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Pollution

The filter being treated with silver and CNTs (B,C), and SEM images of the cotton, silver ...

Yi Cui, an Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University, has invented quite the water filter. It’s inexpensive, is very resistant to clogging, and uses much less electricity than systems that require the water to be pumped through them. It also kills bacteria, as opposed to just trapping them, which is all that many existing systems do.  Read More

The bauxite residue container pond spill near Kolontar, Hungary

It might sound like fighting fire with fire, but geologist Chen Zhu proposes the application of another industrial waste to the Hungarian bauxite residue spill, with the aim of reducing toxicity via a technique called carbon sequestration. While he says it wouldn't render the residue completely harmless, it would at least minimize the environmental damage.  Read More

The University of Copenhagen's Prof. Matthew Johnson, inventor of the Cleanair system

According to the University of Copenhagen’s Prof. Matthew Johnson, approximately one-sixth of the energy consumed in the world is used for heating, cooling and dehumidifying air in buildings. Because that air accumulates toxins and pathogens, he explains, it must constantly be expelled and replaced with new air that’s drawn in from outside. That new air must then be heated, cooled and/or dehumidified all over again. If only the air already in buildings could be cleaned up and reused, far less energy would be used on continuously conditioning fresh air. That’s why Johnson has invented the Cleanair system.  Read More

The insecticidal protein Cry1Ab has been shown to leach from corn debris into adjacent str...

A new study by Indiana’s University of Notre Dame has revealed that streams across the U.S. Midwest contain insecticides from adjacent fields of genetically engineered corn, even well after harvest. The transgenic maize (GE corn) in question has been engineered to produce the insecticidal protein Cry1Ab. Pollen, leaves and cobs from those plants enter streams bordering on the cornfields, where they are said to release Cry1Ab into the water.  Read More

The 'tea bag' in place near the mouth of the special water bottle

Stellenbosch University's Hope Project has produced a disposable water filter shaped like a tea bag. When placed in the neck of a water bottle, the bag removes all harmful chemicals and microbes. Each bag cleans one liter (1.06 quarts) of water, so a lot will be needed to make any significant impact on water-related health issues globally. However, when compared to competition such as the LifeStraw or LifeSaver, it would seem to be a cost effective solution. The product is currently being tested by the South Africa Bureau of Standards.  Read More

A new Android app analyzes air pollution in its user's vicinity (Photo: Wurstsalat)

Is it actually smoggy outside today, or is it just you? If you have the Visibility app on your Android smartphone, you can find out. Just take a picture of the sky, and you will receive a message detailing how polluted the air is at your location. Not only will you know if you should take shelter indoors, but you will also be contributing to the scientific understanding of local air pollution.  Read More

Fraunhofer is working on technologies to address the world water shortage

The Fraunhofer research organization is concerned about the world’s fresh water supply. According to the statistics put forth by groups like the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century, that concern is justified – over 450 million people worldwide currently face severe water shortages, and as much as two thirds of the world’s population could be “water-stressed” by 2025. Likewise, a study by the UN has predicted that water is due to become more strategically important than petroleum; in other words, wars could be fought over it. In reaction to scenarios such as these, 14 of Franhofer’s research divisions have joined together to form the Fraunhofer Alliance SysWasser, with the aim of developing sustainable water system technologies. The group will be presenting six of these technologies at this week’s IFAT/Entsorga water trade fair in Munich. Here’s a quick look at each one.  Read More

One of the Air Clean paving slabs in a laboratory setting

Last month, we told you about an experiment with air-purifying concrete that was recently conducted in the Netherlands. Researchers resurfaced 1,000 square meters of a busy road with concrete paving stones that contained titanium dioxide (TiO2), a photocatalytic material that removes automobile-produced nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the air and converts them into nitrate with the aid of sunlight. When the air was tested up to one-and-a-half meters above those stones, NOx levels were found to be 25 to 45 percent lower than above regular concrete on the same road. Now, a similar study is underway in Germany, and is already showing promising results.  Read More

EVTN's Voraxial 4000 Separator uses centrifugal force to separate oil from water

Last week, Florida-based Enviro Voraxial Technology (EVTN) announced that it has received a purchase order from BP for an underwater version of its Voraxial 4000 Separator. Mounted on a skimmer vessel, the machine takes oil-laden water from the sea and spins it at high speed in a central cylindrical chamber. The resulting centrifugal force pulls the water to the outer edges of the chamber, leaving the oil in the middle. Once separated, that oil is then captured and stored in onboard holding tanks, while the water flows back into the ocean. BP wishes to try out their single 4000 on a trial basis, with an eye towards using multiple machines for cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  Read More

Nitrogen oxides emitted from car exhausts can lead to acid rain, smog and damage to respir...

Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent.  Read More

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