June Research News
Research Newsletter – June 2023
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.
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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WSAA Young Utilities Program
Now Open!

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.


Click here to find out more details

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Targeting Research and Investment for the  Water Industry

The Water Services Association has recently released an updated Research, Development, and Innovation (RD&I) Strategy, complete with an RD&I Ecosystem Framework.


This strategy is a crucial element of WSAA’s national program, outlining key priorities and a 5-year implementation plan for coordination and collaboration in RD&I across the water sector.


Developing industry level priorities is a major step, and provides some key direction for targeted investment by the private sector.


Read more at WSAA

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Australia’s New $1bn National
Quantum Strategy
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.

Energy and the Circular economy

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Magnetic Bacteria Can Remove Uranium
Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf have purified water containing uranium using magnetotactic bacteria.
Magnetotactic bacteria can accumulate dissolved heavy metals in their cell walls and seem purpose made to help treat water associated with mining waste.
Using magnetotactic bacteria could be an effective alternative to expensive, conventional chemical treatments.
Image of treatment plant from article
World First ‘Net Zero Hub’

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.


Read more at Severn Trent

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World’s Largest Water Recycling 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.


Read more at WaterWorld

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New Nontoxic Powder Uses Sunlight to Disinfect Drinking Water

Researchers at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have developed a low-cost, recyclable powder that kills waterborne bacteria when exposed to sunlight.


The powder consists of nano-size flakes of aluminum oxide, molybdenum sulfide, copper, and iron oxide.


The team claim the materials are low cost and fairly abundant and that the key innovation is that, when immersed in water, they all function together.


Read more at Stanford

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New Water Treatment Technology Could Help Recycle Even Super Salty Waters

Researchers from the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) have been working on an emerging form of reverse osmosis, called low-salt-rejection reverse osmosis.


These novel systems could treat even highly salty water – but the design is so new it is still theoretical.


Modelling done by the group suggests that the system could reduce the cost of producing clean water by 63%.


Read more at NREL

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Low-Temperature Plasma Technology Shows Promise in Treating Antibiotics in Wastewater

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have proposed a novel approach to treat antibiotics by using low-temperature plasma technology.


In their study, the researchers treated antibiotic mixtures using cold atmospheric plasma jet (CAPJ) in combination with plasma-activated water.


Interestingly, the study found that the efficiency of treating mixed antibiotics was higher than that of treating single antibiotics under appropriate conditions.


Read more at PhysOrg

Liveability and health
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Researchers Can Now Pull Human DNA From Air and Water

New research from the University of Florida has found that you can easily collect quality human DNA from air, sand and water. 


The discovery occurred incidentally as part of a study on sea turtles but has broader implications for tracking human populations.


While it sounds like a good thing, it also raises a host of ethical questions about privacy and consent.


Read more at the Smithsonian

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Should We All Have a Purple Roof?

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.


Read the paper at ScienceDirect

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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!


Read more at Science Direct

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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.

Read more at WaterOnline
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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.


Read more at PhysOrg

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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.
This is great work
Bing Image Generator
New Way To Purify Water From Pharmaceutical Pollutants

Researchers from Stockholm University have developed porous crystals made from pomegranate extract to capture and degrade pharmaceutical molecules found in local municipal wastewater.


By combining ellagic acid, extracted from pomegranate peel or tree bark, with zirconium ions, the team developed a new highly porous Metal-organic frameworks (MOF).


MOF’s are a type of nanoporous material that are made of metal ions and organic molecules that are able to capture and degrade pharmaceutical molecules found in wastewater.


Read more at WaterOnline

Working with the community
Image from article on CTV News
90% Of Canadian Water Systems Still Use Asbestos-Based Pipelines

A report by Canadian Journalists has revealed that at least 85 communities still use asbestos cement pipes in water systems.


This is interesting; and there is an interactive map to play with.


Health Canada maintains there is no consistent evidence drinking or ingesting asbestos is harmful, so there is currently no maximum limit that can be in Canadian water.


And with no maximum limit, the agency said, there was no need for testing. 


Read more at CTV News

Some interesting things
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Creepy Spider Night Lamp,

Freaks Out the Internet

A Japanese IT engineer has created a creepy nigh lamp that crawls on robotic spider legs and leads you to the toilet in the middle of the night.


The developer thinks that it can contribute to a sense of security as a reliable partner who walks with me in the dark.


However, most observers feel that it was disturbing and that it would make the night-time trip to the toilet even scarier!


Find out more at Odditycentral.com

image from article
Plastic-Eating Fungi Thriving in Man-Made ‘Plastisphere’

Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and partners have identified a diverse microbiome of plastic-degrading fungi and bacteria in the coastal salt marshes of Jiangsu, China.


The team counted a total of 184 fungal and 55 bacterial strains capable of breaking down polycaprolactone (PCL), a biodegradable polyester commonly used in the production of various polyurethanes.


The most amazing thing about this research is that it has identified a new microbiome: the terrestrial plastisphere. 


Read more at PhysOrg

Image from article in the Guardian

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.


Chemical cues! 


Read more in the Guardian or

Read the full paper in Science

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Why Wavy Wounds Heal Faster Than Straight Wounds

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.


Read more at PhysOrg

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Extracting The Best Flavour from Coffee

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.


What great research! We need more!


Read more at PhysOrg

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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.


Register here for access, launching April 10, 2023.


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
WSAA Codes
New SEQ Code Website launched

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