Water Technology / Treatment

  • WaterGetting the salt out

    By David L. Chandler

    The boom in oil and gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is seen as a boon for meeting U.S. energy needs. But one byproduct of the process is millions of gallons of water that’s much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from rocks deep below the surface. Study shows electrodialysis can provide cost-effective treatment of salty water from fracked wells.

  • WaterSimulations reveal California’s resilience to extreme droughts

    The results from a series of several-year-old computer simulations reveal that the state of California may be more resilient to long-term drought conditions than previously believed. “The results were surprising,” said one of the scientists involved in the study. “California has a remarkable ability to weather extreme and prolonged droughts from an economic perspective.”

  • DroughtCalifornia communities running out of water

    Since January, a number of California communities in the Central Valley have been experiencing such extreme drought that they have been placed on a “critical water systems” list — a ranking indicating that the areas could run completely dry within sixty days. Many of these areas have had wells dried up since July.

  • WaterReduce river pollution through water-quality trading

    Allowing polluters to buy, sell, or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at lower cost than requiring the facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, a new study finds. The scale and type of the trading programs, though critical, may matter less than just getting them started.

  • WaterCheap, easy-to-install water purifying system for remote communities

    About 1.5 million people — and 90 percent of them children — die every year from consuming untreated or contaminated water. University of Adelaide mechanical engineering students and staff have designed a low-cost and easily made drinking water treatment system suitable for remote communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) — using foil chip packets and some glass tubing.

  • WaterSun-powered desalination for villages in India

    By David L. Chandler

    Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water — and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants. MIT researchers show that a different desalination technology called electrodialysis, powered by solar panels, could provide enough clean, palatable drinking water to supply the needs of a typical village.

  • WaterDeveloping portable water purifying device for the U.S. military

    Providing a reliable source of purified drinking water for the U.S. soldiers in the field is the focus of a research grant at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health. The research aims to develop a portable water treatment device which uses naturally occurring iron in the environment. Researchers say this iron is easily converted to an environmentally friendly chemical compound called ferrate that can be used as a water treatment disinfectant to purify water.

  • WaterPurifying polluted water with a six-foot water and solar-powered lens

    Water may appear to be an abundant resource, but in some parts of the world clean water is hard to come by. That could change through the work of Deshawn Henry, a University at Buffalo sophomore civil engineering major, who researched how to improve a 6-foot-tall, self-sustaining magnifying glass. Properly termed a water lens, the device uses another abundant resource — sunlight — to heat and disinfect polluted water.

  • WaterElectric bugs harnessed to detect water pollution

    Scientists have developed a low-cost device that could be used in developing countries to monitor the quality of drinking water in real time without costly lab equipment. The sensor contains bacteria that produce a small measurable electric current as they feed and grow. The researchers found that when the bacteria are disturbed by coming into contact with toxins in the water, the electric current drops, alerting to the presence of pollutants in the water.

  • WaterToledo’s water alarm harbinger of things to come

    This past weekend, officials in Toledo, Ohio urged residents and the several hundred thousand people served by the city’s water utility not to drink tap water after discovering elevated levels of microcystin, a toxin caused by algal blooms, in their water supply. Toledo’s water supply has since returned to normal, but nutrient enrichment and climate change are causing an apparent increase in the toxicity of some algal blooms in freshwater lakes and estuaries around the world, scientists say.

  • SuperbugsSewage treatment contributes to antibiotic resistance

    Wastewater treatment plants are unwittingly helping to spread antibiotic resistance, say scientists. Researchers found that processing human, farm, and industrial waste all together in one place makes it easier for bacteria to become resistant to a wide range of even the most clinically-effective antibiotics. This is because so many different types of bacteria come together in sewage plants that it gives them a perfect opportunity to swap genes that confer resistance, helping them live. This means antibiotic-resistant bacteria are evolving much faster than they would in isolation.

  • WaterGroundwater reservoirs are being depleted at an increasing rate

    The rate at which the Earth’s groundwater reservoirs are being depleted is constantly increasing. Annual groundwater depletion during the first decade of this century was twice as high as it was between 1960 and 2000. India, the USA, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China are the countries with the highest rates of groundwater depletion. About 15 percent of global groundwater consumption is not sustainable, meaning that it comes from non-renewable groundwater resources. The increased use of groundwater for irrigation also results in a rise in sea levels, with roughly one tenth of the total sea level rise during the period from 2000 to 2009 due to groundwater depletion.

  • WaterGroundwater could be polluted with heavy metals by fracking flowback

    The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by “hydrofracking” could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found. Previous research has shown 10 to 40 percent of the water and chemical solution mixture injected at high pressure into deep rock strata, surges back to the surface during well development. Researchers found that the same properties that make the mixture so effective at extracting natural gas from shale can also displace tiny particles that are naturally bound to soil, causing associated pollutants such as heavy metals to leach out.

  • WaterChemical pollution of European waters is worse than anticipated

    Until now environmental authorities and parts of the scientific community have considered toxic chemicals to be rather a local problem affecting only a few bodies of water. A new study, however, reveals for the first time on a large scale the ecological risks emanating from chemical toxicants for several thousands of European aquatic systems. Chemical toxicity represents an ecological threat to almost half of all European bodies of water, and in approximately 15 percent of cases, the biota in freshwater systems may even be subject to acute mortality.

  • WaterTurning mining wastewater into rainwater-quality water

    A new cost-effective technology to treat mining wastewater and reduce sludge by up to 90 percent has been used for the first time at a commercial mine. The technology, called Virtual Curtain, was used to remove metal contaminants from wastewater at a Queensland mine and the equivalent of around twenty Olympic swimming pools of rainwater-quality water was safely discharged.