May Research News
Research Newsletter – May 2023
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
Image from WSAA
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).


Read more at WSAA

Image from Microsoft Bing Image Creator

AI to Help Interpret Water Regulations

Researchers from the UC Berkeley are building an AI guided chatbot to help staff from the California Water Resources Board ‘discern, communicate and enforce’ water regulations.
The researchers have high hopes: they want to train their bot to complete the regulation section of the California’s Drinking Water Treatment & Distribution System Operators Certificate Exam.

Energy and the Circular economy

Image created by Bing AI image generator
Advanced Oxidation: Does it Stack Up?
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.
Image from article
New Catalyst Produces Hydrogen and Drinking Water

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.


Read more at PhysOrg

Image from article
Pulsing Ultrasound Waves Remove Microplastics from Waterways
Researchers from New Mexico Tech have developed a method that uses pulsing sound waves to remove most  plastic particles from real water samples.
The device, made of metal tubes has an advantage over filtration in that it doesn’t clog. 
The next stage of the research is to scale up the device to enable real-world application.
Image generated by Bing Image Creator
Making Electricity from Wastewater

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.


Read more at Freethink

Photo by Ivan Evans on Unsplash
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,


Read more at the WEForum

Image from article
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.


Read more at CarbonHerald

Image from article
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.


Read more at WEForum

Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) Remove Glyphosate from Groundwater
Researchers led by the TU Wien, Institute of Materials Chemistry have shown that pollutants, such as glyphosate, can be efficiently removed from groundwater.
The researchers have used new materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to selectively and efficiently remove the herbicide glyphosate from groundwater.
Image generated from Bing AI
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.
Image from article
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.
Image from Wikipedia
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.


Read more at WaterOnline

Liveability and health
Image from report
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.
Image from Wikipedia
Study Finds Link Between PFAS and Obesity
Researchers from the University of Rhode Island are leading a study that claims to have found a direct link between PFAS in drinking water and human obesity.
Specifically, the study found that increased PFAS content in blood promotes weight gain and makes it harder to keep a lower body weight after weight loss.
Image from article

Toxicity of Drugs in Waterways Depends on Acidity

Researchers from the Universities of Tübingen and Athens have found that the toxicity of chemicals in lakes and rivers may vary by several orders of magnitude depending on the water’s acidity.


The team tested the effect of 24 substances, most of which are used as drugs, on the development of fish embryos in realistic scenarios.


The results of the study are already in use by the EU to set environmental quality standards.


Read more at PhyOrg

Working with the community
Image from website
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.


As with all these things, there’s an amusing jingle and a bald man dressed in pink. Get ready to tap you toes to this video.


Read more at Bloomberg in English


or Right click and choose translate on this Dutch site

Some interesting things
Image from article

New Theory of How Reverse Osmosis Works

New research led by Yale University has revealed that the standard explanation for how reverse osmosis works—one that has been accepted for more than five decades—is fundamentally wrong.


Simulations and experiments conducted by the team demonstrated that, rather than being driven by the concentration of molecules, reverse osmosis is driven by pressure changes within the membrane.


Read more at PhysOrg

Image from article
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.


Read more at PhysOrg

Image from article
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.
Image supplied by WaterReuse
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.

Image from website
Ozwater23 –   Australia’s Premier Water Exhibition and Conference

10 – 12 May 2023 | Sydney


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.


Find out more and register here


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