Water

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.

Carbon nanotubes to clean water?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 22, 2011   View Article

Scientists are eyeing carbon nanotubes to clean up municipal water supplies contaminated with wate soluble drugs and other compounds that sneak past common charcoal filters.

The teeny tiny tubes of carbon are a factor of 1,000 more effective at filtering out the aromatic molecules in water soluble drugs, Thilo Hofmann, who heads up the department of environmental geosciences at the University of Vienna, explained to me in an email on Friday.

Graphene-coated sensors to strike oil?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 20, 2011   View Article

Tiny sensors coated with the wonder-material graphene and powered by flowing water could expedite the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves, according to university researchers supported by the energy industry.

The idea is to plop the sensors into the water injected down exploration wells where they can then move sideways through cracks and crevices in the Earth in search of hydrocarbons. The electricity generated by the flow of water would allow the sensors to relay their findings to the surface.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach