Water

Whey cool: Dairy waste turned into electricity

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 15, 2013   View Article

Get a whiff of this: Milky rinse water flowing from Wisconsin cheese factories will soon be used to generate enough electricity for 3,000 homes, thanks to an innovative solution to a growing wastewater problem.

For years, the milky rinse water was spread on farmland as a low-grade fertilizer, but the practice was curtailed in the face of more stringent environmental regulations to limit runoff pollution, especially in the winter months when spraying on frozen ground was outlawed.

High-school senior invents life-saving water filter

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 14, 2013   View Article

A high-school senior has built a simple water filter using a common tree seed that can effectively remove bacteria such as E. coli and other pollutants. Distributing the easy-to-follow instructions on how to build the filter to developing countries could potentially save lives, she said.

“For people who are currently drinking contaminated water and don’t have access to another (filtration) method, I think this is really a step in the right direction,” Meghan Shea, an 18-year-old student at Unionville High School from West Chester, Penn., told NBC News.

The science of sinkholes: Common, but rarely catastrophic

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 1, 2013   View Article

A Florida man is missing after an apparent sinkhole opened in his bedroom in the middle of the night, sucking him and his bed deep into the earth. As frightening as it sounds, sinkholes happen all the time, according to geologists. Usually, though, they are slow-motion processes that can take years.

Sinkholes of the sort that swallowed the Florida man form when slightly acidic groundwater dissolves limestone or similar rock that lies beneath the soil creating a large void or cavities. When the overlying ceiling can no longer support the weight of the soil and whatever is on top of it, the earth collapses into the cavity.

Middle East lost a Dead Sea’s worth of water, study finds

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 12, 2013   View Article

Freshwater resources in the water-stressed Middle East are rapidly declining at a time when global climate change is projected to make the region even drier, scientists report in a new study.

Between 2003 and 2009, parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet of stored water, according to gravity measurements taken by a pair of wedge-shaped satellites. That’s nearly the equivalent of all the water in the Dead Sea.

New tech said to clean up fracking water

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 5, 2013   View Article

A new water desalination technology may prove a savior for the oil and natural gas industries confronting growing concerns about the wastewater that flows to the surface in the months and years after a well is fracked.

In fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, operations 3 million to 5 million gallons of water are injected deep underground, along with sand and a chemical cocktail, to fracture shale rock and extract the embedded natural gas.

Mystery ‘oil sheen’ grows near site of BP Gulf disaster, says researcher

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 31, 2013   View Article

A persistent, mysterious “oil sheen” in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster grew to more than seven-miles long and one-mile wide during a recent stretch of calm seas, based on aerial observations made by a former NASA physicist turned environmental activist.

“We had maybe three or four days (of calm weather) and that’s all it took for the stuff to build up considerably,” Bonny Schumaker, the physicist who now runs the non-profit On Winds of Care, which makes regular flights over regions of the Gulf affected by the 2010 oil spill.

Material generates power from water vapor

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 10, 2013   View Article

When scientist Mingming Ma interlocked two different polymers in hopes of creating a new type of electrode to stimulate atrophied muscles, he made something more powerful: an artificial muscle, or actuator, that can generate electricity by drawing on water vapor.

“The first time I synthesized this material, I put the film on my hand and I found it was just moving by itself,” the chemical engineer at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research told NBC News. “That was very surprising, so I decided to find out why.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach