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Jail terms for French carbon trading scammers
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Sept 13, 2017

Graphene makes spider silk even stronger
Washington (UPI) Sep 13, 2017 - Scientists have made spider silk stronger and tougher by enhancing it with carbon nanotubes -- tiny, rolled-up sheets of graphene.

Researchers created the new material by spraying spiders and their living quarters with graphene and carbon nanotube solutions. When scientists tested the spider silk, they confirmed the spiders had ingested the graphene and incorporated the nanomaterials into their silk.

Mechanical testing proved the graphene-enhanced silk was three-times stronger and 10-times as tough. The biocomposite silk threads also boasted improved elasticity.

Researchers believe the new extra-strong threads could be used to make high-performance or biodegradable textiles, like a parachute or surgical suture.

"Humans have used silkworm silks widely for thousands of years, but recently research has focused on spider silk, as it has promising mechanical properties," Nicola Pugno, a material scientist at the University of Trento in Italy, said in a news release. "It is among the best spun polymer fibers in terms of tensile strength, ultimate strain, and especially toughness, even when compared to synthetic fibers such as Kevlar."

Often, material scientists attempt to replicate natural products in the lab. The latest experiments showcase the benefits of harnessing and enhancing natural materials.

"This is the highest fiber toughness reported to date, and a strength comparable to that of the strongest carbon fibers or limpet teeth," said Pugno.

Researchers described their feat this week in the journal 2D Materials.

A top fraudster behind a tax scam in France using carbon emission rights was sentenced to nine years in prison Wednesday as authorities press ahead with prosecutions over the 1.6-billion-euro ($1.9-billion) scandal.

Twelve people were sentenced in Paris for taking part in an international network of VAT trickery and money-laundering, with fugitive businessman Cyril Astruc receiving the harshest nine-year sentence.

He was convicted in absentia for being the "main organiser and the principal beneficiary" in a network found guilty of defrauding French authorities of 146 million euros between 2008 and 2009.

Only three of the defendants who faced charges ranging from fraud, organised crime to money laundering attended the sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Turkish bank Garanti Bankasi was ordered to pay a fine of eight million euros for money-laundering.

Also on Wednesday, magistrates investigating another network centred in the southern city of Marseille sent 36 people to trial suspected of a 385-million-euro scam from 2006 to 2009.

The carbon trading scandal is thought to be one of the biggest tax conspiracies in France, costing local authorities 1.6 billion euros in lost revenue and some five billion euros at the European level.

Under a European Union trading system, limits are placed on the amount of carbon dioxide companies may emit, and those who want to pollute more must buy permits on different exchanges around Europe.

The fraud involved buying carbon permits in one EU country from another, free of VAT, then selling them on with the VAT added to another buyer.

But instead of declaring the VAT and paying it to the relevant tax authority, the trader pocketed the money and used a series of front companies to make the scam hard to detect.

Researchers set new bar for water-splitting, CO2-splitting techniques
Raleigh NC (SPX) Aug 31, 2017
Researchers from North Carolina State University have significantly boosted the efficiency of two techniques, for splitting water to create hydrogen gas and splitting carbon dioxide (CO2) to create carbon monoxide (CO). The products are valuable feedstock for clean energy and chemical manufacturing applications. The water-splitting process successfully converts 90 percent of water into hyd ... read more

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