August Research News
Research Newsletter – August 2022
Welcome to our September 2022 research and innovation newsletter.
This month’s newsletter is pumped full of goodness, contains no fats, sugars or nasty calories – read on in complete confidence.
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 October 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
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Towards a Connected National Innovation Ecosystem
WSAA’s Jason Mingo discusses the need for the water industry to fully embrace and support the whole ecosystem that enables research, development and innovation.
Our ecosystem is a system of connected cross-sector networks that deliver integrated outcomes. Jason argues that we need to better integrate across sectors for an exchange of experience and expertise, but also better integrate along the value chain, providing support for innovation implementation all the way from concept, through testing and development to commercialisation.
It’s ambitious and thought provoking, but it is the way of the future.
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Ozwater’23 Call for Papers

Just when it seems like we haven’t yet recovered from the extravaganza that was Ozwater’22, we receive the news that the Call for Papers is now open for Ozwater’23.

Ozwater’23 will be held in Sydney at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour during the 10-12 May 2023.

Submissions close: 19 September 2022

Find out more and submit an abstract here

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New Paper Explores Recycling Wastewater to Produce Hydrogen

Elliot Chichero from Sydney Water, one of WSAAs Young Utility Leaders for 2022-23, has reviewed a new paper, published in Energy Nexus, and authored by Philip Woods and Heriberto Bustamante from Sydney Water and Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsoub from Sydney University.

The paper explores the validity of using treated wastewater to support Hydrogen power in the renewable energy economy and more. The paper provides a sneak peek into what the future may hold and Elliot is optimistic about the potential.

Read the review and access the paper here at Water360

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An Innovation Taxonomy for Success
A really interesting discussion by Gavin Ritz on what leads to success for new technologies. Gavin cites a local study that found that success appears to be the outlier and failure the norm.
The key to success, it seems, is to focus on the user. We need to have a full and thorough understanding of the circular relationship between the technological invention and the technology user.
It’s an easy to read discussion with some really interesting points of view.
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How do you qualify for the new Flushable Products Standard?

Want to know how products qualify for the new Flushable Products Standard?

Read this item on Water360, see the steps in our infographic and read our FAQ sheet for more information

Read all about the Flushable Products Standard here

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Water360 – New Resources

Water360 aims to be the place you will find the latest and most relevant information to support your work in the Australian water industry and is maintained by the Water Services Association of Australia.

New Resource –Urban Water Research Association of Australia

Our newest resource includes a number of documents from the now discontinued Urban Water Research Association of Australia which produced 154 reports between 1989 to 2000 covering a wide field of urban water research, including storm-water management, improved methods for pathogen detection, pipe failure prediction, assessing customer expectations and international benchmarking of economic effectiveness of utilities.

Visit Water360 here

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New Tech Trial Set to Transform Workplace Health and Safety

SA Water has teamed up with researchers from the University of South Australia to pilot a new study, which involves 15 of the utility’s field-based staff wearing smart devices, which collect data that will be analysed to identify opportunities for early detection and intervention of potential safety issues.

The researchers feel that knowing how people’s bodies react at certain times of the day, in certain temperatures and doing certain activities can help us schedule works based on those insights to achieve peak outcomes, while keeping people safe.

Read more at the AWA

water supply and security

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Using Paleoclimate Data to Better Plan and Prepare for Extreme Events

Researchers supported by Seqwater and the Queensland Government have developed a database of unique climate proxy records which have been shown to relate to Australian hydroclimate.

What is this about you may ask? Well, the data base is the first of its kind and was compiled as a resource to provide water resource managers and scientists access to published, peer-reviewed proxy climate data.

Read more and be enthralled at Water360

Or cut to the chase and see what’s happening at

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In the UK, why is Raw Sewage Pumped into The Sea?
A very interesting explainer from the BBC on why UK water authorities appear to be pumping raw sewage into the sea.
The key issue it seems is that they have combined sewerage systems, meaning that both rainwater and wastewater – from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens – are carried in the same pipes.
When it rains, although that’s not happening much at the moment, the systems are designed to overflow and discharge excess wastewater to the sea.
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Australian climate variability & change – Time series graphs
If you are interested in how our climate is changing, you will definitely be interested in the Australian climate variability & change – time series graphs, published by the Bureau of Meteorology.
The graphs pose a very sobering picture of how our climate is changing over time.
But you can also find out much more about the changing climate at: Climate Change in Australia
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US Bureau Launches Prize Competition to Design Precipitation Measurement Devices

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize competition seeking new and improved ground-based precipitation devices. These devices should be reliable, accurate, low-maintenance, and able to operate in remote areas in extreme weather conditions.

The Counting Every Drop Challenge is a two-phase prize competition totalling up to US$300,000 in prizes. The ideal solution will not require fluids, such as antifreeze, to operate.

Read more at Municipal Sewer and Water

Energy and the Circular economy

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New Method Can Remove Dyes from Wastewater

North Carolina State University researchers have demonstrated that a synthetic polymer can remove certain dyes from water, and that the polymer can be recovered and reused. The findings offer a new potential method for cleaning wastewater after use by textiles, cosmetics or other industries.

The researchers tested the polymer solution against a series of 20 anionic dyes used in the textile industry and found that the polymer removed all but 4 of the dyes.

Read more at PhysOrg

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Floating “Artificial Leaves” Generate Clean Fuels from Sunlight and Water

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed floating ‘artificial leaves’ that generate clean fuels from sunlight and water.

The ultra-thin, flexible devices, which take their inspiration from photosynthesis, make syngas from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. Syngas is a key intermediate in the production of many chemicals and pharmaceuticals.


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New Sponges to Remove PFAS from Water
Researchers from the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University are developing specialised, reusable sponges to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water.
The specially developed sponge will soak up PFAS-contaminated water, then squeeze out clean water while the PFAS stay stuck – an extraction solution is then used to remove the PFAS from the sponges.
The key development here is the capacity to remove the PFAS from the sponge and reuse the sponge.
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Self-Healing Pipes Set to Reduce Leaks
If you haven’t heard about self healing systems then this is your opportunity to get up to speed on evolving concept that we are going to hear more and more about.
Self healing systems are networks that can independently identify failure or degradation and generate solutions to restore functionality. Who wouldn’t want a network that looked after itself?
There are a number of approaches and systems being developed for water and wastewater services.
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New Cost Effective Method to Destroy PFAS

Researchers lead by Northwestern University in the US, have found a cheap and effective way to break down PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

The process involves just two common ingredients: lye, which is used to make soap; and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a solvent that can penetrate human skin and other membranes.

According to the researchers, when combined in boiling water, the mixture successfully degraded a type of PFAS that’s found in non-stick cookware and firefighting foam.

Read a plain language explanation here at Insider

Read the paper here at Science

Liveability and health
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New Method Tracks COVID Variants in Wastewater

Researchers from the US, Singapore and Italy have developed a new quantitative RT-qPCR assay that is able to detect the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.
The new technology can reveal what proportion of SARS-CoV-2 virus circulating in a community belongs to a particular variant.
Working with the community
Photo by David Matos on Unsplash

Link Between Water Quality and Cognitive Function

New research from the US has examined the association between drinking water quality and cognitive function and look at the direct and indirect effects of drinking water quality and dyslipidemia on cognitive function among older adults in China.
The researchers claim to have found that exposure to high quality drinking water was significantly associated with higher scores in mental status, episodic memory, and global cognition.
The paper recommends that improving drinking water quality could be a potential public health effort to delay the onset of cognitive impairment and prevent the dementia pandemic in older people.
Really interesting right?
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Toolkit to Help With Gender and Social Inclusion
Researchers at Monash University have developed A toolkit for WASH practitioners on gender and socially inclusive participatory design approaches in urban informal settlements.
This toolkit aims to stimulate an increase in quality, inclusiveness, and sustainability in water and sanitation infrastructure projects in urban informal contexts. Such projects need to be more participatory, codesigned with participants with diverse knowledge and lived experience. They also need to be more inclusive, following the principles of ‘leave no one behind’ and ‘do no harm’. These things are hard to do, hence a toolkit to help.
The toolkit is a starting point for practitioners as they plan and implement a participatory approach in designing water and sanitation infrastructure projects.
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New Approach to Water Supplies in Isolated Communities

A pilot program in the Salinas Valley run remotely out of Los Angeles is offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system.

The high-tech system developed by the University of California, Los Angeles removes common contaminants from groundwater, allowing residents of a cluster of Salinas Valley disadvantaged communities to finally turn on their taps without fear.

A reverse osmosis treatment system is housed on-site in a shed flanked by a series of small tanks. Each system can treat up to 4,000 gallons per day and store enough potable water to cover a small community’s indoor needs for approximately 2-3 days.


Some interesting things
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New Method to Extract Metals from Water

Researchers lead by Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) have revealed that biological nanofibrils can be used to efficiently extract valuable metal elements from water.

This study not only provides an in-situ approach to producing biological nanomaterials, but also offers a sustainable route for high-efficiency extraction of aqueous uranium.

Recently, they found that cellulose fibrils were preferentially exfoliated from the lignin-poor layer of secondary cell walls of balsa wood during an in-situ amidoximation process and these fibrils were filled in the wood cell tracheids.

Read more at PhyOrg

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CAD Is Dead; BIM is the Future

While we’re on the topic of new trends – Building Information and Modelling software or BIM is something that you will no-doubt hear more about.

A BIM is like a CAD (Computer aided Design) but more complex. It is in essence an advanced 3D CAD model that includes rich information at a component level – not just materials, or a volume formula, but its conductivity, it’s chemical composition, or even its different mechanical moduli or properties.

Read an article here WaterOnline that helps to explain everything.

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Curved-Space Robot Defies Known Laws of Physics
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have created a robot that has flouted a steadfast law of motion, suggesting that new laws need to be defined.
The team claim their findings defy the requirement of Newtonian dynamics “that a stationary object cannot move without exchanging momentum with its environment.
Essentially, the researchers have created a robot confined to a spherical surface with unprecedented levels of isolation from its environment, so that curvature-induced effects would predominate.
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Hidden Patterns Found on the Surface of Water

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have found evidence that the surface of liquid water, even at room temperature, has a structure that looks more and more like ice as the water–air interface is approached.

This is very interesting! Just when you think we must know everything there is to know about water there is more.

What does it mean? Find out more at PhysicsWorld

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Swedish Island Holds ‘Ugliest Lawn’ Contest

The Swedish island of Gotland has launched the “Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn” competition to to make a brown lawn something to be proud of.

The popular vacation spot has experienced significant strain on its water supplies, so to help conserve water they have implemented an irrigation ban to prevent residents from watering their lawns.

Out of several truly ugly entries, the eventual winner was sparsely covered in grass, with the few remaining blades a sickly shade of yellow.

Read more here at the Washington Post

Queensland Water Directorate Annual Forum 2022

6th – 8th September 2022, Gold Coast Qld.

The Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater) invites you to join them for their Annual Forum.

If you have not been to one of their forums before, it is not something you will want to miss! A chance to network with over 100 water industry professionals, typically including representatives from more than 30 utilities.

It will be a great opportunity to network with likeminded people in person. There may also be online access as a backup in the unlikely event of travel restrictions.

Find out more and register here

Panel Discussion: The Future of Flooding

Friday 9 September, 12:30 – 1:30 pm AEST followed by lunch
Frank Fenner Seminar Room, ANU, Canberra

The ANU Institute for Water Futures warmly invites you to The Future of Flooding panel discussion.  They have tasked four presenters to imagine a future where flooding is no longer a disaster, but instead a welcome and even celebrated event.

Women In Sensing event: The Rise of FemTech
12 September, 12 -2:30pm, Macquarie University

Hosted by Macquarie University the Women In Sensing: The Rise of FemTech event will investigate the growing opportunity and importance of research and technology in addressing the complex health issues faced by women.

The FemTech conversation includes the research, ideas and devices that are making the lives of women everywhere better, helping them to take control of their own health, and addressing the gender disparities in healthcare.

A panel of experts from different areas of healthcare will discuss recent progress in the field, the role of FemTech, and share their ideas and innovations for what’s next.

CleanUp 2022 –  International Cleanup Conference
11 – 15 September 2022, Adelaide
The 9th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference incorporating the 3rd International PFAS Conference.
A fantastic in-person event is being planned for Adelaide in September in a covid-safe environment. As well as access to live virtual sessions there will be on-demand content provided after the live conference.
Now in its ninth year, this highly respected, not-to-be-missed conference is an excellent opportunity to share expertise and make connections – as well as provide exposure to your organisation as a sponsor or exhibitor – before, during and after the event.

African Water Association Knowledge Management Platform

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

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