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Environment

— Environment

New sensor detects water contamination in real time

Currently, if you want to check water supplies for the presence of toxic bacteria, you have to take a water sample and then culture it in a lab over several days. In the meantime, it's impossible to say if the water source is safe to use. A group of students from the Technical University of Denmark, however, have created a sensor that they say can detect bacteria in water instantly, on the spot.

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— Environment

Hybrid solar roofing system uses heat pipes to boost efficiency

You would think that the more sunlight that hits a solar panel, the better. When it comes to efficiency though, that's not the case – as photovoltaic cells heat up their efficiency decreases. To capture that heat and put it to good use, a team of scientists from Brunel University London has created a hybrid system that turns the whole roof into a solar generator.

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— Environment

WaterStillar readies roll-out of scaleable solar water distiller

In a bid to help bring greater access to clean drinking water to the developing world, WaterStillar has created a solar-distillation system designed to produce clean drinking water from almost any source. Conceived as a cheap, efficient, modular system that can be scaled up to produce thousands of liters per day, Water Works is installed with no upfront costs and requires minimal maintenance or training to operate.

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— Environment

Hungry mealworms could keep Styrofoam out of landfills

If you've ever kept mealworms as food for a pet reptile or frog, then you probably fed them fruits or vegetables. What you likely didn't know, however, was that the insects can also survive quite nicely on a diet of Styrofoam. With that in mind, scientists at Stanford University have now determined that mealworms can break the difficult-to-recycle plastic foam down into a biodegradable waste product.

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— Environment

Transparent coating keeps solar cells cool and efficient throughout the day

Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.

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— Environment

Dose of household vinegar found to kill off reef-eating starfish

The crown-of-thorns starfish poses a major threat to the wellbeing of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Wild, uncontrollable outbreaks over the past few decades have seen the pests multiply to devour vast amounts of coral, and as it stands there's little that can be done. One method conservationists have used to some effect is injecting them with ox bile, but researchers have now discovered that a simple dose of vinegar can do much the same job, promising to significantly cut the cost of an expensive battle to rid a World Heritage Site of this damaging pest.

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