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2005 Water Research and Technology News

 

December, 2005

In search for water, Wyoming puts cloud seeding to the test

Like most other Western states, Wyoming is rich in oil, gas, coal and other mineral deposits. What it lacks is simple: water. So, like other Western states, Wyoming is trying to conjure up rain by embarking on a cloud-seeding project to bolster mountain snowpack -- the reservoirs of the arid and semiarid West -- and create more water from spring and summer snowmelt. But Wyoming's $8.8 million, five-year cloud-seeding project goes beyond what other states are doing -- not only because of its size and scope but also because it could yield definitive proof of whether cloud seeding works. AP/Washington Post_ 12/26/05 (logon required)

Watts from water

The Dutch Centre for Sustainable Water Technology or Wetsus, and Norway’s independent research organisation SINTEF, working with power company Statkraft, have invented devices that generate electricity by mixing sea and river water.  It might seem like an exercise in scientific theory destined only for high-tech laboratories, but the process’ creators and the European Union, which funds the Norwegian research, believe the idea’s time might have come. “There is huge potential to use this new way of producing electricity,” said Philippe Schild, scientific officer at the European Commission’s energy directorate. “It’s a renewable source which does not cause any environmental damage and it can play a big role in helping meet our target to increase renewable energy,” he said.  Mumbaimirror_12/14/05

New technology to bring water to Burleigh County, North Dakota from under the Missouri River

It would be among the first along the longest U.S. river and one of only a handful such projects in the nation. Called angled wells, the system would use the Big Muddy's sand and rock riverbed to help filter the water to near "bottled-water quality," said Doug Neibauer, executive director of the Bismarck-based South Central Regional Water District. Construction of the $17 million project began this summer, with the first phase to be completed in mid-2007. The entire project is slated for completion in 2009, said Joe Bichler, a project manager with the Bartlett & West engineering firm of Bismarck. Angle wells were placed along the Hudson River, near Albany, N.Y., to provide municipal water. Gary Smith, who works for White-Pierce, a Topsham, Maine-based civil and environmental engineering firm said a similar system is being developed in Orange County, Calif. Those wells would go beneath the Pacific Ocean's floor to draw water for a desalination plant. AP/Grand Forks Herald_ 12/10/05


GROWing the next generation of water recycling plants
A vegetated rooftop recycling system has been developed that allows water to be used twice before it is flushed into the communal waste water system. The Green Roof Water Recycling System (GROW) uses semi-aquatic plants to treat waste washing water, which can then be reused for activities such as flushing the toilet. GROW is the brainchild of Chris Shirley-Smith, whose company Water Works UK is collaborating with Imperial College London and Cranfield University. The researchers are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. More than half the water used in the home and workplace does not need to be of drinkable quality yet it comes from the same pure source as our kitchen taps. Using GROW, much of the water that enters a building can be used twice before being placed into the national wastewater management system. TerraDaily_ 12/9/05

November, 2005

Planet Venus: Earth's 'evil twin' and its water is all gone
The Babylonians called it "Ishtar". To the Mayans, it was known as "Chak ek", which translates as "great star". Venus is the brightest object in the sky except for the Sun and Moon. As such, the second planet from the Sun has fascinated humankind for millennia. Europe's Venus Express spacecraft blasts off this week, and will rendezvous with our nearest planetary neighbour next year to study it from orbit. The mission aims to shed light on an enduring mystery about this world: how a planet so similar to our own in size, mass, and composition has evolved so differently over the last 4.6 billion years. Amid the lava plains and volcanic domes, scientists spotted a handful of features that seem to have been carved by running water. At a much earlier stage in her history, Venus probably possessed many of the same characteristics as Earth, including abundant seas. What water there was has long since boiled away - runaway greenhouse warming has left Venus one of the driest places in the Solar System. BBC News_ 11/7/05

Moscow scientist claims filter cleans water, never clogs
A new filtering system, it is claimed, can indefinitely clean murky water of impurities, but not of chemicals. The system demonstrated at “Chemistry-2005” in Moscow appears to work on a system of tightly compressed metal springs, which when fouled by particulates, can be cleansed by a simple flushing and then go back to work, without being replaced as is the case with paper or fabric filters.. The system was shown to large crowds of interested engineers but has not yet been commercially tested. Innovations Report_ 11/4/05

October, 2005

San Antonio, New Mexico uses  rust particles to remove arsenic from drinking water

In New Mexico, an $860,000 grant to Subsurface Technologies Inc. will finance a process to remove arsenic from drinking water by injecting rust into the water supply. One official involved in the project said, “We know that arsenic likes to stick to iron oxides.” In those aquifers with insufficient rust, either iron or oxygen would be injected into the water. The arsenic, according to the operators, would attach to the rust and remain in the ground as inert particles, but the arsenic would no longer be a threat to people drinking the water. El Defensor Chieftan_ 10/19/05

UNESCO filter 'removes deadly arsenic from water'
A cheap filter that could improve the lives of millions of people in developing countries by removing toxic arsenic from water was unveiled last week by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The filter, developed in the Netherlands at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, has been undergoing tests in Bangladesh since February 2004. The researchers say one filter can produce 100 litres of arsenic-free water a day — enough for 20 people — and will need replacing after about one year. Prototypes of the filter were produced for about $35 each. Arsenic in groundwater threatens human health in several countries, including Argentina, China, Ghana, India and the United States. The problem is greatest in Bangladesh, where tens of millions of people drink contaminated water, and where long-term exposure to arsenic has caused skin disease and high rates of cancer. SciDev.net_ 10/17/05

European Space Agency's Envisat tracks Africa's rivers and lakes to help manage water resources

researchers worldwide can follow the flow of rivers and height of lakes across the African continent from the comfort of their desks. A new web-based demonstration launched to coincide with this week's TIGER Workshop makes Envisat-derived altimetry data for African inland water freely available in near-real time. The effort to develop the River and Lake product was led by Professor Philippa Berry of DMU's Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory. The River and Lake demonstration system also will show other regions of the Earth on a periodic basic. Supported as part of the Agency's Earth Observation Data User Element (DUE), the River and Lake project is aimed at developing, demonstrating and assessing an information service based on inland water altimetry. European Space Agency press release_ 10/5/05

September, 2005

Two Sandia National Laboratories microChemLab technologies to check for toxins in U.S. water supplies
The microChemLab, officially called microChemLab, is a hand-held "chemistry laboratory." The liquid prototype was designed and built at Sandia/California, while the microChemLab that takes measurements in the gas phase was developed at Sandia/New Mexico. The units are completely portable. The United States has more than 300,000 public supply water wells, 55,000 utilities, 120,000 transient systems at rest stops or campgrounds, and tens of millions of hydrants. Up until now, real-time, remote water quality monitoring for toxins has been very limited. Press Release/EurekAlert_ 9/27/05

The car that runs on water:'Holy Grail' to ease the world's energy crisis?
A British company is on the brink of creating an 'ultra-green' family saloon which could be on the road within a decade.  If it goes into production the car would cost as little as a regular model, thanks to subsidies and grants. In scenes recalling the film Back To The Future, where a sports car's generator is fed with household scraps, a generator on this car will convert water into power.  Government sources say the technology - developed by Russian scientists who have set up a UK company called OM Energy - could eventually enable ships to use seawater for fuel. The breakthrough is the electro hydrogen generator which extracts hydrogen from water by spinning it at high speed.  The hydrogen is then mixed with the petrol supply to create an environmentally friendly 'super fuel' which 'stretches' the unleaded fuel, enabling the car to go further on less. The generator is spun using the engine's recycled exhaust gases. Experts see this as the 'holy grail' that could ease the world's energy crisis. This is Money_9/21/05

New Mexico scientists study how to clean salt from the West's groundwater

Scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have started a study to investigate how to best clean salty water to make drinking water. Working with the Bureau of Reclamation and other groups they are hoping to find new ways to improve the water situation in the West. Right now, it costs about twice as much to clean contaminated water to drinking water standards as it does to collect fresh water. But as the population grows, the added cost could become economical, said Patrick Brady, a scientist at Sandia labs. AP/USA Today_ 9/12/05

UK college student designs eco-aware shower that recycles water
A shower which recycles water promises to save householders money and energy. The idea is the brainchild of Peter Brewin, a design student at the UK's Royal College of Art. The system re-circulates and cleans used water, with the potential to save families around £170 each year. The shower works on similar principles to a Dyson vacuum cleaner, using filters and hydro cyclones, installed behind the shower unit, to clean the recycled water and reheat it to the desired temperature. The shower has just won the British Standards Institution 2005 Environmental Design Award. BBC News_ 9/7/05

Technology may quench thirst for drinking water
A plastic tube and a fluorescent light could turn out to be two crucial components for getting drinking water back in New Orleans. Other ideas include cheaper systems to test water and, further in the future, new styles of chemical purifiers. The UV-Tube--which kills germs in water with an ultraviolet light bulb--costs about $70 to put together, can be assembled from components that are fairly easy to find, and can be run off of a solar panel, key in an area where the electrical grid has crumbled. More importantly, it can process about five liters of water per minute. CNET_ 9/2/05

August, 2005

Giant water plume spews from Saturn’s moon

Four fissures in the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus are spewing out a plume hundreds of kilometres high, the Cassini probe has revealed, and the ejecta is leaving a vapour trail that rings Saturn.  Scientists are shocked by this volcanic activity on what should be a small, quiet moon. "It is a stunning surprise," said Dennis Matson, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, US. But researchers are beginning to develop theories about what is going on. New Scientist_ 8/30/05

Techniques for arsenic removal from drinking water to be tested by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico

Over the next several months a team of researchers from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia National Laboratories will be studying different methods of arsenic removal at the Desert Sands Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association (MDWCA) in Anthony in southern New Mexico. The research is sponsored by the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership, a consortium of Sandia; the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF); and WERC, A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development. U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., secured the funding for the project through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Congressional support and design of the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership was developed under the leadership of Domenici to help small communities comply with the new EPA drinking water standard for arsenic. The new regulation, which will go into effect in January 2006, reduces the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) from 50 micrograms per liter (µg/L) to 10 µg/L and is designed to reduce the incidence of bladder and lung cancers caused by exposure to arsenic. Press Release/Newswise_ 8/24/05

NEC announces water-cooled laptops

Modules double cooling rate, reduce noise and are the slimmest in the world  

NEC has unveiled what it claims is the world's slimmest water-cooling module for notebook computers.  The units use a piezoelectric pump to drive the cooling liquid. The cooling module was developed by integrating the pump and the tank with the aluminum radiation plate that contains the water circulation channel.  The company claims a cooling performance of 80W (twice that of conventional systems) moreover, the cooling process suppresses the computer's operating noise up to the whisper level of about 30dB.  The cooling system, NEC said, is suitable for use in notebook PCs, servers and desktop computers.  Vnunet.com_8/22/05

Australian drought plan includes high-tech water recycling plant

A recycling plant in southern Queensland that uses ultra-violet light to purify water is the centrepiece of the Toowoomba City Council's plan to drought-proof the area.  The technology would work like a sieve, purifying up to 30 per cent of used water from the Wetalla reclamation plant.  Other highlights of the $115 million plan include drilling new bores and re-using low quality water for major industry like mining and agriculture.  ABC News Online _ 7/1/05

 

India's Karnataka University, Dharwad, receives U.S. patent for ion-exchange water demineralization membrane that uses no toxic chemicals

Dr. Mahadevappa.Y. Kariduraganavar, scientist of KUD carried out this project. The research can be used in electrodialysis membrane technology for the purification of brackish ground water. Dr Kariduraganavar said the preparation of the membrane involves no toxic chemicals like chlormethyl styrene which is an important factor in the present scenario. There is a large demand from the US, Japan, UK, Korea, Malaysia and the Gulf. This is because this is an ‘eco-friendly’ and clean membrane as compared to others. Newindpress.com_ 4/26/05

Shanghai to lift lid on high-tech toilets

The World Toilet Expo will run from May 8 to 10 in Shanghai, China's most fashionable city, the Shanghai Daily said. Shanghai officials said the city planned to revamp 500 of its 3,900 public toilets this year, build new ones and reserve two thirds for women. Beijing, eager to freshen up its primitive privies before it hosts the 2008 summer Olympics, recently added high-tech, self-cleaning toilets near tourist sites like the Forbidden City and Summer Palace and promised to keep them stocked with toilet paper. Most of China's public lavatories are squat-style pits with no running water, toilet paper or hand-washing facilities. Reuters_ 4/13/05

January, 2005

No-flush urinals save water at Oregon state parks; Plumbers board approves them for other facilities

The urinals trap the waste liquid with a light oil or a chemical seal that prevents gases from escaping into the bathroom, then eventually passes the urine into a drainpipe. The Oregon State Plumbing Board has already approved no-flush urinals in city, county, state and federal facilities, based on the success of state parks. AP/Seattle Post Intelligencer_ 1/18/05

Global MapAid helps aid groups get real-time data, maps

With a combination of handheld computers, satellite phones and innovative software, Global MapAid can quickly draft and update maps that show the washed-out roads and altered coastline, the location of aid centers, even areas with contaminated water. After starting as a student project, Global MapAid has registered as a nonprofit organization. Its founder and chairman, Rupert Douglas-Bate, hit upon the idea years ago while working on a relief mission to Bosnia. Trained as a water engineer, he was assigned to repair drinking water systems that he couldn't find. San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/17/05

 

 

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