Water

Road paved with toilets gets green credential

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 14, 2012   View Article

If you take a stroll along a newly paved six-block stretch of downtown Bellingham, Wash., you’ll be excused if you think you put your foot in a toilet. The sidewalk contains 5 tons of crushed potty.

The project is the first to earn Greenroads certification, a rating system that aims to do for roadway construction what LEED did for the building industry – make projects more sustainable.

Electricity from wastewater gets a salty boost

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 2, 2012   View Article

Microbes that digest wastewater in a fuel cell to produce electricity are getting a boost from a technology that captures energy from the difference between salt and fresh water, scientists report in a new study.

“It is like putting another battery into a flashlight, you get more voltage and power out,” Bruce Logan, an environmental engineer at Pennsylvania State University, told me Thursday.

The technology could lead to wastewater treatment plants that generate electricity, instead of consuming it.

Plasmas sterilize water cheaply

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 18, 2011   View Article

Ionized plasmas like those in neon signs and plasma TVs can sterilize water and make it antimicrobial as well, according to researchers studying the potential to use inexpensive plasma-generating devices to create sterile water in developing countries, disasters areas, and battlefields.

Plasmas are the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas. They are formed when gases are energized, stripping atoms of their electrons to create a collection of free moving electrons and ions.

Poop-to-power projects pumped up

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 9, 2011   View Article

Innovators from around the world who see power in steaming piles of poop are getting serious money from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ foundation to help the world’s 2.1 billion urban dwellers without access to sewers live safer, more sanitary and electrified lives.

Grantee Daniel Yeh, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of South Florida, for example, will use the funds to field test an advanced technology that harvests nutrients, energy, and water from wastewater.

The why of water bouncing balls

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 27, 2011   View Article

Some balls bounce on water, and some do it better than others. The best in class is the trademarked Waboba, which stands for water bouncing ball. And now a team of mechanical engineers has figured out why the Waboba works so well.

The team led by Michael Wright at Brigham Young University’s Splash Lab in Provo, Utah, did this by attempting to skip three types of balls across the water, videotaping the activity, and analyzing the footage. Their results are posted on arXiv.org, including a video that explains it all.

‘Artificial leaf’ makes real fuel

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 30, 2011   View Article

It doesn’t look like the leaves changing colors and piling up on the lawn, but a nature-inspired “artificial leaf” technology has taken a notable step toward the goal of producing storable and clean energy to power everything from factories to tablet computers.

The leaf is a silicon solar cell coated with catalytic materials on its side that, when placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, splits the H2O into bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can be stored and used as an energy source, for example to power a fuel cell.

How seawater can quench global thirst

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 9, 2011   View Article

New membrane technologies could more efficiently turn billions of gallons of seawater full of salt, decomposed fish, and other bits of unappetizing organic matter into thirst-quenching liquid for people and crops, according to experts in desalination technology.

The problem is that these membrane technologies don’t yet exist in the right form to efficiently turn seawater into freshwater, they said in a review article aimed at spurring lab-level research with molecular models.

Desalination plants use membranes in a process called reverse osmosis. Seawater is forced through the membrane to filter out the salt in seawater to help make it drinkable and available for irrigation. The process requires a minimum amount of energy to do.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach