles.

ISI Web of Knowledge includes 22,000 journals, 23 million patents, 192,000 articles presented in conferences, 5,500 websites and 5,000 volumes of books. Master Journal List includes the titles of all journals that are licensed by various products of Thomson Scientific Institute. The journals are annually evaluated, and according to the evaluation, approximately 8,000 to 9,000 of the journals acquire impact factor (IF) and are indexed in Journal Citation Report (JCR). JCR is in fact a databank of ISI-indexed journals. Only the articles that are published in the journals of this databank are indexed in Web of Science (WoS).

Here are some of the findings, from the news release,

Figure 1: Top 30 journals in publication of nanotechnology articles in 2001-2013  [downloaded from http://irannano.org/nano/index.php?ctrl=news&actn=news_view&id=46553&lang=2]

Figure 1: Top 30 journals in publication of nanotechnology articles in 2001-2013 [downloaded from http://irannano.org/nano/index.php?ctrl=news&actn=news_view&id=46553&lang=2]

Figure 1 demonstrates the top 30 journals that have published the highest number of nanotechnology articles in 2001-2013. APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS and PHYSICAL REVIEW B have ranked first and second by publishing 24,382 and 23,717 articles, respectively. These two journals have published respectively 2.9% and 2.82% of all nanotechnology-related articles in the past 13 years. The two journals are the only ones that possess a share of nanotechnology articles publication higher than 2%, and other journals are far behind them. For instance, the JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, which ranks third in the following chart, has published 1.95% of nanotechnology-related articles in the past 13 years.Among the top 30 journals, there are only four nanotechnology specific journals classified in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology category of ISI categories. The four journals are as follows: Nanotechnology, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Nano Letters and ACS Nano.

I find it surprising that Nature Nanotechnology is not on the list of the top 30 journals. I’m not arguing their results, it’s just that given a specific journal dedicated to nanotechnology topics, it’s unexpected.

You can find more in the May 29, 2014 INIC news release or here at:  http://statnano.com/searchstring.

Nanocellulose from sugarcane?

Iran adds to this blog’s growing catalogue of plant materials from which nanocellulose can be derived. From an April 27, 2014 news item on Nanowerk,

Researchers from University of Tehran utilized sugarcane waste to produce nanocomposite film (“All-cellulose nanocomposite film made from bagasse cellulose nanofibers for food packaging application”).

The product has unique physical and mechanical properties and has many applications in packaging, glue making, medicine and electronic industries.

An April 28, 2014 Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) news release, which originated the news item, describes the advantages of this potential product and the research that led to it,

These nanofibers have simpler, faster and more cost-effective production method in comparison with other production methods. The size of the produced cellulose nanofiber has been reported about 39±13 nm while tension resistant of the nanocomposite produced from the nanofibers has been reported about 140 MPa. The produced nanocomposite has higher strength in comparison with the majority of biodegradable and non-biodegradable films. It seems that the produced nanocomposite can be considered an appropriate option for the elimination of artificial polymers and oil derivatives from packaging materials.

In order to produce the product, cellulose fibers were produced through mechanical milling method after separation and purification of cellulose from sugarcane bagasse, and then nanopapers were produced. Next, full cellulose nanocomposite was produced through partial dissolving method, and its characteristics were evaluated.

Results showed that as the time of partial dissolving increases, the diffusivity of the nanocomposite into vapor decreases due to the increase in glassy part (amorphous) to crystalline part. However, thermal resistant decreases as the time of partial dissolving increases because a decrease is observed in the crystalline part.

In addition, when cellulose microfibers turn into nanofibers, resistance against the tension of the produced films increases. The researchers believe that the reason for the increase is the reduction in fault points (points that lead to the fracture in cellulose fibers), increase in specific area, and integrity of nanofibers. Transparency of samples significantly increases as the size of particles decreases to nanometric scale.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

All-cellulose nanocomposite film made from bagasse cellulose nanofibers for food packaging application by Moein Ghaderi, Mohammad Mousavi, Hossein Yousefi, & Mohsen Labbafi. Carbohydrate Polymers, vol. 104, issue 1, January 2014, pp. 59-65 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.01.013

This paper is behind a paywall.

Iran’s work on turmeric (curcumin) as an anti-cancer drug

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned either Iran or curcumin (a constituent of turmeric) but an April 15, 2014 news item on Nanowerk has given me an opportunity to do both,

Nanotechnology researchers from Tarbiat Modarres University [Iran] produced a new drug capable of detecting and removing cancer cells using turmeric …

The compound is made of curcumin found in the extract of turmeric, and has desirable physical and chemical stability and prevents the proliferation of cancer cells.

An April 16, 2014 Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) news release, which despite its date appears to have originated the news item, fills in details about the research,

In this drug, curcumin with high efficiency (approximately 87%) was loaded in the polymeric nanocarrier, and it created a spherical structure with the size of 140 nm. The drug has high physical and chemical stability. The drug was used successfully in laboratory conditions in the treatment of a type of aggressive tumor in the central nervous system, called glioblastoma (GBM).

The interesting point is that the fatal effect of nanocurcumin on mature stem cells derived from marrow and natural cells of skin fibroblast is observed at a concentration higher than a concentration that is effective on cancer cells. In other words, no fatal effect on natural cells is observed at concentrations that are fatal to cancer cells. It shows that curcumin prefers to enter cancer cells.

The size range of the nanocarrier used in this research is 15-100 nm. Physical and chemical stability, non-toxicity, and biodegradability are among the main characteristics of the nanocarriers. Based on the results, the nanocarrier used in this research has no toxic effect on cells. In other words, all the death in the cells is caused by curcumin, and dendrosome only results in bioavailability and transference of the drug into the cells.

“The drug has the potential to affect a number of message delivery paths in the cells, one of which is cell proliferation path. Therefore, the drug prefers to enter cancer cells rather than various types of natural cells,” the researchers said.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Dendrosomal curcumin nanoformulation downregulates pluripotency genes via miR-145 activation in U87MG glioblastoma cells by Maryam Tahmasebi Mirgani, Benedetta Isacchi, Majid Sadeghizadeh, Fabio Marra, Anna Rita Bilia, Seyed Javad Mowla, Farhood Najafi, & Esmael Babaei. International Journal of Nanomedicine, vol. 9, issue 1, January 2014, pp. 403-417.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S48136

This is an open access paper.

I last wrote about turmeric or more specifically curcumin in a December 25, 2011 posting about research at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles).

Green chemistry and zinc oxide nanoparticles from Iran (plus some unhappy scoop about Elsevier and access)

It’s been a while since I’ve featured any research from Iran partly due to the fact that I find the information disappointingly scant. While the Dec. 22, 2013 news item on Nanowerk doesn’t provide quite as much detail as I’d like it does shine a light on an aspect of Iranian nanotechnology research that I haven’t previously encountered, green chemistry (Note: A link has been removed),

Researchers used a simple and eco-friendly method to produce homogenous zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles with various applications in medical industries due to their photocatalytic and antibacterial properties (“Sol–gel synthesis, characterization, and neurotoxicity effect of zinc oxide nanoparticles using gum tragacanth”).

Zinc oxide nanoparticles have numerous applications, among which mention can be made of photocatalytic issues, piezoelectric devices, synthesis of pigments, chemical sensors, drug carriers in targeted drug delivery, and the production of cosmetics such as sunscreen lotions.

The Dec. 22, 2013 Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) news release, which originated the news item, provides a bit more detail (Note: Links have been removed),

By using natural materials found in the geography of Iran and through sol-gel technique, the researchers synthesized zinc oxide nanoparticles in various sizes. To this end, they used zinc nitrate hexahydrate and gum tragacanth obtained from the Northern parts of Khorassan Razavi Province as the zinc-providing source and the agent to control the size of particles in aqueous solution, respectively.

Among the most important characteristics of the synthesis method, mention can be made of its simplicity, the use of cost-effective materials, conservation of green chemistry principals to prevent the use of hazardous materials to human safety and environment, production of nanoparticles in homogeneous size and with high efficiency, and most important of all, the use of native materials that are only found in Iran and its introduction to the world.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Sol–gel synthesis, characterization, and neurotoxicity effect of zinc oxide nanoparticles using gum tragacanth by Majid Darroudi, Zahra Sabouri, Reza Kazemi Oskuee, Ali Khorsand Zak, Hadi Kargar, and Mohamad Hasnul Naim Abd Hamidf. Ceramics International, Volume 39, Issue 8, December 2013, Pages 9195–9199

There’s a bit more technical information in the paper’s abstract,

The use of plant extract in the synthesis of nanomaterials can be a cost effective and eco-friendly approach. In this work we report the “green” and biosynthesis of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) using gum tragacanth. Spherical ZnO-NPs were synthesized at different calcination temperatures. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging showed the formation most of nanoparticles in the size range of below 50 nm. The powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) analysis revealed wurtzite hexagonal ZnO with preferential orientation in (101) reflection plane. In vitro cytotoxicity studies on neuro2A cells showed a dose dependent toxicity with non-toxic effect of concentration below 2 µg/mL. The synthesized ZnO-NPs using gum tragacanth were found to be comparable to those obtained from conventional reduction methods using hazardous polymers or surfactants and this method can be an excellent alternative for the synthesis of ZnO-NPs using biomaterials.

I was not able to find the DOI (digital object identifier) and this paper is behind a paywall.

Elsevier and access

On a final note, Elsevier, the company that publishes Ceramics International and many other journals, is arousing some ire with what appears to be its latest policies concerning access according to a Dec. 20, 2013 posting by Mike Masnick for Techdirt Note: Links have been removed),

We just recently wrote about the terrible anti-science/anti-knowledge/anti-learning decision by publishing giant Elsevier to demand that Academia.edu take down copies of journal articles that were submitted directly by the authors, as Elsevier wished to lock all that knowledge (much of it taxpayer funded) in its ridiculously expensive journals. Mike Taylor now alerts us that Elsevier is actually going even further in its war on access to knowledge. Some might argue that Elsevier was okay in going after a “central repository” like Academia.edu, but at least it wasn’t going directly after academics who were posting pdfs of their own research on their own websites. While some more enlightened publishers explicitly allow this, many (including Elsevier) technically do not allow it, but have always looked the other way when authors post their own papers.

That’s now changed. As Taylor highlights, the University of Calgary sent a letter to its staff saying that a company “representing” Elsevier, was demanding that they take down all such articles on the University’s network.

While I do feature the topic of open access and other issues with intellectual property from time to time, you’ll find Masnick’s insights and those of his colleagues are those of people who are more intimately familiar (albeit firmly committed to open access) with the issues should you choose to read his Dec. 20, 2013 posting in its entirely.

2014 Internatonal NanoSafety Congress in Iran extends deadline for submissions to Dec. 15, 2013

A Nov. 11, 2013 news item on Nanowerk highlights the 2014 Iran International NanoSafety Congress and the deadline extension,

The deadline for paper submission to Iran International Nanosafety Congress was extended to 15 December 2013.
Iran Nanosafety Congress will be held in Tehran University of Medical Sciences in association with Iran Nanosafety Network (INSN) of Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council on 19-20 February [2014] to guarantee the safe and continuous development of nanotechnology, give correct information about nanosafety, identify active bodies in the field of nanosaftey and develop cooperation with other countries.
The scope of the congress is as follows:
– Exposure assessment
– Methodology: characterization, detection, and monitoring
– Occupational and environmental interactions
– Toxicology
– Ecotoxicology and life cycle analysis
– Standardization and regulations

The homepage for the Iran International NanoSafety Congress provides more information,

Dear Colleagues,
On behalf of the scientific and executive committees, it is our great pleasure to cordially invite you to attend the Iran NanoSafety Congress 2014 (INSC 2014) which will be held at the Ghods Auditorium in Tehran University of Medical Sciences, on 19-20 February 2014.

This Congress is jointly organized by the Iran Nanosafety Network (INSN) of Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) and Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), supported by Iran Nanohealth Committee of Food & Drug Organization (INC), Iranian Environmental Mutagen Society (IrEMS) and Iranian Society of Nanomedicine (ISNM).  The “Iran NanoSafety Congress 2014″ aims to cover all safety aspects of nanomaterials in human and environment. This Congress is focused on novel approaches and technologies being used to properly assess the safety, toxicity, and risk of nanomaterial for occupational and environmental health. The scientific program will consist of keynote/distinguished lectures, symposia, workshops, discussion panels and poster sessions. This congress will provide attendees good opportunities to meet scientists from all over the world to exchange the ideas and to launch national and international collaborations in different aspects of  Nanosafety. The organizing committee is also planning a variety of unique social programs to provide the chance for participants to enjoy from fascinating Iranian culture and warm spirit of friendship.

We look forward to welcoming you and your active participation in the INSC 2014 in Tehran, I.R. Iran.

Good luck with getting your submission in on time.

600 BCE (before the common era) was a very good year for French wine

It’s quite the detective story, almost 20 years to unravel the mystery of where and when viniculture started in France. A Penn Museum June 3 (?), 2013 news release (also found on EurekAlert) provides some fascinating detail about the detective work and about wine,

9,000-year-old ancient Near Eastern ‘wine culture,’ traveling land and sea, reaches southern coastal France, via ancient Etruscans of Italy, in 6th-5th century BCE

Imported ancient Etruscan amphoras and a limestone press platform, discovered at the ancient port site of Lattara in southern France, have provided the earliest known biomolecular archaeological evidence of grape wine and winemaking—and point to the beginnings of a Celtic or Gallic vinicultural industry in France circa 500-400 BCE. Details of the discovery are published as “The Beginning of Viniculture in France” in the June 3, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Dr. Patrick McGovern, Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture (Princeton University Press, 2006) is the lead author on the paper, which was researched and written in collaboration with colleagues from France and the United States.

For Dr. McGovern, much of whose career has been spent examining the archaeological data, developing the chemical analyses, and following the trail of the Eurasian grapevine (Vitis vinifera) in the wild and its domestication by humans, this confirmation of the earliest evidence of viniculture in France is a key step in understanding the ongoing development of what he calls the “wine culture” of the world—one that began in the Turkey’s Taurus Mountains, [sic[ the Caucasus Mountains, and/or the Zagros Mountains of Iran about 9,000 years ago.

“Now we know that the ancient Etruscans lured the Gauls into the Mediterranean wine culture by importing wine into southern France. This built up a demand that could only be met by establishing a native industry, likely done by transplanting the domesticated vine from Italy, and enlisting the requisite winemaking expertise from the Etruscans.”

The news release provides a high level (general with too few details for my taste) description of the technology used for this research,

After sample extraction, ancient organic compounds were identified by a combination of state-of-the-art chemical techniques, including infrared spectrometry, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, solid phase microextraction, ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, and one of the most sensitive techniques now available, used here for the first time to analyze ancient wine and grape samples, liquid chromatography-Orbitrap mass spectrometry.

All the samples were positive for tartaric acid/tartrate (the biomarker or fingerprint compound for the Eurasian grape and wine in the Middle East and Mediterranean), as well as compounds deriving from pine tree resin. Herbal additives to the wine were also identified, including rosemary, basil and/or thyme, which are native to central Italy where the wine was likely made. (Alcoholic beverages, in which resinous and herbal compounds are more easily put into solution, were the principle medications of antiquity.)

Nearby, an ancient pressing platform, made of limestone and dated circa 425 BCE, was discovered. Its function had previously been uncertain. Tartaric acid/tartrate was detected in the limestone, demonstrating that the installation was indeed a winepress. Masses of several thousand domesticated grape seeds, pedicels, and even skin, excavated from an earlier context near the press, further attest to its use for crushing transplanted, domesticated grapes and local wine production. Olives were extremely rare in the archaeobotanical corpus at Lattara until Roman times. This is the first clear evidence of winemaking on French soil.

Here’s what the ancient wine press looks like,

Caption: This is an ancient pressing platform from Lattara, seen from above. Note the spout for drawing off a liquid. It was raised off the courtyard floor by four stones. Masses of grape remains were found nearby. Credit: Photograph courtesy of Michael Py, copyright l'Unité de Fouilles et de Recherches Archéologiques de Lattes.

Caption: This is an ancient pressing platform from Lattara, seen from above. Note the spout for drawing off a liquid. It was raised off the courtyard floor by four stones. Masses of grape remains were found nearby.
Credit: Photograph courtesy of Michael Py, copyright l’Unité de Fouilles et de Recherches Archéologiques de Lattes.

Here’s how McGovern describes his work and its relationship to the history of viniculture in Europe and the ancient Near East, from the news release,

For nearly two decades, Dr. McGovern has been following the story of the origin and expansion of a worldwide “wine culture”—one that has its earliest known roots in the ancient Near East, circa 7000-6000 BCE, with chemical evidence for the earliest wine at the site of Hajji Firiz in what is now northern Iran, circa 5400-5000 BCE. Special pottery types for making, storing, serving and drinking wine were all early indicators of a nascent “wine culture.”

Viniculture—viticulture and winemaking—gradually expanded throughout the Near East. From the beginning, promiscuous domesticated grapevines crossed with wild vines, producing new cultivars. Dr. McGovern observes a common pattern for the spreading of the new wine culture: “First entice the rulers, who could afford to import and ostentatiously consume wine. Next, foreign specialists are commissioned to transplant vines and establish local industries,” he noted. “Over time, wine spreads to the larger population, and is integrated into social and religious life.”

Wine was first imported into Egypt from the Levant by the earliest rulers there, forerunners of the pharaohs, in Dynasty 0 (circa 3150 BCE). By 3000 BCE the Nile Delta was being planted with vines by Canaanite viniculturalists. As the earliest merchant seafarers, the Canaanites were also able to take the wine culture out across the Mediterranean Sea. Biomolecular archaeological evidence attests to a locally produced, resinated wine on the island of Crete by 2200 BCE.

“As the larger Greek world was drawn into the wine culture, “ McGovern noted, “the stage was set for commercial maritime enterprises in the western Mediterranean. Greeks and the Phoenicians—the Levantine successors to the Canaanites—vied for influence by establishing colonies on islands and along the coasts of North Africa, Italy, France, and Spain. The wine culture continued to take root in foreign soil—and the story continues today.”

Where wine went, so other cultural elements eventually followed—including technologies of all kinds and social and religious customs—even where another fermented beverage made from different natural products had long held sway. In the case of Celtic Europe, grape wine displaced a hybrid drink of honey, wheat/barley, and native wild fruits (e.g., lingonberry and apple) and herbs (such as bog myrtle, yarrow, and heath

I wonder why wine displaced Celtic Europe’s hybrid honey drink. Did wine taste better and/or did get folks drunk faster?

For anyone who’s interested in the research, here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Beginning of viniculture in France by Patrick E. McGovern, Benjamin P. Luley, Nuria Rovira, Armen Mirzoiand, Michael P. Callahane, Karen E. Smithf, Gretchen R. Halla, Theodore Davidsona, and Joshua M. Henkina. Published online before print June 3, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1216126110 PNAS June 3, 2013

The paper is behind a paywall.

Removing dye from textile wastewater

I remember once reading a fashion article about the rivers in one  of Italy’s major textile centres. Apparently, the rivers were running red as it was that year’s ‘on trend’ colour and that’s what happens when mills empty their wastewater into rivers.  That article came back to mind on reading this Mar. 27, 2013 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),

Researchers at Amir Kabir University of Technology and Institute for Color Science and Technology [Iran] produced a bio-adsorbent with very high performance for the removal of dye from textile wastewater by preparing a combination of chitosan and dendrimer nanostructure (“Dye removal from colored-textile wastewater using chitosan-PPI dendrimer hybrid as a biopolymer: Optimization, kinetic, and isotherm studies”).

Among the unique characteristics of these bio-adsorbents, mention can be made of high adsorption capacity, biodegradability, biocompatibility and non-toxicity.

There’s a March 28, 2013 news release on the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) website, which provides more detail abut this work,

The aim of the research was to produce chitosan-dendrimer combination in order to remove dye from the wastewater containing reactive dyes. To this end, chitosan was modified in the first step by using ethylacrylate. Then in the second step, chitosan-dendrimer combination was produced by using PPI second generation of dendrimer.

Parameters that affect the dye removal process including pH, concentration of dye, time and temperature of contact were studied by RSM program in order to optimize the process. Kinetic studies and adsorption isotherms at equilibrium were evaluated too in order to measure the amount of dye adsorbed on the adsorbent.

Results showed that chitosan-dendrimer polymer bio-adsorbent could be used as a high potential and biodegradable bio-adsorbent to remove anionic compounds such as reactive dyes from textile industry wastewater. High adsorption capacity, biodegradability, biocompatibility, and non-toxicity are among the unique properties of these adsorbents.

Here’s a citation and a link for the article,

Dye removal from colored-textile wastewater using chitosan-PPI dendrimer hybrid as a biopolymer: Optimization, kinetic, and isotherm studies by Mousa Sadeghi-Kiakhan, Mokhtar Arami1, Kamaladin Gharanjig. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, Volume 127, Issue 4, pages 2607–2619, 15 February 2013. Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 DOI: 10.1002/app.37615

Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

The article is behind a paywall.

Plus, for anyone (like me) who needs a definition for adsorbent (from the Dictionary of Construction),

A material that has the ability to extract certain substances from gases, liquids, or solids by causing them to adhere to its surface without changing the physical properties of the adsorbent. Activated carbon, silica gel, and activated alumina are materials frequently used for this application.

Inventions Nanotech Middle East conference in 2013

It’s a bit early to be talking about this conference since there isn’t much information, no speakers, no programme, etc. but there’s still time to pull that all together since the Inventions Nanotech Middle East Conference (aka, Inventions Nanotech ME) is scheduled for Nov. 3-5, 2013. From the Conference Overview page,

The Conference will host top notch industry experts from all over the world who will address the following crucial topics through live demonstrations and case studies:

Water
Energy / Oil & Gas
Environment
Health
Consumer Products

The event will be held at the Qatar National Convention Center.

There are two main sources of nanotech news items in that region. Iran or INIC  (Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council [my Dec. 27, 2012 posting]), which continuously publicizes its nanotechnology research, and Saudi Arabia (KAUST or King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), which publicizes its work on solar energy (my July 30, 2012 posting), for the most part.

Good luck to the conference organizers.