February Research News
Research Newsletter – February 2023
Welcome to our February 2023 research and innovation newsletter.
There is a lot of very exciting research in this month’s edition. I think it is by far the best newsletter yet!
It is extraordinary how innovative our industry is. My favourite this month must be the finding that lychee powder can remove persistent dye from wastewater. Look out for it!
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 March 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
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Water Asset Management: In Need of a Step-Change?

A new report from UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) argues that a “step-change” is needed in asset management across the water sector to help measure value across a broader range of indicators.


The nub of their argument is that indicators need to cover other factors, including environmental and social values.


Read more here at Aquatech

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Research and Development Tax Incentive
The R&D Tax Incentive is designed to help companies innovate and grow by off-setting some of the costs of eligible research and development.
It’s not a huge amount of money, but it could be the difference between success and not success. 
If you’re not claiming the R&D tax incentive, have a look at this page on the Australian Government Website and see if you are eligible.
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Wet Wipe Flushability Study Wins National Award

Urban Utilities Trade Waste Officer Chantal Keane won the award for Best Paper of the Australian Water Association Conference in Cairns for her report, ‘The 60-Year Journey to the Development of an Australian Flushability Standard’.


Chantal’s work sought to measure the flushability of wet wipes and introduce a new Australian Standard to prevent non-flushable varieties clogging up sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants.


Read more here 

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Yet More New Research on Water360

We’ve just added two new research resources to our Water360 website. These research archives represent many hours of work by Australia’s top researchers.


Urban Water Research Association of Australia – research catalogue

1989 to 2000 – Over one hundred and fifty research papers that cover a wide range of issues, including storm-water management, improved methods for pathogen detection, pipe failure prediction, assessing customer expectations and international benchmarking of economic effectiveness of utilities.


Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence

2009 to 2016 – An archive of research, tools, frameworks, process documentation and other resources. Includes over one hundred research papers and the results of over forty major projects covering everything you could want to know about water recycling.


Water360 gives you access to thousands of research papers that may have otherwise become lost to the water industry. Next time you can’t find a solution to your problem, remember to check in to Water360 and see if someone else has done if before.

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Tech Hubs are Expensive, But (Mostly) Worth it

New research in the US has found that Iinovation is becoming increasingly geographically concentrated.


Between 2015 and 2019, eight mostly coastal “superstar” metro areas accounted for nearly half of the nation’s technology sector job creation


In a new working paper that examines the balance between local productivity and local costs in research and development, researchers found that the productivity gains from a density of scientific talent generally outweigh the additional costs.


Read mor eat MIT Management

water supply and security

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New Report Confirms Global Water Cycle is Changing
A new report from the Global Water Monitor claims that the global water cycle is changing. The straight forward impact is that past conditions are longer a good predictor of future conditions.
If you want to really know what’s happening with the world’s climate then this is the place to find out.

Energy and the Circular economy

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Partnerships Built on Collaboration and Innovation

Jemena and Sydney Water are partnering to develop Australia’s first biomethane-to-gas-network project.


The demonstration project, co-funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, is intended to show how carbon-neutral biomethane can help to supplement domestic gas supplies and support the decarbonisation process for the gas network


Read more at Utility Magazine

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Thames Water’s Real-Time Map Confirms Raw Sewage Discharges

A really interesting glimpse into the struggles in the UK to manage raw sewage discharges.


Some of the stories about the impact on once pristine streams are quite distressing. 


”The Coln, a limestone river once famous for its gin-clear appearance and abundance of trout, is not the only Cotswold river receiving continuous raw sewage discharges over hundreds of hours from Thames Water treatment works.”


Read more at the Guardian

Cut to the chase and look at the online map here

Photo by Richard Horvath on Unsplash
New Process to Split Seawater into Hydrogen and Oxygen
Researchers at the University of Adelaide have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100 per cent efficiency.
The process produces green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyser.
This could be a real gamechanger
Photo by Irina Iacob on Unsplash

Researchers from the Australian National University have developed new techniques to separate and extract valuable minerals, metals and nutrients from resource-rich wastewater.


This interesting review looks to the plant world for inspiration. Plants have very sophisticated water treatment processes, mining water and nutrients from the ground, taking up both desired and undesired elements. 


This approach to membrane development in water treatment could offer lower tech and lower cost, and in the end, more sustainable solutions.


Read the paper online here at New Phytologist

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Hitchhiking Viruses Pose Potential Health Risks from Microplastic

Researchers from the University of Queensland have shown that not only can viruses be retained on the surface of microplastics, the presence of microplastics can also prolong the lifespan of the pathogen.


The team also tested how sun exposure and the size of microplastics helped prolong the virus’s survival and found the more environmental damage on the microplastic, the more likely it was to carry viruses.


Read more at the AWA

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A New Water Remediation Method Using Nanoparticles

Researchers from St Petersburg University have developed a method for purifying water from organic compounds using tin oxide nanoparticle based photocatalysts.


Photocatalysis is a process in which light energy is used to trigger chemical reactions to break down organic compounds into carbon dioxide and water through the presence of a catalyst.


Read more at PhysOrg

Photo by Sergio Arze on Unsplash
Researchers use Pavlova to Remove Microplastics
Researchers from Princeton Engineering have used egg whites to create an aerogel, a lightweight and porous material that can be used in many types of applications, including water filtration, energy storage, and sound and thermal insulation.
(I may have been joking about the pavlova)
World-First Treatment Technology Set to Tackle Nutrient Runoff in The Great Barrier Reef and Beyond

A new bioremediation process developed over 10 years at James Cook University, uses native Australian seaweed and sunlight to remove contaminants such as phosphorus and nitrogen from municipal wastewater treatment plants, onshore aquaculture farming, abattoirs and agricultural run-off.


Read more at the AWA


Visit the RegenAqua website here

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Floating Solar Power Could Help Fight Climate Change
Researchers in the US are exploring the potential of ‘floatovoltaics’, to help meet the world’s demand for land to accommodate a burgeoning solar industry. 
They claim that covering 10% of the world’s hydropower reservoirs with ‘floatovoltaics’ would install as much electrical capacity as is currently available for fossil-fuel power plants. But the environmental and social impacts must be assessed.
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Lychee Peel Powder Can Remove Persistent Dye from Wastewater

An international team of researchers has found out that chemically modified lychee peel eliminates a very persistent red dye from wastewater.


The researchers have developed a new method that can be used to clean wastewater near textile production facilities in an environmentally friendly and cheap way.


By doing so, they hope it can prevent disease in humans and save animals, fish and birds that interact with dyed water.


Read more at Scientific Frontline

Liveability and health
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US National Wastewater Surveillance for Infectious Diseases Worthy of Further Investment

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences in the US has found that wastewater surveillance was a valuable component of the U.S. public health response in the nation’s emergency response to COVID-19 and is worthy of further development and continued investment.


The report also presents a vision for a national wastewater surveillance system that would be able to track multiple pathogens simultaneously and pivot quickly to detect emerging pathogens.


Read more at National Academies

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Microfibers Impact Behaviour and Growth of Aquatic Organisms

Researchers from Oregon State University have found that microfibres from synthetic materials, as well as cotton, change the behaviour and growth of water organisms.
Perhaps almost as interesting as the research is that a bill was recently introduced in Oregon that would require new clothes washers sold in the state be equipped with a microfiber filtration system. And that a study from Canada in 2021 found that washing machine filters reduce microfiber emissions.
One of the most sobering findings of the research is that synthetic fibres reduced growth in organisms after just a few days of exposure.
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Bacteria Can Detect Pollutants in Water

Researchers from Rice University in the US have reprogrammed cells in Escherichia coli (e.coli) to release an electrical current that can sense pollutants quicker than traditional methods.


The sensor is still in its proof-of-concept stage, but the team said the findings could help ensure water security in the future by alerting people about environmental catastrophes – like chemical spills – before they escalate.


Read more at Yahoo News

Working with the community
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BBC Takes a Deep Dive into Water
The BBC has taken a deep dive into the world of water as part of its StoryWorks series. 
The series consists of sixteen high quality films that deal in a sophisticated way with a range of water issues across the world.
Don’t underestimate the quality of these films – they take a sensitive look at the human experience of water and there is a lot of great works here.
Some interesting things
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Why Chocolate Feels So Good: it is All Down to Lubrication

Researchers from the University of Leeds have decoded the physical process that takes place in the mouth when a piece of chocolate is eaten, as it changes from a solid into a smooth emulsion that many people find totally irresistible.


Interestingly, the researchers have found that fat deep inside chocolate is a waste of time – it’s the fat on the outer layer of chocolate the matters the most.


It does make me wonder why I didn’t take up research in chocolate. I don’t remember that option at careers night!


Read more at PhysOrg

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National Biosolids Conference – Champions for Sustainability.

Early Bird tickets close Friday 13th January


8 – 9th February 2023, Aerial, University of Technology, Sydney


The biennial Australian & New Zealand Biosolids Partnership’s National Biosolids Conference is returning to Sydney in 2023, with the theme Champions for Sustainability.


Held over two days, this conference will examine key developments in the industry with a focus on the role of industry, regulators and community as champions for sustainable biosolids management and end-use.


Register here

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2nd SWAN APAC Alliance Workshop

23 – 23rd February 2023, Metropolis Southbank, Melbourne


Join the leading, smart water event in Asia-Pacific


The first day of this conference will feature a full-day Workshop with keynotes, insightful panels and interactive roundtable discussions on the practical value of the smart water journey and how we can best support each other.


The evening will include a drinks reception with canapés. The second day will include organised utility study tours to Greater Western Water and South East Water (limited spots).


Register Here

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Early bird registration now extended until January 27th!


22 – 23rd February, Sydney Olympic Park

Your opportunity to hear from water industry professionals and academics from across Australia to discuss the next game-changing research.


WaterRA presents Australia’s leading scientific and technical conference on water research and innovation, Next Water’23, bringing together water industry professionals and academics from across Australia to discuss the next game-changing research.


This two-day conference will feature keynote and invited speakers, scientific and technical presentations, case studies, workshops and panel sessions to support our industry in ensuring public health and safeguarding the sustainability of our water resources.


Read more and register here

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.
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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