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Water hits and sticks: Findings challenge a century of assumptions about soil hydrology

Researchers have discovered that some of the most fundamental assumptions about how water moves through soil in a seasonally dry climate such as the Pacific Northwest are incorrect – and that a century of research based on those assumptions will have to be reconsidered. A new study by scientists from Oregon State University and the Environmental Protection Agency showed – much to the surprise of the researchers – that soil clings tenaciously to the first precipitation after a dry summer, and holds it so tightly that it almost never mixes with other water. The finding is so significant, researchers said, that they aren't even sure yet what it may mean. But it could affect our understanding of how pollutants move through soils, how nutrients get transported from soils to streams, how streams function and even how vegetation might respond to climate change. The research was just published online in Nature Geoscience, a professional journal. "This could have enormous implications for our understanding of watershed function," said Jeff McDonnell, an OSU distinguished professor and holder of the Richardson Chair in Watershed Science in the OSU College of Forestry. "It challenges about 100 years of conventional thinking." News Release_ 1/21/10

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2009

GAO report explores water impacts of ethanol production, use
Water could be a sleeper issue in determining how much and what kinds of biofuel crops are grown as a strategy for reducing oil dependence.
In a report published November 30, the Government Accountability Office said that "next-generation" ethanol feedstocks, such as Pacific Northwest timber slash, could reduce biofuel-related water consumption compared to corn. Not enough is known about the water impacts of relying on such feedstocks, however, because ethanol hasn't been produced from them at a large enough scale, the report said. Water consumed in producing corn-based ethanol varies widely, from 10 to 323 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced, depending on the region.  Examiner_12/1/09

NASA discovers 'significant' amount of water on the moon

Water on the moon, once a wild conjecture, appears to have become an established fact. Jubilant NASA scientists announced Friday that they had found the tell-tale signs of significant quantities of water, in the form of ice and vapor, lurking in a shadowed crater at the moon's south poll. The discovery came from the double-whammy impact of the LCROSS Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite rocket and a trailing spacecraft slamming into the Cabeus crater four minutes apart on Oct. 9 and kicking up a plume of material. Instruments aboard the trailing spacecraft, and on another orbiting lunar probe, analyzed the ejected material and saw clear signatures of the equivalent of about 26 gallons worth of water, primarily in the form of vapor. How much water there may be across the rest of the moon is unclear. But the pole turned out to be a jackpot. Washington Post_ 11/13/09

California solar projects require millions of gallons of water to operate
The West’s water wars are likely to intensify with Pacific Gas and Electric’s announcement on Monday that it would buy 500 megawatts of electricity from two solar power plant projects to be built in the California desert.  The Genesis Solar Energy Project would consume an estimated 536 million gallons of water a year, while the Mojave Solar Project would pump 705 million gallons annually for power-plant cooling, according to applications filed with the California Energy Commission.  With 35 big solar farm projects undergoing licensing or planned for arid regions of California alone, water is emerging as a contentious issue.  New York Times_10/27/09

U.S. spacecraft crash on moon in search of water

Two U.S. spacecraft were crashed into a lunar crater on Friday but scientists said it was too early to say whether the mission to search for supplies of water on the Moon had been a success. NASA, which is hoping to find sufficient quantities of water to use as fuel for space exploration, said it could take two months to make a conclusive assessment of what was found. Reuters_ 10/9/09

NASA ready to hit the moon in search for water - and you can watch

WaterWebster.org Staff Report

October 5, 2009

Grab your telescope or turn on your computer. Either way, you can watch when NASA satellites crash into the moon Friday night in search of water. NASA's Centaur booster rocket, followed by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) are scheduled to hit the Cabeus crater near the Moon's south pole Oct. 9 in a two-part planned crash. To watch, click on NASA TV on your computer at 10:15 UT (6:15 a.m. EDT) or set up your telescope in the backyard. The Hubble Space Telescope, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and, NASA said, hundreds of telescopes great and small on Earth will scrutinize the two plumes, looking for signs of water and the unexpected.

For more information, maps and educational information, visit the NASA-LCROSS Viewer's Guide.

NASA wants to mine moon water

NASA has long planned to mine water on the moon to supply human colonies and future space exploration. Now the discovery of small amounts of water across much of the lunar surface has shifted that vision into fast-forward, with the U.S. space agency pursuing several promising technologies. A hydrogen reduction plant and lunar rover prospectors have already passed field tests on Hawaii's volcanic soil, and more radical microwave technology has shown that it may be used to extract underground water ice. Water mined by these methods could not only keep astronauts supplied with a drink, but may also provide oxygen and fuel for lunar missions. Fox News_ 9/30/09

Evidence suggests water exists on the moon
Using data from three spacecraft that have made close flybys of the moon in recent years, research teams in the United States say they have found proof that a thin film of water coats the surface of the soil in at least some places on the moon. The discovery "will forever change how we look at the moon," added Roger Clark, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver and the author of one of three papers -- each dealing with data from a different spacecraft -- appearing in this week's edition of Science magazine.  The discovery lends weight to a new view of a friendlier solar system, where water, the lifeblood of biology on Earth, suddenly seems to be everywhere.  Los Angeles Times_9/24/09

Tentative signs of water found on the moon
New data and images from NASA's new moon orbiter have revealed tentative signs of lunar water ice, the space agency announced. The powerful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has successfully completed its testing and calibration phase and entered its mapping orbit of the moon. The spacecraft's instruments have also made measurements of space radiation in the lunar environment and have found more widespread possible signatures of water on the moon.  MSNBC_9/18/09

Researcher thinks 'inside the box' to create self-contained wastewater system for soldiers, small towns

Cheaper. Better. Faster. Most people will say you can't have all three. But don't tell that to Dr. Jianmin Wang, a professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Wang has created a wastewater system "in a box." Each system, built by re-purposing a shipping container, is low power, low maintenance and highly efficient. Built from weathering steel, these containers are designed to be tough and can be dropped on site by helicopters. The system's scorecard is so good that it could be deployed anywhere - from small, rural communities to forward military operating bases, like those in Iraq or Afghanistan. Wang's system, named a baffled bioreactor (BBR) by Wang, modifies the conventional activated sludge process by using baffles to create a maintenance-free intermediate settling chamber for sludge return. It uses off-the-shelf, low-tech parts to treat wastewater at a level that exceeds federal standards. The water can be used for non-contact applications, including toilet flushing and car washing. Although this project is focused on military needs, Wang says the small, low-maintenance and low-power system makes sense for small communities, mobile home parks, motels and even facilities in remote areas, such as highway rest areas and camps. A few days ago, the U.S. Army approved Wang's request to demonstrate a full-scale, company-size water reclamation station for advanced wastewater and non-potable reuse. During this project, he will also explore the feasibility of producing potable water from wastewater in emergency situations. News Release/PhysOrg.com_ 9/16/09

University of Utah researchers create device to test space station water

The International Space Station uses iodine and silver to purify its water, but astronauts only can test the chemical levels via samples sent to Earth on the space shuttle every several months. To help keep station residents healthy, last month University of Utah researchers sent up a new, two-minute water testing kit that will allow astronauts to test water for iodine and silver levels on a monthly basis. The first test is set for Sept. 22. The technology also could be used on Earth to test levels of contaminants such as arsenic, chromium, cadmium and other heavy metals. Marc Porter, a professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at the University devised a water tester that weighs 1.1 pounds, runs on four AA batteries, and is about the size of a small ice cooler. Salt Lake Tribune_ 9/14/09


Water in western U.S. measured from the sky; Satellites track land's consumption

Water management is serious business in the American West, where precipitation is scarce, irrigated agriculture is a major industry, new housing subdivisions spread across arid landscapes and water rights are allocated in a complicated seniority system. "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," water officials are fond of saying. But measurement -- trying to determine how much water is diverted from rivers and how much is pumped from hundreds of thousands of wells -- has been an inexact and expensive science. Now a tool developed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the University of Idaho is changing the face of water management and conservation by efficiently offering specific measurements of the water consumed across a large region or single field. The program, called METRIC for Mapping EvapoTranspiration with High Resolution and Internalized Calibration, was launched in 2000 with a NASA/Raytheon Synergy Project grant and is used by 11 states. Washington Post_ 9/14/09

NASA preparing to blast the Moon for water; Mission has its own theme song
NASA announced yesterday that it has "identified the spot where it will search for water on the moon." The spacecraft selected for the journey, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), will reach its target in October. The story is not without controversy. The idea is to send "a rocket crashing into the moon causing a big impact and creating a crater, throwing tons of debris and potentially water ice and vapor above the lunar surface." Too crude, too destructive, claim critics of the mission. But Many people will be watching when the rocket hits. And they may not need to watch it on NASA TV. The crash will be so big, all that may be required is a good amateur telescope.  Click here to view computer clips of the mission and download the song "Water on the Moon" written by LCROSS Deputy Project Manager John Marmie. . Examiner.com_9/9/09

Researchers create first 3-D map of electrical conductivity in Earth's mantle

Water in the basement?

Scientists at Oregon State Univertisy have found that enhanced electrical conductivity in parts of Earth's mantle may signal the presence of water far below our planet's surface.  The researchers created the first global three-dimensional map of electrical conductivity in the mantle. Results of their study are published this week in the journal Nature. Science Daily_8/20/09

Ancient concept: Fog Catchers, bring water to parched villages
German conservationists who run Alimón, a small nonprofit that supports Latin American development, are trying to bring water to impoverished villages near Lima, Peru by setting up special nets that scoop water directly from the air.  Rain rarely falls on these dry hills. The annual precipitation in Lima is about half an inch (1.5 centimeters), and the city gets its water from far-off Andean lakes. But every winter, from June to November, dense fog sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean.  With a few thousand dollars and some volunteer labor, a village can set up fog-collecting nets that gather hundreds of gallons of water a day—without a single drop of rain falling.  The technique dates back as far as 2,000 years ago.  National Geographic_7/9/09

Cassini spacecraft finds evidence for liquid water on Saturn's moon Enceladus

In the hunt for potential habitats for life beyond Earth, Saturn’s moon Enceladus is looking better and better. The latest boost to the moon’s profile appears not at the moon itself, but in Saturn’s outermost ring, the E ring. Enceladus shepherds the ring, which it formed and renews by spewing ice grains into space via the plumes venting from its South Pole region. This week, scientists reported that they’ve detected the chemical equivalent of table salt and baking soda in some of the E ring’s grains. The only way those compounds could form, researchers say, is through the interaction of liquid water and rock. And the only spot in the neighborhood where those kinds of reactions could take place is Enceladus, with its rocky core, and at least early in its history, an ocean beneath its icy crust. The results appear in the current issue of the journal Nature. Christian Science Monitor_ 6/25/09

Green-friendly washing machine uses just one cup of water

The technology, which leaves clothes virtually dry and is set to go on sale next year, was developed by Stephen Burkinshaw at the University of Leeds and aims to save up to 90 per cent of water used by conventional machines, use 30 per cent less energy and have the environmental impact of taking two million cars off the road. The machine works by replacing most of the water with thousands of tiny, reusable nylon polymer beads, which attract and absorb dirt under humid conditions. Xeros, which is demonstrating a working machine in the United States, has signed a deal with GreenEarth Cleaning, an environmentally friendly dry-cleaning business, to sell the technology across North America. Times Online_ 6/22/09

Debate over Moon water

There have been raging debates over the years as to whether there is frozen water on the moon or not. Soon two NASA spacecraft, a lunar spycraft and a kamikaze probe, will help answer the question by peering into the permanent darkness of craters at the moon's south pole. The new moon probes, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the LCROSS impactor, are set to blast off this week on NASA's first mission to the moon in more than a decade. Any ice they discover could not only be used to quench an astronaut's thirst, but also to help fuel rockets for adventures beyond the moon. Space.com_ 6/15/09

Hard water can quickly clog showerheads: study

The first results of a major new study on the effects of water softeners in the home have shown that untreated hard water can rapidly lead to clogged showerheads, in some cases possibly as soon as a year and a half of regular use. The study is funded by the Water Quality Reserch Foundation, a nonprofit trade organzation for the water treatment industry. After just one week of constant testing with hard water, more than three-fourths of showerhead nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. The results are part of a larger research project examining the longevity of clothes washers, water heaters, and dishwashers using hard water versus softened water. The final research report is scheduled for September 2009. Press Release_6/5/09

Study looks for Earth-like water worlds
U.S. space agency-sponsored scientists say they have developed a technique for determining whether Earth-like extrasolar worlds have oceans.  The researchers used the high resolution telescope on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Deep Impact spacecraft to look at Earth from tens of millions of miles away -- to obtain what they called "an alien point of view" -- and developed a method to indicate the presence of oceans by analyzing how Earth's light changes as the planet rotates. That method can be used to identify extrasolar ocean-bearing Earth-like planets.  "A 'pale blue dot' is the best picture we will get of an Earth-like extrasolar world using even the most advanced telescopes planned for the next couple decades," Nicolas Cowan of the University of Washington said.  The scientists will report their research in the August issue of the Astrophysical Journal.  UPI_5/29/09

NASA eyes water in Moon mission
NASA on Thursday said it was on target for a June mission to scour the Moon's surface for landing sites and water that would allow humans to work and even live on Earth's nearest neighbor.  The space agency hopes to launch a dual craft in June, part of which would survey the Moon's surface from orbit while another unit ploughs into the lunar surface in search for water.  The mission will focus on the little-known, permanently shadowed lunar poles, hoping to confirm reports of hydrogen accumulation and possible water-ice not found at the equatorial regions that where famously explored by humans in the last century.  The permanently shadowed craters, which may not have seen sunlight for one or two billion years, could hold deposits of ice at a temperature of minus 328 degrees fahrenheit (200 degrees celsius).  The discovery of ice could be a crucial resource for future manned missions to the Moon, potentially providing oxygen for astronauts and oxidizer for rocket fuel.  AFP_5/21/09

New sponge-like material can remove mercury from water

A new sponge-like material that is black, brittle and freeze-dried (just like the ice cream astronauts eat) can pull off some pretty impressive feats. Designed by Northwestern University chemists, it can remove mercury from polluted water, easily separate hydrogen from other gases and, perhaps most impressive of all, is a more effective catalyst than the one currently used to pull sulfur out of crude oil. The material, cobalt-molybdenum-sulfur, is a new class of chalcogels, a family of material discovered only a few years ago at Northwestern. (Chalcogels are random networks of metal-sulfur atoms with very high surface areas.) The new chalcogel is made from common elements, is stable when exposed to air or water and can be used as a powder. Details of the cobalt-molybdenum-sulfur chalcogel and its properties will be published online May 17 by the journal Nature Chemistry. Science Daily_ 5/17/09

Siemens launches chemical-free water deionizer
A subsidiary of China’s Siemens launched a new, high-purity water treatment system today that has the potential to replace chemically regenerated mixed-bed deionization systems.  Warrendale, Pa.-based Siemens Water Technologies' new Vantage VNX system is intended for the power, microelectronics and industrial markets.  The modular skidded system use reverse osmosis to produce 50 to 900 gallons per minute of deionized water. Reverse osmosis is the dominant water purification form in the cleantech sector, but it’s criticized because of its large energy requirement and infrastructure cost.  cleantech.com_ 5/13/09

Nanotechnology for clean water

Researchers are busy trying to harness nanotechnology for clean water. But when can we expect results? What are the risks? And how can nano-based solutions be delivered to the millions lacking access to safe water in developing countries? The Science and Development Network has prepared a series of articles for free viewing, including Nanotechnology for clean water: Facts and figures and Nanosponges: South Africa's high hopes for clean water. Science and Development Net_ 5/7/09

Walk on water--How do bugs do it?

Self-cleaning walls, counter tops, fabrics, even micro-robots that can walk on water -- all those things and more could be closer to reality because of research recently completed by scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and at Japan's RIKEN institute. Humans have marveled for millennia at how water beads up and rolls off flowers, caterpillars and some insects, and how insects like water striders are able to walk effortlessly on water. It's a property called super hydrophobia and it's been examined seriously by scientists since at least the 1930s. In a paper to be published in the May 4-8 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists give engineers and materials scientists important clues in how to develop the long-sought super hydrophobic materials. National Science Foundation/U.S. News and World Report_ 5/6/09

Black hole spews water vapour

Astronomers have found the most distant evidence of water in the Universe, a major conference has been told. The vapour is thought to be present in a jet ejected from a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy that is billions of light-years away. The discovery, by a US-European team, was announced at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science meeting. The research team was led by Dr Violette Impellizzeri, from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, using the 100m German Effelsberg radio telescope from July to September 2007. The data was confirmed by observations with the Expanded Very Large Array in the US in September and October 2007. BBC News_ 4/22/09

Wooden water tanks thrive in NYC
A new wooden water tank went up last week atop 202 West 40th Street in Manhattan, through the efforts of the Rosenwach Tank Company of Long Island City, Queens. Every building at least 80 feet tall in New York City must have a water reservoir to meet the fire codes, and water tanks are also used to provide water service.  Rosenwach’s president, Andrew Rosenwach, said his company, which was founded in 1866, builds 200 to 300 cedar tanks a year and can erect one in a single day. Why use wood? Wood provides excellent insulation to fend off the effects of fluctuating temperatures. A cedar tank lasts about 35 years, Mr. Rosenwach said. NY Times_4/7/09

What's in your water?

Study reveals disinfectants create toxic by-products in drinking water

Although perhaps the greatest public health achievement of the 20th century was the disinfection of water, a recent study now shows that the chemicals used to purify the water we drink react with organic material in the water yielding toxic consequences. University of Illinois geneticist Michael Plewa said that disinfection by-products (DBPs) in water are the unintended consequence of water purification.  "The reason that you and I can go to a drinking fountain and not be fearful of getting cholera is because we disinfect water in the United States," he said. "But the process of disinfecting water with chlorine and chloramines generates a class of compounds in the water that reacts with the organic material in the water and generates hundreds of different compounds. Some of these are toxic, some can cause birth defects, some are genotoxic, which damage DNA, and some we know are also carcinogenic."ScienceDaily_3/31/09

School water fountains to prevent obesity

Adding school water fountains, distributing water bottles in classrooms and teaching kids about the health benefits of water can lower a child’s risk for becoming overweight, a new study shows. The findings, published in today’s Pediatrics, are based on a unique intervention in 32 German grade schools. New York Times_ 3/30/09

MIT professor: Power your house with 5 liters of water per day

At the Aspen Environment Forum today, MIT professor Dan Nocera gave a revolutionary picture of the new energy economy with an assertion that our homes will be our power plants and our fuel stations, powered by sunlight and water. And it’s not science fiction. Nocera said that MIT will announce its patent next week of a cheap, efficient, manufacturable electrolyzer made from cobalt and potassium phosphate. This technology, powered by a 6 meter by 5 meter photovoltaic array on the roof, is capable of powering an entire house’s power needs plus a fuel cell good for 500 km of travel, with just 5 liters of water. CleanTechnica_ 3/27/09

Water found to be a catalyst in explosives

U.S. government scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say they've shown that water in hot dense environments acts as a catalyst, speeding chemical reactions without being consumed. Lead scientist Christine Wu said the finding is contrary to the current view that water is a stable detonation product. The research is detailed in the April premier issue of the journal Nature Chemistry. UPI_ 3/24/09

Portuguese wave-power snake dead in the water, but another planned for Scotland

Opened in September as a world "first" in producing electricity from waves, a pioneering installation is dead in the water having functioned for only a few weeks in a stormy process of research and development. First it had to be taken out of service and dismantled because of technical problems. And now Australian investment group Babcock & Brown, one of the main investors in the project, which had a start-up cost of nine million euros (12.3 million dollars), has gone bankrupt. Meanwhile, British company Pelamis Wave Power, the partner for technology in the project, announced in February that it had signed a contract with EON-UK, a subsidiary of EON, the leading energy group in Germany, to develop a similar project in Scotland using a new generation of power converters. AFP_ 3/23/09

International Space Station glitch in urine recycler repairs

A glitch with the space urine recycler aboard the International Space Station on Sunday delayed a vital test for a system that converts astronaut urine back into drinking water. The glitch was not related to an earlier malfunction with the urine processor's distillation assembly. Discovery shuttle astronauts replaced that faulty part on Friday. The urine processor is part of a larger water recycling system designed to filter astronaut urine, sweat and condensation from the station's atmosphere back into pure water for drinking, food preparation, bathing and oxygen generation.    Space.com_ 3/22/09

Water wheels begin their come back
Although the basic idea is very old, a comeback for water wheels is being spearheaded by British scientists Paul and Ingrid Bromley. They started developing a new generation of water wheels in 1991, primarily as a schools project, but their new ' Pedley Wheel' is being used in tests to provide 25kW of electricity to more than 1,000 people at a 60% water-to-wire efficiency rate.  Manufacturing Computer Solutions_3/12/09

Aluminum, silica in water affect Alzheimer's risk

Higher levels of aluminum in drinking water appear to increase people's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, whereas higher levels of silica appear to decrease the risk, according to French investigators. Dr. Virginie Rondeau at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in Bordeaux, and her colleagues published their study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Reuters_ 3/4/09

Indiana to fund Wabash River study

State environmental officials have awarded Purdue University nearly $450,000 to study the Wabash River's water quality and develop a watershed management plan.  The grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is going to a joint venture between Purdue and the Wabash River Enhancement Corp.  It will pay for a study of water quality along with three watersheds that drain into the river near Lafayette and West Lafayette and also help devise a watershed management plan.  Chicago Tribune_1/21/09

Satellites help locate Water in Niger

Like most sub-Saharan African countries, Niger faces problems meeting its water needs. As part of ESA’s TIGER initiative, satellite data are being used to identify underground water resources in the drought-prone country. The Advanced Computer Systems (ACS spa) in Rome, Italy, developed the WADE processing system in conjunction with local users, represented by AGRHYMET (the Regional Centre of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel). Science Daily_ 1/19/09

UK study links water pollution with declinig male fertility

New research strengthens the link between water pollution and rising male fertility problems. The study, by Brunel University, the Universities of Exeter and Reading and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, shows for the first time how a group of testosterone-blocking chemicals is finding its way into UK rivers, affecting wildlife and potentially humans. The research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and is now published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Earlier research by Brunel University and the University of Exeter has shown how female sex hormones (estrogens), and chemicals that mimic estrogens, are leading to ‘feminisation’ of male fish. Found in some industrial chemicals and the contraceptive pill, they enter rivers via sewage treatment works. This causes reproductive problems by reducing fish breeding capability and in some cases can lead to male fish changing sex. News Release/EurekAlert_ 1/18/09

Patent filed for energy efficient water desalination

QuantumSphere, Inc., announced it has filed for a U.S. patent on a water purification process that serves as a more energy-efficient alternative to desalination methods now commonly used to help meet growing water needs around the world.  The new water purification method uses forwrd osmosis to reduce desalination engery cost by as much as 70 percent.   MSNBC_1/14/09

Laser experiment aimed at saving farm water

Seventy-six years after the invention of the modern sprinkler helped revolutionize farming, a professor of environmental engineering is pointing a laser beam across an alfalfa crop in Southern California's bone-dry Imperial Valley, looking for a better way to conserve the millions of gallons of water sprayed each year on thirsty crops. Jan Kleissl and a handful of his students at the University of California, San Diego, have rigged up a telescope-looking contraption called a large aperture scintillometer to study exactly how much water crops lose to evaporation and the peak times that water disappears. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/29/08

Water vapor detected on distant planet

Scientists have found clear evidence that water vapor exists in the atmospheres of giant, hot planets around other stars. These big gaseous exoplanets have masses similar to or greater than Jupiter's (which is about 317.8 times the mass of Earth). Many of them orbit precariously close to their parent stars, so they scorching hot. A team of astronomers used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to examine the spectrum of one such exoplanet, dubbed HD 189733b, for a telltale signature of water vapor. Water is a key requirement for life as we know it, though HD 189733b (about 65 light-years from Earth) is too hot to be habitable. MSNBC_ 12/10/08

Saturn's moon Eceladus show signs of water

The pioneering US spacecraft Cassini has turned up fresh evidence that water exists on Enceladus, the beguiling moon of Saturn where, some experts believe, the potential ingredients for life exist. Plumes of vapor, disgorged high above the satellite's surface, are probably being blasted out by jets of liquid water and gas expelled at high speed from nozzle-like vents, scientists report on Wednesday. A team led by Candice Hansen of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), took a close look at four plumes when Cassini swung around Enceladus on October 24 2007. Their study appears in the journal Nature, published by the London-based Nature Publishing Group. AFP/Inquirer_ 11/27/08

Israeli company creates drinking water out of thin air

An Israeli company has developed a clean technology to extract water from the air while using little energy in the process. The key to the project, launched by the Extraction of Water from Air (EWA), is in its unique water adsorption technology - which employs a solid desiccant to trap the water - and a special energy saving condenser that reuses more than 85 percent of the energy input to the system. For Dr. Etan Bar, CEO of EWA, it was a question of priorities. His company, which focuses both on solar energy and clean water extraction from the air, had already developed a new solar energy air conditioner that was sparking interest in the industry, but Bar realized that clean water was a far more pressing need. Haaretz_ 11/3/08

Climate scientists successfully deploy water isotope analyzer at 11,000 feet altitude to study earth's water cycle

Climate scientists from the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico studying the water cycle have successfully deployed a Picarro precision water isotope analyzer at a remote monitoring station near the top of Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Sampling water vapor at this extreme altitude (11,000 feet above sea level) is notoriously difficult because the water concentration can drop as low a few hundred parts per million. Dr. David Noone of the University of Colorado explains, "While much attention has been focused on the role of CO2 in driving global warming, changes in the water cycle and the amount of water vapor in the air also have a significant impact. Simply stated, we need more water field data, both concentration and isotope ratios. But before the advent of portable isotope analyzers, obtaining water isotope data from a remote site required capturing samples and chemically processing these before separately analyzing them for deuterium and oxygen-18 in two separate mass spectrometers. Until now, this has precluded continuous real-time isotope monitoring." Dr. Joe Galewsky, University of New Mexico Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in an interview with Nature added, "Real time isotope tracking could be a new way of detecting fundamental changes in Earth's atmospheric circulation." News Release/PRNewswire/COMTEX_11/3/08

UK water company touts new pipeline repair strategy; Roadworks could be a thing of the past by 2010
A UK water company is testing technology which allows pipes to be repaired from the inside without digging up the road.  Yorkshire Water says the new "platelet technology" seals leaks in pipes from the inside, mimicking the way platelets in blood seal wounds in the human body.  When platelet particles in the pipeline reach a leak, water flow guides them into the fault and they form a seal.  The company hopes the new method will help it eliminate the need for road excavations by 2010.  BBC_10/30/08

Study suggests drinking water may be source of winter norovirus outbreaks

The research, which looked for patterns that might explain norovirus outbreaks in Toronto, found that winter flare ups of the highly contagious condition were more likely to happen in the week after water temperatures in Lake Ontario dipped below 4 degrees Celsius or flow from the Don River into Lake Ontario was high. The findings suggest that under certain environmental conditions, noroviruses from human sewage may proliferate in bodies of water that are used both as municipal water sources and sewage treatment outlets, eventually finding their way back into human gastrointestinal tracts through drinking water. The research was presented Sunday at a joint scientific conference of the American Society for Microbiology and the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Washington, D.C. The Canadian Press_ 10/26/08

Plan in works to cool New York buildings with Lake Ontario water

Researchers from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) are in the early stages of a project to pipe the waters of Lake Ontario to cool buildings around central New York.  Supporters of the project say the natural cooling system would dramatically cut energy use in the area.  The idea is to take the cold water from deep under the surface of the Great Lake, pipe it down to central New York and use as a cooling source for public and private buildings.  Not only would that water be pumped into central New York to help cool buildings, it would also flow back out into Onondaga Lake, which would help with the lake cleanup.  $1.5 million of federal money has been secured for a feasibility study of the idea. WSYR_10/17/08

Five universities get NASA grants averaging $7 million each to study the origins of earth's water

A University of Hawai'i team of scientists has received a five-year, $8 million NASA seed grant to investigate where Earth's water came from and what its origins mean for life in the universe. NASA awarded grants to universities across the country to look at the mysteries of how water is distributed in the universe and its relationship to life. Other research teams for the grants, which averaged about $7 million each, include Arizona State University, Pennsylvania State University, Carnegie Institution of Washington and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As part of the grant awards, the teams have been named members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in California. The teams "will bridge the basic science of astrobiology to NASA's current and planned space exploration missions," said Institute Director Carl Pilcher, in a news release issued yesterday. "They are focused on fundamental questions of life in the universe, but their work has implications for all of science." Honolulu Advertiser_ 10/3/08

Water purifcation down the nanotubes: Could nanotechnology solve the water crisis?

Nanotechnology could be the answer to ensuring a safe supply of drinking water for regions of the world stricken by periodic drought or where water contamination is rife. Writing in the International Journal of Nuclear Desalination, researchers in India explain how carbon nanotubes could replace conventional materials in water-purification systems. S. Kar, R.C. Bindal, S. Prabhakar, P.K. Tewari, K. Dasgupta, and D. Sathiyamoorthy of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, India, explain how new water purification technologies are constantly being investigated but to be viable in the developing world these have to be relatively simple and inexpensive to install, operate, and maintain. The team has now investigated the potential of forming water filtration systems based on carbon nanotubes that could remove arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals. Science Daily_ 9/15/08

EPA awards $3.6 million for research into water contaminants

WaterWebster.org Staff Report

Sept. 4, 2008

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Six research organizations will share $3.6 million in EPA grants to improve the detection of known and emerging drinking water contaminants, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Included in the study are the harmful substances produced by blue-green algae in algal blooms and noroviruses, the announcement said. The grants range from about $500,000 to $600,000. The six research institutions are Battelle Memorial Institute in Richland, Washington; Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana; the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia; the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri; and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Scientists "listen" to plants to find water pollution
Scientists in Israel have discovered a new way to test for water pollution by "listening" to what the plants growing in water have to say. By shining a laser beam on the tiny pieces of algae floating in the water, the researchers said they hear sound waves that tell them the type and amount of contamination in the water. "It is a red light, telling us that something is beginning to go wrong with the quality of water," said Zvy Dubinsky, an aquatic biologist at Israel's Bar Ilan University. "Algae is the first thing to be affected by a change in water quality." Although most of the earth is covered in water, 44 percent of the world's population live in areas with high water stress, and the number is likely to increase because of factors such as global warming and rising population. As water sources deteriorate worldwide, the testing of algae could be used to monitor water quality faster, more cheaply and more accurately than techniques now in use, Dubinsky said.  Reuters_8/14/08

MIT researchers split water to store solar energy

Open sourced discovery will spur development
The key to plentiful solar power is water, says Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Daniel Nocera.  Nocera and his MIT colleague, Matthew Kanan, on Thursday will publish a technical paper that describes what they claim is a breakthrough in solar energy storage.  The key to MIT's discovery is a catalyst made from abundant materials that can make oxygen gas by passing an electrical current through water more effectively than previous methods.  The idea is to use the energy from solar photovoltaic panels (or another electricity source) to crack water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Those gases would be stored and used later in a fuel cell to make electricity when the sun is not shining.  The concept is a closed-loop system: running the hydrogen and water through the fuel cell creates water, which can be captured and used again.  The hope is that within 10 years, a cost-effective system that combines clean energy generation with storage can be engineered and available cheaply to people around the world.  "I'm open-sourcing this to let everybody run with it," he said. "My plan is that when people see it, they'll see it's easy to do and they'll start working it." CNET News_7/31/08

New York City is going high-tech with wireless water meters
New York City says a $68 million effort to modernize its water meters will help save money and water by flagging leaks fast.  The Department of Environmental Protection announced plans Wednesday to install a wireless, automatic meter-reading system citywide.  The network will measure customers' water use four times a day. Readings are now taken four times a year, meaning leaks sometimes linger undetected.  The agency says the new system will spot spikes in water use and alert customers to check for leaks. It's expected to take three years to install. Newsday_7/23/08

Mosquitos are fussy about their water

One thing that makes Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads the dengue fever virus, such a huge problem for human health is its egg-laying habits. Now, scientists from North Carolina State University and Tulane University have identified some of the chemical cues in the water that determine where a mosquito will choose to lay its eggs. Loganathan Ponnusamy, Ning Xu, Coby Schal, Charles S. Apperson and other researchers reported in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they infused water with white oak and bamboo leaves and found that mosquitoes preferred these infusions over plain water. Then they filtered all the bacteria out of the infusions and found that the filtered water attracted far fewer eggs, indicating that the cues that stimulate egg-laying are linked to the microbes. The researchers say the findings could help public health officials devise more effective ways to attract and eradicate or otherwise control A. aegypti, and thus help stop the spread of dengue fever and other diseases. New York Times_ 7/15/08 (logon required)

Swiss research group Eawag tackles arsenic in drinking water

The contamination of groundwater with arsenic poses a risk to the health of millions of people, especially in the densely populated river deltas of Southeast Asia. To date, no method has been available for identifying high-risk areas without conducting costly sampling campaigns. Now, Eawag has developed a model that allows vulnerable areas to be pinpointed using existing data on geology and soil properties. This has also enabled the researchers to detect high-risk areas in regions where groundwater studies had not previously been carried out, such as in Myanmar and on Sumatra. Worldwide, more than 100 million people are exposed to excessive amounts of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic is a geogenic contaminant – deriving from natural sources – which is dissolved in groundwater. In an article published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Eawag researchers have now described a method that allows high-risk areas to be identified relatively easily, without the need for expensive and time-consuming groundwater analysis. For this purpose, the team, led by geologist Lenny Winkel and environmental chemist Michael Berg, compiled existing geological data from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Sumatra (Indonesia) to produce a uniformly classified map. The latest findings from Southeast Asia are part of the Water Resource Quality (WRQ) project, an Eawag research programme studying the occurrence of geogenic contaminants in groundwater worldwide. As well as arsenic, these include fluoride, selenium and uranium. In parallel, methods are being developed to allow the populations affected to treat contaminated water, using appropriate technologies. Science Daily_ 7/12/08

Water found on the moon

In a study published today in Nature, researchers led by Brown University geologist Alberto Saal found evidence of water molecules in pebbles retrieved by NASA's Apollo missions. The findings point to the existence of water deep beneath the moon's surface, transforming scientific understanding of our nearest neighbor's formation and, perhaps, our own. There may also be a more immediately practical application. "Is there water there? That's important for lunar missions. People could get the water. They could use the hydrogen for energy," said Saal. A high-powered imaging technique known as secondary ion mass spectrometry revealed a wealth of so-called volatile compounds, among them fluorine, chlorine, sulfur, carbon dioxide -- and water. If that water in fact came from the Earth, then planetary geologists can be certain that our planet contained water 4.5 billion years ago. That would change the dynamics of models of Earth's formations. ABC News_ 7/10/08

On tap in space: Urine will not go to waste

Astronauts living on the International Space Station soon will take recycling to new extremes: They'll get some of their drinking water from the toilet. NASA has spent decades perfecting a system to transform urine into water that can be used in space for drinking, food preparation and washing. Agency officials say the water from the system will be cleaner than U.S. tap water. Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to take the new $250 million machine to the station this fall. If all goes well, the so-called toilet-to-tap system will be fully operational in six months. Russia developed a similar system in the 1980s but it never flew in space because of concerns over crew squeamishness, says former station astronaut Leroy Chiao, now a space consultant. Some of the crew's drinking water already comes from an unconventional source: evaporated laundry water and sweat, which are captured by a Russian machine. NASA developed the new system because water is so heavy to carry to orbit. Once the number of station residents grows from three to six next year, it would be impossible to ship enough water to the station, says Marybeth Edeen of NASA's Johnson Space Center. USA Today_ 5/15/08


NASA satellite to map Earth's water cycle
MIT Professor Dara Entekhabi will lead the science team designing a NASA satellite mission to make global soil moisture and freeze/thaw measurements, data essential to the accuracy of weather forecasts and predictions of global carbon cycle and climate. NASA announced recently that the Soil Moisture Active-Passive mission (SMAP) is scheduled to launch December 2012.  At present, scientists have no network for gathering soil moisture data as they do for rainfall, winds, humidity and temperature. Instead, that data is gathered only at a few scattered points around the world. “Soil moisture is the lynchpin of the water, energy and carbon cycles over land. It is the variable that links these three cycles through its control on evaporation and plant transpiration. Global monitoring of this variable will allow a new perspective on how these three cycles work and vary together in the Earth system,” said Entekhabi.  Science Daily_4/30/08

Saturn moon shows potential for water and life: NASA
The Cassini spacecraft detected temperatures and organic materials indicating possible conditions for life on Saturn's moon Enceladus as it flew through giant plumes at the moon's south pole, NASA officials said Wednesday.  The spacecraft found a high density of water vapor and both simple and complex organic chemicals as it passed within 50 kilometers (30 miles) of Enceladus on March 12 to assess the geyser-like plumes shooting out from surface fractures, the space agency said.  "We see on Enceladus the three basic ingredients for the origin of life" -- energy, organic compounds and water, said Larry Esposito of the University of Colorado, who works on Cassini's ultraviolet imaging spectrograph. AFP_3/26/08

Trapped spheres of water make perfect protein prison; Could aid in detection of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies

A material with a love-hate relationship with water immobilises droplets so completely that small spheres of water remain pinned to its surface even when hung upside down. Not just a cool party trick, the new surface could help detect traces of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies, or advance understanding of protein folding. The surface is strongly hydrophobic – so droplets placed on its surface form near-perfect spheres with minimal surface contact. But an unexplained mechanism allows that tiny point of contact to firmly hold the drop so it cannot roll around as they usually do on water-repellent surfaces. Even when the surface is tilted or inverted, the 1-millimetre-wide drops refuse to budge, and remain largely spherical. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, made the surface using photolithography, the chemical process used to carve computer chips from silicon wafers. Exactly how the surface holds droplets so tightly is unknown. New Scientist.com_ 3/14/08

Spitzer finds organics and water where new planets may grow

Researchers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered large amounts of simple organic gases and water vapor in a possible planet-forming region around an infant star, along with evidence that these molecules were created there. They've also found water in the same zone around two other young stars.  By pushing the telescope's capabilities to a new level, astronomers now have a better view of the earliest stages of planetary formation, which may help shed light on the origins of our own solar system and the potential for life to develop in others. Sciencedaily.com_3/14/08

'Thirsty' electric cars threaten water resources
They may not be gas-guzzlers, but electric cars have a raging thirst for water.  A comparison of the volume of coolant water used in the thermoelectric power plants that provide most of our electricity and that used in extracting and refining petroleum suggests that electric vehicles require significantly more water per mile than those powered by gasoline.  The findings could bode ill for drought stricken areas in the event of a large scale switch to plug-in vehicles.  "I wouldn't sound the alarm that this is going to ruin the day," says Carey King from the University of Texas, Austin, US, noting that no mass-market electric vehicle is currently available. "But looking into the future, this is something we should take into account."  King and colleagues found that cars, light trucks, and SUVs running off the electric grid consume three times more water and withdraw 17 times more water per mile than their equivalent gasoline-powered vehicles.  ABC News_3/6/08

Freshman researcher develops new method for detecting water pollutants

Inexpensive process reveals the presence of C8 in water

West Virginia Wesleyan College freshman, Kelydra Welcker, has developed an inexpensive yet effective method for detecting the presence of C8 in water. "The foam height test costs 60 cents and it is 92 percent accurate," she said.   C8 is a surfactant used in the manufacture of Teflon and other products, including Kevlar.  The test, which can be performed at home, involves boiling 500 milliliters of water down to .5 milliliters, Welcker said. The remaining water then can be poured into a vile and shaken. The amount of foam that results then can be measured to determine the presence of C8.  But her work hasn't stopped there. She now has three patents pending for methods of removing C8 from water.  "Removal is elegant in its simplicity," Welcker said.  One process uses a diffuse double layer electrosorption, she said. Particles of C8 are attracted to electrodes inserted into water in a static tank. She has two other pending patents for a tabletop electrosorption method as well. Her slow-flow electrosorption design that uses granular activated carbon has removed 100 percent of C8 from water after 12 hours, she said.  Welcker said she believes that after further research, those methods will work better than current methods, which use granular activated carbon to remove the compound.  Much of her research has involved drinking water from her hometown of Parkersburg and surrounding communities. C8 found in those areas comes from the DuPont Washington Works Plant just south of Parkersburg. Welcker said that although plant officials have not always been receptive to her work, she does not want to have a contentious relationship with them.  "DuPont has been more than understanding, but they're not always crazy about my ideas," she said.  The State Journal_3/6/08

Ethanol and water don't mix

Officals in Tampa, Florida, got a surprise recently when a local firm building the state's first ethanol-production factory put in a request for 400,000 gallons (1.5m litres) a day of city water. The request by US Envirofuels would make the facility one of the city's top ten water consumers overnight, and the company plans to double its size. Florida is suffering from a prolonged drought. Rivers and lakes are at record lows and residents wonder where the extra water will come from. They are not alone. A backlash against the federally financed biofuels boom is growing around the country, and “water could be the Achilles heel” of ethanol, said a report by the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.  The number of ethanol factories has almost tripled in the past eight years from 50 to about 140. A further 60 or so are under construction. In 2007 President George Bush signed legislation requiring a fivefold increase in biofuels production, to 36 billion gallons by 2022. This is controversial for several reasons. There are doubts about how green ethanol really is (some say the production process uses almost as much energy as it produces). Some argue that using farmland for ethanol pushes up food prices internationally (world wheat prices rose 25% this week alone, perhaps as a side-effect of America's ethanol programme). But one of the least-known but biggest worries is ethanol's extravagant use of water.  A typical ethanol factory producing 50m gallons of biofuels a year needs about 500 gallons of water a minute. Most of that goes into the boiling and cooling process, which is similar to making beer. Some water is lost through evaporation in the cooling tower and in waste discharge. All this is putting a heavy burden on aquifers in some corn-growing areas.  The Economist_2/28/08


Water filtration system in a straw

The Vestergaard Frandsen Group's mobile personal filtration system, otherwise known as LifeStraw is a powder-blue plastic tube—much thicker than an ordinary straw—containing filters that make water teeming with typhoid-, cholera- and diarrhea-causing microorganisms drinkable. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill evaluation tested the device's performance in water containing Escherichia coli B and Enterococcus faecalis bacteria and the MS2 coliphage virus as well as iodine and silver. The results indicated that LifeStraw filtered out all contaminants to levels where they don't pose a health risk to someone drinking the water. But the device does not filter heavy metals such as iron or fluoride nor does it remove parasites like cryptosporidium or giardia, although the Switzerland-based company's CEO, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, says there is a version of LifeStraw available to relief groups in Bangladesh and India that can filter arsenic. The next step is promoting LifeStraw technology so that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and aid groups will buy and distribute them. This is no small task, given that the need for clean water is not promoted as heavily as AIDS prevention or literacy training in some developing countries, Frandsen says, adding, "No one is stepping forward to be the rock star of diarrhea [eradication]." But LifeStraw was recognized by Saatchi & Saatchi's public relations arm as the top "world-changing idea" in a recent competition of technologies impacting medicine, education and aid work. Vestergaard Frandsen Group received $50,000 from Saatchi, plus another $50,000 worth of the PR firm's marketing services. Scientific American_ 2/25/08

Weird water: Discovery challenges long-held beliefs about water's special properties

Chemical engineer Pablo Debenedetti and collaborators at three other institutions were surprised to find a highly simplified model molecule that behaves in much the same way as water, a discovery that upends long-held beliefs about what makes water so special. While their water imitator is hypothetical -- it was created with computer software that is commonly used for simulating interactions between molecules -- the researchers’ discovery may ultimately have implications for industrial or pharmaceutical research. “I would be very interested to see if experimentalists could create colloids (small particles suspended in liquid) that exhibit the water-like properties we observed in our simulations,” Debenedetti said. Such laboratory creations might be useful in controlling the self-assembly of complex biomolecules or detergents and other surfactants. More fundamentally, the research raises questions about why oil and water don’t mix, because the simulated molecule repels oil as water does, but without the delicate interactions between hydrogen and oxygen that are thought to give water much of its special behavior. The researchers published their findings Dec. 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PhysOrg.com_ 1/18/08

German scientists use solar power to produce drinking water

Clean water with free energy is the goal of German scientists who are using the sun's rays to power small water treatment plants for developing countries. The system is designed for arid areas of Africa and Asia where a lack of electricity makes it impossible to use large industrial plants for the desalination of seawater, like those in the Middle East. Engineer Joachim Koschikowski and his team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) have developed small decentralized units with their own solar power supplies that can transform salt water or brackish water into pure drinking water. The German researchers have so far built two different systems, both with their own energy supply. One cubic metre of drinking water, the equivalent of 1,000 litres, will cost about 10 euros (14.50 dollars). Koschikowski's institute has been successfully operating pilot projects on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria and in Jordan. The researchers are planning to market the plants through a spin-off company known as SolarSpring from the middle of 2008. earthtimes.org_ 1/14/08

December, 2007

Employes at UK's Thames Water create cheap solution to detecting leaks

The company is launching the Leakfrog, invented by some of its own employees, which can be fitted to domestic water meters overnight and which detects if water is being lost, suggesting customers' pipes have sprung a leak. Last year Thames struck a deal with the industry regulator, Ofwat, under which it agreed to spend an additional £150m of its own money on replacing ageing Victorian mains across London to avoid a fine for missing its leakage target. Leakfrog is the brainchild of four Thames Water boffins and was developed for production in partnership with the Aim-listed company Qonnectis, which specialises in energy and water conservation technology. Guardian Unlimited_ 12/29/07

German scientists develop water-recycling system
Overcrowded megacities without adequate water supplies or sewage-disposal facilities, and frequent flooding and extreme drought are problems that a new urban infrastructural concept can help solve. It has a flexible, water-saving vacuum sewerage network.  While Germans consume an average of 130 litres of clean water each day, they drink only three. A third of the total amount is flushed down the toilet.  "Water is one of our most valuable resources, and it is far too precious to waste on the transportation of fecal matter,“ says Professor Walter Trosch, of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, in Stuttgart, Germany.  Together with Dr Werner Sternad, of the same institute, and Dr Harald Hiessl, of the Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, in Karlsruhe, he designed and created DEUS 21, a decentralised urban infrastructure system.  The team won the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for 2007 for this achievement.

HOW IT WORKS

"DEUS is an integrated model that looks at water as a commodity, all the way from the faucet to the treatment plant,“ says Trosch.  They collect rainwater instead of channeling it away unused through the sewers. The rainwater is collected separately from wastewater and treated in a modern membrane plant.  The resultant germ-free water meets German drinking-water standards. This very soft water flows back into households through a separate supply network, and can be used for showering or for washing dishes or clothes.  Wastewater from the households is then collected in a vacuum sewerage system. The wastewater is transported to a hermetically sealed high-performance reactor containing rotation filters to remove everything that is bigger than 0,2 micrometers from the wastewater, including the bacteria that decompose organic waste. Any biogas that is recovered can be used to generate power and heat.  Nitrogen and phosphate are also reclaimed from the wastewater and processed to produce high-quality fertiliser. What remains is the purified wastewater which meets the quality requirements of the European directive on bathing water quality. It can be drained away or discharged into a body of water.  Pilot applications in Knittlingen and Neurott, Germany, have both economic and ecological benefits that are attractive on an international scale.  Projects are already being planned in Namibia, China and Romania.  Engineering News_11/30/07

Better membranes for water treatment developed
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new generation of biomimetic membranes for water treatment and drug delivery. The highly permeable and selective membranes are based on the incorporation of the functional water channel protein Aquaporin Z into a novel A-B-A triblock copolymer.  The experimental membranes, currently in the form of vesicles, show significantly higher water transport than existing reverse-osmosis membranes used in water purification and desalination.   "We took a close look at how kidneys so efficiently transport water through a membrane with aquaporins, and then we found a way to duplicate that in a synthetic system," said Manish Kumar, a graduate research assistant at the U. of I., and the paper's lead author.  ScienceDaily.com_11/29/07

Dew-harvesting 'web' conjures water out of thin air
A portable dew-harvesting kit inspired by a spider's web is being developed by Israeli architects for use in areas where clean and safe water is scarce.
In February 2007, UK engineering firm Arup and charity WaterAid held a competition aimed at finding new technologies to help people gain access to clean water in areas where it is scarce. This is a problem for about 1 billion people worldwide.  The contest was won by Israeli architects Joseph Cory of company Geotectura and Eyal Malka of Malka Architects who suggested a dew-harvesting contraption.  Cory and Malka were inspired by seeing drops of water caught on desert spiders' webs first thing in the morning. Their design, called WatAir, consists of an inverted pyramid of sheet material, which collects dew and channels it into a collector and filtration unit in the centre.  NewScientist.com_11/15/07

Gates Foundation gives grant to develop low-cost clean water test
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will give $13 million to produce the world's first low-cost water quality tests, a project aimed at decreasing child deaths caused by waterborne disease in developing countries, the University of Bristol said.  The device, called Aquatest, would be similar to a home pregnancy test, with results displayed as colored bands that would show if the water was safe to drink. The device would also distinguish whether water was safe for adults but not children, the elderly or the sick.  Seattle Post Intelligencer_11/13/07

Alternative methods proposed to detect pesticides and antibiotics in water and natural food

A doctoral thesis carried out by Jorge Juan Soto Chinchilla, from the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Granada (Universidad de Granada), and directed by professors Ana María García Campaña and Laura Gámiz Gracia, proposes new analysis methods for the detection of pesticide residue (carbamates) and antibiotic residue (sulfonamides) in water, plant foods and food of animal origin (milk and meats from varied sources). These new methods constitute a routine analysis alternative to the analysis used until now. The main goal of the work “New analytical methodologies, under quality criteria, for the determination of pharmaceutical residues in waters and food”, carried out by the research group “Quality in Food, Environmental and Clinical Analytical Chemistry (FQM-302)”, has been to develop new methods to detect residues in food of these contaminants below the Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) established by the European Union, in order to guarantee the quality of the product and permit its distribution and consumption.The study carried out by the UGR used techniques that have not been much explored in these fields. Cathodoluminiscence detection (CL) connected to Flow Injection Analysis (FIA) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPCL), or Capillary Electrophoresis (CE) with UV/Vis detection using an online preconcentration technique in the capillary itself, or detection via Mass Spectometry (MS). MS can also unequivocally identify the analysed compounds. Research has been specifically based on carbamates, a widely used pesticide family, and on sulfonamides, a group of wide-spectrum antibiotics commonly used in medicine and veterinary science. Results of this work have been published in the following journals: ‘Analytica Chimica Acta’, ‘Journal of Chromatography’, ‘Trends in Analytical Chemistry’ and ‘Electrophoresis.' Science Daily_ 9/18/07

U.S. National Academy of Sciences joins academies worldwide to address global drinking water crisis

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Global Health and Education Foundation are joining with science, engineering, and medical academies worldwide to take action on the drinking water crisis facing many countries by launching Safe Drinking Water Is Essential This Web resource will be the first tool of its kind to provide international decision makers with peer-reviewed scientific information about enhancing the safety of drinking water supplies. More than 125 academies worldwide are disseminating information about the Web resource, which is available in five languages. News Release/PNewswire/Yahoo!_ 9/10/07

Burn salt water for energy? Yes, really.

John Kanzius of Erie, Pennsylvania, tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. Instead, it caused a flash in the test tube. Within days, he had the salt water in the test tube burning like a candle, as long as it was exposed to radio frequencies. His discovery has spawned scientific interest in using the world's most abundant substance as clean fuel, among other uses. Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, held a demonstration last week at the university's Materials Research Laboratory in State College, to confirm what he'd witnessed weeks before in an Erie lab. "It's true, it works," Dr. Roy said. He called Mr. Kanzius' discovery "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years." One immediate question is energy efficiency: The energy the RF generator uses vs. the energy output from burning hydrogen. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette_ 9/9/07

August, 2007

Water-soaked planet-forming region near star seen
Scientists looking at a fledgling solar system have observed for the first time how water, considered a necessary ingredient for life, begins to make its way to newly forming planets.  They peered at an embryonic star called IRAS 4B located in our Milky Way galaxy about 1,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Perseus. A light year is about 6 trillion miles , the distance light travels in a year.  NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope enabled them to find quantities of water vapor equal to five times the volume of all the oceans on Earth that had rained down onto a dusty disk around the star where planets are believed to form.  "We're witnessing the arrival of some future solar system's supply of water," astronomer Dan Watson of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, who led the research published in the journal Nature, said in a phone interview.  "We think that what we're seeing in this object now is quite a lot like what our solar system was like at the same age," Watson added.  Scientists eager to learn whether life exists beyond Earth believe water is one of the key ingredients needed for any life forms. Reuters_8/29/07

Georgia Tech researchers develop simpler radium test that cuts analysis time

A simpler technique for testing public drinking water samples for the presence of the radioactive element radium can dramatically reduce the amount of time required to conduct the sampling required by federal regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved use of the new testing method. The technique – developed by Bernd Kahn, director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) Environmental Radiation Center (ERC), and GTRI senior research scientist Robert Rosson – became advantageous when the EPA established new radionuclide drinking water standards in 2000. While radium is found at low concentrations in soil, water, plants and food, the greatest potential for human exposure to radium is through drinking water. Research shows that inhalation, injection, ingestion or body exposure to relatively large amounts of radium can cause cancer and other disorders. Drinking water systems are now required to sample and report on the amount of two isotopes, radium-226 and radium-228, that are sometimes found in drinking water supplies. Since the new rules were published on March 12 in the Federal Register, the official publication of rules from U.S. government agencies, Rosson and Kahn have received dozens of requests for the testing procedure. Departments of natural resources around the country are interested in saving time and money by using GTRI’s procedure that tests for radium-226 and radium-228, according to Rosson. News Release_ 8/28/07

Water Quality Association reports NSF/ANSI 61 changed to include point-of-entry drinking water treatment systems

After years of work on the issue, NSF/ANSI 61 has been changed to include point-of-entry (POE) systems, as reported in the August issue of WQA Industry Update. The update is good news for manufacturers, who in some cases, had to test and certify equipment to two different standards for the same thing — materials safety. NSF/ANSI 61 is the international standard for drinking water additives. It covers materials safety for all products that come into contact with drinking water in public and semi-public water supply applications. Nearly all plumbing codes and states require compliance to Standard 61. NSF/ANSI 44 applies to residential and commercial cation-exchange water softeners. Because Standard 44 included its own section on materials safety, with different procedures for testing and certifying the materials, Standard 61 simply excluded POE drinking water treatment systems altogether. The problem is that the line between typical residential and commercial/industrial has blurred in recent years, says Water Quality Association (WQA) Technical Director Joseph F. Harrison, PE, CWS-VI. Harrison said many POE drinking water treatment systems are sold to and installed in semi-public water systems such as restaurants, hotels, schools, commercial and municipal applications. Because plumbing codes for these applications specifically call for certification to Standard 61, and 61 did not cover POE equipment, manufacturers of components such as media and ion-exchange resins, tanks, control valves, fittings, connectors, o-rings, and the like have routinely had to have products tested and certified twice for materials safety, to both NSF/ANSI 61 and 44. Water Quality Association_ 8/23/07

A renewable energy idea that could hold water
Around the corner from power stations pumping out carbon emissions in the Latrobe Valley, farmer and inventor Fred Sundermann has come up with an idea that he claims will revolutionise renewable energy generation.  Mr Sundermann, an inventor for decades, is looking at a prototype of his latest invention, the S-Turbine. Unlike similar water turbines around the world, he says, the S-Turbine makes it impossible for water to escape without being turned into energy.  "They use turbines in Holland and France but they get no power out of them because they're built like a fan," he says. "It's low-speed, the water just goes around them and they won't turn it.  "It (the S-Turbine) has to block the water, it has to block the water to get past."  Early small prototypes of the S-Turbine have produced 1 kilowatt hour of energy and, according to Mr Sundermann's team, this would increase exponentially in larger models and stronger tides as the energy output of the turbine doubles for every three knots of water passing through. The turbine sits on the sea or river bed.  Mr Sundermann envisages areas with strong river systems and tidal activity, such as parts of South America, South-East Asia, the Pacific and remote Aboriginal communities, using the small turbines as a cheap and easily assembled form of power generation and a clean alternative to diesel generators.  The Age.com_8/16/07

Saturn's small, watery secret

Icy chasms on one of Saturn's most humble moons, hidden amid its glorious rings, have overtaken the sands of Mars and the stratosphere of Venus as the most intriguing potential hiding place for alien life in our solar system. Enceladus, a shining ball of ice hugging Saturn's rings, was first caught in the act of spewing a watery geyser from its south pole two years ago by the international Cassini mission. Water, life's most crucial ingredient, was blasting 270 miles into space, actually hitting the orbiting spacecraft, from cracks on the frozen moon dubbed "tiger stripes." Astronomers and astrobiologists, who are always looking for signs of life far from Earth, were caught by surprise — and they remain so, unable to explain how such a small celestial body (only 318 miles wide at its equator ) can pump out so much water. And as for the big question — Does life exist there? — the answer is the same: Who knows? The most recent Cassini flyby of Enceladus, a distant one at 55,000 miles, was on June 28. Each such visit has heightened the interest of planetary scientists, who have erupted with their own flurry of theories, including two reports published in the journal Nature in May. USA Today_ 7/22/07

Scientists find signs of water beyond solar system
Astronomers said on Wednesday they had discovered the best evidence yet of water outside our own solar system -- in the atmosphere of a giant planet 60 light years from Earth.  Writing in the scientific journal Nature, researchers said the planet itself, HD 189733b, was unlikely to harbor life but evidence supported the search for life in other solar systems.  "We're thrilled to have identified clear signs of water on a planet that is trillions of miles away," Giovanna Tinetti, a European Space Agency fellow at the Institute d'Astrophysique de Paris in France who led the study, was quoted as saying in an accompanying news release.  "Although HD 189733b is far from being habitable, and actually provides a rather hostile environment, our discovery shows that water might be more common out there than previously thought, and our method can be used in the future to study more 'life-friendly' environments," Tinetti said.  Reuters_7/11/07

California water district to harness the sun
The irrigation district that serves Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy finalized a deal to make the sun's rays a cheaper and more reliable means of power.  On Thursday, Manteca-based South San Joaquin Irrigation District signed a deal with Sacramento-based SunTechnics Energy Systems Inc. to install one of the largest solar systems in the United States.  The $12.5 million agreement would put 11,040 solar modules on a seven-acre site adjacent to a water treatment plant. The new system provides enough juice to power 550 homes and offset more than 4.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide, according to Suntechnics officials.  The facility would be California's third largest, according to the California Solar Industry Association. Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County has a 2.3-megawatt system and the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District Rancho Seco site utilizes a 3.2-megawatt system.  Insidebayarea.com_6/22/07

Severn Trent Services introduces mini chlorine dioxide generator to disinfect water and remove iron and manganese

According to a company news release, the Capital Controls™ T70GS4000 is ideal for controlling Legionella in cooling water and building services industries. In addition, it can be used for primary water disinfection, THM reduction, iron and manganese removal in potable water treatment, wastewater treatment, and in the food and beverage industry for microbiological control. More than 245 Capital Control systems have been installed across Europe by Severn Trent Services over the last seven years. The systems employ an established and proven technology to offer a reliable, flexible and a low-cost method of chlorine dioxide production. News Release_ 6/12/07

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology develop low-tech way to turn dew into clean water

Inspired by the dew-collecting properties of leaves, the invention can extract a minimum of 48 liters of fresh water from the air each day. Depending on the number of collectors used, an unlimited daily supply of water could be produced even in remote and polluted places. Their invention recently won an international competition seeking to make clean, safe water available to millions around the world. The brainchild of Technion Architecture and Building Planning grad student Joseph Cory and his colleague Eyal Malka, "WatAir" is an inverted pyramid array of panels that collects dew from the air and turns it into fresh water in almost any climate. Jerusalem Post_ 6/10/07

Water-fueled engine appears on the horizon

An EE professor at Purdue University has found a way to produce hydrogen that replaces the need for gasoline by mixing water with beads of an aluminum-gallium alloy. The discovery could lead to engines that essentially burn water, instead of gasoline, since the gallium is not consumed in the reaction and the aluminum can be recycled.  Purdue has patented the process and has issued an exclusive license for it to an Indiana startup company, AlGalCo LLC.  EE professor Jerry Woodall discovered the process in the lab by accident, while cleaning a crucible containing liquid alloys of gallium and aluminum  "When I added water to this alloy, there was a violent poof," said Woodall. "When the aluminum atoms in the liquid alloy came into contact with the water, they reacted, splitting the water and producing hydrogen and aluminum oxide."  Woodall claims that several industrial process problems need to be solved before the water-fueled engine can become commercially viable. But eventually, he said, it could be used both in engines that burn the hydrogen directly and to charge up hydrogen fuel cells.  The reaction has no toxic by-products and can produce two kilowatts of power from a pound of aluminum, said Woodall. For a 350-mile trip in an automobile, it would take about 350 pounds of aluminum at a cost of about $60, since the aluminum oxide left over after the reaction could be converted back into aluminum-gallium pellets for reuse.  EE Times_5/16/07

Water flows like molasses on the nanoscale
Georgia Tech physicists have discovered that water loses its fluidity and displays high viscosity when compressed in nano sized channels. The team discovered that water displays the same level of viscosity as molasses when confined to channels less than two nanometres wide.  As such, determining the properties of water on the nanoscale may prove important for biological and pharmaceutical research as well as nanotechnology, the researchers write in their study in the March 15 issue of the journal Physical Review. Malaysian Sun_ 4/26/07

Water found outside our solar system for the first time

The finding in the atmosphere of exoplanet HD209458b is to be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal. It confirms previous theories that say water vapor is present in the atmospheres of nearly all the known extrasolar planets. Even hot Jupiters, gaseous planets that orbit closer to their stars than Mercury to our Sun, are thought to have water. The discovery, announced Tuesday, means one of the most crucial elements for life as we know it can exist around planets orbiting other stars. Travis Barman, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, made the discovery. In 1999, HD209458b became the first planet to be directly observed around a normal star outside our solar system and, a few years later, was the first exoplanet confirmed to have oxygen and carbon in its atmosphere. Using a combination of previously published Hubble Space Telescope measurements and new theoretical models, Barman found strong evidence for water absorption in the atmosphere of the extrasolar planet HD209458b. Astrophysical Journal/Space.com/USAToday_ 4/11/07

Physicists disclose water's secrets: University of Deleware's computer simulation of water molecules is based on laws of quantum physics

It's essential to all life, and numerous research papers are published about it every year. Yet there are still secrets to reveal about water, that seemingly simple compound we know as H2O. Equipped with high-speed computers and the laws of physics, scientists from the University of Delaware and Radboud University in the Netherlands have developed a new method to "flush out" the hidden properties of water. Their new first-principle simulation of water molecules--based exclusively on quantum physics laws and utilizing no experimental data--will aid science and industry in a broad range of applications, from biological investigations of protein folding and other life processes, to the design of the next generation of power plants. The research is reported in the article "Predictions of the Properties of Water from First Principles" in the March 2 issue of Science, a prestigious international journal. News Release/EurekaAlert_ 3/2/07

New technology removes viruses from water
U.S. scientists have developed an inexpensive, non-chlorine-based technology that removes harmful microorganisms, including viruses, from drinking water.  The University of Delaware's patented technology -- developed by Professors Pei Chiu and Yan Jin, in collaboration with virologist Kali Kniel -- incorporates highly reactive iron in the filtering process to deliver a chemical "knock-out punch" to a host of notorious pathogens, from E. coli to rotavirus.  The scientists say their new technology could dramatically improve the safety of drinking water around the world, particularly in developing countries.  "What is unique about our technology is its ability to remove viruses -- the smallest of the pathogens -- from water supplies," said Chiu, who noted viruses are resistant to chlorination, which is the dominant disinfection method used in the United States.  By using elemental iron in the filtration process, the researchers found they were able to remove more than 99.999 percent of viruses from drinking water.   Science Daily.com_3/1/07

Computer program bridges gap between scientists, water policy makers

A computer visualization tool developed by Arizona State University researchers can simulate the effects environmental and policy factors have on the future of water availability in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The program, called WaterSim, was scheduled for demonstration Feb. 17 by ASU geography professor Patricia Gober at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. WaterSim takes a cue from the SimCity video games, said Gober. It allows users to adjust factors such as population growth, climate change, land development, technological innovations and policy decisions and see how they could affect water supply in central Arizona. It was created by researchers at ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC), which studies the interplay between climate and water management. News Release_ 2/17/07

Open Energy Corp. completes engineering design for SunCone solar water desalination system

The initial design is geared toward decontamination of drinking water in remote, off-grid locations. The engineering team anticipates it will be coupled with off-the-shelf membrane filtration or multi-stage flash distillation hardware, depending upon the specific water input sources to be treated. This same design can be used to supplant conventional thermal power system applications, such as pre-heating steam for turbine electricity. The functionality of the Suncone CSP system requires few basic components: the Suncone reflector, a solar tracking devise, a target that absorbs the incident radiation and conducts it into a heat transfer fluid (HTF), and application specific hardware to interface with a particular water purification system. Open Energy plans to utilize outside manufacturing entities for the various components, then package systems for distribution. News Release_ 2/8/07

3-D seismic model of vast water reservoir under eastern Asia is first evidence for water in the Earth's deep mantle

A seismologist at Washington University in St. Louis has made the first 3-D model of seismic wave damping — diminishing — deep in the Earth's mantle and has revealed the existence of an underground water reservoir at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean. It is the first evidence for water existing in the Earth's deep mantle. Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., Washington University professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, working with former graduate student Jesse Lawrence (now at the University of California, San Diego), analyzed 80,000 shear waves from more than 600,000 seismograms and found a large area in Earth's lower mantle beneath eastern Asia where water is damping out, or attenuating, seismic waves from earthquakes. The research is described in a forthcoming monograph, Earth's Deep Water Cycle, which is in press to be published by the American Geophysical Union. Seventy percent of the earth is covered by water, which is very important for the earth's geology, serving as a lubricant that allows efficient convection and plate tectonics and the continental collisions that form mountains. "Water is like a lubricant, constantly oiling the machine of mantle convection which then drives plate tectonics and causes the continents to move about Earth's surface," Wysession said. "Look at our sister planet, Venus. It is very hot and dry inside Venus, and Venus has no plate tectonics. All the water probably boiled off, and without water, there are no plates. The system is locked up, like a rusty Tin Man with no oil." News Release_ 2/7/07

Researchers earn $200,000 prize for filtering arsenic from water wells

An international team of engineers led by Lehigh Prof. Arup SenGupta has won a $200,000 prize for its efforts to counter what some people have called the world's worst environmental catastrophe.  The researchers, who have designed a system that filters arsenic from well water, will receive the Silver Award in a contest sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and The Grainger Foundation.  The awards were announced Feb. 1 by NAE and will be presented at the 2007 NAE Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Washington, D.C.  The 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability sought innovative solutions for removing arsenic from drinking water. Of the 70 teams submitting entries, three won prizes. The NAE, a private, nonprofit institution, advises the federal government and conducts engineering studies. The Grainger Foundation supports education, museums, health care and human services.  The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 100 million people in India and Bangladesh may be drinking well water that contains toxic levels of arsenic. Victims suffer skin lesions, cancer and even death. WHO calls the phenomenon the "largest mass poisoning of a population in history."  Press Release_2/1/07

Scientists track Earth's water with isotopes

For the first time, scientists have used a spaceborne instrument to track the origin and movements of water vapor throughout Earth's atmosphere, providing a new perspective on the dominant role Earth's water cycle plays in weather and climate.  A team of scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer on NASA's Aura satellite to gather data on "heavy" and "light" water vapor in order to retrace the history of water over oceans and continents, from ice and liquid to vapor and back again. The researchers were able to distinguish between the two because heavy water vapor molecules have more neutrons than lighter ones do.  By analyzing the distribution of the heavy and light molecules, the team was able to deduce the sources and processes that cycle water, the most abundant greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere, said David Noone of CU-Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Noone, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's atmospheric and oceanic sciences department, is the corresponding author of a paper on the subject that appears in the Feb. 1 issue of Nature.  The team found that tropical rainfall evaporation and water "exhaled" by forests are key sources of moisture to the tropical atmosphere. The researchers noted that much more water than expected is transported into the lower troposphere over land than over oceans, especially over the Amazon River basin and in tropical Africa.  The team also found evidence that water transported upward by thunderstorm activity over land originates from both plant "exhalation" in large forests and evaporation over nearby oceans. The balance between the two sources indicates how vegetation interacts with climate and helps maintain regional rainfall levels.  "This link between vegetation, hydrology and climate has implications for how societies choose to manage their ecological resources," said Noone. "Our measurements provide a baseline against which future changes in vegetation and climate interactions can be measured."   Physorg.com_2/1/07

December, 2006

UK Water cleaning system wins award

A University of Manchester researcher has won an innovation award for a system which could make contaminated water safe to drink.  Dr Nigel Brown's Aquacart system works by using a material to absorb organic pollutants in water, which are then destroyed with an electric current.  The process appears to completely destroy the harmful compounds, leaving no residue - and clean water.  It is thought the system could deliver a cheap way of cleaning dirty water.  The Royal Society of Chemistry award is in recognition of the practical application that Dr Brown's cleaning process could have.  BBC_12/13/06

Scientists looking for ways to pull water for U.S. troops out of the desert air

Contractors working with the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) say they’re on the verge of perfecting new machines that will pull water vapor out of the atmosphere to create a nearly unlimited reservoir of drinking water for troops. Service officials confirmed that testing of the new technology is already under way, and, if successful, the project could have a dramatic impact on transportation and supply operations throughout the world. TARDEC officials said water distribution can account for up to 40 percent of the daily sustainment requirement for a typical army unit. Cutting down on water convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan could trim transportation expenses, conserve fuel and save lives, officials said. No information has been released on when the new machines could be put into the field or even what they might look like after the military is finished analyzing and refining them. But contractors from Aqua Sciences and Hamilton Sundstrand believe that in a few years, troops will be using the new technology. Stars and Stripes_ 11/26/06

Rice University researchers use nanotechnology to purify drinking water
Researchers at Rice University have uncovered a revolutionary method using nanotechnology for cleaning arsenic from drinking water, a breakthrough that could have major health implications in developing countries.  The discovery was made by scientists at Houston-based Rice's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), involving magnetic interactions between specs of rust smaller than viruses.   The results are to be published Nov. 10 in Science magazine.  "Arsenic contamination in drinking water is a global problem, and while there are ways to remove arsenic, they require extensive hardware and high-pressure pumps that run on electricity," said CBEN director and lead author Vicki Colvin.  "Our approach is simple and requires no electricity. While the nanoparticles used are expensive, we are working on new approaches to production that use rust and olive oil, and require no more facilities than a kitchen with a gas cooktop."  BizJournals.com_11/9/06

UCLA engineers develop nonotech water membrane that promises to reduce the cost of seawater desalination and wastewater reclamation

The new membrane, developed by civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Eric Hoek and his research team at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, uses a uniquely cross-linked matrix of polymers and engineered nanoparticles designed to draw in water ions but repel nearly all contaminants. These new membranes are structured at the nanoscale to create molecular tunnels through which water flows more easily than contaminants. With these improvements, less energy is needed to pump water through the membranes. Because they repel particles that might ordinarily stick to the surface, the new membranes foul more slowly than conventional ones. The result is a water purification process that is just as effective as current methods but more energy efficient and potentially much less expensive. Initial tests suggest the new membranes have up to twice the productivity -- or consume 50 percent less energy -- reducing the total expense of desalinated water by as much as 25 percent. physorg.com_ 11/6/06

Water filter inventors stand by product despite illnesses
The Christchurch couple which invented a water filtration system for use by intetrnational aid agencies say they standing by their product despite tthe hospitalization of two journalists who tested it.  Four reporters from The New Zealand Herald, TVNZ and TV3 suffered serious stomach problems, with two of them requiring emergency treatment in hospital.  All four were covering the launch of Russell and Sue Kelly's water filtration system which is designed to turn polluted water and raw sewage into drinking water.  Ms Kelly told Radio New Zealand the sample may have inadvertently become contaminated, but she stands by the effectiveness of the filtration system.  National Business Review_11/2/06

October, 2006

A $3 water purifier that could save lives

About 6,000 people a day — most of them children — die from water-borne diseases. Vestergaard Frandsen, a Danish textile company that supplies water filters to the Carter Center guinea worm eradication program and mosquito-killing plastic tarps to refugee camps, has come up with a new invention meant to render dangerous water drinkable. The invention is called Lifestraw, a plastic tube that isn’t perfect, but it filters out at least 99.99 percent of many parasites and bacteria, the demons in most fatal cases of diarrhea. It is less effective against viruses, which are much smaller and cause diseases like polio and hepatitis, and it wouldn’t protect American backpackers against the parasite giardia. It needs more field-testing, but already in the works is a Lifestraw toddler version — which will be squeezable. New York Times_ 10/10/06 (logon required)

Pentagon project claims it produces water from thin air

An American company claims that it has figured out how to produce potable water from thin air, even in low humidity climates. A spokesman for the company, Aqua Sciences, declined to reveal the technical details, but he compared it to the old trick of using rice to keep salt from clumping. The machine, which was displayed in Washington, DC, for members of Congress, is claimed to produce 600 gallons of water a day The company claims that it could produce water for troops in Iraq more cheaply than flying or trucking it in. The company claims it can produce water for about 30 cents per gallon and requires only 14 percent humidity. Wired News_ 10/6/06

Scientists revise phase diagram of water

U.S. supercomputer studies have altered the theoretical diagram used by scientists to understand water features at extreme temperatures and pressures.  The new computational model constructed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories also reportedly expands the known range of water's electrical conductivity.  The Sandia theoretical work by Thomas Mattsson and Mike Desjarlais showed phase boundaries for "metallic water" -- water with its electrons able to migrate like a metal's electrons -- should be lowered from 7,000 to 4,000 kelvin and from 250 to 100 gigapascals.  Such a lowered boundary is expected to revise astronomers' calculations of the strength of the magnetic cores of gas-giant planets such as Neptune. Because the planet's temperatures and pressures lie partly in the revised sector, its electrically conducting water probably contributes to its magnetic field, formerly thought to be generated only by the planet's core.  The calculations are also said to agree with experimental measurements in research led by Peter Celliers of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  United Press International_10/4/06

Northbrook, Illinois runs water plant on wind power

By signing an electricity contract last month the village became the first municipality in Illinois, and one of the first in the country, to purchase enough wind-generated energy to run an entire municipal utility, its water plant. The contract, approved by the Village Board, is expected to add $4 to $5 to an average residential water bill each year, according to Northbrook officials. Considered a "clean and green" form of alternative energy because it creates electricity with no combustion, smoke or waste, wind-generated power slowly has been increasing in popularity since cities such as Eugene, Ore., first began using the technology in the late 1990s. Wind energy accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation's electricity, but the Energy Information Administration reports that wind farms were the country's second-largest source of new power generation in 2005, trailing natural gas. Chicago Tribune_ 10/2/06

September, 2006

Air alchemy: Can humidity solve post hurricane drinking water problem?

As emergency officials ponder how to better help their residents after disasters, some companies are pushing machines that pull the humidity from the air and turn it into drinking water. A few are also touting the machines as a potential solution to the clean water shortages that plague the Third World, pushing aside concerns that the machines are inefficient and require fuel that also might be scarce. The biggest machines can make up to 5,000 liters of water a day, enough to provide about a gallon to 1,250 people. Small units cost several hundred dollars, while the biggest, most elaborate cost half a million. Among the companies are Utah-based AquaMagic, Miami Beach-based Air Water Corp., and a Canadian company called Wataire Industries. AP/USA Today_ 9/29/06

Nanotechnology could ease the world's water woes

Scientists are exploring the possibility of using nanotechnology to purify public water supplies. In some areas of the country, people already feel the pressure of limited water supplies. In those places, local water companies either try to find ways to desalinate the water or they consider other sources—like wastewater. Nanotechnology could make water reuse a more feasible alternative, because it could be used to identify and remove contaminants that conventional technology cannot. When attacking problems like water availability, nanotechnology is an attractive option because it has the potential to alleviate water woes worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 35 percent of all deaths are due to contaminated drinking water. NYU's Scienceline_ 9/22/06

Deep ice tells long climate story

Carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at anytime in the last 800,000 years, the latest study of ice drilled out of Antarctica confirms. The in-depth analysis of air bubbles trapped in a 3.2km-long core of frozen snow shows current greenhouse gas concentrations are unprecedented. The East Antarctic core is the longest, deepest ice column yet extracted. Project scientists say its contents indicate humans could be bringing about dangerous climate changes. BBC News_ 9/4/06

August, 2006

Collect rainwater for toilet water

A water-saving environmentalist publishes a detailed explanation on how he harvests rainwater to fill his toilet.
Domestic potable water collection requires effort, energy, and chemicals for purification and transport. Toilets use 20 to 25% of water consumed in a residential house. Why are we flushing drinkable water down the toilet? In some other countries of the world, rainwater harvesting on a residential level is a mandatory part of building codes.There's quite a bit of setup involved here, but it's still, a neat and satisfying way to save the environment and money on water bills.  Lifehacker.com_8/24/06

Tea 'healthier' drink than water
UK Researchers recommend people consume three to four cups a day

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.  The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.  Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.  Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.  These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.  BBC_8/24/06

Technology can screen water bottles for explosives

By WaterWebster Staff©

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Technology currently in use in Philadelphia can detect explosive chemicals in water bottles, the manufacturer said Saturday. “We have a portable system,” Roger Spillmann, president and chief executive of HiEnergy Technologies Inc. said. “We are able to detect explosives in bottles.” Spillmann said in a telephone interview with WaterWebster.com that the technology used by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Agency could be expanded to scan water bottles and other fluid containers for combustible material at airports. All fluids, including bottled water, were banned from airlines in the U.S. and Great Britain this week when security forces uncovered a suspected plot to blow up airliners using liquid explosives.

Read the full WaterWebster story

Turning air into water

At first glance, it appears to be a typical pop-up camper hitched to truck. But the compact machine has the ability to create 120 gallons of water a day out of thin air. It's creators call it "Aqua-magic." Company founders Jonathan Wright and David Richards said the mobile water generator can be used anywhere for virtually any need. Undeveloped countries can use it as a clean water supply; it can be used for military personnel or for disaster response teams and hurricane preparedness planning. The HP 120 model is sold for $35,000, significantly less that other new technologies, Wright said. Tampa Tribune/Hernandotoday.com_ 8/13/06

Ancient Arctic water cycles are red flags to future global water supplies

Ancient plant life recovered in recent Arctic Ocean sampling cores shows that at the time of the last major global warming, humidity, precipitation levels and salinity of the ocean water altered drastically, along with the elevated temperatures and levels of greenhouse gases, according to a report in the August 10 issue of Nature. The Arctic Ocean drilling expedition in 2004 allowed scientists to directly measure samples of biological and geological material from the beginning of the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), a period of rapid, extreme global warming about 55 million years ago. It has given researchers a direct resource of measurable information on global warming -- from a time when the overall global temperature was higher and more uniform from the subtropics to the arctic. Mark Pagani, professor of geology and geophysics at Yale and principal author of the study, said "The isotope traces we measured indicated that a large-scale alteration in the water cycle occurred and that future alterations may leave us poorly equipped to predict our water supply. Without being hysteric, it is important to realize that the impact of global warming is not just about searing hot summers -- it is about water as a resource. It is about when and where it rains and how much we have to drink," said Pagani. "This is a red flag." Pagani and his collaborators show that water and atmospheric water vapor are a major indicator of the "greenhouse" changes. Press Release/EurekAlert_ 8/11/06

Wisconsin's Pierce Manufacturing Inc. to produce water filtration truck for disaster areas

Pierce, an Appleton specialty truck manufacturer, is set to produce a new tactical water filtration truck designed to produce drinking water from contaminated water. The new vehicle is largely a response to recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The truck was designed and built through a joint marketing and supply agreement between Pierce and Ecosphere Systems Inc., a unit of UltraStrip Systems Inc., a Stuart, Fla.-based developer of technology for homeland security, marine, disaster relief and defense applications. Pierce Manufacturing is a subsidiary of Oshkosh Truck Corp., Oshkosh, that produces fire apparatus and homeland security vehicles. Business Journal/Yahoo_ 8/9/06

General Electric develops water purifier for tsunami survivors

General Electric (GE) Wednesday said it has developed a solar-powered fresh water purification system to help the relocated tsunami-affected villagers with pure drinking water. The units are capable of producing 75 litres per hour of pure drinking water. One unit will purify enough water to meet the drinking and cooking water needs of 200 families. Indo-Asian News Service/monstersandcritics.com_ 8/9/06

July, 2006

Toy hydrogen-powered car offers glimpse of future

It's a dream that's been pursued for years by governments, energy companies and automakers so far without success: Mass-producing affordable hydrogen-powered cars that spew just clean water from their tailpipes.  So Shanghai's Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies decided to start small. Really small.  This month, it will begin sales of a tiny hydrogen fuel-cell car, complete with its own miniature solar-powered refueling station. The $80.00 toy is a step toward introducing the technology to the public and making it commercially viable.  "Public awareness and education are the first steps toward commercialization," said Horizon founder Taras Wankewycz, 32. "We want to make sure this technology gets adapted globally."   CNN_7/24/06

Water project really cool idea

Cold water 83 metres below the surface of Lake Ontario is cooling office towers in downtown Toronto, easing the demand on Ontario's overburdened power generation system and reducing greenhouse gases.  Launched by Enwave Energy Corp., in 2004, the good news is that the system will be connected to 32 more towers next year, more than tripling the 14 already being serviced.  The concept is similar to that of a heat pump, only on a far larger scale. Cold water is pumped five kilometres through three polyethylene pipes to the city's filtration plant on one of the islands just off Toronto's shoreline. After treatment, it goes to an energy transfer station downtown, where it passes through a heat exchanger. There, coldness extracted from the lake water chills water in Enwave's pipe system that circulates through the buildings of its customers. It cools the buildings, eliminating the need for more costly and energy-guzzling air- conditioning systems. The lake water used in the cooling process is not wasted, but goes into the city's potable water system.  When more buildings are connected, the project will save enough electricity to power 7,000 homes, and the reduction in carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) is the equivalent of turning off 8,000 vehicles. 

Opinion London Free Press 7/23/06

First all-natural hot beverage cup made from corn-based bioplastic

Breaks down into water, carbon dioxide and organic matter

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and International Paper have teamed to launch the only all-natural paper hot beverage cup available in consumer outlets throughout the U.S.  A conventional cup is lined with a petroleum-based plastic to prevent leaking. The new cup is lined with a bio-plastic made from a renewable resource -- corn. After use, and under the proper conditions, it will break down into water, carbon dioxide and organic matter.  "For 25 years, we've said that we craft our coffee with care. Now our cups are crafted just as carefully," said T.J. Whalen, vice president of marketing for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. "These cups, made from fully renewable resources, are part of our corporate commitment to environmental stewardship." Earthvision_7/13/06

Surprising discovery by scientists at Chicago's Argonne National Laboratory leads to new understanding of water quality

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered new ways that ions interact with mineral surfaces in water, opening a door to new knowledge on how contaminants travel in the environment. The insight, published in today's issue of Physical Review Letters, leads to a better understanding of the factors that determine water quality. The findings built on earlier work on cation adsorption using traditional x-ray scattering techniques. The Argonne scientists, working together with researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, previously discovered an anomaly in the way that ions adsorb. The team collaborated again with the new element-specific technique which led to this new discovery, central to understanding the behavior of ions at solid-liquid interfaces. Press Release_ 7/10/06

NASA satellites find balance in South America's water cycle

For the first time, NASA scientists using space-based measurements have directly monitored and measured the complete cycle of water movement for an entire continent.  Using satellite data from three Earth-orbiting NASA missions -- Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat), Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) -- a science team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., directly observed the seasonal cycling of water into and out of South America. Their research confirmed that the amount of water as rain or snow flowing into the continent from the marine atmosphere is in balance with the estimated amount of water returned to the ocean by the continent's rivers.  The findings are significant because until now there had been no direct way to monitor continental water balance. Scientists had been estimating the balance through regional ground-based measurements and computer models. The findings are published in Geophysical Research Letters.  AScribe_7/5/06

Texas A&M research to assist national urban water demand planning
As predicting future urban water use becomes more complex, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station study could help lessen the burden facing city planners nationwide.  A federal grant from the U.S. Geological Survey will help fund the research, which is anticipated to reveal new trends and opportunities in water use.  Findings will be used to improve planning models, said Dr. Ron Griffin, Experiment Station economist. The results will help provide a better understanding of what drives water use in urban environments.  Water rates, meter charges and other use data will be collected from several hundred cities, helping to reveal what is expected to be a "diversity of water rates across the nation." AgNews_7/5/06

Like water off a beetle's back, scientists see potential to harvest water from fog

In making a new type of material that can trap and channel tiny amounts of liquid, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found inspiration in the dime-size Stenocara beetle in the Namib Desert of Africa. Last month, in the journal Nano Letters, Dr. Cohen and Dr. Michael F. Rubner reported success in mimicking the beetle. The material could have practical uses. In arid regions, people may be able to harvest water from fog. New York Times_ 6/27/06

Subterranean life thrives deep in Texas' Edwards Aquifer

Annette Summers Engel and a team of geologists from Louisiana State University have found a bacteria-based ecosystem thriving 1,000 feet below San Antonio, where the fresh water of the Edwards Aquifer intersects with a lesser-known body of salty water. Called "the badwater" by local ranchers and well-drillers, this reservoir provides a chemical food source for bacteria that, in turn, support an array of underground life, including blind fish and salamanders, according to a study to be published in the journal Geomicrobiology. The total extent of the badwater is unknown. The source of the salts likely is a gypsum layer deposited 65 million years ago, when Texas was underwater. The badwater dissolves these salts of an ancient sea. Beyond the scientific significance of these species, protecting them adds another wrinkle to already contentious water regulation. Houston Chronicle_ 6/19/06

Kenya: Researchers unveil simple aerobic sewage treatment plant

Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) scientists say the Sh1.5 million project that took them four years of research is cost-effective and has many advantages. Environmental experts say the invention would reduce pollution within municipalities in East Africa - the main culprits in the pollution - especially in Lake Victoria. The recycled water, they say, is certified fit for human consumption, is odour-free and can save colossal amounts of money that hotels and agro-chemical factories incur to purchase water. The innovation comes at the same time as a Sh2 billion French Government-sponsored project to upgrade the dilapidated water and sewerage system in Kisumu. Municipalities like Kisumu and Homa Bay, whose sewerage treatment plants broke down decades ago, and now discharge raw sewage into Lake Victoria, stand to benefit from the new invention. The Kemri system uses bacteria to eat waste and transform it into non-polluting material. Researchers say eight different types of organisms are used in the process. These heavy-duty bacteria break down waste and sewerage in many Western nations. East African Standard/AllAfrica.com_ 6/19/06

NanoDynamics CEO to Keynote GAP Forum on Clean Water
NanoDynamics, Inc. CEO Keith Blakely will provide the keynote address at The Global Access Partners (GAP) Forum's upcoming event, Commercialising Nanotechnology in Water 2006. Held June 15th and 16th, 2006 in Melbourne, Australia, the GAP event will bring key decision makers and industry representatives together to focus on nanotechnology's commercial capabilities for water treatment and management.  "Clean water represents one of the most pressing environmental concerns that nanotechnology is addressing today," Blakely  said.  "Roughly one sixth of the world's population lacks access to drinkable water, and our increasingly limited water resources at home are vulnerable to both natural emergency and national security threats. The solution lies in offering engineers and scientists critical new nano-scale materials and tools for developing more effective, lower-cost products for efficient resource use and environmental remediation." Genetic Engineering News_6/14/06


The grand slam: rocketing water to the Moon

A strikingly simple concept would provide efficient water provisions for human outposts/bases on the Moon. The idea is to repeatedly clobber our already crater-rich neighbor with tons of water ice—to establish an "anywhere, anytime" delivery system.

Not only could chucking a payload of water ice to the Moon help sustain an expeditionary crew there, the impact mimics—in experimental form—a comet strike. Therefore, it’s a double-whammy: A science mission wrapped within an exploration capability test mission.  Spearheading the speculative ploy—called SLAM—is Alan Stern, executive director of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).  "I hope the SLAM idea stimulates thought and gets people thinking a little bit more out of the box," Stern told SPACE.com. "When we have people on the Moon, they are going to need water. This is an exceptionally efficient, low-cost way to get it there." SLAM needs no mid-course correction en route to the Moon, nor a spacecraft for that matter. All that’s necessary is a thermal jacket for the water ice payload that’s flung by rocket booster toward any selected spot on the Moon.  SLAM could even serve as an emergency, launch-on-demand service, Stern continued, for lunar-situated crews in need of a rapid recharge of oxygen, hydrogen, or liquid water to drink.  Space.com_5/24/06

Planet in newly found system may have water, astronomers say

A solar system astronomers recently discovered near ours has at least one planet that may contain water, a requirement for supporting life, according to a report to appear in the journal Nature.  The three planets orbiting the star HD 69830, which is about 41 light-years away and visible with the naked eye, have masses 5 to 20 times larger than Earth and are about the size of Neptune, according to the report in tomorrow's edition of the journal.  The two planets closest to the star probably are rocky, while the outer planet is likely to have a gaseous atmosphere around a rocky core. The outer planet is the right distance from the star to have liquid water, the astronomers said. ``The architecture of this particular planetary system bears some intriguing similarities to that of our own solar system,'' including multiple planets in nearly circular orbits, Harvard University astronomer David Charbonneau wrote in an accompanying editorial.  Bloomberg_5/17/06

Sanyo, Tottori University use electrolyzed water technology to suppress bird flu viruses

Tap water is source and environmentally safe

Researchers at Sanyo Electric Co Ltd and Tottori University announced that a proprietary electrolyzed water technology effectively suppresses avian influenza (bird flu) viruses.   It was shown that electrolyzed water technology -- disinfectant element system and disinfectant electrolyzed mist system -- was effective in suppressing more that 99% of airborne avian influenza viruses.  Experiments were conducted to study the efficacy of Sanyo's disinfectant element and disinfectant electrolyzed mist systems, containing only a 10mg/l concentration of free residual chlorine. Sanyo applied a diluted amount of electrolyzed water, created from conventional tap water using the firm's electrolyzing process. The results confirmed that 99% of airborne avian influenza viruses were suppressed when passed only one time through the disinfectant element system, or when sprayed with the disinfectant electrolyzed mist. The electrolyzed water is simple to make from tap water and has a low concentration of free residual chlorine compared to chlorine-based disinfectant (which contains 500-1,000mg/l free residual chlorine). Thus, Sanyo's proprietary technology suppresses the avian influenza virus and is also safe for the environment. NE Asia Online_5/17/06

 

Water and nanoelectronics will mix to create ultra-dense memory storage devices, researchers say
Excessive moisture can typically wreak havoc on electronic devices, but now researchers have demonstrated that a little water can help create ultra-dense storage systems for computers and electronics.  A team of experimentalists and theorists at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Harvard University has proposed a new and surprisingly effective means of stabilizing and controlling ferroelectricity in nanostructures: terminating their surfaces with fragments of water.   Ferroelectrics are technologically important "smart" materials for many applications because they have local dipoles, which can switch up and down to encode and store information.  The team's work is reported in the April issue of Nano Letters. Though a scheme for the dense arrangement and addressing of these nanowires remains to be developed, such an approach would enable a storage density of more than 100,000 terabits per cubic centimeter. If this memory density can be realized commercially, a device the size of an iPod nano could hold enough MP3 music to play for 300,000 years without repeating a song or enough DVD quality video to play movies for 10,000 years without repetition.   Penn_4/27/06

Mac-compatible water temp logger helps marine science
Marine biologists and oceanographers interested in recording water temperatures may be interested in Onset Computer Corp.’s new HOBO Water Temp Pro v2, a Mac-compatible data logger.  The HOBO Water Temp Pro v2 is encased in a durable polypropelene housing that can withstand years of use in fresh or salt water, according to Onset, and has been rated for use in temperatures up to 50 degrees Centigrade. It can measure and record water temperature for more than one year before reaching memory capacity. The device is compatible with Onset’s new HOBO Waterproof Shuttle, and can be offloaded using an optic USB interface. It is depth-rated up to 400 feet.  Macworld_4/26/06

NASA to crash probe into moon in search of water

The probe will hitchhike on a lunar orbiter that the agency aims to launch in late 2008. The landing will be the first step in an effort by NASA to return humans to the moon and eventually establish a manned base there. The mission will be the first U.S. moon landing in 36 years. In late January NASA asked its ten regional field centers to submit proposals for a spacecraft that could travel to the moon with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will be launched in October 2008. The agency received 19 proposals. Today NASA announced the winner of the competition: the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). A team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will develop the spacecraft. National Geographic_ 4/10/06

Swift telescope captures mighty water mass from Comet Tempel 1

The Nasa projectile that slammed into Comet Tempel 1 last year kicked out at least 250,000 tonnes of water. Swift's X-ray data, part of the study of NASA's Deep Impact event, shows more water was released and over a longer time scale than had previously been thought. On 4 July last year, it was among a fleet of space and ground-based telescopes asked to watch what happened when Nasa's Deep Impact probe released a 370kg projectile into the path of the 14km-wide Comet Tempel 1. But whilst the other observatories made relatively quick studies and then turned away, Swift continued to look at the impacted "ice mountain" on and off for more than 60 days. Its patience paid off. Swift's X-ray Telescope (XRT) saw the comet continue to release water for some 13 days after the initial event, with a peak five days on from the collision. X-rays provide a direct measurement of the colossal amount of water thrown out as a result of the impact - the Earth-equivalent volume of about 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  BBC News_ 4/4/06

March, 2006

Samsung says new washers use silver to kill bacteria in cold water

Samsung Electronics Co. said it will sell a washing machine that uses silver to kill bacteria in cold water without bleach. The South Korea-based manufacturer said in a statement that its new front-loading washer, which will start selling in the United States this month at a suggested price of up to $1,399, injects tiny silver ions into the tub during the wash and rinse cycles to sanitize clothes. Samsung said that in tests, the cleaning process removed or killed 99.9 percent of odor-causing bacteria, including E. coli. Silver has long been known for its cleaning properties. Research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that some resistant strains of disease cannot develop with silver the way that they will with antibiotics. Water treatment facilities that service hospitals also use silver ions. Reuters_ 3/23/06

In UK, water pipe leaks reported by text

The details of underground water leaks are to be texted to a water firm as part of a high-tech project to cut the amount of water lost. About 5,000 transmitters are being installed under streets and pavements across the North West by water firm United Utilities. They detect leaking water mains which would not be visible above ground. The scheme has been a year in the planning and is part of a £5.2m drive to reduce water leaks. BBC News_ 3/22/06

In Tanzania, villagers use the sun to sterilise water
The piped water supply to Ndolela village in the central Iringa region is intermittent and even when it does flow, it is not clean enough to drink. When the pipes run dry, villagers get water from a dirty spring. Like many others in rural Africa with no access to safe drinking water, villagers used to sterilise water by boiling it. Now, about 40 houses in Ndolela are using solar purification. They fill plastic bottles, put on the lids, and leave them on the black-painted roofs. The sun heats the water, helped by the black roof, which helps to absorb the heat. Solar radiation means a combination of ultra-violet rays and heat destroys the bacteria which cause common water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diahorrea. After eight hours in the sun, it is ready to drink. BBC News_ 3/22/06

Cassini spots water geysers on Saturn moon Enceladus

'Smoking gun' for water in space
The orbiting Cassini spacecraft has spotted what appear to be water geysers on one of Saturn's icy moons, raising the tantalizing possibility that the celestial object harbors life.  The surprising images from the moon Enceladus represent some of the most dramatic evidence yet that water in liquid form may be present beyond the Earth.  Excited by the discovery, some scientists said Enceladus should be added to the short list of places within the solar system most likely to have extraterrestrial life.  Scientists generally agree several ingredients are needed for life to emerge, including water in liquid form and a stable heat source. But so far, the evidence of any large amounts of water in liquid form on celestial objects beyond Earth is circumstantial and indirect, based on scientists' analysis of rocks and other data.  Cassini recently snapped high-resolution images showing geyser-like eruptions of ice particles and water vapor at Enceladus' south pole, scientists said. The pictures do not actually show any water in liquid form, but scientists believe the ice and vapor must be coming from underground reservoirs of water close to the surface.  "We have the smoking gun" that proves the existence of water, said Carolyn Porco, a Cassini imaging scientist from the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.  Herald Tribune_3/9/06

U.S. researchers turn to supercomputer to answer water mystery
Familiar as it is, there's a lot we don't know about water -- such as the structure taken up by liquid water molecules. With a grant of time on one of the fastest computers in the U.S., researchers at UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Berkeley hope to plunge into the problem and come up with some answers. "Water is unique. It shouldn't be a liquid at this temperature," said Giulia Galli, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and principal investigator on the project. Until recently, water molecules were thought to cluster in tetrahedral groups of four. But in 2004, researchers at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center claimed to have found structures of rings and chains instead. Another team at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory conducted similar experiments and reaffirmed the old tetrahedral model. Starting from very basic "first principles" about hydrogen and oxygen atoms, researchers will run computational models of water and see how it ought to behave. The experiments will run on the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory, using a grant of 2.5 million hours of computer processor time awarded through the U.S. Department of Energy's INCITE (Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment) program. The researchers expect that the experiments will actually take about two months of computer time spread over several months. Physorg.com_ 2/27/06

Kenya's age-old Lake Bogoria is said to contain spirits and a washday miracle

In generations past, the people who lived around this most unusual of lakes attributed mystical powers to its water. Chilly in some points and scalding in others, Lake Bogoria could supposedly wash away an array of maladies from skin ailments to stress. Equally miraculous uses have been discovered recently for the water, which is as salty as the sea and holds hearty microorganisms not commonly found in other parts of the world. Those stonewashed jeans that fit oh, so right may owe their bleached appearance and soft feel to Lake Bogoria, or more specifically to an enzyme isolated from a microbe collected here. Another enzyme derived from creatures in Kenyan salt lakes like this one plays an important role in commonly used detergents, rooting out difficult stains and reducing the pills on cotton fabrics. What the company that developed the commercial uses for the microbes trumpets as innovative science, Kenyan authorities are decrying as "bio-piracy." Developing countries seek to share in the profits made from their biological riches, whether from a fungus found in giraffe dung, an antibiotic discovered in a termite mound or an appetite suppressant derived from a cactus. The International Convention on Biological Diversity, which came out of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, commits countries to equitable sharing of some of the benefits derived from biological resources. But advocacy groups say the convention is routinely ignored. New York Times_ 2/21/06 (logon required)

 

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