March Research News
Research Newsletter – March 2023
Welcome to our March 2023 research and innovation newsletter.
This month’s issue is plump with innovations, rich with imaginative solutions and ripe with market ready technologies. Pick your favourite from the platter below and ruminate for the rest of the month.
If you see any interesting articles, projects or news about new research that others might be interested in, please send to [email protected] – it could even make the next newsletter due in April 2023.
If you’ve stumbled on this newsletter and would like to receive future editions please click this link. Or if you know someone who really needs this: forward to a friend.
Industry Innovation and Resilience
Image from document
Urban Water Industry Research, Development and Innovation Strategy
In a great step forward, WSAA has published a new Urban water industry Research, Development and Innovation Strategy.
The strategy represents a step change for the industry by considering how we can influence the whole ecosystem that supports innovation in our sector.
The strategy is a core component of WSAA’s national strategic program and builds on the previously published National Research Priorities Agenda.
This strategy outlines the key elements of the RD&I Ecosystem and details a 5-year implementation plan to be achieved by coordination and collaboration in RD&I across the water sector.
image from WSAA
Transforming Water Industry IoT and Operational Technology Cybersecurity Skills Grant

A partnership between WSAA, the Internet of Things Alliance Australia and Holmes Institute has won a $250,000 grant to create and deliver water industry IoT and operational technology cybersecurity courses.


The Transforming Water Industry IoT and Operational Technology Cybersecurity Skills project is a cybersecurity course development and skills uplift program for water utilities across Australia.


Find out more at WSAA

Image of globes from WSAA

WSAA Research, Development and Innovation Networks

WSAA provides a wide range of opportunities for its members to engage in networks and communities of practice. 


If you work at a WSAA member utility and are interested in research, development and innovation, we have two groups that work on improving industry capactiy.

  • Research and Development Network: Meeting next: 16 March 2023 1.30-3.30pm (AEDT)
  • Innovation Futures Community of Practice: Meeting next: 23 March 2023 1-3pm (AEDT)

If you’re interested, contact [email protected] for additional information.

Image by tawatchai07 on Freepik
PUB Global Innovation Challenge

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, is in constant pursuit of great ideas to transform into a Smart Utility of the Future.


PUB invites companies, researchers, and innovators from all around the world to propose solutions to their challenges.


Selected applicants of the PUB Global Innovation Challenge are given the opportunity to validate their ideas and find the product-market fit in the water industry.


Find out more at PUB

Energy and the Circular economy

Image by mrsiraphol on Freepik
Wastewater Sector Emits Nearly Twice as Much Methane as Previously Thought

Researchers from Princeton University have found that municipal wastewater treatment plants emit nearly double the amount of methane into the atmosphere than previously believed.


The new research is limited to US treatment plants, but it does call into question the guideline issued by the IPCC for calculation of methane emissions based on treatment processes.


Read more at WaterOnline

Image from article
Recent Research Advances in Aqueous Pollutants and Treatment Approaches
This fantastic work led by Australian researchers provides an overview of current research that covers aqueous pollutants and treatment approaches.
The paper surveys the current research and provides a high-level overview to identify current trends. 
If you read one paper about aqueous pollutants this year – make it this one.
Image from article
UK Utility to Pipe Internet Cables Through Water Network

A £1.2 million government grant will help to kickstart the UK’s first pilot ‘Fibre in water’ project involving utility Yorkshire Water, together with engineering consultancy Arcadis and the University of Strathclyde.


Following an initial investigation, Yorkshire Water would deliver fibre optic cables with gigabit-capable connections to 17km of its water network in the south.


As well as the provision of internet services, the utility believes the cables will also be able to “detect cracks, bursts and leaks”, which could then be “repaired quicker, reducing water loss and disruption to customers”.


Read more at AquaTech

Image from article
Study Demonstrates Energy-Efficient Conversion of Nitrate Pollutants into Ammonia

Researchers from the University of Illinois have demonstrated an approach to integrated capture and conversion of nitrate-contaminated waters into valuable ammonia within a single electrochemical cell.


The goal of the study was to use as little energy as possible to remove nitrate from agricultural runoff before it hits our waterways.


Read more at WaterOnline

Image of biosolids from article
Microbes Unleash PFAS from Biosolids

Researchers from Drexel University have found that the microbes that help break down biodegradable materials and other waste are likely also complicit in the release of PFAS into the environment.


Importantly, the research provides evidence that PFAS can leach from biosolids across different stabilisation methods in wastewater treatment, and it provides more evidence that regulation or advanced treatment is needed to reduce impacts to the environment.



New Ultrafast Water Disinfection Method is More Environmentally Friendly

Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a method to disinfect water using small shocks of electricity.


Although conventional electric field treatment (CEFT) is applied for food pasteurization, it hasn’t been widely used for drinking water disinfection because of the relatively high cost.


Although, in early stages, the method provides near-instantaneous decontamination and may reduce how much electricity is needed to disinfect water, making it potentially a more affordable sanitation option.


Read more at Eurekalert

Image from paper
How to Pull Carbon Dioxide from Seawater

Researchers at MIT have developed an efficient and inexpensive method for removing carbon dioxide from seawater. The hope is that this offers a practical additional method for mitigating CO2 emissions. 


Existing methods for removing carbon dioxide from seawater apply a voltage across a stack of membranes to acidify a feed stream by water splitting. This new method converts bicarbonates in the water to molecules of CO2, which can then be removed under vacuum.


Read more at WaterOnline

Image from article
PV-Powered Seawater Desalination for Afforestation Carbon Capture
Researchers from Finland have proposed the use of solar, wind, and storage to provide desalinated seawater to restore forests.
You’ve got to like the way these researchers have proposed ‘restoring’ central Australia through irrigation. It’s fantastic!
Image from article
Vibrations Turbo Charge Green Hydrogen Production
Researchers from RMIT have developed a method that uses high-frequency vibrations to split water molecules by using electrolysis to release 14 times more hydrogen compared with standard techniques.
With sound waves making it much easier to extract hydrogen from water, it eliminates the need to use corrosive electrolytes and expensive electrodes such as platinum or iridium.
Image from article
Graphene Aerogel Particles for Efficient Water Purification

Researchers from University of Manchester have produced three-dimensional particles made of graphene using a variation of the vortex ring effect. The same effect is used to produce smoke rings and is responsible for keeping dandelion seeds flying.


These particles have also been shown to be exceptionally efficient in adsorbing contaminants from water.


Read more at PhysOrg

Image from article
Solar-Driven Hydrogel Purifies Contaminated Water

Researchers led by Princeton University have developed a solar powered hydrogel with a loofah-like structure that can rapidly purify large quantities of water contaminated with oils, metals and microplastics.


The real advance with this material is the open pore structure, which allows water to filter at a higher rate.


Read more at PhysicsWorld

Image of blue dots by DW
Disinfecting Drinking Water with Silver Sulphide Quantum Dots

Researchers from Nanjing University have described a simple new method of disinfecting drinking water based on tiny biocompatible assemblies of atoms, known as quantum dots.


The dots are made of silver sulphide with caps made of a silver-binding peptide. When irradiated with near-infrared light, they kill bacteria in water with high efficiency through synergistic effects.


More information at PhysOrg

Liveability and health
Image from paper
Toilet Paper is an Unexpected Source of PFAS in Wastewater
Researchers from the University of Florida have found that toilet paper is an unexpected contributor of PFAS to wastewater.
Some paper manufacturers add PFAS when converting wood into pulp, and recycled toilet paper can be made with fibres that come from materials containing PFAS. 
The team calculated that toilet paper contributed about 4% of a key PFAS compound in sewage in the U.S. and Canada, 35% in Sweden and up to 89% in France.
Working with the community
Image of venn diagram from paper
 What Determines Household Water Consumption?
Researchers from Germany, Italy and Australia have collaborated on the development of a framework to review, classify, and analyse the literature on the determinants of household water consumption.
The authors also ran 48 key publications through the framework to test its validity.
The analysis of representation, impact and effort showed that there were some distinct groups of water consumption determinants and that each group has different implications for practitioners and researchers.
Some interesting things
Image by on Freepik
An Illuminated Water Droplet Creates an ‘Optical Atom’

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg have conducted some intriguing research by shining light into water droplets to discover that it creates effects analogous to what happens in an atom.


When a beam of light is shone into a water droplet. Rays of light bounce off the inner wall of the water droplet over and over again, going around and around inside the droplet. When its circumference is a multiple of the light’s wavelength, a resonance phenomenon occurs, making the droplet shine brighter.


The researchers then discovered how the droplet flashed in a way similar to what occurs when an electron is emitted from an atom when illuminated by light of varying wavelengths.


Prepare to be equally intrigued at ScienceDaily

Image from article

Antibiotic Innovation Helps Fight Against Superbugs

RMIT scientists have created a new type of antibiotic that can be rapidly re-engineered to avoid resistance by dangerous superbugs.


Named Priscilicidin, the antibiotic’s amino acid building blocks are small, so it can be tailored to tackle different types of antimicrobial resistance.


Read more at RMIT

Image from article
Engineers Create an ‘Impossible’ Light Sensor with an Efficiency of 200%

Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have produced a sensor that converts light into an electrical signal at an astonishing 200 percent efficiency – a seemingly impossible figure that was achieved through the weirdness of quantum physics.


You’ve got to read this to believe it, but event then you may not understand it – I’m not sure I do.


Read more at Science Alert

Image from article and Isaac Quesada on Unsplash
Electronic Nose’ Built with Sustainably Sourced Microbial Nanowires Could Revolutionize Health Monitoring

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts recently announced the invention of a nanowire, 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.


The wire can be cheaply grown by common bacteria and can be tuned to “smell” a vast array of chemical tracers.


Read more at PhysOrg

Image supplied by WaterReuse
Discounted Online Access Available to WSAA Members

The Annual WateReuse Symposium is the most important global conference about water recycling. It attracts water professionals and reuse practitioners globally to collaborate, share findings, and envision the future of water reuse.


The 2023 Symposium is taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on 6-8 March.


The program for the in-person event is here.


WSAA members and associates can receive a $300 USD member discount off the marked price for recorded sessions by entering the discount code “WSAA23Symp” upon registration.


Register here for access, launching April 10, 2023.

Leading Innovation Summit 2023
28 – 31 March, 2023 Sydney
The first event of its kind that aims to provide today’s leaders with the skills they need to encourage and drive innovative thinking throughout their organizations.
If you want to ensure that your business stays 21st-century relevant rather than a 20th-century relic, this is the event for you.
Image from website
Ozwater23 –   Australia’s Premier Water Exhibition and Conference

10 – 12 May 2023 | Sydney


First held as the Federal Convention in 1964, Ozwater is now Australia’s premier water event and the largest water conference and exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere.


Ozwater supports a program of speakers, papers, and workshops by and for people working with water to promote excellence, networking and international engagement.


Find out more and register here


Research Data Australia

Find, access, and re-use data from over one hundred Australian research organisations

Australian Government – GrantConnect
Forecast and current Australian Government grant opportunities

Amazing Trove of Water Industry Research!

UK Water Industry Research have made their trove of research available without charge.


Click here to go to the UKWIR library


Click here to start your journey