Welcome to our May 2023 research and innovation newsletter.
As always, this issue is chock full of amazing research: and, unusually this month, a man in a pink suit asking you to dig up your backyard!
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 June 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
What do You Think About Purified Recycled Water?
If you’re going to Ozwater23, join WSAA for an insightful webinar and discussion on purified recycled water and its future in Australia. As Australia faces increasing water scarcity, it’s important that we discuss openly how we can prepare for the future.
WSAA’s Danielle Francis will host the event with top voices Amos Branch from Carollo Engineers; Manisha Kothari from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; and Ryan Yuen from PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency.
Join us on Wednesday 10 May 4.00pm – 5.30 pm at International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney).
Some great research from the University of NSW and Water Research Australia that reviews available advanced oxidation processes.
The paper assesses the capacity of these processes to degrade intractable chemicals from water and wastewater based on the practical considerations of efficiency, cost, disinfection by-product formation, kinetics and sensitivity to water matrix variability.
Researchers from the University of Alberta have developed a new catalyst that, when placed in any type of water and provided with a small amount of power, produces hydrogen that can be fed into a fuel cell to generate electricity along with distilled water that is safe to drink.
The team claim that the catalyst they created is made with material that is non-toxic and plentiful and is easy and inexpensive to produce.
Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Myongji University in Seoul, have developed a new material that uses a layer of conductive polymer and the flow of water to generate continuous electricity.
The result is a membrane that purifies water, while it generates electricity.
Presently, the membrane can filter out 95% of contaminants less than 10 nm small, but an improved version is in development that can improve water quality to drinking level.
How to Decarbonize Concrete and Build a Better Future
The World Economic Forum have put their collective minds to the task of decarbonising concrete. Concrete is the most-consumed human-made resource on Earth, and 14 billion cubic meters is produced every year.
This article explores how investment in transformative, zero-carbon technologies can be ramped up by harnessing the purchasing power of companies to decarbonize concrete, responsible for 7% of the global carbon emissions,
New Carbon-Negative Concrete Made By Washington State University
Researchers at Washington State University have created a new carbon-negative concrete product, hoping to help reduce the environmental impact of the building and construction industries by offering greener, climate-friendly supply materials.
The new concrete material includes 30% biochar and a key novel ingredient: concrete wastewater.
A Plastic Eating Enzyme Consumes Plastic in a Matter of Hours
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have created an enzyme variant that can break down environmentally damaging plastics, which typically take centuries to degrade, in just a matter of hours to days.
The enzyme has the potential to supercharge recycling on a large scale that would allow major industries to reduce their environmental impact by recovering and reusing plastics at the molecular level.
Optimized Material Extracts 50% More Water from Air
While we are talking Metal Organic Framework (MOF), researchers from the University of Chicago have improved the capacity of a previously developed material that gathers water from the air and stores in within the pore spaces of a MOF.
The new material can hold up to 50% more water and acts like a sponge full of water.
Rather than empirical methods alone, the researchers made heavy use of modelling and predictive methods to successfully guide the development.
Methane May Offset 30% of its Own Heating Effect on the Planet
Researchers at the University of California-Riverside have found that methane also absorbs short-wave energy, which, through the creation of cooling clouds, actually cancels 30% of its own heat (the heat which the gas has created in the greenhouse effect).
Specifically, it creates more low-level clouds that offset the short-wave energy from the sun and fewer high-level clouds which increase the outward radiation of long-wave energy from the Earth.
New Wood-Based Technology Removes 80 Percent Of Dye Pollutants In Wastewater
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed a new method that can purify contaminated water using a cellulose-based material.
The researchers have applied their knowledge of cellulose nanocrystals to develop a cellulose powder with excellent purification properties that can be modified depending on the types of pollutants to be removed.
New Report Raises Questions About Safety of Using PVC Plastic Pipes
A recent report released in the US by Beyond Plastics warns of the human health risks of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and recommends US state and local officials avoid using the material for their communities’ water pipes.
Just when we thought our pipes are safe, this research claims that, that no matter which plastic we use, plastics contain a toxic stew of potential contaminants.
Why is a Man in Pink Telling You to Dig Up Your Back Yard?
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Dutch cities are in a competition to reduce hard surfaces in urban gardens by removing paving tiles. So far, the competition has ‘flipped’ 336,324 tiles from Dutch gardens.
In a head-to-head tile-popping competition, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam recently took on Rotterdam but came up short. Rotterdam defeated its big brother with a whopping 47,942 tiles removed over Amsterdam’s 46,484.
World’s Biggest Cumulative Logjam, Newly Mapped in the Arctic, Stores 3.4 Million Tons of Carbon
A new study has mapped the largest known woody deposit, covering 51 square kilometers (20 square miles) of the Mackenzie River Delta in Nunavut, Canada.
The study calculated that the store of logs contained about 3.4 million tons of carbon. Carbon dating revealed that while many of the trees they sampled began growing around or after 1950, some were much older, reaching back to around 700 CE.
The Dogs of Chernobyl Are Experiencing Rapid Evolution
Although, not definitive, new research from the University of South Carolina have found that he feral dogs living near the Chernobyl Power Plant showed distinct genetic differences from dogs living only 10 miles away in nearby Chernobyl City.
Interestingly, a study in 2016 found that Eastern tree frogs which are usually a green colour, were more commonly black within the Chernobyl reserve. The biologists theorise that the frogs experienced a beneficial mutation in melanin that helped ionize the surrounding radiation.
Researchers pondered whether something similar could be happening to Chernobyl’s wild dogs.
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.