Welcome to our January 2024 Research and Innovation Newsletter.
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 February 2024.
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Industry Innovation and Resilience

NEW WSAA Young Utility Leader’s Advisory Group

The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) is pleased to announce the WSAA Young Utility Leader’s Advisory Group comprising our Young Utility Leaders Program’s current leaders and alumni to support WSAA’s strategic direction.

The Advisory Group will provide its fresh perspectives on policies, strategies and projects and will be integral participants in WSAA’s suite of events.

Read more at WSAA

Energy and the Circular Economy
Will Performic Acid Replace Chlorination in the US?
Changes in water quality regulations and emerging concern with disinfection by-products have led to the implementation of peracetic acid (PAA) disinfection in North American and European facilities, and performic acid (PFA) disinfection in some European facilities.
This interesting article looks at the new research project from the Water Research Foundation working on a comparative assessment of these new methods with chlorination.
The clear advantage of performic acid is that there are no disinfection by-products, but a disadvantage could be a lack of effectiveness in treating viruses.
Image from Bing
How to Destroy PFAS Forever
Researchers are developing a number of new methods for destroying PFAS. This article in Nature surveys current research in this area. The methods under trial include using plasma, pressure, sound waves and fungus.
The task is daunting, the number of possible molecules based on the carbon–fluorine bond is vast, and new ones are put on the market each year.
Image from article
Using AI To Estimate Future Water and Electricity Demand
A multi-institutional team of industrial engineers has used AI technology to make projections of increased demand for electricity and water due to climate change in major cities across the U.S.
While the research team found that most U.S. cities will see an increase in demand for both water and electricity, they also found that Los Angeles and New York are not likely to see much of an increase in water use, at least per capita.
Image from article
Enhanced Micromotor Treats Wastewater and Creates Ammonia

Researchers from the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia have designed micromotors to move around on their own to both purify wastewater and create ammonia. Now, a new AI method has also been developed by the University of Gothenburg to monitor the devices.

The micromotor is comprised of a tube made of silicon and manganese dioxide in which chemical reactions cause the release of bubbles from one end. These bubbles act as a motor that sets the tube in motion.

Read more about the micromotors here.

Read more about the development of monitoring methods here

Image from article
New Desalination Technology Show Promise

Researchers from South Korea have unveiled a highly efficient method for desalinating seawater using hydrate-based desalination (HBD) technology.

The process works by leveraging the phenomenon where impurities, including salts, are expelled during the formation of hydrates from brine or contaminated water.

Read more at PhysOrg

Image from PhysOrg
Getting Your Quenching Agent Right
A new study by researchers from University of Toronto has review the potential for agents such as thiosulfate, bisulfite and chlorine in hydrogen peroxide quenching, following advanced oxidation.
The findings emphasise the crucial significance of selecting an appropriate quenching agent, a decision that plays a key role in the context of drinking water treatment.
Image from Bing
Tyre Dust Makes Up the Majority of Ocean Microplastics

This is a great read in The Drive about particulate emissions from automobiles. I couldn’t go past the revelation that a report from the Pew Charitable Trust found that 78 percent of ocean microplastics are from synthetic tyre rubber.

This is particularly relevant as we move to a greater number of Electric Vehicles. A side effect of battery powered cars is that they are typically heavier and therefore tyres wear out faster – increasing the amount of tyre dust in the air and water.

Read the article at The Drive

Image from article
Using AI To Find Microplastics

Researchers from the University of Waterloo are using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify microplastics faster and more accurately than ever before.

The tool consists of a deep learning neural network that enhances microplastic identification from spectroscopic signals.

Read more at WaterOnline

Image from Cornell
Snail-inspired Robot Could Scoop Ocean Microplastics
Researchers from Cornell University have developed a robot prototype that may one day scoop up microplastics from the surfaces of oceans, seas and lakes.
The robot’s design is based on the Hawaiian apple snail (Pomacea canaliculate), a common aquarium snail that uses the undulating motion of its foot to drive water surface flow and suck in floating food particles.
Image from Interesting Engineering
New Hydrogel to Harvest Water from Air

Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University have developed a hydrogel that improves water harvesting from the air.

The researchers claim that they “have revolutionised solar-powered atmospheric water harvesting technology” and that the gel can achieve ultrahigh water adsorption capacity, quickly extract moisture from dry air and maintain high levels of absorption, even with significant salt content.

Read more at Interesting Engineering

Read the original paper at Applied Physics Reviews

image from article
New Method to Recycle Adsorbents in Wastewater Treatment
A researcher at Umea University has reviewed the potential for residues from wood and agricultural industries as alternatives to commonly used activated carbon in adsorbing compounds released into wastewater.
These adsorbents, so-called activated biochars, were investigated for their capacity to adsorb two antibiotics, trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, and caffeine. The adsorbents were subsequently treated with a new regeneration method that doesn’t require a drying step and which operates at lower treatment temperature.
Image from article
New Material to Break Down Antidepressant

Researchers from Brazil have described a strategy to produce a material based on zinc oxide (ZnO) capable of degrading sertraline, an antidepressant that has been detected, like other drugs, in groundwater worldwide.

The work confirmed that the material, 3D ZnO, absorbed light energy (ultraviolet A and C) to promote efficient water photo-oxidation, producing oxidizing species that degrade organic contaminants.

Read more at PhysOrg

Some interesting things
Image from article
‘BioFiber’ Can Stabilize and Heal Damaged Concrete

Researchers from Drexel University are improving the durability of concrete by turning reinforcing fibers into a living tissue system that moves concrete-healing bacteria to the site of cracks to repair the damage.

The “BioFiber” is a polymer fiber encased in a bacteria-laden hydrogel and a protective, damage-responsive shell.

Read more at Drexel

Image from article
Making Our Toilet Bowls Even Slipperier
Researchers led by Erciyes University in Türkiye have developed a simple, transparent coating that makes surfaces like porcelain so water-repellent that it effectively prevents bacteria from sticking to the inside of a toilet bowl.
The coating consists of a silicone oil ground in a ball mill and bombarded by small tungsten carbide balls.
Image from article
More Efficient Absorption of Guided Water Waves
Researchers led by the Sorbonne Universite CNRS have devised a strategy to enable more efficient absorption of water waves to protect coasts and offshore structures.
The strategy is based on a resonant effect known as Autler-Townes splitting. This is a physical effect occurring in two-level resonant systems, characterized by a splitting of two transition states into smaller “doublet” states separated by the a so-called Rabi oscillation.
Image from article
Everything You Need to Know about Non-Alcoholic Beer

Many of us are spending this time of the year thinking about how they can lose those extra kilos and reduce the amount of alcohol they consume.

This article is a deep dive into the intricacies of brewing non-alcoholic beer. It should help you be more comfortable that science is working on the problem of maintaining the flavour and removing the alcohol.

Read more at PhysOrg

AWA – Connected by Water
28 February – 1 March 2024 in Perth
Registration is now open!
This inaugural conference will bring together a national and international audience to work together on sustainable water management in Western Australia.

More info


Ozwater’24 is now open for registration!

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.

More Info

Global Nature Positive Summit

The Australian and New South Wales Governments have announced that Sydney will be the host for the first Global Nature Positive Summit in early October 2024.

The Summit will bring together delegates from around the world including ministers, environment groups, Aboriginal peoples, business, scientists and community leaders, to consider how to supercharge investment in projects that repair nature.

It seems that details are still a bit sketchy, but you can read more about the Summit at DCCEEW.


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


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