The Future of Water & Waste
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New grass 'flood reduction hope'

New grass 'flood reduction hope' | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
A hybrid farmland grass, developed by a team of UK researchers, could help reduce flooding by cutting the volume of run-off reaching rivers, a study suggests.

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A team of plant and soil scientists said tests showed the new cultivar reduced run-off by 51%, compared with a variety widely used to feed livestock.

They added that rapid growth and well developed root systems meant that more moisture was retained within the soil rather than running into river systems.

The findings appear in the journal Scientific Reports.

The novel grass is a hybrid of perennial ryegrass (Lollium perenne) - which is widely planted by farmers for grazing livestock - and meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis), which has environmental stress-resistant characteristics.

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Gulf of Mexico can 'self-deep-clean'

Gulf of Mexico can 'self-deep-clean' | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
Scientists reveal new insights into how the Gulf of Mexico's natural processes degraded oil-related compounds after the Deepwater Horizon spill.

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New details have emerged about "self-cleaning" effects in the Gulf of Mexico witnessed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Researchers reporting at the American Chemical Society conference revealed details of a cascade of micro-organisms that spring into action to degrade oil.

Research has also outlined how chemical "dispersants" used in clean-up efforts actually frustrate these processes.

However, the long-term effects of the weeks of oil exposure remain unknown.

And concern was expressed about the ultimate resilience of the Gulf.

Terry Hazen of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been studying oil-degrading microbes in greater and greater detail since the disaster, even discovering some that had never been seen before.

They can break down the long-chain carbon-based "alkane" molecules present in oil - and in isolated conditions will even move towards oil.

"They're really oil-seeking missiles," he told the meeting.

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Recyclable solar cells made from trees (Futurity.org )

Recyclable solar cells made from trees (Futurity.org ) | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it

GEORGIA TECH / PURDUE (US) — Fabricating new plant-based solar cells on cellulose nanocrystal substrates means that they’re recyclable in water.

 

The researchers report that the organic solar cells reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7 percent, an unprecedented figure for cells on substrates derived from renewable raw materials.

 

The cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates on which the solar cells are fabricated are optically transparent, which lets light pass through them before being absorbed by a very thin layer of an organic semiconductor.

During the recycling process, the solar cells are simply immersed in water at room temperature. Within minutes, the CNC substrate dissolves and the solar cell can be separated easily into its major components.

 

Professor Bernard Kippelen of Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering led the study and says his team’s project opens the door for a truly recyclable, sustainable, and renewable solar cell technology.

“The development and performance of organic substrates in solar technology continues to improve, providing engineers with a good indication of future applications,” says Kippelen, who is also the director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE).

“But organic solar cells must be recyclable. Otherwise we are simply solving one problem, less dependence on fossil fuels, while creating another, a technology that produces energy from renewable sources but is not disposable at the end of its lifecycle.”

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What Is That Smell? Recycled Sewage Is Being Sprayed Everywhere.

What Is That Smell? Recycled Sewage Is Being Sprayed Everywhere. | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
The 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival stank. It wasn’t the bands that were the problem.

It wasn’t the bands that were the problem. Earlier that year, Austin had laid sod in Zilker Park, home of the annual fall festival, after years of dust problems, including one gritty festival infamously known as the “dust bowl.” In keeping with the city’s environmentally friendly ways, Austin used a locally made compost called Dillo Dirt when laying the new grass. But a day of heavy rain and tens of thousands of festivalgoers turned Zilker’s lush lawn into a mud pit. Dads toting Texas-orange camping chairs, hipsters decked out in impractical vintage, and college students in bikinis and rain boots all shared the same traumatized, confused expression as they waded into the chocolate-pudding-like sludge: What is that smell? The park was ripe with the scent of human waste.

The culprit? The Dillo Dirt, a compost whose central component is highly treated human waste, known in waste-management circles as biosolids. In cities across the United States, biosolids are being used to achieve greater civic efficiency while reducing costs. But concerns over regulation and health effects and a general uneasiness with our bowel movements—sterilized or not—are providing fodder for punny poop headlines in newspapers large and small.

Humans have been using their own waste as fertilizer for eons, but many Americans remain squeamish about taking the trend to a Portlandia level of green dedication. Nowadays, when you flush the toilet, your waste flows through a multipart system that ultimately discharges treated water into waterways and has standards for how to deal with the leftovers, known as sewage sludge. Until the mid-20th century, cities often dumped raw or partially treated waste directly into nearby rivers, lakes, or oceans. (The 1972 Clean Water Act eliminated most freshwater dumping, but ocean dumping wasn’t outlawed until 1988.) Cities then faced the dilemma of what to do with the 7.18 million tons of sewage sludge produced annually in the United States.

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Clay tablet purifies water for months

Clay tablet purifies water for months | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it

U. VIRGINIA (US) — A ceramic tablet infused with silver or copper nanoparticles can disinfect water for up to six months.

Called MadiDrop, the tablets are being developed for use in communities in South Africa that have little to no access to water.

PureMadi, a nonprofit University of Virginia organization, invented the tablet and has established a water filter factory in Limpopo province, South Africa, employing local workers. The factory has produced several hundred flowerpot-like water filters that utilize the same technology as the tablets to purify water.

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In California, the Snow Tells the Future for the Water Supply

In California, the Snow Tells the Future for the Water Supply | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
California’s snowpack, which supplies water to more than 25 million people and almost one million acres of farmland, is measured monthly in the winter.
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A cadmium lining

A cadmium lining | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
A worker dismantles electronic waste in Guiyu, southern China. Over 100,000 people are employed there to recycle discarded computers and other gadgets Source:...
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Marine agriculture offers a new solution to the problem of water scarcity

Marine agriculture offers a new solution to the problem of water scarcity | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
Mark Tran: Costa Rican academics are pioneering the growth of crops on freshwater lakes as a way of addressing food shortages
Wildcat2030's insight:

Hunger and nutrition will feature prominently at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June, in keeping with the renewed interest in agriculture, especially in Africa, where investors are eyeing the potential of vast tracts of land.

But as experts note, water is the most severe impediment to increasing food production and security.

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Grabbing Water From Future Generations - Water Grabbers - National Geographic

Grabbing Water From Future Generations - Water Grabbers - National Geographic | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
Many of the world's aquifers are being pumped dry to support unsustainable agriculture.
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Water Piped West to Denver Could Ease Stress on Colo. River

Water Piped West to Denver Could Ease Stress on Colo. River | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
A Bureau of Reclamation report expected this week includes a potentially contentious idea to build a pipeline and export water from the Missouri River to ease demand on the depleted Colorado River.
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A 3D printer to turn waste plastic into composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems | KurzweilAI

A 3D printer to turn waste plastic into composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems | KurzweilAI | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it

A University of Washington team claimed a $100,000 prize in the first 3D4D Challenge, an international contest to use 3-D printing for social benefit in the developing world.

The three undergraduates won to form a company that will work with partners in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Matthew Rogge, a mechanical engineering grad student, proposed to use giant 3-D printers to create composting latrines that are lightweight and use less energy to manufacture than concrete toilets.

The machine would also make rainwater catchment components that are specifically designed to fit to rain barrels, unlike current systems where joining available plumbing parts cause leaks and frequent failures.

Judges also were impressed by research the students conducted to prove their concept. In July the students printed a boat from more than 250 milk jugs and then entered it in a Seattle race. That proved they could create objects from recycled plastic and was a test run for their custom-built giant printer, also built from salvaged parts.

“With small-scale printers, the extruders can clog easily,” said Brandon Bowman, who also attended the competition. The huge printer that the students built, named “Big Red,” can not only create larger objects, but it also allows them to print with materials that are not perfectly clean.

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Steam From Sunlight - With No Boiling Water

Steam From Sunlight - With No Boiling Water | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
Researchers have unveiled a new way to use sunlight to produce steam and other vapors without heating an entire container of fluid to the boiling point. The research could lead to inexpensive, compact devices for purification of drinking water, sterilization of medical instruments and sanitizing sewage.

Metallic nanoparticles - so small that 1,000 would fit across the width of a human hair - absorb large amounts of light, resulting in a dramatic rise in their temperature. That ability to generate heat has fostered interest among scientists in using nanoparticles in a range of applications. These include photothermal treatment of certain forms of cancer, laser-induced drug release and nanoparticle-enhanced bioimaging.

In the past, researchers also explored the use of nanoparticles in solar energy applications. However, that research focused mainly on using nanoparticles to improve the ability of fluids to conduct heat. Until now, scientists had not reported on the use of nanoparticles, mixed into fluids, to capture sunlight, heat up and change the fluid into steam or other vapor.

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Climate change: drought benchmark is flawed, study says

Climate change: drought benchmark is flawed, study says | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
A scientific method used in a landmark UN report that said warming was intensifying global drought is badly flawed, a study published on Wednesday said.
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‘Artificial leaf’ gains the ability to self-heal damage and produce energy from dirty water | KurzweilAI

‘Artificial leaf’ gains the ability to self-heal damage and produce energy from dirty water | KurzweilAI | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it

(Credit: iStockphoto) Another innovative feature has been added to the world’s first practical “artificial leaf,” making the device even more suitable-

Another innovative feature has been added to the world’s first practical “artificial leaf,” making the device even more suitable for providing people in developing countries and remote areas with electricity, scientists reported here today.

It gives the leaf the ability to self-heal damage that occurs during production of energy.

Daniel G. Nocera, Ph.D., described the advance during the “Kavli Foundation Innovations in Chemistry Lecture” at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Nocera explained that the “leaf” — a catalyst-coated wafer of silicon — mimics the ability of real leaves to produce energy from sunlight and water. Dropped into a jar of water and exposed to sunlight, catalysts in the device break water down into hydrogen and oxygen. Those gases bubble up and can be collected and used as fuel to produce electricity in fuel cells.

Self-healing

“Surprisingly, some of the catalysts we’ve developed for use in the artificial leaf device actually heal themselves,” Nocera said. “They are a kind of ‘living catalyst.’ This is an important innovation that eases one of the concerns about initial use of the leaf in developing countries and other remote areas.”

Nocera, who is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, explained that the artificial leaf likely would find its first uses in providing “personalized” electricity to individual homes in areas that lack traditional electric power generating stations and electric transmission lines.

Less than one quart of drinking water, for instance, would be enough to provide about 100 watts of electricity 24 hours a day. Earlier versions of the leaf required pure water, because bacteria eventually formed biofilms on the leaf’s surface, shutting down production.

However, the new self-healing featire “enables the artificial leaf to run on the impure, bacteria-contaminated water found in nature,” Nocera said. “We figured out a way to tweak the conditions so that part of the catalyst falls apart, denying bacteria the smooth surface needed to form a biofilm. Then the catalyst can heal and re-assemble.”

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Can the World Afford Cheap Water? | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

 

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More people in India have access to cellphones than to basic sanitation. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 villages in the northwestern part of the country suffer drinking water shortages as the water table in this breadbasket region continues to drop. And the same story can be told all over the world, according to participants of a water conference at Columbia University on March 28.

This may be the “Blue Marble” with 70 percent of the planet’s surface covered in watery oceans, but the abundance is primarily made up of saltwater. Freshwater that’s clean enough for people to drink and plentiful enough to grow crops and other vital human activities is in increasingly short supply.

In the U.S., agriculture, industry and people combine to use more water than flows in the nation’s rivers. The difference is pulled up from beneath surface of the earth. “We depend on ground water, it’s going away,” noted economist Jeff Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, which convened the State of the Planet: Water conference. “This is a new geologic era where humanity has taken over key [planetary] drivers: the water cycle, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle.”

The obvious solution, at least to economists, is: if water has become a scarce good then it needs an appropriate price to properly allocate it. Water engineer John Briscoe of Harvard University noted that Australian farmers survived the recent crippling drought—which resulted in a 70 percent reduction in water flow in the Murray-Darling river basin—because of a water trading system that shifted water use from low-value, high-water use crops like rice to cities that needed the H2O more. “This is Econ 101 at work,” he said.

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For World Water Day, Cooperation Brings More Benefit Per Drop

For World Water Day, Cooperation Brings More Benefit Per Drop | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
Rivers pay no mind to political boundaries. If unimpeded by dams and diversions, they flow naturally from mountain headwaters to the sea, crossing borders both within and between countries as if political maps did not exist.

f the world is to meet growing food, energy, and consumer demands over the coming years while sustaining the ecosystems that support life on the planet, we will need to think more like watersheds and less like states or nations.  Only in this way can we get more benefit out of every drop of Earth’s finite water.

As a river flows toward the sea, it can generate hydroelectric power in its upper reaches, irrigate crops in the valleys, supply drinking water to cities and towns, and sustain recreation and fisheries from headwaters to the coastal zones. But we can only optimize the benefits that rivers provide if we work together – and across borders – to secure and share them.

This is not easy to do.  It requires both a new mindset about water and a quantum leap in cooperation, the theme of this year’s World Water Day.

Worldwide there are now 276 river basins encompassing two or more countries.  Europe’s Danube is shared by eighteen nations, Africa’s Nile by eleven, Asia’s Indus by five, and North America’s Colorado by two.

Rarely are there treaties that set out how the flows of these international rivers should be shared by all the parties in the basin.  A 1959 treaty between Egypt and Sudan, for example, divvies up the entire flow of the Nile, but doesn’t allot any water to the other basin countries – including Ethiopia, which contributes 84 percent of the Nile’s total flow.  Far from solving water disputes, such a treaty can fuel them.

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New global water risk maps offer free knowledge and data

New global water risk maps offer free knowledge and data | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
A new version of Aqueduct provides companies and governments with a free global water-risk mapping tool that can help them plan around falling water supplies
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Could the humble sea urchin hold the key to carbon capture? | e! Science News

The discovery that sea urchins use Nickel particles to harness carbon dioxide from the sea could be the key to capturing tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Experts at Newcastle University, UK, have discovered that in the presence of a Nickel catalyst, CO2can be converted rapidly and cheaply into the harmless, solid mineral, calcium carbonate.

This discovery, which is published February 5 in the academic journal Catalysis Science & Technology, has the potential to revolutionize the way we capture and store carbon enabling us to significantly reduce CO2 emissions -- the key greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

Dr Lidija Šiller, a physicist and Reader in Nanoscale Technology at Newcastle University, says the discovery was made completely by chance.

"We had set out to understand in detail the carbonic acid reaction -- which is what happens when CO2 reacts with water -- and needed a catalyst to speed up the process," she explains.

"At the same time, I was looking at how organisms absorb CO2 into their skeletons and in particular the sea urchin which converts the CO2 to calcium carbonate.

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Turn Your Plastic Recyclables Into 3D Printing Spools With Filabot

Turn Your Plastic Recyclables Into 3D Printing Spools With Filabot | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
3D printers are getting cooler every day, but there’s one component integral to 3D printing that normally gets overlooked – that is, until you have to pay for it.

As many 3D hobbyists have no doubt discovered, the one time cost of the printer can be quickly dwarfed by feeding it spool after spool of raw plastic. At $40 or more per spool, an avid hobbyist can see his or her enthusiasm rapidly diminished.

Maybe Filabot won’t revolutionize how 3D printing is done, but how often it is done.

Filabot is a 3D plastic extrusion system that takes all kinds of recyclable plastic – milk jugs, soda, detergent and shampoo bottles – and turns them into raw material for 3D printing creativity. Launched as a Kickstarter campaign, Filabot raised three times its $10,000 goal. Its creator, Tyler McNaney, plans on launching in the near future.

Not only will your household recyclables now appear as treasure troves of cheap and virtually endless supply of 3D printing plastic, all those projects that didn’t print right, cracked, or just didn’t turn out the way you thought it would can now be given a second chance at greatness.

The way Filabot works is pretty straightforward. It’s fed pieces of plastic up to 4 inches in diameter, which are then ground down to smaller pieces and are squeezed through a heated barrel that melts the plastic down. The molten plastic is then extruded out through interchangeable nozzles – 3mm or 1.75mm in diameter – to produce the plastic filament. The filament is then shaped to the right size for printing as it is pressed between a pair of grooved barrels. Finally, a cutter corrects any shape irregularities that might’ve made it past the barrels.

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New Rules Tackle Bacteria in Drinking Water: Scientific American

New Rules Tackle Bacteria in Drinking Water: Scientific American | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
New national drinking water rules are expected to lead to fewer pathogens flowing out of the tap
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What's really in our tap water?

What's really in our tap water? | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
The water coming out of your tap is safe, but there may still be some common contaminants.
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Reservoirs 'can affect rainfall'

Reservoirs 'can affect rainfall' | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
Researchers say large man-made reservoirs can increase the intensity of rainfall and can affect the effectiveness of flood defences.
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Carbon emissions are 'too high'

Carbon emissions are 'too high' | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it
It is increasingly unlikely that global warming will be kept below an increase of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a study suggests.
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5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried

5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it

Two major organizations released climate change reports this month warning of doom and gloom if we stick to our current course and fail to take more aggressive measures. A World Bank report imagines a world 4 degrees warmer, the temperature predicted by century's end barring changes, and says it aims to shock people into action by sharing devastating scenarios of flood, famine, drought and cyclones. Meanwhile, a report from the US National Research Council, commissioned by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other intelligence agencies, says the consequences of climate change--rising sea levels, severe flooding, droughts, fires, and insect infestations--pose threats greater than those from terrorism ranging from massive food shortages to a rise in armed conflicts.

Here are some of the more alarming graphic images from the reports.

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Need to filter water? Fight infection? Just open package, mix polymers

Need to filter water? Fight infection? Just open package, mix polymers | The Future of Water & Waste | Scoop.it

Working in the lab for the last few years, three generations of University of Akron polymer scientists say their mutual and passionate curiosity about science has led to their discovery of a first-of-its-kind, easily adaptable biocompatible polymer structure able to fight infection, filter water and perform a host of other functions. Darrell Reneker, 82, distinguished professor of polymer science; Matthew Becker, 37, associate professor of polymer science; and Jukuan Zheng, a 25-year-old graduate student, developed what they call a one-size-fits-all polymer system that can be fabricated and then specialized to perform healing functions ranging from fighting infection to wound healing. The research, "Post-Assembly Derivatization of Electrospun Nanofibers via Strain-Promoted Azide Alkyne Cycloaddition," is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Material can be adapted to the need The researchers devised a way to attach bioactive molecules to an electrospun polymer fiber mat, without compromising their biological functions. The possibilities for application should pique interest among developers and clinicians, say the scientists. Consider, for instance, Teflon-based vascular grafts used for aneurysm surgery since WWII being replaced by a strong, durable polymer structure with surface proteins that function as healthy blood vessels.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-filter-infection-package-polymers.html#jCp

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