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Salinity

Waste water from fracking is over five times saltier than seawater (Photo: Christopher Hal...

Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well.  Read More

JPL scientists say Ganymede may be built like a club sandwich

In a combination of the astronomical and the culinary, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) say that Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, may not have a single large ocean, but instead may be built like a club sandwich with alternating layers of ice and water. The claim is based on computer models of how salt water acts under the high pressures that may exist beneath Ganymede’s global ice pack, and may improve the chances of finding life elsewhere in the Solar System.  Read More

Diagram of the experimental device that sees the osmotic transport of water through a tran...

In November 2009, Norwegian state owned electricity company Statkraft opened the world’s first osmotic power plant prototype, which generates electricity from the difference in the salt concentration between river water and sea water. While osmotic power is a clean, renewable energy source, its commercial use has been limited due to the low generating capacities offered by current technology – the Statkraft plant, for example, has a capacity of about 4 kW. Now researchers have discovered a new way to harness osmotic power that they claim would enable a 1 m2 (10.7 sq. ft.) membrane to have the same 4 kW capacity as the entire Statkraft plant.  Read More

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission will make global observations of soil ...

The 658kg (1,450 lb) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) this week is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. The unique radiometer it carries will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land thereby playing a key role in the monitoring of global climate change.  Read More

Penn State researchers, Bruce Logan, and Maha Mehanna, with the three-chambered microbial ...

Desalination plants generally employ one of two methods to produce clean water – reverse osmosis or electrodialysis. Unfortunately, both processes require large amounts of energy, but an international team of researchers has proven a process that cleans wastewater can also remove 90 percent of salt from brackish water or seawater while generating electricity.  Read More

Ordinary plants struggle to grow in saline conditions while the modified plants thrive in ...

Salt might be great with popcorn and peanuts, but it’s not so good with soil. The U.N. estimates that the world loses at least three hectares of arable land every minute because of soil salinity. Most crops simply can’t cope with too much salt. Which is why a breakthrough by a team at the University of Adelaide in Australia could have a profound effect on the food supplies of our future: they’ve found a way to genetically modify plants to become more salt tolerant.  Read More

Graduate student Alex Bartman works with the M3 water filtration and desalination system (...

Desalination is a popular source of potable water in Middle Eastern countries, where large energy reserves and the relative scarcity of water suitable for drinking led to desalination in the region accounting for close to 75% of total world capacity in 2007. If that figure hasn’t already dropped it almost certainly will as access to clean water becomes an issue for many places around the globe. And the shortage isn’t just limited to developing countries, with places like California and parts of Australia facing their worst droughts in recorded history. A new mini-mobile-modular (M3) “smart” water desalination and filtration system could help determine the feasibility of desalination in areas that may be considering it for the first time.  Read More

Where the river meets the sea - salt and freshwater could be used like a giant battery (Im...

Green energy comes in many guises these days, from wind-power to wave-power. One of the more compelling of the new kids on the eco-energy block is salinity power, which uses the concurrence of salt-water and freshwater in estuaries and marries it with the natural, effortless process of osmosis.  Read More

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