Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Water
January 31st, 2015
5:07
 

The study of life forms other than human has led to many fascinating (and sometimes awe-inspiring) discoveries.  Each marvel that the plant and animal kingdoms reveal to us provides new roads for adapting these behaviors into our technologies.

Sensor technology has been incorporated into many current products, and has the potential to be used for a myriad of diverse purposes.  New York University (NYU) is examining what is being termed as a “Sixth Sense” in fish.  Beyond autos that self-park, avoid collisions, and don’t allow you to change lanes when there’s an oncoming vehicle in your blind spot, what applications can you envision that will make practical use of sensory technology?  Read the news release from NYU and find your way to float your ideas!

They See Flow Signals:  Researchers Identify Nature of Fish’s “Sixth Sense”Fishy

 

And here’s another article from redOrbit.com that discusses the research:  Fish “flow sensors” give them sixth sense

If you’re interested in the published study by the researchers, click here for the article in the journal Physical Review Letters of The American Physical Society.

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With the global growing population, and millions forced to walk more than a mile to collect their daily supply, new ways to find water is critical.

Here are some novel ideas that just may prove beneficial in this quest:

1. Growing glaciers

More than half of the world’s fresh water is stored in glaciers, 15 times more than all of the world’s lakes, rivers and wetlands combined. As a result of climate change, almost every glacier studied has been found to be shrinking and meltwater is simply lost to the rivers and sea. An Indian geo-engineer Chewang Norphel, who lives in Ladakh on the edge of the Himalayas diverts meltwater onto little plateau where it freezes. He has created 10 artificial glaciers this way, which can be used for water in the dry summer months.

2. A bath without water

At the age of 17, Ludwick Marishane was sunbathing in the Limpopo province of South Africa. His friend said idly to him: “Man, why doesn’t somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and you don’t have to bathe.” Marishane researched the idea, eventually formulating a lotion called DryBath. Marishane says that DryBath – a blend of essential oils, bioflavonoids, and odour-eliminating chemical tawas – saves four liters of water ever session, a total of a million liters in total.

3. Ultra water efficient shower

We are all familiar with the moment. You get into the shower, turn the tap, then avoid the water until the temperature equalizes. For Peter Cullin, from Australia, said, “Every minute of every day, in millions of homes around the world quality fresh drinking water is lost to the drain from inefficient showers.” To solve the dilemma, Cullin created his “Cullector Ultra Efficient Shower”, a screw-in device that captures water at the beginning of a shower and and feeds it back into the system. If installed in 1,000 showers, Cullin says the device would save 200m liters of water a year.

4. The lifesaver bottle

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”, wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This paradox struck Michael Pritchard while watching news reports of the Boxing Day tsunami a decade ago. Clean water was being brought in on trucks as the floodwater was too dirty. To solve this problem, he invented his “lifesaver” bottle, which uses a pump to force water through a 15-nanometer filter, cleansing it of all bacteria and viruses. Since its launch, the Lifesaver Bottle has been used by hikers, aid companies and the British army in Afghanistan.

5. Rainmaking with lasers

In the 1840s, James P. Espy thought burning large fires in the American west would bring rain to the east. In the 1950s, there were attempts at cloud seeding. Now, the idea of rainmaking has returned to the scientific agenda. The idea this time is to fire lasers into the atmosphere. Properly-directed pulses of light have been shown to help ice sublime and vapor condense. The World Meteorological Organization recently debated the future use of this new technology. One of the possibilities is to use lasers to induce rain at times of drought.

6. The fold up toilet

Along with the shower, the toilet is one of the home’s greatest source of water waste. As much as seven liters can vanish in a single flush and, wanting to improve matters, two students from the University of Huddersfield have invented Iota, the folding toilet. Iota’s design is markedly different to the traditional toilet and, as such, makes more efficient use of water. Gareth Humphreys and Elliott Whiteley, Iota’s inventors, claim that if installed it could save 10,000 liters per person every year.

7. Leak monitoring

Despite all the water wasted inside the home – dripping taps, inefficient toilets and showers – utility companies acknowledge that as much as a third is lost to leaks before it even arrives. Tackling this problem is Zonescan Alpha, a software that pinpoints leaks and relays data back to a control center. It works by embedding sensors throughout a network and has been successfully trialled by Albstadtwerke, a German utility company, which says it helped reduce waste by 2m liters.

8. Solar powered water purification

Hot climates suffer the most from a lack of water, making the invention of 16-year-old American, Deepika Kurup, all the more intriguing. Hailed as one of the USA’s brightest young scientists, this year Kurup was awarded the US Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her ingenious solar-chemical purification process. This involves exposing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to ultra violet radiation from the sun to produce a photo catalytic composite that cleans water. “This technology is green, safe, cost effective and easily deployable,” said Kurup.

Are there any environmental water engineers who can bring their expertise to new technology and make a real difference in this vast world we live in?

 

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January 22nd, 2015
11:28
 

Along with all of the latest buzz about asteroids following the December 3 launch of Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, NewScientist has published an article describing the advances that have been made in space farming.

If you want to start a space farm, head for an asteroid. It seems there’s enough fertilizer zipping around the solar system to grow veg for generations of space colonizers – and researchers are already beginning to grow viable, edible plants in space.

Wieger Wamelink and colleagues at the Alterra research institute, part of the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, reported this year that they grew a veritable salad – wheat, tomato, cress and mustard – for 50 days with no added nutrients. The plants even grew better in the simulated space soil than controls grown in poor quality Earth soil.

Asteroid soil is highly nutritious for plants, according to Michael Mautner of Lincoln University in New Zealand. He has grown edible plants directly in material from c-type asteroids, which fell to Earth in meteorites. He simply ground up the meteorite and added water.

I found this cute ad:

blog space garden

How does your garden grow?

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January 16th, 2015
6:46
 

In some agricultural areas of Mexico, farms rely on surface water sources including streams and canals to irrigate crops. Many of these sources contact microbiological contaminants such as E.Coli bacteria, harmful protozoa, and chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. These contaminants pose substantial risks to farm workers as well as to the crops they cultivate and sell both locally and internationally.  Conventional water treatment systems use filters or chemicals to purify water but rarely address all potential contaminants with one solution.

To address this problem, Puralytics has developed LilyPad—a solar-activated photochemical water treatment product—designed to break down the harmful molecular bonds of contaminants and chemicals in streams, ponds, ditches, and other waterways near agricultural lands. This same process also kills microbes, including viruses, bacteria, and protozoa that render water unhealthy. The reusable pads last for several months at a time and help ensure farmers have access to clean water for agricultural use and improve prospects for organic farming.

blog lilypads

How inventive – using one energy source (solar) to clean another great energy source (water)!

For more information about this new technology click here

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January 13th, 2015
5:23
 

When we think of hydro-electric power, we usually envision massive structures – - mighty dams that pump vast amounts of water into energy production.  What if bigger isn’t always better?  Here’s a story out of Colorado in the United States that shows how you can be small and mighty!

“A fledgling industry is taking shape, focused on putting small electricity generation on already existing water infrastructure – known as small hydro.”  (Check out the related content links at the bottom of the story for more information…)

 

Small Hydro Is Renewable

 

Energy The New Congress

 

Might Just Get Behind

 

Colorado Dam


The outlet at Button Rock Dam on Ralph Price Reservoir, near Lyons, Colo.
Joe Mahoney Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

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