October Research News
Research Newsletter – October 2022
Welcome to our October 2022 research and innovation newsletter.
This month we’ve tried to keep the tone respectful, but it eventually, and inevitably, deteriorated to talk of fat bergs and fly vomit. Oh well….
Oh… and if you see any interesting articles, projects or news about research that others might be interested in, please send to [email protected] – it could even make the next newsletter due in November 2022.
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 video
WSAA releases update to the W-Lab Technology Roadmap

A key update to the W-Lab technology roadmap developed in 2020 is now available for project members. The roadmap is a key document for the water industry, helping us target innovative technologies to benefit our customers and the community. 


Read more at Utility Magazine


Watch a great launch video from Anna Jackson CEO of Unitywater

Image from InnovationAus website
Productivity Commission Calls for Incremental Innovation and Diffusion
The Productivity Commission’s new report on innovation finds that only one to two per cent of Australian businesses are producing new to the world innovation and that consideration must be given to helping the other 98 per cent adopt and adapt existing technologies.

The report claims that the focus on investment in cutting edge invention should give way to a focus on incremental innovation across the breadth of Australian businesses.


Read more here at the Productivity Commission


But there is some criticism. One of Australia’s most eminent innovation experts has blasted the tactic, saying it amounts to the continuation of the “laissez-faire approach” that has seen Australia slide down economic complexity rankings and become an almost entirely resource and service-based economy.


Read more here at InnovationAus

Image from Ed Husic's website
Revitalising Australia’s Science Priorities

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic has announced that the Government renewing the National Science and Research Priorities. 


‘The current priorities do not mention First Nations knowledge, do not properly acknowledge climate change and fail to adequately engage with emerging critical technologies, which are essential for national prosperity and our wellbeing.’


The opportunity is there for the Government to acknowledge the key role that innovation in urban water services can play in adapting to climate change, engaging with First Nations people, creating more liveable communities and improving national wellbeing.


Read more in the Minister’s Press Release


Minister Husic’s office has also announced the Government’s intention to offer HECS-style loans for university students and recent graduates to launch innovative new companies.


Read about it here at

Image from article
How Many Trailblazers Have Been Sidelined?
Researchers from Stanford University in California have found that women and people from minority ethnic groups are a richer source of scientific innovation than their white male counterparts but are not recognized for it as rapidly – if at all.
An analysis of more than 1.2 million PhD recipients finds that underrepresented groups must innovate at a higher rate than those in majority demographics to achieve the same milestones of success.
Image from website
WA Maps Innovation Ecosystem with Start-up Database

The Western Australian Government have launched an online platform documenting the state’s early-stage innovation ecosystem becoming the fourth state to deploy the Dealroom platform, following Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales.


The database catalogues more than 190 different funding rounds dating back to 2006 and around 460 businesses founded since 2000 – this includes information on staffing numbers and the amount of capital raised.


This is really interesting – what would the water industry innovation ecosystem look like – who are the start-ups, where is the grant money going?



Image from article
Water Strategy to Invest in Central VIC Water Infrastructure

The Victorian Government has unveiled its Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy, outlining a pathway to secure the region’s water future over the next 50 years.


The strategy prioritises future investment into recycled water and stormwater infrastructure that will be used for non-drinking purposes like industry, agriculture and keeping sporting fields, parks and gardens green.


Read more at Utility magazine

water supply and security

image from article in the Guardian
Profiting From Poison: How the US Lead Industry Created a Water Crisis
A new book by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz raises some quite unsettling history about the tactics of the lead industry in the US.  This article in the Guardian is a really interesting read.
The operation of the lead industry seems inconceivable in today’s world.  Right up until the 1980s the powerful plumber’s union was still resisting calls to change city codes to ban the use of lead in pipes.

Energy and the Circular economy

Image from article
Effluent Pathway to Green Hydrogen

A new whitepaper from Jacobs looks at how the final effluent pathway could be the key to unlocking green hydrogen in the UK.


Based on project for Anglian Water, the report suggests that by generating pure oxygen as a co-product alongside hydrogen, the final effluent pathway could use hydrogen production to leverage enhanced treatment.


The project by Anglian water aims to provide a new renewable energy source through green hydrogen production – ‘triple carbon’ synergy to contribute towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.


Read more at AquaTech

Image from article
Manmade Wetlands, a Barrier to the Spread of Microplastic

Researchers led by Griffith University have shown that microplastic levels were up to four times higher in the storm/wastewater entering a constructed wetland compared to water at the outlet.


This is great basic research and excitingly low tech.


Find out more at Griffith News

Image of bubbles from unsplash
Innovative Tech Leverages the Power Of Bubbles

A Dutch start-up, KLa Systems, has developed a device to trap plastic over the entire width and depth of rivers and stop debris from making its way to the ocean.


The device consists of a perforated tube placed at the bottom of a source water body, which then pumps air through that tube to generate a bubble screen that guides plastics to the surface and into a catchment system.


Read more at Water Online

image from Unsplash
Taking Plasma Water Purification Technology into Space

A new method developed by the University of Southampton that uses plasma to purify in-situ water in space has received funding from the UK Government. The team is exploring the use of non-thermal atmospheric plasma (NTP) that can operate at room temperature.


Onboard water recycling has historically been used to provide astronauts with the required resource. However, recycled system water can contain organic contaminants, bacteria, and viruses of known and unknown origins – which current purification systems might struggle to purify.


Read more at Aqua Tech

Image from unsplash
Researchers Develop a Reactor That Can Destroy PFAS

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method to destroy both PFOA and PFOS. The researchers created a reactor that can completely break down hard-to-destroy chemicals using “supercritical water,” which is formed at high temperature and pressure.


This technology could help treat industrial waste, destroy concentrated PFAS that already exist in the environment and deal with old stocks, such as the PFAS in fire-fighting foam.


Interesting – but the real challenge is to scale the process up and make it economical.


Read more at the University of Washington

Image from paper
Organic Solar Cell Breakthrough Improves Performance and Stability

Researchers from the Gwangju Institute of Science have made some really interesting developments using water to take control of the active layer in thin film production.


The researchers found that a water-treated active solution led to a more uniform active layer thin films, which showed higher power conversion efficiencies. 


Read more at EurekAlert

Image from article
A New Method Turns Hazardous Acidic Wastewater into Valuable Resources

A research team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed a process for eliminating the risk posed by the wastewater from the production of phosphoric acid. The process turns the environmentally toxic wastewater into clean water while recovering valuable acids.


Conventional treatment processes run into difficulties dealing with the acidity, salinity, and hardness of the wastewater. The team developed a new method using a three-step process comprised of selective electrodialysis, reverse osmosis, and neutralization.



Image from article
Start-Up Combines Floating Water and Food Generation

Deep tech United Arab Emirates (UAE) start-up, Manhat has developed a solar water distillation technology that it is combining with floating farms to tackle water and food scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.


The distillation technology can produce usable water by trapping the lost evaporated water from the ocean.


It works by placing a large greenhouse-like structure on the shoreline and then using solar rays to heat and evaporate the water. Water vapour condenses when it touches the cooler side of the structure. It is then collected and stored as distilled water.


Read more at Aqua Tech

Image from article
IKEA Invests in Danish Shower Tech

Inter IKEA Group is investing in Flow Loop, a Danish start-up developing a water recycling shower solution to enable customers to be more water and energy efficient.


By recycling and cleaning the shower water in a closed loop, Flow Loop claims the solution can reduce water usage by up to 80 per cent and generate energy savings of up to 70 per cent, compared to a conventional shower.


Read more at Aqua Tech

Liveability and health
Image from article

Pesticide Exposure Measurable Through Sewage Water

Researchers Led by the University of Amsterdam have developed a method to quickly determine the exposure of people to pesticides via the analysis of wastewater.
The method uses chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify metabolites in wastewater.
Very interesting!
Working with the community
Image from article
Analysis Of Email Traffic Suggests Remote Work May Stifle Innovation

Researchers from MIT have analysed aspects of a de-identified email network comprising 2,834 MIT research staff, faculty, and postdoctoral researchers, for 18 months.


The research found that when workers go remote, the types of work relationships that encourage innovation tend to be hard hit. In particular, email communications between different research units fell off, leading to a decrease in the “weak ties” that underpin the exchange of new ideas that tend to foster innovation.


Read more at MIT

Image from Lego Ideas

Sewer Heroes: Fighting the Fatberg

With the intention of playfully educating kids and adults about what’s going on beneath our city streets, this 360-degree underground cutaway display & play set shows the dauntless members of a fatberg removal team at work.
Get your clicking finger ready to support this great idea for a new Lego project. After only 17 days this idea already has 7,000 supporters.
Some interesting things
Image from article
Scientists Detected New Phases of Water

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have found that water behaves neither like a liquid nor a solid in a single molecule layer and that under extreme pressures, it becomes electrically conductive.


Water normally expands when it freezes, and it has a high boiling point. However, the new research demonstrates that when water is compressed to the nanoscale, its properties change dramatically.


Read more at Interesting Engineering

Image of fly from article
Why You Should Pay Attention to Fly Vomit

New research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst concerning non-biting flies that live with us argues that we need to pay far more attention to them as disease carriers.


While epidemiologists have focused their attention on the biting flies that can spread diseases by transferring infected blood from host to host, it turns out that what the non-biting flies regurgitate is a far greater risk to human health.


Read more at Phys.Org

Image of Salton sea from article
Imperilled Source Water Body Could Be Future Source for Lithium

About 40 miles north of the California-Mexico border lies the shrinking, landlocked lake known as the Salton Sea,” CNBC reported. “But amid this environmental disaster, the California Energy Commission estimates there’s enough lithium to meet all of the United States’ projected future demand and 40% of the world’s demand.”


Read more at Water Online

Image from article
Ultra-Rare Diamond Reveals Secrets of Oceans of Water Deep Inside the Earth
Researchers at Purdue University have analysed a diamond formed very deep in the Earth’s interior to reveal that water continues to persist in the lower mantle.
However, it is unclear whether the water located deep in the mantle is an ancient reservoir supplied by asteroid and comet strikes early in the solar system, or if water cycles deep into the mantle from higher layers. Both options are “amazing” in the context of understanding life and habitability.
Image from article
Dwarf Planet Diamonds Could Hold the Key to Stronger Machine Parts
While we’re on the subject of diamonds, researchers, led by Monash University, have confirmed that the strange diamonds from an ancient dwarf planet in our solar system could lead to the production of ultra-hard machine parts.
The hexagonal-shaped diamond is believed to be much stronger and harder than its more typical cubic cousin.
Image from article
Solid-State Cooling is Achieved Via Electric Field Induced Strain

Researchers in China have shown that applying strain to a composite material using an electric field induces a large and reversible caloric effect.


This novel way of enhancing the caloric effect without a magnetic field could open new avenues of solid-state cooling and lead to more energy efficient and lighter refrigerators.


Read more at Physics World

Image from website

Call for abstracts now open!

22-23 February, Sydney Olympic Park

Your opportunity to present at Australia’s leading scientific and technical conference on research and innovation

WaterRA presents Australia’s leading scientific and technical conference on water research and innovation, Next Water’23, bringing together water industry professionals and academics from across Australia to discuss the next game-changing research.


This two-day conference will feature keynote and invited speakers, scientific and technical presentations, case studies, workshops and panel sessions to support our industry in ensuring public health and safeguarding the sustainability of our water resources.


Read more and submit your abstract here


African Water Association Knowledge Management Platform

Sharing Africa’s water and sanitation sector knowledge
Australian Government – GrantConnect
Forecast and current Australian Government grant opportunities

Click hear to start your Journey