Welcome to our June 2023 Research and Innovation Newsletter.
This month’s edition was bought to you by our cat who stood on the laptop keyboard, chewed on the power cable, and produced the following.
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 July 2023.
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Industry Innovation and Resilience
WSAA Young Utilities Program
Is your utility or council a member of WSAA? Are you 30 or under (or know someone who is), passionate about the water industry and looking for a money can’t buy opportunity to work with and learn from the best?
The WSAA Young Utility Leaders Program will not only expose you to senior leaders within the urban water sector, but it will also have you working alongside them on Board Committees and at thought leadership events and initiatives.
In addition, WSAA has partnered with the Peter Cullen Trust to provide you with tailored leadership coaching, helping you to understand your strengths, opportunities for improvement and leadership values.
A new National Quantum Strategy has been released by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources. The $1bn initiative aims to boost Australia’s economy, protect the country’s national security and prevent a brain drain of top people heading abroad.
The strategy has five central “themes” to boost quantum technologies, including investing in research, securing access to infrastructure, and growing a skilled workforce.
UK water company Severn Trent has announced an ambitious initiative to build the world’s first carbon-neutral wastewater treatment plant in Staffordshire. The venture, valued at nearly £40 million, is set to commence in September.
This project, supported by Melbourne Water in Australia, all UK and Irish water companies, and the international Net Zero Partnership in conjunction with Aarhus Vand in Denmark, aims to revolutionize a formerly carbon-intensive wastewater treatment plant. The goal is to transform the Strongford site into the world’s premier example of a retrofitted, carbon-neutral facility.
In California, the Orange County Sanitation District and Water District are celebrating the completion of the Groundwater Replenishment System, the world’s largest advanced wastewater purification system for indirect potable reuse.
The new system creates a local supply of high-quality drinking water large enough to meet the needs of 1 million residents in north and central Orange County. The System has expanded twice since first opening in 2008, completing its final phase this year with a production capacity of 130 million gallons per day of high-quality drinking water.
A team of researchers led by Sydney Water have compared the performance of traditional, green and purple roofs. What’s a purple roof? I hear you ask. It’s a roof with an additional drainage layer to temporarily store and release water.
The outcomes from the study showed the technical feasibility of the technology to slow the release and reduce the volume of stormwater during different-sized rainfall events.
The upshot is that purple roofs could be used to replace traditional detention basins in a dense urban environment to reduce flood risks.
What New Psychoactive Substances are in our Wastewater?
Researchers from the University of Queensland have monitored wastewater across the New Years eve period in 16 countries around the world for 3 years between 2019 and 2022, looking for new psychoactive substances.
The research shows that over the last decade there’s been an increasing number of new psychoactive substances, many of which have been developed to evade existing drug laws.
In fact, the research found a total of 18 new phychoactive drugs from 546 individual samples.
This might take a little while to digest, but it is worth the effort!
Low-Temperature Plasma Technology Shows Promise In Treating Antibiotics
Research led by the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science has proposed a novel approach to treat antibiotics by using low-temperature plasma technology.
The researchers treated antibiotic mixtures using cold atmospheric plasma jet (CAPJ) in combination with plasma-activated water.
Interestingly, results showed that the efficiency of treating mixed antibiotics was higher than treating single antibiotics. For example, when plasma was used to decompose chloramphenicol, active chlorine was produced, which increased the treatment efficiency of norfloxacin.
Using Microbial Degradation to Break Down Chlorinated PFAS in Wastewater
Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, have found a way to use microbial degradation to break down chlorinated PFAS in wastewater.
The most interesting thing about this research is that the researchers think that because PFAS can be a source of carbon and energy, the bacteria transferred genes that encoded for the degradation of enzymes present in PFAS.
New Model Developed for Predicting Adsorption of PFAS by Microplastics
Researchers from the University of Maine have developed a new type of model for predicting whether any given kind of microplastic would adsorb any specific type of PFAS and at what concentration.
The model is applicable for fresh and saltwater and account for the type, size, shape and ionic charge of the microplastics; the functional compound groups and chain length of PFAS; and the salinity, pH level and natural organic matter that make up the solution chemistry of the water.
First Records of Human Kissing May Date Back 1,000 Years Earlier Than Estimated
Researchers let by the University of Copenhagen and the University of Oxford have proposed that humanity’s earliest record of kissing dates back about 4,500 years in the ancient Middle East, 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.
But what is interesting is that research has suggested that kissing evolved for the purposes of evaluating aspects of a potential mate’s suitability through chemical cues communicated in the saliva or breath.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have found that wavy wounds heal faster than straight wounds because shapes influence cell movements.
Using advanced imaging equipment on synthetic wounds that mimic the human skin, the researchers observed the motion of cells and found that those near wavy shaped wounds moved in a swirling manner while cells near straight wounds moved in straight lines.
Research from the University of Huddersfield have used a simple mathematical model to examine whether uneven flow makes weaker espresso.
There findings will puzzle the most ardent coffee addict. The researchers found that more finely ground coffee beans brew a weaker espresso. This counterintuitive experimental result makes sense if, for some reason, regions exist within the coffee bed where less or even no coffee is extracted. This uneven extraction becomes more pronounced when coffee is ground more finely.
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 took place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on 6-8 March.
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.
A new website has been launched for the South East Queensland Water Supply and Sewerage Design and Construction Code (known as the SEQ Code).
The SEQ Code, which is administered by qldwater on behalf of five SEQ water service providers, provides the technical standards for the design and construction process for new retail water and sewerage assets across South East Queensland.