WSAA’s Research and Innovation Newsletter – August 2022
3 August 2022
NewsNews from WSAA
August Research News
Research Newsletter – August 2022
Welcome to our August 2022 research and innovation newsletter.
This month has some fantastic articles that will really stretch you mind. I suggest that you lean back in your chair, take some deep breaths, and relax into this month’s issue. Don’t be hesitant, click a link and be transported.
Oh… and if you see any interesting articles, projects or news about research that others might be interested in, please send to [email protected] – it could even make the next newsletter due in September 2022.
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
CSIRO Outlines Seven Global Megatrends
The national science agency has released a once-in-a-decade report that identifies seven global megatrends that will shape the challenges and significant opportunities Australia will face in the coming years.
CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall says the report will help Australians to understand the significant challenges in order to address the massive opportunities that will shape the world.
The seven global megatrends are: Adapting to climate change; Leaner, cleaner and greener; The escalating health imperative; Geopolitical shifts; Diving into digital; Increasingly autonomous; and Unlocking the human dimension.
Water360 aims to be the place you will find the latest and most relevant information to support your work in the Australian water industry and is maintained by the Water Services Association of Australia.
Our newest resource includes a number of documents from the now discontinued Urban Water Research Association of Australia which produced 154 reports between 1989 to 2000 covering a wide field of urban water research, including storm-water management, improved methods for pathogen detection, pipe failure prediction, assessing customer expectations and international benchmarking of economic effectiveness of utilities.
New Australian Wastewater Quality Management Guidelines released
WSAA have released the new Australian Wastewater Quality Management Guidelines 2022. The Guidelines are a framework for effectively managing a wastewater system from its source, through its collection, transfer, and treatment, to its disposal or reuse.
It is hoped that by following the guidelines, utilities will better manage loads and concentrations of inputs into the wastewater system and achieve other benefits as well.
Data, Data Everywhere but Not a Drop (of Knowledge) To Drink
Evelyn Rodrigues from WSAA considers some complex data issues for the water sector.
We are swimming in lakes and oceans of data. The data to solve our problems usually exists. Our challenge is that we can’t trust it, or we can’t extract it, analyse it or overlay it with other data, making it next to useless for decision making.
Evelyn has some things to say about data and the water sector and it’s worth a few minutes to explore.
ON Program to Help Build Entrepreneurial and Commercialisation Skills of Australian Researchers
Australian researchers will have the opportunity to build their entrepreneurial and commercialisation skills with the return of the ON Program, delivered by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.
Applications are now open for teams from universities and publicly funded research agencies to participate in the program, where they will gain the skills and confidence to engage with business and take their ideas into the market.
Since 2015, ON has helped more than 3,000 people from 52 Australian research organisations turn their science into real-world solutions.
The Innovation Papers: Jason Mingo Presents a Bold Innovation – Defining the Water Innovation Ecosystem
Forty policy thinkers from across the Australian tech and innovation ecosystems have contributed more than 70,000 words to The Innovation Papers projects to be published in a newspaper format on August 4.
WSAA’s Jason Mingo is amongst the prominent authors who will also be presenting at The Innovation Papers [Live] forum and networking lunch on August 4 at the National Gallery of Australia.
Jason will present some bold ideas for better supporting innovation in the water industry.
People Living Remotely Lack Access to Quality Drinking Water
Researchers from the ANU have found that people in more than 400 remote or regional communities across Australia lack access to good-quality drinking water, while about eight percent of Australia’s population is not included in reporting on access to clean water.
The researchers reviewed public reporting by 177 water utilities to measure gaps in drinking water quality in regional and remote Australia.
The researchers found that 408 regional and remote locations with a combined population of 627,736 people failed to measure up to either health-based guidelines or the ADWG’s aesthetic determinants of good water quality across taste, colour and odour.
Channel Nine has reported that thousands of Sydney homes could be powered by what you flush down the toilet as part of a new renewable energy trial.
Australia’s first trial to convert waste into energy gold has begun at Sydney Water’s Malabar Wastewater Resource Recovery Plant.
The way it works is biosolids are extracted from wastewater, including what you flush down the toilet, and converted into biogas which is a mixture of gases, including methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide.
Researchers from Germany and the UK have developed techniques for 3d printing concrete to reduce the potential significant environmental impact of concrete use.
Concrete is made of a mix of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand. We trialled replacing up to 100% of the aggregate in the mix with glass. Simply put, glass is produced from sand, is easy to recycle, and can be used to make concrete without any complex processing.
SA Water Shines Bright with $300m Solar Investment
SA Water has announced it will pump $300 million of investment into renewable energy as part of its Zero Cost Energy Future initiative to help beat the growing energy crisis.
One of the largest renewable energy projects in the Australian water industry, SA Water’s Zero Cost Energy Future initiative will install more than 360,000 solar panels at 33 of its pipelines, pump stations and other assets.
Once connected to the national grid, these sites will generate 242 GWh of clean, green solar energy per annum, combined with 34 MWh of battery storage.
In total, SA Water will generate about 70 per cent of the electricity it needs to treat water and pump it around South Australia.
Plastic Eating Bacteria Could Save Water Resources
A team of researchers at Cambridge University has detected the presence of a naturally growing plastic-eating bacteria species in 29 European lakes.
While bacteria are known to thrive well on organic matter such as fallen plant parts and dead animals. Surprisingly, the plastic-feeding microbes discovered by the researchers grow better and faster on the remains of plastic bags thrown in water bodies.
Low-Cost Water Filter From Tree Seeds, Cotton Balls
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a low-cost, regenerative filter that removes viruses and bacteria from water using two simple, unprocessed ingredients: tree seeds and cotton balls.
The researchers say that is the first time unprocessed natural fibres have been shown to remove nanoparticles like viruses with a simple filter made from the moringa tree seed proteins and cotton balls.
Improved Catalyst that Destroys PFOA with Natural Light
Researchers from Rice University have improved their design for a light-powered catalyst that rapidly breaks down PFOA.
The researchers made the surprising discovery in 2020 that boron nitride could destroy 99% of PFOA in water samples within just a few hours when exposed to ultraviolet light.
In new experiments using plastic water bottles under natural sunlight, they found the boron nitride-titanium dioxide composites could degrade about 99% of PFOA in deionized water in less than three hours.
Researchers from Singapore have developed a technique to remove phosphorus from wastewater at higher temperatures than is possible using existing techniques, by using bacteria to store the chemical.
Current techniques to remove phosphorus do not work well at temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius. The researchers have demonstrated that Candidatus Accumulibacter can effectively remove phosphorus from wastewater at 30 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new polymer gel that can harvest large quantities of water from the surrounding air, even in low-humidity conditions. The low-cost material combines water-absorbing plant fibres with cellulose, which expels water when heated.
The researchers also showed that the polymer can be easily produced through a user-friendly casting method, where a gel precursor containing all three ingredients is mixed and poured into a mould. After 2 min, the mixture is freeze-dried and peeled from the mould, ready to be used straight away.
Tiny Lab on a Chip Analyses Very Small Volumes of Liquid
Researchers from the Institute of Laser Engineering at Osaka University have created a prototype terahertz optical spectroscopy system with a sensing area equivalent to the cross-sectional area of just five human hairs.
By measuring the shift in peak transmittance wavelength of a terahertz radiation source, the concentration of even trace dissolved contaminants in a tiny drop of water can be measured.
The National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement) has 17 national socio-economic targets across areas that have an impact on life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Productivity Commission Dashboard keeps track of progress toward those targets, and it’s worth having a look. What’s really interesting is that the dashboard is built as a container for information as it becomes available. It’s a long-term approach to monitoring that suits a range of areas where data is limited, but in development.
1.2 Billion-Year-Old Groundwater is Some of the Oldest on Earth
Groundwater that was recently discovered deep underground in a mine in South Africa is estimated to be 1.2 billion years old.
Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada suspect that the groundwater is some of the oldest on the planet, and its chemical interactions with the surrounding rock could offer new insights about energy production and storage in Earth’s crust.
The South African groundwater was also enriched in the highest concentration of radiogenic products — elements produced by radioactivity — yet discovered in fluids.
The Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater) invites you to join them for their Annual Forum.
If you have not been to one of their forums before, it is not something you will want to miss! A chance to network with over 100 water industry professionals, typically including representatives from more than 30 utilities.
It will be a great opportunity to network with likeminded people in person. There may alsol be online access as a backup in the unlikely event of travel restrictions.
The 9th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference incorporating the 3rd International PFAS Conference.
A fantastic in-person event is being planned for Adelaide in September in a covid-safe environment. As well as access to live virtual sessions there will be on-demand content provided after the live conference.
Now in its ninth year, this highly respected, not-to-be-missed conference is an excellent opportunity to share expertise and make connections – as well as provide exposure to your organisation as a sponsor or exhibitor – before, during and after the event.