Weekly News Bites

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a banana-peeling robot, pollen-based paper, and fuel made from ocean plastic.

Allergy season is fast approaching some areas of the world, bringing with it runny noses and itchy eyes. However, researchers from Niigata University can help those allergic to cedar tree pollen as the team found one gene in cedar trees that controls pollen release. This gene can be “turned off” for trees that are used for wood.

While pollen is bad news for those that have hay fever, scientists from Nanyang Technological University have found a use for it. Researchers have created a chemically erasable paper from sunflower pollen that can be reused up to eight times.

Earthworms are great for soil, eating organic matter and aerating the ground. But what happens when the soil contains bio-based plastic? This question was researched by Nankai University which found that earthworms could digest this plastic but left behind nanoparticles which could stay in the environment for a long time.

A common material can store and release heat according to research from Tohoku University and the Rigaku Corporation. This material stores heat when dry and releases it when rehydrated and could be used which can be helpful for reusing industrial heat waste.

Ocean waste is a growing problem, but scientists at Nanyang Technological University have found a way to help tackle this and produce clean fuel. By using a process called pyrolysis, the researchers can create hydrogen fuel and useful carbon nanotubes from plastic.

The Catholic University of Korea have developed a non-surgical method of tackling obesity. A small disc is placed in the esophagus that allows food to pass through. When activated by a laser the coating on the disc kills nearby cells that produce ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.

The University of Tokyo has developed a robot that can peel a banana carefully without squishing it. This shows that, in the future, robots can be used for more delicate tasks than their current simple assignments.